Friday, May 2, 2014


My guest is New York Times Best selling author, Susan Mallery. She's written over a 100 books and each is sexy, full of fun, humor, unforgettable characters and a great story. Susan is preparing to go to Romance Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans (if you go be sure to stop and say hi), but she took the time to answer some questions about writing as well as the latest in her series, Fools Gold. 

Susan, how did you get started writing romance novels?

From the time I was about thirteen, I loved reading romance novels.
I had never thought about actually becoming a romance writer because I thought writers were exotic people who lived in France, wore black all the time and talked about things like dead philosophers. While I was in college, I saw that a local adult education center was offering a class on How to Write a Romance Novel. I signed up for that class, the very same day, began writing my first romance novel.

The book was awful, but the class changed my life. It was 8 weeks long and I knew by week 6 that I wanted to make a career as a romance author. I stayed in school to complete my degree (in accounting of all things) then walked away from a job offer to try my hand at romance writing. My first romance novel sold in August 1990 and was published in January 1992. From that point on, I have been a romance author, and I've never wanted to be anything else.

What’s the hardest thing you've had to face or as a writer? How did you overcome it?

The hardest part of what I do is making sure each book is better than the one before. In the beginning, when I was still learning, it was pretty easy to improve. But now, after over 100 books, it's challenging. But that's always the goal. There's not a single day that I sit down to write without thinking about how to do it better than I did yesterday.

You wrote in a recent Facebook post that you started writing a new Fool’s Gold book for 2015 and rewrote the beginning a few times because you didn't know the heroine well enough yet?

When I’m ready to really get started, I write until the characters click for me, usually about a chapter. I have to know who they are so that I can know how they will react to whatever might happen in the book. Once I know them, I stop writing and thoroughly plot the story.
Because of all the prep work, once I get to the actual writing of the book, I can write pretty fast.

WHEN WE MET’s hero, Angel Whittaker, appeared in your 2005 book Living on the Edge. What made you decide to bring him back?

I never forgot about Angel, and I always knew I’d write a book for him when I found the perfect woman for him. When I started brainstorming this year’s Fool’s Gold romances, Taryn Crawford came to me. She’s a very powerful, confident, self-made woman. She needed a man who was equally strong, someone who would stand up to her when need be, and someone who would cherish and protect her when she wasn't feeling all that strong. Angel, who’d been hovering in my subconscious for years, stepped forward and claimed her.

Angel, this very serious, hard-core sniper type was going to have to move to a quirky small town in California. I paired him up with buddies from the military who opened a bodyguard academy in Fool’s Gold last year.

What makes Taryn stand out from the other heroines you’ve written?

Contradiction is what makes any character come alive, and Taryn is full of them. On the surface, she has it all together. She runs a very successful PR firm. She has a wardrobe that couture fashion models would envy. Your first impression of Taryn is that she wants for nothing… but she went through a lot of pain to get where she is today. She’s a survivor. She has pulled herself up from very tough circumstances, and to do that, she has had to guard her heart. But there’s a softness, a vulnerability inside her that no one but Angel can see. He will treasure her forever.

What was the biggest surprise that occurred while you were writing their story?

I was a little surprised by how hot things got between Angel and Taryn. I tend to write sexy, but Angel and Taryn are a little older than my typical hero and heroine—40 and 34, respectively—and significantly more experienced. They know what they want, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. There were times when these two were so in-your-face with their sexy repartee that I was sort of gasping and laughing as I wrote.

Oh, I can’t wait to read this one! 

Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can't be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool's Gold, California, he's cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he's not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe.

Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe-to-toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses.

Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory. Excerpt

What’s next for the town of Fools Gold?

Up next are BEFORE WE KISS and UNTIL WE TOUCH, featuring two of Taryn’s partners at Score PR. Sam Ridge, a former NFL kicker, has to hire Dellina to help him plan a major company bash. He’s very reluctant to work with her because a few months ago, they had a little fling that went terribly (and comically) wrong. Dellina’s going to make him pay a little bit before she forgives him. So much fun to watch a strong man grovel!

At the start of UNTIL WE TOUCH, former quarterback Jack McGarry is shocked when the mother of his personal assistant and best friend Larissa Owens tells him to fire Larissa because the big-hearted beauty is in love with him. That’s news to Jack… and when he tells Larissa what her mom said, it’s news to Larissa, too! She’s not in love with Jack. Except, just by saying the words, her mom has opened both their eyes, and things between them suddenly get very hot.

Susan, thank you for taking time out of  your busy schedule to answer some questions and visit with us today! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zombies! Or Why I Love the Walking Dead

Here it is, the last day of the fun, fantastic A-ZChallenge! We’re wrapping it up in grand style with guest author Dana Fredsti, discussing her love of zombies. This also marks my last day for awhile as your guest hostess, as Sia McKye takes back over the helm on Friday and serves up fresh, interesting new discussions Over Coffee while I, like Puff the Magic Dragon, slip into my (writing) cave. But I’ll be stopping by now and then and hopping through all the great new blogs I’ve found as a result of this wonderful challenge! Thank you all for being such wonderful, supportive commenters this month! And now, take it away, Dana!  ~ Kat Sheridan
Why Zombies?
I get asked that question a lot. I get asked "why write about zombies" so often that lately my first impulse is to answer something along the lines of, "Damned zeds killed my family. Writing about them is the only way to deal with the pain." This response would be as accurate as "yes, I write about zombies only because I want to cash in on their current popularity," which is to say neither response is correct.

The assumption that the only reason I write about zombies is because they're popular and I'm some sort of literary whore with nothing but dollar signs in my eyes when I write about the walking dead is, quite frankly, insulting.  

I've been into zombies (in a platonic, non-necrophilia kind of way, thank you!) for years. My very first date movie was Dawn of the Dead. The original, not the remake. Slow, blue-faced zombies, shopping mall, four protagonists with actual character arcs. One of the first movies that really explored the visceral horror of  mindless walking corpses that ate living flesh. Sure, the makeup is dated, but the film is a classic for a reason. And I totally blame it for starting my fascination with zombies as flesh-eating ghouls.

Is there a glut of zombie related movies, books and TV shows out there?  


Is this a bad thing? 

Not to me or to people like me, who barely had anything as far zombie-themed entertainment for years.

Even after the original Dawn of the Dead was released to some critical acclaim, other than a few foreign horror films and a smattering of books and short stories (thank you, Skipp and Spector, for the Book of the Dead anthologies), and some fan fiction (I personally found it scary how many teenaged boys were out there with fantasies of having big guns, rescuing the only surviving hot chick around, getting laid, and then having the hot chick die after taking said boy's virginity), there was very little out there for zombie enthusiasts.

Luckily Shaun of the Dead and the remake of Dawn of the Dead, along with 28 Days Later ushered in a new era for the zombie. Even after those movies it took a few years before they reached their current level of popularity, but thanks in part to the likes of World War Z and The Walking Dead, if you're craving a new zombie book or movie, you're pretty much in luck. I used to pride myself on having read or watched pretty much everything out there, but I can't keep up any more.

Not all of them are created equal. Some of the books and movies aren't very good. But at least we have a variety to choose from instead of being forced to read about angsty vampires or hunky werewolves (not that there's anything wrong with vampires or lycanthropes) when we're in the mood for a good, old-fashioned zombocalypse!
Let's chat: Are YOU prepared for the zombocalypse? Have a hiding place selected? Ever read a zombie novel?
Plague World: The thrilling conclusion of the zombie apocalypse begun in Plague Town and continued in Plague Nation! The zombie plague has gone airborne, and the conspiracy that began it all reaches the boiling point. Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now full engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization which seeks to weaponize the plague. But that isn't the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, makign it transferable without physical contact. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United States - and across the world.
Dana Fredsti is an ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting (a skill she utilized in Army of Darkness as a Deadite and fight captain). She’s addicted to bad movies and any book or film, good or bad, which includes zombies. She’s the author of the Ashley Parker series, touted as Buffy meets the Walking Dead, as well as the cozy noir mystery Murder for Hire: the Peruvian Pigeon, and several spicy genre romances under the name Inara LaVey. She lives in San Francisco with her boyfriend David Fitzgerald (who writes erotica under the pen name Kilt Kilpatrick), their dog Pogeen, and a small horde of felines.

Kat's "Z" Book List
Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope: Classic swashbuckling adventure and romance. I loved this book!
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. Biographical fiction of a legendary woman at the dawn of the Jazz Age.
Zebra book cover: I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. 1940s autobiography of an adventuress and her wildlife photographer husband. Anyone who knows me knows I love zebra print and don’t hesitate to use it in my decorating. Seriously, this would look sooo good on my bookshelves. Or coffee table. Or nightstand. Only the first and second editions have this iconic cover, later transformed into a purse by Kate Spade, another item I can’t afford. These editions are now collectibles, meaning WAY out of my price range. If you happen to trip over one in a yard sale or thrift shop, please grab it up and remember it would make a lovely Christmas present for your zany, zebra-loving blogger friend!
Will You Be Ready Image by By Kenny Louie via Wikimedia Commons


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Xs of Fiction - Guest Editor Beth Hill

We’re getting close to the end of our A-Z Challenge! Unless we want to discuss xylophones or x-rays or x-rated books, we needed to cheat a bit on the letter and make an eXception. Our guest today is one of our blog favorites, editor eXtraordinaire, Beth Hill, to talk about the “Xs” of writing fiction. ~Kat

Fiction writers face many rules, some detailing what to do, others detailing prohibitions, maybe even exclusions.

Some rules come from the wider world of writing, proven rules that make all communication easier. Some rules come specifically from the world of fiction. And many rules come from the experience gained by the long chain of writers who wrote before us, shared so we can call on the know-how of those who’ve already made the mistakes and learned how to correct them.

I don’t want to lay out rigid rules today, certainly not all the do’s and don’ts of fiction. Let’s instead look at options to strengthen both story and story-writing skills. Consider these the Xs of fiction.

Gain experience
Write often. Write more than you’ve written in the past. Read in the genre you want to write. Read in genres you have no familiarity with. Study successful fiction.

Become an expert
Master an area or a topic that you like and then master an area or topic that gives you fits. And then master a topic you know nothing about. These areas can be writing related—dialogue, pacing, subtext—or simply topics that appeal—landscaping, the Boer Wars, space travel. Expand your knowledge.

Follow links from one topic you study to the next. Don’t always be content with surface knowledge, though that may be all you need for a writing project. Give yourself the opportunity to delve deep into topics and follow even the most tenuous of links between topics.

Don’t explain
When you write, don’t insist that characters explain why they do a particular action. Simply show them in action and allow the reader to draw her own conclusions. Keep readers actively involved by giving them just enough so they don’t get lost and enough that they’re tempted to figure out what’s going on before revelations are uncovered.

Go easy on the expletives
No, not the cussing kind, the grammatical kind. There or it followed by forms of the verb to be can leach power from a sentence, especially when used again and again or to open new scenes or chapters. They can also add unnecessary words. Example: There was a boy racing down the lane vs. A boy raced down the lane.

Expose character weaknesses
Show characters’ limitations in action. Make fictional people real by giving them weaknesses that work for the story, that add to the story.

Express emotion
Show characters as emotional people touched by what happens around them. Show that actions have impact, that they change characters. Show that actions and the words of others touch characters’ hearts and drive them to respond and maybe even retaliate.

Extend invitations to the reader
Hook the reader on page one, giving her a reason to read the opening pages, and then keep her hooked. Make your story opening an invitation to your fictional world. Entice and intrigue.

Create extraordinary characters
Make your main characters memorable. They don’t have to be a Superman, but they should have quirks or behaviors or emotions or desires that make them stand out from every other fictional character.

Write extraordinarily well
Learn the basics, learn more than the basics, and don’t be satisfied with being mediocre at any of the writing elements. Expand your skills.

Take some scenes to the extreme
Push events, reactions, and emotions. Surprise characters as well as readers. Be bold and not timid.

Exaggerate character problems and solutions, but without falling into obvious caricature.

Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to every rule. Figure out how and when to break rules in ways that create memorable fiction.


Beth Hill is a freelance fiction editor who loves the creative power of words. You can find her online at A Novel Edit and read other writing and editing tips at The Editor’s Blog.

Kat's "X" Book List
Strapless by Deborah Davis: Biography. The story behind the famous Madame X painting by John Singer Sargent, a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

Three Weeks with Lady X: Eloisa James. A duke, a lady, a romance
Author X: The Inner Secret. Click the "author X" link to learn more about the mystery of who this author was.

Cartoon Pencil With Cross Mark Image courtesy of chanpipat /
Abstract Colour Pencil Image courtesy of tigger11th /
Man Writing With His Pencil Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young /