Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flying Free Won the Heart of Excellence!

Flying Free 
won the  
2110 Heart of Excellence 
Readers Choice Award 
in the Strong Romantic Elements Category!

And the Ancient City Romance Authors 
(RWA Chapter in St. Augustine, Florida)
sent me this gorgeous trophy. 
The only thing better would have been there to pick it up in person.

I think ACRA must have known that when I lived in the Keys
I loved to stay in St. Augustine and walk the old city 
and the beach on my way to the North. 

Flying Free by Amber Polo 

Can a meat eating Texas advertising woman find love with a vegetarian Buddhist and get her pilot's license despite interference from her wacky Arizona airpark neighbors?


"...profound and high recommendation for general fiction readers searching for a quirky romance." Midwest Book Review

“[Polo] puts puts two complete opposites together and stirs the plot with a healthy dollop of conflict…Her amazing gift of creating vivid images with only a few words such as "When the cake was crumbs ..." is awesome. …a powerful, and sensually written, very heart-warming story that I'm certain will keep you turning the pages to find out the ending.” Long and Short Reviews 

“Have you ever read a book that entertained and opened your eyes to new and interesting facts? If not then I suggest you take a look at this one. A nifty, sweet story filled with planes, airpark life and a super sexy vegan Buddhist that anyone would find hard to resist. A heart warming tale about discovering what is really important in life.....sometimes a little later than you had hoped, but finding it just the same. Creative, quirky characters really set this story alive and give it a spark. Good work Ms. Polo a true enjoyment :)” Seriously Reviewed 

“Flying Free is a light and pleasant read. Spiritually pure Seth meets and falls for "let's get this job over with and get outta here" Lia. There are villains. There is mystery. And there is love that overcomes all. What I enjoyed about the book is the caring group of folks in the second half of life who live on Airpark Mesa near Sedona. It is there that Lia must learn to fly in order to inherit her late father's estate. The Airpark folks, whose passion is flying, building and maintaining small planes, seem very real. I was surprised to find myself learning interesting bits about the camaraderie of those who eat and sleep flying. There are villains. There is mystery. And there is love that overcomes all.” Story Circle Book Reviews, reviewing books by, for, and about women 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy – Marsha A. Moore

Amber: Welcome Marsha A. Moore, writer of classic romanticism and soft erotica.

Marsha: Thanks lots for your invitation to be here this week, Amber.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Marsha: I’ve always loved to escape into imaginary worlds. I’m always world-building, even apart from my writing process. It’s who I am.

I enjoy reading/researching fantasy writing through the ages in folktales, myth, legend, and lore. My library of those is constantly growing. I often blend ideas of folklore from around the world into my works. I’ve used a foundation of Chinese lore in my recently completed manuscript, The Enchanted Bookstore: Seeking a Scribe, the first of a five-part series. The forces upholding good in my novel are the four auspicious Chinese animals: phoenix, unicorn, tortoise, and dragon. These represent the four elements, fire, earth, water, air, respectively, which are believed to balance our world.

In my book, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, releasing in February, 2011, I was intrigued by the legends of the pirate José Gaspar, known by his nickname Gasparilla. In the winter of 2008, I moved to Tampa, home of the yearly Gasparilla Festival. That inspired me to create a fantasy with a love triangle between a lovely mermaid, a handsome merman, and a smooth-talking pirate captain.

Amber: What is the difference between classic romanticism and soft erotica in the fantasy genre?
Marsha: Great question! Classic romanticism refers to attention paid to subtleties, of human personalities and of nature. Its passion lies in revealing and exalting simple beauty. I earned a minor in English in college, and spent much time studying classics. The romantic period of literature captivated me.  I’ve read the entire Thomas Hardy catalog. I spent years engrossed in reading George Elliot, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper, and Washington Irving. I love how they elevated setting to the level of importance of a main character. Their richly textured settings inspire me enormously. The influences of those works infuse my own writing.
In contrast, erotica is a contemporary genre, placing importance on sexual interactions. I tend toward soft erotica. Utilizing the magic of fantasy, I like to explore nuances of sexuality in ways we wouldn’t normally be able to appreciate. A magical touch may elicit heightened sensations, typically overlooked. Concentrating on subtle sensuality, it becomes an extension of classic romanticism.
Amber: Has moving to Florida changed your writing? (It's where I started writing fiction, so it's a magical place.)
Marsha: Certainly, moving here has changed my writing. Even after two years, it still looks to my mid-western mind like a Dr. Seuss world, which is terrific because I still adore his books – easily, my favorite childhood author. Daily, I step outside to see crazy-looking trees which remind me of truffula trees and water birds that look like swami-swans. I smile and love living within my childhood fantasies. I cycle several times each week and inevitably my mind is lured by the unusual nature here to create fantasy settings for my books.
Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?

Marsha: Readers love fantasy as an escape, to see how a new situation with new problems and happinesses could change their lives. It’s a release from the everyday.

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?

Marsha: Absolutely. I enjoy the process of immersing in an incredible world, letting my imagination take me on adventures.

Marsha A. Moore is a romantic and a writer of fantasy romance/soft erotica. She loves being creative and enjoying the creativity of others in all art forms. Her other creative pursuits include watercolor painting and drawing. She moved from Toledo to Tampa in 2008 and is happily transforming into a Floridian. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is also a yoga enthusiast and never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand.
Her upcoming release, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, will be available from MuseItHot Publishing on February 1st, 2011. 

Marsha A. Moore . . . the magic of romance
To learn more about Marsha
visit her website
(Don't miss the graphic on the first page.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why (and How) I Write Fantasy: Skhye Moncrief Revisted

Hi, Amber. Thanks for inviting me back to ramble. :) Since I've previously answered your basic questions about why I write fantasy, I'll just leave the link for the interested to hop over to your older post and check out my answers. Today, I'm dealing with the biggie...

Amber: One reviewer says of Feral Fascinations "Ms. Moncrief seamlessly blended earth religion, new-age mysticism, paranormal events, shapeshifing rogue spies, and a who-done-it twist." How do you put all that in one story and keep the fantasy within our "suspend belief zone"?

Skhye: First of all, I'm going to admit I ramble. And this is just a simple question to answer. So, bear with me!

I discussed Amber's question with my critique partner the other night. It's difficult to just start with one of the components of FERAL FASCINATIONS' story world the reviewer thought I blended well together. When writing, I always begin my attack from a Deep POV angle. Then they say write what you know. I guess I've been interested in most of these subjects at some point in my life. What you basically do is deal with the blending inside the characters' heads... Once you understand why they make the choices they make, you're about a third to half of the way through your rough draft. If anyone tells you they know everything about their story world when they begin, they're either working on book two or lying. *snort* Trust me. You can never know every hurdle your characters will face based on your initial story synopsis. Yes, it's true. I don't pants much these days. I usually have most of the pivotal scenes/turning points planned in a story before typing my opening (extremely boring) first line. I'll explain with my latest wip...

I revised every scene in the heroine's POV in chronological order to ensure I get the right perspective in her thoughts. It doesn't take but an hour or two. So, that's how I operate. If I'm working in an ideology or paranormal events, I revise for that layer. Writing is all about reflecting culture. Anthropology is the study of culture--past or present, extant or extinct. I write each character from a different culture specifically in that cultural mindset. Their shoes, their hairstyle, their metaphors, their spirituality, how they feed themselves, what they eat is all part of their cultural details... You have to weave that information into each character and pit them against characters with different ideas about life, i.e. from different cultures. So, I took what I knew about alien abductions, werewolves, vampires, New Agers, Goths, and 2012 winter solstice legend, wove it together, and wrote FERAL FASCINATIONS. If you don't feel comfortable with weaving so many "great" subjects together, find a good introductory cultural anthropology textbook to begin understanding how to weave various worldviews into one story by beginning with what a culture is. People who ride motorcycles are a culture. That culture has its own subcultures. Think gangs. People who treat their pets like children are a subculture of a bigger culture. Religions break people in the USA into subcultures. With FERAL FASCINATIONS, I had a Native American hero from Earth and a New-Agish heroine extraterrestrial. Both were easy for me to write given I'd always been nuts about Native American cultures and I had to heavily immerse myself in New Age everything to write my Time Guardians series.

The New Age information wasn't so simple to understand. It took me about three years to deal with the Tarot, numerology, color/scent/crystals in magic, astrology, Pagan, and Wiccan info while researching alchemy, Celtic mythology, time travel, Druids, and medieval literature. I even took classes in Medieval Lit and Reformation Eng. Lit to get into the minds of my Druids. So, don't just jump off a cliff and try to weave so many things together. Tell yourself you have to do research. Me, I just did the research. I'm a big research junkie. And use Deep POV to make the info you deliver real.

Deep POV helps you delve into the innerworkings of your POV characters' minds. Trust me. You will love writing with my little formula that loads of authors use to reveal why each character exists. in other words, this means you'll fill up every line in your book with GMC {goals, motivation, and conflict}. Fantasy readers can wait a little for valuable GMC in a fantasy novel. But you can't expect them to wait very long. Remember, reveal it line by line as your characters are forced to move forward. Line-by-line revelations are merely the micro-GMC of your story. Debra Dixon's Goals, Motivation, and Conflict is the book you will need to explain GMC thoroughly. The other book is Jack Bickham's SCENE & STRUCTURE. He pushes the little formula I mentioned. {stimulus->internalization->reaction} What in the heck does this mean?

Each line of your book should follow the model {stimulus->internalization->reaction}. Sometimes an internalized thought can function as stimulus or reaction. I've found my books are mostly internalization. That means, I get to reveal backstory by making it GMC for my POV characters in their thoughts. This is where you make everything personal. And don't have sentences like:
He thought the door looked solid, impenetrable.

That's telling. If you're in his head, he won't "he thought" about his thoughts. He'll just think. Put it in 3rd or 1st person in the exact words your character uses, i.e. Deep POV. Use a showing version.

The solid mahogany door couldn't possibly move. Nobody had enough magic/power to move this type of door. Except a magician/wizard/barbarian/fairy/weapons expert/locksmith. But the only thing that would get me past the dragon/witch/king's guards lay through that doorway. And if I didn't, the world would explode/the aliens would invade/the evil queen would triumph/the renegade gods would take over the world. 

You get my drift. You add value at the character level, making the story real line-by-line. Each stimulus forces the POV character to reveal what's at stake even at the micro-level. This means each sentence in your story IS important. The sentences all reveal characterization, GMC, or sketch out the scene. Isn't what they say in writing courses that every sentence counts? Don't dump backstory. Slowly reveal the subcultures of your characters (GMC) by weaving it in line-by-line. Your backstory will feel realistic in this line-by-line delivery. Second by second, the stakes change. And you've done your research enough to lay those stakes out at the micro-level. So, basically I'm saying make your story real. That way you've managed to keep your reader moving forward instead of hurling your tale across the room because you drew the reader out of the story.

The shape-shifting aspect of my rogue spies is just another paranormal type of story. Shifters can have jobs we have. Nothing new there. The big trick if putting all these different layers into a story is intimidating to you is to add one layer at a time. This means you will have to go back and revise every time you need to put in something like the New Age reasons for doing everything with my heroine. I revised her thoughts/dialogue just for that (I'll call it a quick double check read through). Then I had to go back and check my commander's dialogue for Zen-like points because he talks that way. My aliens are from different planets. Their ways of speaking/thinking varied too. Each one required a different revision. Now, some of these revisions are brief. Others require you read half your book, his or her scenes. My vampires slowly evolved as I wrote book one. I kept having to go back and rework them into what we know as extraterrestrials with large almond-shaped eyes, big head, and gracile bodies. These ETs cause lost time. I had to place that in the story with the inability of their victims to move--just like vampires make you incapable of running away through some kind of hypnosis! Vamps want to suck your blood. So do my ETs who are collecting blood for the emperor. I had no idea they'd be doing that. I just dawned on me when I began writing the history of the Blood Wars into my novel's first draft. But the point is not to dump it all in there at once. Make it real. Your characters will only think of what's bothering them at that second their thinking about what they have at stake. That's when you deliver the micro-GMC.

To be honest, I can write a complex novel-length story world in a month now. This process I use to produce a novel is just second nature these days. It's a system that works for me. Anyway, I hope that's answered Amber's question. ~Skhye

Amber: You did and more (snickers). Thanks for re-visiting Wordshaping and amazing us with your world-building techniques.

Feral Fascinations (Read chapter 1 & buy)
Time Guardians books (print & Kindle)
Skhye's 1st chapters
Skhye's website
Skhye's blog 

Check out Skhye's Contests
Monday, October 18 on at 
  and more on her blog 
She's always having a good one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taos as Muse

This weekend my small town hosted Fort Verde Days celebration and I assisted with the Art Show (because artists are almost as much fun as writers). I entered a photo, Mabel's House, that I took on my latest trip to the magical town of Taos, New Mexico. The photo shows a light burning through the door in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House where I attended my 5th Yoga as Muse  Writing/Yoga Retreat (That's me on the page promoting the next retreat.) Talking to people about my photo brought back many memories of Taos.

Five days of yoga, writing, and magical Taos spirit. Plus glorious food at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, inspiration to spark creativity, the company of fifteen stimulating writers, and hope for a chance meeting with Georgia O'Keefe's ghost.

The mid-March weather in the high desert is always unpredictable – from warm and sunny to snow - but the fires burn hot with authentic words. I drove through snow for the first time in many years.

Jeff Davis, writing instructor, coach, and yogi from Accord, NY, has created a gentle energy in New Mexico to recharge the imagination, reconnect to heart, and move writers from their “center to the page.” In groups, we learn how to integrate breath work, mediation, and yoga into a daily practice. In the Taos air, there is time to reflect, walk in nature, stare at mountains, shop, and be struck to write something new or work on an existing piece. Did I mention the wonderful food?

And, if you go, be sure to visit Moby Dickens, a fabulous bookstore. 

Jeff’s book, The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing offers a way for writers to connect with their bodies and bring balance to their creative lives. He addresses the common issues writers face (meaningful purpose, persistence, discipline, concentration) plus the essentials of craft with a fresh twist:

Every year is different and the challenges are different, sometimes mental, sometimes physical. Jeff teases that I’ve published a book for every year I’ve attended. Maybe not quite true, but I have published two novels (Romancing Rebecca and Flying Free) and written three more. Most important, I’ve integrated the two passions in my life – yoga and writing – and learned to recognize authentic writing, those words that, whatever the genre, pour the writer’s soul onto the page.

I didn’t meet Georgia O’Keefe’s ghost but I did see the bathroom windows painted by D. H. Lawrence when he visited.

I'm anticipating next March and another Taos trip. (The photo above of Jeff looking out at Taos Mountain and Taos Pueblo land was taken from the balcony of my room.)

Amber Polo is the author of Romancing Rebecca set in Sedona, AZ and Flying Free set in her Arizona airpark neighborhood. Her CD Relaxation One Breath at a Time teaches relaxation with words and voice. Learn more about her books on her website 
And check out her blog Wordshaping! 
(You are HERE!)

Amber's website was reviewed 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Marie Beau

Amber: Welcome Marie Beau, fantasy author with an attraction to shapeshifters!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Marie: I write many things actually, but fantasy is just the ultimate escape.

Amber: Why shapeshifters?
Marie: I have always loved this sub-genre. I don’t know what draws me to it. Werewolves don’t attract me so much, probably because I don’t think of them as beautiful animals, but other shifters are just so intriguing. Wouldn’t you just love to be able to run wild like a mountain lion or  panther or puma? (Yes, I’m partial to cats.) Picture the muscles shifting as he runs. Watch the wind ruffle his fur. What would It feel like?

Amber:Why do readers love fantasy?
Marie: Oh, I think we all want to escape sometimes from this world we live in. And what better way to do it than to find a scenario that is totally unreal?

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Marie: Well, I have to laugh. I’ve been writing for about ten years now and this is the first story to be published. So, would I write it even if no one read it? Absolutely. Even if it was only to keep it for myself. I write whatever is trying to get out of my imagination. If it happens to be a  shifter, then that’s what comes out. All fiction is fantasy. It’s just a question of how far outside of reality the story falls.

More about Marie Beau - Living in New England, winter gives me lots of time to want to stay inside with a warm drink and a good book. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and my favorite pastime has always been reading. My daughter laughs at me because I never go anywhere without a book. (You just never know when you’ll be stuck in a traffic jam. Why not keep a book along, just in case.)
 The writer in me was born when my daughter was very young.  I read her the usual Dr. Seuss books, but eventually I started making up stories of my own. I created a whole neighborhood of girls that interacted in the stories and eventually she asked me to write them down. LOL. I’ve never sold any of my children’s stories. Maybe someday...

Here's a peek at Wolf!  Lyssa Merrick has no intention of ever being involved with a wolf, but when Wolfe Reardon seeks her wildlife services she realizes choosing a mate is not always a conscious decision.

The jingle of the bells over the door announced his arrival. Lyssa sighed and dropped the tea ball into the cup of water.
I can do this.
She stepped into the front of the store and looked toward the door. Where is he? I know it was him. She frowned, turned back toward the kitchen, and screamed when a hand landed on her shoulder.
Without thinking, she gripped the hand, stepped into his side, and flipped him. Her eyes widened when she realized what she had done. I guess it’s not all about size after all. She practically giggled until she looked down at him, lying there so still. Perhaps he got the breath knocked out of him when he landed.
She shifted from foot to foot, staring at him, waiting for him to move, to open his eyes.
“Wolfe. Wolfe, Im sorry. You scared me.” She ran a hand through her hair setting it all askew she was sure. “Come on Wolfe, you didnt land that hard,” she whispered. She knelt down to check his pulse only to have her hand snared and drawn to his chest. His eyes popped open, a grin spreading across his face.
Lyssa jerked back, trying to get free. “Okay, jokes over. You can let me go now.” She struggled to straighten and pull her hand out of his grasp but instead found herself sprawled on top of him when he tugged her down.
“Easy kitty, no claws…”
Visit Marie Beau at her website
and learn more about Wolf! 
her new release from Whispers Publishing.  
Check our the blog tour rules to win a pdf. copy of Wolf!