Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fun and Dire Opening Lines

I often make a decision on this crucial first line from an unknown author before I will read any more so I value (maybe over value) the importance of it. Rather like your first line of defense. These are opening lines from my novels already written or in progress. Which one speaks to you and might make you consider reading the book? And what is your favorite line that you’ve written or read that opens a novel?
(1) “You always hear about having a friend that will help you bury the body. Thank you,” I said with humble sincerity, looking over at my best friend as she helped shovel dirt diligently at my side.

 (2) “Corey! The beer guy’s here.” I yell extra loud for I know my brother’s in the back of Sweetwater’s, the bar and motel complex that we share custody of. I’ve got my hands full, pouring drinks as fast as I can while I’m pretty certain my dear brother has his hands full with something else entirely in the storeroom.

 (3) “Mmm . . . nice,” I murmur, raising my head for a kiss from my big bad werewolf lover, Ryder Darkson, who has his hands full caressing my naked body at this precise moment.

 (4) Today is the day I am to die.

 (5) A sound. A shadow. The breath stilled in my lungs. I froze mid-stride, icy tentacles of fear twisting around my desperate heart.

 (6) “There are two types of orgasm, Tess. I wonder if you have experienced any,” My prospective new boss, Jonathon Rothschild, smiles wickedly at me as he pronounces judgment.

 (7) My father once said a man has one job in life and that’s to keep his daughter off the pole.

 (8) “Absolutely not! You know how it’s gonna be. There’re from New York City and they’ll be all snotty and well-dressed and I don’t have anything proper to wear.”

 (9) Ten … Nine … Eight … Seven … Six … Five … Four … Three … Two … One …

(10) “There’s something wrong,” Merek sniffed, his nose wrinkling with unease. “I smell death.”

(11) “I’ll find you again, my love, I promise, I’ll come back to you,” she whispered her last breath.

(12) It started out like any other day had since she left us.

(13) I scanned the front page of The Seattle Times dated July 17, 1897 having just managed to wrestle the wrinkled pages away from one of the girls who had wheedled it from one of her late night visitors who had the audacity to get one of the last copies available from the sold out edition.

So, your turn! What line have you read or written that most speaks to you!

Best regards,

January Bain

Forever Series

Champagne Books








Saturday, July 25, 2015

Coloring Therapy For Adults

You read the title correctly. Many adults are coloring for relaxation, stress release and in some cases, coloring instead of taking costly therapy. A week ago, I heard about this latest trend. Adults are gathering, taking out their coloring books and coloring for stress release. Is it awkward to initially ask your friends to drop by the house so you can color together.

I was a little concerned what I might find when I researched adult coloring books. But the books are legitimate, more sophisticated than a child's coloring book, mostly filled with geometric patterns. I have my own coloring book coming out soon. It is a companion to my children's picture book, What If A Zebra Had Triangles? Maybe I should have the publisher add the words Adult Coloring Book and I might have a hit on my hands. Recently adult coloring books ranked in the top Ten on the Amazon best-sellers list.

Adults claim when they color, it allows your mind to relax and go blank. Coloring allows you to let go of the worry of bills, chores and work. Same benefits happen for people in Wisconsin when they get together and drink, maybe I'll start the trend here. What's your choice of relaxation? Are you ready to try adult coloring therapy?

I'm author Victoria Roder and I write something for everyone. If you like murder mystery check out Bolt Action. Ghost Stories? You'll love Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary. Have children or grandchildren? My picture books include, What If A Zebra Had Triangles and An Important Job to Do: A Noah's Are Tale. Are the kids reading chapter books? Sled Dog Tales and The Curse of King Ramesses II are adventure filled and fun. I also created a puzzle book for teens and adults and have a coloring book coming soon, I've copied two of the pictures for you to color. Don't forget copyright rules and only use for your personal enjoyment. Please check out my website Thanks, Victoria Roder

Friday, July 24, 2015


When writing, we want our characters to have depth, a sense of non-conformity yet remain within the distinctive ranks of their gender.  We did not wish to lie about what makes them who they are.  Being a male and female writing team gave us an advantage.     One of us would often tell the other, "A man/woman would not act that way."  Once, for the fun of it and to wade into the truth of the yin and yang of the gender diversities, they created a list, with a bit of help from Google of ten things that differ between a man and a woman. 

  • Ask a woman how she stubbed her toe and she'll say she walked into a chair, ask a man and he'll say someone left a chair in the middle of the room.
  • An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
    The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
    The women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."
  • Man has his will, but woman has her way. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.)
  • A man is as good as he has to be, and a woman is as bad as she dares. (Elbert Hubbard)
  • A man thinks he knows, but a woman knows better. (Chinese proverb)
  • Men always want to be a woman's first love, women like to be a man's last romance. (Oscar Wilde)
  • Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths. (Lois Wyse)
  • She says, "He forgets stuff I tell him, so I have to repeat myself over and over again."
    He says, "She nags me."
  • Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember.
    Female.... A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
    Male... A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

Though humorous, there is a lot of truth in these quotes and thoughts.  Men and women simply see life different.  Men are usually more global, women usually live in the details.  Yet there is a commonality when love exists, that special tenderness expressed to the other when no one is around, that first realization that crackles and explodes when one realizes they are in love, the emotions that surround the birth of a child, the ache when there is loss. 

Though our stories always have a decisive plot, a story that can almost overpower the romance, the romance is there in truth, in the reality of emotions, in the thoughts and impulses that real men and women experience.  We might lie when it comes to that perfect bosom that exists without cellulite, or that tree-trunk thick manly thighs that rarely exists outside bodybuilders and photo enhancement, but we never lie about emotions. 

So the crux of this blog is to celebrate those difference, enjoy them, tease about them but never forget as much as we are different, we are the same where it counts, our humanity.


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at writingteamcw@yahoo.com (Write - Blog n subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Some Days I Feel Like a Juggler

            There are days when I think I should have taken up juggling, I’ve had enough practice. My writing days are torn between creating new works, editing completed manuscripts, and trying to keep track of supposedly brilliant ideas that keep percolating up into my tired brain. After that there is all the promotion and marketing I’m still trying to figure out and work into my schedule.

            Then there are the family obligations. This summer I’ve been faced with the sudden funeral of a sister-in-law, offset slightly by having a daughter and granddaughter getting married. My wife is busy enough with her own life, some weeks we forget to book a date to spend time together. I launched the sailboat in mid-July this year instead of mid-May and we’ve shortened our annual week-long voyage up the lake to spending a few days overnighting and day-sailing.

            There is the back garden at home which has decided to convert itself into a full-blown jungle. I try to spend an early hour in the morning beating it back. Sit out and actually enjoy the place? Two brief times so far this year during a busy summer.

Don’t even think about the animals. The cat has converted his daily routine to getting up well before dawn and the goldfish are acting up. How did we get into goldfish? My wife thought a pond would be nice. I insisted we had to add fish to avoid raising mosquitos. Now we have somehow started breeding fish; large ones outside, babies and teenagers in two tanks inside.

Back to my writing: I have the third book in the Queen’s Pawn series that I suspect I promised I’d finish shortly, with only another 60,000 words to go. Then there is the eighth in the Housetrap Chronicles series that I started last winter while acting as a driver to my wife’s curling games. I know there are two completed manuscripts that will be arriving shortly from my harried editor for another round of pain and recrimination this next month. I’m off to a large writer’s conference in early August; at least this year I only volunteered to be on three or four panels instead of the seven I burdened myself with last year. The good news is I don’t have to worry about Comic Con until October.

Oh good grief…

Isn’t most of this fun though, I haven’t been bored in years.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volume 1 to 7)
Alex in Wanderland,


Monday, July 20, 2015

Where's my Fairy Godmother?

A number of my stories, including the novel, Wonder Guy, feature a fairy godmothers' union. Caught without a regular blog entry today, here's one from the archives:

 I've wished for a fairy godmother so often it's probably what led me to start writing stories about them. The thing with fairy godmothers is that they are not genies or magic wishing wells. They don't grant any and all wishes.
Cinderella, for example, and supposing her story real, probably wished for something or other everyday -- if only to escape the notice of her step-mother or find some relief for her aching back or knees. As it was, she never asked for a ball gown or a carriage. She wished to attend the ball to which she'd been invited.
The fairy godmother stepped in at this time, when she never had before. She supplied more than was asked. A tricky genie or devil's bargain might have sent Cinderella to the ball as she was: on foot, ragged and filthy with ashes.
Why did the fairy godmother step in at that time and not before? Why did she do everything to assure that Cinderella would not only attend the ball, but shine there? That she would show off the full potential of her natural beauty and catch the eye of the prince? That she would appear as a member of the respectable nobility and worthy of a like respect? This all suggests that the fairy godmother was motivated not by the letter of the wish, but by the spirit, that she had Cinderella's best interests at heart all along.
Cinderella is a story, of course, and I can only imagine myself in the place of the fairy godmother and surmise her reasons and motives. Perhaps her powers to interfere in the natural course of events were limited, so that she could do only so much and she had to choose her time wisely. If she could only help once, she had to make sure that what she did would count to the best effect. By awaiting this one opportunity, she could change the whole course of Cinderella's life for the better, using only a few small bursts of magic.
Choosing the moment required a broader understanding and perspective than Cinderella had. She could wish a thousand times for a thousand things and having those wishes granted might ultimately have done her no good. The fairy godmother's perspective must have included an understanding of the affairs of the whole kingdom, the tastes of the prince, a sense of how a great many lives and goals interacted with each other and would be affected by what she did.
As I said, there have been many times in my life when I've wished for magical intervention. I've had my heart broken. I've lost a home to foreclosure. I've lived in poverty and lost loved ones to death, watched helplessly while they suffered from disease.
Death and disease and poverty have been with humanity from the start. Even supposing they are real, it may be that some things are beyond a fairy godmother's powers to cure. It may be that there aren't enough fairy godmothers to meet the demand. Perhaps I have already benefited in ways I never knew. And it may be that the moment has not been ripe for reaping the best effect from the application of my own fairy godmother's help. Like the hero or heroine of any story, each of us is limited in our knowledge of what the morrow will bring and of the full consequences of our actions - or the fulfillment of our wishes. I like to think that if the fairy godmothers are out there, they do what they can, acting from superior wisdom, to produce the best possible results.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Today is my day to post something a witty, entertaining, or informative piece. Sorry, I just don't have it. Occasionally, world events become too overwhelming, too discouraging, and too dark to have anything positive to share. I have quit watching the nightly news but when you share a house with other people, it's not feasible to expect them to quit as well. Despite noise canceling headphones,horrific reports seep in like so much crude from Deepwater Horizon.

I'll try to have something worthwhile to share next month.

Happy writing,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Art Of Commissioning A Prop

One way to attract readers to your table at conventions is through the use of props. Nothing catches the eye like a well-done figurine, video, or picture featuring one of your characters.

I already had a nice display prop for my most recent novel, however that was about it. An earlier series, now graced with new covers thanks to my publisher, deserved something too.

I set out to remedy this while attending a comic-con in Houston. There were quite a few crafting folks selling their wares, and I figured I had a chance of finding...something. So there I was admiring a small bust of Superman, one of several hand-crafted and painted sculptures being sold by a small outfit called. Spyridian Productions. At first glance, you would think "nice", but little else. Nothing being sold looked anything like what I needed.

Many dealers will, however, take on a commission. You just have to ask. I approached Sean, half of the Spyridian team (Melissa is the other half) with an idea of a bust for a main character, and showed him the book cover with her face on it. He glanced at one of his Superman creations with an eye toward some serious sculpting, and agreed to take the project on. We settled on a very reasonable price, and a time frame. Half the money to be paid up front, and the rest afterward. Quite reasonable.

A stream of IM messages followed over the weeks to come as both he and Melissa locked down the concept art. I knew that we'd never get the same exact vision, but kept a practical eye on what would please the crowds, not just a cranky author. There was also artistic license to consider, as Sean and Melissa had a far better handle on what looks good than I do. Even so, they pulled down the first chapters from the books where my heroine was described, and showed me an initial sculpted head sans paint. It was far better than I dared hope.The pony tail was their idea, but not entirely outside of the descriptions (she has braids pulled back through a hole in her helmet). More importantly, it looked good (that artistic license I talked about).

Next came the painting jobs, and more Instant Messages with pictures. Nope, the lipstick had to go (actually a cause for relief as they didn't really like the idea either). A white bodice was also changed to black with red trim, as befit the character's uniform colors. Now, did the armor look like what she wore in the book? Nope. Looks good? Yep. Keep it. The cloak and turtle shell fell into the same area where looks outweighed authenticity. Again, these folks know what looks good, and any commission you do should be with the understanding that there will be these differences.

The artwork was paid for and shipped, and a very good sign was when I saw a little regret from Melissa that her "baby" was leaving home. That spoke of professional pride, and a job well done.

So "Mikial" will be sitting with her books at our next convention, easily attracting passers by and opening up a new avenue of discussion that paves the way to sales.  It just took networking, compromise, and a great team of artists to accomplish everything.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing When the Living is Easy and the Water Beckons

Ah, the glory days of summer, how I love them. Although, to tell you the truth (a phrase I've always hated, sounds as if everything I've said before has been a lie), summer is pretty brutal along the Texas Gulf Coast and our glory days start the end of September and mosey on into winter. I guess we equate summer with limitless freedom because schools are out and families can take vacations. I get that, after all I didn't sign up to teach summer classes and I am free as any school kid. Well, sort of.

I'm free to set my schedule as I want, however, I'm on a mission and that mission is to write something that will appeal to an agent. So, free as I might be from the bonds of a job, I still am bound to my laptop. Unfortunately, even in the shade, the glare is too bright and my computer burns hot, so I'm stuck inside for hours at a time. None of my friends understand so they shake their heads in consternation and mosey along to their summer pursuit while I pound away on my Mac. 

After this long diatribe, I at last come to the point of today's post(Is that a sigh of relief I hear? Don't blame you, I wondered where I was going with this ramble too). My point is to celebrate those of us disciplining ourselves to sit at our computers and write while our friends and family go out and have fun. It's hard to keep to a writing schedule when we'd all rather be hanging out at the pool or the beach, I get that. But if like me, you are in pursuit of a writing goal be it finishing that first draft, or revising, or, finding an agent, we must persevere. What we're doing is, at times, a royal pain in the butt, still the possibilities of what we want to accomplish make the flabby bottoms and wan complexions worth it. Of course, summer days are long, so I hope you spend some time enjoying the outdoors. I do.

Remember this as you work away, we writers of fiction have the same dream and that is to produce books others will read and enjoy, so view this post as your atta-boy, now quit reading and get back writing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Healthy Paranoia, the writer’s dream affliction

Have you found yourself expecting the worst? The worst case scenario, the worst outcome, that OMG, what would I do if?

 If you’re a writer you’re in good company. If you’re a reader, you’re in for a game of oops not that, no, no! Or, what more can happen to this poor soul the author is torturing, yet…why not throw one more thing at him or her?

Writers think ahead. When we go for a checkup to our physicians of choice, we’ve already decided how we’ll handle: skin cancer, heart attacks, debilitating diseases, and allergies. Writers are plagued with…well, plagues. Nothing is taken lightly in our own lives. But when writers are at their stations plotting against the lives of their characters, they are merciless. Readers love it; writers, who live with this paranoia, use it well. 

For readers of fiction Murphy’s Law rules. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

For writers, Shapiro’s Law is closer to the truth. “Murphy was an optimist.”

Find Julie at:

Twitter: @JulieEPainter

or Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1sBpDU8





Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hero Stories

Our local public library offers reading programs for kids every summer. This summer, the theme is "Every Hero has a Story." My storytelling group meets at the library, so we borrowed the idea this month, and swapped hero stories.

One member of the storytelling group, in the Navy at the time, watched Apollo 13 launch and snapped an Insta-Matic photo; he still cherishes the memory of those heroes on board that troubled flight. Another told fairy tales about a prince cursed to be a troll until he found his true love - who proved herself to be his hero by washing his laundry. A new member shared the story of her grandmother, who helped a reclusive mountain man find a bride.

Preparing my story, I pondered all the types of heroes we hear about - firefighters (our little corner of the world is already having a rough wildfire season), other first responders, teachers, activists, volunteers, rescuers, explorers, adventurers of all kinds. But the person who immediately popped to mind never did anything that would make the news.

My great-aunt Emma was born in Minnesota to German immigrants who farmed land there. She followed her brothers to the Yakima valley, where they had peach and cherry orchards. Emma and her half-sisters provided meals daily for their own families, extended family members, orchard workers, friends, and anyone who happened by. (If they weren't hungry when they arrived at Emma's door, their appetites would be ignited by the smells coming from her kitchen - her fried chicken, potato salad, and pies were stuff of legend.) In the summers we'd gather in the grassy yard that sloped gently from the back porch to the trees, eating fresh corn on the cob and homemade vanilla ice cream with peaches picked that day, sticky juices covering our chins and running down our arms as we sampled as many as we brought to the farmhouse.

Emma experienced the joys and sorrows of family life - she married Clifford at age 18, had two children of her own, lost her youngest son in an automobile accident the night of his high school graduation. After their oldest son moved away, Emma and Clifford finally sold the orchard and moved to a mobile home court with many of their relatives and friends. Suddenly Emma had no yard to care for, no huge farmhouse to clean - and she reveled in it - but she cooked as well or better in that tiny mobile home kitchen as ever. Emma and Cliff celebrated their 60th anniversary; their cancer diagnoses came within a few months of each other. Cliff wanted to outlive Emma so she "would never have to be alone," but alas, he passed first. Emma followed within weeks.

I'm not certain any of that is heroic. But if I had to give Aunt Emma a superpower, it would be unconditional love. Countless of us kids and cousins remember the sparkle in her blue eyes, her warm hugs, her enormous smiles whenever we came within view - and no matter what we did, success or failure or even lack of trying, in Emma's eyes we were champions.

So when I needed a character for An Alien's Guide to World Domination who would take Our Heroine in when she was lost, steer her in the right direction, and also kick some (*ahem*) when the bad guy tried his evil doings, I couldn't help but name that character Aunt Emma.

Who are your heroes, and what superpowers do they have?

Elizabeth Fountain writes stories of angels, aliens, humans, and of course dogs who save the world. You can find her blog and more of her work at Point No Point.