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November 29, 2012

Borrowing the Tiara for the day is...Nikki Duncan & Her Miracle Man

Today, we welcome a very special
DARA friend to the PP!
She's already very adept at wearing tiaras. LOL
Hi, Nikki Duncan!

Love ‘em or Hate ‘em? Morning or Night? What’s Nikki Duncan opening up about? Hey, Plotting Princesses! Thanks for having me here today.

How did you get from your day job to writing romance?  I still have the day job, I simply made a shift of using my personal time to read to writing instead. I do hope to one day make another shift so writing is the day job and reading again becomes my biggest pastime.

What are your three favorite books of all time? Divine Evil by Nora Roberts, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Morning, afternoon, or evening person? Hmm. It seems to vary from day to day. I think more often than not I’d say afternoon.

Music--with or without? What kind? With. Definitely with. As to what kind? Almost all kinds. I really only avoid the heaviest rock where it’s more screaming than lyrics.

First or third POV? Third when I’m writing. In reading, I can take both.

How's tricks? Do you juggle multiple projects? I’ve become quite adept at juggling. Family. Work. Hobbies. Writing. Suspense. Paranormal. Contemporary. YA. There’s always something going on in my head and even when I’m working on one story it’s common to have another blathering away in the background.

What's harder: beginning, middle, or the end? This differs from book to book, but I think overall that it’s the middle. I can almost always visualize the kick off and last scene the fastest and with the most clarity.

Revisions: Love 'em or hate 'em?  Hate ‘em when they break the flow of a new WIP, but then when I dive into them, I love ‘em. By the time revisions come back to me, I’ve forgotten most of the smaller details I’ve included. This means that the book is largely new to me, and I love that. I also love when I find a line or section that surprises me and makes me proud of myself.

How did you come up with that title?  Best advice anybody ever gave you? Titles are HARD. We work so hard on coming up with the perfect one only to discover that it often gets changed. The best advice I’ve ever heard on titles, though, came from Leah Hultenschmidt during a conference workshop. She said to always try to come up with a title that couldn’t be ignored. At the same time it needs to depict the feeling of the book. I like to think I’ve accomplished that on my books (with some editorial help in some cases.)

The Sensory Ops Series - Sounds to Die By, Scent of Persuasion, Illicit Intuitions, A Killing Touch

The Tulle and Tulips Series - Tangled in Tulle, Twisted in Tulips

Her Miracle Man, The Back-Up Fiance

Fill in this blank: My ideal fictional hero would think me gorgeous no matter…how big my bitch tantrums can become. Oh wait, I already have that, at least I do if hubby’s recent comment is anything to judge by. “You’re feeling like a real bitch today, but I’m still glad you’re with me.” It was impossible not to laugh at that. lol

What's your favorite dessert?  Strawberry Shortcake or Tiramisu or Chocolate or Cherry Cobbler or Peach Cobbler or White Cake or… Do I really have to name one?

Do you write at home or someplace else? Wherever I can find a few minutes without interruptions. I’ve even written on school busses crammed with kids. 

What's your favorite type of hero/heroine and why? Lately it seems I like wounded characters. Maybe they’re emotionally wounded. Maybe physically. Maybe both. It’s fun to explore why they’re damaged and what it’s going to take to bring them back to “life.”

In my latest release HER MIRACLE MAN that released 2 days ago, the heroine is the wounded one and the hero is trying to bring her back to “life” while they work together on a special Christmas project called A Month of Miracles.

Here’s the blurb for that one:
Children’s hospital administrator Ryland Davids was attracted to event planner Jennalyn James the moment he saw her. He thought there would be plenty of time to get to know her—until her younger sister, Sabrina, was admitted with complications from traumatic brain injury.
Sabrina’s bright courage broke through Ryland’s wall of professional distance, but once she drew her last breath, Jennalyn left the hospital and never returned. Though he understands her need for distance, there’s a hole in his heart that won’t heal. And a last wish from Sabrina he’s honor-bound to deliver.
When Jennalyn comes face to face with Ryland at a charity event, the pain comes rushing back, threatening to shatter her everything’s-fine fa├žade. It doesn’t help that the lump in her throat is mostly her heart, leaping in response to his touch.
Despite her reluctance to return to the scene of her grief, she fulfills Sabrina’s final request to plan a series of Christmas events for the kids. Over the course of A Month of Miracles, Ryland and Jennalyn discover there’s the light of hope at the end of grief’s dark tunnel. But it may not be enough to heal her broken heart.

Find Nikki's Books at:

Find Nikki at:
Twitter: @NDuncanWriter
Facebook: N Duncan Writer

And be sure to check out her blog party that ends this week. There are some AWESOME prizes still to be won.

What other questions do you have for Nikki? Pick her brain.

November 27, 2012

Wearing the Crown at the Plotting Princesses: J. L. Hilton on her book Stellarnet Prince

The Plotting Princesses welcome J. L. Hilton
and her new book, Stellarnet Prince!

Now, on to the good stuff and dishing the dirt.

How did you get from your day job to writing romance?

I still have a day job. I homeschool my girls, ages 8 and 12. I've also been a professional jewelry designer for more than ten years, and I continue to do that. Not as much as I used to, but I do.

Over the years, I'd produced a little fiction and a lot of non-fiction – short stories, newspaper articles, columns, that sort of thing. I was content with jewelry as my creative outlet, and in 2008 founded a jewelry artists' collective called the Triangle Jewelry Makers. In 2009, I contributed three projects to the book Steampunk Style Jewelry.

I had no desire to become a professional novelist. But in May 2009, I woke up from a dream and had a story in my head that wouldn't go away. It consumed me. I wrote it down, had a few people read it, and they urged me to publish. So here I am.

What are your three favorite books of all time?

Les Miserables, Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. I'm also a big fan of the collected works of Yeats, Dickens, Shakespeare, Poe and Doyle. I love classics. I'm reading the collected works of Elizabeth Gaskell right now.

Morning, afternoon, or evening person?

Evening to very early morning. If I could, I'd stay up until 3am or 4am and sleep until noon. Lunch would be my breakfast. My body is just made that way. I've tried to force it into a different schedule without much success for 40 years. I can do it if I have to, but I function much better when the sun is down.

Music--with or without? What kind?

I have a whole music page on the Stellarnet Series website. ( ) I can't listen to music while I write, but it helps when I'm plotting, outlining or composing a scene. I use it to get into a character's head or into the mood of a scene, then I turn it off and write.

I associate the interstellar news blogger Genevieve O'Riordan with songs such as “Stars” by Switchfoot, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Written in the Stars” by Blackmore's Night, because this is a story about her traveling into the stars and finding her destiny there. For the alien rebel Duin, I listen to traditional Irish songs such as “The Rising of the Moon” and “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” or the modern songs “Hero” and “If Today Was Your Last Day” by Chad Kroeger/Nickelback. I know there's a lot of Nickelback hate on the Internet, but I care more about lyrics than a band's popularity. They are songs about taking action and trying to do the right thing, which is perfect for Duin. For the outcast Belloc, some of his songs are “Home” by Depeche Mode and “When You Say You Love Me” by Josh Groban, because those are songs about loneliness, longing, and finding a place to be. 

I listened to “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge a LOT while writing Stellarnet Prince. For me, this song expresses the heart and soul of the story. If there's a theme song to sum up the first book, Stellarnet Rebel, it would have to be “You Raise Me Up,” because at its core it's a story about how the choices we make can either lift up or tear down our fellow beings. 

First or third POV?

The Stellarnet Series is third person. The main POV character is Genevieve “J'ni” O'Riordan, but some chapters are written from the perspective of the aliens Duin and Belloc. In book two, a few chapters are also written from the perspective of a Tikati alien named Kitik and a Glinnish alien named Eb.

How's tricks? Do you juggle multiple projects?

I currently have six – seven? do I hear eight? – WIP, including a weird west supernatural, an alternate history/fantasy adventure, a series of erotic sci-fi novellas, and a first-person POV urban fantasy. The third book in the Stellarnet Series is the one I'm focused on right now, but the others drift in and out on occasion.

What's harder: beginning, middle, or the end?

Definitely the middly bits. When I begin a new story, I tend to write one or two of the chapters very near the beginning and a climactic scene near the end, then I fill in what happens between. I've compared my process to the underpants gnomes on Southpark. “Phase 1: Collect underpants. Phase 2: ?. Phase 3: Make profit.” Part 1: Interstellar blogger meets alien freedom fighter. Part 2: ?. Part 3: Well, I can't tell you that without major spoilers!

Revisions: Love 'em or hate 'em?

Love love love 'em and my editor Alison Dasho. That's where the magic happens.

How did you come up with that title? 

My original title for the first book was Asteria Colony. Now, I can't think of it as anything but Stellarnet Rebel. It's an awesome, utterly perfect title. I wish I could take credit, but it came from my publisher, Carina Press. They pulled it from a list of words my editor and I sent them which included “stellarnet” (what I call the future Internet that spans several stars, planets and moons) and things like “spacepunk,” “metalscape” and “technorebel.”

Best advice anybody every gave you?

About writing, or life in general? For life in general: “Unless it's yes, it's no.” It was given in the context of relationships, not to stay in one if your heart – or the other person's – isn't in it. But it can apply to a lot of things. I guess it's sort of like “follow your heart” or “don't cast your pearls before swine.” Go in the direction of your enthusiasm, and don't waste time or effort on those who are indifferent to you.

For writing: “Stop using so many adverbs. It should be obvious from the dialog whether it is sad, angry or hopeful.” lol

Fill in this blank: My ideal fictional hero would think me gorgeous no matter… if I had bed-head, ears, small eyes and no color on my back. Genevieve O'Riordan is beautiful by humanity's standards, thanks to her genetic modifications, but the Glin don't have hair or ears. They have large, dark eyes and coloring on the back halves of their bodies, like frogs. Beauty transcends physical characteristics, for my heroes.

What's your favorite dessert?

Black and white cookies (aka half moon cookies). You just had to bring them up, didn't you? Where's my car keys...

Do you write at home or someplace else?

I usually write on a laptop in my bedroom. But I did write portions of the Stellarnet Series at Tir na nOg Irish Pub and on thriller novelist Andrew Britton's couch.

What's your favorite type of hero/heroine and why?

Flawed heroes who can't seem to get a break (Edward Scissorhands, Phantom of the Opera) or anti-heroes who aren't afraid to break the rules (or a few heads) and flaunt convention in order to do what's right and protect their own (V for Vendetta, Firefly). Belloc is a little bit of the former, Duin is a little – ok a LOT – of the latter.

Blurb from Stellarnet Prince (November 2012) published by Carina Press:

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers–and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?


Giveaway information:

November 20, 2012

Plotting Princess Vicki on The Holiday Reel Turns

The Holiday Reel Turns

I have many favorite Christmas movies; however, there's some that are a little different and would like to share a bit of them.
a favorite holiday shot of mine

Millions. Takes place during the euro conversion in England (yes, I know. Didn't happen in England.) Two brothers find a duffle bag filled with pound notes and have a field day spending and sharing, only the robber is trying to get it back. Poignant moment: The youngest brother, who talks to various saints, is wondering if his recently deceased mother is a saint. There's an awesome scene where he is reunited with her, and he asks what she's done to be considered for sainthood. The mum says, "Don't you know? It was you." I cry every time.

Stalag 17. Set in WW2 at Christmas time. There's a spy in the American unit and he's giving secrets to the Germans. Is the bad guy who everyone thinks he is? A superb performance by the entire cast, and particularly, William Holden.

November 15, 2012

PP for the day! Paty Jager & Secrets of a Mayan Moon

We're lending a tiara to Paty Jager today!
Read thru to the end because she has a fantastic giveaway!

Paty, how did you get from your day job to writing romance?  I had a critique partner who saw a new small press publisher was starting up and she urged me to send Marshal in Petticoats to them. They contracted that book and nine more.

What are your three favorite books of all time? Oh,man! Nora Roberts’ MacGregor Christmas- it opened the door to romance books to me. LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird- It made me want to write historical western romance. Sue Grafton’s A is for Alibi- This book made me want to write mysteries.

Morning, afternoon, or evening person?
 Morning I’d say, though my husband would beg to differ. I have a hard time getting out of bed before the sun is shining. I’m pretty good in the afternoon, but by evening I want to curl up with a book or watch a good tv show and not tax my brain.

November 13, 2012

Michelle Miles: What are your holiday traditions?

The holidays always seems to sneak up on me, even though I know they’re coming. And then I’m annoyed Christmas stuff is up in the storesbefore Halloween has even come and gone.

I suppose that’s a tradition in itself. We know the decorations are going up before we take the kids trick-or-treating, we still grumble about it. I like to carve pumpkins every year for Halloween and decorate the house with all the fall stuff I have. We usually buy mums that die in a week or two. This year, I had a fog machine for added effect whilst handing out candy.

I have a neighbor a few doors down who put up Christmas decorations around the first of November last year. They’re the first one on the block to get their decorations up. Maybe that was their goal – to be first.

November 8, 2012

Plotting Princess Kat Baldwin has thoughts about Brainstorming 101

Brainstorming 101

Hiya! I’m a Pantser (a writer who plots by the seat of her pants). So what am I doing hanging out with Plotting Princesses?  I’m here because they’re my friends and this is a fabulous group of women, but also because I love to brainstorm with other writers. It’s fun! I love brainstorming other authors’ plots.

So, let’s talk about brainstorming. Please excuse me if my psyche background comes burbling out, but this is a really exciting topic for me. Let’s look at the brain.

Everyone knows about right brain and left brain functions.

But there’s much more to it than simply accessing your right-brain. This simplistic view fails to explain true genius or creativity. Here’s how it really happens. Suppose a wild idea pops into your mind, it takes analytical brain functions to apply it to anything useful.

November 6, 2012

Apathy and Passion

It's election day and while I don't want to make this message about politics-too mean and nasty, I thought maybe a reminder about why we vote was a good topic for today. I promise you I'm not going to tell you which party you should vote for or who's the better candidate. Please, unless you've been on a remote island with no access to radio and TV, you've heard that song and pony show for over a year. Politics is like religion-your choice.

So why should you go vote today? Because we live in a democracy that depends on the people making the decision on how they want their government run. Maybe I'm naive, but my going to the polls and casting my vote, tells the government who I want running our government.

If people don't vote, then you let everyone else make the decision for you. Your voice is not heard and well, frankly, in my book, you have no right to complain about the government. Because "We the People" in our constitution is all of us and we create the government.

November 1, 2012

Blog: Amy Rogers-Is Writing a Novel Like Giving Birth?

I’ve been blessed with both of these experiences in my life and I do see some parallels. One important difference: my children were born with the temperaments God gave them.  The characters in my stories, however, are entirely within my power.  I can make them into whatever kind of person I want.

Amy Rogers

In my debut novel Petroplague, I used my God-like power to create a heroine I’d love to meet in real life. Christina Gonzalez has the two kinds of strength I admire most: strength of character and strength of intellect.  She’s smart (working on her PhD in microbiology at UCLA) and she knows the difference between right and wrong. The scientific work she’s doing—using bacteria to increase domestic energy production—is supposed to be a good thing.

Until an eco-terrorist sabotages her field test and a microbial monster is born.

In Petroplague, Christina’s creation mutates.  Her bacteria start to eat gasoline and turn it into vinegar.  They swiftly contaminate the fuel supply of Los Angeles, paralyzing the city and forcing a quarantine of the entire region.  At first Christina hides behind her youth and guilty feelings and lets her elders handle the situation--until she’s the only person left who has the power to save Western civilization.