J'overt in Trinidad

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 11:45 AM | 7 comments »

This Monday and Tuesday gone would have been Carnival Monday and Tuesday in Trinidad. Probably the two most glorious days of any year. I was supposed to be there playing ‘mas (as we Trinis refer to it) and, more importantly playing J’Ouvert. I thought I’d give everyone a taste of J’Ouvert. The words are French, a contraction of jour ouvert which translates into day open. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from D is for Desire. I am mourning my lost Carnival.

The pickup rolled to a halt, and the engine died. Early rising birds chirped a melody intermingled with cicada warbles. A white sign with black letters displayed the painted words, ‘Trinidad and Tobago Zoo,’ and the wood creaked as a gentle breeze blew across the asphalt road.

“We’re here.” Michael vaulted over the edge of the tray. “Damn, the music trucks are starting up. Did anyone tell our driver what time to pick us up?”

“He’s meeting us for eight in the morning.”

“Good. Come on. Make haste women. Let’s find the bathtubs.” Michael trotted away.

“Here, Alex, take a swig. You need to loosen up.” Jake passed a bottle of Black Label Scotch to him. “It’s not single malt, but it’ll do.”

Jake forced Alex into the tub.

He point-blank refused to take off his t-shirt.

“The less the stuff gets on my skin, the happier I’ll be,” Alex grumbled as he lowered himself into the mud bath. To his utmost surprise, the hot glaze prickled the surface of his skin and enhanced every sense, making him aware of the sweet, frangipani aroma dusting the small park, the sable sky dotted with twinkling diamonds, the low rhythmic pounding of African drums combining with his escalating pulse.

“For someone who didn’t want to get into the tub in the first place, you sure look as happy as a clam in there.” Michael prodded Alex’s shoulder blade. “It’s my turn. Get up. The trucks will leave soon, and the liquor cart. We can’t lose the liquor cart.”

The cold morning air hit the mud coating Alex’s skin, and it dried in slow, tight stings, curing into patches of chill, crisp flakes;. Sexuality thrummed through him like a living, breathing creature, and all his fantasies converged into one: Dee.
He jumped when Daphne curled her arm around his waist. “Come on, sweetie, you’re in my hands for wining and chipping instructions.” She handed him a wineskin. “Have a swig, and we’ll get started.”

Obeying, Alex chugged the liquid in the wineskin. Tequila. He refused to think about tomorrow’s hangover, or was it today’s?

“Here we go. Position yourself behind me.” Daphne guided his arms around her waist. “Now this is wining.” She ground a slow, sensual circle with her hips pressing her buttocks over his arousal. A tiny groan escaped his mouth.

“Are you sure Michael will be okay with this?” Alex whispered in Daphne’s ear, knowing they were a married couple.

“Course, sweetie, anything goes at Carnival time. It’s all good fun once we don’t take it too far. Think of it as harmless flirting loaded with sexual tension.”

Daphne changed direction and circled to the left. She leaned forward, bent almost double at the waist, and ground against his organ making smaller, rapid movements with her hips.

“Crap,” Alex said. “Does everyone walk around at the point of climax?”

“Hopefully, you do climax at some point in time.” Rosie inserted her arm around Alex’s waist from behind. “Shall we give him a Trini sandwich, Daph?”

“Why not? We’ll get him off to a good start.”

Rosie’s long copper-hued arms lifted his damp t-shirt and snuck around the heated skin of his stomach. She matched Daphne’s rhythm, circling her hips around his from the back as Daphne ground her bottom into his shaft from the front.

Sweat broke out on Alex’s temples. “Crap, no wonder you guys rave about Carnival. This is heaven. Christ, I’m a Trini sandwich. This may be my first Carnival, but it certainly won’t be my last.”

“Now chipping is basically shuffling your feet down the road in this position keeping my bumsey plastered over your pelvis.” Daphne arched a look back at Alex
“Bumsey?” he queried.

“Trini word for bum,” Rosie answered. Her fingers drifted to the tip of his arousal.

Alex captured her hand with his. He let it drop to his side. “How long do we do this for?” He wanted to ask Jake if none of the women objected to a stranger’s blatant erection.

“For J’ouvert, until around eight. Then we go home, shower, eat, sleep, wake up, and come out to play pretty Mas in the sunshine.” Rosie rubbed her palm across Alex’s bare belly. “He’s got a definite 6-pack, Daph. You need to show Michael, just to rile him.”

“Jake, pass me the Scotch, will you?” Alex asked.

The two women lifted his t-shirt and busied themselves examining his chest and stomach. Rosie tweaked one of his nipples. Horrified, Alex grabbed her hand and clasped it in his.

“Don’t manhandle the poor boy, ladies.” Jake smirked at Alex and slapped the bottle into his hand. “Drink up. You look like you need it.”

The DJ blasted into life, splintering the low conversational hum of eight hundred bodies dancing and twirling in the darkness of the early morning. Daphne and Rosie disappeared, immediately replaced by a couple of slick, skimpily-clad, voluptuous, coffee-colored women. They sandwiched Alex and ground into him, a mound on his rear end, a bottom rubbing his throbbing erection. He drifted with the flow, letting the women dictate his direction. Steel band music thundered along the cool morning breeze. Moisture hung heavy and thick, coating sweaty bodies with cool dew.

Michael passed him the Black Label bottle. “I can feel the rain coming. It always rains on J’ouvert morning. Take a shot. It’ll ward off the chill. This is the best part of J’ouvert coming up. The rain makes all those gorgeous nipples hard. Luscious bubbies with their pointy nipples. A man can’t ask for more.”

Alex noticed Dee a few yards away. Her platinum curls glowed in the faint lights from a nearby café. Across the wide path, their eyes met, tangled, promised. A five-deep circle of tipsy females all bent on sexual pleasure surrounded him. She turned her back on Alex. His fascination with Dee bewildered him. Alex wondered what her ‘special abilities’, Tee’s PC term for witchy talents, were, and whether they included inciting uncontrollable lust in unsuspecting men. Dee seemed made for Carnival, sexy, rumpled, abandoned, prancing to the blaring music.

Two bikini-clad women wearing burlap loincloths and scarlet halter-tops led the band into the street carrying a large banner proclaiming their theme, ‘Vikings’. Crude but effective, he decided, and searched the suffocating crowd for Dee. He caught a glimpse of her white-blonde curls in a random stream of moonlight.

Compelled like a gnat to a flame, Alex elbowed his way through the crowd and came up behind Dee.

To the right, Jake and Tee chipped to the music. Jake’s linked hands draping his wife’s bare waist, her hips plastered to his.

Bittersweet envy strung through Alex in response to the couple’s Kodak moment, the easy intimacy hard to stomach in the face of his recent, callous decision, which he already regretted. His gaze swept to Dee, and something tugged at his soul.

Carefree mother earth goddess, hands thrown up in the air, forefingers pointed, eyes closed, sensuality personified. She bent her knees and did a rapid stripper’s roll, circling her hip to the left. The burlap flap fell away as her bottom lifted, and Alex got a ten-second glimpse of a high, rounded, naked cheek. A slash of scarlet slashed its edge. Dizzying desire lanced lightning bolts, and primordial instincts wrestled away any remaining veneer of civilized man.

His hands snaked around Dee’s narrow waist, and he locked them together. Dee jerked to a halt becoming un-pliant in his embrace. Alex pulled her back to his chest. Her head popped around, and she didn’t seem surprised to discover it was he. Dee let him hug her, but Alex felt her doubt in the rigid tension of her spine. He loosened his hold letting a few inches separate them. Gradually, she began moving to the music, hips undulating. Alex drew her closer in small increments until they chipped forward together.

A large man bumped into Alex’s shoulder, warm liquid from the bottle in his hand sloshed over Alex’s arm. Sparks lit the dark morning to the right of them, and the pungent aroma of marijuana battled those of rum and perspiration for dominance.

“Here comes the rain.” Michael materialized at Alex’s side. The music halted for a moment, and his shout resonated over the shuffling of feet. “The bubbies, here comes the bubbies. I need some whiskey and a woman to wine on.”

A smattering of stinging, cold raindrops assaulted Alex’s skin.

Michael passed the bottle of Black Label to Dee. She twisted out of Alex’s arms to get it, took a swift swallow, and plopped the bottle into his hands. He took a sip of the fiery liquid and gave it to Jake.

Alex’s eyes were drawn inexorably to Dee’s breasts. Sure enough, her nipples had hardened under the chill torrent of raindrops, tightening into stiff, round points. His lips dried out, parched, thirsting. His mouth burned with the need to suckle, sip at those nubs. He grabbed the whiskey bottle and took another long swig, trying to eradicate the flood of lust threatening an embarrassing release. When he encircled her waist again, Dee relaxed, snuggling into his arms. His shaft grazed the small of her back, feeding on the slight friction. A fierce breeze whooshed down the six-lane road, puckering flesh.

Dee’s petite form shuddered, bursting into a series of little shivers. Alex touched his mouth to her ear. “Cold?”

Dainty hands came up to cup her shoulders, and she nodded.

Planting his feet wide apart, Alex shouted, “Stay there.” He braced against the crowds milling at his back, hooked his t-shirt over his head, and offered it to her.

The crowd jostled Alex along the length of a blaring music truck. A man wearing black spandex cycle shorts sang into a microphone under the fluorescent lights of a canopied music truck. He warbled a calypso, equal parts Rap and Soca, his bluesy voice climbing above the crowd’s sing-a-long and the rain’s drumming. The moment proved intoxicating in the extreme. The scent of musky coupling and sweet rum filled the air. The music wove into Alex’s brain. Pelvises gyrated friction, from the front, behind, and at the sides.

As individuals, they held no goals, no direction. As a united crowd, bent on sensory pleasure, music, elation, touching, grinding, the scent of heated arousal, a sugary, languid, soaring excitement with one end in sight: climax, the poignant fulfillment of a bacchanalian dawning. J’ouvert, the day opening, the literal translation of the term.

Drunkenness stole over Alex in time to the rising red ball of the sun on the horizon. They crossed the Savannah Stage at six o’clock. The band refused to leave the wide wooden podium, even after some self-important official pleaded with them over a megaphone to let other bands have their turn.

Writers are Unique

Posted by Judy | 10:03 AM | 11 comments »

Hi! I’m a new member of the group and am delighted to be among such talented women who are going places in the publishing world. I like the idea that we all write something a little different and can, thereby, add our own texture to the tapestry being woven by us.

My invitation, through the kindness of Pam Varnado and Mary Marvella and the others in the group, has made me realize once again how unique writers are. Pam, Mary and I are all members of Georgia Romance Writers. I moved to Florida in April. Still…we’ve kept a unique connection because we’re writers striving for the same thing. And in Florida, I became a member of the Spacecoast STARs, another RWA group whose members support and encourage each other, and met Cyndi from Alabama Arkansas.

It is this generous spirit of reaching out, helping others, encouraging others that makes writers, as a group, so unusual. Writing with an eye to publishing is a horrible business. Most writers will readily admit it. In what other field would a person work diligently to create a “word baby” so that she can be told how ugly that baby is? And, yet, it happens to us all. And most of us go on to thank the viewer for pointing out every little flaw.

Yes, we writers are a unique group. Think about it. We sit alone, work alone, come out of our caves to socialize with each other occasionally and yet there is a sense of team, of being a part of a special group that can’t be found anywhere else. And though we technically compete against each other, there is a sense of accomplishment in learning of someone else’s success, even though we might wishfully be thinking, “next time, let it be me.”

I’d love to hear about some of your experiences—good and bad.

Joanne is usually our "Deal of the Day" to-go gal, but I found this today and thought I'd pass it along.

Westinghouse 26-inch Widescreen 1080P LCD Monitor


From New Day New Deal

Immerse yourself in the largest and most stunning monitor from Westinghouse to date 26" LCD monitor L2610NW. This captivating monitor delivers beyond 1080p quality with 1920 x 1200 resolution and a dynamic contrast of 3000:1. With a 2ms response time, this monitor is a perfect fit for gaming, watching TV and DVD and surfing the Internet. This sleek LCD monitor features an impeccable industrial design accentuated with a piano black bezel.

Maximum Resolution 1920 x 1200
Manufacturer Westinghouse Digital Electronics
Color Black Cabinet
Actual Screen Size 26"
Standard Warranty 1 Year
Dimensions 20" Height x 23.9" Width x 8.3" Depth - With Base
Widescreen Yes
Manufacturer Part Number L2610NW-SP
Weight 15.2 lb - With Base
Manufacturer Website Address www.westinghousedigital.com
Brightness 350 Nit
Ports 1 x HDMI-HDCP Digital Audio/Video
1 x 15-pin HD-15 VGA
1 x Audio Line In
Green Compliance Yes
Product Name L2610NW Widescreen LCD Monitor
Pixel Pitch 0.287mm
Green Compliance Certificate/Authority Energy Star
Maximum Response Time 5ms
Aspect Ratio 16:10
Product Type LCD Monitor
Horizontal Viewing Angle 170
Vertical Viewing Angle 160

Black Swan is the story of lovers separated by differences greater than fear of commitment and fear of abandonment. Tristan is a vampire, and Carol is a Black Swan, mortals who willingly submit to the vampire to experience the euphoria of the Kiss. She knows what he is and loves him anyway. Match made in Heaven? Hardly. After 11 months of bliss, Tristan runs away from Carol, looking for himself and trying to resist his nature. Can he control the beast within? Will he leave the woman who loves and understands him? Can Carol resist the music of the night?

A Black Rosette, Black Swan, a spicy vampire tale with a difference, released today from The Wild Rose Press. To purchase, follow this link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/black-swan-p-1164.html?zenid=a92814a9715df6c03859aa2000af4bd5

Or the link may be found on my web site at: http://www.lindanightingale.com/

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:04 AM | 2 comments »

Borrowed from another forum:

Landsend.com has a 20% off of everything sale today only. Winter coats are on sale, so check there first.
Promotion Code is SAVE20 and PIN is 00002138.

If you are signed up at Ebates, you'll receive an additional 3%.

Happy shopping!

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 8:40 AM | 6 comments »

Many thanks to Mama Mary for this deal--one penny books!



75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (This likely applies to over half of he world's population).
In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 13%.
One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters investigated in a University of Washington study.
Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.
Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Lack of water will adversely affect our skin and trigger, cause or aggravate most common skin problems. Water or lack of it has recently been shown by scientists to be an 'extremely important factor' in Psoriasis (see below).
Hydration starts from within

Many health professionals including dermatologists and GPs will acknowledge that water therapy (hydrotherapy) is important to the health of our skin and, indeed there are numerous water treatments (Sea water, Dead Sea, M-Folia Bath Oil etc in which the body is soaked or bathed) which are recommended. However, until recently, few have focused on the obvious - that hydration starts from the inside and that our skin is equally or more profoundly affected by the amount of water we do - or don't - drink than by the amount we bathe in or put onto our skin.

Scientists at the Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, examined 70 psoriasis patients and found that without exception, there was very poor hydration. The study demonstrated that lack of hydration of the skin is a extremely important factor in the health of our skin. The report concluded that 'the degree of dryness in psoriatic skin lesions--which we presume to be one of the aggravating factors of psoriasis--seemed to be related to disease severity.'(1)

What water does

Increasing our consumption of water has been shown to help relieve allergies and skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, wrinkles and spots. Keeping the skin hydrated both externally and internally also delays signs of aging and helps maintain healthy skin especially for people already having dry or maturing skin. Bathing the skin in warm water thoroughly cleanses, gently exfoliates, and hydrates. This is why many skin creams are water-based that help to maintain the elasticity of the skin. Sunken eyes and under eye circles are signs that water consumption is low. Eyes sink because there isn't enough water to keep them suspended in the eye socket. Under-eye circles are due to lack of fluids that causes thin skin which is easily bruised.
Water helps the body to flush out toxins and wastes from the body and repair the damage that is caused due to daily wear and tear. Changing the amount of water you consume will affect your blood volume and the hydration in the body cells. This is why the consumption of water must be consistent to allow the body to function optimally.

How much water should I drink?

The amount of water you should drink is determined by your body weight. 70% of our bodies are made up of water. A good rule of thumb is to calculate the amount of water you need to drink by:

(a) finding your weight in lbs
(b) divide in half
(c) convert to fluid ounces

e.g. if your body weight is 200lbs, you would need to drink 100 fl oz of water a day. This may seem a lot to begin with, so gradually increase the amount of water you drink and you'll see a huge difference in your health & your skin.

What water should I drink?

The purer your water is, the better. We would recommend that you use a good water purifier at home to eliminate the impurities (heavy metals, bacteria, hormones etc) and also consider supercharging it - by that we mean, adding ionic minerals and alkalising it - more info

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 8:50 AM | 6 comments »

I have posted about restaurant.com before, but wanted to post again as they are at 80% off.

Go to the website and type in your zip code. A $25.00 off of a $35.00 meal is a substantial savings. These certificates normally cost $10.00, but with coupon code DINE, you will pay only $2.00 for a $25.00 certificate.

My family uses these certificates all time. In these tough economic times, it's fun to still be able to enjoy going out to a restaurant.

Hope you enjoy!

Linnea, you were wonderful and we Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers thank you from the bottoms of our hearts!

Our lucky winners!

Admiral Micky won the FOLLY tote & Scarlet Pumpernickel won the cup. Please let me hear from you so we can get your prizes to you!


Chicken casserole:

Boil 3-4 chicken breasts and shred when cool. In a casserole dish, mix in 1/2 cup low fat mayo and 1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Add 2 bags of boil in a bag rice. Add sliced, cooked broccoli and bake for 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle shredded cheddar on top.
Great make ahead dish.


After having an influenza ridden winter (and I got a flu shot) I’m pondering what herbs might make a healthful tonic. I surely could use one, along with about half the country. Hack, cough, sniffle, sniff, honk…

Sassafras comes to mind and figures prominently in my American historical romances due out this May. I love its varied mitten shaped leaves and distinctive, aromatic scent. My mother has a sassafras tree growing in her yard, but I’d have to head into the mountains to get my fix. *Note to self, plant sassafras trees. Maybe if I put in an entire grove some would survive. Our challenge is the cows which occupy much of our land and eat anything not protected behind secure fencing. Saplings are among their favorite delicacies.

You might be interested to learn, as was I, that Christopher Columbus is said to have quelled mutinous seamen by the sudden sweet smell of sassafras which indicated the nearness of land. Not only did it aid in the discovery of the New World, but was an important export to Europe in the early days of colonial American, even exceeding shipments of tobacco.

Wine made from the darkly blue berries has been imbibed for colds. During the spring flowering period, the blossoms were simmered to make a tea for reducing fevers. A blood purifying spring tonic was and still is imbibed from a tea made by brewing the roots. A tea distilled from the bark was believed to aid in the treatment of bronchitis, respiratory ailments and tummy upset. Chewing the bark was thought to help break the tobacco habit, a problem even in the early days of this country. The roots were distilled and the oil from them used to flavor many products including ginger ale, sarsaparilla, cream soda, root beer, toothpaste…

A poultice made from the leaves and laid on wounds was used to stop bleeding and aid in healing. Native Americans steeped in the many uses of sassafras passed their knowledge along to European settlers in the colonial frontier. A tea from the bark was also thought to be beneficial in the treatment of venereal disease, needed by both Indians and colonists alike. If you wonder what ailments afflicted folk in the early days of this country, you need only read what they were most interested in finding treatments for and cancer doesn’t made the top ten.

How to make sassafras tea: One method is to vigorously scrub several roots, a couple of inches long, and use the whole root or cut them in into pieces and bring to a boil in three pints of water. Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for another ten minutes before straining and serving. Yet another method is to drop several roots into a quart of boiling water, remove from heat and steep then serve. A pound of roots will make 4 quarts of tea and can be used several times before they lose their strength.

For the bark, especially used as a spring tonic, cut or grind a teaspoon of bark and steep in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes, strain and sip. The tea from either root or bark should have a yellowish red hue, rich smell and pleasing taste. It can be thinned with milk or cream and sweetened. I would add some honey, but those of you who like it plain, enjoy.

And good health to us all.

Physically, my heroes often resembles someone I know, an actor or a person I met. But let’s talk about their characters. Who are the heroes we like?

In my books, the characters are a complete work of my imagination. In general, I like the alpha hero and the strong heroine who can stand up to him and ends up taming him.

While we often assimilate with the heroine and consider her the major character in a book, I prefer to concentrate on the hero. The man in her life. And mine.

In TO LOVE A HERO, a story sizzling with passion and set in a Russian country, Major General Sergei Fedorin is the ultimate alpha hero, strong, generous, dedicated to his country and his cause. He is a man of action, a respected hero, a general used to be in command, an officer no one would dare to question or disobey.
He is single-minded, sometimes arrogant and oozing self-confidence. Men admire him and women adore him. He knows his status and would selfishly protect it. Being used to adulation, he doesn’t know how to act with the independent and so different foreign scientist. For the first time in his life, he is torn by the conflict between his heart and his mind. The American woman he loves doesn’t understand his mission and deep beliefs.

I fell in love with Sergei while writing my book and reassured my husband that he was the model I used for Sergei’s character. Although he is a contemporary hero, Sergei reminds me of the historical heroes of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Heather Graham

SIMPLY ROMANCE REVIEW: Outstanding Read. Mona Risk's TO LOVE A HERO is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn't be more different.

In FRENCH PERIL, Count François is an aristocratic playboy, wealthy, gallant. He uses his charm and status to get what he wants and manages to walk out with his heart unscathed from any situation. But when he have to deal with a spirited American architect who doesn’t take no for an answer François put aside all selfishness to protect her.

I have known many French friends in my life and used their vivacity, courtesy and charm to create Count François the ultimate French aristocrat, romantic, determined, and very protective. He reminds me of the hero of French Twist by Roxanne St. Claire.

Night Owl Romance Book Reviews: RECOMMENDED READ. Mona Risk will pull you in with her amazing characters and in-depth twisting suspense. She takes armchair travel to a whole new heights as her characters travel to their heart wrenching and spine tingling doom.

In addition to militaries or aristocrats, I love to deal with doctors who struggle to save lives but don’t know how to protect their own hearts.

In BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, coming to The Wild Rose Press, Dr. Marc Suarez is a Puerto-Rican doctor, used to respect and adulation by his meddling family. He’s not an alpha hero, but an easy going, fun-loving man, fiercely attached to his own freedom. His dedication to his patients and his medical expertise earn him respect and admiration. But he is a man who wants things done and wants them done now, and wants them on his term.

When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated but novice father to his nephew, he will turn to the woman he loves for help and finally commit for better or worse.

These are the heroes I like, the heroes I fall in love with while writing my stories.

Who is your favorite hero, in real life or in books? The man who will make your heart flutter and stay in your mind long after you close a book or type the END to a story. The man you love as a whole, with his qualities and the flaws that derive from his qualities?

Are you an alpha hero lover?
Do you prefer the easygoing fellow who will make you laugh?
Come on, close your eyes and tell us of your dream hero.

I will pull a name from the comments. The winner will win a copy of my romantic suspense and ebook FRENCH PERIL.

Travelling in Third World Countries

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 8:58 AM | 10 comments »

Travelling in Third World Countries

A business trip to Guyana in South America was my first trip to a third world country

About ten minutes before our plane landed, the pilot announced that the lights at the Guyana airport were malfunctioning and we would be returning to Trinidad.

I was on a pro bono trip to Guyana to teach senior members of the UNDP a weeklong course on computer literacy, and someone from that organization was supposed to pick me up at the airport. I silently offered the individual apologies for a futile journey, as it was around ten o’clock on a Sunday night.

Ten minutes before we were supposed to land at Piarco Airport in Trinidad, the pilot announced that the lights were now functioning in Guyana, and we would be returning there.

So, I land in Guyana three hours late. It’s near midnight.

Now bear in mind, Guyana has its own currency only available if you are in the country (ten thousand Guyanese dollars would not pay for one night’s hotel stay), and I had been advised not to travel with US dollars because of the crime. The UNDP assured me they would handle all of my expenses.

We land.

I stand in line for immigration, and watch all the locals head to the front of the line with a ten dollar US bill in their hands, which they give to the officer. He waves them on without glancing at their passports….interesting…

Surprisingly, I did not have a hard time clearing either immigration or customs, (I think the UNDP documents must have cleared the way), but most of the other passengers were not so fortunate.

Exiting customs was akin to entering a Freddie Kruger nightmare.

A narrow pathway was the only way out and crowds of enormous men surrounded the path, all yelling and screaming, “You need a taxi? I’ll take you into Georgetown.”

Only the pathway was lit, everything else was pitch black.

The person who was supposed to pick me up was nowhere in sight, and paging him resulted in nada.

Think about it, I have no money, I have to get to Georgetown, which is over an hour away, and I must pick one of these hulking men to drive me there….

Two fellow passengers approach me, obvious foreigners, a middle-aged, short, wiry Caucasian man wearing a slightly askew toupee, and his companion, a tall, black man about a decade younger. They ask me if we could ride together and I gladly agree.

Now, how to pick who will drive us there?

Through the hordes thronging the roped-off area, I spot a man my height with keys in his hand (I’m five foot nothing). I point to him and say. “You’ll take us into Georgetown.”

On the way to the taxi, my fellow passengers, Englishmen on an Eco-tourism adventure, question my choice. I explain by saying, if he jumped us or pulled a weapon, between the three of us, we could probably subdue him. The Limeys turn green.

Thirty minutes into the ride after chatting with the taxi driver, I realize he’s harmless and simply trying to make a living. I relax. Not so the Englishmen.

You know the song, ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head?’

Literally happened.

It started to pour, not a gentle rain but one of those soaking downpours. The car’s roof, which we couldn’t really check out in the pitch black, turned out to be more holes than roof. The taxi driver handed us a tarp to put over our heads….and this was only four hours into the trip.

Wait until I tell you about teaching a computer literary course when electricity runs for maybe 3 hours a day, and you don’t know which 3 hours it will be from day to day….continued next blog.

I’m thrilled to have a guest blog gig at PFS on the third Wednesday of every month. When Cyndi D’Alba invited me, she asked what theme I wanted to use. At my other blogs, I write whatever interests me -- almost always something to do with writing or the writing life or books. But I didn’t have to think of what I would do here. I knew.

One of my favorite writing books is Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. I’ve read it at least three times, but I’ve never done the exercises at the end of each chapter. Writers who have taken his weekend-long workshops have raved about how much they’ve learned and how much better their books are. The exercises Maass took them through opened up new ideas and possibilities.

I’ve been having a hard time writing my wip, mostly because I keep stopping and starting to do promotion for the American Title V contest. For months, the contest has been on my mind instead of my wip. The contest is worth it, and I’m not complaining. I already know how to get my writing mojo back. I’m going to conduct my own breakout workshop by doing the exercises on the back of every chapter of Maass’s Workbook. When I’m finished going through all 34 chapters, I should know the characters better than I know myself and the plot better than my own life journey.

So that’s my theme. Once a month, on the third Wednesday of each month, I’ll blog about what I took from each chapter, and then talk about the one question at the end of each chapter that resonated most with me.

My original plan was to summarize a chapter and ask Maass’s questions at the chapter’s end. But my CP, Michelle Diener, said even though I was urging everyone to buy his book (the urge is coming!), asking every question could be copyright infringement.

Here’s my urge: If you don’t own this workbook, buy it. Maass uses examples from published breakout books in the chapters, and his explanations are motivating and instructive. There’s a reason why writers love this book, and that’s because it’s so good.

If you already own the book and have done the exercises, I hope you’ll stop by and share what you've learned. Or else consider this a time to renew your knowledge and use it on your wip.

If there’s ever a time to read the breakout novel, it’s now. In the book’s Introduction, Maass said because of changes in the publishing business he saw that opportunities and sales were shrinking for most writers. But not all. Many writers were getting ahead. He studied their work and wrote the results in his 2001 book, Writing the Breakout Novel.

He used the information with his own clients, and said “The results have been dramatic. Stalled careers have been turned around, agency revenue is way up, and many clients tell me that they are writing with new joy.”

He started his weekend workshops on Writing the Breakout Novel, which led to the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. He says, “Writing a breakout novel is the hardest work you will ever do. But it can be done, and done by anyone with basic fiction writing skills and the patience and determination to take his fiction all the way to the highest level of achievement.”

One writing problem I’ve worked on is putting tension on every page. For the last two years, I have "RAISE THE STAKES" taped on my computer. Maass pounds this into the reader. He pounds everything in.

What’s the biggest problem with writing that you need to work on? If you don't have any now, what was a problem you had before and how did you turn it around?

And if you haven’t voted this round on the American Title contest, please take a moment and vote for your favorite.

Linnea Sinclair is offering prizes!

Posted by Mary Marvella | 12:25 AM | 11 comments »

Shy folks who don't comment lose the chance to win one of Linnea's generous prizes.

Please welcome Linnea Sinclair, Award-Winning Science Fiction Romance Author.

Her awards include the RITA©, Sapphire, and PEARL awards. Linnea Sinclair's current booklist with Bantam/Random House includes FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL’S GHOST, AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS, GAMES OF COMMAND and THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, and scheduled for release in 2008-09, SHADES OF DARK and HOPE’S FOLLY. She is also a John W. Campbell award nominee.

She has been compared to Dianna Gabaldon and Judith McNaught.
Linnea Sinclair books promise kick-butt heroines, science fiction action, steamy romance, and a good dose of fun.

Linnea, how long have you been writing and was it difficult getting your books

I’ve been writing for so long I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I’m an only child and making up stories in my head was a favorite pastime. I began putting them on paper in junior high school. In my twenties, I was active in Trek fan-fic. But I never took the plunge to write fiction full time until I’d completed successful careers as a news reporter and a private investigator. I sold my detective agency in 2000, which was also the year my fantasy novel, WINTERTIDE, was accepted for publication by LTDBooks, a small Canadian publishing house.

Getting published in small press wasn’t that difficult for me. Getting a major NY
publisher to acknowledge that science fiction romance was an up-and-coming hot genre and that my small press books—and talent—could make the jump to the big time was considerably more difficult. But it was a jump I was determined to make and I concentrated, not only on winning awards with my books, but on promoting my books so that my name was “out there” in front of the reading public. My agent later told me that when Bantam bought me, they commented that I was the most well-known unknown they’d ever heard of.

I suppose it might have been easier if I’d decided to write in a different genre; mystery, perhaps, or pure romance. But science fiction romance is where my heart and soul is. I write what I love, and what I’d love to experience. For that reason, writing is an intense, personal experience for me and I try to bring that same experience to the reader. I have to write what I love, or I couldn’t write it.

How would you define science fiction romance (SFR) and what elements does the reader find in SFR that she can’t find in other stories?

Science Fiction Romance is, at its core, a science fiction/speculative fiction novel that has—equally at its core and in its theme—the romantic question between the main characters. It's written so that if either core element—science/speculative fiction or romance—were removed, the story would collapse. Or at the least, not be the same novel.

That means if the story's setting could easily—and without noticeable changes—be swapped from Port Rumor in Gensiira to Port St. Lucie in Florida, or from the bridge of a Zafharin huntership to the decks of a Carnival Cruise Line's ocean liner, then it's not SFR. And if the emotional relationship—and its eventual HEA— between the main characters could be removed and the plot would not be affected at all, it's not SFR.

The combining of the two genres sometimes boggles people. I'm not sure why. After all, the concept is not all that different from a chocolate cupcake. In order to something to be considered a chocolate cupcake, it must 1) contain chocolate and 2) be in the size, shape and form of a cupcake. Science Fiction Romance is just like that, only less fattening.

I don't know if SFR necessarily provides readers elements not found in other stories as much as it presents two (or more) elements they enjoy in one place. Tastes great and less filling, you know? The reader then doesn't have to sacrifice one favored plot element or genre for the other. Two for the price of one. If I think of any more bad clichés I'll let you know, but that's the gist of it.

Linnea, alpha women in space seems to be a recurring theme in your books, including Finders Keepers and Gabriel’s Ghost. What’s the appeal of the “kickbutt” heroine? Are you living vicariously through your characters?

Is there any other kind of hero in commercial genre fiction other than one who takes charge, forces things to happen? I suppose there is but for the kinds of things I want to read for fun, there isn't. Since everything I've written has to first please my reading tastes, then yes, my readers are always going to find themselves in cahoots with heroines (and heroes) who eventually grab the universe by the, uh, fruit basket and take control.

The appeal? Writing gurus like Dwight Swain, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Jack Bickham, James Frey and others have long pointed out that readers read to experience tension,
conflict; to participate—at a safe distance—in the resolution of a seemingly irresolvable problem. Our cultures' ancient myths and legends have featured powerful female figures (Hera, Freya, Quan-Yin, etc.). The female whose actions can change the outcome or resolve a problem is nothing new. In commercial fiction, it or rather she did go on sabbatical for a while. However, she's definitely back (and in more than one case, pissed!).

So I feel the appeal of the strong female protagonist is something deep inside many of us.

As for my living vicariously through my characters, let's see, I've been an investigative news reporter and a private investigator. Have I ever shot footage in a hurricane? Yup. Put my career on the line for a story? Yup. Forged through the Florida swamps for a story? Yup. Done live television (okay, not life threatening but definitely nerve-wracking when you're doing a live news feed and you're being attacked by wasps...)? Yup. Have I ever received death threats, threats to ruin me financially, illicit propositions, and faced the business end of a loaded gun? Yup.

So, do I live vicariously through my characters? Uh, no. Rather my characters and I share a similar adventurous attitude and a strong desire to survive.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

First, read. Read as much as you can in the genre in which you want to write.
Second, realize that writing is both an art and a craft. Yes, the muse must speak to you. But it’s up to you to put that creative inspiration in a grammatically correct form, or you’re wasting your and the muse’s time. Study and understand plot structure, characterization, conflict and dialogue. For all that fiction is freewheeling creativity, it’s also rules and regulations.

There are plenty of books out there to help you do this. My favorite is Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. When I teach writing, I tell my students that if they can buy only one book, buy that one. It’s essential. Almost every published author I know has a dog-eared copy. From there, look for the how-to books by Jack Bickham, Nancy Kress, Debra Dixon and Renni Browne/Dave King. These books work no matter your genre.

Then find a writers’ group—locally or online—that has at least one published author in its ranks (preferably more than one). Get your work critiqued. Learn to give critiques in return.

Writing a publishable novel is hard work. Blessedly, it’s also a tremendous amount of fun. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing—except, perhaps, piloting a starship.

Please tell us a little about your upcoming 2009 release

In February 2009 Bantam will release Hope’s Folly, which is the third book in the Dock Five series that started with Gabriel’s Ghost. Folly is Admiral Philip Guthrie’s story. Philip is Chaz’s ex-husband, and while in Gabriel’s he straddled the fence between being a hero and being an obstacle, in Shades of Dark he has quite a lot happen to him, and as one blogger noted, is starting to sport his hero duds. He’s blossomed into a take-control, very sexy man and in Folly, he faces one of the toughest challenges of his life.

It's an impossible mission on a derelict ship called HOPE'S FOLLY. A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a rag-tag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be, if he can reach his command ship—the intriguingly named Hope’s Folly—alive. Not much can rattle Philip’s legendary cool—but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She’s the daughter of his best friend and first commander—a man who died while under Philip’s command, and whose death is on Philip’s conscience

Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly-minted rebel leader, who it seems has just become her new commanding officer? And will she still be willing follow him through the jaw of hell once she learns the truth about her father’s death?

By the way, Romantic Times just gave Folly 4-1/2 stars and named it a Top Pick!

website: www.linneasinclair.com
Linnea divides her time between Naples, Florida and Columbus Ohio.

Ask away ladies.
Comment for a chance to win the tote or cup pictured above!

PFSW reoccurring blogger EDIE RAMER is one of the final four remaining contestants in American Title V with her manuscript DEAD PEOPLE.

Vote for Edie’s entry by sending an email to votes@romantictimes.com with DEAD PEOPLE in the subject line. (One vote per person.)

Help Edie achieve her lifelong dream by voting for Dead People.