Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Blogger - Melodie Campbell

Welcome to guest blogger (and good friend) Melodie Campbell. Melodie and I have been going through the first book process together... including doing readings together (check out the Pulp Fiction Night in the right column). Melodie is also on my Nighthawk Radio Blog with a character interview with Cedric.

Love that Villain

A very strange thing happened while writing my second book in the Rowena series… I appear to have fallen for my villain.

Yes, Thane is the hero, and Rowena is smitten with him, as she should be. But her literary creator has become more and more enamoured with bad boy Cedric – the villain of the piece. Cedric is determined to have Rowena to himself, and he will stop at nothing to get her, including selling his soul to Lucifer. Cedric messes with the black arts.

Cedric can mess with me anytime.

How the heck did this happen? I set out to write a fun and sexy adventure, with good guys and bad guys and spunky heroines. Love that Rowena. She’s everything I would like to be. Thane is a terrific match for her; strong, smart, loyal, handsome, and the King to boot. Arch enemy of Cedric of course.

And what about Cedric? He’s not as good looking as Thane. He probably isn’t as smart. His morals are questionable – maybe nonexistent. But he is cunning. He is dynamic. He is never, ever boring.

Cedric is the typical bad boy.

What it is about men who don’t fit the typical hero mode, but ‘bother’ us, somehow? That’s how Rowena puts it. “I didn’t like his looks – they bothered me.” Cedric has long red-gold hair. His eyes are green, and they have an eerie glow when he uses magic. He’s tall, broad and thoroughly masculine, with bands of muscles on his arms. And he draws her like a moth to fire…

Exciting, that’s the word. The bad boys in our past made us feel like we were alive. Living on the edge has its attractions…

So Thane may be the ideal man for Rowena, and for any woman. But Cedric will always be there, in the back of her mind, tempting…promising something that will take her beyond the ordinary, something delicious, enticing…

Damn, that’s attractive. I can’t kill him off.


Do you like comic time travel romance?
Meet Rowena Revel!

Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit – and the stakes get higher as the men get hotter. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!” Midwest Book Review
“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum” Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine

Available at and Smashwords.
Follow Melodie’s comic blog at 
View trailer and read opening scene at

Melodie Campbell has been a bank manager, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor and possibly the worst runway model ever. Melodie got her start writing comedy, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her fiction “wacky” and “laugh out loud funny”. She has over 200 publications and has won five awards for fiction. She is currently the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, and has taught fiction writing for ten years.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Under A Texas Star - Character Sketches

Jezebel Revealed

  Hanging above the mirrors behind the bar was the biggest painting she had ever seen. Rendered in vivid oil color, a voluptuous, auburn-haired Amazon was draped and posed in a suggestive manner. It was so lifelike that Marly's jaw dropped and a deep flush rose in her cheeks.
   "If the boy's like that over my painting," a deep,  throaty voice said, "what's he gonna do when he meets the real thing?"

When I first envisioned Jezebel - the proprietor of The Oasis, Fortuna's classiest saloon and bordello - I pictured a young Jane Fonda crossed with Mae West. Now I add Catherine Zeta Jones to that mix for the sake of visuals, but mostly Jezebel is her own woman.

In the beginning, Jezebel's sole purpose was to make my heroine, Marly Landers, jealous. Not only did Jez have a past with Texas Ranger Jase Strachan, she was unmistakably a woman while Marly was successfully playing the role of a boy.
"Marly felt sick. It wasn't just the smell of perfume. Jase was ruggedly handsome, regardless of trail-worn clothes and untrimmed whiskers, whereas she looked plain and dirty. The only consolation she had in seeing her image in the mirror was the knowledge that her masquerade was safe."
Jezebel was every woman who ever undermined my confidence by making me feel plain and unattractive.

The Jane Fonda connection was very specific. My first favourite western was Cat Ballou. Cat dressed to seduce the man who ordered her father's death was my first working image of Miz Jezebel. There's a line in the movie when she admires the artwork in her mark's rail-car boudoir: "It's a regular Tintoretto!" That inspired Marly's introduction to Jezebel via her painting.

Getting back to women who undermined my self-confidence, I learned a few things between drafts of Under A Texas Star.

The most eye-opening lesson was finding out that one of those gorgeous women was equally in awe of me. She was tall, slim, and always had flawless hair and nails. Her hair and nails were her vanities. She was convinced she was too tall and too straight to be really pretty. Most of all, she didn't think she was  interesting. I doubt she would have traded her figure for mine - though we agreed that splitting the difference would work for both of us - but she envied my intelligence. She was about to start university classes part-time and was scared to death.

My most profound lesson was that projecting self-confidence is a survival trait. I started thinking about what Jezebel's past would have been like. She was the madame of a house in Richmond during the Civil War. Only a few years older than Jase, she would have had to been strong-willed and business-smart to rise to that position by her mid-twenties.

What did she have to do to survive when the war turned against the south? What connections had she forged that allowed her to not only survive, but flourish during the Reconstruction? I came to admire Jezebel. As I did, I allowed hints of Miz Jez's past to be revealed so Marly would respect her too.

As Cat Ballou would say, she's "a regular Tintoretto."

Under A Texas Star is now available in paperback at
and on sale in eBook format at , and Smashwords

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Under A Texas Star - Character Sketches

Marly Landers

Except that her dress is too new-looking, the model for Marly isn't a bad match. She's not too neat or too glamorous, and thanks to a little tweaking, she has the right coloured hair.

Is she how I originally pictured Marly? Not exactly. When I originally picture her she was more like me - albeit a younger me. In fact, Marly is based, at least partly, on a much younger me.

When I was ten, I was one of the tallest kids in my class. I reached my full five-foot-two stature by the time I was twelve. Times were different. My mother used to tell me, "Don't start a fight, but if you get into one, end it." By that she didn't mean walk away and report to a teacher. She meant win. My father - ever protective of his two daughters - taught us how to defend ourselves. My mother expected us to stand up, not only for ourselves, but the smaller and weaker kids.

As a result, I became something of a school yard vigilante, stepping between bullies and their prey. Even if the bully was bigger and stronger than me, I didn't back down. That got me a few bruises but no detentions as far as I can remember. Different times.

The tomboy who was tough enough to stand up to the big boys and had enough adolescent hormones running through her system to also be attracted to those boys, she's one of the inspirations for Marly Landers.

By high school, I'd gone from being one of the tallest kids in my class to being one of the shortest. I stayed five-foot-two (eyes of blue) until my doctor announced last fall that I was five-foot-one-and-a-half. Fortunately my negotiation skills improved because I didn't stop standing up for the underdog. There is one scene in Under A Texas Star that comes directly from personal experience. I got into a play-fight with my then boy friend. He had got my arm in a twist and was trying to force me to back down.

"If you're trying to break my arm," I said, "you're not being very efficient."

You'll have to read the book to see where that fits in with Marly, but like my boyfriend Dan, Marly's opponent backed down once he realized what he was doing.

The red hair, slight frame, and incredible endurance is all Marly. The stubborn streak and tenacity she gets from me.

Interview with Marly Landers.

If you haven't already, check out the Character Sketch for Jase Strachan.

Under A Texas Star is now available in paperback at
and on sale in eBook format at
and Smashwords. (See Summer Sizzlers Sale)