Character Quote from One Night in Daytona Beach – by Dellani

One_Night_in_Daytona_Beach_by_Dellani_Oakes - 500“I’ve missed you, Jamie.”

Shivering, she held his face as directed, giving him a kiss. “Me, too.”

“Seeing anyone?”

“Not really.”

They straddled the bike again, with her in front, holding the handlebars. His long, sinewy thighs clenched against hers from behind.

“Is that a yes or no? I don’t speak Biker Babe anymore.”

“No one steady.”

“Does he think that?”

Jamie blushed, turning her head to look at him. “Why all the questions, Wick? Got some burning desire to know all my secrets?”

Draven nibbled her neck, cheating the angle a little, so he was still camera ready. “I’ve got a burning desire, Humphrey, but it isn’t about your secrets.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Kitchen Disasters

This is something I wrote for Fun in Writing Group May 28, 2014

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerAnyone who has ever set foot in a kitchen knows what potential disasters lie therein. Whether it’s from mis-measured ingredients, substitutions that didn’t quite make the grade, or an obstinate, uncooperative oven, disasters happen. I’ve had a lot over the years, but a few stand out in my mind.

One of my early disasters included my sister. It was our parents’ anniversary and we wanted to fix them breakfast and take it to them in bed. I’m not sure whose idea this was. I was only 7 and my sister was 9. Our kitchen skills were minimal. We had no idea how to fix coffee or pancakes or even scramble and egg. We decided upon toast and fresh squeezed juice.

Unfortunately – no fruit to squeeze, so we fixed ice water. That decided upon, we embarked on toast.

Our toaster was an old fashioned kind. It didn’t have a press down button or a timer. It was triangular with slotted doors on each side. It had one temperature setting—ON. To operate, you opened the door with the little knob on top, slid a piece of bread into the slot, shut the door and waited until it browned. How long you left it depended on how brown you wanted it. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop automatically.

You can imagine the disaster potential this presented for two industrious, and somewhat oblivious, children. We forgot about the toast until it was flaming. I’m not talking smoking a little, this was full on flames! They shot up, igniting a picture of a rooster I’d made with colored macaroni. It burned beautifully, blackening the wall and the calendar.

Our screams woke our parents. Our father ran to the kitchen, yanked the flaming picture from the wall and threw it in the sink. Our mother unplugged the toaster and carried it outside, depositing the bread cinders in the backyard.

I know they wanted to yell, but once they found out we’d been trying to fix them breakfast, the stopped. We were forbidden to use any kitchen implements without adult supervision—especially the toaster!

Many years later, as an adult, I wanted to bake my mother a special birthday cake. It was her seventieth birthday and wanted something more than a box cake. I had a wonderful recipe I wanted to try, so I set about gathering ingredients and mixing it up. I popped it in the oven. It smelled fabulous. I made the frosting and put it in the refrigerator, waiting for the beautiful cake to bake.

It was perfection! I poked a cake tester in a few inches. It came out clean, so I let the cake cool a little and inverted it on a plate. To my amazement, it slid out just right, not sticking to the pan. The bottom touched the plate and I heard a SLUUUURP PLOP! The inside was RAW! It got all over the table and floor before I realized what was happening. Although the outer crust was baked, the core was still liquid.

Upset, but determined, I cleaned it up and started over. I’m sure you can guess what happened. By the time the second cake came out, I was hysterical, but stubborn. I was ready to make a third attempt, but my husband put his foot down. He went to the cupboard and pulled out a box mix and handed it to me.

No more! You’re making yourself crazy! Your mother will appreciate the effort. It doesn’t have to be a from-scratch cake.”

I wanted to argue, but I knew he was right. He helped me clean up the second disaster, which was nearly as bad as the first, and I made the boxed cake. Damn thing came out perfectly!

To this day, I don’t know where I went wrong with the other cake. Maybe it was a bad recipe. Maybe it was a fluke of my less than stellar oven. All I know is that, wonderful or not, I’ve never made it again. Nearly all my cakes are from boxes and I haven’t had any trouble with them.

My husband, wonderful man that he is, reminds me from time to time that I haven’t had a major kitchen disaster in years. I tell him that’s because I’ve got mad kitchen skills now.

Nope,” he tells me with annoying confidence. “That’s because you’re good enough to skirt the every day ones. That means when you have one, you’ll probably burn the house down.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Shakazhan Outtakes Part 2 by Dellani Oakes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]All authors have their outtakes—scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Some are embarrassments that we regret ever writing and will probably never see the light of day. Others are wonderful favorites that didn’t advance the plot. Below is one of these scenes. I love it, but it simply slowed things down. I could imagine my readers yelling at me, “Get on with it!”, so I cut it. I couldn’t seem to delete it completely. Instead, it went into a file called Cut from Shakazhan. Now, I’m glad I kept it.

Before reading, in case you haven’t read Shakazhan yet, there are several sentient ships. I don’t mean just cognizant, I mean fully aware beings who cater to their crews by creating whatever they need. Want a bigger bed? The ship will provide it. Thirsty? What’s your favorite beverage? Need privacy? The ship will create a private room that only you can find. They are characters just as much as the humans and aliens are. Their names are Anvil, Hammer – her mate and Styx, their daughter.

The Kindred are another alien species who are highly advanced technologically and telepathically. This scene takes place on board one of the alien ships. Ariella and Caprilla are Fellician warriors commonly called The Cats.

For fun, they put together a demonstration from each class. The camaraderie was growing between the two disparate groups of people. Marines and Miners side by side, sparring happily and cheering each other’s success.

Matilda and Ariella took the stage. Ariella’s tawny coat shown like silk in the lights. She wore the traditional short sarong of the Kaboratta dancer.

Matilda wore the same type of sarong, and had a diminutive bikini top over her chest. Her long, dark hair was pulled tightly back in a cluster of three braids and covered with a matching bandana. Each of them wore six hoops per ear and Matilda had her bracelets in place. Their swords were in a block beside them.

They began with the Ritual of Weighing, where each of the competitors chose her weapon. Taking their stance across from one another, a sharp snap of a bongo signaled the start of the match. Matilda attacked quickly and low, going for her opponent’s knees. Ariella’s reach was longer, but Matilda’s comparatively diminutive stature next to hers, made getting under her guard easy.

Ariella swatted her away with her tail as if she were a gnat. Matilda flew across the stage, landing with a grunt. Shaking her head, she rose, taking her stance again.

The bongo signaled as before, Ariella attacked, moving in on Matilda’s exposed left side. Maneuvering rapidly, Matilda jumped for her block, grabbing her dagger as she sped by. She parried Arriella’s attack, barely avoiding a blow from her other side. Ariella had grabbed her dagger too. Matilda caught Ariella’s knife in her claws, which she had extended for that purpose.

A gasp from the crowd as Ariella extended hers, grappling with Matilda briefly before the woman moved out the of big cat’s range. The two of them slashed, kicked, and danced around the stage, hardly a sound but the bongo accompaniment and the clang of their weapons above their ragged breathing.

Ariella stooped to slash at Matilda’s legs. Matilda jumped lightly up and rolled over Ariella’s back, landing in a crouch on the other side. Back and forth they dodged and parried, swooping into an opening and back out again to avoid their opponent’s blows.

It looked as if Matilda were winning, then Ariella rushed in and got her pinned to one side of the stage, advancing, blade held ready before her, preparing for the killing blow. Matilda, calmly taking a deep breath, ran at Ariella, sprung forward and up, doing a handless cartwheel over her head, flipped as she was landing, spinning to face her opponent. Getting her feet under her, she launched herself at the large feline, knocking her down and sitting on her chest, blade ready at the throat, Matilda prepared for the kill.

Striking her blow, she didn’t notice Ariella’s dagger coming up behind her, deploying the handle blade until too late. Both blades struck home simultaneously, blood sprayed everywhere.

Gasps of horror filled the room. Wil and Caprilla leapt onto the stage, calling for doctors. Wil lifted Matilda’s limp form off Ariella’s chest, clutching her to him, covered in blood.

Caprilla gently moved Ariella, taking her in his arms, wiping the blood from her fur, looking for the wound. There wasn’t any. There were no marks on either woman, just a lot of blood.

Unable to contain themselves longer, Ariella and Matilda levered themselves upward to horrendous applause. Even Wil and Caprilla joined the laughter and clapping.

“Ladies, that was the most amazing display of skill I’ve ever seen! I congratulate you!” Caprilla kissed each of them on the hand, helping Ariella to her feet. Wil scooped Matilda up, kissing her possessively. Caprilla held Ariella close to him, not letting go. Her protests were merely a ploy. She didn’t wish release or she would’ve taken his head off.

“Don’t ever scare me so again, Ariella. I feared you dead.”

She looked slyly at him. “Tell me, Caprilla, would it matter so very much?”

“It would wound me to my heart to lose you. I’m an old fool, perhaps. It took seeing you die before me to make me realize this.”

In a rare tender moment, Ariella kissed Caprilla and rubbed noses with him showing her affection.

“All is well then, Caprilla. For I’ll never do so again, I promise. But you must also promise me something.”

“What would that be, Ariella, anything within my power.” She whispered something in his ear, making him chuckle, then guffaw. “I believe that is something I can manage, Ariella. I swear.” He held up his hand as if taking an oath.

Later, Matilda took Ariella aside. “What did you ask Cap to do?”

“It is rather something I asked him not to do. I made him promise he will no longer bed Escascia. In return, I promised not to take Cavitus or Errollic to my bed. It is a bargain which pleases us both.” She smiled happily, though to many it would look more like a snarl.

Matilda grinned, but said nothing. It wasn’t necessary. She was pleased to know that her friends were happy, that was enough.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Shakazhan Outtakes Part 1 by Dellani Oakes

Shakazhan frontOn a recent radio broadcast, I was chatting with my guests, Paula Rose Michelson and Stephen Brayton, about scenes they had to cut while editing. All authors have these scenes—those that were fun to write and read, but didn’t advance the plot. Those are sometimes hard to part with and an author has to put on their combat boots, march into the fray and hack and slash until they are eradicated.

Below is one such scene. While I really liked it, it didn’t really move the plot forward. In fact, there was an entire section that I removed or heavily rewrote because it held the story back. I hated to do it, but in rewrites, this scene, and the section following, were among the first to hit the editing room floor.

Before reading, in case you haven’t read Shakazhan yet, there are several sentient ships. I don’t mean just cognizant, I mean fully aware beings who cater to their crews by creating whatever they need. Want a bigger bed? The ship will provide it. Thirsty? What’s your favorite beverage? Need privacy? The ship will create a private room that only you can find. They are characters just as much as the humans and aliens are. Their names are Anvil, Hammer – her mate and Styx, their daughter.

The Kindred are another alien species who are highly advanced technologically and telepathically. This scene takes place on board one of the alien ships. Ariella is one of the Fellician warriors commonly called The Cats.

 

Matilda loved her unarmed combat, she also was fond of the bow, she wasn’t too good at moving as quietly as she would’ve liked, nor did she handle the Banderatta smoothly. The staff to her was unwieldy, but she was getting better at it. She found that she loved kick boxing and the blades seemed to sing to her.

“You have metal in your blood, that is why you hear the blades sing,” Ariella told her. “We will work together, you and I, until we can sing a duet.” She winked.

They trained tirelessly. When Matilda perfected the use of one blade, Ariella introduced her to a short fighting dagger which went in the left hand.

“Hold it carefully, away from your face.” She pointed to the hilt of the knife. “This is the fun part.” Pressing a gem on the hilt, she deployed a small blade in the handle of the knife which could be used even if the hands were raised above the head.

“Many times this has saved me in a battle. Some swords are also made this way, but it changes the balance and weight too much. I’ve one you may try, but I don’t like it. Each person is different.” She shrugged.

After a relatively short time, Matilda was also superior with the double blade technique. Ariella had one more surprise for her.

“Today, we incorporate your kick boxing to our fighting style. It is very similar to the ancient art of Kaboratta which is often a companion to the Banderatta. I’ll show you a basic exercise which you’ll practice until the weapons flow in your hands and your body moves like water. Some people study years to perfect this. We don’t have that kind of time. We begin!”

The movements were as complicated and intricate as a ballet. Ariella moved with the grace that only a giant feline can. The muscles did seem to flow like water. After her first demonstration, she taught Matilda the steps. It took a surprisingly short time for her to get the basic movements down, even the nuances of head and shoulder position came easily. Ariella purred with pleasure.

“It is as I suspected, Matilda, you’re born to this! Yes! That is just right. No, tilt your chin thus.” She moved Matilda’s chin slightly up and back. “That is in case I do this while you parry.” She slid in quickly, slashed empty handed, barely missing Matilda’s cheek with her extended claws.

“It is a shame you have no claws, Matilda. They come in very handy in battle.”

Matilda stopped moving, thinking for a minute. “You know what? I think with a little help, we can make some for me.” She grinned. “If anyone on this ship can make claws, it’s Weiss.” Lieutenant Weiss had been chosen by Hammer, Matilda called on him later in the day, telling him her idea and setting him the task of figuring out how to do it. She saw that glitter in his eyes that meant he had sunk his teeth into the problem. He would worry it like a dog with a bone until he found a solution.

Wil had become Caprilla’s star pupil. Where Matilda could make the blades sing and dance, Wil could make the staff wail and rock. From time to time, they’d work out together, her with her swords and he with the staff.

Caprilla and Ariella would stand to the side, grinning proudly, yelling commentary as the two sparred. “No, no, Wil! You leave your distaff side open! See, she got the blade in. If it had been sharp, you would be bleeding!”

“Matilda, move your chin! Ach, girl! No, swipe with your tail! Oh, I forget she hasn’t got one! Claws, Matilda, claws!”

Weiss had come through better than Matilda could’ve hoped. She had expected claws which would be non-retractable and had even practiced with this idea in mind. However, Weiss hadn’t been satisfied with that. He wanted something she could pull in when they were not needed.

“I used some of the Kindred’s technology. They make things from this liquid metal and can shape it any way they want. It kind of moves, see. It feels alive when you handle it. The Elder showed me this. Looks like bracelets, kind of heavy, but you get used to the weight. Works on the same principle as the ship. Tell it what you want.”

To demonstrate, he focused on the bracelet he wore. A triple bladed claw about eighteen inches long shot out. Each blade had a cruel, barbed hook on the end, meant to grab and rip. The other hand, he concentrated on it again and made a set of claws exactly like Ariella’s. A short pause, the blades on both hands retracted.

“You’ll be faster at it, you’re telepathic, I’m not. For me it is a conscious effort, for you, a thought will do. Try them.” He fastened the bracelets on her wrists.

They were heavy, throbbing, warm to the touch. They massaged her wrists, giving them added strength.

“They’re magnificent!” She pointed her wrist away from him, towards the emptiness of the cargo hold. A thought later, a perfect duplicate of talons curled from her wrist, looping up and out for a full seventeen inches of solid bone. They were too heavy, but she got the idea of the control measures needed.

“I think I could really learn to like these,” Matilda flashed her crooked grin.

“If only you had a tail, you would be perfect,” Ariella purred, trilling her ‘r’

 

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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One of Those Days

books by dellani oakes 1It’s the perfect day to write and you have plans to finish that novel that’s been pending now for six months. You sit at the computer to write and the phone rings. It’s nothing important, but it interrupts the flow of creative energy, so you fix a cup of coffee. That accomplished, you sit back down & the doorbell rings, your child vomits, your spouse can’t find his car keys – or any number of other interruptions break into your routine.

It’s gone. The idea, the energy, the creativity, the muse – call it what you will. And your coffee is cold. After that long, imaginative string of swear words ends, you realize the day is over and you accomplished nothing.

With variations on details, we’ve all had days like this. Not much is more frustrating than getting to the end of the day with absolutely nothing on paper. Do you stay up late and work after the house is quiet? Do you sneak off to your happy place and count butterflies? Do you let it get you down, become depressed and wonder why you ever took up writing in the first place? How do you cope with days like this?

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Writing to a Formula? No Thanks!

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerI stopped reading a book today. I set it aside and vowed not to read anymore. Just like that. Why? Because I saw where it was going. Not only that, I realized that it was something I wasn’t going to enjoy.

Anyone who has read my books knows that I don’t write to the standard romance formula: boy meets girl, boy kisses girl, boy & girl fight, boy hates girl, then they figure out they’re in love, but won’t talk about it and fall in love despite themselves.

I don’t like that plot line. Isn’t the whole point of a romance for the couple to fall in love and be happy? I read books like this one and I wonder how they are going to get along later and how soon after the wedding will they get divorced? I give it six months to a year.

In my romance and romantic suspense novels, the characters meet, feel that spark of attraction and move heaven and earth to get together. They may be foiled by circumstances, driven apart by conflict—but it’s external, not between them. I use adversity to bring them closer, to face their problems together.

Having a couple fight through two thirds (or more) of a novel doesn’t interest me. Having some roué sweep an unwilling ingenue off her feet isn’t seductive, it’s insulting. This scenario is most often used in historical romance novels. I find it offensive. In my historical romance, the hero does get a little ahead of himself, but his intended puts the brakes on. Realizing that it’s not the time to consummate their love, he respects her innocence and fears rather than playing on them. He doesn’t want to, and I’m sure it’s pure torture for him, but he loves her enough to stop.

In my contemporary writing, the pace of the romance varies, depending upon the characters. Sometimes it’s weeks, sometimes it’s only a matter of days, before they get together. They come together by mutual desire and lust, neither one of them forcing the other into bed. And they don’t fight afterward. Usually, they enjoy it so much, they do it again!

Granted, I have tried the other formula for a novel. It doesn’t work well for me. I can’t stand to see my characters miserable. That’s not to say that my characters don’t argue or have misunderstandings, but they resolve their differences. They talk about it and get their feelings aired. I know not all couples do this, but my husband and I do. We try not to argue, though we do exchange heated comments from time to time. Then we take our neutral corners and discuss something when we can be more calm and cool headed. It’s worked for over 30 years, so I guess we’re doing something right.

Getting back to the book I mentioned above—the reason I got so annoyed with it was that the male lead had just trashed the hopes and dreams of the young woman. She goes outside, weeping piteously. He hears her and goes outside to see what’s wrong. (Huh?) He just destroyed her emotionally and he doesn’t know why she’s crying? (Dumb ass)

Next, he—who has just devastated her—gives her comfort, his arms and lips seeking hers—and all that crap. She—whose life has been destroyed by this hedonistic, self-centered, egoist—falls into his arms. He’s just ruined her last hope of getting control of her life, and she’s drawn to him, kissing him in passion. (Oh, yes, she’s a virgin.) She’s allowing this total bastard to ravage her. I got to the point where he bared her breasts and stopped reading.

Really? She hates him. He’s taken possession of her home, is turning her and her little brother out without a cent and she’s letting him do the nasty in the garden at night? I couldn’t stand it. If I believed in burning books, this would be the first one in. I’m not offended by the sex. If you’ve read my books, you certainly know that. I’m offended by the abject stupidity of the characters.

He’s a jerk with his own agenda. She’s a helpless little twit. I want to box their ears and shake them until they get some sense—or their brains scramble. I don’t care which.

I know this formula is an accepted plot line for many a romance novel. I want to assure my readers that you’ll never see it from me. And if you do, you have my permission to shake me until my brains scramble, because I’ll obviously have lost all my sense.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Troubling Questions for Authors (Like Me)

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerWhy do you write?

I dunno. Why do you breathe?

There are a lot of questions authors don’t like being asked. Why? Because we don’t always have a satisfactory answer. At least, it’s not satisfactory for the person asking the question. To us, it makes perfect sense. I’ve been asked the above question and, at the time, couldn’t really see giving the answer I first thought of (my response, also above). It didn’t seem quite the thing. So I came up with something a little better. Next time I’m asked, I’ll use it.

Why do I write? Because I can’t imagine myself not writing. I can’t even think of giving it up. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. If you can stop breathing and survive, I’ll stop writing.

Where do your ideas come from?
Everything.

Here’s another hard one. I can get an idea from a TV commercial, a movie, a song, a random conversation in the grocery store. I’ve even been inspired by a mud puddle. Sometimes, I get inspiration from a wild thing that happens – for example, the motorcycle convoy in The Ninja Tattoo. That was inspired by something that really happened to me.

Inspiration is a tricky beast. It can creep up on an author and leave him/ her scrounging for paper and a pen in order to write it down before it escapes.

How’s your book coming?
Which one?

Some authors, like me, work on more than one book at a time. I have a very schizo muse. She hops around from story to story. Once in awhile, she allows me to finish, but mostly she keeps feeding me new ideas and doesn’t allow me to complete them. I don’t know if she’s crazy or simply sadistic. I have more stories than I know what to do with. Yes, I’ve finished some, but others, no.

So when a well meaning, non-author, friend asks me, “How’s your book coming?” I can’t really formulate a complete reply. I have no idea what book I was working on the last time they asked me. Generally, neither can they. Many times, they are asking simply because they don’t know what else to say. They might genuinely be interested, but that flags when I tell them the plot. Not everyone can follow my rapid fire narrative. I’m more interested in getting back to work than I am in telling them about what’s already on paper.

Some people can’t follow the plot and ask so many questions, I lose track of what I’m saying and never finish. I have to keep in mind that they aren’t immersed in the story the way I am. But why ask if they aren’t going to listen? That’s not being polite, it’s wasting my time.

So, are you still writing?
Well—Duuuh!

Of course, I’m still writing. You’re still breathing, aren’t you? Obviously so, because you asked me the dumbest question of all. You’re wasting my time and breathing my air and I want you to go away. People who ask this question need to go sit in the Zen garden and contemplate how stupid this is. I’m awake, therefore I write.

Statements I Have No Patience For:

I had a great idea for a book once. And they proceed to tell me the worst idea EVER.

I thought about writing a book, but I don’t have time. If you really wanted to, you’d find time.

I think writing a book would be fun. I’m told that bungee jumping is fun too. I don’t think I want to try that, though.

You work at home. You have plenty of time to do {Insert Annoying Activity Here}. You mean all that fun writing I’m doing is going to miraculously complete itself? Hooray!

Anyone can write a novel. Oh, really? So I guess you could sit down and write a best seller in no time? Go for it.

Are you going to put me in your book? I will if you keep annoying me. I’ll put you in my book—and kill you.

In all fairness, some people generally are interested. They’re trying, but they can’t possibly understand a writer’s mind unless they are also writers. We don’t think on the same wavelength as non-writers. We aren’t wired the same way at all.

Keep the following in mind:

A conversation with a writer WILL end up in a book some day.

If you do something foolish and tell an author, it WILL end up in a book some day.

You’re a complete tool, you WILL end up in a book one day, probably as the villain or a murder victim.

Remember, the next time you speak to your favorite author, ask her/ him something and really listen to the response. Don’t just ask to be polite, because it’s not, it’s a waste of their time. Writing isn’t easy, though it may look like it to an outsider. Brain surgery isn’t simple either, but a trained surgeon can make it appear easy because s/he practices. No, I’m not comparing what I do to brain surgery. Obviously, that’s like comparing grapes to kumquats. The point I’m making is, it’s not as simple as most authors make it look.

I think I can best sum it up like this: Authors labor and in the end, a book is born.

© Dellani Oakes

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Support Your Family Author

books by dellani oakes 2 redI just had a short conversation with a lady who is so excited that her cousin wrote a book. She can’t wait to read it and wants to give her some positive feedback and support. I wanted to cry when I heard that. For one thing, what a beautiful impulse she had – supporting the author in her family. For another thing – why isn’t my family that supportive?

This makes it abundantly clear to me that no one in my family understands (or possibly cares) what I do – with the exception of one cousin who cheers me along from time to time. She’s bought my books – which if I’d known she was paying for them, I would have sent them to her for free, because I’m so grateful to her for that small token of love and support.

My daughter has beta read a couple of my books. She’s an angel and I appreciate that. I honestly don’t know what my sons think. None of them particularly like to read and they certainly aren’t going to be interested in my books. Romance is not their thing.

My in-laws think of my writing as some sort of phase or hobby. I’m sure they don’t take it seriously. Considering how badly it’s paid so far, maybe they have a point. They don’t have a clue how hard I work for those pennies.

My husband, God bless him, has been wonderful about letting me have the time to write. He believes in me. We haven’t made a lot of money off it, but at least he doesn’t fuss at me.

I think a lot of the problem is that people think writing is easy. They assume that anyone can write. They’re sure that somehow words miraculously appear on the page for them to read and no one has to do anything to put them there. Imagination—meh. What’s that?

Anyone can write. Writing isn’t that hard. There’s no convincing them unless I force them to sit down and write a term paper or short story. I used to write my term papers the night before they were due and got A’s on all of them. None of my classmates could do that.

One year, I did the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished my book of 74,748 words before Thanksgiving. That afternoon, I sat down and started a new book. FOUR DAYS LATER I had another 54,067 words and a second finished novel. Grand total: 128,815 and that doesn’t include the nearly 15,000 words I cut from the first one. That would bring my total close to 143,815 words in less than 30 days.

So, when people say to me, “Anyone can write”, I tell them that. How ya like me now, hm? Think you can do that? Bet not.

I’m making a point with my rant – promise! Be like my friend who loves and supports her cousin because she wrote a book. Cheer your author friend/ family member. Buy a copy. Talk it up. Ask a book group to read it. Share their marketing posts on Facebook, Twitter, anywhere. When they get discouraged, cheer them up. When they need a lift, buy them a cup of coffee. When they lock themselves away from friends and family so they can work – give them space. If they don’t answer the phone, call back much, much later. If they talk crazy about how their characters are running amok, let them. For them, that’s real. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy, they’re just authors.

Finally, and ultimately important, realize that you’ll never fully understand, but love them.

Dellani Oakes is a slightly crazy, but mostly harmless author. She’s published five books, but her author’s brain has created many more. To purchase Dellani’s books:

Indian Summer – historical romance

Lone Wolf – futuristic romance (sci-fi)

Shakazhan – Lone Wolf book 2

The Ninja Tattoo – romantic suspense

Under the Western Sky – romantic suspense

There are also some freebies you can download by clicking here. 

And The Part Goes To…by Karina Gioertz

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It probably comes as no surprise at this point (you know, because I may have mentioned it before ;-) …once or twice…) that the books I write come to me more as movies. Well, actually they start out as little movie trailers that play in my head over and over again. Little scenes, bits of dialogue and hints of the plot are all neatly tied up in a sweet little brain flash that replays itself a gazillion times a day until I grab a pen and paper and make it stop.

I attribute these mind movies to the fact that I initially leaned toward writing screenplays rather than writing novels. Or perhaps it’s the other way around…who knows. Regardless, once I get to typing it’s essentially the same thing as the director calling out “ACTION”. The opening scene developes, the characters come to life and the story leads the way.

Just like any other director, I like to have an amazing cast to work with. Most of the time I know who I want for each part as I write it in, but other times it’s not so easy. When I started writing Country Girls, most of the cast was clear right from the start.

Emma Wilson was played by Jennifer Aniston. Eli’s part went to Reese Witherspoon and I was kind of undecided between Burt Reynolds and Tommy Lee Jones for Harry, but it was definitely one of the two! Evey was a little harder, but it eventually went to Amanda Seyfried. Shawn on the other hand was instant – Taye Diggs. Unfortunately, while I can picture Doc as clear as day, I can’t say for certain who he is…or if he exists beyond the realm of my imagination at all…so, that part’s still up for grabs I suppose, along with a few others.

So, there’s my cast for Country Girls. Even if Country Girls is never made into a movie, it’s a fun excercise to do as a writer…and I won’t deny that seeing my stories come to life on the big screen would be the ultimate dream come true for this writer ;-)

For those of you who have read the book, do you agree with my cast? Who would you choose if it were up to you??

What’s In A Character by Karen Vaughan

Developing a character people will love or love to hate~
My character Laura in my series can be said to have “balls” but she has a tender side towards people who become important to her and will kick the butt of any bad-ass who gets in the way.  Laura had an average childhood as a tomboy in her family much to her mothers chagrin.  There is tension between mother and daughter as Mrs. Hamilton hated her singularity after her divorce and the fact that she lives in a less than upstanding neighborhood.   Laura doesn’t take much guff from mom but shows up for dinner on Sundays.
Laura’s first marriage was less than stellar. Even though she married her high-school sweetheart, Lou the wheels fell off after a miscarriage and then she found out he was gay when he advertised this publically.
This is all backstory but it gives a character a three-dimensional look and the reader will have empathy and are more apt to root for the protagonist in matters of the heart and ass-kicking.
Give your characters either good or bad a sense of humor. The wise crackers make great protagonists or villains and breaks tension in a suspenseful situation.
I have given some of my villains some redeemable qualities as well so they’re not totally hateful. But when they’re bad; they’re very bad and it works.
TINY TODD CRAWFORD IN DEAD ON ARRIVAL was a little person embroiled in criminal activity but had a soft spot for Laura. Unfortunately taking her and the decoy cop hostage was not a great way to win her heart.
LEENA DUBOIS-BROWN/JULIE WRIGHT IN OVER HER DEAD BODY –is the daughter of a wealthy gangster and is used to getting what she wants and that includes knocking off the competition to her elderly husbands heart and bank account.
KILLER T. FORD MY UP AND COMING DAYTONA DEAD is a egomaniacal NASCAR racer with a bad case of road rage—fellow racers call him a whining prima Dona but don’t piss him off.
DAVE MEECHAM IS A LESSER VILLAIN THE SAME BOOK AS FORD—He unlike Ford has a few redeeming qualities which are revealed in a huge epiphany thus making him a not-so bad ass.
Every character needs a straight man—Laura’s is her fiancé Gerry or the homicide detective Gibbons –they ground Laura when she gets herself in a pickle. They are the ones she feeds off and turns to when things get tense.