Friday, November 23, 2012

Brand new and shiny

I admit, I've been away for a long time. Two months, look at that. Kinda like my current heroine who's been tossed into oblivion by a love-hurt mage. She just popped back into the real world, in a bar and in her most embarrassing pajamas no less. Did I mention she was half-drunk as well?

But enough about Natalie. Back to me.

Yes, I've been gone a while. And, in celebration of my return, I've pimped up the blog. Notice how shiny and pretty it is now.  By all means, don't be shy. Have a poke around. Make some suggestions, marvel at my two beautiful mock-up covers you may find in the 'Other projects' tab. Did I mention make some suggestions? No? Well, you're free to do so.

Explore the links around. You may find something pretty. And in case you have nothing better to do, spread the word out about my new pad. Let people know.

In other news... oh, wait, I don't have other news. At least not yet. Just have fun for now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Always & Forever with Chantel Rhondeau

Hi everyone and welcome to another day of madness. Only that this time, I am not alone in my endeavors. The lovely Chantel Rhondeau is here with me to talk a little about her book and the process of writing it. (And do be honest, I'm giving her some blog space to fill up too, since I'm being so lazy about it).

Stef: Hi Chantel, and welcome to the loony bin Across the border!

Chantel:  So happy to be here, Steph. Thanks for inviting me over.  

S: Great to have you. And as long as you don't go through that door, everything should work out well. So, let us know, Chantel, how do you churn out a literary masterpiece?

C: I actually write best in the midst of complete and utter chaos. Since I’m a mom, I don’t like to lose any time with my kids if I can help it. I write on my laptop, sitting in the living room in my comfortable recliner (usually with a cat vying for space with the laptop). The TV’s blaring, the kids frequently interrupt me for this or that (I hate when they want help with a math question—I suck at math!), and I generally write in short stops and starts. Well, except for the peaceful weekend mornings when everyone in the house is asleep except me. 

Before I ever get to the stage of using my laptop, I like to plan out my characters completely.  That’s all the real plotting I do. I sit down with a regular notebook and my purple gel pen. I start with a secret someone wants to hide, and that is where I get my plot from. Secrets are always great motivation for characters to do the wrong thing and make mistakes. I think it is also important to have a good understanding of the characters beliefs and values. I do this for both my heroes and my villains. I finally round off by writing down how old everyone is, their names, and their physical descriptions. (Even for characters with a small role to play, I always write down their ages and physical descriptions— it’s so easy to forget someone’s eye color!). Once that is done, I start writing and let the characters tell me where to go.  I can’t over plan the story, or I get bored and want to move on to something else. I just let my Muse go where her fancy takes her, and I enjoy the show.

Of course, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are a part of my daily routine, and I take time out to do critiques for other authors through the Critique Circle web site, correspond with new friends, and also sneak in some reading time. For me, continuing to read helps open up my Muse and get her creativity flowing. Either that, or I bore her to death with housework if she clams up and quits talking. Folding a load of laundry always does the trick J. My Muse and I would both rather write than fold laundry.

If I didn’t have a day job, I might actually get a little sleep once in a while!

S: Wow, that does sound hectic. Thanks for sharing your process with the world. Us writers know it's the secret ingredient to our work. (sugar, spice and a ton of murder - that's how it went, right?).
Now, just to make things confusing for everyone, let me throw some random questions your way.

So, how does your process influence the plot and characters?

C:  It’s fun to allow my Muse to take off and do whatever she wants to. Some of my best plot points were things I never imagined would happen.

S:  Do you pre-plan, or do the plot and characters take over?

C:  Beyond a glimmer of an idea about what will happen, I let the characters tell me what to do.

S: Ugh, me too. We all know how dangerous that can become (cough *150k novel *cough).  What was your favorite thing about writing Always & Forever?

C:  Well, first drafts are always great fun and I love them, but the best thing about A&F was connecting with other authors throughout the process of writing and getting their critiques and help along the way. I’ve made a lot of great friends on the road to publication.

S: Yay for writer friends!  What was the scariest thing about it?

C:  Spending so much time in the mind of a seriously abused woman, putting myself in her shoes for every scene. It was actually quite horrible, but I knew I had to tell this story, and I had to be deep in Lilly’s character to do it justice. Though, it probably didn’t help my blood pressure anyway :) Also, letting a stranger read my work for the first time, that took a lot of courage—and at heart, I’m a really big wuss!

S: You're not a wuss. It can be a hard confidence knock back if a lot of people come at you with knifes and shred your masterpiece apart. *shudders* Happened to me, too. Fortunately, I was wise enough to see they were right, and also to have some supportive people there. 
So, I pretty much know this, since I’ve read the book, but what do you as the author believe makes the story stand out and stick with readers?

C:  I’m a pretty positive person, despite the darker parts of this book. I hope what stands out is that your past (or present) circumstances don’t define your future. Lilly and Zach have both had hard lives, but are able to reinvent themselves. Ultimately, I want readers to close my book with a sense of hope lifting them up.

S: I'd say you've got that one nailed. Do your characters tend to borrow some of your traits?

C:  Haha – well, there’s a little of me scattered within each of my characters. Lilly is a bookworm, I love to read. However, it goes to the deeper traits too. Insecurity, kindness to others, inability to trust easily, all sorts of things.

S:  How would you describe the experience of being a now published author?

C:  There’s a LOT more work to be done on the marketing front, which does take away from writing time, but it is very exciting!

S: I know what you mean. I wish I could be a first-draft writing machine and let others handle the rest. But, alas... one can only dream.  Did you have fun?

C:  Writing is one of the greatest joys I have ever discovered. I might be a little obsessed with it, but yes, it’s tons of fun!

So, there you have it folks. Don’t miss out on this brand new, fresh out of the oven story of love and trust.

A huge thank you to Chantel for letting herself be subjected to my questioning. Just so you all know, I've twisted most of her words around and put everything out of context. This is by no means a true interview. Or maybe it is... you'll never know! Mwahahahaha!

Now for some nifty info!

Buy the book on Amazon, B&N and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads.

Also, follow Chantel on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her site.

Always & Forever

A suspected murderess flees her former life in search of tranquility, but ghosts she left behind refuse to die, threatening to destroy her happiness.

Lilly Price is desperate to escape public scrutiny once released from her incarceration. She moves to a lakeside community in hopes of remaining anonymous while rebuilding her tattered life.

Widowed Zach Woodbridge is in no hurry to find a new bride. He longs for a peaceful summer, writing at his lakeside cottage. Things change after an introduction to his grandmother’s new assistant, Lilly.

When Lilly’s secrets are revealed, can their fragile relationship weather the storm?  And when a man from the past returns to reclaim Lilly, using any force necessary, can she and Zach protect the people they love?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, mild language, sizzling love scenes.

Follow Chantel on her blog tour! Next stop is on Melinda Dozier's blog.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shouldn't you be reading?

Why? Because there are good books out there.

Just take a look.


To survive, they must embrace what they most despise . . . in themselves and each other.

Mitch Turner is everything women want most in a man—charismatic, successful, drop-dead gorgeous. Except he’s not a man—he’s a monster.

The only way Mitch can protect others from his monstrous side is to stop them from getting too close…that and a 7x7 foot cage. Isolated by his genetic curse, he spends his life hurting people emotionally, driving them away before Hyde can harm them physically. But, after a night of the best sex Mitch has ever had, he realizes that might be impossible. Except the woman he was with claims she doesn’t remember any of it.

Eden Colfax is everything men want most, men other than Mitch, that is. She’s kind, honest to a fault and sickeningly sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn’t lie, doesn’t curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers’ beds…until the day she does.

Then the flashbacks start—places she’s never been, people she’s never met, blood she’s never spilled. She discovers she’s split into two parts—the woman she thought she knew and another who is capable of anything. And the only person with any answers is the one man she never wants to see again.

What neither of them know is that someone is watching them both, manipulating them, determined to see just how evil the two of them really are. And when the truth begins to seep through the cracks, leaving them nowhere to turn but each other, they will be forced into a partnership neither had expected.

Because in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can’t even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on Earth you should be falling for.

*** This novel is intended for adults only, as it includes lots of cursing, descriptive sex, biting sarcasm, and themes similar to those in Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from which this story was inspired.

AWESOME BOOK. My review here.



It could be worse for Sylva Lark. She could be dead. A coma was nothing to that. Or her family moving across country for the treatment, leaving her with a big blue mark on her back.
She can handle it.
Except the mark glows and tingles, especially whenever transition helper Atticus Plot (Attic) is close by. She suspects he’s hiding something, and when she stumbles across a torn body bearing the same spiral marking as her own, that suspicion is confirmed.
After a few shaves with death, the truth finally comes out and the battles begin.
But not all her fights are external; her biggest one is the decision she has to make between doing the right thing for the world and giving up her beloved family for good.

One of my favorite YA novels/series out there (yes, including Harry Potter here). My review here.



An abused woman runs from her past, but she can't hide forever...

A suspected murderess flees her former life in search of tranquility, but ghosts she left behind refuse to die, threatening to destroy her happiness.

Lilly Price is desperate to escape public scrutiny once released from her incarceration. She moves to a lakeside community in hopes of remaining anonymous while rebuilding her tattered life.

Widowed Zach Woodbridge is in no hurry to find a new bride. He longs for a peaceful summer, writing at his lakeside cottage. Things change after an introduction to his grandmother’s new assistant, Lilly.

When Lilly’s secrets are revealed, can their fragile relationship weather the storm? And when a man from the past returns to reclaim Lilly, using any force necessary, can she and Zach protect the people they love?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, mild language, sizzling love scenes.

A sweet romance about people learning to trust again. My review here.



Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.

Haven't written a review for this one yet, but I gave it 4.5 stars and loved it. I like sports stories - the pressure involved. The romance is sweet and it was something else from what I normally read.



While eluding a killer, a young woman fears recognition from the man she wronged and falls in love with him.

Twenty-five-year-old Jennifer Cruz Jones is a software build engineer with a new job, a new car, and a new apartment. Athletic and trim, she worked her way through college and 24 Hour Fitness. But she cannot hide from her past when the brother of her ex-fiancé is killed in a hit-and-run.

Startup founder Dave Jewell thought he needed one more cash infusion to launch his social shopping network. But when Jennifer finds blood on the frontend of his car, he is forced to protect her from a gang of ruthless thugs intent on blackmailing her for the software that drives his company’s success.

Jennifer falls in love with Dave while fearing he'd recognize her from the past. Her vulnerability triggers Dave’s protective instincts, and he believes she can heal the hole in his heart.

Together Jennifer and Dave must thwart a killer and avoid the police who suspect both of them, while keeping his startup from folding. A hostage is taken. Dave discovers damaging information about Jennifer and must race against time to deliver the ransom while Jennifer avoids becoming the next piece of roadkill.

I haven't written a review for this one either, but it gets a 4 star rating for me and it's an awful lot of fun to follow the characters around.


So, do yourselves a favor and grab an awesome book today!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop


Yup, that's me - The Next Big Thing. And I think I'm a day late. Oopsy. Anyway, moving past that.

Here's the deal: Mysti Parker has tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Thank you, Mysti! You always know just what to do and say. Okay, that sounded weird. Anyway...

This blog hop is like a game of virtual tag. I get to answer ten questions about my Work In Progress and tag 5 other authors for next week. So beware.
In the meantime, let's have some fun with the questions about my WIP.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Isn't it obvious from the cover? Okay, since it's not actually my cover (would be pretty awesome if it was), I'll say it again. My WIP is titled Saving Grace and I don't think I'll change the name (so it's actually a permanent title). It fits too well with it's triple meaning.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Honestly... I don't remember. I know there was a spark that made me want to write about Angels and Demons, but I can't remember exactly what it was.
What I did want to write was a story in which everyone might wonder which guy they should root for. I think I might have succeeded for the first 10 chapters or so.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nate - I mean Nathaniel, sorry


Ah, crap. Can I use pictures? Yes? Well, here they go - approximately.
The girls are pretty much keepers, because they just fit. I haven't found a suitable Blackwing yet - there's a shortage of awesome brunettes on this planet.
What I gather is that, if all the books I know turn into movies, Thor will never be out of work :p

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An Angel must come to terms with her nature in order to save the humans from themselves. (Eh, could've been better, but I never did one sentence synopsis - unless it's a really long, two page sentence)

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm not sure yet, since I haven't even finished editing it. I will send it out, but if I don't find a suitable home for it, I might just self-publish. Who knows?

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One month. Yup, churned out this 96 k words monster last November for NaNoWriMo. Now it's at about 108k words, after 1/3 edits. It will be huge by the end of this.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Don't laugh, but I don't really read books in my genre. You heard me right. The most I read is YA, so... I wouldn't know what this is like.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I guess that after I was done with the vampire trend, I had to stupidly start writing about Angels before realizing that it's their turn to choke the market. Hopefully, by the time I'm done with this, the buzz would subside. And I think the FAIL I considered the Fallen series and Hush, Hush to be sort of motivated me.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Angel bitch fight! Lol, not kidding. Spark and Grace don't like each other at all.

Well, that was fun. Now I need to tag people, you say? Darn it. I have no idea who's been tagged already and who hasn't, but I'll give it a try.

Lauren Stewart - Ha, take that!
Chantel Rhondeau
Jennifer Comeaux
J Andrew Jansen

There, you're all IT!

This was fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My to-do list

Okay, I have a lot to do. Better put it on paper:

1. Edit Saving Grace. Hard to do - I'm all over the map with this one, not sure what direction I want to go. The character of Grace has taken a turn, and I'm not sure if I'm screwing up character development or not. Damn you, head strong heroine!

2. Do some critting - okay, haven't done that in ages. Better get to it soon.

3. Study. Nuff said.

4. Fix legal issues regarding taxes - who doesn't love that?

5. Prepare surprise interview with surprise author (I think this should have stayed a surprise)

6. Stalk people and force my book on them (find this the hardest to do, actually)

7. Beta read 2 stories. Unless I want my friends to skin me alive.

8. Find interview hosts - yup, as much as I like hosting, I should be doing it the other way around too.

9. Stop obsessively checking book stats.

10. Wait patiently for the paperback copies to arrive in the mail (Damn you postal service! Why won't you work faster? They're books, not chemical bombs!)

11. Work - yeah, I have to do that too, but for some reason I have to keep reminding myself to start.

12. Buy two books I'm dying to read.

13. Think up clever marketing strategy (I can hear the crickets in my head already. Wow, there's a lot of space in there. And an echo--echo--echo--)

14. More legal issues regarding school papers.

15. Leave on honeymoon. (YAY!)

16. Um... write something maybe?

17. Steal underpants.

18. .......

19. Profit.

20. Make a million dollars.

21. Get a cat.

22. Buy groceries at store.

23. Take over the world. (Make every Tuesday Free Ice Cream Day)

24. Practice a larger attention span.

25. Work - yeah, I have to do that too, but for some reason I have to keep reminding myself to start.

26. Have my memory checked.

27. Profit.

That should about wrap it up. Now I'd better get working on stealing underpants at the grocery store while forcing my book in an interview at the post office.

See you next time.