Friday, October 12, 2012

Falling Leaves? Not here.

Living near a large body of water--I am at the widest point on the Allegheny River--puts a unique spin on life.  Life in the tiny village of Rosston is different, and our residents either learn to adapt, or they bitch their way through life.

We have just passed our busiest time of year, otherwise known as boating season.  Since I live a few yards from a large marina--a marina, which, I might add, doesn't provide enough safe and convenient parking for their normal daily visitors, let alone special events too big for such a tiny village--I am generally one of the residents who bitches her way through the warm weather months, and impatiently waits for cold weather to arrive.

Thankfully, chilly days and cold nights are here at last.  It's October, and my street has been transformed from a nearly impassable parking lot to a regular two-lane blacktop.  I can actually access my driveway without a battle, and I'm able to step outside my door without being run down by a jogger, walker, or cyclist.  Pick-ups still come and go daily, headed for the public boat launch at the end of my street, but the floating hotels that are normally docked just beyond my front door, are headed for storage.

Traffic has thinned, but my leaves are still verdant, and though outlying areas have a thick carpet of gold underfoot and bare branches showing, I will be forced to wait a few more weeks for the frost to stunt the grass growth, and tip the leaves with red and gold.  Big water means fog, and fog blankets the river valley and insulates us from hoar frost until mid-November. 

Cold weather is quieter here, and quiet means a greater productivity.  I have five projects in various stages of production, and a sixth steeping within my writer's group.  There are previously published novels to be scanned and made available once again in digital format, and scans to be edited.  Yes, on the outside, the cold weather months are quieter, slower paced, more restful.  But beyond my front door, in the sanctity of my office, creative bedlam still reigns.

Sparky and Boo are more adaptive than me, and they tussle and play, and sleep.  Season to season, they remain my steadfast companions. . . complaining only when we run out of chicken wings.  Wishing everyone a colorful autumn!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Editing service

Getting form letter rejections, and don't know why?  Want to take your writing to the next level but don't have a clue how to get there?  Editing is available at a very reasonable price.  As the author of 13 single title novels with two major publishing houses, I have worked and been guided by 5 editors, and I have a good eye for problems that an author may not see.

From simple proof-reading, to line edits to conceptual advice, I do it all for $1.00 per double-spaced page.  You may contact me at

Friday, May 4, 2012

Behind the Books--Only In Darkness

My book Only In Darkness is now available for Kindle.  This was the fourth and last of my books published by Avon Books, and very few people know that my inspiration for the story came from a tiny red clapboard church that sat under a huge maple tree on a bend in the road at Mosgrove, Pa. 

Mosgrove is a tiny village that is situated in a deep cleft between two steep, forested hills.  It's a shady place that doesn't get much direct sunlight, except when the sun is directly overhead.  Its huge boulders, towering hemlocks and creek rushing through the village to the Allegheny not far away lend it a delicious air of mystery.  I often drove across the Ridge Road and over the hill to Mosgrove on my way to Kittanning, and when I passed that little church, I always imagined a tall dark-haired man standing in the doorway.  That man eventually became Draegan Youngblood, an expert at counter-espionage.  Draegan Takes on the role of Reverend Mattais in order to catch the Tory spy Sparrowhawk, but it is a role he doesn't relish.

Since I was raised by devout parents, but am very irreverent, it was a lot of fun writing about Draegan's struggles to maintain the charade he has undertaken.  He is a womanizer, and unscrupulous, so standing in the pulpit is damned uncomfortable for him, and his discomfort intensifies as he succumbs to his deep attraction for Fallon Deane, a young woman he suspects might just be the spy he is chasing.  Draegan has more secrets than his real reason for coming to the village of Abundance.  Secrets that can be kept only in darkness.

There is one more factoid that may be of interest to readers: though Only In Darkness takes place in 1778, it is connected to my contemporary Romantic Suspense As Night Falls, coming this summer to Kindle.  The female protagonist of ANF is Draegan and Fallon's great-great-granddaughter, and she is living in the mansion where Fallon and her uncle Lucien lived.  The church also plays a role in ANF.

Hope you enjoy Only In Darkness!  SK

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Saying goodbye to a good friend

I'm sad to say that I am writing with one less dog these days.  Frazer, who was just 8 years old, said goodbye to us and to his failing body on April 17, and passed through the veil and into the Light.  The dynamic of the household has changed with his decision to go.  Sparky and Boo have grieved his absence just as I have.  It's so quiet.  The chaos I always enjoyed is suddenly gone.  There is no one to bark insanely for no reason at all.

Frazer was a Shetland sheepdog.  A beautiful, big boy with a shiny black coat and a huge white collar.  He came into my life when I was mourning the loss of another Sheltie named Faelan.  Frazer filled the void Faelan's death created.  He was more than just my dog.  He was my protector, and my friend, and he saw me through years of difficulty.  He died from complications of Cushings disease.

I am endlessly grateful for the wonderful memories he left behind with  me.  And I am grateful for Sparky and Boo.  Dogs are angels on four feet.  They ask for precious little, and they give so much.  They don't judge us for how we look, or whether or not we have deep pockets.  As long as there are retriever rolls in the house, and water in their water bowl, there is very little complaining. . . and even in death, they think, not of themselves, but of us.

My wish for Frazer is that he has a meadow full of sweet grass in which to run, and a body that will not betray him.  And I hope that he is able to understand that he meant the world to me.  At some point, I will immortalize him in a story.  Tonight, we send him our love.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Behind the books: The Ghost and Devlin Muir

It is a poorly kept secret that writers are not in control of their stories, or characters 100 percent of the time. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Behind the books

This week, I will be adding another of my previously published novels to Amazon for Kindle, and I thought I would like to present something about each book's behind the scenes events which few people are aware of. 

I know, not the greatest sentence structure in the world, but I save that for my paid works--and this is not.  In 1990 I sold a manuscript to Avon Books called Wilderness Heart.  My editor was Maggie Lichota, then executive editor.  This book sold through what they call the "slush pile" in 3 weeks time.  I was lucky, but by then I'd written the damned thing 4 times--every word.  The current version--available now exclusively for Kindle, is the 5th and FINAL rewrite.  Rough and Tender as a title, was not my choice.  And for a few years, I couldn't say it aloud without poking fun at it.  The spanking scene, was also not my idea.  Some editors like it rough.  Heh, heh.

Embrace The Wild Dawn was my 3rd Avon book, and it was published the year the midlist crashed and burned.  That same year, the cost of paper soared to 6 times what it was previously, and contracts for authors who weren't big names were dropping like flies.  This book had the ugliest freaking cover I have ever seen.  It was baby-shit yellow, and the artwork looked like it was done by a 6th grader.  The tree behind the couple was a big reddish-brown thing, and didn't look like a tree.  And though when I first wrote ETWD, Quintana's hair color was red, my editor asked me if I could change it to fit a cover that was already done, so I did, and she became a blonde.  Yet, when the cover arrived, her head looked like it was on fire.  They turned her back into a redhead without telling me--AFTER I'd made the changes THEY had asked for.  So, goes publishing.

My second editor at Avon, Ellen Edwards, farmed me out to someone who was free-lancing as an editor.  She nitpicked her way through this book.  I threw my dictionary across my office, and broke its spine.  Then, I drank a little more rum than I usually consumed, and quietly threatened to send her a dead rat by Fed-Ex.  Somehow, the book survived it.  But, without backing and with a lousy presentation, my numbers took a nose dive.

Just goes to show that the only thing a writer can control is her writing.  And this book is one of my best historical romances.  Draper is sexy, and romantic, and when he goes to England to bring back his commanding officer's daughter, his life is on the line.  He is facing a court-martial on a number of charges levelled at him by a man he detests.  A man who is responsible for Draper's young brother's death.

From the moment he steps into Quintana Wade's parlor, the conflict starts.  Quintana hates her estranged father, and has no intentions of going anywhere.  Years of pain and bitterness--and secret longing for the father she never knew--had hardened Quintana.  Her coolness is a protective shell, to keep her from being hurt again.  And though she makes every attempt to resist him, she soon finds she isn't immune to Draper's charm.

There is of course, a lot more than hand-holding going on.  But the sex--to me--took a backseat to the emotional punch in this story.  Embrace The Wild Dawn is more than just a romance.  It is a story about a young woman unfolding, and unbending, evolving, and learning how to adjust, and in the end, how to sacrifice herself for the welfare of someone she loves very deeply.  It also has the most poignant ending I have ever written.  As a reader I am hard to please.  As a judge of my own work, I am nearly impossible to please, but I have to say, I still LOVE these characters, and this story.

I hope you will love it too.  AND hey, it has a dog in there.  You knew that was coming!  Frazer, my Shetland sheepdog likes this one, too.  Sparky doesn't know that I'm a writer, yet.  He thinks I'd reading email.  And Boo?  Boo is my Absolute Fraquard (read the book to get that one).  He guards the perimeter and looks tough.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Confession Time

It's confession time.  I have a potty mouth.  It isn't an ingrained habit, and yes, I know better, but it's a part of my off-beat charm.  My father disapproved but ignored it--unless I came out with something really bad--and my mother really disapproved to the point where she would reprimand me just by speaking my given name, "SU-san!"

Marriage created my potty mouth, and many years of living with someone who needed a good cussing out honed my abilities.  It also really helped that I have my grandaddy's ear.  He was a player, in the truest sense of the word.  A real SOB who could play any musical instrument he lay hands on, and all without reading a note.  I write with that same finely tuned ear.  AND I swear with it.  Proudly.

Because I had years of practice, I learned that certain four-letter words fit together, and others don't.  Kind of like the way Antonio Banderas and I compliment one another.  Or would, if I were younger, and he more desperate.  For example Dumb SOB is a symphony of complimentary cussing.  M-F'N SOB also rolls off the tongue like melted butter, only you must accent the last four words heavily as in son-of-a-bitch!  I'll leave it at that, though I am thinking of writing a companion booklet for those people out there who want to swear fluently, just like me.

Why am I talking about swearing in this blog?  Because I didn't think to add a warning label on my book ROUGH AND TENDER, which is available at Amazon for Kindle right now.  Today.  Run right over there and buy yo'self a M-F-N copy.  My language is really not that bad in the historicals, but in my romantic suspense titles, I really kick ass.  So, be forewarned.

I will say that my dogs are better behaved than me, and hardly ever drop the F-bomb.  Except when Boo gets caught stealing the last slice of pizza, and then he turns the air a little blue.  He even makes me blush, and believe me, it takes a lot.

ROUGH AND TENDER <new and improved> funny, charming, endearing... and with a few f-bombs.  SK

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The evolution of writer and character

It's always interesting to look back from a new vantage point, and to trace our journey--whether it's life we are looking at, or our growth as writers.  My journey is at present, twenty-seven years in the making, and in some ways, I am just getting started.  I like to think I have improved along the way--there's no disputing that I've changed.  Yet the interesting thing as far as I am concerned is how the changes in me--my values, views, and personality--have changed my characters and my writing in general.

Take Eben St. Claire, for instance.  Eben was the male protagonist of Rough And Tender, and very acceptable for the time in which he appeared in print.  I liked him.  So acceptable that the book was awarded "Best First Western Historical" by Romantic Times Magazine.  But time went on, and I improved as a writer, and changed as a person.  I've never been one to read my own work after it's finished, and I was especially reticent to look back on that first effort--until January of 2012 when I decided to offer it for sale at Amazon.

Frugality being a necessity, I decided to retype the original text--an arduous task that has taken me a number of weeks, but a very good thing, because as I started to read, I started to gag.  Eben, I soon discovered, was an arrogant, puffed-up boor, and a humorless bully, and the text and dialogue was stilted.  In my defense, I will remind the reader that we were fresh out of the "Bodice-ripper" stage in publishing at the time this was written, and Eben was tame by those standards, and my ability and style damned good.  Thankfully, times have changed mightily, society's values have evolved, and so have I.

In rewriting Rough And Tender (available this month from Amazon for Kindle) I was able to re-present Eben as a diamond in the rough.  The bully is largely gone, and a clueless male has taken his place.  Eben is an ass, and he knows it.  What he hasn't a clue about is how to deal with Raven, a lover who is a great deal younger, and more tender than any he's had thus far.  The end result--I hope--is a more acceptable version of the story that garnered a lot of praise back in the day.

Though he still can be quite the clueless ass, I find I like Eben more today than I did.  He's a hard-nosed man, but he's human, something we can all relate to--except for my dogs, of course.  They do tend to bark along as I laugh my ass off, but god knows what they're saying.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Butt-sniffing dogs

You may be wondering what this has to do with writing, and actually, I'm wondering that, too.  Dogs are a part of this blog, however, and a very big part of my life.  All of my friends are dog-people.  In fact, if someone reacts badly to my dogs, they aren't going to receive an open invitation to my home.  I really don't trust people who don't like dogs.

We always had dogs when I was a kid.  The first dog I can recall was Babo.  To claim him, I painted him pink.  I must have been three at the time, and God knows how I got my chubby little hands on that paint brush.  Babo was a good dog.  But, like all dogs, from mutts to pedigrees do, he did a lot of butt-sniffing. 

My mom, bless her, provided an explanation for that strange behavior that I will pass on to you this morning.  I have no idea where it originated, so I can't give the proper credit.  Some reader may be able to clue me in.

As it turns out, there was a party one night, and all dogs were invited.  As they entered the house, they hung up their tails by the door, and went off to do dog things. At some point that evening, the house caught fire, and the building was evacuated, everyone grabbed a tail and ran out to safety.  So, when butt-sniffing occurs, its a sort of ID thing.  "Do you have my tail?"

As to how this little folktale pertains to writing, that last paragraph would make a damn good hook.  So sue me.  It's the best I can do on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

After an extended hiatus from the world of writing and publishing, I've started an all-out sprint to get my backlist published digitally.  It took an awful lot to convince me this was a positive step, but when I bought my Kindle last Christmas, I fell in love faster than Middle-aged Desperate in a kareoke bar. 

I buy a ton of books.  Used books, new books,  fiction, non-fiction, spiritual, metaphysical and self-help.  And I spend a ton of money on those books.  The last Koontz novel I bought cost me the biggest portion of a ten-dollar bill, and worth every penny.  But I can get the same book for less on Kindle, and not have to find shelf-space for it.  I like that.  I also love the fact that my library travels with me.

Digital publishing for Kindle and other e-readers is also VERY intriguing.  I've been an observer of the ins and outs of traditional publishing for twenty years, and I can tell you that there have been times when mansucripts I considered really good were turned down flat.  While I could also understand why--it's all about the money--there was a lot of really good fiction that was passed over because of the earning prospectus not outweighing initial investment to publish.  And, some of those good books were mine.

Thanks to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other digital publishers, I not only get to choose what I read, but what I write--and that excites me.

And the techno aspect of digital is definitely cool.  Even my dogs love gadgets... though I gotta tell you, they aren't thrilled that I'm writing again.  Have you ever watched someone write?  It's scary.  Given that they can read my thoughts and follow along with the text that is forming in my brain, it's doubly scary for them.  They watch me suspiciously a lot.  They exchange looks of alarm.  And Frazer?  Well, Frazer waits for food.  If there's food envolved, he's all in.  If there's no food, he'll grab a nap.