Posted by: reneewildes1 | June 21, 2017

Life With A Chow-Chow

I have been a certified Vet Tech/LAT since 1996 and a professional dog groomer for 4 years now, and it never ceases to amaze me what a misunderstood dog breed Chows are. They’re beautiful balls of fluff that come in two body/coat types and a variety of colors, with a distinctive blue-black tongue. So many times, people ask my what breed my Abby is. When I say “Chow” the FIRST question people ask is “Is she mean?”

(Yes, b/c I would so TOTALLY keep a MEAN dog around my three kids and three cats…)

Chows are an ancient medium-sized spitz-type breed from China. They were bred for guarding and hunting. They are known to be “one-man dogs,” both independent and stubborn. They are NOT for first-time dog owners – or ANY owner who thinks a Golden Retriever is the epitome of “a perfect dog. ”

red chowChows are fiercely loyal and protective. They are intensely territorial and can be dog aggressive. They do not trust strangers. They have a high-maintenance coat that blows a horrifying amount of undercoat twice a year all over the house ands mats on a whim if not brushed regularly. They are prone to hip dysplasia, bladder stones, and eye problems. They think of obedience training as “more actual guidelines.” (Basically, they are cats that bark.)

They are also the ultimate clowns. They get into what I call “whirling dervish” mode and tear about like the energizer bunny–then curl up next to you & fall asleep. They’re not huge cuddlers for very long b/c they got too hot, but make very nice, comfy pillows. When properly socialized they are very calm, tolerant dogs.

AbbyI’ve had Abby (New Moon’s Twilight Night} since she was 6 months old. She’ll be 8 years old this coming August. She’s a black, smooth-coated Chow with a long but not woolly coat. We got her as an unofficial  “rescue”–as in, from a private owner who didn’t know how to take care of her. She was matted, underweight, had both roundworms & whipworms, NO vaccinations, and was in dire need of entropic eye surgery (both eyes were getting rubbed raw from in-turned lashes). She was not housebroken and had never been socialized. She was afraid of hardwood floors and didn’t know how to walk on concrete (she’d walk on the grass and panic when we got to a driveway to cross).

The vets at VCA referred us to Kronenwetter for her eyelid surgery, and they did all four. Said it was one of the worst cases they’d ever seen. She healed beautifully and been right as rain since. She almost died from a huge bladder stone at the age of two, and is now on prescription diet (was Royal Canin SO, now Hills C/D) for life. Her favorite treats are Dentastix. She has very thin dental enamel and the vets are leery of doing dentals on her b/c they’re trying to save her teeth surfaces for as long as possible. They have a litmus-paper-type test to check bacterial-count/gingivitis, and so far she’s been passing. Eventually, we expect her to lose her teeth and need to go to a canned diet.

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Because she was not socialized as a small pup, she is EXTREMELY dog aggressive. We worked with Cindy Stienke from K9 Elementary on how to get Abby’s respect and how to control her when she’s around other dogs. She does great with our cats, b/c when we first got Abby, Chandra marched right up to her and smacked her on the nose with her claws. Abby now has a healthy respect for cats, and they rule the roost. Sad to see a 45-pound dog completely kitty-whipped–they’ll grab her toys and take over the water bowl, and she backs right down. Pathetic. She’s great at the vet, and easy to handle for grooming. She is great with elderly people, very slow and gentle, does NOT like strange men (especially drunks and she is particularly protective of my teenage daughter), and is leery of children–they have to go slow or she hides and tries to bolt. She hates delivery people coming on the porch. She looks like a Flufferina but sounds like a Chowminator.

She knows basic obedience commands on leash, but has no recall and the minute she sees a squirrel all bets are off. She’s walked into trees looking for them. My daughter taught her a variety of tricks – including dancing on her hind legs and army-crawling (although she sticks her butt in the air and would get her tail shot off in real-life).

We love her to pieces and can’t imagine life any other way.

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Posted by: reneewildes1 | April 22, 2017

NEW WEBSITE!

Been working with Jo from Glass Slipper Web Design on my new website, Renee Wildes Romance (dot com). It’s been a long time since I had one, and it’s SO pretty. Come check it out and leave me a message from the Contact Page to say hi!

reneewildesromance.com

Posted by: reneewildes1 | March 1, 2017

Farewell SAMHAIN

 

It’s a sad day for me and a lot of fellow romance authors–the end of an era. Samhain Publishing LLC goes dark after a decade of leading the small, independent ebook/print pub pack. I started with them in 2006 and published 7 fantasy romance titles in the Guardians of Light series. I was fortunate enough to keep the same editor throughout my Samhain career, the amazing Linda Ingmanson.

I’ve head two fabulous cover artists–Anne Cain did the first three (Duality, Hedda’s Sword and Lycan Tides)

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and Kanaxa did the last four (Dust of Dreams, Riever’s Heart, God of Fyre Mountain, and Moonwitched).

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No automatic alt text available.Weird story about how I first got published. I attended the 2006 NJ RWA Conference with a bunch of fellow FFP RWA writers, and I got talked into pitching Duality to Angela James (then with Samhain, now with Carina Press). I dropped my “cheat” index cards under my chair, I was so nervous. She asked a lot of pointed questions about my twist on Cinderella, and invited me to submit the manuscript to them. When I started to type the query letter, my oh-so-nosy-and-helpful cat Chandra walked across the keyboard and sent the darn thing prematurely. Half a letter, no attachments. I just about had a heart attack, when I had to rewrite and resubmit with an explanation. *sob* Two weeks later, I got an acceptance letter from Linda offering a contract:

Dear Renee: Thank you for sending Duality for consideration for publishing. I think it’s a terrific book, really well written, with great characters and an interesting story line. I would like to offer you a contract.

The only caveat is that I probably won’t be able to schedule the release for any earlier than late summer/early fall next year. If you don’t mind a bit of a wait, then I’ll go ahead and put in for the contract. Please let me know.
Thank you-
Linda Ingmanson, Editor
Samhain Publishing
I was over the moon, and Linda and I turned out some award-winning projects:
Duality – Hedda’s Sword – Lycan Tides
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I’m sad to see it all end, and I hope I can find a new home that comes close to what I’ve enjoyed at Samhain. I wish everyone the best in future endeavors.

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 28, 2017

Music to Write To

Music is such a visceral subjective thing, and a huge part of our world culture. Your music preferences say a lot about you as a person. It defines who and what we are.

Some people write to music, to help them think/create. My books all have soundtracks. I have general “fantasy romance” bands, and then specific bands/sounds for specific books. Thought I’d share where my stories come from.

I love Kate Price (hammer dulcimer) and Mediaeval Baebes — my go-to for all my stories. I love the Old World chants and instruments. They really set the stage for my world-building: castles and kings, peasant villages & serfs, knights and healers, bards and seers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I play Enya for love scenes, Nightwish & Within Temptation for magical scenes, and Axel Rudi Pell for my fight/battle scenes. For dark magic I’ve been known to pull Warlock out of the archives. Doro Pesch’s voice could cut glass.

Enya:

Tarja turunen:

Sharon den Adel   Within Temptation:

 

 

 

 

 

Axel Rudi Pell:

Doro Pesch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedda’s Sword is set in Shamar, and Riever’s Heart is set in Isadorikja. Both countries experienced major political upheaval. For them I went with Nordic bands, because the minor keys and not-quite-blending harmonics leave a wonderful unsettled feeling. My kids tease me because I don’t know the words to the lyrics, but I just like the sound! Gamarna, Hedningarna & Varttina:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lycan Tides is more traditional Celtic – Danu &Leahy in particular

Danu brings Irish music to the Rialto Theater Center - Loveland Reporter-Herald:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R. Carlos Nakai - Godfather of Native American Flute playing & most famous of all NAF performers today.:

My one non-Guardians of Light published book is Marek’s New World, from Tirgearr Publishing. It’s what I call a contemporary rural paranormal. Heroine is a white wolf shifter and forestry ranger. Hero is a 2000-year-old Native American warrior. They try to apprehend a loosed demon in Kootenai National Forest. For this story I played a lot of Native American flute, esp. R. Carlos Nakai

 

 

 

 

So that pretty much sums up my musical journey as a writer. I’d love to hear what you listen to!

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 24, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things

So, just thought I’d post this as a “getting to know you.” Writer & book info is all well and good, but we’re first and foremost people, too. So I thought I’d let you get to know me a little better. Writers are first and foremost readers, and I’m no exception.

I grew up reading fantasy and watching sci fi. My first crush was Captain Apollo from the ORIGINAL Battlestar Galactica TV series (Richard Hatch).

I love reading Mercedes Lackey. My favorite was the “Storm” trilogy – I’ve read them to pieces! The book I consider my inspiration, what got me started writing is Barbara Hambly’s “The Ladies of Mandrigyn.”

 

 My favorite color is blue, my favorite flower is stargazer lily, and I can never get enough Mexican food. I usually order Cosmopolitans at the bar, but my favorite wine (at home) is Australian Shiraz (esp. Rosemont). I’m more of a stay-in person than a go-out person, and I get cold really easy so I’m usually snuggled in a fuzzy blanket with a cup of coffee, reading or scrapbooking or watching movies.

 

When I DO venture outside, it’s usually to spend time walking my Chow Abby

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and/or hanging out at my daughter’s 4H horse shows with out Morab mare Sassy (Temptation Fyre N Ice)

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I love movies with strong heroines – my all-time favorites are Jessica Lange as Mary McGregor in Rob Roy and Madeleine Stowe as Cora Monroe in Last of the Mohicans. (What, you thought I watched for Liam Neeson in a kilt and Daniel Day Lewis in buckskins? LOL)

 

 

 

 

 

I try to write heroines in the same strong-but-feminine vein, inspired by the above fictitious women. Now that I write fantasy romance, I read a lot more of it, just to see what else other people are doing. My all-time favorite fantasy romance books in recent years is Elizabeth Vaughan’s “Warprize”

So that’s a bit about the “real” me!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 22, 2017

Self-Editing Old Books

With the imminent demise of Samhain Publishing, I and my fellow authors face the big question: What to do with all our books? Many people decided to go indie, self-publish. I can’t afford to do that. I can’t even afford to buy back my covers/back blurbs to reuse. So I’m looking at resubmitting to another publisher willing to take a look at previously published works. I haven’t had to blind-query in years. I had an editor at Samhain who loved me–I’d send a book, she’d send a contract. Worked together seamlessly for almost a decade. Seven books total in my Guardians of Light series.

Now I’m out to seduce strangers, people who don’t know me and are deluged by thousands of other hopefuls all screaming “LOOK AT ME!” *sigh*

So in the interests of beating out the competition, I’m revamping these–yes, already edited–titles with a fresh eye. Why? Because I want them to be the best they can be. I’ve learned a lot since I started writing. Book 1, Duality, came out in 2008. I’ve learned a lot since then. Trends and style preferences change. The market changes. Reader preferences change.

But where to start? My two big requirements? Readability and Marketability

One of the first things I did is go back through my reviews and look at the less-than-stellar comments, to see if any commonalities jumped out at me. And they did. Several people mentioned the creative grammar & phonetic spelling/dialects as being problematic. I know the stories are good, but if people notice the writing instead of the story, it’s a problem.

Duality being Book One is the platform from which to launch a campaign to find a new home for the entire series. It’s going to be my ambassador, my sample, my handshake. In addition to being intimidatingly LONG at over 108K in its original form, it cornered the market in apostrophes and alternative words/phrasings. So my two biggest aims were to cut the word count to under 100K, and smooth out the writing until I disappeared and the only thing left was the Cinderella story of Dara and Loren and the *cough* demon that brought them together.

 

Now, there are limits to my multi-tasking. I miss stuff if I try to do everything at once as I go through a manuscript. So I have to do multiple passes, forcusing on ONE type of edit at a time. I basically have it broken down to 10 steps:

  • Step One: Reformatting – from PDF to Word, deleting all the old Samhain headers/footers
  • Step Two: Teaching Word spellcheck its new vocabulary so it quit freaking out over my fantasy-world proper nouns
  • Step Three: Tedious apostrophe search, replacing them with whole words
  • Step Four: Find & Replace – searching out modernisms/archaicisms, swapping out fake words & real ones, leaving just enough of them in dialogue to maintain the fantasy flavor while eliminating from the narrative itself
  • Step Five: Activate passive verbs & use contractions where possible (yes for humans, no for elves)
  • Step Six: Cut adverbs, excessive adjectives & unnecessary dialogue tags
  • Step Seven: Cut & Tighten, removing the fat until word count goal achieved (In Duality’s case, to 98K – I cut 10%/10K from it)
  • Step Eight: Recheck punctuation & italics
  • Step Nine: Check appearance – “white space” and “orphans”
  • Step Ten: Reread as a reader, rechecking for smoothness and readability, noting (& fixing) anything that still stops or distracts

 

Rinse and repeat with each of the other 6 books. (I’m working through Hedda’s Sword now.)

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 6, 2017

Arabian Horses & Romance Writing

So…huh? What does the one have to do with the other?

Something you should know about me: I grew up in the Wisconsin Arabian Horse Association, and worked a lot of weekend horse shows at State Fair Park in West Allis (Milwaukee). Watched a lot of judging!

 

WisRWA Fab Five Contest

Now that I’m a published romance writer who also judges writing contests – the WisRWA Fab 5 deadline is right around the corner – I’ve been noticing some similarities I thought I’d share.

 

 

First off, Arabians in halter get judged on five main things: type, conformation, soundness, balance and quality. An Arab has to look like an Arab. Watch “13th Warrior” with Antonio Banderas. Did that little gray mare look anything like the other war horses? Nope, but she was nimble and agile and ran circles around them!

 

 

Unfortunately, many halter show horses never get trained to ride or drive, but they have to be built and able to. Conformation and soundness – they had to be able to traipse through the desert on next to nothing for weeks on end and still be able to carry a rider into battle at the end. And the all elusive “quality” – that fire and presence and grace that makes one individual stand out in a good lineup.

Now, there are no perfect horses. One has great legs but straight shoulders, another a great topline but crooked legs, etc. What we look for is balance in the whole, everything working together in an attractive, useful package with spark. I liked that the judges were always from out of town. They didn’t know the people, the farms, or the horses’ pedigrees. They didn’t know the back stories, the rivalries, the politics. They judged “THAT horse, on THAT day.” Period.

 

 

Where am I going with this? Romance writing is a lot like that. A romance has to have “type” – it has to BE a romance, rocky relationship leads to HEA. (My apologies to the Women’s Fiction and Romantic Elements writers out there. Give “type” less weight and go with the other qualities.) No matter what sub-genre you’re in, it’s still a romance theme.

 

 

 

 

“Conformation and Soundness” – Story Structure. Grammar and punctuation. Active verb tenses. Multi-sensory description. POV. GMC. Plot. Here’s where writers have the advantage, because these things can be learned, practiced and improved. Some people are better at something than others, we all have weak spots we need to work on.

 

“Balance” is the story as a whole. Three-dimensional characters. Logical plot with winding story progression. Believable problems, interesting twists, sympathetic characters, good world-building. Does the story draw you along?

 

And that elusive unmistakable “quality” – voice. It’s like a distinctive flavor you either love or hate. It’s what gives pubbed writers their readers, why readers tend to own every book by so-and-so and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

This is what writing contest divas can struggle with. If you have three judges, and two love your voice but one hates it, you final, because most contests toss the low score. If one judge loves it but two hate it, you go home with some interesting and valuable critiques. If you’re entering contests for the feedback, great. You can learn a lot from them. If you’re entering a contest for the final judge, to land on that particular agent’s/editor’s desk, it’s a roll of the dice.

 

You want the overall balance of type and conformation to rise to the top, and then make it to the one editor that recognizes quality, loves your voice, and buys your book. (And the next one. And the next one.)

 

Hone your craft, and have faith. You know you’ve got a good story, and you’ve worked hard to make it a great book, the best it can be. Believe in yourself, and have persistence. Horses or books, quality is quality – it will be recognized and rewarded someday, by someone. Just keep writing!

 

 

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 6, 2017

Thoughts on Characterization

Put on your character like a shroud. When you write in that character, you ARE that character, at almost a microscopic level. You find out everything about that character, like someone in witness protection or an undercover cop. You know that person so well, you ARE that person. 24/7/365. Almost to the point when a phone call comes in at work you answer “Good morning, this is Maleta, your avenging assassin nun. How may I help you today?” (Hedda’s Sword reference)
(No I’ve never done that.)
My goal is to get first-person close with third person voice.
The rule I try to stick by is:
Who has the most to fear/risk/lose in that scene? (The highest stakes?) THAT’s who the scene should showcase, so the reader can feel the tension and drama. Even-keeled safe characters are good for secondary supporters, but hero/heroine should need/change/grow. As mentioned regarding love scenes, the above applies to love scenes, also. The scene itself should be in the least secure’s POV, so the scene is a revelation—either makes things better…or worse. And then immediately switch to the other character for the aftermath.
 
Character “Voice”
Again, it’s unrelenting. You have to BE the character, every single moment. Now you know why multiple POVs can be so tricky. You have to totally change yourself, your background, your way of thinking, moving, reacting.
Watch Viggo Mortenson first as a dedicated dad in a postapocolyptic nightmare world in The Road, then a Navy SEAL instructor in G.I. Jane, then as a humble cowboy in Hidalgo and finally as a reluctant king but able warrior in LOTR. Same actor, four different characters & worlds.
 
Mixing It Up
Characters need to be consistent, and true to themselves, their own inner moral compass. But part of the fun is surprising the reader. Force the character to do the unexpected. Set up a scenario where a character has to do something they never thought they would – an HONEST character lies to protect someone else, etc. It also adds depth. BY taking the first answer that comes to you and throwing it out, you can add a twist that’s unexpected:
Say you have your soldier of fortune fall in love with your kindergarten teacher. But how different those POVs would be. They would even look at the red in a sunset differently. The teacher might think of the roses in her garden, the soldier would probably think “blood.” Or maybe not. Maybe the soldier thinks of the roses in his grandmother’s garden, and how much he misses her. Would she be proud of him or disappointed in him?
Unexpected twists like this add depth to your character, make him less stock cutout and more real-person. Give your hard, edgy character moments of softness. Give a soft, timid character a moment of strength.
  
Thoughts on Characterization In General
People are a product of their world—part genetics, part environment. We are born blank slates, with equal potential. Then we are molded into what we ultimately become. By people, circumstance, experience, training and choices. Our viewpoints, how we see the world around us, is colored by who and what we are. Children see the world differently than adults. A kindergarten teacher is going to view the world very differently than a soldier of fortune.
The best characters are as three-dimensional as real people, with the triviality stripped away. They are the best and the worst of the human race—sometimes in the same package. They have their own viewpoints, their own voice, that reflects who and what they are. They have strengths and weaknesses, beliefs and prejudices, assumptions and fears. For me characterization is interdependent on world-building, because the reader can only understand the characters if they can view the world around them.
Times
Culture (Art/Music/Literature)
Politics
Religion
Education & Training
Employment
Hobbies/Games/Sports
Society & Family Placement/Position
Ethics/Intelligence/Emotions
Rewards & Punishments
Rules
Remember in the movie “City Slickers” when they were looking for that “one thing” Curly swore made the whole world make sense, but how it was different for each person?
 
And for Liam Neeson in the movie “Rob Roy” it was “honor”? Explaining “honor” to his sons. “Honor” was what he lived and (almost) died by. He expected others to live by the same code he did, and thus was hugely disappointed. But he was as straight and true a character as ever existed on screen. Because that single word, “honor” was soul-deep, ever-present.
Find ONE WORD to describe each of your characters. Tattoo it on their forehead. Never let them take it off. You’ll be surprised how that becomes a lens which colors EVERYTHING they view!
It’s just a way of always being able to check yourself on character consistency:
“But would a man of HONOR DO that?”
“But would an HONEST person SAY that?”
It doesn’t have to be “good”—lack of trust is a stellar trait that would affect everything she does. In my Hedda’s Sword, Maleta (the avenging assassin nun) is a rape survivor. The hero Cianan was only good for one thing—helping free her country, preferably from a great distance… That can totally work, because it definitely sets up a great character growth arc!
A character who’s aware of their trait can reflect on it, maybe even poke fun of themselves over it in quiet moments. A character who ISN’T aware would never think or discuss it, but would convey to the other characters and the reader through actions that the other characters could comment on and the reader would say “Of course, they’re ___”
Like a protector who always steps in front of a bully or a “bossy” who always tells people what to do.
It can also be darker, like a “heroic” who always picks the most dangerous rescues b/c he thinks he should have died instead of his friend, and is either unconsciously trying to prove himself worthy of life or, conversely, NOT worthy of life and is unconsciously trying to DIE but the fates have other ideas and won’t let him.
In my first romance Duality I got called out on naming a dance. I originally used the word “waltz” which has a very definitive Earth-history beginning. Since my world was pure high fantasy, I had my editor tell me to rename my dance. I renamed it “arelle” and she was happy. “Waltz” would have taken the reader right out of the fantasy.
Not good. Easy fix.
Then I made Dara unable to dance and have to learn. She was raised a peasant, a healer—they had no time for frivolity. When she learned Loren was a PRINCE, she worried about gowns, dances, what fork to use at dinner. Royalty and peasantry do not move in the same circles or use the same trappings.
Things never brought up in Cinderella. Things that WERE brought up in Princess Diaries 1 & 2. Because if your character wouldn’t know—don’t have them know. Have them learn. Have them worry about screwing up—and have them make mistakes. Let the reader relate to the humanity of your character.
 
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU CREATE YOUR CHARACTERS:
Everyone has their own way of developing characters. I’m not here to tell you WHAT to think or do or change anyone’s methodology. I’m just here to share my thoughts and suggestions for digging deeper, on ways to make your characters MORE human, for a closer reader connection. What works for me.
Things to consider:
How do your characters FIRST come into being? What draws YOU to them?
How do you know what makes them tick? What weird/unique quirks do they have?
How did they become their profession? Why did they choose to do what they do?
How did they wind up in the setting you put them in? Did they choose it or were they forced there by circumstance?
What do they: Know? Want? Need? Fear? Learn?
Why is their “other half” perfect for them? How do they challenge/push/grow?
What do you love about them? Hate about them?
What needs to change in order for them to have a HEA with each other?
My Personal Characterization Reference Library
I’m a total writing book junkie. And on my keeper shelf I have the following references for characterization that have come in handy:
I’ve got 3 books on characterization I swear by:
  • 45 MASTER CHARACTERS: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
  • by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
  • The Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for BUILDING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS
  • by Marc McCutcheon
  • WHAT WOULD YOUR CHARACTER DO? Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your
  • Characters
  • by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. & Ann Maisel
I also recommend: (LUV this one!)
  •  the RANDOM HOUSE WORD MENU (ISBN 0435414411) for getting
  • various vocabulary and terminology right. – all different professions & hobbies listed, to sound more like an insider
  •  And I have A WORLD OF BABY NAMES by TERESA NORMAN that I use in order to
  • get “related” names correct – cultural distinctness.
Adding to the list (from others’ recommendations):
  • Bullies, Bastards,& Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page
  • Morrell
  • Understanding the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso.
  • Believable Characters: Creating with Enneagrams by Laurie Schnebly
Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 3, 2017

BRAND NEW WEBSITE

Have a new website via WordPress over at https://reneewildesromance.wordpress.com/

All of my books and buy links are there – drop me a line & say hi! Feel free to follow me at either location – here or there! 🙂

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 2, 2017

The 6 Senses – The SIXTH Sense

All of the other senses are observing or interacting with the external.  The sixth sense is purely internal.  First become of aware of yourself, and then expand outward.  Become familiar with the “norm”, and then look for “different.”  If you’re walking through the woods, and all of a sudden the birds and animals fall silent, that’s a problem.  Something’s changed in their perception of what-should- be.  They might be reacting to you.  They might be reacting to the big bear behind you.  Maybe you should notice the big bear behind you.

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 2, 2017

The 6 Senses – TOUCH

The sense of touch is the most intimate of all, because you cannot do it at a distance.  It requires proactive movement by someone, reaching out to explore and embrace their world. 
CelebrationThis is not a lecture on sexual touching – for that I highly recommend Mary Buckham’s Sexual Tension class, using the 12 Steps to Intimacy.  This is just touching in general, textures, temperatures.
Think how babies explore their world – they pick up everything and try to put it in their mouths.  They’ve got the right idea.  Watch the kids on a field trip to a nature class,  examining feathers and pine cones and snake skin – sometimes shed, sometimes with the snake still inside.  The difference between an iguana and a salamander.  When my daughter was just over a year old we went to Maine.  Remember that rocky beach?  (We went in July, not in November.)  That baby sat there playing with the rocks for a good half-hour.  She’d pick up one, pass it back and forth, turning it over and over.  She didn’t go for color, she went with texture.  She put the smooth ones down right away – too boring.  She liked the rough, bumpy ones, and would trace the edges from every angle and giggle to herself.
ChandraThere have been studies about how beneficial pet ownership is.  Stroking something furry can lower blood pressure, especially (for me, at least) if it purrs.  That’s why pet therapy is such a success.  Read up on a dog named Skeezer, and what a difference she made in the lives of some REALLY messed-up kids.
Remember Linus?  Most kids have a favorite blanket they keep for years.  Whenever they get stressed-out, out comes the blanket.   When our son Joshua was born he got a fuzzy white blanket with balloons on it.  Once when my mom in Racine babysat for him, we picked him up but forgot the blanket.  He screamed and screamed.  Nothing worked.  Slow first-time parents that we were, we were halfway to Milwaukee before we thought “blanket”.  Turned around, drove all the way back to mom’s, woke her up, got the blanket.  He conked out right off.  Joshua is nine now and still has it.  It’s a nearly transparent white rag now, can’t even see the balloons anymore, but don’t even suggest throwing it away!
Okay, so kids have blankets, but don’t be too quick to laugh.  I’ll bet everyone here has a favorite sweater or old pair of jeans.  How many of us whine about how we can’t wait to “break in” that new pair of shoes?  How many of us have an expensive new outfit we never wear because it’s just not comfortable?
My Pretty New OfficeI love reading books.  I love their smell, the sound of the pages turning, the way they feel in my hand.  Joshua made these fantabulous little bowls in pottery class – l love every little dent and ripple.  Tami made a pink clay elephant I have on my desk at work.  Very stress-relieving.  (Who can be stressed out playing with a pink elephant?  When that colonel’s wife is hollering at me on the phone I just pick up Tami’s elephant and say “yes ma’am.”)   I have a soapstone candle-holder that’s my favorite.  I love the smooth, slippery feel.  I have a small carved wooden box on my computer desk where I keep my business cards.  I love tracing the carvings on it, the feel of every leaf edge and raised petal.  I love standing under a really hot shower, and big fluffy towels afterward.
Go on – be a kid again.  Explore your world with the sense of touch.  A fun game we play at home is blindfold someone, hand them something and see it they can guess what it is by touch alone.
Size shape weight texture form substance temperature
Soft hard smooth rough bumpy scratchy sharp dull solid liquid hot warm cold frozen
Living or not, natural or artificial
Think of struggling across blowing sand dunes, your feet sliding with every step.  Think of squelching through mud, it sucking at your shoes with every step.  Ever lose a shoe in mud, stepping out of it and hitting the cold wet with your bare foot?
Gardeners know what the feel of dirt is like.  Walk barefoot in the grass, on the beach.  Feel the bark of the tree, the shape of leaves, the texture of flower petals.  Even a bowl of mixed nuts – each is different – try the blindfold test on them.  Popcorn.  Chips.  Can you feel the difference between merino, cashmere and angora?  Feel the difference between Egyptian cotton sheets and the ones on sale at Walmart.
Now imagine your character doing the same thing.  The first time I played with a pet raccoon, I was surprised at how soft their paws were, how much like hands.  Give the characters preconceived notions and then surprise them.  I remember reading a Battlestar Galactica book when I was young (the old series, not the new – when Starbuck was a GUY).  They were riding unicorns.  Now do you think “smooth, satiny, white” when you think “unicorn”?  These were black, and their coats were harsh and wiry.  And I thought “Wow, that’s different!  COOL!”
Think of your skin.  Parts that see the sun all the time are rougher, drier, more weathered.  Parts that don’t see the sun so much (or ever) are smoother and paler.  Compare a rancher’s hands to an executive’s.  Think of the kind of man who gets a manicure.  The type of woman who doesn’t.
Moonwitched72webIn MOONWITCHED, Chapter 2:
 The goods-laden camels of the Theressan slavers’ caravan halted, grumbling, on the eastbound trade road. Their cloaked and veiled handlers, monsters masquerading as men, herded them into the golden tall-grass for tonight’s camp. A dozen captive women stumbled into the negligible shade of a stunted, twisted tarja tree.
A salty tear trickled down Mari’s sunburnt cheek as she collapsed, exhausted, on the hard-baked ground a bit apart from the others. She reached up to erase her show of weakness afore one of her amoral captors noticed. Her fingers came away streaked with gritty mud. She frowned at her broken nails. Powdery red dust clung to all, stained her tattered blue gown like dried blood. Mari wrinkled her nose in self-disgust at the combined stench of old sweat and old fear. Oh, for a bath. I smell worse than those foul-tempered camels.
How had it come to this? Bands of men, ordered to capture innocent, free women for sport? For sale? And the one who did the ordering—the shadowy head demon who’d taken control of this land. Emandu, who’d sent Kotar, the rightful boy-king, fleeing for his young life.
She fingered the cool stones and crystals encircling the copper band about her right wrist. Her captors had not yet taken it from her. The minor unseeing ward still held, made others dismiss it as inconsequential. A square green peridot set in iron for earth, a jagged quartz set in gold for fire, a round aquamarine set in a point-down triangle of silver for water and an arrowhead of mica set in tin for air. The heavy cuff bound, stored and focused whatever elemental energy she drew in ’til she had need of its magic and called it forth. But the need here far surpassed her earth-healing powers.
Fear wore on her, the sharpness dulled over the course of three days under the burning sun to a constant bone-deep ache. Nightmares of bloodshed and atrocities haunted her slumber. She licked her chapped lips. The brutes rationed their drinking water, but tears and sweat gave hope she wasn’t dehydrated yet.
Flannel shirts.  Satin sheets.  Granite countertops.  Steaming hot bubble baths.  Brushing your hair.  Typing on a keyboard.  Hugging a child.  Petting a cat.  Warming your hands under a horse’s mane.  Opportunities to mention, describe and revel in touch are all around you.  Put them on your pages.  Characters do not live in a bubble.  Have them embrace their world.  Clothing, their environment, animals, each other.  See what works for you.
Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 1, 2017

The 6 Senses – SMELL & TASTE

Smell and taste are so intertwined as to be virtually inseparable.  If you don’t believe me, plug your nose and eat a taco.  Or jambalaya.  Doesn’t taste anything like what you thought or remembered, does it?  Halfway through, unplug your nose and take another bite.  Wow, what a difference!  I had a roommate with a defective sense of smell; he overseasoned everything.  He could eat Habanero peppers straight.  His bloody marys were brown! 

Breathe through your nose.  Then breathe through your mouth.  What’s the difference?  Describe it.
Smell and taste are probably the most neglected senses in fiction.  They truly are sensual, they enrich your world-building by adding depth.  Like sound, they’re vital to transforming your reader from an observer to an active participant.   Don’t just list them like an inventory, tear them apart, put them on, roll around in them, revel in them.

Say you’re going down a tunnel.  Is it dry and dusty or damp and mildewy?  Is the dust laced with minerals that stings your nose and puts a tang under your tongue?  Copper’s good for that.  Iron, too – like in blood. 
You’re walking along a beach.  Is that body of water fresh or salt?  Don’t tell the reader which it is – have your character scent it on the breeze. 
You’re walking through a field.  Do you just smell the loamy scent of dark rich earth or is it mixed with manure or a chemical fertilizer?
horse-family-tamitoddWalk into a stable.  Inhale warm horse and wood, metal and leather, urine and ammonia and manure.  Straw bedding will smell different than peat moss or wood shavings.  Pine shavings smell different than cedar.  Smell the hay – grass hay has a crisper, sharper edge than the sweetness of a leafier plant like clover or alfalfa.  Try the oats – dry dusty smell but a sweet, almost nutty, taste.   Nuances.

Walk through the forest.  Has it just rained?  Is it about to?  Describe it.  A springtime forest differs from an autumn forest, a conifer forest from a deciduous forest, the taiga from a rainforest or jungle.  What can you smell?  Nuances.
thb-geigerlakefall5
Don’t just say “She smelled smoke.”  Wood smoke?  Pipe smoke?  Cigarette smoke?  Burning plastic or rubber?  Gasoline or oil?  Charcoal?  BIG difference.
Don’t just say “Candles were burning.”  Beeswax or soy or tallow?  If they’re scented, WHAT scent? 

A MomentPeople have a scent, as well.  Deodorant, fabric softener, soap and shampoo aside, each person is unique.  Just ask a bloodhound.  Scents can either attract or repel.  It’s a big component of “chemistry.”  Ever go out with someone, only to discover there was “no chemistry”, “no spark”?   Then you meet someone else, and WHAM!  And that scent can change.  Sweat can change.  Are they sweating from the sun or exertion, from fear or arousal?  How pheromones work isn’t important to the average writer, just be aware that they do.  Smell can be an incredible memory trigger.  A friend of mine finds English Leather incredibly sexy, because an old boyfriend used to wear it.  Old Spice has the opposite effect on me – my grandfather used to wear it.

Taste comes in four basics – salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.  Next time you eat, slow down and focus on your meal.  The warm yeasty smell of bread, that first bite of hot buttered crust.  Crumbled bleu cheese or feta cheese on the fresh spinach salad, maybe fresh ground pepper.  Taste the basil and oregano in the tomato sauce, the sage and onion in the stuffing.  Apple-smoked ham differs from maple-smoked from honey-cured.  You can mix flavors, too.  I make a wicked pork or chicken, simply simmered in chicken broth and orange juice.  (Lime juice is great, too.)  Savor a recipe that calls for
Madeira or Burgundy.  Specify the type of mushrooms in the stroganoff.  Don’t be afraid to have your character revel in rich egg custard or smooth buttery caramel.  Pay attention to flavors, smells, textures.  Crisp celery or mushy porridge and everything in-between.
Rievers Heart72smIn RIEVER’S HEART, Chapter 6:
Aryk carried his mug of yeast-scented ale to the corner table, where a round loaf of black bread and a generous pat of butter sat midtable. Verdeen followed, watching with approval as he sat in the corner looking outward.
“Two orders of shepherd’s pie, a bowl of pork stew and another ale and hot, spiced cider,” Aryk told the slender brunette server in a stained, low-cut bodice. She nodded and sashayed away, flounced black skirts swaying. He reached for the butter.
Verdeen slapped the back of his hand with the flat of her knife. “Wait.” She tore a chunk of bread from the loaf, slathered it with butter and took a bite. She chewed slowly, rolling it around in her mouth. No fire, no tingle, no hint of numbness or bitterness. She swallowed. “You want to find out the hard way the cook’s favorite seasoning is bitteralm, be my guest.”
Aryk growled. “Poison’s dishonorable—a coward’s tool.”
“Dead’s still dead. You die, Beloq wins. ’Tis one truth you must never lose sight of.”
Aryk’s gaze was level, measuring. “You’re a taster.”
She nodded. “Amongst other things. Never assume things are as they seem.”
“There’s more to you than meets the eye.”
“You’ve no idea.” A glint in his eye warned her he might enjoy finding out. She swallowed hard at the lingering shimmers of heat. “I’m to help keep you alive. This is part of it. You eat and drink naught afore me. Understand?”
“I drank two ales afore you.” His tone was one of humoring her.
“You were at the bar. You watched him pour them.” Aryk nodded. “Then you’re probably safe. ’Tis what’s prepared where you can’t see bears scrutiny.”
Valkyn joined them with an ale, his face flushed but composed. He caught her gaze and grinned. “You left afore it got interesting.”
Aryk frowned and growled at his second. The serving wench brought their drinks and food. Verdeen took a swig of Aryk’s ale, but her whole face screwed up at the bitter flavor as she swished and swallowed. “Pgah, wretched stuff.” She took a drink of cider to wash the taste of it away. “You sure you want to drink it?”
Valkyn laughed. “Puts hair on your chest.”
“The last thing a woman wants is a hairy chest.” Verdeen tested both pies, deemed them harmless and delicious. She slid Aryk’s across the table to him. “You’re right. ’Tis wonderful.” Tender shredded lamb in rich gravy, with potatoes, turnips, peas, carrots and celery, seasoned with onion and herbs, topped with mashed potatoes under a bubbling crown of melted cheese.
“Times like this I wish pigs could survive on Isadorikja,” Aryk mourned.
“They’d freeze.” Valkyn tore off a chunk of bread. “Our home’s not for the weak.”
Verdeen had the sinking feeling Valkyn didn’t refer just to pigs.
They finished their meals in silence. The server brought another round of drinks and a hot bubbling dish of sliced pears baked in honey and sweet spices. Verdeen swooned at the taste. ’Twas the most amazing thing she’d eaten in ages. She curled her arms around the bowl. “You can’t touch it. Have to save you from yourself and keep this dish all to myself.”
Aryk smacked her with his spoon. “Hand it over, greedy wench.” He slid his mug over to her. “Here. Put some more hair on your chest.”
Eew. How cruel to hand her ale after honeyed pears.
Now try it for yourself.  Your characters are sitting down to a meal.  A gourmet meal in a five-star restaurant or a trout over a campfire, doesn’t matter.  Make it come alive with smells, textures, flavors.  Revel in it.

The trick is layering.  What’s the first smell to hit them when they walk into a room or outside?  When you take a bite of something, what’s the first flavor?  Then what surfaces after a bit?  The trick of threes works well.  Read a wine bottle.  You have the initial bouquet, the prominent notes, and the finish.  Keep that in mind when you try your hand at this description.
Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 31, 2017

The 6 Senses – SOUND

Imagine how flat a world with no sound would be.
No laughter, no music, no dogs barking or bird songs or night crickets or frogs. Imagine lightning but no thunder. A volcano or earthquake or tidal wave without the roar. The white foam of surf pounding on the rocks without the crash. Rain getting things wet but no pitter-patter on the roof. Snow turning things white without the hiss.
How would you know the water was hot enough without the kettle screeching?
How would you know you approached the rattlesnake without the rattle to warn you?
FLAT! FLAT! FLAT!
Now imagine a story with no sound. Inconceivable! Yet this is one sense that is often overlooked or underworked.
 cropped-central-wi-no-snow.jpg
Just for fun, go sit in your backyard, close your eyes, and LISTEN. Can you hear the wind rustling through the tree branches, birds chirping, cars driving by, the kid on the skateboard, the neighbor hammering on his latest wood-working project?
Come back inside. Close your eyes when you climb the stairs. Do the stairs creak? Open a cupboard door. Do the hinges squeak? Are you cursed with a washer or dryer that’s slightly unbalanced and dances around and thumps while it works? Do you have a faucet that constantly drip-drip-drips? Can you hear the hum of the refrigerator? The computer?
paladinImagine horseback riding. Listen to the clop of hooves, the ringing of metal shoes on stone or pavement, the creak of your leather saddle, the horse snorting and blowing, the buzzing of flies, the hiss of a swishing tail striking your legs. Imagine the crunch of an apple or a carrot.
Imagine your character walking through a fresh-air market or a fair or the zoo on a breezy day. What kinds or animals are there? Can you identify them by their calls alone? Imagine the awnings flapping in the breeze, the hawkers calling out their wares.
Listen to the voices. Smooth tenor or rich baritone or deep bass? Light and high-pitched or low and sultry? Nasal? Whiney? Twangy? Do they wheeze or drawl or hiss? Listen for regional dialect, cadence. Do the voices start out slow and speed up as they get more excited/agitated? Do they start out lower and get higher as they get more excited/agitated? Do they murmur, or whisper?
new carIs your cat purring or hissing? Is your dog whining or growling? Does the engine run smoothly or is it sputtering or missing? Does your character prefer classical or jazz or rock?
Sounds add depth, add richness, add realism. They put your reader RIGHT THERE. Sound comes in layers. Close your eyes. What do you hear first? What’s the loudest? Now “filter” that out. What do you hear next? What else?
I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop. I can hear the pop & sizzle of hamburger browning on the stove in the kitchen (my husband’s making tacos for supper). One of the cats is meowing and scratching at the closet door where we keep the cat food. My Chow Chow Abby just strolled past the bedroom door – the tags on her collar jingle, then clank against the metal water bowl as she starts lapping up a drink.  My wash machine just finished filling—there was hissing, then a thunk, now it’s agitating—I can tell by the tap dance on the floor. (I have one of THOSE machines.) The blower for the heat just kicked on.
 
 
Some Fiction Books That Feature SOUND Examples
In Mercedes Lackey’s “Arrows of the Queen” Talia explains how she used to room in the attic and knew how to dress for the day by listening for the sound of snow/hail/rain hitting the roof.
Terry Brooks’ “Sword of Shannara” is chock-full, for three specific examples stand out:
·         When they go through the “Corridor of Winds” and they’re nearly driven insane by the screams of the Banshees
·         When Allanon summons the shade of Bremen and all the other dead souls start shrieking as Bremen appears
·         When they have to get past the gnome clan gathering, and all the drums and chanting to the gods going on, when Hendel has the play decoy so everyone else can get through the pass
The final battle scene in Serenity (I have the novelization)—between the crash of the ship and the battle w/the Reavers – screams, growls, tearing metal and gunfire
In AC Crispin’s “Starbridge” there’s the static of the alien transmissions, the whoosh when the airlocks deploy, the dry snapping when someone’s arm breaks in a fight, the “you’re out of O2” klaxons
The world is FULL of sounds. Your books should be, too—even if the surrounding silence is so profound your characters can hear themselves breathing and their hearts beating…
You don’t need a lot.  For example, in HEDDA’S SWORD Chapter 4:

HeddasSword72LG            Maleta cursed her decision to flee the paladin at the Broken Blade.  What had come over her?  She had no logical reason to bolt and every reason to stay.  Where was her head?  She’d used up most of her supplies, but declined restocking at Nerthus’ Abbey.  She preferred traveling light and swift to being overburdened with gear.  But hunting had been poor, and now she paid for that decision. 
            She crouched down under the bare tangled branches of a winterberry bush and drew a knife.  The berries were long gone, but the inner bark was undisturbed.  Not very nutritious, but it was good for killing hunger pangs.  At least for a while.  She scraped away a couple of strips and surveyed the fog-shrouded gulch below her.
            Typical of the land itself, the veil was both blessing and curse.  While she could slide through unseen, so could her quarry.  The Wolf had chosen well, forsaking the safer high ground for the cover of the mists.  In the spring, hiding in such a low-lying area was an invitation to disaster, with the rains and flash-floods.  But late in the fall, with perpetual fog, it was perfect.
            Maleta chewed one of the strips of bark.  Her mouth puckered.  Grimacing at the bitter taste, she drew her sword and eased her way down the steep rocky embankment.  The constant dampness kept fallen leaves from crackling underfoot, but she couldn’t avoid sending small pebbles tumbling with every step
            North or south?  She crouched in the leaves and looked both ways.  North.  The slight breeze whispered at her back.  There’d be no way to scent a campfire or cooking food until she was on top of it, but there was nothing she could do about that.  She couldn’t depend on sight or scent.  Sound and sensing would have to do. 
            He was nearby, she could feel it.  She headed up the gulch.  Step.  Stop.  Scan.  Minutes felt like hours; with the cloud cover overhead and the mists swirling around her, there was no way to mark the passage of time.
            Something moved ahead.  The mist saved her as an arrow hissed past just off to the right.  She dropped to a crouch and froze, silent, watching but not seeing.  Her heart pounded, making her dizzy.  She strained to listen for the slightest sound, a clue to his whereabouts.
            A twig snapped somewhere in front of her.  Maleta glanced around.  There was no cover save the fog.  She gripped the pommel of her sword tighter and held her breath, listening for the angle of the person’s approach.
            A shadow coalesced out of the mists, taking on the proportions of a man in dark leathers.  Her ears caught the merest jingle of chain-mail.  She tensed.  When he was close enough for Maleta to judge his height by the thatch of gray hair atop his head, she charged.  She swung her sword low, hoping to take his legs out from under him.
            He must have heard her blade, because his own was there to block her crippling blow.  Lightning-fast, he spun and swung at her neck, showing no mercy at her gender.  She dropped, rolled and thrust up toward his belly.  He turned; his chain-mail deflected the blow aimed at the vulnerable spot just below his breastplate.  The black wolf on that breastplate mocked her.
            It was a strange fight, silent save for harsh breathing and the ring of clashing weapons, a desperate dance of death in the fog.  But his age caught up with him; his parries slowed a fraction.  Maleta began forcing him back toward his own camp.  He rushed and feigned, trying to get past her, but she held her ground.  Pressing, always forward, to the edge of his encampment.  The spitted carcass of a coney rested over a sliver of a fire crackling in the center.
            When the heel of his boot caught on a stray rock, his ankle turned.  He buckled afore her.  She knocked his blade aside and laid the burning edge of Hedda’s Sword against his throat.  The need to kill him choked her.
            She felt The Wolf shudder at the touch of the consecrated Goddess-metal, as all his sins rushed back to haunt him.  His eyes widened at her setting-sun breastplate shimmering in the firelight.  The knowledge of his imminent execution was in his murky green eyes as he looked up at her from the frozen ground, but his voice was matter-of-fact when he spoke.  “Fact I’m not dead yet means ye need answers, Hedda’s Own.”
            “You killed my parents!” Maleta burst out, glaring down at the scarred, silver-haired man.  She stopped, appalled at herself.  What had she just said?  That wasn’t Hedda’s script!
            Overhead, thunder rumbled.
Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 30, 2017

The 6 Senses – SIGHT

It was a dark and stormy night . . .
She had blonde hair and blue eyes.
He was big and hunky.
He walked toward her.
They rode horses to the beach.
They saw a bird.
What’s wrong with this picture????
What picture????
Exactly.  Whether hopelessly clichéd, hopelessly ho-hum, or hopelessly vague, these are NOT exactly the stuff of legends.  Snoopy aside, once you get past wondering what the heck they’re DOING on a beach on a dark and stormy night, you can’t see a thing.  Even if he was a Navy SEAL and she was a bioweapons expert with a Ph.D. in virology, and they were on that beach to intercept an illegal, deadly virus shipment that would destroy the world, with description like that, would you stick around to find out what happened?  Me neither.
Is it a rocky beach in Maine in November, with howling winds and snow blowing sideways (in which case it SUCKS to be them) or a black sand beach in Hawaii in the middle of a thunderstorm, with lightning and thunder, in May?
Are her eyes blue or are they cornflower blue or turquoise?  Round?  Deep-set?
Is her hair blonde or gold or platinum?  Long, short, straight, curly?  Blowing sideways so you can’t see her eyes?  (Remember the dark and stormy night!)
Does “big” mean tall and broad-shouldered, or really rotund?  Does “hunky” imply “tall dark and handsome” or a tawny Viking god?
Are they riding a horse or a red mare or a sorrel Arabian mare with a white star?
Is that a bird or an eagle or a juvenile bald eagle?
The whole trick to description is to be specific and use correct terminology.  Really, it’s just that simple.  Try to use more exact, less common words.  Why say green when you can say chartreuse?  Why say black when you can use obsidian or sable?
What do you SEE?   What does your POV character see when they look around?  What do they notice?  What do they know?
  An ornithologist or forest ranger might be able to identify a juvenile bald eagle, but a city girl on her first camping trip might just see a big brown bird and that would be okay.  She might be able to differentiate Marburg from Ebola, but she’s never seen an eagle before.  She might be able to spot an adult bald eagle and identify the white head and tail, unless she’s been living under a rock or never left the lab, but a still-brown juvenile?
 Would your Navy SEAL have a machine gun and a handgun or a Heckler & Koch MP5 and a Heckler & Koch P9S?  Would he have a knife or a dive knife or an Aqualung Master Dive Knife?  Where would it be strapped?  How does he hold it in a fight?
Description is entirely dependent on character POV. YOU are not observing & reporting, your CHARACTER is. So you have to use terminology that the CHARACTER would know/use, garnered from their own unique life experience & vocabulary. An academic Ph.D. would certainly speak differently from someone who never finished high school. A scientist would describe things differently than an artist. They see things through a different lens, they can only use words they’re comfortable/familiar with.
People are a product of their world—part genetics, part environment. We are born blank slates, with equal potential. Then we are molded into what we ultimately become. By people, circumstance, experience, training and choices. Our viewpoints, how we see the world around us, is colored by who and what we are. Children see the world differently than adults. A kindergarten teacher is going to view the world very differently than a soldier of fortune.
The best characters are as three-dimensional as real people, with the triviality stripped away. They are the best and the worst of the human race—sometimes in the same package. They have their own viewpoints, their own voice, that reflects who and what they are. They have strengths and weaknesses, beliefs and prejudices, assumptions and fears. For me characterization is interdependent on world-building, because the reader can only understand the characters if they can view the world around them.
Times
Culture (Art/Music/Literature)
Politics
Religion
Education & Training
Employment
Hobbies/Games/Sports
Society & Family Placement/Position
Ethics/Intelligence/Emotions
Rewards & Punishments
Rules
Your character is a product of her world. Once you’ve built it, once you’ve established her history parameters, you are locked in. You have to stay consistent. It’s unrelenting. You can never step out of character for a single second or you’ll lose your reader. The minute your health-nut stops at McDonald’s for a Big Mac or your nun blows her stack and cusses, you’re done for.
But it’s more subtle than that. Every profession has its own vocabulary—and way of looking at things. A spelunker (caver) knows the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite. Military personnel using the word amphibious are not referring to frogs. Horse people referring to frogs are not talking about small amphibians that hop.
 macgyver2
I write fantasy romance.  In my first novel, DUALITY, my hero, an empathic elven prince named Loren, and his white war mare Hani’ena, are riding through a swamp looking for Queen Moira, who managed to escape when the villains took over her castle.  Now think about how boring “Loren searched the swamp for Queen Moira” would be.  Here’s the scene in Chapter 9, in Reader’s Digest form:
Duality_pr2A
            Hani`ena tossed her head.  Insects crawled into her ears, her eyes, her nostrils, but a full body shake would send Loren headfirst into the muck.  She snapped her tail.  Green slime clung to the long hairs and splattered against her sides.
            As Hani`ena approached the monolithic half-circle of fallen stones, Loren straightened with caution and reverence.  The sun was nearly gone, and this was the fourth ruin they’d explored in half as many days.
            The swamp made it impossible to track their quarry.  The stench of decaying plants and swamp gas hung in the air, the maddening whine of insects a constant distraction.  Reduced to prudent sensing, he saw no sign of Moira at the first two Circles.  He was impressed she had managed to elude him so far.
            To her credit, Hani`ena never put a foot wrong even though there was no way to see what the knee-deep pools of murky water hid.  As to her mood, however, her snapping tail and pinned-back ears were all the clues he needed.  Necessary the trip might be, but she was out of her element and not enjoying the experience.  All that soft, sucking wetness was not good for her hooves.  They needed dry country as soon as possible.
            Loren eyed the lengthening shadows and drew his sword.  Layers of moss hung like a shroud from a twisted cypress tree.  The stone circle loomed ahead in the deepening twilight as Hani`ena splashed forward.
Note the mixture of body motion and posture, descriptive words, and specificity.  Normally I absolutely abhor “description in a mirror” scenes to describe characters, I would rather have characters describe each other, but I broke my own rule in Chapter 8 of HEDDA’S SWORD, after Maleta is punished by her goddess Hedda for giving in to her human emotions.  I think it works.  See what you think:
HeddasSword72LG
            Cianan was the first through the door; he froze.  Worried cobalt eyes widened with palpable shock.  “Lord and Lady, what has She done to you?”
            Mother Kitta shoved him aside to take a look for herself.  “Hedda’s will be done,” she whispered.  Her voice trembled.
            Her face expressionless, Sister Reva just stared, horror in her eyes.
            “What’s wrong with you people?” Maleta asked, irritation giving way to trepidation.  She was so cold!  All she wanted to do was lie down under a dozen blankets afore a roaring fire.  She reached up with icy hands to feel her face, her hair.  “I’ve still but one head,” she reported.
            “There is a mirror out here in the hall.”  Cianan held the door open.  “You had best take a look at what your Goddess considers ‘fair punishment’.”  There was a harshness to his voice, a bitter twist to his mouth.
            Maleta stepped out into the well-lit hallway.  She stared with growing horror at the reflection in the mirror.  A stranger with her eyes stared back at her.  A pale stranger, pale as death, with colorless eyes and silver-frosted hair.  Her entire body appeared to shimmer with winter frost.  Fear gripped her; an icy fist closed around her heart until it stuttered, leaving her gasping.  Then the ice took hold, and the fear receded.  All she felt was a distant cold.  No warmth at all.  There was no fear after the shock, no sorrow.  As if the lock on her body extended to her heart, to her very soul.
Picture a scene from your own book as a movie with no sound, all you have are the images.  Whether an outdoor café in Paris, a camping trip in a mountain forest, on a beach at sunset, entering a creepy old (haunted?) house, a day at the Kentucky Derby, or a trip to the doctor’s office.  What’s the weather, time of year, lighting?  What kind of animal, vegetable, or mineral?  With or without people?  Remember to BE SPECIFIC.  This is entirely visual, people.
Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 27, 2017

New Review for RIEVER’S HEART

Rievers Heart72smCustomer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting mix of romance and politics, January 25, 2017
This review is from: Riever’s Heart: Guardians of Light, Book 5 (Kindle Edition)
Riever’s Heart was a step into a fantasy world which kept me happily entranced for several hours. Although I don’t usually read M/F romance, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. This is a tale of unexpected romance and political manoeuvring as Daq Aryk seeks to unite six fractious clans into a peaceful nation.
This is book 5 of a series, and as I haven’t read the previous books I was concerned I would be lost, but the world-building was comprehensive, and various races and clans of people were interesting and different enough that they didn’t blur into one. Riever’s Heart has a smooth and in-depth narrative, stepping up the intensity for the romance and battle scenes.
I cut my teeth on fantasy as a teenager and I feel the author has a deft hand as a fantasy writer. I enjoyed the story of the clans and their interactions with each other and the outside world as much as the burgeoning romance between Aryk and Verdeen. I’m not an M/F reader but the interaction between the couple and the secondary characters kept me interested.
Although I didn’t feel there was anything highly original in the plot, the twist was
Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 27, 2017

New Review for DUALITY

Cindy’s Reviews > Duality

11929346  *****

Cindy‘s review

Jan 25, 2017
it was amazing

 

A guilty pleasure that satisfyingly fed my imagination. Duality starts off by dragging you into a bloody coup. Dara is a mystery, and is loyal to her people. She’s also a fighter–fearing no one. She will protect and heal all who cross her path, even a stranger.

Her gifts lead to those who need her and that is how she finds Loren. A visitor to her world who had come to help the king, becoming gravely injured.

The chemistry between Dara and Loren was instant. I enjoyed journeying with them as they fought the enemy while their romance bloomed.

The author has painted a world of adventure and fantasy that immediately pulls you in, and doesn’t let go. In fact, I stayed up to 3 in the morning finishing it.

 
I am definitely a fan!
Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 22, 2017

PIROSKA: Daughters of the Guardians 3

THE PROPHECY (from Riever’s Heart):

Rievers Heart72smAryk stumbled back from Tzigana’s bed. Horror chilled his very bones. His recurring nightmare had come to pass. Joro lay dead in a pool of his own blood. A raven-haired woman with the mark of the Hand stood over him, blood dripping from the sword in her hand. His sword. His blood. The very sword Aryk now carried, which Joro stood to inherit. The sword which would one day lead Joro to his death, at her hand—this tiny babe lying in her mother’s arms.
The future he’d determined to thwart by seeing to it Joro never picked up a sword. The wars must cease afore Joro turned six. That future started here. Now. With the birth of her.
“Piroska.” He all but hissed the name. The inflection gave it the weight of a curse.
Verdeen shot him a startled glance. Wolf’s face darkened as the queen’s arms tightened around her daughter, enough to draw a mewled protest. “What’s wrong?” Verdeen grabbed Aryk’s arm. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Nay.” Valkyn’s voice shook. “A witch.”
“Aye,” Tzigana retorted. “The most powerful eya in ten generations.”
“Every night I prayed this day to never come.” Aryk clenched his fists. “That she’d never be born.”
Wolf’s entire body tensed as Tzigana hissed, “Take it back, you riever bastard.”
“I’ll not. She kills my son,” Aryk raged. “I’ve seen it, night after night. Him lying gutted at her feet like a fish, killed by his own sword. The Hand of Destiny mocks me with seeing her living face—one brown eye, one green eye and the red Hand that wields my son’s doom. All I seek to prevent—negated by your witch-daughter’s birth. Your joy heralds my greatest sorrow. I can’t share in it.”

PIROSKA – Heroine…or Villainess?

piroska: Shamaran princess

one brown eye and one green eye—a red birthmark in the shape of a hand on her right cheekbone

the most powerful eye (witch) in ten generations, with the power to summon lightning

destined to kill Joro with his own sword???

 

daughter of Shamaru queen Tzigana and Shamari king Berend/”Wolf”

Piroska's mother - Queen Tzigana from HEDDA'S SWORD & RIEVER'S HEART (Anna from Van Helsing - the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale): Piroska's father - Von Berend, "Wolf" from HEDDA'S SWORD & RIEVER'S HEART (Rutger Hauer from Ladyhawke):

 

She comes from the blending of two different worlds –

Shamaru woman's costume: the travelling gypsy native Shamaru

Shamaru horses & wagon:

& the more recent immigrant Shamari, stationary builders of stoneRavenscroft Castle in Shamar:

Piroska was born in the cliffside castle of Ravenscroft, the ancestral home of Von Berend, the Wolf

Ever has she been forbidden to visit Isadorykja, the Isle of Ice, the village of Svaaldur at the foot of Widowmaker Mountain – by decree of Daq Aryk, the Isadorykjan king

son of Daq Aryk and the Isadorykjan woman Dagmar,

Joro's father - Aryk from RIEVER'S HEART (Stelios from 300 - played by Michael Fassbender): Dagmar - Joro's Mother:

Joro:

Joro is a proud, able warrior to rival his legendary father

Trained as a daq, his father’s heir, he chafes at the restrictions place on him, to never set foot in the land of Shamar, by the mutual decree of Daq Aryk and Von Berend (two men bent of thwarting the prophecy by never having Piroska & Joro meet)

 

Bur the Destiny Hand can’t be thwarted…or circumvented…

Enter the seeress Jana (Tzigana’s cousin):

“The sword you carry—the sword of a daq, of a king,” Jana continued. “He will one day carry it, wield it. The kingship as well as the sword.”

“But she kills him.” Aryk glared down at her.

She rolled her eyes and glared back, her exasperated expression clearly relaying she thought him a simpleton. “A witch has no need of a sword to do her slaying. Not an eya with the power to summon lightning. Aye, you saw the warrior Joro die. But did the man die with the warrior? When is a sword more than a sword? When is a man more than a warrior?”

Let the chess match begin!

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 22, 2017

ELYRIA: Daughters of the Guardians 2

ELYRIA - daughter of Dara & Loren  1/2 Elven, 1/4 Human, 1/4 Dragon (molly c quinn 2014): ELYRIA, half-elven/quarter-human/quarter-dragon princess of Cymry (capital city Poshnari-Unai)

worships the Lady of Light

shares her mother’s abhorrence of demons

yearns to do something productive with her life besides be a pampered princess of the realm

 

daughter of Queen Dara (half-human/half-dragon fire mage & healer) &                           elven King Loren (empath, former Lady’s Champion & Right Hand) from                    DUALITY (Guardians of Light Book 1)

Elyria's mom - Queen Dara (Dinah Meyer in Dragonheart - LOVE that movie!):

Elyria's dad - King Loren (Haldir from LOTR):

 

 

 

 

guarded by & bonded to MYSTI, a fey mist tiger from the Shadowlands AND Aurelian (elven shadow ranger) & his war mare Lanakea

Mysti, Elyria's mist tiger companion:

Aurelian (Verdeen's best friend in Riever's Heart) - Elyria's bodyguard (elven shadow ranger): Aurelian's war mare, Lanakea:

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a messenger arrives from the distant shores of Goba-Din Ashelu, on the far side of the Shadowlands, proposing an alliance and cultural exchange, Elyria proposes to go as her parents’ ambassador. They gate to the port of Ban-Khala, where they board the Banshee’s Fury, captained by the charismatic Stepak, bound for the distant, exotic city of Bur-Ganan.

Stepek's ship, Banshee's Fury: Stepek - djinn prince (aidan turner Kili):

 

djinn capitol city of Bur-Ganan:

 

 

 

 

But someone has other plans for Elyria. When the Banshee’s Fury is attacked, Aurelian & Mysti are gravely wounded. Stepak spirits Elyria to safety with the help of the giant Roc, Nur.

giant roc - djinn battle mount (golden eagle) large enough to carry people: Um, yeah - dunno where (yet), but yeah...:

Elyria and Stepak have to find out who wants the alliance to fail. News of Elyria’s death would start a war between elf and djinn. When Elyria discovers her simple sea-captain is in fact the disinherited grandson of the Djinn King Salah. Salah’s daughter Ariana was taken by an incubus demon – Stepak is half djinn…and half demon.

Won’t Queen Dara welcome HIM as a son-in-law – provided Elyria & Stepak can survive long enough to return to Cymry?

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 21, 2017

BRAECA: Daughters of the Guardians 1

Story Notes Development:

BRAECA, half-human/half-selkie

warrior/scout & weather-witch

selkie allure manifests through singing

affinity for crows

hates/fears the sea (& dragons)

 

daughter of Finora (selkie princess) & Trystan (were Wolf warrior of Badger clan)

from LYCAN TIDES (Guardians of Light, Book 3)

Finora in LYCAN TIDES - Braeca's Mom  (I absolutely adored Karina Lombard in KULL The Conqueror): Trystan from LYCAN TIDES -  Braeca's Stepfather (Mads Mikkelsen's Tristan in King Arthur):

 

 

 

 

 

 

older sister of Ioain (half-human/half-selkie) – shamanic archaeologist, obsessed with studying the past

IOAIN - Braeca's younger brother (ioan gruffudd):

When Ioain locates ancient cave paintings, he insists on going to study them. Braeca reluctantly accompanies him to stand guard (and make sure he eats & sleeps)Prehistoric cave painting- 35,000 years ago.  -Animals were important for very basic reasons in this time period. They were used for food, clothes, tools, and most interactions between them and humans remained primal.  -Depicted as flat, basic earth tones, usually through daily life scenes, such as the hunters above.:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in a land far/far away, (the Negasa mountain range of Theressa) an earthquake destroys the home caverns of the warlike Shani (dark elves, AKA drow). They have to find a new home territory, and migrate into the caves of the Dragon’s Back Mountains (border of Arcadia & Shamar). FLYN is sent to scout ahead with the 5 warriors of his “Hand” – and they come across the cave where Ioain & Braeca are working.

FLYN: (I ❤ this picture!)

FLYN of the White River Shani (dark elf/drow)     Rhys (prince) & warrior, armed with a knife made from a basilisk’s tear, a blade which steals the life forces of slain enemies to heal himself (designed by his necromancer/shaman brother Emek)

second-born son of Abba All-Father & captive high elf female named Dumia (sister to Hilorian)

the basilisk-tear knives can be focused in a ritual to summon & reanimate their victims and force them to fight on the side of the Shani, in the name of Akeru, the God of Death. Lich/zombies, an abomination to the Lady of Light…

Basilisk mythology describes this "king of serpents" as a reptilian creature with sometimes rooster-like qualities who is famous for its ability to kill with a single glance.  Like its bird-lizard cousin, the Cockatrice, basilisks are said to be born from a union of serpents and roosters.:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unbeknownst to Abba, Dumia has been secretly influencing Flyn to work for benefit of all the Shani people, not just his own power. He is wary of the topsiders, but decides to find out more about them before committing to heading an invasion force…

Can Braeca finish what Dumia started, and turn this Bad Boy to the Light? Will Flyn turn traitor against his father and help the humans prepare for the coming apocalypse?

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 20, 2017

New Beginnings, New Series

With all the recent upheavals in my little corner of the publishing world, namely the almost-demise & drastic downsizing of Samhain Publishing, I’ve struggled to keep my identity & writing focus. I know I’m not alone. A lot of my writing friends have gone Indie with varying rates of success, since the market is GLUTTED. Everyone has a book out these days, and it’s hard to find the gold in all the dross. Amazon has gotten way too big for its britches, and isn’t always the easiest waters to navigate. Not everyone can afford to go Indie, though. I’m one of them, which is why I left my books up at Samhain when so many others were pulling the books whose contracts had expired. The Guardians of Light are Samhain books. Period. An interlocking series of 7 titles:

 

But where to go from here? I did a brief sojourn into the world of writing Science Fiction Romance…UGH! The less said about THAT the better! (LOL) I adore watching science fiction TV shows & movies, I love reading sci fi. Can’t write it to save my soul, though. Turns out trite. Flatter than flat. I’ve been hanging out with Joseph Campbell & Mercedes Lackey for too long to turn my back on my strong suit: Fantasy Romance.

But there are 7 books in the Guardians of Light series already. Enough. What to do next? Well, what happens when hot couples get their happily-ever-afters and time passes? The Next Generation, so to speak. So, I’ve been solidifying the Daughters of the Guardians trilogy idea into 3 different book ideas:

Braeca (daughter of Finora & Bran – Lycan Tides)

Piroska (daughter of Tzigana & Berend – born in Riever’s Heart) – destined to join with Joro (Dagmar & Aryk’s son from Riever’s Heart – Birgit’s younger half-brother)

Elyria (daughter of Dara & Loren from Duality) – featured in Riever’s Heart & God of Fyre Mountain

but maybe add a couple of others to make it an official series:

Birgit (daughter of Erlynda & Aryk, niece of Valkyn – Riever’s Heart) and

Jana (Tzigana’s younger cousin – featured in Hedda’s Sword & Riever’s Heart)

Siobhan (Braeca’s younger half sister, daughter of Finora & Trystan)

***

But what about the boys? If I were to do a Sons of the Guardians, who would I have to work with?

 Ioain (Braeca’s younger brother)

Alvar (son of Moira & Hengist – Dara’s half-brother)

Antal (Piroska’s twin brother)

Valkyn’s sons – Einar,  Helje, Broder, & Gjord (mentioned in Moonwitched)

Mari’s & Dax’s son (conceived in God of Fyre Mountain), named Chonan

Working new stories in the old, familiar world of the Guardians – with one or two travel-abroad variations just to keep things interesting…

Are there any characters YOU want to see featured/more of???

Posted by: reneewildes1 | August 11, 2015

RELEASE DAY FOR MOONWITCHED

Moonwitched72web

He was bred for war. Her magic is only for peace. Together they must fight for love.

Guardians of Light, Book 7

Weapons stolen, comrades dead, ship burned and sunk, Valkyn is rotting in Lord Zurvan’s grim dungeon, wondering if he will ever again see his sons. Rescue comes from an unexpected source—the human witch Zurvan sent to patch him up between beatings.

Mari can’t bring herself to let Valkyn die, never mind that the fearsome northern riever is the scourge of her homeland. Yet in him she finds an ally who could help restore the rightful boy king to the throne. And a man who reminds her body there’s life after widowhood.

Their first kiss unleashes pent-up passion she thought was long buried, clouding all the reasons they shouldn’t get involved. But the blood on Valkyn’s hands is anathema to Mari’s magic. If she dares open herself to him fully, he could destroy her.

Valkyn knows his heart has already surrendered to hers. When this quest is over, the real quest will be convincing her that polar opposites not only attract, they belong together—forever.

Product Warnings

Contains a witch who abhors violence teaming up with a war-hardened riever who has never known peace. Complicated by a savage warlord, a boy king in hiding, an embittered selkie prince who’s lost his skin, and hot love scenes that show a lot of it.

BUY IT HERE: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5535/moonwitched

Posted by: reneewildes1 | December 4, 2013

Review: Isca

Isca
Isca by Ceri Bladen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is NOT a historical romance. This is a historical fiction with romantic elements, so don’t go in with preconceived expectations. The author isn’t a formal historian, but like me an author who loves history & historical research – and it shows. The world-building and cultural references are solid and stellar. The characters were multi-dimensional and their interactions were lively and true. Whenever you have a diverse tapestry, and characters from two sides of a conflict – Romans and Britons – there’s lots of potential for headbutting and misunderstandings and tunnel vision. And it holds true here. Briton heroine and Roman hero, in post-Boudica Britain. The locals have no love for the occupation, and the Romans are far from their own homes and families. Nice to see both sides of that coin fleshed out – had sympathy for both parties.

That being said, I had some issues with parts of this book. I wasn’t sure of the heroine’s age. Sometimes she was babysitting her younger siblings, which indicated she was younger, since that was a task for older children, not a woman. Then she was off with the warriors and falling in love, which led me to believe she was grown – but then why was she stuck babysitting? The dating in the book’s opening and closing chapters conflicted – I couldn’t follow the timeline or keep track of her aging progression. There was a single scene with a mysterious villain that came late and seemed totally out of left field, since it was never fully developed. And the book could have used a good editor. There are grammar and punctuation issues, and some POV slips that could have been addressed prior to publication for a cleaner product.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I love the time period and Celtic culture, and this book had vivid setting and characters. It’s nice to see an writer put her heart and soul into a project, and am curious the check out other works by this author.

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 28, 2013

RELEASE DAY For Marek’s New World!

Now available from Tirgearr, Smashwords & Amazon!

Have day off of work and am busy doing promo for the birth of my newest printed baby. This is a paranormal romance, first in a soon-to-be trilogy. A werewolf tale w/an environmental theme, just in time for Halloween/Samhain. (Which also happens to be my 16th wedding anniversary…) Check out the following links:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Wildes_Renee/mareks-new-world.htm

http://heartoffiction.blogspot.com/2013/10/renee-wildes-mareks-new-world.html

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ReneeWildes

http://www.amazon.com/Mareks-New-World-Renee-Wildes-ebook/dp/B00G8LZRBC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382977114&sr=8-1&keywords=marek%27s+new+world

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18721462-marek-s-new-world

EXCERPT:

Wrongness. The fine hairs prickled the back of Cheyenne Rafferty’s neck as she crouched beside the ice-laced pond and filled the small glass vial with water. Surveying the too-still northwest Montana forest, she sniffed the air, catching the normal scents of a Cabinet Mountains springtime—spicy Ponderosa pines, new quaking aspen leaves, and the mineral tang of mud-tinged snow. She strained to listen.

Silence. Dead silence. No animals, no birds. Weird for early afternoon, even in mid-April. She wanted to melt down into true-self and let Sister take over. The white wolf’s senses were more acute, but she needed to finish collecting water samples and report to her U.S. Forestry Service superiors. Hard to do either with four paws and a growl.

Frowning, Cheyenne pulled her handheld radio from her belt. “Eagle to Nest.”

“What’s up, Chey?” her cousin Sarah asked.

“You got anything from USGS on recent seismic readings?”

“Are you serious? Here? There’s no alert for Kootenai. Why?”

Cheyenne closed her eyes and reached for the inner stillness where soul touched earth. Wrongness. A single ripple on the water’s mirror surface. “Too quiet. Sister’s twitchy.”

“I’ll double-check.” Silence on the line, then “Crap! Hang on, Chey. We’ve got tremors coming.”

The earth shivered; a sigh building to a low groan. With a mighty heave, the ground arched like the back of a newly-saddled mustang and then dropped. Cheyenne lost her balance and tumbled to the ground. The pond crested into a single giant wave that crashed over her. Boulders cartwheeled down the mountainside toward her truck.

With the speed of thought Sister emerged. The nimbleness and claws of the white wolf gave her better purchase on the shifting ground than her human self. As she danced amidst the rocks, Cheyenne’s thoughts buried beneath Sister’s instinct to stay up and keep moving. One rock with sharp quartz edges glanced off her flank. Sister yelped and ducked out of the way. It seemed an eternity but was over within moments.

Sister shook herself free of the debris. Now that it was safer, Sister retreated. Muscles stretched; joints popped as bones lengthened. Skin burst through split fur. There was a moment of pain, of dizziness and disorientation as Cheyenne straightened upright and rose in her wet filthy uniform. She grimaced as cold, clammy material clung to her skin.

This will teach me to leave my coat in the truck. If only she could shift into clean, dry clothes but that wasn’t how it worked. What you left was what you re-entered. A little extra fur made back into clothing. Minus badge and holster belt, radio and cell phone.

Why I haul the phone around in an area with no reception bars… Her older brother Brady would freak when he couldn’t get a hold of her. He’d raised her singlehandedly after their parents died and still took his guardianship seriously, long after she’d reached the age of consent.

“Chey? Chey? You there? You okay?” Sarah sounded breathless—and frantic. “Answer me, dammit.”

Cheyenne wrung out her dripping ponytail and tossed the scraggly ash blonde rope of hair back over her left shoulder. Her sturdy hiking boots squelched in the mud as she picked up her squawking radio. “Tell Brady I’m fine. You?”

“We’re okay, still here. Lights are gone; no phones. Kane broke out a flashlight to check the records vault down in the basement.”

“What’s the scoop?” Cheyenne struggled to buckle her belt one-handed.

“Four-pointer, but localized.” Sarah paused. “I think it just brushed Troy but didn’t make it as far as Libby; Evan’s checking with both towns, but that’ll take time. Phone and power lines are down. We’ve got broken windows, a crack in the north wall and also—yep, right down the middle of the parking lot. So much for the resurfacing. Crap—your mom’s ivy took a header off your desk…hang on…there. It’s a bit squashed. Sorry. What’s the damage out there?”

Cheyenne looked around. Rocks had carved jagged paths through the dripping underbrush. Evergreen trees lay toppled in every direction, the pond now a shallow, steaming mud puddle. Dead fish lay scattered across the bubbling surface of a newly-emerged hot spring. “Looks like an amateur logging event. The pond’s now hot. Total kill. I need to check my truck.” She returned the radio to her belt, snapped some photos—at least the phone was now good for something—and took another water/mud sample. Then she half-staggered, half-slid down the trail to the gravel road where she’d parked.

A moan sounded from nowhere, from everywhere, like a dying moose magnified a hundredfold building to a roar. A sense of glee, of malice and rage, hammered into her. Cheyenne drew her Smith & Wesson service revolver and looked around for the source of the eerie sound. Sister cowered deep within her. Cheyenne frowned. Sister didn’t cower from anything, not even a mama grizz with new cubs. Whatever that noise was, her inner wolf wanted no part of it.

She quickened her pace. Her hunting rifle was in the truck. This early in the season bears weren’t out unless they’d run short on body fat. For taking soil samples and measuring water depths she didn’t usually need weapons, just a pen, notepad, and test tubes—along with the occasional canoe.

Apparently this wasn’t the usual day.

Image

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 15, 2013

COVER REVEAL FOR MAREK’S NEW WORLD

Marek's New World by Renee Wildes - 500Paranormal Romance coming from Tirgearr Publishing on 10/28/13.

 

Set in Kootenai National Forest. Heroine Cheyenne Rafferty is a white wolf shifter who works for the U.S. Forestry Service. When her truck is destroyed by an unusual earthquake, she doesn’t think her day can get any worse. Until she runs afoul of a demon from the ancient past – and the compelling warrior who followed it forward in time.
Hero Marek awakens 2000 years in the future, to a world all but incomprehensible. Sent to teach modern warriors to combat the Reynak, he now finds the demon the only thing familiar. His people and their epic struggle have been lost to the passage of time. The only one willing to help him is a daughter of the earth, a beautiful shifter woman with the heart of a wolf.
This isn’t your standard werewolf tale. The first of a planned trilogy, it has a strong environmental theme and features werewolves, time-traveling Native American warriors, demons and a resurrected ancient goddess.
Posted by: reneewildes1 | September 24, 2013

Review: The Dysfunctional Test

The Dysfunctional Test
The Dysfunctional Test by Kelly Moran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are very few books to register on my epic “Rob Roy” cry scale – the blotchy-faced-glad-the-kids-aren’t-here-to-be-humiliated bawl fest. I bought this book because of the cute cover and intriguing blurb – she begs an old friend for a pity date to attend her sister’s wedding. I thought it would be a fun, funny read on my day off. Don’t get me wrong – it is. The niece’s mispronunciations are cosmic, and the extended family is beyond strange, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” proportions.

But it’s so much more than that.

I read this book in one sitting. Burnt the coffee. Never saw the mailman deliver even though the dog usually announces. Never heard the dog – and she’s a Chow who sounds like a T-Rex-sized rage-monster when the mailman shows up. Because I got lost in this book. Completely.

Camryn and Troy are believably REAL. They’re real people with personal issues people can relate to and identify with. Scars and fears and insecurities. Everything starts out with the “One Big Lie” to fake it and fool the family. Only pretend becomes terrifyingly real, and to see two wounded souls open up and LIVE again – because of the other person – was humbling and moving. I laughed and cried(and really hated Grandma a time or two) and was pissed at the perfect ending because it was OVER and the next page was BLANK! I will probably reread this book again a few hundred times – if only to hear Emily butcher the word “popcorn.”

This book is a gem. PLEASE go get your own copy – you’ll own a true treasure!

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | August 5, 2013

Review: Serafina and the Silent Vampire

Serafina and the Silent Vampire
Serafina and the Silent Vampire by Marie Treanor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love paranormal romance, the idea of a psychic who doesn’t believe in vampires or the paranormal, and a real vampire hunter pretending to be a vampire hunter, sounded like a fun sort of lark. It took me a while to get into, I got confused at the beginning with who was who and who was doing what, and my American brain struggled a bit with some of the dialogue phrasology, but I am glad I stuck with it because the story took off and rocked.

These vampires are very unique, and their plan for world domination was one I can honestly say I’ve never seen before. I like how there were good and bad vampires, just like there are good and bad people, and the hero and heroine were both sympathetic and likeable. Their chemistry was hot and believable, and they worked well together. A great cast of secondary characters, all with their own voices, rounded out the book nicely.

I would recommend this author to my friends, and look forward to getting more of Marie Treanor’s books in the future.

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | April 23, 2013

Seafood Chowder

This is another recipe from my Maine relatives. My daughter Tami loves chowder, and this is yummy on a cold day—drives our cat nuts, though! If anyone knows how to keep a cat off the counter, please message. me from the “Contact Me” page of http://www.reneewildes.net because after 10 years of Chandra counter-jumping and trying to stick her paws in the cream, I give up!

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lb. haddock (or cod) fillets

1 lb. scallops

2 cans crabmeat

2 cans minced clams

2 cans shrimp

2 qt. milk

1/2 lb. butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Do not throw the cooking water away—reat it like “fish stock” for flavor!

In large kettle, cook fish in salted boiling water until it’s white through & flakes easily with fork. Remove fish, flake with fork & remove bones. Lower heat & simmer scallops in the fish water to cook, about 5 minutes or until done. Cut scallops in bite-sized pieces. Return scallop pieces & flaked fish to the cooking water. Add crabmeat, clams & shrimp—eat long enough to blend, stirring constantly. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add milk & butter until heated through and butter melts. Do not boil. Serve hot, topped with oyster crackers.

And check out this other FAB recipe from my friend:

Selena Robins –
http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/04/23/canada-vs-usa-cornbread-throwdown/

Posted by: reneewildes1 | April 16, 2013

HOT COCOA MIX

IN HONOR OF THE NEVERENDING MIDWEST WINTER…

 

Kids love this stuff—and it’s easy for everyone to just help themselves whenever the mood strikes. Whenever the kids bring a friend over to our house, it’s a good after-school treat. I like the spiced version myself. For a non-kids step-up, you can doctor with a shot of Baileys or Kahlua, too! (Great for bribing Santa, if it so happens you’ve been extra naughty this year…) This makes a big batch! (But it goes faster than you’d believe…)
Ingredients:
1 2 lb. can cocoa mix
1 8-qt. size powdered milk
1 8-oz, jar powdered cream
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Directions:
Mix together thoroughly in large pail –a flour sifter can help blend. Keep in sealed, airtight container. To make, fill cup or mug ½ full of mix, add boiling water & stir well. Top with marshmallows.

To make SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE, sprinkle powdered cinnamon or nutmeg or a bit of ground cloves atop mix just before adding water.

And check out these other recipes from my writer friends:

Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/04/16/chocolate-mayonnaise-cake/
Nancy Lauzon – http://nancylauzon.com/2013/04/16/tasty-tuesday-macaroni-and-cheese/

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | April 14, 2013

Review: Catch Me in Castile

Catch Me in Castile
Catch Me in Castile by Kimberley Troutte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes getting away from it all can be murder…

Erin Carter just wanted to get away from her nightmare of a life. After a personal crisis at work costs her a promotion, all she wants to do is lick her wounds and reexamine her life. A friend invites her to a picturesque refuge in Spain, which proves to be anything but a safe haven. Her best friend is hiding something, a beautiful-but-tragic 15th-century ghost won’t leave her alone, and her budding romance with a handsome surgeon – with secrets of his own – makes her wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew…

This is a darkdarkDARK psychological thriller with twists and turns to keep you reading. It’s not a comfortable read, but makes you wonder and shiver to the end. You can’t assume anything with this book – and the ending was a surprise I didn’t see coming. Not my usual fare, but I really enjoyed it. I really was cheering for Erin’s HEA. I highly recommend this book – but read it with a light on!

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | April 9, 2013

Chicken/Spinach Casserole with Wild Rice & Mushrooms

This is a “dress up” kind of casserole that will hold its own at Sunday dinner—with the in-laws. I can’t complain, though—my in-laws ROCK. You can see a picture of the WHOLE Mickelson clan on my personal Facebook page. We did a family portrait on the front porch steps. Someday I want to have a house with a wraparound porch. I HATE being a country gal stuck in the city!
Ingredients:
3 cups diced cooked chicken (or turkey)
1 ½ cups half-and-half
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup white rice
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
½ cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Cook rice according to package directions & combine together. In large skillet, sauté onions & garlic in butter until tender but not browned. Remove from heat & stir in flour. Gradually stir in chicken broth, then add half-and-half. Cook & stir until thickened. Add cooked rice, chicken, spinach, mushrooms, parsley, and salt & pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Place in large, ungreased casserole; sprinkle almonds on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Check out these other awesome recipes!

NANCY LAUZON http://nancylauzon.com/2013/04/09/tasty-tuesday-sweet-and-sour-meatballs/

MOIRA KEITH http://moirakeith.com/2013/04/09/guinness-milkshake-yes-please/

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/04/09/its-all-about-the-cupcake/

Posted by: reneewildes1 | March 31, 2013

Remembering Grandma Jeanne on Easter Sunday

Nothing like walking past a dozen churches on Easter Sunday to feel one’s lack of formal religion affiliation. Wausau has a LOT of churches on the way to McDonald’s–one across from the courthouse/jail. Seeing all those miserable little girls in their fancy Easter dresses brought it all back home this morning. Grandma’s gone. It’s funny how the weirdest things bring back the memories–like those ridiculous dresses.

See, Gran was a lady as well as a warrior. She had shoes and purses to match every outfit. She wore hats and gloves. And she bought her daughter and granddaughters a full ensemble-in-white for every Easter Sunday. White patent leather shoes. White dresses with lace. White straw hats with flowers. And white gloves. Seriously? How long you think a little kid’s gonna keep white gloves white? Or even ON? My mom told me she got busted as a little girl playing in the coal bin about a half-hour before church! I got mine covered in mud and horse hair, alas. (Yes, we were such girlie girls.) My sister managed to stay clean, but I remember her losing her hat. Knowing WI springs as I do, it probably blew away!

Those little girls looked about as enthused today as I did back then. But it made my think of Gran. She’s been gone more than a month. Seeing her body and receiving a copy of her death certificate didn’t freak me out nearly as much as those stupid Easter dresses. Like I told you, weird. My daughter Tami is such a girlie girl compared to her her tomboy mom–she probably would have LOVED to doll it up for Easter. I can’t wait to see what she picks out for her prom and wedding–I’ve watched enough of “Say Yes to the Dress” that I promised her I would never be one of THOSE moms. And I know whatever she picks out, Gran will be beaming at her from afar saying, “That’s my girl.” Tami wants to be a cop like her grandpa (my dad). Another lady warrior?

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 19, 2013

TASTY TUESDAY – Passion(ate) Fruit Martini

With my new fantasy romance release from Samhain Publishing, GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN, being set on a tropical-paradise island (ala ancient Polynesia) it seemed only right to do a tropical fruit kinda drink. I coulda done the more common Mai Tai or Pina Colada, but frankly, passion fruit seemed more “romance-y,” LOL! Originally got this one from Food Network—since I usually gravitate to Cosmos anyway, this one’s right up my alley. Hope you enjoy, too!

PASSION(ATE) FRUIT MARTINI

Ingredients

• 1 shot citrus vodka
• 1 shot white cranberry juice
• 1 shot passion fruit juice
• 1/2 shot orange liqueur
• 1 tablespoon cherry juice
• Orange peel twist, for garnish

Directions

Combine all ingredients except orange peel twist in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into martini glass.

Garnish with orange peel twist.

GodofFyreMountain72webOne-Paragraph Excerpt:

A low rumbling came from deep within the mountain. A blast of hot sulfurous air blew out the torches. Maili choked on a whimper as the image of Afu pulsed with a rippling darkness. Every instinct screamed at her to run, but she was frozen in place. With a screech that nigh made her ears bleed, the dark parted, rent like some great billowing curtain. The snakes writhed afore her. There was a clap of thunder as a huge, hard-muscled body was flung from the gap. She screamed as he knocked her flat, crushing her beneath his solid, burning weight.

You can buy this book here: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/fyre-mountain-p-7186.html

You can find Renee at the following links: website http://reneewildes.net/

(Facebook) https://www.facebook.com/#!/ReneeWildes1

 

AND DON”T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER FANTASTIC RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS & FELLOW AUTHORS:

Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/02/19/lookin-gouda-in-no-noodle-lasagna/

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 8, 2013

Review: What a Girl Wants

What a Girl Wants
What a Girl Wants by Selena Robins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s got the moxie. He’s got the sexy.

Travel journalist Maddie Saunders has new attitude, and wants two new accessories to go with it. One, turn her triple-X fantasies into reality with Mr. Sex-On-Legs—her friend, Alex Donovan. And two, find her biological father to see if her gene pool has a deep end…

Poor Alex! Tropical paradise, exotic cocktails, and a beautiful coworker hell-bent on having her wicked way with him. Should be every man’s not-so-secret fantasy come true. Except he likes Maddie, and doesn’t want to hurt her—and having a fling with the boss’s niece isn’t a great career move. But Maddie’s not looking for a relationship—she just wants to have some fun.

This started out as a light, playful book, full of witty banter and heavy on the sexual innuendo. Great setting and red-hot chemistry. Wonderful escapism reading.

But I’m an impatient reader, and I usually read darker, weightier romances. Selena Robins is sneaky, folks—she hooks you in with the fun and flirt, and THEN gets to the heart and soul of her characters. There is plenty here for a drama-lover like me. A fatherless heroine with abandonment issues, conflicted heroes with secrets…even an evil blackmailer playing everyone like an evil puppeteer. The second half of the book was right up my alley, as Alex works to get under Maddie’s mask to the real woman within.

Masks have always fascinated me—what people show to the world vs. what they keep hidden inside, and the level of trust needed to share what’s inside with another. And a hero who can call a heroine’s bluff and bring out the real woman—that’s MY kind of guy!

The only weird thing was a bizzaro technical issue with my beloved Kindle. For whatever reason, it kept replacing periods (.) in the story with three-quarter marks (3/4)—literally. Never had that happen before. Anyone else’s Kindle do an independent free-form act like that? Because at first it was distracting, and then once I got into the story, I quit seeing them. But I just went back and checked—they’re still there. I think my Kindle is possessed…

Definitely pick up this book—it’s a great read for everyone at either end of the spectrum. Not too many books can say that.

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | February 5, 2013

TASTY TUESDAY – CROCKPOT BEEF STROGNOFF

Lemme tell ya, for those of us that work 8-12 hours a day outside the home, (yes, I have a day job) the crockpot is an absolute LIFESAVER! Nothing like coming home to “supper’s done.” Makes the whole house smell yummy—and makes everyone hungry. I love mushrooms, so this recipe is right up my alley! You want to add the sour cream last minute, so it doesn’t break down.

3-4 lbs. beef sirloin steak, cubed

2 cans chicken broth

1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms

1 can regular cola

½ c. chopped onion

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. dried parsley flakes

½ tsp. black pepper

***

2 envelopes dry country gravy mix

2 c. sour cream

Hot cooked egg noodles

In slower cooker/crock pot, combine first nine ingredients. Cover and cook on low for7-8 hours until meat is tender.

With a slotted spoon, remove beef & mushrooms. Place gravy mix in large saucepan, gradually whisk in cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, cook & stir for 2 minutes until thickened. Add sour cream immediately before serving. Serve beef & mushrooms over noodles, top with gravy.

 DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS & FELLOW AUTHORS:

Nancy Lauzon http://nancylauzon.com/2013/02/05/tasty-tuesday-copper-penny-salad/

Selena Robins http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/02/05/popovers/

 

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 22, 2013

TASTY TUESDAY – PANIOLO CORNBREAD

GodofFyreMountain72webThis is another Sam Choy recipe from his divine “Polynesian Kitchen” – seems appropriate since TODAY is RELEASE DAY for GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN and it’s set on a fictitious South Pacific-esque island. Trying to warm up here in central WI b/c it’s -13 with a wc of -50 here. Schools are closed. I mentioned to my friends last week that I grew up w/cornbread being a staple in our household – we ate ours w/butter, bacon & applesauce. This is a whole new twist on it!

 

 

1½ c. cake flour

½ c. cornmeal

½ c. sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1¼ c. coconut milk

½ c. (1 stick) butter, melted

2 eggs

1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan w/cooking spray & set aside. SIFT cornmeal, cake flour, baking powder, sugar & salt into medium mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter & coconut milk. Combine wet and dry mixes together, THEN stir in the drained pineapple last. Pour into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set firm (toothpick inserted into center comes out clean) and golden brown.

Cool for 30 minutes. Loosen edges, place serving plate over pan and invert cornbread onto plate. Serve warm with butter and honey.

Also check out these other recipes from my friends and fellow authors:

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/01/21/cupcakes-for-dinneryes-im-serious/

A CATHERINE NOON http://taurusandtaurus.blogspot.com/2013/01/tasty-tuesday-workday-meatloaf.html

NANCY LAUZON http://nancylauzon.com/2013/01/22/tasty-tuesday-yummy-pot-roast/

 

 

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 15, 2013

Tangerine Angel Cupcakes with Sweet Cloud Frosting

Tangerine Angel Cupcakes with Sweet Cloud Frosting.

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 15, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Cravin’ Cornbread

Tasty Tuesday: Cravin’ Cornbread.

Posted by: reneewildes1 | January 15, 2013

TASTY TUESDAY – KA’U ORANGE-GINGER CHICKEN

nanowrimo_05_120x240 51QJ1770S4L._SS500_ When I was little my mom would tell me stories about growing up wild in Hawaii, on Oahu. She and her friends would each get a hunk of dried fish and a section of sugar cane and go out to play for the day. They used to raid the neighbor’s mango trees. She’d tell me how three-finger poi was better than two-finger poi, which my sister and I could never figure out b/c poi is poi, right? It’s the same thing; one’s just mashed for longer than the other. But according to Mom, it makes a huge difference.

GodofFyreMountain72webSince GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN comes out in 1 week, I decided this Tasty Tuesday recipe should do honor to the South Pacific-esque setting I used. I was able to use what I learned as far as what is grown and used on the islands. Pigs and chickens were the domestic animals of choice for my villagers.

My favorite bit of research was finding an absolute GEM of a cookbook, “Sam Choy’s Polynesian Kitchen,” (ISBN 0-7868-6475-3) in my local library. Not only is it recipes, but there’s also tales of his travels to each island mentioned & the people he met. He also discusses what can be substituted for what, in case there’s an ingredient you CAN’T get, although most stuff can be found in an Asian market, even here. The following recipe is in the “Hawaii” chapter, on page 88:

I love this recipe b/c it has big, exotic flavors using ingredients I can get in central Wisconsin in the middle of winter on a working mom’s budget!

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds

¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

¼ cup dry sherry

2 Tbsp. salad oil

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. minced fresh basil

Salt & pepper to taste

Orange sections from 2 oranges, for garnish

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Cut chicken into pieces. Ina large mixing bowl, combine orange juice, sherry, oil, ginger, garlic, mustard, minced basil, and salt & pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain chicken, reserving liquid. Place pieces in a large shallow baking pan, and bake in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes. Drain off fat. Pour reserved liquid over the chicken and continue to bake, basting occasionally, about 25 minutes until chicken is browned.

Place chicken on serving platter and drizzle pan juices over chicken. Garnish with the orange slices and basil leaves.

(P.S. I like to serve w/hot cooked rice and flatbread—and mai tais!)

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT TASTY TUESDAY RECIPES FROM MY FRIENDS:

Nancy Lauzon http://nancylauzon.com/2013/01/15/tasty-tuesday-cravin-cornbread/

Selena Robins http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2013/01/15/tangerine-angel-cupcakes-with-sweet-cloud-frosting/

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | December 30, 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: reneewildes1 | December 12, 2012

THE NEXT BIG THING

What is your working title of your book?

GodofFyreMountain72webGOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN, Guardians of Light Book 6—comes out on1/22/2013

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The hero DAX first made an appearance DUST OF DREAMS (Guardians of Light Book 4). Pryseis was the heroine of DUST, a dream faerie. Dax is her grown nephew, son of her deceased brother. But Dax’s mother was a forest troll, making him a Halfling possessing the powers of both. I decided he really deserved his own book and FYRE MT was the result.

For my heroine I created a “primitive” tropical islander human named MAILI and created an ancient Polynesian world. Long ago—as in ages—a race of trolls lived in the island. Maili’s people worship them as gods, so when Dax mysteriously appears in the fyre god Afu’s temple, they assume Dax is Afu. When the local volcano threatens to erupt, they give Maili to Dax as a maiden sacrifice so he’ll be appeased and stop the eruption.

What genre does your book fall under?

FANTASY ROMANCE

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

I confess I think JASON MAMOA has to be the hottest male walking around on Planet Earth today. He is totally my Dax! The one thing that pissed me big-time off in Stargate Atlantis was the utterly wasted chemistry between Ronan (him) and  Teyla (RACHEL LUTTELL)—they were smoking hot together and the writers/producers never went anywhere with it! When you get two characters that “click” like that you RUN with it! So that’s who I had in my mental movie while I was writing.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

WORST CASEOF MISTAKEN IDENTITY EVER

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

I’ve never had an agent express interest in representing me. I pitched directly to an editor at the NJ RWA Conference several years back.

The Guardians of Light series is published by Samhain Publishing, and my editor is the fantabulous Linda Ingmanson. I’ve been blessed to have the same editor throughout my career, and we work well together. It’s wonderful to work with someone who loves fantasy as much as I do, and who believes in me and the Guardians. She’s been my mentor and advocate, and I’ve learned TONS from her.

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

GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN was my first and only NaNo project—and I can say with complete certainty it will be my last. As a die-hard plotter, that whole 50,000-words-in-a-month-off-the-cuff thing was a nightmare—I successfully “finished” but it took me a full year to REwrite the garbled mess I created.  It usually takes me a full year to write a book, working around a full-time day job, and I constantly polish and rewrite and tweak as I go.

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

Not books but authors.

I read a lot of fantasy, and my favorite writer in MERCEDES LACKEY. Even before I was published, I had RWA contest judges comparing my voice to hers, which I consider the ultimate compliment—although my love scenes are hotter!  I think BIANCA D’ARC and I approach characters the same way, and have a similar informal style.

I find it funny that on the “Who Do You Write Like?” quiz, no matter what sample I use, I consistently get tossed in w/Shakespeare…

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

While I knew Dax had to have his own book, I found Maili the driving force behind the story. To balance her own hopes and dreams against the expectations of her family and friends, to confront what she thought she knew and believed, to accept new ideas and truths. She had the biggest character growth arc.

I’ve always thought volcanoes were the most awesome force of nature—beautiful and deadly, but also the catalyst for change. They destroy—and create. The end and the beginning. It was weird. We were out driving on Saturday, and my daughter said, “Look at Rib Mountain—it looks like a volcano.” And sure enough, the summit was smoking. (From the Rothschild paper mills BEHIND it, but the temporary visual was really cool.)

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

For those of you who are reading the Guardians of Light series, you get to follow along with the older, familiar characters from previous books—Dara and Loren, Brannan, Anuk, Pryseis and Benilo, the dwarf mage Pahn, the now-evil Lady Alani and her poor clueless father Lord Raun—as they try to figure out a way to get Dax back. There’s also a further introduction to Dara’s and Loren’s daughter Elyria, who’s destined to have her OWN book someday in my future “Daughters of the Guardians” trilogy—each book starring Braeca, Elyria and Piroska in turn.

I’ve already got “Braeca” plotted out—her hero is Flyn, a dark elf. I’m currently finishing up “Moonwitched,” starring Mari, Matteo and Valkyn from previous books. This will be the seventh and final book in the Guardians of Light series. Now on to The Next Generation…

And more author interviews from my friends:

MARY HUGHES http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-next-big-thing-what-im-working-on.html

A CATHERINE NOON http://acatherinenoon.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-box-talk-next-big-thing.html

KIMBERLY TROUTTE http://kimberleytroutte.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-next-big-thing.html

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/11/17/the-next-big-thing/

HELEN C JOHANNES http://helencjohannes.blogspot.com/

Posted by: reneewildes1 | December 4, 2012

TASTY TUESDAY – SMOKING BISHOP PUNCH (alcoholic)

I got this recipe from the “Udderly Delicious Recipes Cookbook (Fine Wisconsin Recipes Presented by The Junior League of Racine).” Racine is where my parents live. This particular recipe was submitted by Lisa Ray Johnson, and is a dramatic holiday drink for anyone w/a crock pot.

6 smallish oranges

1 jar whole cloves

1 gallon apple cider

1 fifth rum

1 fifth peach or apple brandy

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Stud the oranges with whole cloves ~½-inch apart—the more the merrier! Bake spiced oranges on cookie sheet in oven for 1 hour. In a large kettle heat the apple cider on the stovetop. Place baked oranges in bottom of crockpot, set on lowest setting. Sprinkle with cinnamon, ground cloves & nutmeg. Add rum to the hot apple cider. Pour brandy over the oranges and—this is the best part—IGNITE. There will be a beautiful blue flame and the oranges will sizzle. Immediately douse with the rum/apple cider mixture to extinguish the flames. Serve hot.

(a note from the back of the cookbook:

“The Junior League of Racine Wisconsin, Inc. reaches out to all young women regardless of race, creed, religion or national origin who demonstrate an interest in and a commitment to voluntarism. It is an international organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”)

Don’t miss out on these other FABU recipes from my author friends:

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/12/03/for-the-chocolate-enriched-diet-plan-2/

MOIRA KEITH http://moirakeith.com/2012/12/04/apple-and-sausage-stuffing/

P.G. FORTE http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | November 28, 2012

Review: Burning Bright

Burning Bright
Burning Bright by Rachel Wilder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magical Guardian & veterinarian Sasha Soskoff moves from his Coven in Madison to downtown Chicago to try for a prestigious new research job at Northwestern University. A brutal mugging by Russian mobsters—and having no health insurance—puts him at the mercy of the outrageously sexy Dom Neal Harrison, the owner of the Factory, one of the hottest gay clubs in town. Neal and his men are former Marines with a big secret—they’re shape-shifters. Sasha’s got enough to worry about with making ends meet while unemployed and trying to land his dream job. Being targeted by Russian mobsters and getting caught in a shape-shifter turf war was not what he’d bargained for. The last thing he needs is a relationship complicating things. But Neal is smoking hot—and definitely interested in Sasha.

This was a total have-to-read-to-the-end-in-one-sitting book. I don’t usually read M/M, let alone M/M/M, let alone BDSM. But this book rocked! The characters totally made me fall in love with them—all of them. They all had their own personalities, stories and issues. Just like real people. I adored Sasha, just trying to get by as best he could and stay afloat in situations WAY over his head, poor guy. The shape-shifter community was fully realized, with its own customs and rules and hierarchy. The chemistry between Sasha and Neal is off the charts. I got a bit squeamish at some of the BDSM scenes—but that’s because I’m a wuss, not because the book was too hard-core. All scenes were consensual and the characters were totally into it. Those guys are definitely more adventurous than little ol’ me—more naughty than nice! But I was cheering for their HEA and for the bad guys to get what they deserved.

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | November 27, 2012

TASTY TUESDAY – Chicken (TURKEY) Tetrazzini

Wondering what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers?  This is a cool, easy-peasy recipe from one of the Timberline Figure Skating Club members, Nikki Ogstad.

8 oz. thin spaghetti or vermicelli – cooked to taste, drained & rinsed

2 c. cooked chicken or turkey, diced

2 c. chicken broth

1 c. cream

1 c. grated parmesan cheese (divide in half)

12 oz. sliced mushrooms, sautéed

1/3 c. butter

1/3 c. sherry wine

¼ c. flour

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Preheat oven at 375. Butter a casserole dish. Melt butter in large skillet. Blend in flour, salt, garlic & pepper. Add chicken broth & cream. Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add sherry & HALF the parmesan cheese, then ALL the spaghetti, chicken & mushrooms. Mix well & dump into the casserole dish. Sprinkle w/remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for30-45 minutes until hot & bubbly & golden brown on top.

GREAT WHEN SERVED W/GARLIC BREAD OR CHEESY BREAD!

Don’t forget to check out these other great posts:

P.G. FORTE http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2012/11/thai-coconut-curry-pumpkin-soup.html

NANCY LAUZON http://nancylauzon.com/2012/11/27/tasty-tuesday-friendly-flank-steak/

MOIRA KEITH http://moirakeith.com/2012/11/27/holiday-tequila-sweet-potatoes/

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/11/26/my-favorite-vegetable/

Posted by: reneewildes1 | November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Drama – I Hate Cars!

We did NOT make it to Brookfield on Thanksgiving to my in-laws, b/c my STUPID car has an overheating issue no one can seem to fix. We left at 8 AM from Wausau, to give ourselves plenty of time. 51 S to Madison, then 94 E to Brookfield. Easy Peasy. Just had the car vetted at Valvoline. Good to go. Until we boiled over at the Hwy 21/Coloma exit (where we normally turn off to go to Tomah) – only an hour from home. Stopped and hung out at a BP drinking coffee and waiting for it to cool down enough.  Got back on the road–apparently didn’t wait long enough because she started foaming again at Westfield exit, not 30 minutes later. We’re not EVEN to Wisconsin Dells yet and already 10 AM. Tried to call in-laws–no bars on cell phones.

Stopped at CITGO, started thinking long & hard. Todd has to work tomorrow 4 AM–Black Friday. CAN’T MISS. Tami FINALLY has doctor’s appt. tomorrow 9:45 AM to address insomnia issue. CAN’T MISS. Dog trapped in kennel, needs to be bailed out. CAN’T MISS. What if car goes belly-up even FARTHER from home? How much do I risk? So I pulled the plug and announced we were returning home–to an empty, foodless house. Kids were pissed. Locked myself in a CITGO bathroom stall to bawl in private. A very pregnant woman asked if I was okay. Not my finest moment…

Car overheated AGAIN in Plover on the way home, but at least there was a Walmart still open.Let the car cool off while we went shopping for our OWN Thanksgiving meal. Todd finally got a hold of his parents to tell them, only to be informed that his oldest son Bryan had decided to stay home in Milwaukee to see his dad and siblings–and now it was all for nothing, and I was the bad guy. I HATE being the responsible one–no one appreciates it.

Got home to a quiet house, two sulking kids and one sulking husband. Josh wanted to go get Abby right away. We made dinner–even crescent rolls & cherry pie only got me so much redemption. Watched the Redskins game–they won, which was the only bright spot in my day. Watched King Arthur and went to bed.

Todd went to work on time. Dog home safe & sound. Cat back to  being pissed. Tami went to doctor & is now on 3 mg Melatonin–slept through the night last night for the first time in WEEKS/MONTHS. So I have to think all the drama was worth it. But I hate drama as much as I hate cars!

Already wondering what I’m supposed to do about Christmas!

Posted by: reneewildes1 | November 13, 2012

Tasty Tuesday – Eggplant Casserole

EGGPLANT CASSEROLE

3 slices of bacon, cook to get1 Tbls. bacon fat – keep crumbled bacon for topping if desired

1 large eggplant

1 c. canned chopped tomatoes w/juice

1 c. bread crumbs

½ onion, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

½ c. bread crumbs (for topping)

1 Tbls. parmesan cheese (for topping)

1 Tbls. butter

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Boil eggplant in shell for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 375. Grease casserole dish w/butter. Cool eggplant, remove pulp & place pulp in large mixing bowl. (Discard skin) In skillet w/bacon fat, sauté onion & green pepper. Add tomatoes & juice, simmer vegetable mix for 10 minutes. Add 1 c. bread crumbs, salt, pepper, butter, Worcestershire sauce AND eggplant pulp. Mix well and pour into casserole dish. In separate small bowl, toss ½ c. bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon bits together & sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake until crumbs are golden brown & casserole is hot & bubbly—us. ~ 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT RECIPES

SELENA ROBINS http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/11/12/honey-i-shrunk-the-dinner/

P.G. FORTE http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2012/11/pumpkin-spice-cake.html

NANCY LAUZON http://nancylauzon.com/2012/11/13/tasty-tuesday-pizzeria/

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 31, 2012

Belated Halloween “Tasty Tuesday”

We decided to do our Tasty Tuesday TODAY in honor of Halloween, and I’m afraid I’m “coloring outside of the lines” against everyone else, b/c today is my 15th wedding anniversary and I decided to go with a MAINE/seafood recipe b/c that’s where we spent our honeymoon.

I have a recipe for Lobster Casserole that works well with other seafoods – since lobster’s hard to come by in Wisconsin (at least on THIS working mom’s budget) I’ve experimented with shrimp, cod and haddock variations. My grandma’s rolling in her grave right now, but substitution can be fun…*cough cough*

LOBSTER (SEAFOOD) CASSEROLE

3 c. lobster (insert seafood alternative) meat

8 Tbls. butter

8 Tbls. flour

6 Tbls. sherry

10 slices bread

2 pints cream

2 Tbls. lemon juice

2 beaten eggs

1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 pkg. (sleeve) crushed Ritz crackers (for topping) – or cornflakes

Preheat oven to 325. In skillet melt 2 Tbls. butter, add meat & cook until just done. In large mixing bowl, combine REST of butter, flour, lemon juice, egg, mustard, parika, salt and HALF the cream. Add the meat & stir. Tear the bread into small pieces and add to mix. Add rest of cream slowly–as much as needed to give a medium thickness to “batter.” (You might not use it all) Lastly, add sherry. Pour into large casserole dish; top with crackers. Bake 30-40 minutes or until hot & bubbly and golden brown on top.

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER FANTABULOUS RECIPES FROM MY FELLOW WRITER FRIENDS:

PG FORTE

http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2012/10/pan-de-muerto.html

NANCY LAUZON

http://nancylauzon.com/2012/10/31/gimme-candy/

SELENA ROBINS

http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/10/31/purple-magic-candy-apples/

MOIRA KEITH

http://moirakeith.com/2012/10/31/brain-hemorrhage/

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 9, 2012

Tasty Tuesday – Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

So my daughter is a member of the Timberline Figure Skating Club here in Wausau, Wi. Several years back they did a fundraiser involving a cookbook. Everyone contributed–before our time, so none from me. There’s one by “Friends of Timberline” no individual name to credit. But it’s a great fall recipe, involving two WI staples–pumpkins & cranberries. Wouldn’t think tangy-zing would go with rich-spicy, but it’s surprisingly good. Lots of depth and contrast!

2 slightly beaten eggs

2 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

1 c. solid-pack pumpkin (canned is fine–unless you’re the ambitious kind who readily chop-boil-mash)

2-1/4 c. flour

1 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. chopped cranberries

Preheat over to 350. Grease & flour 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil & pumpkin. Mix well. In another large bowl, combine flour, pie spice, soda & salt. Add dry ingredient mix into wet mix, stirring until dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Stir in cranberries. Spoon batter equally into pans. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Makes whole house smell really yummy!

Don’t forget to check out these other great recipes from my fellow writers:

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup by Moira Keithhttp://moirakeith.com/2012/10/09/italian-sausage-vegetable-soup/

Where did the Peanut Go? by Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/

Besto Pesto Biscuits by PG Forte http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-besto-pesto-biscuits.html

 

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 6, 2012

Review: Buckling Down: A Wild Ride Story

Buckling Down: A Wild Ride Story
Buckling Down: A Wild Ride Story by Moira Keith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, all my friends know I am a die-hard PBR fan, and I’m NOT referring to BEER. No, I’m talking about Professional Bull Riding. I have a stuffed animal version of Blueberry Wine my kids got me for Xmas – it’s on my desk at work. So reading about a bull rider at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas? I am SO there!

Levi McKenna is on the comeback/redemption trail. Unfortunately the media seems more concerned with who his latest love interest is than with his professional goals. Coming back to Vegas brings him full circle with old family friends – including his old prom date, Sydney Hart, all grown up. He finds her singing in her brother’s bar, and they decide to renew their old friendship. Sydney’s got issues of her own, in the name of a persistent, dangerous stalker. Trying to renew old friendships in the midst of a media circus and a premier sporting event isn’t easy. But the chemistry between these two is undeniable, and they’re determined to not walk away before seeing if they truly can pick up where they left off.

This was a fun, fast read, full of denim and sawdust and music and beer. Ms. Keith really brings the world to life, including the pressures involved that, sadly, have NOTHING to do with bull riding. Cowboys just trying to do what they love, what they’re good at – and hopefully make a living and not get killed while they’re at it. Women who truly love them fighting off the women who are just “buckle bunnies” looking for a good time and a notch on the bedpost. It’s a tough life, full of stress and challenges, but I really found myself cheering for Levi’s and Sydney’s HEA. Ms. Keith does not disappoint! I recommend this book for both the true fans and the curious!

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 6, 2012

Review: In the Dark

In the Dark
In the Dark by P.G. Forte
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not an official vampire-lore fangirl, mostly because it seems like everyone’s doing the “same” vampires. There are so many conventions that it seems like “nothing new.” So I was pleasantly surprised with this book, because Ms. Forte’s vampiric world is truly unique. It’s full of these wonderfully “live” unique characters – twins Julie and Marc are BORN vampires, they were not “turned.” Julie represents the sensual nature of vampires while Marc is wonderfully empiric, trying to determine and quantify the very nature of vampires. This is not one of Samhain’s romances – this is an urban fantasy with a mystery twist, as the twins’ uncle/guardian Conrad has gone missing. Conrad’s partner Damian – a truly delightful, fun character, very flamboyant and full of life – is frantic to find him before their family den gets restless and looks to appoint a new leader. Following these characters in their search for Conrad, and discovering their origins along the way, is a great way to spend your time. Ms. Forte weaves the gothic and historical together in a pulsing, breathing fabric of fiction, and I highly recommend for anyone looking for something new and different!

View all my reviews

Posted by: reneewildes1 | October 2, 2012

Tasty Tuesday – Aunt Maxine’s Spiced Applesauce Cake

I love easy-peasy whip-it-together & throw-it-in-the-oven recipes – these are great for picnics and potlucks and snack cakes – they go fast!

1-3/4 c. flour

1 c. white sugar

1 c. unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp.salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. all spice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

Preheat over to 350. Grease & flour 7 x 10 inch pan. Cream butter & sugar in large mixing bowl. Add egg & beat well. In a separate bowl, mix DRY ingredients with the flour. Mix 1/2 c of the flour mixture into the wet egg mixture, then add the applesauce, LAST add the rest of the flour mixture. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Test center w/toothpick for doneness – if toothpick comes out clean, you’re good to go!

Check out these other recipes from my friends and fellow authors:
Two Hours to Thinner Thighs – Selena Robins – http://selenarobinsmusings.com/2012/10/02/2-hours-to-thinner-thighs/

Sinfully Delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Kimberley Trouttehttp://kimberleytroutte.blogspot.ca/2012/10/tasty-tuesday-sinfully-delicious.html

 

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