December 28, 2011

Interview with author Blaine D. Arden

The Forester

Blaine, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?
It's called The Forester and it's a solstice m/m fantasy/romance. That answers the second part of the question. Yes, it does cross other genres, because it's a mix between mystery, fantasy, and romance.
The Forester is about Kelnaht, a cloud elf and Truth Seeker, who is caught between love and faith. He tries to solve a murder committed ten days before Solstice that reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht's former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realizing he'd gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif's loneliness. 
How do you come up with ideas?
Actually, ideas come up on me. Whether I'm visiting friends, working on a story or reading a submission call, an idea will just pop into my head. Mostly barely more than a scene or situation that begs to be turned into a story. I write them all down, though I have to admit some will be left forgotten, until I suddenly find myself thinking of that idea again, and I'll dig it up again. Or I'll be browsing through my notebook and stumble across one that just clicks, and I'll start expanding on it.
What is the single most important part of writing for you?
Enjoying what I'm doing. It may not always be easy to put words to the page, to suss out where my characters are going, but I enjoy finding that out. I enjoy the journey my characters take me on, the exploration of the world they live in. 
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
I often start with a scene or a snippet of something that happens. The Forester, for instance, started with the image of a man desiring another who he sees daily, but is not allowed to talk to because that man is shunned. With that one, I just started writing, and while I wrote, ideas about things to come popped into my head. I noted them all in my program. So, basically, I was outlining and writing at the same time.
The story I'm working on right now, started with the image of a man walking through a crowd, bare chested, showing off his scar-tattoos and people turning their heads, except one man. I wrote it down and had to put it away. A month ago, I woke up one morning knowing his name, his occupation. And then I started to research scarification.
How many hours a day to you spend writing?
Between four and eight hours a day. I try to stick to some sort of work-day rhythm, while trying to remember to have lunch as well. At least, that's the idea, being a mother of semi-grown boys and running a household, it doesn't always work out that way.
Is your muse demanding?
I've never considered myself as to having an actual muse, though I have a couple of writing totems. I get ideas and I crawl into my characters' skins to tell their story, and those characters and story will stay with me at all times, whether I'm writing or not. My brain basically never shuts up, not even for a minute. So, in that respect, yes, very demanding.
What is the craziest thing you did as a kid, and would it ever end up in a book?
I wasn't exactly a kid, but the craziest thing I've ever done was phone all the chemical companies in my town to find that very cute guy I met and wanted to make a date with. It does sound like something one of my characters could do. And thank you for that plot bunny. *goes off to write it down before she forgets*
Of course, that cute guy, I managed to find him. He visited my work place during lunch wearing work clothes that had a multitude of chemicals spilled on them and I married him over twenty-one years ago J
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I always try to write diverse worlds, where sexuality doesn't matter. So, apart from hoping they enjoy the story, I like readers to feel a sense of hope that one day everyone will realize that diversity is a fact of life and love doesn't discriminate. Sooner rather than later.
List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
Only two? Right now I'd have to go with Josh Lanyon and CJ Sansom.

Personal Info

If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Somewhere idyllic and rural in the UK. A nice barn conversion or sweet cottage, with plenty of space for friends and family to stay.
What song would best describe your life?
My life? For a long time I've been trying to figure out who I am, and even though I'm still learning new things about myself, the song I keep coming back to is 'I am what I am' (in the John Barrowman version). Because no matter who I am, it'll always be me, deep down, and nothing anyone else says it ever going to change that.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
A store reflecting me. I like that idea   It would be a mix between geek, writer and semi-gothic items. Plenty of writer's goodies, like notebooks, pens and whatnot. But also gothic style clothing, especially platform shoes and boots, a magic the gathering collection, technological and computer gadgets and a lot of black and purple items in all categories.
Tell us an embarrassing story that has to do with a pet. If you have no pets, a story about a significant other will do. ^_^
As a child I had girlfriends with a dachshund living across the street. Now, as a child I was afraid of dogs. Having one of my own now, I can barely imagine it, but as a child? Petrified. Every time I went over there, the dog would start barking as soon as I rang the bell. It was as if the damned thing could smell me, smell my fear. It only did that with me, as far as I remember. So, one day, it was in the hallway when I entered. I was only wearing flipflops, and the damned thing bit into my big toe. I avoided dogs even more after that. And dachshunds? I hate those even now. *shudder*
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Very tactile and a perpetual hugger. Will try to keep you from leaving after a visit.

Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with different sorts of cheeses and onion.
I'm always ready for visitors. I may be right in the middle of something, but I love visitors.
When I'm alone, I don't sleep well.
You'd never be able to tell, but I used to be very shy.
If I could teleport I'd be hopping around the world every week to visit friends.
If I had a halo it would be hints of indigo and lavender with some dirty brown and muddy forest green. And maybe some other colours thrown in. I have my faults.
I can never read bdsm stories before bedtime because it makes me want to do anything but sleep. ;)

My Booklist

Color Me a free story written for the M/M Romance Goodreads group for their Hot Summer Days event. This story can also be found in the anthology Don't Read in the Closet: Volume Two

Books Coming Soon

TheFifth Son, an m/m fantasy novella, to be released on March 9, 2012 by Storm Moon Press (Pre-orders are 20% off!)

Find Me Here

Twitter: @BlaineDArden
Blog:  (direct link, also accessible through website)

December 27, 2011

Roaming Body Parts

The late author Barbara Karmazin (affectionately known to her critique buddies as "Chainsaw") used to harp on "roaming body parts." What she meant was the tendency of authors to write such lines as:

His hand caressed her shoulder.
He dropped his eyes.
Her back pressed against the wall.
His mouth spoke her name like a prayer.

In the first instance, what else would he caress her shoulder with? His feet maybe? If the character doesn't have hands, or he's an alien and could be using tentacles... I suppose so. But for the most part, the hand is obvious. He caressed her shoulder is better.

He dropped his eyes and they went boing! boing! He can drop his gaze, but not his eyes. While we're on the topic of eyes... He also can't meet her eyes. (Where? In the park?)

Our heroine can press her back against the wall, or lean back against the wall, or simply press back against the wall, but is she holding her back in her hands and pressing it, or is her back pressing against the wall on its own? Be careful about letting body parts move on their own.

Which brings us to his mouth spoke her name... Unless he could also speak her name telepathically (I write SciFi; I know it can happen) then he spoke her name works.

I ran into this one recently and think it bears mentioning. "His mind remembered the incident." As opposed to his big toe remembering? Of course his mind remembered, again -- unless he's an alien who also thinks with his third left tentacle. If he does that, by all means tell us. Otherwise, it's safe to assume we know what body part is involved.

For more good ideas on how to handle this and other writing hazards, check out the Warrior Writers blog by Kristen Lamb. Her article on Dec 26th, 5 Common Writing Hazards is excellent.

What are some of the roaming body parts you've ... uh... encountered in your reading?

December 16, 2011

Book Addict Cassandra Carr

Cassandra's To Be Read Pile
My name is Cassandra, and I'm a book addict...
by Cassandra Carr

Is there a 12-step program for this? Because I might need it. If you look at the picture in this blog, you'll see my PHYSICAL to-be-read pile. I also have a Nook, which has *mumble mumble* books on it. Suffice it to say my TBR "pile" hovers between 200 and 250 books at any one time. Yes, it's a sickness, but I could do way worse.

People have asked me why I keep buying books if I already have so many, and the answer is surprisingly simple: because if I don't buy a book I know I want to read when it comes out I'll forget about it. I am a very busy author, workshop presenter, wife, and mother. Oh, and rabid Sabres fan. Now, of course if I didn't buy Sweet Addiction, book 6 in Maya Banks' Sweet Series, as soon as it releases in April 2012, I would remember to buy it later because Maya is one of my favorite authors. That and I can't freaking wait for Cole's story...

But what about all the debut authors I want to support? What about when I discover a new-to-me author? 

I will acknowledge that at my current reading speed it will take me about two years to read everything I own at the moment, and that's without buying any new books, which is never gonna happen. You know what? I'm okay with that. I like having a huge stack of books from which to pluck the very one I'm in the mood for.

How many books are in your TBR pile? Do you think I'm crazy? (It's okay if you do. My husband would agree with you.)

Cassandra Carr is a multi-published erotic romance writer who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out on Twitter. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011. Head Games, Buffalo Intimidators book 1, released on November 2, 2011 from Siren Bookstrand, Caught will release December 13, 2011 from Loose Id. For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at, "like" her Facebook fan page at or follow her on Twitter at