There are 5 weeks in June, August, and November this year. Which means my four week schedule is interrupted because of dead Caesars. Which means this week is a FREE FOR ALL!
So this week, I've decided to do an Ask the Author.
I occasionally answer questions on Goodreads and have reenacted them here. I think they are very good answers worth taking a look at. They range from process to what I read.
So if you're interested in the life of an author, keep reading!
What books are on your summer reading list this year?
SOFT WEAR by Marilyn Lakewood
HUSBAND FOR HIRE by Patricia A. Knight
CHIEF by Kris Michaels
STORM RUNNERS by Nara Malone
The whole EROGENOUS ZONE series by Brandi Evans
What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?
My books are an extension of my life. Things I've encountered or experienced are within the stories I write. But a mystery in my own life? Fortunately, I have no murder mysteries to speak of. But I could tell you about the mystery of the lost keys, or the mystery of the lost $20 bill. They'd be a whirlwind romance that would end in HEA.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
As of March, 2017, the most recent book idea was Marilyn Lakewood's challenge to write a dragon story. I'm writing this one for her. :) Love you Marilyn!
How do you get inspired to write?
Inspired? Seriously? No, no, no, when you have murderous creatures in your head whispering they want their story out in the wild, it's not inspiration, it's survival.
What are you currently working on?
My friend, Marilyn Lakewood, challenged me to a dragon story. I accepted. I'm writing that now :)
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
I really wish I could help them understand that, while plagiarism is out there, it's no excuse not to show your work, not collaborate or not share. You're story is awesome, I'm sure, but it's not what I want to write. I want to write my own stories. And my stories will be exactly the way I want them. So why would I copy yours?
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to shut-up these people in my head.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Ahhh...writer's block. The nemesis. Writer's block can be a bane, but I've found there are 3 different types of writer's block. Not all of them bad. At least for me. Empty, Buzzed and Plot Problems. Let me explain.
EMPTY - This is when I've written and written and written and there's just nothing left. This happens to me when I've finished a book, look around for the next one to write and...nothing. Nada. Zilch. I've got bupkis.
SOLUTION: Nothing. I don't write. I take a break. I watch movies. Read books. Let my mind rest because the creative process does not just run on coffee and see's candies. Blasphemy! Yes, I know, but imagine your heart bleeding out all its desires, fears, wants and dreams. Once all of that is purged into a book, why would you think there was anything left? Take a nap. Don't be afraid. The muse will come back.
BUZZED - This is when I've been writing and writing and my head is so fuzzy I'm not sure where to go next. I don't feel empty, I feel buzzed. Like a little drunk, and swimming. This happens because BICHOK. But-In-Chair-Hands-On-Keyboard. I've been thinking and thinking and I just can't think anymore.
SOLUTION: Take a walk, a drive, talk to friends on the phone. I get my mind out of the game of writing. Take a nap. Anything to stop thinking. I allow the unconscious mind to work it out. I've even been known to start another project and come back to that one because my mind needs time to work it out.
PLOT PROBLEMS - This happens when I'm working away and then I peter out. Like I get the characters somewhere and things come to a screeching, brick wall halt. THAT is my unconscious mind saying YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG DIRECTION. This happens most, when I don't make a complete outline. This is the tough writer's block and the one most people are asking about when they say, "How do you deal with writer's block?" What writer's are really asking is, "How do I finish this book without doing an outline?" 99% of every writer I've known who asks the get rid of writer's block question has not completed their outline for the story. Shoot me, call yourself a pantser, but the truth is, no outline means meandering. I am a notorious pantser. I will start an outline, get excited, start the book before finishing the outline because all the wonderful scenes are coming and then...where do we go from here? Yes, I'm just as bad. But the good news is I have suggestions if you're just stuck and can't even get working on the outline. Or most likely, don't want to. Don't ask me how I know.
SOLUTION: I have many solutions and find that each book gives me a challenge on how to fix it so, I'll tell you what I've done in the past.
#1 - A solution I do, which I don't recommend, is reading what I have. This allows me to find things in the story that a reader might have questions on. That in turn jars something loose and lets me work on it.
#2 - I have been known to write a different POV in the same story.
#3 - I have chosen a manga and emulated it, making it subject to my world and characters. If I'm writing a fantasy, I draw on the characters inspirations. For instance when writing Dr. Vampyre, the main characters were modeled after real people. I observed those real people and took sections of their life and applied it to the story. I didn't copy what happened. I took a facet of their life, twisted it and figured out how my characters would solve the problem.
#4 - What has been most effective has been a simple question. "What is the worst thing that could happen to my characters in the situation they are in now?" Is it a meteor hitting the earth? Is it them breaking up? Is it one dying? Write that. I don't always include that situation in the book, but I no longer have writer's block.
#5 - When all else fails, I take a nap. Fresh and awake, I try to work on the outline.
Hope this helps!
Until next time!
My 5 of 5 stars is based on original story-telling, character depth, plot, editing and "that something extra" which I call completion of all. That something extra is how the other four come together and make you feel at the end of the story.
Elizabeth delivers a story that progresses with every line, making you want to read more. The dialogue is fantastic. The premise is delivered with unique realism. The story draws you in. When the secondary character, Cindy, takes stage she almost overshadows our heroine. But as Samantha--our heroes sweet, strong, compassionate love interest continues on, I couldn't help but fall in love with her along with Derek.
I have a snippet below in which I think captures what the story is about.
When a man tells you who he is, believe him
Billionaire entertainment investor Derek Damon Wright learned at a young age women were trouble. He’s unprepared for dancer Samantha Rose who walks into his thirteenth, Washington DC nightclub opening with an authenticity and passion for life that quickly rocks his jaded, albeit privileged, world.
Samantha, an aerial artist and dance studio owner, hasn’t been lucky in love, and falling for the charismatic and resolute bachelor Derek won’t draw her closer to her greatest dream of having a baby. Yet she’s helpless to resist his charm and sophisticated world of private jets, Caribbean islands and the sexual pleasures of dominance and submission.
As their whirlwind romance progresses, past mistakes rise up to threaten their future. Only when they rely on each other for safe haven do they find the answer to their dreams.
"Gentle may not be in my repertoire." ~ And yet, I found Derek very much the gentle Dom for most of the ride.
These two characters lend themselves to lovability.
I love the tag line ~ When a man tells you who he is, believe him yet I found Derek bending his bachelor ways in spite of himself. He's the bachelor that didn't know what he wanted until it twirled above his head like a star just out of reach. Samantha was the ultimate "whatever" girl. A Whatever girl doesn't fret about later. She's in the now. While she wanted a baby and it was her biggest dream, she didn't let it stop her from enjoying what she had with Derek in the moment. That is how many a man has faltered from the single life. A woman who has her shit together and doesn't press demands is a woman who gets to pick her way to the right guy. That's Samantha. Courageous, loving, charitable and sexy. I dare say she's what a lot of men want.
I applaud Elizabeth on her real-to-life characters, her every-woman's-fantasy vacation and the book boyfriend we will talk about for weeks.
Real-world, noble man--that would be Derek. He's giving but uninvolved, kind but doesn't think about motives, rich, flashy but broken in many of the same ways as Samantha. They are a good match.
I remember talking to Elizabeth SaFleur about her characters and she mentioned Samantha felt she was un-lucky. A curse to men. But I remember thinking, Samantha might think that but there was so many good things about her that I feel as though only the douchebags flocked to her because the decent guys felt out of their league. But then came Derek.
Elizabeth SaFleur always has birds in her books for headers and I'd consider Derek a peacock but that bird I think might be reserved for one of the other characters. I see Samantha as a white raven.
I highly recommend the book. It's a wonderful read and has a real Elizabeth SaFleur flavor of Doms, exotic destinations, light BDSM elements and powerful men treating their women right.
Here are some of my Favorite Lines:
“I’m afraid I’ve said too much.”
“No, please. Tell me more.” Her voice sounded overeager even to herself. “One minute he’s lavishing me with trips and diamonds, and then the next he pulls back. And, why his aversion to family? Do you know anything about that?”
Alexander’s lips tightened. Yes, there most definitely was a story there.
“Samantha, these are conversations that you both need to have. You are right to keep prodding him to open up, gently, of course. I believe you may be the only person in the world who could.”
“It hasn’t worked so far.”
“Derek, I should have said something the day I bailed you out of that police station.”
“Don’t get caught again?”
“No. I should have told you, you aren’t special.”
Wow, that was some cold shit. “Never said I was.”
“Yes, you do. By the way you live. As if you’re above it all. None of us is above love.”
“Not interested. And, besides, you’re single.”
“Right now, yes. By choice. But you’re not choosing anything. You’re letting your past do the choosing.”
“Man, this place has turned into a therapy center.” He scrubbed his hair and almost stood but something in Alexander’s eyes made him stop. Jesus, the man could freeze Medusa.
“Swim back to me.”
“What if I don’t?”
“I’ll march you downstairs, strap you to the spanking bench and tan your ass with my bare hand.” He wouldn’t, really. At Accendos, whenever a guest was involved, a third party not involved in a scene must witness the guest’s consent before any serious play could ensue. He could still threaten a spanking for effect.
“Promise?” She threw him a smile that could only be characterized as daring. She lifted herself from the pool. “Catch me .”
Samantha Rose was sex-on-silks.
He had always seen women as something to put into the cracks of his life—like flowers bursting through flaws in the sidewalk. They weren’t part of his real life. Opening properties, amassing a fortune and a fortress, making sure no one could get inside—that was his reality. He saw now what an asshole thing that was to believe.
Derek fisted her hair. “Don’t test me, ballerina.”
Test him? Wasn’t that what he’d been doing to her? Binding her with silks in her studio and taking her to the rigging hut in St. Thomas were not enough—not for him, not for her. They’d had fun but she was left with nothing more than postcards in a scrapbook of experiences.
She looked up at him. “It’s like they’ve been loved all the way through to the other side.”
He cocked his head. “Interesting way to put it.”
“It’s something my grandmother used to say to me. I love you all the way through.”
"I lost someone important to me a long time ago, and she gave me the perfect advice to help me through the grieving process. Live the life that would make him proud."
"We all eat lies when our hearts are hungry.”
The illustration was created by Cynthia Hlady and depicts Lady Dauphine as she comes near the port of Chardogne.
In this episode, my love of horses (having been a dressage trainer for a decade) shines in this chapter. I sometimes can't help but bring in four legged characters in my story. But they are pinnacle to the plot, no matter what small role they play. Carnival was the only one who could get his rider to and from the distance. Of course, Carnival is modeled after the Arabian stallions. His dinner plate sized hooves are key to his success. ~ Happy reading!
If you are completely lost, and this is your first time here, you might want to start from the beginning. I suggest clicking on "The King's Thief" under the CATEGORIES on the right hand side of the screen. Or clicking the button below to start at the beginning. For the rest of you...bombs away!
No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted without written prior permission from the publisher. This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, events, incidents and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
The King's Thief
Hidden by shadows I smiled in ruthless satisfaction at the cardinal of Cadia. The man who took my home, my heritage and my life did not even know I was standing within twenty feet of his secluded tower. Throwing a dagger into his throat would be so easy, so gratifying that I might give up having sex with Dauphine for one night for the chance to kill this bastard.
My weapon burned to get out from its sheath. Thoughts of Bowden stayed my hand. Killing the Cardinal would only put another bulbous bastard on the throne and force me to leave before I knew Bowden’s whereabouts. It was as if the sorcerer were not here. I’d come to glean any information about him straight from the Cardinal. Stealth and patience taught me I could listen without being heard and see without been identified.
The door to the Cardinal’s bedchamber opened and in came his man-servant, Pistacio, a tall, thin man with no skill other than as a manipulator for the Cardinal.
“The crows bring news.” Pistacio’s nasal voice made me wince.
“Give me the short version. It’s time for evening prayer.” The Cardinal continued to take off his rings and other jewelry. I noted a particular gold chain my long since dead king owned. Maybe strangulation would be more satisfying.
“The sorcerer wasn’t the one we’ve been looking for. But they’ve begun testing.” Pistacio said.
“What? Why? I ordered them all extinct.”
“They want to explore the possibility that they can be scientifically explained.”
“Nonsense!” The Cardinal slapped at his table rattling the jewelry. “They are freaks of nature that go against God! None of them shall live.” Cardinal lowered his voice to a mumble. “That land is infested with sorcerers.”
Where the hell was Bowden? If not here, where?
“Your holiness, he was working with others, we at least need their whereabouts.”
“Fine, fine. But if they haven’t gotten the information by the time they receive our bird, tell them to get rid of him.”
Hearing all I needed, I hopped up and through the tower window. Checking to make sure they heard nothing I jumped out the three story tower. Skidding down the wall using the bottom of my boots to slow my decent, the ground came fast. I tucked and rolled letting the force of my fall propel me to my feet. Once on the ground, I used the shadows to get to the carrier birds. I’d wait for Pistacio’s letter and intercept it.
On my way to the airy, I saw one of my gray cloaks riding a bay horse. Even under the cover of darkness, the fool came riding into town plain as day even so brash as to stable his mount. They knew better than to be seen or leave evidence such as livstock. Something was horribly wrong. I told them to stay on board the St. Maria but, through example, I'd taught them it was better to ask forgiveness than permission. I still didn’t like being disobeyed.
Slipping around the corner, the wall and I became one. I listened to the gray cloak and the stable hand bargaining but couldn’t recognize the voice. The horse was covered in dry sweat. So he’d come in a hurry, but had enough time to cool down. The gray cloak turned, wobbled and placed a palm against the wall to help him remain upright. Before he got to the corner, I grabbed him, covering his mouth. Being a fellow rogue, he remained quiet but struggled to get free. He was either drunk or exhausted with his wild swings.
Whispering our secret code, I said, “Is there honor among thieves?”
Hearing my voice the gray cloak sagged in my arms. I let go of his mouth for him to speak.
“Only among ourselves.”
“Landon!” I recognized his voice and let him go.
He warily turned around as if his legs were numb. “Bowden isn’t here.”
With dry humor, I said, “I’ve gathered that much.”
“I tried to catch you in Chardogne.” He unhooked a water skin and took gulps of liquid.
“Did Dauphine make it before you left?”
Separating from the spout he heaved in air. “Yes.”
She must have arrived sooner than I thought. Good she must be near halfway back. “Did she leave for Xaxyia?”
Landon gave me a confused look and drank more. I waited for his answer, perturbed at having my questions analyzed.
“I left as soon as she arrived.” Landon took in more air. “I don’t know if she stayed.”
“No matter. Where’s Bowden?”
“Roulle.” Landon reached for the wall. His legs stumbled behind him.
“Good man.” There was no time to spare, I had to delay that messenger bird and then travel as fast as I could over a span of five-hundred miles. I went to charge forward.
Landon grabbed my cloak and pulled me back. “Take Detrien’s horse.”
Narrowing my eyes I had make sure I heard correctly. “What?”
“Detrien’s horse—Carnival, take him.”
“How did you come across—” Damn you Detrien. “He’s in Chardogne?”
Landon nodded his head.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. But he would go back with Dauphine. “I have my own horse, and he’s fresh.”
Landon still had a hold of me as I tried to pull him off. “No! You don’t understand!”
“Shhhh! Keep your voice down.”
“I left Chardogne yesterday morning.”
Not many things confound me, but this puzzle did. “You’re telling me you rode over seven hundred miles in a day and a half?”
“Yes.” Landon said.
“How many horses died to bring you here?” I looked at the rider and thought if Landon didn’t get rest he might faint from exhaustion.
Landon widened his eyes and shook his head. “Just Carnival.”
The battle snort of a stallion ready to defend his mare sounded around the corner. Commotion from stable-hands shouting. Landon let go of me and we glanced around the corner.
“That’s him!” Landon’s voice shook in fear. “That’s Carnival.”
A dark horse, small but fierce was giving the stable hands what for. The steed turned his head and his eyes whispered intelligence. Five minutes had passed, but for the steed to regain his breath and enough energy to fight? I marveled at his nobility. “That horse took you from Chardogne to here?”
“That’s not a horse, it’s a demon.” Landon leaned against the wall in a daze. “We passed an imperial express coach, Chartan. Passed it. He dove in the forest and got back on the road after we were out of its sight like he knew over-running it was against the law.”
Not only was passing an imperial express coach a crime, but they were the fastest transportation West of the Great Rift effectively being a law that couldn’t be broken.
Landon hobbled back to the stable hand. As soon as he approached Carnival settled. The stable hand was all too happy to hand back the horse. Landon whispered in the beasts ear and Carnival tilted his head and eyed me. The beast lifted his regal head in the air and pranced to me dragging a staggering Landon. It looked like the horse was holding the man up with his reins.
Taking the horse, I looked straight into Landon’s eyes and I willed him to understand, “You’ve done well, but before you rest I need your blade.”
Landon nodded. “Anything for you.”
“When it’s time to rest, find your ami on St. Maria. They’re drifting in Lago Del Paolo. First, you must prevent the messenger bird from going to Roulle. This is important. It’s a matter of Bowden’s life.”
Landon pulled himself up. “Yes. I won’t fail him or you again.”
I took hold of his chin. “Don’t. Don’t say you won’t make another mistake. Don’t be afraid to fail. Perfection is a fool’s errand. Just fix it.”
The hopeless defeat in his eyes faded into determination. Landon nodded. “Take Carnival, just return him to Detrien or there’ll be a price on my head.”
Clever Detrien. He was always full of entertaining surprises. “Detrien threatened you with the assassins from Xaxyia.” A wicked smirk escaped my lips. “Have you ever met the assassins Guild master?”
Landon shook his head. “No.”
I laughed and jumped up on Carnival. “Yes you have.”
Turning the steed North to Roulle, I didn’t have time to see Landon’s face as Carnival leaped into a dead run.
Landon had one thing right, Carnival was not a horse, he was the wind.
Thank you for indulging me by reading chapter 8 of "The King's Thief"!
The next update should be July 13th, 2017!
Until next time ~ Happy reading!
♥ ~ Stephy