Monday, December 30, 2013

Me Being Rotten

 The worst spanking I ever got, I was four. We lived in married student housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts while my father attended Harvard. Being an internationally recognized institution, Harvard attracted students from all over the world. Occasionally, my parents would invite someone over for dinner. Of course, we girls were supposed to be on our best behavior.
Our guest on this occasion, was a young Chinese man named Dam Wong. Being four, I found great humor in his name. I ran around the house saying, "Dam Wong. Dam Wong," in a singsong voice, giggling happily.
"Stop that right now," my father said sharply. "You're being rude."
I didn't.
"I said to stop that!"
I continued. Daddy sent me to my room before dinner. I calmed down a little, but started up again over our meal. I was sent to my room again. Instead of staying there, I sat at the top of the stairs saying, "Dam Wong! Dam Wong".
"I—have—had—enough!" My father bellowed as he charged up the stairs.
He grabbed me up in one hand, carried me to my room and tore my butt up. I can't remember if he made me apologize to Dam Wong, but I doubt it. There was no telling if I'd start up again and break into hysterical giggles. Needless to say, the after dinner talk was cut short and our guest went home.
I've never forgotten that spanking. I went out of my way after that to avoid being spanked by my father. If I got in trouble with my mother, I would hide before he got home so he wouldn't spank me again. Once, I hid for so long, my parents were nearly frantic. By the time they found me, deep in the closet upstairs, the desire to spank me had passed.
I don't remember anymore spankings after that, but the "Dam Wong Affair" is indelibly imprinted on my memory.

© Dellani Oakes

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Lemon Chicken Tale

When my eldest son was a teenager, he and his friends would make a circuit of their homes and have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and New Years dinners at one another's homes. They often came over for dinner, depending upon what was on the menu. One year, I had a bumper crop of lemons on my tree, so I decided to make lemon chicken. I searched the internet for recipes, finally deciding to combine two to make the ultimate meal.
I cooked the chicken and made a delicious, creamy lemon sauce to go over it. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans as well as fresh bread. It was a feast!
We sat there eating and I noticed that one of my son's friends had walked to the refrigerator and had come back looking guilty. Trying hard to hide something from me, he sat back down. When he thought I wasn't looking, he opened the bottle of ketchup and was about to squirt it on his plate when I caught him.
“Well, the chicken is kind of dry.”
“There's lemon sauce on the stove. Right there on the front burner. Guess you missed that.”
Sheepishly, he went and got some lemon sauce. A few minutes later, I saw another friend sneaking to the refrigerator. He did this kind of hunched, low, duck walk to the kitchen. This is a kid who was about 6'2”. I'm not gonna see him sneaking across the floor? Maybe he just didn't use his full Ninja skills, cause I caught him too.
“The chicken is kind of dry,” he admitted.
“Did you not listen? Less than five minutes ago, I said there was lemon sauce on the stove.”
He said nothing as he got the sauce for his plate. I was furious by that time and decided to re-emphasize the house rules on the use of ketchup.
“In my house, ketchup is for hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries. We do not use ketchup on anything else, is that clear? If any of you try to put ketchup on this chicken that I spent two hours preparing No One will eat over here ever again. Is that clear?”
I'm a good cook and I always had plenty of food for a bunch of hungry boys. Lucky for them, they took what I said to heart. After that, I didn't have anymore trouble with the ketchup bottle coming out at inappropriate times.

© Dellani Oakes

Monday, December 16, 2013

Show vs. Tell

As some of you know, I have a writing group that I started a few months ago. We meet every other Friday and have a wonderful time sharing our work, talking about how to improve it, and just having fun.

Today, one of the members, a girl in her early 20s, said she had a problem not covering every moment of every day. She realized it was boring, but she didn't know how to get around it. We didn't have a lot of time to talk about it, as we'd talked about so much already, but it gave me a great idea for a post. Now, I simply need to organize my thinking so I can discuss it.

After hearing her read something she'd written, I realized she had two problems. First, the one she mentioned – telling every action. The other was that she didn't write dialogue, she told about it. Fortunately, she realized that lack herself, but said it was taking her out of the story to do dialogue. Instead, she wrote about it with the intention of going back later to fix it. For me, that would be awkward, but that's what works for her.

I've always been of the opinion that an author should go with what works best for them. If it's easier to write in a notebook and transcribe later, do it. If it's easier to write the story and go back to add dialogue, do that too. I couldn't work like that, but I am a very linear author. I start at the beginning and go on until I reach the end. I can't write separate scenes and piece them together.

To address my friend's problem is going to require more than the 10 minute conversation we had. It's going to take some thought because she hasn't got as much experience as some of the rest of us. I can tell it's frustrating her, so I need to think through this carefully before our next meeting in two weeks.

So, how does the inexperienced (or even a seasoned one) avoid the “tell every minute” problem? —Choose the moments that move the story forward. This isn't always easy at first, but does get better over time. My suggestion was for her to finish writing the way she was doing. It's working, the story is coming. Later, she can go back and edit it. I don't always recommend this, because editing later can be a pain in the butt. However, since she is very inexperienced, she needs to continue with what's working for her.

Having the same problem? Try this idea:

Step one: Print the entire story out. Don't worry about it being in perfect MS format. Give yourself narrower margins and use 1.5 spacing, rather than double spaced, to save paper. 1.5 spacing still gives you a good amount of writing room to make notes.

Step two: With your favorite highlighter in hand, read the MS. Anything that jumps off the page, mark it.

Step three: Read it again, this time aloud. You'l

l be surprised how many more mistakes you notice this way. Mark them too. (You can even change highlighter colors if you like)

Step four: Read it again and be BRUTAL. Anything that doesn't move the story forward, cut it. It might be your favorite scene, but if it doesn't add anything to the story, get rid of it. I had to do that in my second sci-fi. I call this my slash and burn stage.

Step five: Once you've cut things out, read carefully through the edited passage and write transitional material – a bridge – to fill in the blank. Transitions needn't be long. Sometimes a sentence or two will suffice. Depending upon what's been cut, more may be necessary. Use your judgement.

Step six: Make the corrections in your computer file. DO NOT THROW ANYTHING AWAY! Whatever you cut, save it in another file. I call these edit files Cut from title and save them in a folder with the MS files. You never know if you'll decide to use those deleted scenes after
all, or re-purpose them for something else. Add the new material and proof it.

Set it aside for awhile. In fact, between passes, you should probably let it simmer for a few days (at the very least) in order to give it a fresh perspective.

If you have people you can coerce into beta reading for you, do so. Be willing to accept the comments you get. Sometimes, that's difficult, but do the best you can. Take the advice that works for you. However, unless it feels right, don't completely revamp your work just to suit someone else. Let the characters speak for themselves. They know how best to tell their stories.

Keep in mind, you needn't tell every blink of the eyes, inhalation or lick of the lips your characters make. Don't feel that each individual action is necessary. For goodness sake, don't fall into: She started to run for the door. or He began to walk across the room. And don't say you've never done that, because we all do.

She ran for the door. OR He walked across the room. The more words you have between your subject and verb, the more garbled your message. Be concise and precise. Infinitive Verbs are clunky and indistinct. Any time you use To + Verb, you've weakened your sentence. Keep a strong, active voice.

I'm getting off subject now. Perhaps I'd better curtail this article. To conclude – Keep in mind that less is often more. Flowery, wordy descriptions aren't always necessary to get your point across.

To Buy Dellani's Books
and save them in a folder with the MS files. You never know if you'll decide to use those deleted scenes after all, or re-purpose them for something else. Add the new material and proof it.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p> <a imageanchor="1" href="" style="clear: right; margin-bottom: 1em; float: right; margin-left: 1em;"><img src="" border="0" style=""></a><font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif">Set it aside for awhile. In fact, between passes, you should probably let it simmer for a few days (at the very least) in order to give it a fresh perspective.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif">If you have people you can coerce into beta reading for you, do so. Be willing to accept the comments you get. Sometimes, that's difficult, but do the best you can. Take the advice that works for you. However, unless it feels right, don't completely revamp your work just to suit someone else. Let the characters speak for themselves. They know how best to tell their stories.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif">Keep in mind, you needn't tell every blink of the eyes, inhalation or lick of the lips your characters make. Don't feel that each individual action is necessary. For goodness sake, don't fall into: She startedto run for the door. or He beganto walk across the room. And don't say you've never done that, because we all do.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p class="separator" style="text-align: center; clear: both;"> <a imageanchor="1" href="" style="clear: left; margin-bottom: 1em; float: left; margin-right: 1em;"><img src="" border="0" style="" width="201" height="320"></a></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif">She ran for the door. OR He walked across the room. The more words you have between your subject and verb, the more garbled your message. Be concise and precise. Infinitive Verbs are clunky and indistinct. Any time you use To + Verb, you've weakened your sentence. Keep a strong, active voice.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif">I'm getting off subject now. Perhaps I'd better curtail this article. To conclude – Keep in mind that less is often more. Flowery, wordy descriptions aren't always necessary to get your point across.</font></p> <p> <font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, serif"> </font></p> <p> <br></p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank">To Buy Dellani's Books</a><br></p> </div> </div>

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music to Write By

We're all about good books, good music and good fun at Dellani's Tea Time and What's Write for Me. Because we love music so much, and often find ourselves talking about it (even though we're writers) I decided to hijack Dellani's Tea Time for a special show on music to write by. We didn't have a chance to answer all the questions on the show, so I asked the guests and my co-hosts to answer the questions on their blogs. Here's the link. My co-hosts are Christina Giguere & Karen Vaughan. Our guests were Kemberlee Shortland, C. Margery Kempe and Troy Lambert.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write? 
I listen to a lot of classic rock and blues. I love guitarists and will listen to Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Dave Gilmour and Carlos Santana almost non-stop.

Is there any type of music you won't listen to?
I'm not a fan of most rap, though there are a couple of songs I like. I'm also not a fan of twangy country, but I do like Willie Nelson and a few others. I mentioned on the show, "You Never Even Call Me by My Name" by David Allen Coe. It's a great song. Even if it's twangy country, it totally redeems itself when you listen to the lyrics - last verse is the best.

Were any of your books inspired by a song? If so, which?

I wouldn't say inspired so much as the songs fit into the story. I listened to a lot of Jeff Beck when I was writing Lone Wolf. In fact, the opening scene was written while listening to "So We've Ended As Lovers" and other songs from "Blow by Blow". When writing Tangled Web (not yet published) I listened to "Primavera" by Ludovico Einaudi over and over. I'm sure it drove the family crazy.

Do you find yourself including music in your books?
I include songs in my books very often. Sometimes, a lyric means a lot to the characters. Several of my books are built around a particular tune. Fragrance Lingers (unpublished) has the song "Linger" by the Cranberries as an integral part of it.

In another work in progress, Emma Dangerous, I use the song "You and Me Against the World" by Richie Wermerling. Not to be confused with the Helen Reddy song by the same name. Trust me, Richie's is MUCH better. Good luck finding it. It's a well kept secret. (It is on Spotify)

Do you use music for mood, pacing, etc. in your novels?
All the time. One of my favorite scenes in Shakazan, which I later cut, was written using "Crazy Benny" by the Safri Duo as the backdrop. I often use Joe Satriani's music for fight scenes. It's lively and builds a nice, energetic dynamic. One of my favorites, Borg Sex.

Have you taken a song title for a book title?
Not often. A couple of my works in progress sport names of songs. One is "Reaching for the Moon" - Ella Fitzgerald (Lizz Wright's cover)
Another is "How Far is Heaven" - Los Lonely Boys. In fact, the main character, Hal, was inspired by Henry Garza, their lead guitarist.

Are any of your characters musicians?
Oh, so many of my characters are musicians - mostly guitarists. I love music and I love the guitar. I come from a very musical family. We love to sing and play music together. This love of guitars and music has found its way into my books. I have so many guitarists, I can't even name them all. Admittedly, most of them are male -- nothing against female guitarists, because those ladies can rock! I just have a thing for musicians and I identify with the women in my novels, so they fall for musicians. Bobby, in Under the Western Sky, is a guitarist.

Do your characters' musical tastes reflect yours?
Absolutely, they do! I've tried to create characters whose musical tastes differ from mine and I just can't do it. For one thing, I'd have to listen to the music and I can't get into it.

Some authors make playlists for every book. Have you done that?
No, not really. I have a few different lists of songs I listen to while I write. Some are used for inspiration and pacing, others are simply background to come between me and the outside world. If it's too quiet, I can't concentrate. Also, I have a constant ringing in my left ear. I don't notice it as much if I've got music playing.

Who are some of your favorite musicians?
I'm really sorry I asked myself this question. How long a list do you want? Maybe I should list my top ten - not in any particular order: 

1. Pink Floyd
2. Carlos Santana
3. Jimi Hendrix
4. Joe Bonamassa
5. Led Zeppelin
6. Beth Hart
7. Joe Satriani
8. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
9.Thin Lizzie
10. Gary Moore
(Do we notice a preponderance of guitarists here? Hmm)

If you had a chance to put together one perfect band, who would be in it? May use living or dead musicians.

Drums: John Bonham & Jason Bonham
Vocals: Beth Hart, Ann Wilson, Robert Plant, Paul McCartney & John Lennon
Guitar: Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix & Jimmy Page
Bass: Phil Lynnot & Roger Waters
Keyboard: Rick Wakeman and Jon Lord

If you were stuck on a desert island and had only one album to listen to, what would it be? (Yes, this assumes you have power, but no wi-fi)
Pink Floyd's Greatest Hits

Do you ever get songs stuck in your head that simply won't go away? How do you purge them
I have this problem all the time! Sometimes, they go away on their own, but usually not. I often have to listen to the song to get rid of it. Depending upon what it is, that isn't always fun. Other times, I'm able to get rid of it by playing something else. I've found the "Cowboys from Hell" by Pantera works well. 

Any songs that really get under your skin? What and why?
Feliz Navidad. The less said about this song, the better.

Any wonderful memories associated with certain songs?
I have so many great memories with songs. I'm not even sure where to start. I think one of my favorite song-memories is when I heard The Wall by Pink Floyd for the first time. I was in college and a friend of mine, a musician, had just bought the album. He snuck me into his dorm room to listen to it. I'm sure his roommate and the other guys on the floor thought we were going up there to have sex. Instead, we sat in his room with the stereo cranked to the max, listening to the music.

What's your guilty pleasure music?
Should I really answer this one? Why not? I listen to Prince and 80s rock. I hated Prince when he first came out. I thought he looked like a slimy Jimi Hendrix wanna be. Now, I have to admit I like his work. Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Darling Nikki are among my top favorites.

To Buy Dellani's Books

Monday, December 09, 2013

Taming the Helping Verb

Keep your verbs in the simplest form possible and try to avoid helping verbs. Sometimes, it's unavoidable, but as much as possible, keep your writing in simple past and don't add a bunch of other verbs to the lineup.

In case you don't know your Helpers, here's a list:
am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been (To Be verbs)
have, has, had (To Have verbs)
can, could
do, does, did (To Do verbs)
may, must, might
shall, should, will, would

Using helping verbs weakens the narrative and should be used sparingly. Why? This one, I can answer. Keep your writing as active as possible. Sometimes, you can't help it. A Helper is unavoidable in some cases. Avoiding the use of was entirely, as some misinformed authors try to do, is impossible. Was is the past tense of To Be – I am (present) I was (past). Some verbs must have a helper to be clear.
Example: I was elected president of the student body.
I elected president of the student body.
Not only is the second sentence not really grammatical, it doesn't make sense. If I chose to say – The student body elected me president, that would work. I left out was and still wrote a clear sentence.

Why is it important to avoid helpers? As I said above, they weaken the narrative. Also, if the author gets too hung up in tenses, the premise of the sentence, paragraph or story is lost in a fog of verbs.
When I was a teenager, we used to tease the husband of a friend of ours. He was from Arkansas and, though he had a very polished manner of speaking, he sometimes reverted to his backwoods roots.
I might should ought to could do that” was a favorite phrase to twit him over. This is, understandably, an extreme example. However, when dealing with the past, we authors sometimes don't know when to quit. We don't stick with simple past, but jump into all those freakish variables that require mountains of extra verbs. You know it's true. It jumps off the page, snarling at you. Take a Louisville Slugger and beat those suckers into submission.

Learn to control the vicious helping verb beast.

© Dellani Oakes

Monday, December 02, 2013

Authors Are Sadists

(Previously posted on Write Minds Authors)

All authors are sadists. It's a fact, we have to be. It's really not our fault. Stories need action, they need conflict, how better to provide that than to hurl our characters into some difficult situation and watch them claw their way back out? Hardly seems sporting, does it?

I suppose we could blame our readers, right? I mean, if the book hasn't got at least one good argument or a brawl, they feel cheated. If they feel cheated, they won't buy our books. If they don't buy, we don't make money – so, conflict, drama, hardship, pain, anguish, suffering – ensue. Yes, blame it on the readers.

It seems really mean to create these characters only to watch them suffer. We make them fall in love with the wrong person who breaks their hearts. We kill off their loved ones and chase off their dogs. We leave them hanging from cliffs, flip over their cars and have them attacked by psycho killers, rabid dogs or murderous biker gangs. That's okay, I blame the readers for this too.

We are evil! How do we think of that stuff? Most of the authors I know are certainly not rabid dog chasing, murderous psychotic car flipping, cliff dangling bikers. So, how do we think of all this crazy stuff? I've never been in a gun fight or fought rampageous aliens in a sentient ship, but I can certainly describe it so my readers can visualize it. Honestly, I don't know. My characters get tangled in events that have never happened to me or anyone I know, yet I figure out ways to make them sound reasonable and plausible.

Some incidents in my stories really happened, but I elaborate on them, pushing the limits of believability to make a better story. Although the scene in The Ninja Tattoo where Teague finds himself in mysterious convoy on Riverside Drive, is based on something that really happened to me, I wasn't targeted for death. I didn't hide out at a cottage in the woods or take down my opponents with drug tipped knives. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Read the book.)

I'm pretty sure that nothing in Lone Wolf or Indian Summer is remotely related to my real life, yet I manage to put them through their literary paces as well. I'm not sure which of the characters get treated the worst. I'm sure they could argue the point with me until we were both hoarse. (Yes, my characters argue with me – deal with it.) Each of them would scream I'm meaner to them than the others and probably Manuel and Wil would be the most vocal. However, I contend that they are still alive at the end of the book and the villains are not, so maybe they should pipe down.

So readers, the next time you're reading a particularly sadistic book full of action, broken hearts and trauma, remember – you have only yourselves and the characters to blame. The author is, of course, completely innocent.

© Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Think and Drive

Admit it – you've done it too – let your mind wander when you're driving. One day, I let it wander a little too far....
I was working on a romantic suspense novel and had gotten myself painted into a corner. All the evidence pointed in one direction, but I knew that character wasn't the guilty party. Well, who was? I didn't know.
The story, like many of mine, is set here in Florida. In fact, I was driving past one of the major locations when inspiration struck. It struck so hard and so fast, I almost had a car accident! Fortunately, my destination was nearby. I did my shopping, still thinking about my story, and got back in my car to head home.
Inspiration struck again and I nearly had another accident. Less than a block away, another near miss! After the fourth almost accident, I realized I'd better concentrate on the road, not my story, but the details were flying fast and furious. Unfortunately, I was nearly 20 minutes from home and couldn't stop to write it down. Instead, I took back roads, driving slowly, so I could concentrate on both the story and the road.
Once I was in the door, I headed to my desk, my purchases forgotten in the car. My husband and boys had to unload because I was typing fast and furious, trying to finish my tale. And finish I did! It took another day or so of typing, but finally, A Tangled Web was complete.
It's a story of love lost and found, betrayal, mistaken identity and retribution. No, it's not out yet, though I'm trying. I'm very proud of this book and can't wait to see it in print.
Now, I keep a notebook in my purse so I can jot down notes. I try harder to concentrate on my driving and leave the book writing at home – or the pharmacy, doctor's office or anywhere else I have to wait.

© Dellani Oakes

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're Goin' to a Party Party!

A few months ago, some fellow authors and I embarked on an ambitious project to help one another promote our work. And so The Fantastic Blog Hop was born!

Now, we're having a party! A two day event on Facebook and we want all our friends to attend.

We're playing games, having contests, drawings and giveaways. Fun, Freebies, Fantastic! Join us on Friday, November 22 and Saturday, November 23 on Facebook!

Party goers include:

Dellani Oakes

Rachel Rueben

Karen Vaughan

Ruth Davis Hays

Kristen Duvall

Kevin Saito

Juli Morgan

Joan P. Lane

Stephanie Hussy

Dominica Malcolm

Chris Dunbar

Troy Lambert

Karina Gioertz

Stephanie Osborn

We're going to have some fun, so join us!

I Don't Follow the Industry

I admit. I don't follow the industry. I have no idea what's hot or what's not. I don't care about vampires, werewolves or bondage. I couldn't tell you any title that's on the New York Times Best Seller List – except my books aren't there yet.
Maybe I should. Maybe I should spend my precious time reading all about writing and marketing and what's hot. Maybe I should write to what the industry says sells. But I can't.
It's not in me to write to what sells. I have to write the stories that come to me. If I get a story that is about vampires, fine! If I get one that's sick and twisted bondage, okay. Honestly, I don't see my mind going that way.

I write romance, romantic suspense, historical romance and futuristic romance. Are we noticing a repetition of the “R” word here? I like love and lovers. I like love scenes and first meetings. I like the excitement I feel when the new lovers share their first kiss.

Yes, my stories sometimes get explicit, so if you don't like reading about sex, I'm not your gal. But you won't get hard core, whips and chains either. I'm not into that and I don't know enough about it to write a bondage scene.

On the subject of vampires – I have written two stories and have a third in the works. My short story, Vampire Hunter, is pretty straight forward. Someone hunting a vampire. It's free on Barnes & Noble or Smashwords if you want to read it. It's short. It's free. Enjoy.

My second story about vampires is very tongue in cheek. My sister challenged gave me the idea. She had been reading some series that had vampires in it – getting teased by her husband the entire time. She'd also been reading about caterers who solved crimes. “I think someone should write a story about vampire caterers who solve crime,” she said, with a pointed look at her little sister. “I think someone would have fun with that.”

Someone did. My story, Take a Bite Outta Crime was shared in serial form on my publisher's blog, One day, when I grow up, I'll get it in novella form, but until then, people have to read it in sections.

One thing you'll learn about my romance novels, you won't get a formula. I'm not the kind who follows a set storyline with details plugged into the framework. I don't care for the boy meets girl, boy kisses (or has sex with) girl, boy and girl have a big fight, boy and girl split up, boy and girl are miserable and finally get back together after the reader screams and threatens to beat them over the head with a stick.
If you want that kind of story, again – I'm not your gal.

If you like a story full of romance, stolen glances, fleeting kisses, barely concealed lust and snappy comebacks, I invite you to read my novels. There's lots of action, romance (and the occasional hot love scene) that will keep you laughing and lusting as you read.

My novels are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords as well as through my publishers, Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing.

Look for me on Facebook! I'm always around. Above all else, read and enjoy my books in the spirit they were intended – to entertain.

~ Dellani

Dellani Oakes is an author, radio show host, mother, wife, grandmother (oh, the agony of admitting that) and former English teacher. She currently works from home, but also substitute teaches at local elementary schools. She's a prolific writer and hopes one day to have all her novels in print. Dellani currently lives on the east coast of Florida with her husband and youngest son.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, moving on through Hanukkah and Christmas. For the last couple of years, I've loaned out my blog space to allow my author friends a chance to share their buy links with readers. With Hanukkah so early this year, I'm starting this now. Below, you'll find a short blurb about my books with buy links. Leave your links in the comments section below.

I invite my author/ illustrator friends to post a short blurb and buy link as well. Musicians, if you have albums for sale, please feel free to link that as well. I don't want merchandise other than books, art or music, please. This is NOT a spot for craft items. Thank you.

Art, Books and Music make great gifts for everyone. They are the things that keep giving and feeding the soul.

~ Dellani

Indian Summer - Daughter of Florida's Spanish Governor, Gabriella Deza stands on the verge of womanhood. On her fifteenth birthday, Manuel Enriques, her father's confidential aid, declares his love. What should be a happy time turns into one of intrigue and espionage when Manuel is sent on a secret mission to find and stop a British spy. Set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739, this historical romance is appropriate for readers 15+

Lone Wolf - Matilda Dulac thinks she's content. At the age of 26, she has attained the rank of Commander in the Galactic Mining Guild, something no one has done before. When the mysterious Wilhelm VanLipsig steps across the threshold of her life, things take a sudden turn. Matilda finds herself swept up in a three year jaunt across the universe, following the infamous John Riley. Matilda, Wil and their shipmates, are all that stand between survival of the universe and its annihilation. Appropriate for readers 18+

Shakazhan - Lone Wolf book 2. Picks up where Lone Wolf left off. John Riley is still alive and kicking, causing even more trouble. And now, he has a legendary evil being as his sidekick. Can Wil and Matilda stop him before he frees the chaotic Kahlea? Appropriate for readers 18+

The Ninja TattooTeague McMurtry thinks he's left violence behind him when he comes home from the war. He's especially pleased when he meets Vivica Rambo at the local coffee shop. Unfortunately, Vivica's psychotic older brother, Randy, has other plans for the couple. Teague finds he's been marked for death so that someone in Randy's gang can earn his Ninja Tattoo. Appropriate for readers 18+

Under the Western SkyWestern Nebraska 1976. This small town seems ideal, but something lurks under the seemingly quiet, serene landscape. Bobby Menedez and Libby Marshall are happy in their new relationship until Bobby's cousin is beaten for dating a white girl. Will Bobby be next? What secrets lie Under the Western Sky? 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Let's Talk Trivia with Dellani Oakes

As some of you may know, some author friends and I started something a few months ago, known as the Fantastic Blog Hop. The first was five days of posts and fun. The second became nine days. This time, we decided to do something different -- a two day Facebook event.

We're going to be playing games, chatting with readers and giving away prizes. One of our games will be author trivia. The answers to our questions will come from our blogs. So take a moment and read my short answers and you'll be ready for my trivia.

The event starts next weekend. Join us!

How long have you been writing?

I've been making up stories since I could talk. I began as a child telling stories about my imaginary friend, Snowy Green, and our adventures are Rainbow School. I was four – so, way longer than I like to think about.

Which of your main characters is your favorite? Do you have more than one?

I do have more than one favorite character. Over and above all, Teague McMurtry from The Ninja Tattoo. Why? I'm not sure. He's a great guy, takes charge, he's protective and in control. He doesn't treat Vivica like an adornment, but as an equal.

My other favorite is Wil VanLipsig from Lone Wolf and Shakazhan. He's a cold, calculating bastard with a heart of gold underneath. WAY underneath. He's honorable, loyal, reliable and dead sexy.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in everything. Sometimes, it's a conversation I hear in passing. Mostly, I just get an idea in my mind and run with it. Sometimes, it's inspired by real life. The Ninja Tattoo was one of these. I got the idea when I had a very strange encounter on the road one day. The first few pages, where Teague is followed by bikers, came from a real life experience.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

It's probably easier to tell you what I DON'T listen to: rap, hiphop, pop and twangy country. I have been known to listen to Funky Cold Medina, maybe some Faith Hill and Willie Nelson, but that's my limit. Mostly, I'm listening to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Metallica, ZZ Top, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Clapton, Zeppelin, Rammstein, Slash, Guns n Roses. . . .

Name a famous author you've met, nearly met or wish you'd met.

I was fortunate, when in college, to attend lectures given by several famous authors. I met and conversed with Robin Cook – Coma, Richard Brautigan – Trout Fishing in America, Edward Albee – Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. I also saw Harlan Ellison speak. I didn't get to meet him, though.

What is the weirdest thing a character ever did in a book?

My characters have done some strange things. I think the weirdest that one of them ever did, was the villain in New at Love. She was mad at her ex-husband for dating a new woman (even though, she herself, had cheated on him) So she broke into the new girlfriend's apartment and shaved the cat before taping him (the cat) to the hood of his car.

Who really wrote the book, you or your characters?

My characters always write every book. I can't take credit for anything but typing really fast. They do it all, dialogue, action, pacing, story arc – all them, always.

How many books have you started and how many have you finished?

This is such an unfair question. I demand a recount! Oh, wait, that's what you want, isn't it. Umm (counts)
Finished Novels: 44
Finished Short Stories: 22
Unfinished novels: (mumble-mumble) 66
Giving me a grand total of (drum roll) 132 novels/ short stories. At least, that's the number of things I have notes on. There are probably close to 150 altogether.

What's the hardest part with writing: the writing of the story or the editing?

The hardest thing for me is finishing – as evidenced by my numbers above. I get a great idea, run with it awhile, then get another great idea, and another. (later, rinse, repeat)

How many books do you have published?

I have five books published so far.

Indian Summer – historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739
Lone Wolf – sci-fi romance set in outer space in 3032
Shakazhan – book 2 in my Lone Wolf series
The Ninja Tattoo – contemporary romantic suspense, set in present day Florida.
Under the Western Sky – retro-romantic suspense, set in western Nebraska in 1976.

If one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you choose and who would you cast?

Wow, hard to pick. I think they would all make great movies. If I were going to pick just one, probably Lone Wolf. It's a sweeping sci-fi set in space with lots of cool aliens, spaceships and fun stuff like that. It's quite different from Star Trek, or Star Wars, though the characters are out to save known space.


Wil VanLipsig – Warren Christie
Matilda Dulac – Angelina Jolie
Marc Slatterly -Eric Dane
Rebeckah Grammery – Amy Smart
John Riley – Ronnie Cox
There are many others, these are just the major players

What are your current projects?

Currently, I am working on Fly by Night, my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel. It's a story of a young woman who is in a car accident and starts having nightmares where she is in other accidents, reliving it from a victim's perspective.

You say you're involved in NaNoWriMo. What other books have you written during National Novel Writing Month and are any of them published?

I've written six other books. One of them, The Ninja Tattoo, was published last year by Tirgearr Publishing. They have also picked up an option on one other. I hope to get all of them published eventually. I think I've done some of my best writing during NaNo.

What's your greatest strength as a writer?

Dialogue – hands down. This is what I excel at. I've been told my love scenes are good and steamy too. I also think I do well at fight scenes.

If all of that is entirely untrue (which I hope it's not) One can't fault my grammar. I won't say it's flawless, but it's pretty good! I'm proud of that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Author's Memory Bank

Authors look at life from a unique angle. What seems like a regular day to anyone else, presents opportunities to an author. Each event stays in our memory banks, waiting to be used for a short story, novel or poem. We withdraw from the bank as needed, adding to the balance of our stories.
I find myself going through my day, listening and watching, always thinking if something will eventually make it into a book. I don't consciously remember them, nor do I plan to add things, they just sort of show up.
It amazes my husband that every time I go out, I come back with a story. Whether it be a conversation that took place in the store, a near-miss accident on the road, or crazy people in the parking lot at the mall, I always have something.
Do these things happen to other people? Seriously. Does everyone have a crazy, drunk lady walk up to them in the mall parking lot and ask if her hair looks all right? She's obviously wearing a cheap wig, okay? It looks horrible. Do I say that? Oh, hell no! “It looks lovely,” I reply as I quickly get in my car and lock the door.
Did anyone else notice the old lady in Panera Bread who stood ahead of me in line? I doubt it, but it stuck with me so much, I finally had to write it down. The line was long and a young man ahead of us had on a black Pantera jacket. The lettering was pale yellow and a white skull was behind the 'T', making it look like it said Panera.
“Why do you suppose he's standing in this long line,” she asked her husband in a worried tone. “If he works here, shouldn't he be able to walk up and get whatever he wants?” She carried on like that for some time.
I couldn't let the poor old darling keep thinking that he worked there, could I? She was getting herself all worked up. So I spoke to her.
“It doesn't say Panera. It says Pantera. The 'T' is obscured by a skull.”
“Oh. What does that mean?”
“Pantera is a heavy metal band.”
“Heavy what?”
“Heavy metal – hard rock.”
“Oh! Fancy you knowing a thing like that.”
“I have teenagers,” I said, diplomatically. I didn't have the heart to tell the old dear that I'd been listening to Cowboys from Hell moments before walking into the store.
My daughter and I were once in Winn Dixie doing some shopping. She wanted a case of sodas, so we loaded up some Coca-Cola. A little further down the aisle, we saw Pepsi was on sale, so we backed up the cart saying, in unison, “No Coke. Pepsi.” Like they did in the old Saturday Night Live skit. An elderly gentleman walked around the corner just as we said that. I'm sure he thought we were both completely insane.
Though my daughter isn't an author, she has equally strange things happen to her. She called me once and told me some man had come up to her in the store. “Clearly, English was not his first language,” she imparted. “He smiled and said, 'How may I pronounce your name?'”
Another time, she told me she'd seen a man going down the street, talking in sign language. He was obviously having an argument with himself. He would stand one way, gesture and fling the comments at another person. Then the second person would reply – different stance, but same aggressive gestures. He will one day make it into a book.
Random people I meet at the grocery store have been included in several books, some of them, not too favorably. The old woman who purposely hit me with her shopping cart – she's there. The older couple who blocked the sweet potatoes and couldn't hear when I asked to get around them – they're in another. The kindly gentleman who gave me advice in the wine section, he's also there, but more favorably.
The point I'm making is that inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but the most important for any author is the ability to observe. Everything you see, hear, smell or feel can be used to enhance a story. Never pass up an opportunity to deposit in your memory bank.

© Dellani Oakes

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today." "Yeah, I h...