Favorite Friday – Guest Karen Docter!

Here’s a special treat for your Friday! I’ve got the witty musings of first-time author Karen Docter. Dive right in and enjoy Karen’s talents for telling a tale! I can just see her now, slaving away over a hot computer monitor…  ; )

If you’d like to see more of Karen’s prose, be sure to check out her initial contemporary romance release, Satin Pleasures, available from Amazon. Be sure to leave a comment here to win a copy!


Favorite Things to Inspire My Muse

  by Karen Docter

It’s funny but, when Lori asked me to stop in and talk about my favorite things, I really didn’t have a clue what I’d talk about.  Me, the writer who’s not supposed to run out of words!  There I sat, like the proverbial bump on a log, without a lick of inspiration.  I had one of those cartoonish moments thinking of me, the good little writer hunched over the blank computer screen, sweat literally pouring from my forehead as I tried to force a light bulb to go on over my head. Lori looming over me with a waggling finger and dialogue clouds filled with gibberish like that ominous-sounding teacher from the Charlie Brown, Peanuts, comic.

Bwa bwa bwa bwa bwa!

Anyone who knows Lori knows she would never loom over anyone and waggle a finger at them. She’s more likely to sit beside you with a bright smile, coherent dialogue clouds filled with creative suggestions, helping to find inspiration. Then, it hit me why the image popped into my head in the first place. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a couple of Charlie Brown comics I’d taped on my filing cabinet.  The teacher was “talking” to Charlie Brown in one.  The other showed Snoopy sitting on top of his dog house slaving away at his typewriter, his ever-present editor belittling his work. I can so relate to that sometimes. My own internal editor can be so nasty!

After a brief giggle at Lori’s expense – sorry, Lori! – I realized I was surrounded by all of my favorite things.  For the first time in my adult life, I actually have a place that is uniquely mine.  Anyone who’s raised children knows it can be difficult to maintain any sense of individuality.  We’re focused on the family interests and, often, individual needs are set aside. You know the saying if you’re a nerd like me…the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  We compromise where we must to ensure our family is safe, healthy and happy. The point I wanted to make is that now, for the first time, I’m actually looking at what makes me happy.  I’ve surrounded myself with my favorite things.  Everything in this room feeds my soul, my creativity, without considering anyone else.

I love my bright, new office.  It’s become one of my favorite rooms in the house. That may not sound all that “inspiring” but if you’d spent as many years as I have jamming office space into a spare hole in the house, you’d understand. Once, I spent more than a year in the dark hole of a windowless garage with a car and hot tub at my back. There was enough room for a desk and chair, one overhead light on a pull chain, and no heat or air conditioning.  Hot summer days would chase me into the house, but the frigid winters were worse. Typing with a coat and gloves on is no fun at all!  My writing career nearly ground to a halt that year.

When the last of my children left home a year ago, I finally realized my dream. A large office of my own, with lots of windows and sunlight. I’m currently painting the walls a rich Emperor Gold that will provide a beautiful backdrop to the oriental paintings and panels I plan to hang.  I haven’t had a place to display the beautiful and unusual Asian pieces I received recently from a family estate.  They aren’t expensive pieces, mind you, but they speak to my soul in ways I can’t begin to quantify.

Maybe it’s the Asian appeal but I also love dragons.  I’ve filled one long window ledge with my dragon collection.  Some pewter. Some intricately carved. All inspirational.  They fill me with joy every time I glance up from my work and look at them.

The only other thing I collect is music. I do my best work with music filling my head. I have favorite genres and artists for each task, and it’s an eclectic mix.

For instance, story ideas often come to me when I’m listening to country as I conduct business, answer emails, talk on Twitter and Facebook, etc.  Recently, I heard a song on the radio that inspired a scene for one of the later books in my Thorne’s Thorns romantic suspense series.  I’m not nearly ready to write Killing Promise, but I did take the time to write that scene so I didn’t lose it. That hero is now a living, breathing character in my head waiting patiently – okay, not so patiently – for his story.

When I’m writing, I can’t have music with lyrics. Singing in a foreign language isn’t a problem though so I have a number of Josh Groban CDs.  I throw Shakira into the speakers when I want to shake up <g> my mood.  The only English singers that don’t seem to drag me out of my zone are Enya or the lead singer for Nickleback.

My absolute favorite musician – and he has been my “go to” artist for some time – is Roni Benise.  He’s a Spanish flamenco guitarist with some of the most romantic, inspiring music I’ve ever heard.  I have all of his CDs copied to my iTunes so the moment I sit down to write, I click the top of the list and allow him to pour out of my stereo speakers and into my heart for the next few hours.  I love writing to Benise.  He’s filling my head right now. Wish I could share him with you!

I have a number of other favorites: Angela Dubeau (violinist), Nicholas Gunn, Rob Dougan, Santana, Secret Garden (New Age), Suzanne Ciani (pianist), and Yanni (New Age), and Rachmaninoff (classical).  I recently discovered Apocalyptica, a group of “metal” cellists. They are my music of choice now when I write an action or dangerous scene. Their music is so rich and primal.
You’re probably wondering how I can ever leave my office since all of my favorite things are here. To tell the truth, I do have a hard time turning me down and rejoining the real world. I’ve been known to spend 14-16 hours a day here when my schedule demands are heavy or when I’m really cooking on my current project. But it’s not nearly as bad as that sounds. All I have to do is refocus on my surrounding, take a few moments to drink in the sights and sounds of my favorite things, and I’m golden.

Thanks, Lori, for inviting me to your blog. Sharing my favorite things with you and your readers has been a pleasure! I’m inspired now to turn on some Shakira and shimmy my way to the paint can to finish painting my walls…just as soon as Benise stops moving my fingers over this keyboard.

Before I go though, I’d love to share one more favorite thing with your readers. I published my favorite contemporary romance, SATIN PLEASURES, on Valentine’s Day. It’s a tender, funny, and spicy (not erotic) story about Tess Emory, a woman determined to make her life a success and right the wrongs of her past, no matter the costs. Dan McDonald knows from experience that the price is too high. Can love balance the spreadsheet? One lucky commenter will receive a free digital (PDF) copy of the book and find out. Happy reading!

Favorite Friday – Guest Cynthia Woolf!

Cynthia Woolf imageWelcome back to Favorite Friday! Today I’ve got Cynthia Woolf, author of the Centauri futuristic romance series (Centauri Dawn, Centauri Twilight, and Centauri Midnight). For those of you that like your romance out of this world, check out this new series!

Cynthia was kind enough to answer some questions for me. Look toward the end of the article where she’s shared one of her favorite things.

She has also provided an excerpt of her latest, Centauri Midnight, and she plans to give away an eBook copy to one lucky commentator.

Cynthia – take it away!


How did you get started writing? 

I wrote my first story when I was about ten.  It was a romance about me and a little boy I liked.  I also wrote some very depressing poetry.  I decided that poetry was not for me and stuck to romance.

What genre(s) do you write in and why? 

I have a historical western romance and a sci-fi romance out now.  The sci-fi is the first in a series.  I write in these genre’s because they are the ones whose stories reached out to me.  The western was the first book I wrote and was inspired by my parents love story.  It’s set on the same ranch that they met on in 1941.  My book is set in 1885, so it’s not their love story.  My dad was a cowboy and trapper but to the best of my knowledge was never a bounty hunter.

The sci-fi series was done because of dreams I had when I was a teenager.  I knew I was a princess from Alpha Centauri.  There was no way I could belong to the crazy family I had.  Of course, I adore that crazy family now.

What inspired your latest book? 

Centauri Twilight is the second book in the Centauri Series.  I used to dream that I was a princess from Alpha Centauri, that was the basis for Centauri Dawn, book 1 in the series.

Book 2 is much darker.  Lara is the twin sister of Audra in book 1.  Lara has been a sex slave since she was a child.  Having escaped, she’s now an outlaw and working to free the rest of the slaves who are now her people.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part is what I call the ‘puking’ phase.  Just getting it all down on paper for the first time.  You just let if flow out of you, not caring, for the moment, if it is good or bad.

What is your least favorite part of writing? 

Editing is my least favorite.  I’m constantly questioning myself and my work.  Changing it, correcting it, putting it back to what it was and starting it all again.  It’s never good enough for me.

What is your next project and when will it be released? 

My newest book is called CENTAURI MIDNIGHT and is the third book in the Centauri Series.  It was released in January 2012.

How much time do you spend promoting your books? 

What works best for you?  I spend a lot of time promoting my books.  A minimum of two hours per day.  Usually more but it is in 15 or 20 minute increments throughout the day, not in one big chunk.  Between Facebook, Twitter, blogging, putting announcements on loops, etc, I spend a lot of time doing it.  So far, blogging seems to get me the biggest bump in  my sales.

How has your experience with self-publishing been? 

My experience has been wonderful.  I highly recommend it for everyone out there who doesn’t want to be constrained by the “big” traditional publisher.  For everyone who wants to write from their heart and not according to the industry rules and constraints, self publishing is the only way to go.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

I have ideas from everywhere.  My sci-fi series is from my dreams as a teenager.  My western was inspired by my parents own meeting and love story.  I place Tame A Wild Heart about 60 years earlier than when my parents met but the setting on a ranch is the same.  My dad was a real cowboy and my mom was what we would call a nanny now.  They were called nursemaids then.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish? 

Go for it.  It’s a wild ride but totally worth it.

What is one of your favorite things? 

One of my favorite things is to be able to just sit and read, without feeling guilty for not doing something else.  I work harder now that I’m writing full time than I ever did when I was “working”.  I want this endeavor to succeed so much that I’m putting every waking moment into it.  My husband is afraid I’m going to get burnt out because I work so hard, usually 16 to 18 hours a day.  So this past Sunday, I didn’t do any writing.  I just read.  I didn’t even get out of my P. J.’s.  I just read in bed, at my desk, in the living room.  He would watch TV and I read, but I finished my book, Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones.  Very good book, by the way.  It felt like such a luxury.

Tame a Wild Heart from Amazon
Centauri Dawn from Amazon
Centauri Twilight from Amazon
Centauri Midnight from Amazon

Excerpt from Centauri Midnight

Centauri Midnight bookcover“Damn it, Audra.”  Kiti was up and pacing the room again.  Her long black hair was tied in a high pony tail and swung back and forth with each step she took.  The thick, plush carpet kept her boots from clicking on the floor.  “I’m begging you to let me go with Garrick Marcus.  It’s not just revenge I need.  I need closure.  I’m the one who should deliver Tybold to the authorities.  Garrick Marcus is the best captain in the fleet and I know Darius is sending him after Tybold.  Joridan needs us both to avenge his death.  To bring his murderer back to Centauri for justice to be served.”

“Kiti, are you combat trained?  We don’t know what to expect from the Proconians.  By this time, Tybold could have convinced them we are conquerors and he’s their only salvation.  We don’t know.  It could be a suicide mission.  I don’t want to lose my best friend.”  She went on.  “I know you’re grieving.  Joridan’s loss and Lara’s return has been very hard on you.”

“Stop.”  Kiti jumped up and started to pace again.  “I know what my life has been like.  I mourn the loss of Joridan life and Anton’s capture and torture by Slavarien.  Joridan was my little brother.  Even though he was a head taller than me he will always be my little brother.  I still smell Joridan’s scent in his room.  Sometimes it’s so fresh it’s like he just passed by.”  Her eyes filled with tears, “I miss the closeness that Anton and I once shared but I do not bemoan him finding Lara.  I’m very happy he found his lifemate.  It was something he never thought to be able to do.  After the torture that both Anton and Lara suffered at the hands of the Slavariens, it’s amazing that they found each other.  I wish I had a lifemate out there somewhere.


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