This month’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Danica St. Como.

Welcome Danica!

Today is National Grammar Day. What are your top 3 grammatical pet peeves?

DSC: While I don’t profess to be a grammar maven, my own bugbears include:

Homophones: I get a little nuts when I read a passage in which words are used incorrectly—even “big name” authors who one would assume have topnotch editors. Words such as rein, rain, reign. Your and you’re (you are). They seem like simple issues, but the wrong word can definitely take the reader out of the moment.

Word combinations such as had had and have to. “She’d [she had] had to make the trip.”  Why not simply, “She had to make the trip.”? Have to… What does “I have to go shopping” really mean? “I must go, I need to go, I should go, I want to go…” To have something means possession, in a sense: “I have a dollar.”

The ubiquitous “and.” In truth, my sentences tend to run on—it’s something I need to rein in. However, some authors seem to believe that if they add an “and” every so often, that seventeen-line sentence will be just fine. I’m not referring to doing it on purpose, for effect, but to adding the little “and” bugger everywhere.

MJ: MARCH is also National Literacy Month. Do you take literacy levels into account when you write?

DSC: Not necessarily literacy levels, as such. However, if my beta readers have an issue with a passage, I take a second look to see if my wording might be out of place/time for my targeted audience—my responses (silly TV commercials from times gone by, movie quotes from less-than-blockbuster movies, etc.) may not be understood by a younger crowd. Phrases from childhood that are really made-up words with no association to the rest of humanity (or readers), may cause a reader to think, “huh?”

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

DSC: I was a freelance ceramist, years ago. I would be tempted to work with clay and paint again.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job? Why?

DSC: Traveling, and being paid for it. I love to drive.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

DSC: If it weren’t for the books and boxes and stacks of paper crowding me, I actually have the most wonderful, open, airy office, with four large windows. My daughter’s suggestion for “rearranging” my office requires the use of a snow shovel, an open window, and a Dumpster on the other side that open window. What do you think she’s trying to say?

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

DSC: He’s a realist, but also hopeful that he can have a future with the woman he loves. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince her.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

DSC: She can be somewhat snarky on occasion.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

DSC: Contemporary erotic romance/suspense.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

DSC: When I develop a character, first I decide on a “look,” and an ethnic ancestry. Then I begin to research names until I find one that calls to me. I look up the meaning of that name, decide whether it suits the character. I’d decided early in the story’s development that my heroine was Irish, Abigail O’Connell, my hero Italian, Niccolo “Nico” Ferrari. The Irish gal, Abigail O’Connell, was introduced in earlier books. She was a pivotal character in Above the Law, but needed her own story.

MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?

DSC: Saving Nico is the sixth book of the Men of Sanctuary series. All the stories revolve around a training camp, Sanctuary, located in western Maine, run by two retired Marines and their woman, a federal agent. Maine can be unbelievably beautiful, but also rugged and dangerous. I thought it was a suitable setting for a training camp that caters to military and civilian clients.

MJ: Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

DSC: Here’s the blurb for Saving Nico [Men of Sanctuary 6: Saving Nico]

Game Warden Abigail O’Connell moved from upstate New York to Maine after the death of her fiancé, Marine spotter Pietro Galletti. While babysitting at the Sanctuary lodge for her friends, Marine scout sniper Nico Ferrari arrives under secretive circumstances. Hot lust blooms, throwing the pair together—but Nico can’t, won’t, admit to Abby that her fiancé was his spotter, and he watched him die in Iraq. He also won’t admit that he fell in love with Abigail through Pietro’s letters and photos, and never expected to find her in western omigod Maine. When the truth does come out, Abby is devastated for more than one reason.

MJ: And what is the title of your current release, and where can readers purchase it?

DSC: Aloha Man [Men of Sanctuary 5: Aloha Man] can be purchased at the Loose Id website or from Amazon.

AlohaMan_Cover

MJ: And how can readers keep up with your busy publishing schedule?

DSC: I have a website, a blog, and a Facebook page.

MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and best of luck with your books!

I grew up in the country: not suburbia, not truly rural, but somewhere in between. It was a “neighborhood” where everyone showed up to play ball, hide-and-go-seek, or whatever at our house. After 6pm, every night, my mom fielded phone calls from parents asking her to send their children home for supper.

There was a bit of woo-woo, though. My birthday is February 20. So was Terri’s–she lived in the next house down the road. And Brenda’s–she lived 7 houses up the road. And Sharon, who lived 7 more houses up the road, also was a February 20 baby.

None of us were born the same year. But four girls, in a one mile stretch, celebrating the same day was kind of weird.

The high points:

  • And Jericho Burned is out!
  • Author copies of Moonlight Serenade received!
  • Moonlight Serenade is now available in paperback from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble (see links in middle column).
  • additional steps taken on finding a home for my baseball books.

I’ve had a Fabulous February, career-wise.

 

A former co-worker posted a comment on Facebook that baffled me. He wrote, “Straight up Compton style.” While I liked his post (which was a video), I didn’t understand what Compton style had to do with the content. He explained: “. . . went rouge, gangsta or Compton . . .”

How cool is that!

I immediately posted this to the Compton Family Facebook page. So next time someone irritates me to the end of my patience, I can say, “Watch it or I’ll go Compton on you!”

Dale Carnegie once wrote:  “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” He went on to say: “Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”

I have always been fascinated by names. When, as a very young person, I discovered a few pages of names in the back of my parents’ dictionary, I poured over it. Those pages were soon tattered.

I remember taking out an origin of names book from my elementary school library. Nicknames and derivatives obsessed me. I recall two which I’ve never been able to find again: Stenie as a nickname for Stephan; and Hodge as a nickname for Roger.

While doing my grammar homework, I would always change the names in the exercises. Little Jimmy (was/were) riding his bicycle became Little Ulrich was riding his bicycle.  Nancy (wear/wore) a green coat morphed into Cassandra wore a green coat (but she’d have looked better in red). My fifth grade teacher (I think it was fifth grade) finally told me to stop changing the names and editorializing. It was a sign!

In high school, I purchased my first baby name book. My very own book, filled with nothing but names. Such riches! Unfortunately, it was stolen when someone broke into my car. I was more upset about losing that book than I was about the stolen aquarium or broken window.

Since then, I’ve accumulated quite a collection.

name booksI had one other book, by Bruce Lansky, but X-Chromo took it to a friend’s house for an overnight (I don’t know why they needed a baby name book) and that was the last I ever saw of it.  Yes, I have two copies of Beyond Jennifer and Jason. It’s been updated. (Plus the original was misplaced for a long while).

When I was pregnant for Y-Chromo, TV Stevie and I looked at a lot of baby name books. One was The Worst Baby Name Book Ever. “Woody: the past tense of Willy.” Clever.

Now we have the Internet. I love the US Government’s Social Security site. One can find the top names given in any decade. Even better, one can narrow the search by state. So if you have a heroine born in the mid-1970’s in Kentucky, you can go to this website and find the top 100 names in the 1970s in Kentucky. It’s a wonderful resource.

I also “collect” names. I once worked with a Slade Walter. People, upon meeting him or hearing of him would remark on what a great name he had. I’m trying to work that name into a story. Other wonderful names I’ve encountered in recent years include: Nick Kitson, Eric Jedziniak, Eric Zubricki. I’ll read a name in the paper and write it down for future use.

Names are one of the first things I brainstorm when starting a new book.

When I was a child, I hated my first name. Very few people of my generation had it. And people always asked me what it was short for. It became an “in” name in the 1980s. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry . . .

Because of my name issues (it’s spelled this way, not that)–issues my husband also faced–when we chose names for our children, we chose names that didn’t have alternate spellings, names found on tooth brushes in the drug store and mini license plates at thru-way rest stop gift stores, and names they could use in a global society.

Do you have any name pet peeves?

 

 

Women, at least the ones I know, have a habit of saying “I’m sorry” in response to just about anything. It doesn’t matter if it has anything to do with us or not. It’s as if we take responsibility for all the annoying/bad/disastrous things happening to other people.

A male co-worker has mentioned this habit to me on several  occasions.  On my most recent writing retreat, on the last day, all four of us noticed we said the phrase a lot. Too much. I quipped, “Maybe we should all include deleting that phrase from our vocabularies on next year’s goals.” Another friend said, “No, let’s make it a drinking game!”

A drinking game! We’ll all be shnockered within an hour.

Do you have something you say out of habit so much that it’s lost all meaning?

 

 

 

I am so excited! It’s release day for And Jericho Burned, the second book in my Toke Lobo & the Pack series.

JericoBurned_505x825

And the first book, Moonlight Serenade, is not only now available in paperback from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the Kindle version is FREE for the next five days.

Download Moonlight Serenade cover

The much ballyhooed movie version of the notorious Fifty Shades of Grey is being released on Friday, which is Valentine’s Day. I’ve read the trilogy. I have no interest in seeing the movie.

However, E.L. James came up with a wonderful bit of marketing: she “created” a Fifty Shades of Grey brand of wine. There are two blends: Red Satin and White Silk.

fifty shades of wine

The slogan is “Connect with your Inner Goddess.”

I thought I’d try the wine any way.

I actually tasted both wines this summer. As a general rule, I drink red wines. This red was okay. Nothing spectacular. A few weeks later, I tried the white.

50 shades of white

It may have been the company and the setting (a group of authors, lakeside, on a gorgeous summer day) or maybe it really was the wine, but I thought the White Silk was fabulous. Light, fruity, smooth. Silky. Really. (Remember, I make fun of wine tasting notes on Twitter every Tuesday.)

Being the open-minded kind of woman I am, I’m perfectly will to try the red again. Maybe on Valentine’s Day. But only the wine. That’s the only E.J. James “creation” that appeals to me.

 

 

This month’s guest author is the always delightful Melissa Snark.

MelissaSnark author photo for book

MJ: Welcome, Melissa. If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

MS: That’s difficult to say since I’m really bad at all other types of art. Think I’m kidding? I’m tone deaf and so off-key that even my four-year-old daughter begs me not to sing. I can’t draw a straight line and buttons pop right off. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have a creative outlet if I couldn’t write. I’d just content myself with being a reader and living in other people’s fantasy worlds.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

MS: An isolated beach cabin with panoramic views. Directly adjacent to a Peet’s coffee shop. With a built in teleporter so I could return home at the end of the day w/o the commute.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

MS: His wit. Logan is completely sarcastic and pretty damn funny.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

MS: There is no heroine. I’m not writing romance.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

MS: Folklore Fantasy / Urban Fantasy

MJ: Will you share the first few sentences of your current work-in-progress?

MS: Yes. This is from The Trickster.

The strains of braying hounds soared into the night sky, raised high on the steadily gusting wind. The rays of May’s Full Flower Moon busted the howls into pieces, so broken refrains crashed to the earth. Those soulful notes fell upon the slopes of the mountains, and occasionally became trapped in the rocky crags.

Breathing heavily with exertion, the lanky young man broke free of the forest, escaping the clinging fingers of trees determined to restrain him in branchy embrace. He charged up a sharp embankment, running on uneven rocks. The texture of the ground changed beneath his feet, growing hard and even, and he stumbled at the unexpected difference.

Stopping, he glanced down at the black surface and realization sprang upon him. A road. In the distance, the hounds sang out again and his attention jerked toward his pursuers. The hunters were gaining ground. Being run down by humans rankled. His ego which protested the impossibility. No man alive could run down a werewolf, even on two legs. At the same time, he couldn’t deny the truth his own ears reported.

MJ: And what is your current release?

MS: Battle Cry, which can be purchased from Amazon, B&N, ARe, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Scribd.

Battle Cry 750

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you.

MS:  my website, The SnarkologyFacebook Author Page; Twitter: @MelissaSnarkGoodreads;  Amazon Author Page

MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and good luck with your books!

Every February, I re-read One More Valentine by Anne Stewart. I was fortunate enough to have Ms. Stewart autograph my copy a couple of years ago. ::insert fan-girl squee!::

Jamey Rafferty is a dead mobster, shot down in 1929’s St.Valentine’s Day Massacre who comes back to life every February 13 for two days. “. . . he returned each year with exactly what he left with. A package of Black Clove gum, a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a wallet crammed full of very crisp thousand-dollar bills that was supposed to pay for a shipment of Canadian bootleg liquor.” He’ll keep coming back until he finds true love.

Helen Emerson is an assistant prosecutor in Chicago, and someone from Jamey’s past is trying to kill her. Jamey has 48 hours to make sure she’s safe for at least another year.

Originally issued as a Harlequin Special Edition, the story is now available on Kindle and is again available in paperback.