The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Interview with Susan Shay

The Quirky Ladies are pleased to welcome author Susan Shay! Have a seat, Susan. I’ll be good and start off with a writing question. (Don’t want to scare the victim – er, guest off and all.)

Dalton Diaz (DD): Is there a particular tool you use to get you in the mood to write?
Susan Shay (SS): Yes. An alarm clock. LOL. Since I usually write mornings, I like to get up early to get started. No phones. No visits. Just me and the crowd living inside my head.

DD: Oh yikes, a morning person! I’d spend my first hour trying to get the computer to make coffee. So how many hours a day do you write?
SS: It depends on the day. I have a day job that I love, so on work days I write a couple of hours before I get ready for work. Weekends I have longer to play.

DD: All writers have at least one editing issue, i.e. commas, past/present tense, run-on sentences. What’s yours, and how do you deal with it.
SS: LOL! So many over the years! Most of them I've wrestled into submission, but my comma problem will be with me until I die. Happily, I have my twisted sisters (Marilyn Pappano and Margaret E. Reid) who are my eternal critique partners to help stamp them out.

DD: You mentioned playtime: where would your dream vacation be, and what would you be doing? And keep it clean. Oh wait, that’s my warning. Sorry!
SS: I'd be high in the Colorado Mountains or Yellowstone, kicking back and being cool. (It's hot here! Over 100 several days this week.)

DD: Dream car: convertible, minivan, Hummer, Cadillac, or hybrid?
SS: Convertible, baby! Low slung, big engine, two-seat, sexy machine!

DD: That’s the spirit! Now name one quirky thing about yourself.
SS: Me? Quirky? *Snort!* Well, even though I have five siblings, I added two more. We call ourselves the Twisted Sisters ( ). Also (don't tell anyone) I'm very curious about most things, so sometimes I blog under the name Terminally Curious—to protect the innocent, of course.

DD: Well the cat’s out of the bag now! So let’s take a minute and go back in time to get to know you better. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
SS: I loved Fury, Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Bonanza (reruns, of course!) In the first three the attraction was the horses. In Bonanza it was Little Joe. That's when I discovered guys made great eye candy. My friend, sister and I even wrote him a fan letter, asking for an autographed picture. And even though all we got was a generic pic of the entire crew, we still loved him.
DD: I was a Pa Ingalls gal myself (Hey, did Caroline look like a happy woman, or what?), though Little Joe was mighty fine. And big brother Adam… Hmm…it may be time to go write my next story for awhile. No? Ok, ok, more questions…

DD:Did you/do you have a special pet in your life? And we’ve moved on from the 70’s, so pet rocks don’t count.
SS: Besides my younger siblings? *wink* I have a rescued Yorkie named Molly who rules our house with an iron paw. When she can't get what she wants herself, she enlists the help of my DH to get it for her. Talk about a spoiler!

DD: Smart girl! So tell us about your books that are available and what’s next on the agenda?
SS: My first book was TO SCHOOL A COWBOY (all those horse shows and movies were good for something!) and my current book is BLIND SIGHT, both published by The Wild Rose Press and available on Amazon and the publisher's website. (
Next on the agenda? I have a story called Make Me Howl about a woman born with the werewolf gene who has a biting sense of humor and killer sense of style wh o falls in love with a geneticist who's doing research to (what else?) eradicate the werewolf gene. It's just about ready to shop around. Watch for it!

DD: Ooh, that sounds awesome and I absolutely love the name of the book! It really captures the tone.
I know this one isn’t available yet, but how about a contest for our readers for one of your other books?
SS: I'd love to have a contest! Y'all leave a comment and say hi. I'll give a download of BLIND SIGHT to someone I choose in a blind draw. How about we announce the winner on the 29th?

DD: Fabulous! That will give people time to get here. Leave those comments, folks, and you could win! Susan, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been fun! One last thing before I untie you - How about an excerpt to whet the appetite?

BLIND SIGHT-- (click on BS) or Amazon (click on Amazon)

The moment Keegan walked into the coffee shop, the room grew brighter and the air took on an effervescent quality.

“Hey, Cassie.” His voice was melted chocolate, warm and soothing.

She bit her lip as she forced herself to wait several moments before she turned to him. His dark eyes mesmerized her, as well as the tiny scar next to his upper lip and his square jaw. She took a much needed breath. “Oh, hey, Keegan.How was your day?” Where were you all this time?

But it wasn’t her business where he’d been, and she wasn’t going to touch him in order to find out, on the off chance she could tell.

The air thickened so, it required effort to drag it into her lungs. His mouth turned up in a half-smile, he tucked the fingers of one hand into his pocket, and shook his head. “I understand y’all are kind of shorthanded, so I promised Sis I’d work here...with you.”

Pulling into herself, she was still for a moment as she felt for the underlying tremor each person had—as individual as a fingerprint. His was new, one she’d never sensed before, and it sent vibrations of warmth flowing through her. But in that impression, she could discern nothing that might be a danger. Of course she was attracted to him. As good-looking, smart, and personable as he was, she’d have to be a corpse not to be attracted. But she had to contend with her gift.

She could never live a normal life—and she wouldn’t allow herself to fall in love. When she’d rinsed the sink, she dried her hands and picked up a bottle of spray cleaner. Going back into the coffee shop, she wiped tables and straightened chairs a final time. After spritzing the round table, she cleaned the top and finally made the circuit pushing chairs into their proper places.

Glancing down, she saw a cup left behind on a seat. As if in slow motion, it toppled off the edge. Without thinking, she caught it—then remembered she’d forgotten to replace her gloves.

The vibration crashing through her was like thunder from a colossal drum, quaking long and hard and painful, deafening her to the sounds going on around her. A brilliant flash stabbed into her eyes and, as her irises contracted painfully, she nearly collapsed to her knees.

The bookstore disappeared.

Her body shuddering in the cool air of night, Cassie smelled dust and rain on the breeze. A feeling of devout piety stole over her as her heartbeat slowed to a sluggish thud. Casting her gaze downward, she saw a young woman, her face white and still as if it had been carved from alabaster, lying near the edge of a rocky crag. With hands that were not her own, she crossed the girl’s stiffening arms over her cold, unmoving chest, then straightened her skirt, pulling it to her knees.

As gently as if she were putting a child to bed, she slipped the body over the precipice where it crashed helplessly into a tree, flipped almost completely around, hit the ground, and rolled down the steep slope until it rested brokenly against a jagged boulder.

Stomach heaving at the shock of the vision, Cassaundra leaned heavily against the table to stare at the broken cup lying at her feet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fits & Starts or One Long Drive?

So, I'm really pretty excited to tell you that I got a great email from an editor saying my writing was "strong" and that she thought my love story was great and the emotions between the characters were very believable. She actually enjoyed reading it! It's that cool? I mean, isn't that why we do this? So that someone might enjoy reading it? So that you can make someone smile or laugh or cry? I was tickled. Delighted!

BUT (did you see that coming?), she can't accept it as it is because the suspense sub plot is thin and needs punching up.

The good news here is that if I do some of the edits she suggests with my suspense plot, I can send the MS directly back to her and she'll consider it again. I'm hoping that's code for "you're in!", but that's probably a little bit of wishful thinking. Just a little. :)

So, like a good doobie I promised to do the changes, and I sat down and re-outlined the entire book with more of what's needed. While I was at it, I addressed an issue that Michelle, Vicki and Tara have all expressed at various points of review, which is that my lead heroine's character was likable but a little thin and vanilla. And by thin I don't mean slender, though she it that. Bitch. (Just kidding, I really like her, of course!). Anyway, once I was done with all that, it was obvious that the editor and the Quirkies were right, this is a much better book and I'm completely excited to sit down and rewrite it.

But therein lies the rub. I need to sit down and WRITE it. It's not that I don't want to. In fact, it would be more accurate to say the rub is finding the TIME to sit down and write it. I can usually get an hour or two of writing work done at night, once day-job-work is done, dinner is served, lunches prepared, dishes washed, laundry folded, tubby is tubbed, pajamas are donned and my munchkin is asleep in his bed. The problem I find I'm having with these brief periods in the evening is that it takes me a good 1/2 hour to let all the run-around-crazy-stuff go and to get into what I'm doing. Then I'm down to an hour (or less in many cases), and if I'm going to shred the plot and a character, and try to reconstruct both, I'm worried that while taking it all apart will be easy enough, putting it all back together in fits and starts will result in disaster. I know the new and improved character is right and will work, but she isn't talking to me yet, and I don't know if she will in an hour - and if she does, I don't know if she'll sound the same the next night or the night after.

So instead, I sit stuck, desperately scouring my ridiculously busy calendar for a day, two days, 5 days , that I can lock myself away and just plow through it. If I can find that time, if I can invest that kind of focus, I know I can write it - and write it well!

Too bad I haven't found that mythical week on my schedule yet. And what if I don't? It's those times that I sit and think, what are you doing? You're making up excuses because you're afraid to dig in! To be honest, that might be true, though no more or less true than doing it all in one big push is the better way.

So the question is, do I wait for that week? Or do I suck it up and do it in fits and starts? Please, tell me!? All you writers out there - can you write or edit a book in one hour a day and not have it come out as complete rubbish? I'd like to hear from you!
Thanks all! I wish you all many hours of writing!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Per Request....More Mexico Pictures

The beach view from our little slice of paradise.

The beautiful seaside Mayan ruins at Tulum.

Local flare on the downtown streets of Playacar.

The swing set bar...a total blast!

Our hotel courtyard....everyone was so, so nice!

If you get a chance to have some fun in the sun this summer, DO IT!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finding Your Muse While Sunning in Mexico

This past week I was fortunate enough to head to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a much needed vacation. From the beach sand that felt like baby powder cascading across my feet, to the aquamarine ocean that felt like holy water washing away several months of stress and anxiety off my tired body, the entire trip was exactly what I needed to recharge and reconnect my long illusive muse.

So thrilled to be “away from it all”, I didn’t even care that the airline (which shall remain nameless) misplaced our luggage for a good dozen or so hours and, since for the first time in my life, I didn’t pack at least one change of clothes and a bathing suit in my carry-on bag, I was stuck wearing the same clothes for nearly twenty four hours.

Whatever. I was in paradise.

No cell phone, no computer, no daily work grind, no commute, no constant interruptions – just me, a few of my favorite family members, my notebook and a couple of great romance novels to read. Oh, and did I mention the all-inclusive bar and buffet. Paradise with a capital P.

So with no bathing suit, a Melon Bowl in one hand and my notebook in another hand, I headed for the beach and sat under an umbrella, letting the warm breeze rolling off the water caress my skin, skimming the sand with my ghostly white New Englander toes, and waited for my muse to show up.

And she didn’t. She, at least mine is a she, was pissed off at me and for good reason. I’ve been neglecting her (and me) for months now. Just because I changed the scenery didn’t mean she would magically appear. It didn’t matter that I was finally ready to be hit by some serious writing inspiration.

Deterred, but not down and out, I gulped a few swigs of my cocktail and starting free-writing in my notebook. I firmly believe putting any words to paper is soul cleansing for a writer, so even if it was gobbledygook, it was a better than the non-writing agony I had been experiencing these last few months.

I ended up free-writing for a few days and outlined a couple of new manuscript ideas, but my current work in progress was still stuck with a muddled middle. However, just before leaving Mexico, my muse was finally willing to say hello and help me plot more of my current WIP. It was a welcome exchange. My characters were thrilled by her presence as well.

It was then I realized my muse was with me all along. I had just let life get too cluttered and claustrophobic in the past few months to realize it. So, if I’ve learned anything from my vacation it’s that we can’t let life strangle us too much, and we need to find time to recharge every day so we don’t get separated from ourselves and/or our muses. My muse, she likes me just fine, and doesn’t try to punish me. She’s around even when I’m too busy to notice her. She wants to help me, her vessel, write the love stories that fill my heart.

Another vacation lesson: whenever you get a chance, do things you have never done before (actions that might inflict bodily harm to yourself and/or others excluded, of course), especially if you are uncertain of the outcome, like:
  • Go to the swing set bar and actually sway on a swing while drinking a Cerveza.
  • Claim that you are allergies to most knits, break out in hives easily and the Benadryl is in your make-up kit when your luggage is “delayed” and an airline is uncooperative...luggage is mysteriously located and brought directly to your hotel room expeditiously.
  • Go snorkeling even though you have never worn flippers a day in your life and its pouring rain outside. You are going to get wet anyways. Just remember to get out of the water if lightning starts.
  • Tell your deepest secrets to trusted confidants while gazing up at the stars and lying on the beach.
  • Flirt with a “pissed” British chap with a killer accent. When in Mexico....

P.S. If you are wondering what a Melon Bowl is it’s a fruity drink with lots of different liquors thrown in that I highly recommend, preferably two at a time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dalton Diaz Book Signing: Don't Miss It!

Dalton Diaz is stoked for her book signing this Saturday (July 18). She'll be signing Love Cuffs with Ashlyn Chase at Annie's Book Stop in Sharon, MA from 1-3 pm.  Please stop by and visit...there will be chocolate, too! Good times! (For those of you who have never been to Annie's shop, it's a virtual extravaganza of romance novels...seriously, you might hyperventilate!)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Save the Words

I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and guess that most folks visiting this blog, whether readers or writers, enjoy using words. I was sent this link to Save the Words a while back and loved it. Visit and adopt one of these poor, underused gems. Give a good home to a deserving piece of our language. Plus, the site is amusing. We all need more smiles.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Win a Free Book!

Check out the fabulous interview with Dalton Diaz at Works in Progress. Leave a comment by midnight tonight (EST) and you could win a free book. Dalton hopes you'll stop by!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


It is with a proud smile I announce receiving a contract offer by Crescent Moon Press for my first manuscript, Ruling Eden. Although I have completed three other novels since initially typing those blood pumping words--The End--my first story will always have a special place in my heart. It's my baby. The manuscript I cut my teeth on. The one during which I had to learn about those brutal first time writer's mistakes and rewrite chapters endlessly. It is the material for which I learned to walk the gauntlet of critique groups and open myself up to criticism (constructive thankfully). For all the time and passion I put into those manuscript pages, the story is more than deserving of finding a home where readers can finally meet Rachel and Gabriel, Tarn and Sebastian, Morven, Qest, Christian and Jasper.

I am busy learning the ins and outs of working with a publisher to deliver the best product possible. Crescent Moon Press promises to be a fantastic small publisher with which to work. They specialize in romantic fantasy, science fiction and paranormal stories. Like any diligent author-in-waiting, I did my research when the possibility of a partnership with Crescent was looming. I contacted one of their current authors, Leanna Renee Hieber, who had tremendously positive things to say about them. She published a fantasy novel by the name of Dark Nest with Crescent Moon in 2008. Leanna generously shared her thoughts even though I was an unknown writer who had contacted her out of the blue. Her assistance is an an example of the wonderful support you can find within a writing community if you take the time to look. Writers want writers to succeed. The more folks we get hooked on books, even those penned by others, the more readers exist for our own publications. Please visit Leanna's website and check out her stories.

It is amazing to be on the cusp of finally achieving a dream. When I first decided to write Ruling Eden my only goal was to finish the manuscript. But after you create characters and an entire new world you love, it is hard not to want the world to share your excitement over the story.

So what is Ruling Eden about? Well, imagine if a modern, street-smart woman suddenly learned she was the heir to the throne of a magical realm hidden in our world and was about to become the most powerful magical being on the planet. Then, she's thrust into this new world and must unite seven contentious powerful magical races to prevent the total destruction of the planet, while facing some wicked chemistry with her half-angel, half-demon guardsman. Intrigue ensues, with a murder to be solved and psychotic magical power brokers to cajole.

I promise that excerpts and updates on the release schedule will be posted in the future.
The book will be available both in e-formats, and for order in print.

Last but not least, congratulations go to The Quirky Ladies for all of their support and assistance as I've worked toward this goal. I couldn't have done it without you, ladies.

So everyone get out there and pursue those dreams. Sometimes they really do come true.

Michelle Picard

Romance 101

Check out this cool article in USA Today about romantic fiction! It's entitled Scholarly Writers Empower The Romance Genre. Julia Quinn went to Harvard. Eloisa James is also a Shakespearean scholar and professor. (The article left out Lisa Kleypas, who is a Wellesley College  graduate!) Viva romance!