Why I Write Vampire Romance My Way by Susan Hanniford Crowley

Vampire King of New YorkI started out as a science fiction and fantasy author and then I started dreaming about vampires. I even tried to dream about other things, but before I knew it the vampires were there again. The most persistent was King Max. I’ve never seen a more patient man. He would ask, “Are you ready to write my story yet?”

In my life, I’ve read tons of vampire literature ranging from romance to the research papers of scholars. In general, I love the genre but until I had these dreams I never thought I’d write vampires.

Why do I write vampires my way? There was a part of me that considered what things I liked about vampires and want I didn’t. The dreams put it all together for me. They are different from other authors’ vampires.

In looking at King Max, this is what I love about him.

  1. Max is quirky. He has a sense of humor and is a lot of fun.
  2. He is kindhearted and really listens to others.
  3. Max loves deeply. He remembers the family he lost and that sorrow remains with him. He loves his vampire family.
  4. He is every bit a heroic king and would never ask the Arnhem Knights to do something he would not.
  5. When Max falls in love, this sophisticated modern day CEO is wonderfully romantic, inventive, and willing to do anything for his beloved.

A reader on meeting met me said that she hated vampires. However, she bought Vampire King of New York. I ran into her a month later. She told me she loved my vampires and “Oooh, Max!”

Max gets that reaction no matter where I go.

What is fun is that the dreams keep coming. Now Vampire Princess of New York, Book 2 in the Arnhem Knights of New York series is in production.  Release is yet to be announced.

I write vampire romance my way because it’s sheer fun. Here’s wishing you just as much fun!

Vampire King of New York, Arnhem Knights of New York, Book 1 is available in Kindle and Print and  Nook and Print

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romancewww.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!





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Creating a Cast of Characters

Squee! I have a new release–August 10–to be exact. SLEEPING WITH ELVIS is a contemporary romance with plenty of suspense and humor. It’s close to being a romantic suspense and at times a romantic comedy. I’m a genre straddler. What can I say?

The hero of my upcoming release is an Elvis impersonator! I’ve been a huge fan of the King since I was a little girl and even saw him in concert. I’m thrilled to bring his legendary music to a new generation and to enthrall long-time Elvis fans. Here’s my beautiful cover.

Sleeping With Elvis 10_Final_505 x 825

The cover captures the wonder my main character, Pepper, feels as she enjoys her first taste of an exciting beach vacation. But she had better enjoy the serenity now because, well, you’ll just have to read it.

An enticing novel plot isn’t anything without a diverse cast of characters to keep readers turning the  pages. It takes a while for characters to develop fully (maybe ten edits will do it!) After much work and a gazillion tweaks, I am in LOVE with my characters! Well, not Derek. He’s a jerk but we have to have a villain to cause mayhem, right? I’ve fallen for my main character, Ty, the Elvis impersonator, but also have a sweet spot for the elderly veteran, George. Ty makes me swoon and George makes me cry. And the cursing parrot? Come on. Now, I want to get one! Meet them:

Pepper – She lives with her crappy boyfriend in as shabby trailer in Nowhere, Arkansas. They saved all year for a fabulous vacation to Key Lime Island but she just lost her job as a daycare worker. She’s going anyway. Money problems, fears of flying, and boating be damned.

Derek – Pepper’s nasty, cheating, controlling boyfriend. Little does he know she plans to break up with him the second the vacation is over. But he doesn’t go away easily–Not. At. All.

Ty Townsend – A drop-dead gorgeous Elvis impersonator who has unplugged on Key Lime Island to escape social media trolls after he messed up the King’s lyrics (twice!) He rethinks his unique profession and enjoys downtime, until he discovers a woman lost in more ways than one.

Saylor – Ty’s cursing African Grey parrot who is entertaining, albeit with a serious potty mouth (thus, her name!)

Captain Dan – The leathered, tough-talking, big-bellied captain of their charter, Reel Time.

Mia – The captain’s efficient, lovely first mate for the excursion to Key Lime island.

Frank – Ty’s gold-chain-wearing, no-nonsense manager who wants his entertainer back on the stage.

George – A retired psychiatrist and Air Force Veteran who has sadness of his own but becomes Pepper’s hero.

Stephanie Silk – A porn star who creates havoc.

Of course, there are many more secondary characters who play interesting roles but the characters listed above are my main cast. When I write, I envision an actual play or movie in an effort to bring my characters to life.

Please follow my Amazon author page so you’ll know when SLEEPING WITH ELVIS goes live! http://www.amazon.com/author/bethcarter

For now, I’m deep into second-round edits and still have to tweak my blurb and Acknowledgements page. Back to the hamster cage… Elvis has left the blog.:)


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Fun with Definitions

Fun with Definitions


By Bebb, M. S. Wikimedia.com


The English language is nothing if not strange. Its homonyms and homophones can confuse anyone. Add synonyms to the mix and that’s a lot to learn. Here’s another twist you can add to the complexity of our language: the redefining of words throughout the ages. When I was a kid, sick meant you were ill, not feeling well as in “I’m too sick to go to school.” In the eighties, the word came to mean awful, terrible as in “She’s so sick. I hate her.” Today when the kids call something “sick” they’re not referring to germs, they’re making the word a compliment: “That concert was sick!”

As writers, we should consider the changing guard of words as a challenge and use them to add flavor to our books. This can be especially interesting if you want to put your out-of-time characters into a pickle when they try to communicate with characters from earlier historical eras.

Read these sentences I created using words that have changed over the years and see if you can figure out the real meanings.

  1. The naughty hussy is egregious at her job and has borne many wenches.
  2. In her faith, the spinster is awful before her God, never nice, and surely most silly.
  3. Her negligee was sad, an unlikely choice for someone usually so smug.

If you were a modern man or woman trying to decipher these sentences you might think the historical character said:

  1. The wicked, disreputable woman is conspicuously bad at her job and has borne many wanton women.
  2. In her faith, the old maid is terrible before her God, never agreeable, and surely most inane.
  3. Her sexy nightgown was unhappy, an unlikely choice for someone usually so self- righteous.

When in reality, the character said:

  1. The housewife, who has nothing, is distinguished in her job and has borne many female children.
  2. In her faith, the woman who spins for a living is worthy of awe before her God, never foolish, and sure most blessed.
  3. Her dress, which opened in the front to show the handsomely decorated petticoat beneath, was a muted color, an unlikely choice for someone usually so well-dressed.

As you can see, many of the words we use today didn’t originally mean what we think they do. The English language is alive and constantly in flux. Here’s a few more redefined words I found. Why not challenge yourself and see what interesting and silly (that’s inane, not blessed) reinterpretations you can create?

  1. Fizzle: The verb fizzle once referred to the act of producing quiet flatulence. American college slang flipped the word’s meaning to refer to failing at things.
  2. Fathom: Fathom once meant “to encircle with one’s arms.” Today it means “to understand after much thought.”
  3. Clue: Centuries ago, a clue (or clew) was a ball of yarn. Today a clue is a hint or a sign that helps unravel a mystery.
  4. Myriad: A myriad of things, 600 years ago, meant you had 10,000 of them—not just a lot.
  5. Eerie: Before the word eerie described things that inspire fear, it was used to describe people feeling fear. A frightened woman might say she was faint and eerie.
  6. Bachelor: A bachelor was a young knight. Later the word came to refer to someone who had achieved the lowest rank at a university—think Bachelor of Fine Arts. The word has been used for unmarried men since Chaucer’s day.
  7. Flirt: Flirting used to involve flicking something away, flicking open a fan, or otherwise making a brisk or jerky motion. Now it involves trifling or playing with someone’s emotions.
  8. Quell: If you quelled someone or something years ago, you killed it. Today you would merely subdue it.
  9. Divest: In the past, divesting could involve undressing as well as depriving others of their rights or possessions. It has only recently come to refer to selling off investments.
  10. Senile: Senile used to refer to anything related to old age. Now it refers specifically to those suffering from senile dementia.
  11. Meat: When we talk about meat today, we are referring to the flesh of an animal. The term once meant food in general. Think meat and drink, a terminology prevalent in Medieval times.
  12. Cheater: A cheater was originally an officer appointed to look after the king’s escheats—the land lapsing to the Crown on the death of the owner intestate without heirs. Mistrust of the king’s cheaters, who weren’t above using forged seals to claim lands, led the word into its current sense: a dishonest gamester or a swindler.
  13. Girl: Girl once meant a child or young person of either sex.
  14. Pretty: In Old English, “pretty” meant crafty and cunning. Later, it took on a more positive connotation: clever, skillful, or able. It could also describe something cleverly or elegantly made. By the 1400s the meaning morphed to its present definition: good-looking, especially in a delicate or diminutive way.
  15. Terrible: Terrible once meant causing or fit to cause terror, inspiring great fear or dread. It also meant awe-inspiring or awesome. By the 1500s, terrible (like awful, dreadful, frightful, and horrible) came to mean very harsh, severe, formidable, and hence, excessive or extreme, and not in a good way.
  16. Sly: If you call someone sly now, you mean they’re sneaky and deceitful. In the 13th century, it had a positive meaning: skillful, clever, knowing, and wise.

I’d love to see what interesting sentences you can come up with using this list of words, or other words whose meanings have changed. Have some fun with it and get your characters in trouble.


Catherine CastleCatherine Castle is the author of the two-time award-winning inspirational romantic suspense novel The Nun and the Narc.
You can find her on the web at http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/catherinecastle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle   @AuthorCCastle
Facebook: http://facebook.com/catherinecastleauthor


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10 Cool Delights…On a Budget!

Last week, I treated myself to a Dairy Queen banana split. I tried not to gasp when the clerk told me the price was $6.77 (CDN). I inquired about the other prices and discovered that, like everything else, Dairy Queen treats had risen in price.

I watched as carloads of families slowly progressed through the drive-through and mentally calculated the minimum and maximum amounts a family of four could easily spend. If they all selected peanut butter parfaits, the cost would be $24.40 (CDN). Four small dipped cones would ring in at $13.00 (CDN). These expenses could add up if summer temperatures soar and humidity levels become unbearable.

While there aren’t too many substitutes for a DQ® Peanut Buster® Parfait, Buster® Bar or Blizzard®, it is possible to create reasonable facsimiles of DQ sundaes and banana splits at home.

icecreamsundaes1Here are ten of my favorite homemade sundaes:

Oranges ‘n’ Sherbet: Place two scoops of orange sherbet in a dish, cover with orange juice, and decorate with slices of mandarin oranges.

Vanilla Vamp: Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a dish, cover with chocolate syrup, sprinkle with chopped nuts, and top with a maraschino cherry.

Coco Delight: Place one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of chocolate ice cream in a dish, cover with whipped cream, and sprinkle with toasted shredded coconut.

Maple Delight: Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a dish, cover with maple syrup, sprinkle with granola, and decorate with shredded coconut.

Caffeine Boost: Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a dish, cover with strong black coffee, top with whipped cream, and decorate with grated chocolate.

Strawberry Dream: Place two scoops of strawberry ice cream in a dish, cover with strawberry sauce, and top with whole fresh strawberries.

Fruity Vanilla: Place two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a dish and cover with fruit cocktail in syrup. Add whipped cream and top with a maraschino cherry.

Hawaiian Delight: Place two scoops of frozen vanilla yogurt in a dish and surround with pineapple and kiwi slices. Top with coconut.

Superfood Sundae: Place two scoops of frozen chocolate yogurt in a dish, surround with blueberries or blackberries, and top with chopped almonds, and ground flax seed or chia seeds.

Banana Split: Cut a banana in half lengthwise and place in a dish. Cover with any of the above sundae recipes.


Note: If you have dietary concerns, substitute frozen yogurt, fresh fruits, and chopped nuts for the ice cream and toppings.

Any other suggestions for cool treats…Please share!

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

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A New Release for C.D. Hersh!

The Mercenary and the Shifters

Only twelve more days until August 27th, the release day of our newest paranormal/urban fantasy romance Mercenary and the Shiftersbook The Mercenary and the Shifters: Book Four in The Turning Stone Chronicles, from Soul Mate Publishing. Yeah!

One of the hardest things to do when creating a long-running series is keeping everything the same from one book to another. If we neglected to put something in our world book, and we are guilty of that, we’re constantly searching the series’ other books– The Promised One, Blood Brothers, or Son of the Moonless Night– to make sure we haven’t changed something.  With multiple plot lines and two love stories in every book, keeping things straight can be a challenge. This book was no exception. Thank goodness for the Word’s search and find function!

To celebrate the upcoming book, we’re giving SMP readers a sneak peek of a tiny bit of the action in this newest book. We hope you like the excerpt and that it makes you want to dash over to Amazon and hit the pre-buy button.

So without further fanfare, here’s a sneak peek at The Mercenary and the Shifters.


The Mercenary and the Shifters

When mercenary soldier Michael Corritore answers a desperate call from an ex-military buddy, he finds himself in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient war between two shape shifter factions, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.


Shape shifter Fiona Kayler will do anything to keep the shipping company her father left her, including getting in bed with the enemy. But when she believes the man trying to steal her company is involved with kidnapping her nephew, she must choose between family, fortune, and love. The problem is … she wants all three.



Mike Corritore wheeled up the circular drive of the impressive house on Lakeshore Road and cut the engine on his motorcycle. After a quick glance around, he shouldered the bags containing his clothes, ammo, pump shotgun, and talwar sword. Then he headed for the carved front door. The doorbell echoed inside indicating the mansion had a cavernous entry hall. He searched the entrance stoop for security cameras and found none.

What the heck had he gotten himself into? A rich bitch, with no security on her home, mixed up with a bad syndicate spelled major trouble. With this chintzy level of security, it would take more time than he originally anticipated to make her house and business secure.

After a couple of minutes the door opened.

“Can I help you?” asked an attractive redhead.

“I’m Mike Corritore. Here to see Fiona Kayler. Will you tell her I’ve arrived?”

The redhead looked him over, then braced her legs shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her curvy bust. “Do you have identification, Mr. Corritore?”

Mike returned her once-over. Her porcelain complexion blushed pink at his bold examination, and she tossed her mane of wavy, mahogany hair defiantly.

Damn, she was gorgeous.

If she thought her insolent pose enough to keep him, or intruders out, she’d better reconsider.

“Hugh sent me.” He stepped forward but she blocked him.

“A driver’s license for your very expensive motorcycle will suffice,” she said, wiggling her fingers at him. When he didn’t comply, she stepped back and reached to the side of the door.

The distinct cachung of a gun cocking sent him flying to the right of the doorway.

“Identification, Mr. Corritore. Please,” she said as she leveled a pistol at him.

Mike dug in his rear pants’ pocket. “Hugh lied,” he said as he held out his driver’s license. “You don’t need protection.”

After inspecting his identification, she lowered her weapon and waved him inside. “For my business, Mr. Corritore. I’m capable of protecting my home, but I can’t draw my gun just anywhere.”

“You should get a conceal and carry license,” Mike said as he entered.

She put the safety on the gun and stashed the weapon in the table beside the front door.

“I take it you’re not the help,” he said, glancing around the entry hall.

She held out her hand. “Fiona Kayler. Nice to meet you, Mr. Corritore.”

“Mike,” he said, taking her hand. Her palm, warm and soft, told him she lived a life of leisure. But her strong grip screamed, No patsy. He held her hand a bit longer than he should have. She wriggled free and waved him to the left.

“Ladies first.”

With a nod, she led him toward a sumptuously decorated room. He followed, his eyes taking in the soft curves of her rear as she sashayed across the marble-tiled floor. Mike’s body reacted to the seductive wiggle of her bottom. She walked as sexy as she looked.

Keep your mind on the job, Corritore. He shifted his gaze away from temptation, searching the ceiling and corners of the entry for security cameras. If she had them, they were well hidden.

The measured click of her high heels on the hard marble tile floor disappeared as they stepped on the thick, white carpet of the living room. This room appeared cozier than the entry. A huge gold, gilt-edged mirror hung over the fireplace reflecting the scene outside the oversized plate-glass window.

She motioned to a seat beside the fireplace. Mike chose a location less exposed to the exterior, where he could watch the entrance to the room. Fiona dragged a side chair across the room to where he sat, positioning it at a right angle to his seat. Two vertical furrows appeared in the carpeting, bisecting their shoe impressions and the vacuumed paths in the thick fibers. Apparently, she didn’t use this room much.

“So, Ms. Kayler—”

“Fiona,” she corrected.

“Fiona, exactly what do you need me to do?” As he said the words, he had a lurid vision of what he’d like to do to this lovely woman. He shook it off. She was Hugh’s friend and in trouble. He had no business screwing around with damsels in distress. They were needy. The last thing he wanted.

“A couple of years ago I had a problem with smugglers. They brought in some hazardous materials which got me in trouble with Homeland Security and the FBI. They cleared me, but my business took a pretty big hit. To keep things afloat, I’ve had to get in bed with some rough characters recently.”

At the phrase get in bed with Mike cocked his eyebrow at her.

“Not literally,” she amended quickly, as a dusky pink blush crept over her pale complexion. “I need my security beefed up so I don’t have a replay of two years ago.”

“Any good security company could upgrade you.”

“I also need someone I can trust implicitly. Hugh vouched for you, and I trust Hugh.”

“We should start with your home security. I didn’t see surveillance cameras at the door.”

“My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

Pre-order the eBook at: https://amzn.com/B01I01W2JC

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Are You Listening?


Are you really listening? As authors, many of us are introverts, perfectly happy to spend hours alone in silence with only our imaginary friends to talk to. Others of us love to write, but we also love to talk. I love to talk. When I teach, I tell my students please interrupt me at any time. I can talk for hours. In fact, when I talk at home, my dog eventually talks back, telling me that he has heard enough.

But how do we rate as listeners? We are full of words but do we listen and learn from others. Recently on a trip to Ireland, I was listening to our bus driver give a history lesson. I was interested, but his discussion developed a germ of an idea. While I was developing that idea, he continued. When I heard the name Stuart, I asked, “The Mary Queen of Scot’s Stuart.” No, he answered. He had said earlier that it was a different family of Stuarts. I hadn’t been listening. My mind had wandered. In addition to being embarrassment, I totally forgot the idea that had started in my mind. Must not have been that good, right?

Does your mind wander when listening to someone talk? My friends and I have one word for someone who is daydreaming – squirrel. You can capture a dog’s attention with a treat, right? But if a squirrel runs between you and your pet, how much of his attention do you have now?

In addition to all of the above, I also have a bad habit of listening and then thinking of a story/memory to tell when they are finished. Do you do that too? I go from listening to wanting to share part of my life. No, I am not listening. I’m waiting until I can interrupt. I don’t sound very nice, do I? I don’t do it often, but I have to admit I do. Do you? Be honest.

So I have decided to become a better listener.  Here are a few thoughts from a company called the “Telephone Doctor.”

  • You hear with your ears, but you listen with your intelligence. As a romantic, I have to add, you also listen with your heart.
  • To be a better listener, you have to realize when you aren’t listening and may a commitment to do better.
  • Give the speaker your undivided attention. Don’t be distracted by dogs, squirrels or even story ideas. Your speaker may have a better one if you just keep listening.
  • Don’t interrupt. They have the floor and it won’t be a filibuster. Give a person a few moments.
  • Remain objective even if you don’t agree with everything you hear, unless it is very offensive. Then don’t argue; walk away.
  • Nod your head; give verbal feedback that you are listening.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Be a better listener. You don’t know what you will learn.

Remember: The most important gift we can give someone is to listen with our ears, our mind, and our heart.

I’m Patricia Charles, and I would love to hear what you have to say. I promise I won’t interrupt.


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One word, two words, three words, more . . .

block letters

The written word should be         
as clean as a bone,
as clear as light, as firm as a stone,
two words will never serve
as well as one alone.

I ran across this quote in the 1990’s and have always kept it as one of my rotating wall signs.

You see I have eight “job ticket holders” on hooks on my office wall. One is directly above my computer monitor. Periodically I change the sayings or add a new one.

The occupant of the holder on the wall opposite my computer station is a quote from Emilie Barnes—

 “Goals are access line to the future.
 They allow us to run the race
 with the finish line firmly established.”

Others holders contain starscapes (I write sci-fi/fantasy and love looking at Hubble images).

The smallest message board is the size of half a sheet of paper, framed with a gold photo mat, and says: “Today is a great day, an exciting day!”

The trouble with this particular message is that exciting can be a pleasant surprise or disaster. However, today, it is an exciting day because I planted a number of new varieties of oriental lilies early this spring. One has begun to blossom. It’s pink tinged outer petals hint at a while lily with a bright yellow throat. I was hoping it would open enough to get a picture, but, no, not yet, maybe tomorrow. Still, it’s exciting to see it open and exciting that I get to look forward to photographing it.

If you’re writing words today, may they all be clean bones.

If you’re having an “exciting” summer day, please share.

# # #

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