Storm Surge submitted

I've been scarce lately, finishing up my romantic suspense novel, Storm Surge, and I recently submitted it to Carina Press. This is a new e-publisher owned by Harlequin. Judging by their website and blog, they're still in the start-up phase. Guidelines say the soonest I'll hear anything is four weeks.

I started this novel as a quickie "formula" romance that I hoped to find a publisher for, either print or electronic, to enhance the marketability of Southern Man. But I got so involved with the characters and the story, I had to give it my all ... sweet Briana who so badly wanted to do something "important" to overcome her frivolous, Southern-American-Princess self-image -- and who ended up biting off way more than she could chew ... and handsome, conscientious Justin, who put his business, employees, his church before himself, and buried his heart under responsibility and obligation ... and Kathy, a Category Five Hurricane who pays a visit to the Gulf Coast.

So, I've packed these two off to Toronto, or New York, or wherever Carina is; it's possible, being e-pubishers, that their readers and editors could be anywhere. Godspeed, Justin and Briana.

Now it's time to see who is waiting in the wings. Catlin? Jeremy? Randy, Shelby and John Mark?

Celebrating Heroes -- International Men's Day

November 19 is International Men's Day. This celebration of men is in its tenth year and exists for multiple reasons.

Visit here to learn more:
From the 2009 website:

Objectives of International Men's Day include a focus on men's and boys' health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to highlight discrimination against them and to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular for their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care....

The ability to sacrifice your needs on behalf of others is fundamental to manhood, as is honour. Manhood rites of passage the world over recognise the importance of sacrifice in the development of manhood. Men make sacrifices everyday in their place of work, in their role as husbands and fathers, for their families, for their friends, for their communities and for their nation. International Men’s Day is an opportunity for people of goodwill everywhere to appreciate and celebrate the men in their lives and the contribution they make to society for the greater good of all.

People who know me, especially other writers and crit partners, know that I write to honor men. Heroes are the stars of my stories, their experience drives the plot. People also know, probably, that while I support women's rights, I am not a feminist, and think that much of the modern feminist agenda and influence is destructive for our culture, including women. My novels reflect that belief, also.

I love and honor men because the men I knew when I was growing up a preacher's kid in the Deep South were good, decent, intelligent and honorable men who loved and supported their families and were forces of good in their communities. Yes, I know not all men are like that, but the vast majority of men are not the oppressors feminism would have us believe.

Therefore, to celebrate International Men's Day, I honor here the two wonderful men who have been most important in my life....

November Madness Redux

It's been almost a year to the day since my first post on this blog about, you guessed it, NaNoWriMo. I had come home from a writer's meeting on November 1, all ready to jump into my first day of National Novel Writing Month -- and I remembered I hadn't signed up to participate.

Didn't make that mistake this year. I'm all signed up to write my 50,000 word novel in a month, tentatively titled Haven of Ruin (or, alternately, Shelter of Perfidy or Refuge of Havoc). It's about the destructive effects of America's cultural decline on a particular family. It's mainstream fiction and, like nearly everything I write, it's politically incorrect (i.e., the leading man is virtuous, strong and loving).

So they tell me I gotta turn off my "inner editor" and just write. Write 1,666 words a day. I think I can churn out the words, but that inner editor business -- we'll hafta see. I'm a plotter, not a pantser. From where I sit, no-editing-as-you-go looks ... daunting.

For the Sweetest Romance Authors Scavenger Hunt

Welcome, scavenger hunters! Those of you who are owned by a cat may be able to relate to this.

This is my cat, Slick Man Buddy-ro. Yes, he really is this crotchety, except when he's being a sweet boy. But regardless of his mood, I have never seen an animal with such determination to get between me and my keyboard. He likes to lounge on my desk and use my arm for a pillow.

I love the little guy, but he does this at the most inopportune times. So I'm working on a scene from my next romance, Storm Surge. It's a tough one that's been evading me for some time. And just as it starts to come together, to gel enough for words, Buddy-ro jumps up on my desk for the sixteenth time today.

"Move! Go on, get down!"

He ignores me and stretches out in front of my keyboard and begins to purr. I resolutely pick him up and deposit him on the floor, return my fingers to the home keys and ... the scene is gone. Completely gone.


But at least the scavenger hunt's not gone! To continue, follow this link:

Written Outtakes Festival

out⋅take  /ˈaʊtˌteɪk/ –noun 1. a segment of film or videotape edited out of the final version....

I think most writers have scenes they've cut from stories, novels or screenplays -- the equivalent of piles of film lying in coils on the editing room floor. Scenes get cut for various reasons. Some were never intended to be in the final version, anyway, but were exercises used by a writer to get to know characters better. Others get the ax because a story is too long, or it just doesn't read right.

In Southern Man, the protagonist, Troy Stevenson and his wife, Patty, have a "storybook" marriage. The reader finds that Patty's adoration of her husband is "near idolatrous" and that Troy is "crazy about his wife."

But even in near-perfect marriages, couples experience those less-than-perfect moments that let them know they're still in the real world, as the following scene illustrates. (BTW, I never intended for this scene to be in the novel, as it doesn't advance the story; but it did help me get to know my characters better.)

Do you have outtakes from your stories or novels you'd like to share? If they're short, please share them in the comments. A bit longer? Email them to me at and we'll see about making them a future blog post. Or, post them to your own blog or site and send us the link!

Let's have an Written Outtake Festival!

Outtake from Southern Man

Patty steered the LeSabre down Benton Street to the intersection with busy Forsythe Avenue. She braked the vehicle to a halt and looked left and right. It was rush hour and traffic appeared to be nonstop in both directions.

Troy sat in the passenger's seat. They had just dropped off his vehicle at Abbott's for servicing tomorrow. Now he also looked left and right at the traffic and discerned breaks in both lanes that would reach the intersection at the same time.

"Go after that red Toyota," he said.

Patty studied the red vehicle's speed, looked in the other direction. She appeared to be getting ready to pull out when Troy suggested but the vehicle passed and the LeSaber didn't move.

"Go!" Troy said, but the window of opportunity was gone. "Why didn't you go?"

"Cars were moving too fast. The break in traffic wasn't big enough."

Troy groaned softly and began monitoring the traffic for another break. More seconds passed. "Okay...go! Now!"

Still, the LeSabre sat at the intersection, its turn signal ticking monotonously.

"What was wrong that time?"

Patty sighed. "I didn't know if that car in the outside lane might change lanes and hit us if I pulled out."

Troy nodded slightly, clamped his lips together and resumed looking for breaks in traffic.

Well aware of his exasperation, Patty said, "Do you want to drive?"

"I may have to if we want to get home toni--Go! Punch it!"

Patty punched it. The station wagon scooted across the intersection and turned left with a slight squealing of tires.

The New Covey Awards rocks!

And Southern Man is in the running! My book cover is #9 and the voting buttons are down the left side. Kudos to David Boultbee for making the site available; it's a boon to writers. Follow the link below to visit the site, learn more about it, and find out how to submit your cover. And if you're so inclined to cast your vote for my cover, I'll just be tickled to death!

Thank you for the interview

My online friend and critique partner, Cara Martens, recently interviewed me for her blog, Moonstruck Gems. I'd love to have folks visit her blog read my interview, but the real treat is seeing her photos of gemstones and the lovely jewelry she makes from them. Don't miss it. And Cara, thanks so much for the interview. It was fun!

In the LASR Spotlight

I recently had a great time in the "Author Spotlight" at Long and Short Romance Reviews. Judy and Marianne at LASR had drawings back in the summer for several spotlight features -- and I won one of 'em! The spotlighted author writes five essays that are posted at the LASR review site from Monday through Friday. Site visitors answer questions from each essay and the winner receives a gift from the featured author. My gift to the winner was an autographed copy of my novel.

My essay topics were as follows (click to go to LASR to read the essays).

Monday -- On Writing
Tuesday -- On Agenda and Theme
Wednesday -- My Hero
Thursday -- Dialog and Dialect
Friday -- Excerpt from Southern Man

I had a great time in the LASR spotlight, and I enjoyed the comments left by readers. LASR is a terrific site run by folks who do so much for romance authors. My thanks to you ladies, and best wishes for the continued success of your site!

Classic Romance Revival? And how!

I'm excited to be a new affiliate author at Classical Romance Revival -- an online group of authors from around the world who support the revival of classical romance -- that is, sweet, sensual and sophisticated romance with the classic values of commitment, integrity... and happily ever after! A marvelous new website has been launched by author Judah Raine of Westville, South Africa, the group's dedicated and resourceful leader, and a cyber-celebration is underway.

Follow the link below to have a look around. There are reviews of classical romances, a wonderful group blog and news (check under "Hot Happenings"). You'll also find author interviews, bookstore -- even recipes!

So come check us out -- and check back often!

How Sweet It Is!

With apologies to Jackie Gleason...(All you kids who don't know who that is, click HERE) I have to tell you what a great time I had chatting at The Sweetest Romance blog! Our guest was Crystal Wilkinson, who acquainted us with the wheel concept of story structure (all "spokes" must lead to the hub, or core, of the story). There was also a scavenger hunt won by -- Yours Truly! My prize -- this lovely banner.
Click HERE to vist The Sweetest Romance Blog!
Thanks for an fun evening, ladies of the blog. I look forward to chatting with you again.

Playing with covers ... again

The novel I originally called Honor's Conquest has been renamed Storm Surge. The reference is to coastal flooding that accompanies hurricanes when they make landfall -- one of the major events in the story.

I have about 33,000 words. I need another 20,000 more and it'll be finished. I'm not going to publish this one under the Brasstown Books imprint. I'll go the submissions route. This is a romance -- no politico-cultural agendas, here -- so we'll see how it does.

Even though I'll submit to conventional publishers, I couldn't resist playing with a cover idea. Whoever suggested to me to make covers for my WIPs -- thanks so much! I enjoy doing it, and the covers make the book more real while it's being created.

So here it is. What do you think?

Here's a bit about the story:

All her life, Briana Farrior has been a SAP -- a Southern American Princess, small-town, small-time version. But since she was a college freshman, she has wanted to shed her frivolous self concept and do something with her life that matters.

Her first chance comes when she is hired by Guardian Consumer Protection Group, a watchdog organization in Mobile, Alabama, to help get the goods on ruthless corporations that victimize the little guy.

But her big chance comes when her boss and mentor, Sylvia Watson, helps her go undercover at Gulf States Insurance Services, an independent adjusting firm in nearby Pensacola, Florida.

The young company is headed up by its founder, Justin Adair, who Sylvia suspects of big-time insurance fraud.

Briana's mission -- become Adair's trusted administrative assistant and find the evidence.

But Sylvia didn't tell her young friend that Adair was so handsome and charming. And she didn't tell her how a crook could be a man of such high principles and virtue.

And now that Justin is falling in love with his new administrative assistant, how can Briana stop herself from loving him in return?

More to the point, why should she?

But as Justin and Briana work through the barriers -- her deception and his doubt --that threaten their love before it really starts, a vengeful adversary threatens their lives.

Reviews and Reader Comments

I'm so pleased that Southern Man is getting reviews, and very glad they're all positive this far.

Says Cherokee, at Coffee Time Romance:

...a smooth flowing storyline that kept this reader interested. The characters are real. ... Troy and Patty were good players as husband and wife, as they sought to maintain order in their life. Connie Chastain tells the story of a loving couple who... find a way to face any temptation in their path. She chronicles a good tale, instilling, warmth and emotions in her players, to create a delightful story worth the read.

Says Edelweiss at LASR Reviews: absorbing story of marriage vows under stress and of politically targeted individuals facing social and career extinction....refreshingly written from the viewpoint of the traditional family values that made our culture the world’s envy....a novel with political bite....grippingly exposes the underside of corporate harassment policies that have inadvertently brought misery to many innocent employees....a well written story, with prose that’s concise and silky to read..... sparks with rising excitement as it gathers momentum...the harrowing rush to the book’s conclusion is a riveting reading experience....a love story of refined elegance.

Wow! Thanks to both of you. Great reviews!

Says it all...

Getting the word out....

I'm so excited that Southern Man is featured in the August 2009 edition of the "Marketing for Romance Writers" newsletter. Many thanks to the MFRW staff -- all volunteers -- for all their hard work! The newsletter is viewable to members of of Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter Group at:

It's a wonderful edition of the newsletter. Great job! Thanks again, Rochelle and staff!

So leftists have discovered love and romance

Or have they? Or is it just another vast, uncharted landscape of our culture they haven't marched in and trampled on yet?

Back in May, Hillary Rettig gets on Huffington Post to report on the April Conference on Romance Fiction at Princeton -- but she's really just using it as an excuse to pat herself and liberalism on the back and evilize conservatives. What a surprise, huh.

Take this, for example, from her piece, The Eroticization of Equality and Social Justice. She notes that the "arch-conservative" website Human Events lists Dr. Alfred Kinsey's book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, a.k.a. The Kinsey Report, as the fourth most harmful book of the 19th and 20th centuries. Then she dramatically asks, "What do conservatives -- and repressive regimes and ideologies the world over -- have against romance, love and sex? Why do they need to control them so much?"

First of all, how is saying that something -- anything -- should be used right, as it was intended -- how is that a need to control? Is telling an obese person they should eat less and healthier food a need to control?

If Rettig cared enough to look, Human Events explained why they consider the book dangerous, with a quote from the Washington Times: “The report included reports of sexual activity by boys—even babies—and said that 37% of adult males had had at least one homosexual experience.... The 1953 book also included reports of sexual activity involving girls younger than age four, and suggested that sex between adults and children could be beneficial,” the Washington Times reported.

Presumably Rettig thinks child-sex is just another manifestation of equality and social justice?

So much of the type of romance Rettig is praising as "progressive" is not about equality and social justice. It's not even about love and romance. It's just more leftist mutation and mutilation of goodness and decency.

Vampire heroes and radical feminism

So my novel is completed and available on -- and I'm starting the marketing and promotions bit. I'm also getting back to my neglected blog.

I had a wee bit of trouble trying to classify Southern Man. It's not really a romance, which, as I understand it, involves two people falling in love and dealing with internal and external conflict along the way. Southern Man contains a romance; the story of Troy and Patty's meeting, courtship and early married life is told in backstory and flashbacks. But that doesn't make the novel a romance.

Nevertheless, romance readers are part of my target readership. I was a member of Romance Writers of America and several online romance groups, and one thing I've learned -- romance novels have changed since the 1980s, when I occasionally enjoyed offerings from Lavyrle Spencer and Dixie Browning.

It seems that hunky heroes of times past are finding themselves squeezed out of the picture by host of quasi-human heroes -- vampires, shape-shifters (which, I think, includes werewolves and were-other-things), aliens and even demons. Lord help us, when did the servants of Satan, the enemy of humankind, become the objects of romantic love?

When it comes to reading fantasy or speculative fiction, I can suspend disbelief as well as the next gal... Well, no, maybe I can't. I used to be better at it than I am now. I'm still a fan of space-opera sci-fi (still a Trekker after all these years), but that's only a part of the weirdness I've been finding in romance sub-genres today.

And as a human woman, a daughter of Eve, child of the Earth, I love romance heroes who are real men. Flesh and blood humans, the sons of Adam with all their flaws, creatures made by God in His image, with their spark of the divine. What cyanotic walking dead guy can touch that? What fellow who's apt to sprout fur and fangs can come close to a real man with a human heart full of love?

I admit the intriguing nature of this phenomena, and I've developed a theory based in part upon my antagonism for radical feminism and not-so-radical feminism. Don't get me wrong; I applaud equal pay for equal work and all that, and I admire strong women (my family has been full of 'em for generations). But I believe that helping and uplifting women is but a small slice of the political and cultural agenda of feminism. Far more of its attention and resources are focused on something else.

Basically, the core of feminism is the female hatred of men. That hatred extends to anything that involves men--particularly marriage (hence the current societal drive to define marriage as between other than male and female); and family (hence the stripping from men their rights as fathers by the courts of the land; and hence the feminist-influenced societal war against life in the [female] womb, life that results only when a male contribution is part of the process).

For several decades, western culture has been fed the line that men are the sole cause of all humanity's evil and sorrows; that for millenia, men were oppressors, women the oppressed. That women lived lives of drudgery, men lives of ease. All men are brutes, we were told, all sex is rape.

A post-modern woman, strong, decisive, making her own decisions, in charge of her own life, dare not succumb to the attraction of a strong male because he can, and likely will, revert at any moment, from the slightest provocation, into the brutish oppressor of females men have been from time-immemorial. In the feminist mindset, not even in our fantasies are we allowed to love a strong man.

So, what can we do?

Well, we can disguise them -- as quasi-humans, something still of the earth and still male, but not totally flesh and blood, not the sons of Adam, and possessing no membership in the patriarchy. Or, we can make them not of the earth at all. And we can make quasi-human women to love them, or strive with, or against, them.

We can wrack our brains, world-build till the cows come home, and create vampire after vampire and eternal wars for them to fight, and furry men who howl at the moon ... or we can admit we are women with human hearts who love men, real men -- men who are not the evil oppressors we've been told, but who also have human hearts capable of courage and love.

Humanity, with its flawed nature and spark of the divine, is the unending source of fascinating stories -- including romances. Face it -- even the wildest paranormal, sci-fi fantasies are concocted by human minds.

So to heck with what the feminists say. Men are wonderful. I love them!

Are you a writer or reader of paranormal, futuristic and fantasy romance? Do you agree or disagree with my premise? Are you a feminist who thinks I just don't get it? Let's hear from you. Comments invited!

Southern Man out at last!

I have to say, publishing the thing was a whole lot more pleasurable than writing it! I really enjoy typesetting (I used QuarkXpress) despite it's being so labor intenstive.

Anyway, I'm so proud of my baby! It's available on

Next step -- learning promotion. One of my early efforts resulted two trailers at Youtube. Here's the short one:


Southern Man to be out soon!

By arrangement with the author (me) Brasstown Books (also me), an imprint of Great Southern Publishing (yep, you guessed it; me, again) is going to publish Southern Man with a release date of sometime this summer. Early June, I hope.

I've been busy doing book designing. It's really enjoyable, and I like the idea that I have control over things like font style and size, and cover design. I also rather like the idea of doing my own marketing and promotion. It's not like being marketed by one of the New York giants (no, not those Giants) but I don't think even they do a lot of marketing except for big name authors.

Since most of this book's marketing will be done online, I have started with banner designs. I did these first few banners, static and animated, as well as the cover for Southern Man, in two programs, Adobe PhotoDeluxe (the "home version" of Photoshop) and Ultimate Paint.

I'll have a little longer to work on these before my ISBNs come in. I'm also waiting to hear back on permission to quote lyrics from a popular song in this novel. That's going to be about three weeks... Also give me plenty of time for one more proofreading of my manuscript.

This is exciting!

Contests In Perspective

This is a scan of a certificate I won in a synopsis contest sponsored by the Maine Romance Writers, RWA. My entry was Southern Man. It was entered in the Romantic Elements category. It was a second place finalist in that category, tied with another entry.

I'm absurdly delighted with the award. See, I'm wordy. It's hard for me to write short. That's why I'm not a good blogger. So for me to win a synopsis contest was truly remarkable.

This particular contest allowed a synopsis of no more than ten pages. Ten pages! That was startling to me. Most editors and agents specify that a synopsis that accompanies a query and/or sample chapters be no more than a page or two long. I'm still trying to figure out how you encapsulate over 100,000 words in a two-page synopsis.

Oh, well. I guess if you can capture a behemoth story like Southern Man in ten pages, you can figure out how to capture it in two. Or one.

Many thanks to the judges who scored my entry--and who offered such wonderful words of encouragement! I look forward to the next synopsis contest.

Book Covers

I read somewhere, a tip for writers with a new WIP, particularly a novel, that you can make it more real by designing a cover for your book. So I tried it. Did the front, spine, back blurb and all.

This is kinda fun. Here are some covers made with affordable stock photos and PhotoDelux -- the really, really old (Windows 98) home version of PhotoShop (I still love it and use it a lot, even though it spits at XP now and then, and vice versa).