I try to hold small contests through out the year and this time around the contest is a themed event! The prize for this event is a paperback copy of Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals and your story posted on my blog. How do you win such a wonderful awesome prize, you may ask. Well, since Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals is about a bunch of quirky old people, saying and doing things that embarrass or even shock our main character, I want your experiences with the elderly doing things in public that may have surprised you and made you laugh. I’ve worked with children and the elderly alike and if I have learned anything it is that they are liable to say anything at any time…and it’s great!

Last fall I walked through the door at work and there was a little boy hopping in place, wearing a pillowcase that was covered in paper feathers to make him look like a turkey and he was very excitedly screaming, “I am a monkey riding a bull shark!” at the top of his little lungs. These are the types of stories I want to hear. I do not want anything demeaning to the person you are writing about. I just want something funny, random, heartwarming and endearing. These have to be true tales, nothing fictional.

To submit your tale please post it in the comments on this page or message me on facebook. The winning story will be posted on the first of May and I will contact you for the prize information. Good Luck!

Updated…The Interview from Hell!

As some of you know from my prior post, I just finished an interview with The Authors Show, author talk radio. It was a rough one but I made it through and with the aid of some modern technology and an army of sound techs, I almost don’t sound like I’m on the precipice of fainting! If you’d like to check out the finished product and maybe hear a little about a book I wrote, click the link below.

My interview…

Yesterday morning after a night of working a 12 hour shift, I sat on my couch, drinking coffee like it had special powers just so that I would be coherent enough for my radio interview to answer the host’s questions without falling asleep. My six year old refrigerator died at some point during the night and my house is ode de rotten meat and I don’t have time for any of it. I have to get to my sister in law’s house because she has a landline phone and I need this for my interview.

Before you get too comfortable I’m going to tell you that when I set out to write books for a living, I never intended to end up on the radio or The Ellen Show. I started writing so that I could comfortably avoid people. I am not socially inept nor am I a snob that feels most other human beings are simply lower life forms that must be tolerated until a vaporizing spray is put on the market. I have an honest to goodness diagnosis of having a social phobia. This means that walking into a room with more than three other people in it, whom I do not know, is kind of like dumping a box of spiders on an arachnophobic’s head. I instantly turn beet red and break out in a cold sweat. I don’t run screaming from the room in an uncontrolled panic. I can function and do so quite well, all things considered but there are some things I avoid if at all possible, like cafeterias, crowded bars or restaurants, auditoriums and most of all talking in groups of people I don’t know. This includes The Ellen Show and radio interviews. I haven’t been invited to present my book on Ellen’s show just yet but I have had three radio interviews to date and I’m still waiting for the day that it gets easy.

Since nine o’clock I’ve broken out into hives on my face and I’ve hung up on a woman calling my sister in law on the phone I’m using for the interview…which just so happened to belong to said sister in law.

So I’m on the phone with the host who is going to ask me a few questions about a book I wrote. This should be a cake walk. I’m going to use my best phone sex voice and laugh periodically to lighten the mood and feel of my interview.

The first thing the host asks me to do is speak uncomfortably loudly to cover the background sound that recording from a phone call makes. Okay.

“So Cree, tell us about your book.”

Bam, blank wall. I’m seeing spots and my entire body is vibrating with nervous shivers and caffeine overload. Book? What is this guy talking about? Oh, book, my book…”WELL DON, MAPLE LANE MANOR IS ABOUT BLAA BLAA BLAA…BLA BLA” Insert crazy manic giggle, here. So much for a phone sex voice and charisma.

There is a long uncomfortably pause and I think I’ve screwed up. Did I speak too loudly? Is he on the other end making faces at the sound guy over how obnoxious I sound? My sister in law’s little dog is sitting at my feet whining loudly. I’m pretty sure he’s reading my emotions and thinks the house is on fire from the way I’m acting. The pause is actually only about two seconds long and it’s there to make certain that he doesn’t interrupt me during recording.

On to the next question…

By the third question I’m speed walking through my sister in laws house being trailed by the dog and the cat keeps winding herself around my feet. I’m announcing the characters, whom I literally know better than my own family and by the third one I realize I might faint. My breathing is erratic, I’m shaking so hard I can’t focus on my notes and my voice sounds like I’m sitting on a washing machine without all the fun side effects.

I freeze mid-sentence and let out a shaky breath…”I’m sorry, I’m just really nervous.” I admit.

“Nervous?” He asks like this surprises him. And then his voice takes on the tone of smooth chocolate. “Why are you so nervous. It’s just the two of us talking.”

I melt into a chair, instantly at ease probably because I know the sound editors are going to cut this part out…they better cut this part out.

He talks to me for a few more minutes before the interview starts again.

I work through it like Rocky Five. But, I worry that the only thing that is going to save this interview is the sound techs and hours of some poor interne fighting with yards of tape to make me sound as though I’m not hanging off the edge of a cliff by my fingertips.

Now, was it worth it? Yes

Will I do this again? Yes.

Will I sleep the night before my interview? Yup.

Will I be medicated? Probably.


Excerpt from: My Ex-Boyfriend is a Werewolf…

First Dates and Breakup Sex 

I thought back to our first date. Corbin had been coming into the shop for months and I was finally at a point where I couldn’t deny that he was visiting for me. Finally one day he came in, cornered me against my work table and kissed me in front of everyone. Then he bit his bottom lip looking at me with those Caribbean blue eyes and asked me out to dinner. When I finally had the breath to answer him with a loud and somewhat uncool, Yes, he looked almost relieved as if he expected me to say anything else.

He called that night just as I was about to start getting ready. He was in the yard waiting and since I wasn’t usually the type of woman to make a man wait, I let him in and gave him the remote to the television.

I started the shower and got in. Within five minutes Corbin was pacing up and down my hall, pausing in front of the bathroom door every few minutes. I remember standing in the shower listening for him and willing him to just open the door and walk in. By the time he did I was worried my hot water was about to run out.

He slid open the curtain, looking in on me with uncertainty in his eyes, until I reached out and grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him in, fully clothed.

That first, “date,” should have been a heads up to how the rest of our relationship was going to go. We didn’t do things traditionally because he didn’t really know or care to understand human customs and since Corbin was officially the first long term, adult relationship, I’d ever had, I didn’t really care about those customs either. Like I said, Corbin didn’t do boundaries.

I blinked myself back to reality and Corbin was looking at me as though he knew exactly what I’d been thinking about. “I’ll get an estimate on the basement. It shouldn’t be too hard. The plumbing is already in. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get it ready but I’ll keep you updated.” I said all of this into my plate because I didn’t think I could look at him.

To this, he responded. “Do you miss me?”

I stood up and picked up my plate. “This is good for us. Neither of us has been very happy lately and I don’t want to just play dumb and delay the inevitable. I wouldn’t have done this if I thought we had a chance, but as things are I don’t think it’s possible. We literally come from different worlds and it’s not fair to ask you to give up yours. You’re loyal, so loyal sometimes that it scares me. You would shrivel up and die before hurting me and I can’t let you do that.”

He moved towards me with his head hanging and I allowed him to pull me into a hug but as soon as he turned his nose to my throat, I stiffened and tried pushing him away but his arms were locked around my waist. He growled and for the first time in five years he made me nervous but then he nuzzled me again and my knees buckled. His hands started kneading the muscles of my sides and back and I gnawed on my bottom lip to keep from moaning. The familiarity of his touch triggered something in my memory and I softened against his hard chest. He pressed forward and I stumbled backwards roughly, against the table as our lips met. He lifted me and dropped me onto the table’s surface with a clattering of dishes.

The doorbell rang and I pulled away from the kiss first to look beyond Corbin’s stiff shoulders at whoever was standing outside the door. Tucker stood there glaring a hole in the back of Corbin’s head but covered it quickly, smirking and giving me a finger wave through the glass.

Corbin glanced back over his shoulder looking pretty angry but he hid it well with his ever present glare of annoyance as Tucker sauntered through the door.

My face was totally crimson as I unwrapped my legs from around Corbin’s waist and lifted my hand out of a plate of mashed potatoes. Is there a cool way to hop off of a table you were just caught grinding your ex-boyfriend on?

400 Words from Karma Baby

           Teagan is moving across country when her car breaks down. She’s walking for the nearest town when her dog, Charms spots a squirrel and drags her into the woods.

Karma Baby

            I couldn’t let go of his leash for fear of never seeing my beloved dog again so I held on with all my strength and grudgingly dragged along behind him, adding as much resistance to the lead as my exhausted body would allow.

            Finally, Charms gave up his chase, having lost the mega squirrel’s trail in the thick woods. He sat down, panting heavily. Charms may have been a stunning example of pure bred doggy wonder but at the end of the day he was still my dog and his athleticism only went as far as mine did, which judging from the way I was panting and clutching my side…wasn’t anything to write home about.

            As soon as it was quiet, I looked around to find myself surrounded by huge pine trees and it was starting to get dark. I could practically hear the faint sound of a banjo’s strings being plucked in the distance.

            I glared down at Charms, disapprovingly. “You’ve lost your navigation privileges buddy.”

            “Hey, what are you doing out here?” The man’s deep voice made me scream and turn around with my hand on my chest, as if that was somehow going to stop the heart attack was having. I wasn’t having said heart attack because he had frightened me, though he had. I was having a heart attack because he was gorgeous. He was tall, lean, well-muscled, tanned, and immediately made me think of all those Disney princesses, haplessly stumbling upon conveniently eligible male royalty in the middle of a forest somewhere. Maybe Snow White had been onto something.

           The only thing that prevented me from bursting into song with the aid of surrounding wildlife and leaping into his arms to consummate our true love kiss was that he looked angry and more than a little guarded.

            I quickly snapped back to reality and tried straightening my dirty clothes and gravity defiant hair. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” And I was…very, very sorry. I didn’t want him mad at me, at least not until we’d been legally wed.

Excerpt from Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals

Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals

Chapter One

As of about four and a half minutes ago, I officially quit college. I’ve decided that after attending not one but two separate colleges during my nine…okay ten years of switching majors and still not knowing what I want to be when I grow up, that I was never meant to be a serious intellectual. I was not designed to run a corporate enterprise or wow the art world with genius sculpture and paintings. I was studying to become a teacher until I realized I don’t like children. I would have made an excellent veterinarian, except I’m allergic to cats. Or, more accurately they are allergic to me. I wanted to be an engineer, but it turns out I’m also allergic to math, which also eliminated engineering and accounting. I even tried psychology, caseworker, and business major. So after trying everything that ever caught my attention, I switched to a technical college, where I discovered I had no talent for mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, heating, or cooking anything in an oven. And I literally flunked out as a dental assistant when I vomited on a patient while I was cleaning his teeth during final exams. So because of this, or rather despite all of this, I’m going into the family business.

My decision for this very sudden and life-altering change might have been prompted by the three-page, single-spaced letter I am now holding. It’s written in legal speak and since I did a very brief stint in law – after watching a marathon of Law and Order while recovering from a vicious and unprompted cat attack – I will summarize; “Your grandmother is dead, and she’s left you the house and its current occupants.”

This is the letter telling me that my Granny Nan has passed away. It was unexpected, and I’m not saying unexpected as in she was always so healthy and she never said she was sick. No, I’m saying unexpected because she was a vampire. Granny Nan was the first in our family, full born. She came with all the perks of the undead. She could turn into a bat and she never aged. She drank the blood of the living, but she never took more than necessary. She could hypnotize people with a wink of her long black lashes, and any whispered suggestions she made became the victim’s lifelong mission to fulfill. She stayed inside on sunny days and avoided anything resembling a wooden stake. On top of all of this, she was very fast and very smart and very full of life.

She raised me from six months old, as my mother had met her untimely demise in an unfortunate car accident involving a truck transporting picket fence posts. As far as anyone knew in the small town where I grew up, Granny Nan wasn’t my very young-looking, nearly two hundred year-old grandmother. She was just my mom.

I’m a second-generation vampire. Vampires aren’t made, or even bred. As far as we can tell, they just happen once in a while, and the only way they can have children is if they choose to do so with a human. Long story short, that makes me a quarter vampire. Meaning I don’t get to live forever, I can’t turn into any cool animals, and I will never be able to hypnotize people with a look or a whisper. The only thing I got from that side of the family is that I have to wear sunscreen year round and I’m mildly anemic. I don’t drink blood, but I like my steak extra rare. I have a pretty good metabolism, but unlike Granny Nan I do have to burn a few calories on the treadmill a few times a week if I want to eat cupcakes.

Having been raised in a retirement home, I am probably more aware of my own mortality than most. What I learned from my somewhat different childhood experience was that I didn’t want to die without living a full and happy life. The only problem was I seemed to be having trouble getting that life of excitement started. I was so scared to make the wrong move that I ended up not moving at all. So at twenty-seven – okay twenty-eight, I was now the newest caretaker of Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals.


I stepped off the little twin engine plane, feeling the first flutter of nervousness. Though I loved my Granny Nan dearly, I hadn’t actually been home once since I started my lengthy college experience nearly ten years ago. Part of the reason I’d chosen to attend school nearly two thousand miles away was because I was living in the now, not sitting in a retirement home waiting to die and talking about the good old days. I told myself the night I left that I would not go to one more funeral. I would not attend one more wake and I would not read one more obituary. For those of you who don’t know, these make up some very intoxicating pastimes for the elderly, and though the current crew of the Manor was pretty healthy, I wasn’t going to risk sticking around to find out if I was wrong. Up ’til now I believed they’d had their lives, so it was my turn and, unlike my Granny Nan and a long line of her predecessors, I wasn’t wasting mine on them. A decade of wasted reality had altered that perspective and I found out the hard way where my fate truly lay.

I snorted as I grabbed my pink leopard-print suitcase. It was vintage Louie and a gift from Vie on the night of my high school graduation. It was the only old thing I owned and I only kept it out of respect for Vie and her history of traveling around the world with it. Otherwise, old things had an expiration date just like people, and since I had yet to make my own history I refused to own anything that the factory had more than one of.

Walter was waiting for me in the house car. The car was a vintage nineteen twenty-three Mercedes-Benz. It was a very cool car but not very practical in eastern Massachusetts during the winter months. Fortunately, tonight was a humid eighty-seven degree June evening.

I tried not to react to how shockingly old Walter had grown in the ten years I’d been away. He grumbled something about moving my ass because The Wheel was about to start. The Wheel – better known to the rest of the world as Wheel of Fortune – made that small half hour slot a religious gathering for its residents. I wasn’t sure if it was all the lights and glitter or if it was Vanna White, an eighth vampire by the way, strutting her stuff and pressing buttons, but the residents of Maple Lane didn’t miss it. Ever. Events were scheduled around that sacred half hour, even seeing me off when I’d left the Manor for the last time ten years ago. I remember walking out the door with Granny Nan and waving over my shoulder as they all sat hypnotized by the glowing television screen. Nobody even moved.

“Nice to see you too, Walter,” I said sweetly. Walter’s appearance might have aged, but his unwavering grumpy scowl was steadfast as ever.

He grumbled again and peered out at the road through impressive Coke bottle glasses.

Walter had always been a man of few words, but since I’d left, even those words had become non-existent. Werewolves are nothing if not a loyal bunch, and to Walter I’d abandoned them because I didn’t respect or love them anymore. At least that’s what Granny Nan told me when he refused to talk to me on the phone.

I would have continued to push for conversation, but I was too busy gripping the door handle for the duration of the ride. His vision had been pretty bad ten years ago, and I was pretty sure he was now legally blind. I would have offered to drive, but that would have entailed him pulling to the side of the road and I wasn’t sure if I should risk that proximity to the ditch or the telephone poles.

We screeched to a halt in the Manor’s driveway safe and sound, if you didn’t count my elevated blood pressure, and Walter got out and went inside without so much as a hello. With shaky hands I fumbled the door open and angled out of the low-riding antique automobile. I lugged my bag out of the tiny backseat and looked up at the not-so-splendid wonder of Maple Lane. I blinked up several times at the ramshackle mansion and sighed. Even in the twilight I could see it needed paint and a new roof. The lawn needed serious help, and the overall appearance of the house was that it looked haunted. Ironically, the one thing Maple Lane lacked was a ghost.

The door slammed behind me, and I cringed at the noise. But everyone was seated in the parlor staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the colorful screen as the ratcheting sound of the sacred wheel was spun. I couldn’t help but smile at the sight before me. Vie sat in the faded orange, overstuffed wingback chair she’d dubbed “the throne.” Walter had plunked himself down in a beat-up brown La-Z-Boy less than four feet from the screen so he could see, and Willow and Alex shared the couch. Both had their legs crossed in lotus position.

I waited patiently for a commercial before announcing a friendly hello to everyone.

Walter ignored me, Willow nodded, Alex flashed me a peace sign, and Vie sighed and rose to her feet to give me a welcoming hug. She patted my hair and whispered how sorry she was that my Nan had passed so unexpectedly.

Willow and Alex scooted to the ends of the couch so I could sit between them and suddenly I was a little girl again, watching The Wheel with my strange extended family. I enjoyed those few moments of remembered bliss until Jeopardy came on and Alexander clicked off the television.

“So are you going to sell this old heap?” Walter snapped suddenly. This was rude even for Walter.

“Why would I sell this place? It’s our home.”

“Walter!” Vie said sharply.

“We’ve got a right to know what she’s going to do, don’t we?” Walter countered.

When nobody else spoke and every eye in the house focused on me expectantly, I cleared my throat. “I love this old house.”

“How do you plan to maintain it?” Walter asked. “Your grandmother sank most of her savings into your college experience. I supported her at first, thinking maybe one day you’d wise up and get your head out of the clouds, but you’ve managed to be the only person on Earth to attend college for a decade without getting a single degree in anything. How does one do that, exactly?”

One drops out of classes before completing them

, I thought to myself.

“Walter!” Vie hissed again.

“No, woman. She needs to hear the truth of it. If she’s ever going to grow up she needs to be treated like an adult.”

Vie hissed at him and it sounded like a protective mother cat standing over her kitten.

The elderly werewolf snarled back at her, but broke into a cough and wheezed from the effort.

I sighed as I waited patiently for Walter’s temper and coughing fit to dissipate. “No, he’s right.” I nodded to the group. “I hadn’t realized that Granny had sacrificed so much for my schooling, but it’s time for me to grow up.”

“Too little, too late,” Walter barked. “This place is too far gone for some flighty little girl without a degree – or a job, I might add – to fix it. You’ll never get this old dump up and running again and the longer you wait, the lower its market value will go. Time is no longer on your side, young lady.”

I narrowed my eyes at his challenge. “We’ll see about that, you old dog,” I said, throwing a little of his venom back at him.

He glared his optically enlarged eyes right back at me. “You haven’t finished a thing in your life, little girl. I don’t expect the biggest challenge of it to be the first thing you manage to complete.”

I crossed my arms. “I’ll take your bet.”

There was an audible ugly gasp as everyone in the room sucked in a breath. My grandmother had very few rules in her house, and “no betting” was number one on that list. But Granny Nan wasn’t here.

“If I do get this place up and running again, what do I get in return?” I asked the group.

“How about the satisfaction of knowing you’ve finally accomplished something?” Walter sneered.

“How about that collection of baseball cards you keep under your bed?” I countered with a raised eyebrow.

Then I looked at Vie. “And I want Marilyn’s shoes.”

I looked to the wizard next. “Alex…you’ve got to shave your beard and cut your hair if I do this, and, – ” I turned to Willow, who reeked of peppermint schnapps, “ – I want you to stop drinking before noon. How’s that sound?”

“What do we get in return?” Walter argued.

“How about the satisfaction of knowing you have a place to live and a bed to sleep in at night?” I shot back.

Walter thought on it long and hard. “We need to come up with a time frame to decide if we’re just fighting a losing battle or if you’re here for the long haul.”

“A year,” I said.

Walter snorted. “The way the housing market is crashing I wouldn’t give you a month before you decide it’s too hard and quit.”

“Six months,” Vie interjected. “We have to give her a fighting chance to actually do something.”

“We’ll vote on it!” Willow announced suddenly in her soft little voice.

In the end I got six months, but I think it was only because half of them hoped to be dead and gone by the time my trial period was up. The deal was I had to improve the house and catch up on the bills.

Oh, and not quit.


A lighthearted Paranormal Romantic Comedy…

Maple has spent the last decade, switching from one college major to another. She’s so scared to make a mistake in life, that she’s having a little trouble getting it started. Never quite knowing her purpose, the decision is suddenly made for her when her vampire, grandmother mysteriously passes away and leaves  Maple Lane Manor, and it’s four elderly supernatural residents in her care.

Upon arriving home for the first time in ten years, Maple is stunned to see that the Manor isn’t the pristine, stoic, hill-top wonder, it once was. She soon finds out that the condition of the house isn’t the worst of her problems. Money issues caused by a decade of Maple’s lengthy, “college experience” have put them deep in debt and now it’s up to Maple to save her namesake and the only family she’s ever known, from being taken away.

To help her Derek Holt, the dashing and mysterious handyman, a drunk witch, a grumpy werewolf, a semi-lucid wizard, a former starlet/part vampire and a little parrot named, Batman, will do everything in their power to support Maple in her impossible battle to save the Manor from debt, decay and her high school arch nemesis, over zealous real-estate agent, Stacy Monrow.

Will Maple be able to save her home and her family or is the Manor doomed to die alongside its longtime caretaker, Nancy Lane?


Buy Links for Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Allromanceebooks Not Up Yet
Barnes & Noble

Maple Lane Manor by Cree Walker


2013 Finalist for the UpAuthor’s Fiction Challenge!

UP Approved

What the Paranormal Romance Guild had to say about Maple Lane Manor, Home for Retired Supernaturals…

“5 Stars…This is a wonderful book filled with romance, betrayal, lies, and suspense.  It also has some amazing characters.  What I liked most was that there were not so many characters that you lost track of who is who.  If you love paranormal books than this one is perfect, it is paranormal with a healthy serving of humor.” PRG Reviewer Linda Tonis

What über tough reviewer, Douglas Meeks had to say…

“The action is adequate, some small subplots and a story told interestingly enough to hold my interest during the slower scenes was a nice change (no scanning).Bottom Line:  Great PNR/UF mix which I enjoyed, the story moved along well and the characters were fleshed out well for this story.  I give it 4.5 Stars and loved the ending, this seems to be a standalone book and sometimes you really like it that way.”

The Writing Process with Author Delena Silverfox…

So my wonderful friend and author Cree Walker invited me to be hosted on her blog. Thank you so much, Cree! Love ya, babe.  MWAH!

So the theme of this blog tour is My Writing Process.

So what am I working on right now?

Well, I just finished the first draft of the sequel to my novella.
Hallowed Fiends and Darkest Fortune. This is a full-length novel following Anya and the Duke after their first night together. It’s titled, Duchess of War and I tell people, “Think of it as The War of the Roses meets the French Revolution.”

I’m in the process of editing right now, then it’ll go to a few beta readers. My editor is cracking the whip, because she’s anxious to finally get her hands on it, lol. It’s always a great feeling when your editor is one of your biggest cheerleaders.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I can honestly say I make a lot of people angry. My style of writing isn’t their cuppa, and that’s okay. I don’t write the fluffy, soft, romantic kind of romance novels. Mine are gritty. They’re not always pretty. My stories make my readers look at topics like rape, child abuse, domestic violence, and hatred square in the face. My characters are flawed. It hurts when they grow, and they fight it tooth and nail at times. The hero, like in my first paperback, Devil’s Bitch, punches the heroine square in the jaw during a confrontation. The war between the sexes takes on aspects of psychological warfare.

My heroines are confident with a strong sense of self, usually foul-mouthed, and have no problem telling someone to f*ck off. They will go toe-to-toe with anyone –usually the hero– who tries to intimidate them, and sometimes they win. Sometimes they don’t. No cheese-spined milksop heroines in my books!

Loving a person involves sacrificing ego, self-delusions, pride, and the need to win. It means being vulnerable, and for some that is a massive struggle. Learning to go from self-interest to mutual interest, learning to choose forgiveness, learning humility and to admit when you’re wrong…those are all very difficult things to learn. And sometimes that learning process is painful and ugly…but love, real love, is worth the growing pains.

Some people don’t like that. They want fluff and happy and perfect characters. They want their love-at-first-sight, and they want their heroines emotionally floppy the moment the hero comes onto the scene. That’s fine, and there are plenty of books like that. Mine aren’t, though.

Which leads into why I write what I do.

Frankly, I wrote what I wanted to read. I was so tired of the floppy milksop heroines, so tired of them putting down everything and identifying solely through the hero, so tired of these intelligent and confident woman letting the man wrestle the lead away from her for no other reason than that he has a penis. These goddesses became “little lady,” and I couldn’t stand it.

Then one day I read this Harlequin Treasury book, and it was the most terrible thing I’d ever read. And I was angry! When I finished it, I threw it down in disgust, because here I’d thought there was no way I could be good enough to be a published author, and here was Harlequin –the king of romance, back in the day– publishing this drivel! I could write better than this! So I started steering my writing, which had been more fantasy, into fantasy romance.

When Cree first told me about this topic, my reaction was kind of all over the place. You know the time when you were a kid and your experiment in the blender exploded at the exact same time your little brother fell off the chandelier, just as the cat went tearing through the living room after the hamster that your little sister let run free right before coloring the couch with Sharpie, and your parents walked in and asked you, “What is going here?!” and you kinda just went, “Um…yeah…”

That’s kind of how my reaction went, yeah. My writing process is about that chaotic, and trying to explain it is a little overwhelming.

I don’t even know where my writing process begins, really. When I have an idea, I don’t write it down immediately. I look at it, tell it hello, and then let it sit in the back of my brain and simmer for as long as it needs to. Sometimes this can be years. But while it’s simmering, weird and magical things are happening in the primordial soup of my subconscious.

Character development is evolving from little flagellum-propelled amoeboid creatures swimming around as a spark of an idea, slowly growing legs, then lungs, and then crawling up on land and going all Lord of the Flies in there. I might read an article about some completely unrelated topic and it sparks another idea, or builds on an existing one. All of these tiny pieces of ideas get added to my Primordial Idea Soup.

One day something happens, and at the most inconvenient moment possible when there’s absolutely no possible way I can get to a pen and paper, or my computer, or even my phone to use my voice recorder app to take notes, I get the sudden urge to write Right Now because all of those pieces in my subconscious have broken the surface –like the hissing, boiling birth of a volcanic island– and the story is a now a tangible thing.

In this way, sometimes I say my characters spring fully formed from my mind, like Minerva from Zeus’ head, because there’s no other way to describe it. But in reality, those characters have been growing and evolving deep in my mind for a very long time, and by the time they’re finally born, I know them on a very deep and visceral level. All of those character development exercises are useless to me because I don’t have to build anything; I let them evolve on their own.

After that comes the note-taking. Random and unconnected ideas go into one big hodge-podge document in Open Office. Any and everything related to the story –from characters eye color to quotes to historic details that help build the world but will never make it into the story– go there. While I’m taking these notes, again this process can take weeks or years depending, I’m trying to find the overall theme. Is the story about redemption? Forgiveness? Overcoming fear?

When I feel it’s time, I begin using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method  in Snowflake Pro. For me, this process helps me a ton because it helps me separate all of those jumbled details into a discernable order. It’s how I begin to organize my thoughts, and through this entire process the characters and world are speaking to me, helping me fill in the blanks.

By this time I’m neck-deep in notes: different-colored Post-It notes decorate every available surface of my desk. They line my computer monitor, the edges of my bathroom mirror, cling to the back of my phone. My voice recorder app is filled with hours of voice notes, and the Steno notepad that lives in my purse is also filled to capacity. My desk is piled with how-to writing and research books. I rack up my Amazon account, tucking away every receipt for tax season, and wonder if my desk will ever be organized again.

When I’m done with Step 6 of the Snowflake Method, my book is just about half written. There are usually about 50k words in notes alone: writing out scenes, bits of dialogue, describing scenes like a director with a screenplay. By the time I’m ready to sit down and crank out the book, I can write three thousand words a night in two hours after my daughter goes to bed, and have a book finished in a couple of months. Easy as pie.

(Ha ha! Yeah right.)

Of course, then the editing process starts.

Delena Silverfox is a fantasy romance author and exhausted mom of a preschooler. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing a naked three year-old around a messy house decorated in finger paints and sharpie on the walls. She misses sleep, and has a secret celebrity crush on Alton Brown.

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