Welcome to my blog!

I'm so excited that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author has come true. If you'd like to go straight to excerpts from my books, the links are:

The Mountain's Shadow - Lycanthropy Files Book One (October 1, 2013): the first chapter with buy links is here.

Long Shadows - Lycanthropy Files Book Two (March 25, 2014): first chapter and buy links are here.

Blood's Shadow - Lycanthropy Files Book Three (November 25, 2014): blurb and cover are here.

If you're not getting enough randomness from me here, please feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or like my Facebook page. I've also taken the Pinterest plunge.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Published Character on the Couch: Tara from Brighid's Flame

Just a quick note about an upcoming appearance... I'll be signing books and chatting with fans this coming Saturday, March 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 at Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith, New Hampshire. I'll try to bring up some of this lovely Southern weather for y'all!

Today I'm happy to welcome Cate Morgan, who is a fellow Samhain author and who shares the same wonderful editor Holly Atkinson, and her character Tara from her just-released novel Brighid's Flame.

Learn it easy, or learn it hard. You don’t mess with New York City.

Keepers of the Flame, Book 3

Tara Fitzpatrick is amazed how far she’s come since the Seven-Year War, when she and her best friend Stephen eked out a bare-bones existence in the Central Park Shanties. Now she has it all: Stephen at her side, rewarding work for the powerful Vincent Dante’s foundation, and a budding romance with Julien, Vincent’s heir.

If only the Underground movement would stop inciting civil unrest against Vincent’s efforts to rebuild the Big Apple, Tara’s life would be perfect.

Then Julien is shot before her eyes, shattering Tara’s world. Her pursuit of the shooter leads her down a rabbit hole dug by betrayal, misconceptions, and inescapable truth.

Suddenly the fate of an entire city rests on her shoulders. The man she was trained to protect is the man she is now forced to destroy. And the acceptance of her true destiny as a Keeper of the Flame comes at a terrible price—if she even survives the fight.

But if she’s lucky, perhaps the fight alone will be enough to save the city she loves.

Warning: Contains powerful alpha men, kick-ass women, dark secrets, and cat-and-mouse games. Also, explosions—because explosions are fun.

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? 

Yes, a court order is a valid answer. If Tara were to see a psychologist, it would be because she was ordered to by her superiors. Being in private security in an apocalyptic New York, she is essentially military during a shattering era of human history. That's a lot of pressure for a girl from the Central Park Shanties! 
2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself? 

Tara's issues are combination of both, but mainly internal. She was with her mother when she died in the first attacks of the Seven-Year War, and she a majority of the war either in the system in a series of horrible homes, being very angry and restless and unable to control any part of her life. She was a fighter, that's for sure! When she was rescued from the Shanties--a whole Lord of the Flies situation--she was safe for the first time years. Then her world is turned upside down when she learns those she loves and admires have been keeping some pretty dark secrets from her, and she feels betrayed. And--here's the kicker--she discovers that she's not entirely human. And yet she has humanity's fate quivering in the palm of her hand.
3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do? 

Tara stands to attention and looks straight ahead until asked (or ordered) to sit. When she sits, she does so bolt upright, on the edge of her seat, ready for action at a moment's notice.
4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? 

She has trust issues, so she doesn't say much. She'll answer direct questions because she must, but she won't give away a whole lot. not even in body language. She may admit to being weary, however, because there hasn't been a single day of her life since the War started that she hasn't been fighting.
5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next? 

Tara doesn't really drink, and she doesn't have any other vices other than really bad coffee, because she doesn't like to be out of control. If she's in a bar, it's to meet someone--her best friend Stephen, a contact. She'll order coffee, and get right back to business, or talk to Stephen about the session.
6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)? 

It's pretty rare when a character more or less downloads themselves into my brain to tell me their story. (In fact, it's a little disorienting when they do.) And every book is more or less different as far as my prep work and drafting process is concerned. But, generally, I have four things that go into a character's profile, all sourced from theatre techniques:
1) Character Sketch--not just physical appearance, but notes on their body language, where they live, any objects that are close to them. Their wants and desires.
2) Back Story--birth, background, childhoods, first kiss, relationships and friendships, all the way up to the point where the story starts.
3) Dream--this is fast-drafted, an almost stream of conscious depiction of one of my character's dreams. It usually runs a page or two at most, and I highlight all the repeated images and symbols to help me tap into that character's psyche.
4) Wardrobe--what would the character for certain occasions? What rituals do they perform in their dressing or grooming that stand out? Why? Is their closet messy, or perfectly organized? I'll refine this as I get plot points down and a scene list. But they all have that one object or wardrobe piece that defines their character. For Tara, it's her uniform.

Cecilia says: Tara sounds like a fascinating character, and your book sounds really interesting! Thanks so much for stopping by.

You can find Cate at her website, which includes buy links.

If you're a published author and would like to have a character come by or if you're unpublished and would like some help with one, please email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Published Character on the Couch Interview: J.C. Stockli's Lucca and Evie

Quick update: I got my new laptop, installed everything, and figured out after a couple of days that it had a problem with its fan. Back it went, and now I have a replacement that - fingers crossed! - will work out and will last as long as its grand-predecessor (5.5 years).

Also, I will be appearing as a guest this weekend at MidSouthCon in Memphis. It's like DragonCon but older and more sane crowd-wise. I'll be on five panels on various aspects of writing and the genres I write in, and I will have my first two books for sale and signing on Pro Row on Saturday at 1:00. Please come say hi!

Now for the real purpose of this post. I'm super excited to welcome J.C. Stockli, an indie-pubbed author, and two of her characters to my couch. I haven't read her book yet, but I'm definitely going to now that I've met her characters because it will be entertaining for both my urban fantasy author and psychologist sides. Oh, and check out this gorgeous cover!

The Nothingness:  Addictions of the Eternal, Book One

A dispirited addict learns that history repeats itself deep within hidden worlds. Evie Westvale is lost in the lifeless existence of her drug-laden fishing town. She finds much more than fellow addicts lurking beneath the docks. Craving escape from her inebriated reality, she discovers the presence of a dark stranger who haunts her dreams in the most delicious ways. Lucca has come to prey on the dregs of Fallhaven. He has not arrived by accident, and he is not alone. Riding waves of blood and lust, Evie is forced to confront her dark past and an irresistible future, but can she survive the tempest brewing inside?

The Nothingness is the first installment of the Addictions Of The Eternal, a series inspired by the New England coastline that depicts the struggles with addiction and stages of recovery through the lens of dark/paranormal fantasy.

The Saving (Addictions Of The Eternal: Book Two) - Coming Soon in Summer 2015

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Blythe has been nagging Evie for years to get help, but Evie refuses to admit that she has a drinking problem. Who doesn't need a drink after a bad day... or just in general? That's not addict behavior, regardless as to the severity of self-destructive behavior. Right? A psychologist would just be one more person to pass judgement on her, and Evie faces enough chastisement when she looks in the mirror. She doesn't need that outside of herself. (shakes head with vehemence) No, no psychologists please. (CD: Awww...)

Lucca on the other hand... he stirs something in Evie; she's terrified of it. She may be convinced to get help if it means learning more about what draws her to him. He'll go for the hell of it, to indulge in the process, but does not expect any revelations. He's spent enough time in his own skin to be completely comfortable with his vices... and lack of virtues.

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

Absolutely. Evie's strife (obsession/addiction) is personified by Lucca and his world, but ultimately involves her internal struggle with realising her self-worth. Her story is one of acceptance and healing. This is the theme of the series and presents itself in many forms, from actual substance abuse to agoraphobia, hearing voices, up to the fantasy-design with another being.

3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

Evie pauses at the door. Shaky fingertips fidget with the strap of her bag. Not until she is asked to sit down, will she move. Rather, she scans the room for a calming focal point, something to make her feel more at home. Absent any such idol, her taste buds scream, and her stomach is in knots. Evie eventually makes her way to the couch and settles at the end, cradled in the crook of the arm. Her hands remain tucked between her knees, and she continues to scan the room for an anchor point.

If Lucca were to follow Evie, he stalks the perimeter of the room, inspecting knick - knacks and decor. He keeps an ever watchful eye on you and likely snickers at your discomfort under his gaze. The playful tip of his tongue remains hidden behind his crooked smirk.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be?

Neither Evie nor Lucca will speak until spoken to.

Evie will be more apt to open up if she feels comfortable around you, but that means you offer her a drink or a some pot. Then she'll let you in. (CD: I've often thought about having a secret wine stash at the office. I doubt the Ethics Board would approve me sharing, though.)

Lucca will likely only offer obscure answers that raise more questions.

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Evie goes straight to the bar and orders a double shot of Jim Beach chased by a dark stout  (any label will do).  She's breathing heavy and mumbling for her inner voice to shut the hell up.

Lucca's still amused by how uncomfortable he made you during the appointment. He settles into a dark corner and monitors those around him with his ever present Cheshire grin. He doesn't order anything unless he has to because he doesn't drink alcohol.

6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

I build play lists on Spotify. Certain characters listen to different music. That music evokes a different set of emotions, which help to build that character. I'll listen to the same music for months (or longer) while I connect to that character.

Nice! I did playlists for characters in one of my contemporary books and found it to be helpful, too. Thanks so much for stopping by, and I can't wait to read the book so maybe Lucca will speak to me after that. :-)

In addition to her website, you can find J.C. on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have published characters that would like to stop by for a visit or unpublished ones that need a little psychological help like this one? Please email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com

Monday, March 9, 2015

Brief announcement - I heart technology

Greetings, all! Thanks to everyone who has sent me characters for my couch. I got some good momentum going, and then this happened:

Okay, my computer didn't let me know with a Clippy image, which would have been quite hilarious and tragic at the same time, but it let me know in no uncertain terms that:

So now I have my new computer and am transferring files, and I promise I'll post character profiles when I get the chance. Thanks for your patience!


P.S. I did unexpectedly have to buy a new laptop, so if you haven't read my books yet and want to give them a try, now would be a great time. And if you get them from Samhain through the links to the right, I might even get paid before this credit card bill is due!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Character on the Couch: Officer Brady

After a brief hiatus to address some work and health issues, I'm back to welcoming characters to my couch. Georgia Romance Writers colleague S.L. Morgan brought me this interesting young policeman, who isn't being cooperative.

Character name: Brady

Age: 31-32

Gender: Male

Brief description and relevant history:

Brady is a police detective, he became a cop to solve crimes as his sister's abduction, rape and murder (when he was a young teen) was never solved. Although he would like to go to college, he doesn't have time. However, he doesn't believe a formal education necessarily makes a person smart. He sneaks off (tells no one) on his days off to go visit cultural and historical sites and museums to learn on his own. He doesn't want anyone to think he's ignorant because he never went to college. He believes his job is detrimental to a relationship as he was dumped by an intelligent person and due to his odd working hours. He is extremely turned on by intelligent women, they feed his desire for knowledge.

Where you're stuck, or why your character needs a psychologist:

I need to understand what drives his desire for knowledge and why he's afraid to tell anyone what he does on his days off. He needs a hobby other than visiting museums and I'm not sure what to have him do that would intrigue my heroine (she's a linguist).

I asked the following questions to get more info:

Brady believes a formal education doesn't necessarily make someone smart, but he's into self-education. Where did he acquire both of these values? Were his parents educated but didn't have enough common sense to balance their book smarts? Or did he get messages from uneducated parents that book-learning isn't real education? Was either of his parents, likely his father since boys tend to identify more with them, a self-taught, well-regarded expert?

Brady wanted to go to college. But, he gave it up to become a police officer due to his sister's tragedy. He did not have the time, money, nor grades to get into college, so he's educating himself with his weekend trips.

Brady's sister's abduction, etc. obviously had a profound effect on him. How did he feel at the time it happened? Did he take any responsibility? Did he feel that if he had only known _____, he would have been able to save her? Or was he in school at the time and blamed himself for putting learning above family, like maybe he was at an honors club meeting the day she wanted him to take her to the pool and ended up going by herself and disappearing? This could be an interesting little flashback from both the crime's perspective and to illuminate his motivations.

 Brady was doing boy things (I think I had him working on his bike) and his sister went up to a car of other teen boys. She jumped in the car with them before he could stop her. But, since they were kids from his school, he didn't think much of it and didn't say or do anything until she never returned. He feels guilty for: 1. Letting her go alone with a bunch of boys. 2. Feeling relieved that she was out of his hair. 3. Feeling guilty for not telling his parents until it was too late where and when she left (she was eventually raped and killed and her body left under the bleachers at school. No one was convicted.). 4. He became a cop to protect other "sisters".

What area of linguistics is your heroine in, and how do she and Brady meet?

Andrea is focusing on the dead languages (Old English, Latin, Sanskrit, and the fourth I forgot). She is a favorite of the linguistic teachers as her parents were involved in the acquisition of authentic dead language documents. She and Brady had a one time meet at a presentation she was giving at a museum where Brady was visiting. He actually approached her and asked her out to coffee. She chickened out and stood him up by leaving by a back door.

Ouch! Poor Brady. Here are my thoughts on how to move him and his story forward:

It seems to me that you’re stuck with Brady’s internal conflict, which Leigh Michaels calls the “long-term problem.” She defines it as having come up before the story begins and is connected to the character’s past or personality. You have the good makings of one because he does have a bad past experience in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of his sister, and his actions indicate a lot of potential for internal conflict. You need to clarify motivation and how it connects to his current self-educational efforts beyond that he’s engaging in them because he missed out on going to college.

When people feel guilty or undeserving, they can get defensive and act like they don’t want what they really crave. For example, Brady could feel that he doesn’t deserve a college education because his sister won’t have the opportunity for one. Also, he could be getting his informal education because going back to school for a formal one would mean he’d have to admit just how badly the incident with his sister affected him emotionally, which is contrary to his professional persona.

Since internal conflict is something a character needs to move beyond to resolve the external conflict, it seems to me that Brady’s going to need to embrace this smart, education-craving side of himself, both to make the romance work and address another external conflict. Since he’s a cop, I’m guessing your book has some sort of crime as part of the plot. You’re right that you do need to figure out why he’s keeping his weekend museum trips secret. Has he been mocked for his intellectual pursuits, either by his colleagues or friends? Or does he not want to admit to himself or others why he’s engaging in them because he might have to acknowledge some unexpressed grief or unaddressed trauma?

With regard to the romance, you have the piece that will drive the heroine away – that he doesn’t believe education makes people smart, which is an attitude educated people tend to get annoyed with. Also, you mentioned he was dumped by an intelligent woman, which means he may be defensive around Andrea even if he is attracted to her. Yes, you need the piece she can connect with. If she’s a professor, she may sense that he wants to learn and relate to that. Or perhaps he needs to consult with her on something related to her field, which helps her see that he does respect her knowledge and education. A third option would be that she has an affinity for “lost” things due to what her parents did, and it currently shows because she is a scholar of dead, or lost, languages. Brady does sound lost in a lot of ways. You also need to clarify her internal conflict, to which you give us a clue with her sneaking away on their date.

Brady and Andrea sound like a really interesting couple, and I look forward to reading more about them in the future!

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Do you have a character you're stuck on? Or a fascinating already published one who wouldn't mind coming by for an interview? Email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Procrastination talk: outline & references

Thank you so much, those of you who got up on a cold morning and came to see me talk about procrastination at the Georgia Romance Writers meeting! As promised, here are the links to the articles and books I used for the talk:

New York Times article: This Was Supposed to Be My Column for New Year's Day by Michael Tierney 1/14/2013

Psychology today articles: Get Unbored by Tania Luna, 4/10/2014 (has a couple of strategies I didn't mention)
What Is Boredom? by Art Markman, Ph.D., 9/25/2012

Wall Street Journal article:  To Stop Procrastinating, Look to the Science of Mood Repair by Sue Shellenbarger 1/7/2014

To those who care about such things, I apologize for these references not being in proper reference format. Putting things in reference format holds no elements of interest for me. If you've forgotten what I'm referring to, check out Letitia Sweitzer's book:

If you'd like to try out structured procrastination, the web site with the original essay is here, and the link to buy the book is here.

If you've just happened by and would like me to come talk to your group about procrastination, please email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cover and blurb reveal: A Perfect Man

One reason I love being with my publisher is that they allow me a lot of artistic freedom. Consequently, in May, I have a new book coming out that's completely different from my previous ones. Well, not completely. There's still humor, romance, a dash of mystery, and enough food and wine to bust through any resolutions you might be holding too tightly. I bring you A Perfect Man:

How far will she go to find her perfect man? How far will he go to be one?

When Karen Hardeman sets foot on the Foothills University campus, it’s her first step toward proving her abusive ex wrong. Just her luck, her first writing assignment in Intro to Romance sends her in search of the perfect hero—a quest she’s never managed to conquer.

Worse, her professor forces her to collaborate with the most overconfident, annoying guy in the class.

Seth Sayers is also at Foothills to find new direction—preferably one that takes him far away from the family drama that’s followed him since his father’s death. He didn’t mean to humiliate Karen by rewriting her manuscript from the hero’s point of view. He blames the painkillers the ER doctor gave him after stitching up a wine-induced cut on his hand.

As their collaboration progresses, Karen begins to trust Seth with her manuscript, then maybe a little piece of her heart. But Seth’s half-brother resurrects Seth’s suspicions about his father’s death. Until he finds the truth, he can’t be the hero in anyone’s life. Even his own.

Release date:  May 12, 2015

Stay tuned for excerpts!

Fans of my Facebook page got to meet this charming young man a week early. Please consider liking my page for early updates and sneak peeks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blood's Shadow release day!

It's release day for Blood's Shadow, the third Lycanthropy Files book! Thank you especially to my editor Holly Atkinson and Samhain Publishing for helping this dream come true. I'd also like to thank my readers for taking a chance on a new author. I hope you've enjoyed reading these books as much as I've loved writing them.

Encountering werewolves can be deadly. Trying to cure them? Murder.

The Lycanthropy Files, Book 3

As the Investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, Gabriel McCord encountered his share of sticky situations in order to keep werewolf kind under the radar of discovery. Now, as the Council’s liaison to the Institute for Lycanthropic Reversal, he advocates for those who were turned werewolf against their will.

Everyone seems to be on board with the Institute’s controversial experimental process— until one of its geneticists is found lying on his desk in a pool of blood. Gabriel races to single out a killer from a long list of suspects. Purists, who believe lycanthropy is a gift that shouldn’t be returned. Young Bloods, who want the cure for born lycanthropes as well as made. The Institute’s own very attractive psychologist, whose most precious possession has fallen into the hands of an ancient secret society bent on the destruction of werewolves.

Failure means he’ll lose his place on the Council and endanger the tenuous truce between wizard and lycanthrope. Even if he wins, he could lose his heart to a woman with deadly secrets of her own.

Warning: Some bloody scenes, adult language, and consensual sex between adults. Also alcohol consumption at Scottish levels and tempting portrayals of unhealthy Scottish food.

I wrote the books to stand alone if that's how people would prefer to read them, but if you do want to grab the whole series today, it's a great time to do so because the first two books are on sale through today. You can click on the links above for excerpts and buy links or the pictures to the right if you'd like to buy them from Samhain.

Meanwhile, here are the buy links for Blood's Shadow:

Samhain (all ebook formats available and on sale for $3.85)