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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, descriptions, and buy links for my books, click on the covers below on the right.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Character on the Couch: Debbie Herbert's Female Villain

I'm excited today to welcome Harlequin Nocturne author Debbie Herbert and her Female Villain, who shall remain nameless, from book three of the series to the blog. If you haven't read Debbie's first, which is out now - and look at that gorgeous cover! - I highly recommend it. She brings something unique and fresh to the urban fantasy world with her mermaid clan, and her villains are creeptastic.

Here is the original exchange:

Brief description and relevant history: 

Besides occupation, F.V.’s a loner, probably never married, if she had a boyfriend he dumped her because she grew too clingy and obsessive in their relationship.

What you may not want me to share generally in the post: 

Her name because it could possibly be a spoiler.  Just call her ‘villain’ or ‘antagonist’.  

Note: I chose F.V. for Female Villain. Original, huh? Give me a break - it's Monday, and I was dreaming of the beach when I woke up this morning.

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

Explanation for antisocial, aggressive, irrational behavior.

For the first time, I’m working with a female character that is the villain.  F.V. is obsessed with the hero, Nash, and has been for years, although he doesn’t know it.  She has delusional fantasies where he loves her back and wants to marry her.

F.V. hasn’t told him of her love because she has a scar on her cheek and feels she is not worthy of the perfect Nash.  Over the years, she’s had several plastic surgery operations and now the scar is very faint, but in her mind it is still a big imperfection.  But just as she gathers her courage to tell Nash of her feelings, along comes the beautiful Lily (the heroine) who ‘steals’ her man.

F.V. is furious and stalks Lily.  She commits a string of increasingly aggressive actions against Lily to scare her away from Nash.  Finally, she decides the competition must be eliminated. Forever.

I’ve tried to find psychological profiles on female stalkers, etc. but found little other than the infamous David Letterman stalker fantasized that she was actually married to him.  I’ve also read most violent women do not directly, violently assault their victims, preferring instead to use such indirect means as poison.

So my question is, what would make a person become this way?  Should I portray her as psychopathic, sociopathic, living in a fantasy world? What kind of parents/background contribute to this behavior?
Any help much appreciated! 

Note:  This post is based on a conversation I had with Debbie after the June 21 Georgia Romance Writers' meeting. We went to lunch with aspiring author Waverly Bishop, and we all brainstormed about this character. The content below is a summary of the conversation.

By the time we talked, Debbie had already come up with some really great backstory aspects to explain some of F.V.'s irrational and sociopathic behavior. Namely, that she had been attacked at some point, leaving her scarred, and that in her mind, she feels that warning her potential victims justifies eliminating them as competition if they don't heed the warning. She also came up in foster care. But Debbie still struggled with how it would all make for such intense emotions and behaviors, and she was also unsure of whether it made sense for F.V. to still be so obsessed about her scar, which she's had several plastic surgeries to correct, and therefore is practically invisible to everyone but her.

With regard to why F.V. is how she is, we basically worked backwards from the present and decided that F.V. would have been warned before she herself was attacked. Since her aggression is targeted toward females, it made sense for her scar to have been made by another female, possibly her foster mother. Also, because F.V.'s violent tendencies are all tied up with her attraction to a certain man, her attack could have happened as a result of her pushing sexual boundaries, possibly with a foster brother, whom she'd been warned to stay away from. Her feelings toward her foster mother would possibly be mixed – admiration for the power she displayed but fear and loathing for keeping F.V. from her desired target and then attacking and damaging her physically as well as emotionally. It also served as a very effective example as to how to deal with a woman you want to keep away from a man, even down to giving "fair warning."

As for the scar, there is a disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, in which a person perceives some sort of flaw in their appearance and obsesses over it to the point of severe distress. It's not uncommon for someone with BDD to have several cosmetic surgeries to "fix" the perceived flaw and to still not be satisfied. Yes, there are treatments for it, but it's often difficult to convince someone to seek treatments. Plus, it sounds like the F.V. has some delusional characteristics even beyond the BDD. Here's a link to the Mayo Clinic's information on BDD.

This sounds like a fantastic book, and I can't wait to read it! Debbie really does a great job coming up with freaky villains, which you'd never suspect because she's so sweet in persion. It's always the ones you least suspect, huh? Her first book Siren's Secret is out now from Harlequin Nocturne, and it's available on Amazon and all other retailers.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sneak Peek Sunday: Six Paragraphs from Long Shadows

I'm taking part in this week's Sneak Peek Sunday, through Sara Ellwood's blog, which means I get to post six paragraphs from Long Shadows. Obviously I need to start writing longer paragraphs. :) 

Long Shadows:  The Lycanthropy Files, Book 2

People say I’m beautiful, but they don’t see the monster inside.

It was like a fairy tale: a big, beautiful house, a plucky heroine, an evil wizard… But the best friend never fares well, and I didn’t. The heroine got cursed too, but she found true love in the end. I got a lifestyle change that wasn’t a choice and came with no warning. The worst part? I couldn’t even remember the specifics of my first change— only that it was traumatic, so my mind had even less to make sense of.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m a werewolf. Please hold your applause. It will only make me cry. Big girls don’t cry, and when you’re a predator, you don’t show signs of weakness.

My part of the story started one rainy February morning. I’d just gotten into the office, a satellite site for the Arkansas Department of Family and Child Services, and snarled at the pile of cases on my desk when the phone rang.

”Marconi!” my boss Paul barked. “Get in here!”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Literally. I had a wicked aconite hangover. No, I didn’t use it recreationally. I used it to “spirit-walk,” or create a spiritual doppelganger so I could roam as a spirit-wolf rather than a physical one. I almost kicked my spirit out of my body again when Paul startled me, but I took a few deep breaths to get everything settled in, like spreading batter into the corners of a pan.

To read a longer excerpt, click here. To read other excerpts from other romance authors, check out the list at the Sneak Peek Sunday site.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cover and Blurb Reveal: Blood's Shadow

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.

Paperback release date:  November 3, 2015

Buy links:


Barnes & Noble

Samhain Publishing

From the Paranormal Romance Authors that Rock review:

This is my first time reading any of Cecilia Dominic’s books.  It won’t be the last. I enjoyed her  spin on the werewolf tales.

This book was more of a Werewolf mystery with a dash of romance.  The characters were well thought out and complex.
Strong writing, hooked me from the start to the end.

The character of Gabriel McCord is an investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, he is a handsome werewolf with the mind of Sherlock Holmes.

He falls for a lovely psychologist who is hiding a secret from Gabriel.  While he tries to stop a killer.

I give this book 5 fangs

Excerpt from Chapter Eight: 

I checked through the peephole and saw the last person I expected: Selene.

I opened the door and pulled Selene inside. “Are you crazy? You don’t know who might be out there!”

“What is your problem?” She detached her arm from my grip and narrowed her eyes at the Scotch in my hand. “Are you drinking that straight from the bottle?”

“No, I’m drinking it from a glass like a gentleman,” I said and motioned for her to follow me into the kitchen, thinking it would be best to introduce her to David before he surprised us. But when I got in there, I saw he’d left through the side door. His empty glass sat on the counter beside the letter from my father, and the sound of his car’s engine started and moved away.

“What’s that?” she asked and reached for it.

“Official business,” I told her and picked it up. It barely had any weight to it, and I handled it carefully.

“From when, nineteen hundred?”

“Nineteen forty-three,” I murmured.

She shook her head. “Look, I’m sorry if I’m interrupting something,” she said. “I was driving by and…” She squeezed her eyes shut. “That’s a lie. I looked you up and found you.”

I bit my tongue so I wouldn't ask if she’d consulted her scarfaced concussion-dealing friend before showing up for a visit. “What can I fix you to drink?”

She opened her eyes, and her open face betrayed her surprise. How had she gotten mixed up with that bloke at the pub? She reeked of innocence, but she was no dummy. “To drink?” she asked.

“The rules of hospitality dictate that if a guest shows up at one’s residence, one should offer some sort of refreshment. Thus, would you like a drink?”

She nodded. “Do you have any wine?”

I gestured to my dual zone wine fridge. “Red or white?”

“White, please.”

Soon I had her settled with a glass of Chenin Blanc on the opposite end of the sofa. The similarity to David’s visit from earlier didn’t escape me, but she was nicer to look at.

“So what brings you to Shady Acres?” I asked. “I’m afraid it’s not the Scotland in coffee table books.”
“It’s fine,” she said. “It’s not so different from home except our historical houses are a couple, not several, hundred years old. As for what brings me…” She looked into her glass. “I wanted to know how the investigation into Otis’s death is going.”

“I had official business today, so I wasn’t able to do any investigating, but I will give it my full attention tomorrow. I’m hoping Garou will have his reports ready by then.”

“Are you going to question us? He already did.”

“That depends. Can you add to your statement?”

“Garou implied we were dating,” she said. “But we weren’t. But still, it’s my fault that Otis died.”

That drew my attention away from the curve of her neck and the way one button on her blouse seemed to hang on for dear life over her breasts. “Fill me in here. How does Garou’s implication cause you to be a murderer?”

She blinked, and two fat tears trailed down her cheeks. “Other people thought we were dating, or at least that we were more than friends. Because we were the same age and American, maybe. Lonna even hinted that it wouldn’t be a good idea to cross personal and professional relationships.” She snorted. “Like she’s not married to her co-director.”

“Right. Believe me, we did consider that, but we need both of them. Go on. I’m still not convinced LeConte’s death is your fault.”

“That morning after staffing, he asked me to walk with him to his office. He said he had something to ask me. I was afraid of what he’d say, he looked so hopeful and afraid all at the same time. I said no, I had things I needed to do before your visit. The next time I saw him, he was dead.”

“What do you think he was going to ask you?”

“To go out with him, I guess. I don’t know what else it could have been. But don’t you see? If I’d gone to his office with him, he might not have been killed or he would have had warning that something wasn’t right. You know we hear and smell better than humans do.”

“Or they might have gotten you too,” I reminded her. “Did you go to his office between his request to you that morning and when we found him?”

“I…” She looked down at her now empty wine glass. “I didn’t.”

I knew she was lying, but I didn’t want to confront her and spook my only link to the murder’s witness into running for the States. That she opened up to me even minimally gave me hope she would continue to do so as she came to trust me. “Do you remember anything else unusual about him or his behavior that day?”

“No, only that he was excited about getting the applications. He had a project on the side tracing the family records of known lycanthrope lines, and he was looking forward to putting it all together to see how the subjects’ lines intersected with the ones we know about and to isolate another genetic marker to maybe figure out why Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome fully expresses in some people but not in others.” She shrugged. “That’s all I can remember.”

“I appreciate your coming to visit me today, but was it really necessary?”

“I needed to talk to you outside the Institute. I don’t feel comfortable there anymore.” She shuddered.
“It’s like I’m being watched.”

I thought about the letter in the kitchen. “I know the feeling.”

She stood, and I did as well. “Thank you for the wine,” she said and held out her glass to me.

“My pleasure.” Our fingertips brushed when she handed the crystal over, and again, I got the image of her as a wolf looking into a pool of water, not unlike where David and I had stopped and been shot at that afternoon.

She looked up at me with a smile she tucked away, and again, I wondered what she’d seen. It was unusual enough for such strong visual images to come through with scent, and for them to do so with touch puzzled me. Was it part of me coming into my full power?

“I should be going,” she said.

I followed her to the front door. “Be careful,” I told her. “You don’t know who or what is out there watching.”

With a quick nod, she walked to her car and went to the passenger side before sighing and going to the driver’s side. She must not have been in the country that long if she was still trying to drive from the wrong side of the car. I hoped she would remember what side of the road to use.