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Thursday, November 15, 2012


Today I'm happy to introduce Judy Dawn as my guest poster. She's started a new project that's very interesting, and might be inspiring for some you who would like to kickstart one of your dreams. Judy is the published author of the Men of Snow series, and the Dragon Ring Legend series. You can find her books on Amazon here: Judy Dawn's Amazon author page

And here's Judy...

The Making of Miracles

I heard that miracles happen on Kickstarter. Innovators ask their real friends, online friends, and kind-hearted strangers to chip in and help make dreams reality. The supporters (backers) enjoy the sweet satisfaction of knowing they helped an innovator realize their goal. And the innovator supplies a token of appreciation in return, a reward, to the backer.

When I heard miracles happened on Kickstarter, I knew it was the place to launch my cyberpunk Robin Hood concept.

I started my writing career with a number of different slogans helping to describe my characters journey. None of them really accurately depicted my stories. But like those projects, I needed a nutshell description for my cyberpunk Robin Hood Kickstarter campaign.
In my research, I came across a science fiction sub-genre called cyberpunk. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this genre:

Cyberpunk is a postmodern science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983. It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's Dune.

Now, everyone knows Robin Hood stories deal with taking from the corrupt rich and giving to the suppressed poor. I’m one who enjoys this premise too. There are a number of theories that attempt to identify a historical Robin Hood. It has long been suggested, by John Maddicott, that "Robin Hood" was a stock alias used by thieves in 1911. The earliest recorded example, in connection with May games in Somerset, dates from 1518.

My cyberpunk Robin Hood catch phrase is born: In 2050, Robin Hood fights Social V3 Elites for freedom over our online communities and entertainment.

Robin Hood dedicates her time and talents in ending the Elite’s strangle hold on the combined real world and virtual world experience. She uses every resource and skill she can muster to stop the climbing exchange rates that are bleeding people’s accounts.

However, the Elites absorb her hacker attacks unaffected. She doubts her ability to change the system or create enough awareness about the immediate future. How can she and her small group stop the downward spiral of world economy?

I’ve chosen a female cyberpunk Robin Hood because I write strong, sassy female characters. I’m serious about this book, and now, I feel an added commitment to my Kickstarter backers. I’m in overdrive on this one. I hope you’ll take time to check out “Cyberpunk Robin Hood ” and other Kickstarter projects. For more about me, check out Thank you for spreading the word.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waterford: A Moment of Inspiration

Merritt's Gift for the Sidhe Queen

As many of you know, I planned to use my experiences on our recent trip to Norway, Scotland, Ireland, and England to plot and write Merritt's story...the final book in the Lifethread Trilogy.

Our visit to the Waterford laboratories helped me to create the gift Merritt needed to present to the Sidhe Queen.

Waterford crystal is all hand blown...

And many pieces are one-of-a-kind...

My imagination played with this concept and I ran it by Merritt, Shealie, McKenna, and The Guys. They all agreed that a magick necklace would be the perfect gift. It turned out to be beach glass rather than blown glass, but without the inspiration from my visit to Waterford...well, Merritt probably still wouldn't have an appropriate gift.

And this is what it looks like:

And a brief excerpt from Destiny...

Gabe hit me with a stare. "Whatcha planning to give her?"
My stomach did a flip. "How'd you know I have to give her something?"
His eyebrows hiked up a notch.
Okay. So it was probably a dumb question. "I haven't got a clue. What would entertain the Sidhe Queen?"
"Something she can't create," Shealie said, licking a smear of butter from her finger.
My brain kicked into gear. "How about something you can create?"

A question for my readers: Do you think the Sidhe Queen will be happy with her gift  (magick intact, of course)? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Merritt's Story: The Beginning

I've just started writing Merrit's story, the third book in the LIFETHREAD Trilogy. I typically chat with my characters to see where and how they want their story to unfold, and I wanted to share our first conversation with you

Me: "I think it's time to get started on your story."

Mer: Opens one eye and peeks at me from under a blanket. "You left me for last. Why should I wake up now?"

Me: Exaggerated sigh. Merritt is my problem child. "Because it's time for your Destiny to unfold."

Mer: Sitting up. "What makes you think you know anything about my Destiny? Lachesis is responsible for Destiny, and has been since long before you started writing us into life."

Me: Taking a fortifying swallow of Diet Coke. "It's my job to know these things. Now get out of that bed and participate. You'll regret it if you leave your Destiny up to me. You know you will."

Mer: Tossing the covers back with a snap. "All right. I'm up." She squints at me. "You've already started writing and you've put me in...oh, well, then. I've always wanted to go to Scotland."

Me: "Um-hmm. But I'll probably move you to Ireland soon."

Mer: Bouncing up and grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge. "Ireland is okay. Now, what about a guy? I'm the only one of us priestesses left without a guy, so you better make him good. I'm thinking really hot and with some magick. McK and Shealie both got guys with magick. I definitely want a hot magick guy."

Me: Another sigh. "We'll see. The first thing you need to do is enter the land of Faerie and - "

Mer: Tapping her foot, interrupting me. "No. I don't like that at all. I'm a priestess. We work for the Fates and they have nothing to do with the Fae, so that's a really bad idea."

Me: Chuckling. "Too late. You overslept, and things happen when you ignore the alarm clock. Now, I'm going to show you the entrance to Faerie, but the rest is up to you to figure out."

Mer: Blinking furiously. "You can't be serious. There isn't even a path."

Me: Smiling enigmatically. "That's right. You need to find your own way or you won't learn your Destiny."

Mer: Huffing. "Do I have to swim? I don't have an aversion to water like McKenna, but that looks like seriously cold water. No. I won't do it." She crosses her arms.

Me: Grinning. "Your choice. There's land there too, you know. And if you don't do it, there definitely won't be a guy in your life. And you'll be stuck at seventeen forever."

Mer: Glaring. "You're threatening me."

Me: Raising eyebrows.

Mer: "Okay. But I'm not gonna make this easy for you." She peeks around the edge of the photograph and disappears. 

Typical Merritt. Now I'll have to chase her and see what she's gotten into. Please join us as we explore Norway (I didn't tell her about that. Heheheh.), Ireland, Scotland, and England. It should be interesting to see what unfolds. So, tell me, what do you think should happen to Merritt when she enters the land of Faerie? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012



I'm blessed with several very good friends who live in Hawai'i and who are willing to tolerate me as a house guest for extended periods of time. Many of the scenes in my books are inspired by these visits. So, in celebration of the release of A TOUCH OF THE PAST, I thought I'd share a few of the pictures from behind the scenes.

About mid-way in PAST, Everly chases after the villain, and finds herself in one of the less-populated recreational areas of Honolulu, Sand Island. On the day I was there, it was almost deserted, rain threatened, and it had the quietly creepy feeling, like something bad was about to happen. 


From a Touch of the Past:

The air was heavy and smelled industrial, slightly chemical, and moist. Cloying. "I found pictures of the watchtowers on the Internet. I thought I’d hide in one and see who showed up. Maybe get a license plate number for you to trace."
Pierce’s eyebrows twitched.
We hiked for a good ten minutes, Pierce doing his thing—watching every direction at once, keeping me in his sight, and his hands loose. My sneakers smacked against the damp grass with a swishy, sucking noise that defined every step. He moved silently and faded into the wind—a wisp of energy that dissolved into the dark, practically nonexistent.

I spotted a structure that offered a good view of the surrounding area and headed toward it. "There, maybe."

The wind, scented with the promise of rain, tugged at my hair. I shivered.
Pierce edged close to me, the front of his body barely touching my back. Warmth seeped across the space between us, and he tapped my shoulder—a signal to stop. "Bad choice. I’ll boost you into that tree."
Tree? So stupid to have worn shorts. My already scratched legs wouldn’t fare well with tree climbing. I planted my feet. "Why not the watchtower. It would be easy to climb up the support structure, and it has those nifty open slats overlooking—"
"Crumbling concrete. Unstable and too obvious." Tension radiated through his fingers as they hit the small of my back with a thump. "Move. Now."
I ran toward the tree, and Pierce had me wedged onto a shoulder-high branch before I caught my breath. "Climb." He pointed to a sturdy niche several feet above me.
By the time I’d angled into a comfortable position, he’d disappeared into the night. 

Hawai'i will continue to be the setting for several more books in this series. I hope you enjoy Everly's adventures in the islands as much as I enjoyed writing about them. 

What are some of the prickly neck places you've visited?

Happy Reading!

L. j.

Available in digital format at AMAZON 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Colors, and Fonts, and Borders, Oh, My!

The Tweaking of a Book Cover

To celebrate the first round of completed edits on A TOUCH OF THE PAST, I thought I'd share the process I went through in creating the cover for the latest Everly Gray Adventure. 

My first task in creating a book cover is finding the perfect photo or illustration, the one that shows the heroine or hero in the context of the story. I've spent days, sometimes weeks searching through stock photos to find the perfect cover art. And then the fun begins. Is the artwork ready, a stand alone piece, or does it need to be photoshoped before it shows the perfect ambiance for the story? Sometimes it's a hard call. 

When I selected the illustration for a TOUCH OF THE PAST, I knew right away it was perfect. My heroine, Everly Gray, was about to have the rug pulled out from under her life, because of course, that's what author's do best. The story begins with her flying to Honolulu, so what better depiction than a wild, red-haired woman doing a free fall...without a parachute? 

But the cover format wasn't large enough to support the entire illustration, so I tweaked it a bit in Photoshop by adding a gradient border. I wanted it to have a silvery shimmer.

It looked good to me, so I filed it as my "working artwork," and then uploaded it to Create Space. My cover format for the Everly Gray series was decided with the first book, so all I had to do was add the new illustration to the template. 

Here's the first pass:

My first idea was to use purple for the title. Purple is my favorite color, so it was a natural choice, and I hadn't used it in any of the previous Everly books. But it faded into the background and was difficult to read.

Next I tried two title variations, purple and red, both on a white background, hoping it would "pop" the letters. But the white background made stood out too much, and the title appeared almost unrelated to the artwork. That wouldn't do at all.


Moving right along...

I switched the title box back to gray, but wanted to try something radically different, like chartreuse to match her shirt.

Yowza! A titch on the bright side, and difficult to read.

By this time I was getting frustrated, and decided to go back to basics - black on gray.

It blended, was easy to read, and it made a cohesive cover. 

Except...maybe I needed to try just one more thing so I didn't wonder, or have doubts after the book was in print.

This font was easy to read, and it blended with the "antique" logo for the Everly Gray series, but it didn't match the other books in the series. And the red faded into oblivion unless I used the heavier font. I've considered this font for every book in this series. I like it. Except that the a is lower case in the titles, and there's no option for that with this font. It was a detail that messed with my OCD tendencies. 

Final decision: gray title box with black lettering. 

And now I'm wondering which cover is your favorite and why?

Happy reading,

L. j.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vacation Getaway

The Summer Booklover's Buffet

Support Indie Romance Authors

Click HERE to visit the Buffet

From June 8th through the 22nd TO TOUCH A THIEF, my latest release in the Everly Gray Adventure series, will be included in the Vacation Getaway Booklover's Buffet. We're all indie authors, and there are over 160 books  available at 99 cents each. Click above to visit the buffet.

This year we're very excited to be working with eBook Swag! 

eBook Swag is a fabulous community for readers that offers giveaways and contests, plus they spotlight an interesting collection of authors and their books. It's fun AND there are awesome prizes.
Happy Reading!

Please let me know what you think of our Buffet and eBook Swag. I love to hear from my readers. 
L. j.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Clean and Simple or Cozy and Antique?

The Birth of My New Website.

I spent the last few days designing a new website and realized that my book covers tend to be clean and simple, but my characters are not. Well, sort of not.

There's a touch of the cozy and antique in both the Everly Gray series and the Gemini Women Trilogy. Taking a closer look at this...

The inside "logo" for Everly's stories looks like this:

When I found this on iStockphoto, I had to buy it because it's Everly. Not the vibrant redhead sleuth, but the grown-up child that read Nancy Drew. This picture is how Everly thinks of herself when she's busy tracking down bad guys. It's one of the core components of her personality--and the one that's most like me. But I'm not going to ponder that too closely.

The inside "logo" for the gemini women looks like this:

Again, I think it appealed to me because it shows the ancient connection between the women. They were born gemini, it fits their soul purpose to have blessed the earth with their presence during that particular astrological time, so the symbol had to be ancient. I think I chose this because it respects the eternal link between my characters.

Interestingly, my young adult books don't have a symbol. Maybe because they're young, maybe because the Fates are more than enough ancient mythology to anchor their personalities.

When I looked at my new website, I realized something was missing. And that's what inspired me to write this post. The background was originally a picture of the universe that looked like this:

It didn't work at all.

So I went to the first cover art that I'd used for Creation, which looked like this:

It had the red, but still didn't work. So I went to a new stock photo site, 123RF, and looked for antique papers. Love this site, by the way. I found this:

It worked! Well, I think it works, but I'd really like to have your comments on whether it does or not.

In addition to the background, I stumbled over (as I'm prone to do when I'm trolling stock photo sites) this photograph of an old book--a well-loved book:

I had to have it! When I added it to the website, it brought everything together. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I'm obviously not comfortable unless I mix the contemporary with the antique. Maybe I'm an energetic bridge between the two...not that I'm going to spend a lot of time thinking about that. Seriously, not going to.

I would love to hear your thoughts about my website, the mixing of old and new, or whatever else you'd like to chat about.

Please visit the site and leave a comment for me on the contact form (which seems to be working alarmingly well) and let me know what you think. What works for you on the site? What doesn't?

L. j. Charles website

Thanks for visiting my blog.

L. j.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Writers do a lot of interesting, and sometimes unusual, things in the process of creating a story. For my newest release, TO TOUCH A THIEF, I prepared for the opening scene with a bit of practical research. 

Here's the excerpt:

A Seance, Secrets, and Spreadsheets


Jayne Hunt

It would end her career as a forensic accountant. She knew the arrest was going to happen, had helped to plan it, participated in the fine tuning, and even requested they handcuff her before the “event” so she’d know what to expect. They’d refused. Insisted it needed to be a virgin handcuffing to keep her response authentic.
A slippery column of sweat trickled along her spine and pooled at the small of her back. The detective held the yellow plastic handcuffs loosely, almost as if they were a toy or an ingredient in a sexual fantasy. But they weren’t. This was all too real, right down to the newspaper reporters and the snarly, disgusted twist of Parker Steele’s mouth. Perfect lips should never wear such an ugly expression.
The detective snapped the handcuffs in front of her face, sending a ripple of fear to her belly. “Jayne Hunt, you’re under arrest for theft, grand larceny, and fraud.” And then he read her the Miranda warning—so rote on television, so terrifying in real life. Chief Hayes better have her back on this, or…
The detective’s meaty hand circled her upper arm, and panic clouded her senses. She focused on the anger and loathing in Parker’s glare to keep her from screaming when the plastic cuffs tightened on her wrists, and flashes from the reporters cameras blinded her.
A uniformed officer stepped to her other side, grabbed her arm, and together they fast-walked her to the waiting cruiser.
Bars and locked doors.
A glimpse at her future.
The officer put his hand on her head, just like they did on the small screen, and pushed. She landed on the hard seat with a thud, pain shooting through her wrists. A wash of heat stained Jayne’s cheeks. She’d never allowed anyone to manhandle her. Not ever. It was positively tawdry to be arrested. And being photographed in handcuffs was worse—a permanent testament to her sins.
The cruiser door slammed. She wanted to hide, or maybe evaporate. But when she inhaled, the sickly smell of sweat and fear with a whiff of stale alcohol coated her nose and throat, making it impossible to do anything but accept the reality of her situation.
Nausea churned in her belly, and chill bumps covered her arms and legs. They could have picked her up in a clean vehicle. Really, they could have.

Well, I needed to get into Jayne's head, to learn what it was like to be handcuffed. Fortunately, I have really cool friends who were happy to help out. I will refrain from mentioning their names to protect the innocent, er, or maybe the not so innocent. 

The men arrived at my house separately, each driving an SUV.  Guy cars built for North Dakota winters. I hesitated before walking outside to meet them. Did I really want to do this? The answer was yes, but that could have been  to avoid the embarrassment of explaining that I'd changed my mind. 

They approached me, one from either side. And there I was surrounded by two hunks, one dangling a pair of shiny metal handcuffs from his fingers. If I wrote erotica, this would have been a killer scene. But alas, I don't. So rather than sexy, the cuffs looked...uncomfortable. The men suggested we go inside, away from my neighbor's picture window. 

Did they know something I didn't know? Surely my neighbors knew me well enough that they'd know this was, um, planned. Right? I scuttled inside, leading the way to the front room. Within a single minute, or maybe it was seconds, my hands were securely fastened behind my back, one hunk holding on to the chain between the cuffs. I. Wasn't. Going. Anywhere.

He let go and I walked around for a while, getting the feel of the cuffs. They were snug, dug into my skin with a sharp bite. I sat, wanting to know what Jayne would feel when she was stuffed into the squad car. And then tough guy pulled a little white card from his wallet, and read me my rights. 

I wasn't expecting it. Hadn't planned for it. Tingling trepidation crawled over my skin, and I couldn't stop the first blossom of panic building in my abdomen. I knew he wasn't arresting me. Not for real. But there's something about those words that locked around my heart and wouldn't let go. If I ever had thoughts of being lured into a life of crime, they evaporated in that instant. 

 When he took the handcuffs off, my wrists were sore, red pressure dents clearly delineated on my skin.  And I'd only had the handcuffs on for ten to twenty minutes. My imagination ran wild with images of being arrested for murder, for something that kept me cuffed for a long time, and maybe later convicted and jailed.  Nope. Not gonna happen. 

So, gentle readers, have you any personal experience with handcuffs--aside from recreational situations, of course? How did it change your life? Inquiring minds would love to know. 

L. j.