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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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Please welcome Patricia Mason to my blog. Patricia is a talented, award winning author of both Adult and Young Adult novels.
I haven't read IN DEEP SHITAKE yet...but it's definitely going on top of my To Be Read pile today! 
Happy Reading, 
L. j. 

The day I found myself IN DEEP SHITAKE, by Patricia Mason

Are the aliens conducting experiments? Do they have their own version of funniest home videos?  Or maybe God has a really good sense of humor.  I'm not sure what the cosmic explanation is for some of the ridiculous situations I get myself into.  But I'm a big believer in turning lemons into lemonade and sh....tuff into shinola. So.............

What did I do after being stuck in a car window with my posterior embarrassingly exposed to the cold, winter wind? Used it for inspiration in my writing, of course.  Well, that is what I did AFTER I extracted myself from the window, all the while praying my neighbors didn't have a video camera....or it they did, that it was broken, or....Anyway, you get the idea.

A few years ago, I was traveling a long distance by car with my two dogs and was trapped in a sudden whiteout. My car spun 360 degrees on the highway and came to rest off the road in a snow bank. I was towed out but by the time I got home a few hours later, the doors of the car were frozen and I couldn't get them open to get out. By then the dogs were desperate for a bathroom (or fire hydrant) break. I was able to get my window down to about the half-way point. But I was forced to try to crawl out.

Since I was dressed for comfort in a skirt with slouchy socks with clogs, by the time I got halfway out the window, the socks and shoes had come off and my skirt was up around my waist.

I used this incident, in a fictionalized way, in my new romantic suspense, IN DEEP SHITAKE. My heroine is trying to break into the car instead of out when she becomes stuck in a humiliating position. The hunky hero just happens to come along and find her.

I'm not sure if I would have been happier if my own embarrassing incident had ended with a sexy Brit rescuing me from my predicament. Instead, I finally managed to fall out and land in the snow. If a sexy man had found me stuck, I probably would never have been able to emerge from my house ever, ever, ever, again dying from the humiliation. However, having a guy like the sexy Ross from my book might have made the shame worthwhile.

Here's the overview of my story:

Take one devastatingly handsome movie star.
Add in one outrageously sexy female private eye with a penchant for food-word obscenities.
Mix in a dose of mistaken identity and a handful of Russian mobsters.
And they're all In Deep Shitake.

In Deep Shitake is FREE May 7-9th as part of the Spring Fling Free Par-Tay. Dozens of other books (Romances from sweet to HOT. Thrillers, Mysteries, Horror and more. Fantastic books, many by award-winning and best-selling authors.) Readers can find all the free books at  I hope you'll all come and party with us at the Par-Tay!

In fact, the heroine of In Deep Shitake is also featured in another Free Par-Tay FREE book, A Thriller Anthology called Bullets, Brass and Babes.