Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 10, 2014

Thursday’s With Gerri-Catching Up by Gerri Brousseau

Hi Everyone. I feel as if I haven’t talked to you all in a long time, so let’s catch up. First of all I want to personally thank each and every one of you who contributed to Therapy Dog for Teo. We were able to raise enough money for Leia’s family to get the dog! The power of social media is amazing. Now we are trying to raise money for the local training for the dog, so if you still haven’t gotten her book, please do.

Secondly, for those of you who remember that I was going to start a diet and be accountable to you, I’m happy to report that I have lost 15-pounds and I’m still going! Changed eating habits and reduced portions significantly. Will begin working out soon (see further comment below).

The next thing I wanted to share with you all is that I’m in the process of moving. Now we all know that moving SUCKS, and although we all know it, we tend to forget just how much it sucks until we are actually doing it. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had until I had to pack it up! Good Lord, it’s time to have a major tag sale. I’m moving as many of the light boxes to the new place as I can carry so that the movers won’t have to deal with it, but after a while I decided it’s what I’m paying them to do. Further on the matter of moving, the new location has a gym on the property and I plan to begin working out as soon as I’m all settled in. In the meantime, while figuring all this out, I came up with a great story idea so it all pays off.

Catching up on the situation with my poor little pug that’s failing. I’ve made the decision that it’s his time and I’ve set the appointment with the vet. I’m sick over it. I love him and he’s a great little dog, so loving and trusting. But, this decision has to be about his quality of life and so we approach his final days with sadness.

Still working at the DDJ (dreaded day job) with the boss that’s a creative energy vampire and by the time I get home at night, I’ve got zero creative energy left. Between this and moving, I have not written a word on my work in progress, despite the fact that I have things all laid out in my head as to where I want the book to go. I have been spending my evenings packing up the house. Just finished packing up all my books (sad face), and now I’m wondering which box I packed the charger for my Kindle in. If packing and moving are not stressful enough, my son and his wife (and baby girl) are also moving. Boxes, Boxes Everywhere! It’s crazy because we are moving within 5 days of each other!

The next thing I wanted to share with you that I’m super excited about is that in 33 days from today, I will be at RT in New Orleans. I’ve never been there and I can hardly wait. Somehow I feel that a paranormal vampire romance may be coming out of this trip. Looking forward to the whole “Big Easy” experience and all I have to say about that is “laissez le bon temps rouler!” (let the good times roll) If any of you are planning to attend, please look for me.

In June I’m going to be speaking at a writer’s retreat in CT. I’m thrilled to be asked and can’t wait to share with them. I’ll post more on that as the time grows near. Also in June, my third novel, “To Kill a Monarch” will be available in print. Can’t wait to hold the book in hand. Nothing like opening up that box and seeing your book cover.

There now, I feel as if we are all caught up. Do you have any exciting news to share with me? Would love to hear what’s going on in your lives. Oh, almost forgot . . . I’m thinking of posting a story here, one episode at a time. Would anyone be interested in something like that?

Posted by: Toni Kelly | April 9, 2014

Project Book

I’ve recently been tasked with a fairly big project during my day job, which requires a lot more planning than I’m used to. It has required quite a bit of effort on my part and as I learn to plan it out and set a timeline, I can’t help but see the correlation between this particular project and one’s plan for a book.

Okay, so let me back up a bit. First off, I have been for most of my “author career” a punster. For those of you new to that term, there are pansters and planners. When it comes to books, most of what I have written comes sort of spur of the moment, fly by the seat of my pants. I’d say that I’m currently going through an evolution when it comes to that as the longer I write, the more I want to plan. Perhaps I now realize how much time I am saving myself during the editing phase.

Anyhow, back to the project. As I go through the planning on this project, I’m using my knowledge of planning books to influence how I plan this project and hoping I’ll learn more about planning/plotting my books. Either way, I came up with 5 points to my plan and thought I’d share them with you all, especially for any of you new authors looking to get started.

  1. First off, you must decide what your goal or purpose is. In the world of books we call this GMC (Goal, motivation and conflict)
  2. Next, create your timelines. With books, there are a couple. The first is your own timeline on writing the book. Do you have a deadline? If not, set your own. It will help with disciplining yourself when it comes to writing. The second timeline involves your storyline. This can vary depending on the plot and pacing of your book. My simplest recommendation for beginners is to use an easy rhythm when you start out. Sort of like: action scene, recovery scene, action scene, recovery scene, etc. You want some sort of pace but it needs to fit with your story.
  3. Afterwards, you have your moving pieces. Just like with projects, books can have their own difficulties: potential plot twists that come up, characters who demand more attention—not to mention all the external factors of agents and publishers who may request or suggest changes. My advice is to be flexible and willing to adapt as long as you don’t feel you are compromising a large part of you.
  4. Know your audience. Most of us write to tell stories to someone. Whether that someone is me, you or millions of readers worldwide, we should usually have a target in mind. We don’t need to please all of these people or have them experience the same reaction, but ideally, you want them to feel something after they read your work. To do that, you need to know your target audience.
  5. And of course, before you present or publish your work, check it. This is largely known as editing and is hugely important whether done by your publisher or by yourself. A project with faulty information will lose its audience and turn them off to its owner. As such, a book with incorrect research/facts or tons of grammatical errors will not only be tossed aside, but it will also turn off readers to said author.

That’s all folks. Hope this helps and good luck with the planning. Happy writing this week!


Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 8, 2014

Dressing for RT by Leia Shaw

RT is in 35 days.

Recently I’ve been asked about appropriate attire at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, as well as planning my own wardrobe for the event. The way I describe RT to people who haven’t been there is like a giant party about books. And when it comes to dress, anything goes. Literally.

Last year, I saw people walking around in full steampunk gear, kitty ears, corsets, blazers and heels, tutus, and jeans and t-shirts. Nobody seemed to care if you were covered in glitter or wearing all black. When it comes to the evening parties, which usually have a theme, many people go all out, spending months making or buying an outlandish costume. It’s definitely fun to watch people, and if you like having a reason to dress crazy, it’s extra fun to attend.

For me, I like the idea of dressing up in costume. The little girl inside jumps up and down clapping. But I’m also a bit of a tomboy. Something to remember is you’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing around. Drinking, talking, maybe dancing… It’s also not so easy running up and down to your room a million times to get changed, especially if you’re not staying in the hosting hotel. In my case, comfort is important. I may get dressed to the nines in heels, lipstick, spanx, jewelry, etc. But by the time I walk the many hallways of the hotel, down the elevator or stairs, and to the banquet hall, I’m ready for the heels to come off. Once I start a drink or meal, the lipstick gets wiped off. When I start dancing or wanting to move in any way, the hair goes up and the spanx come off. So within the first hour of partying, I end up barefoot, hair in a ponytail, wearing just my dress. Happens every time. So why bother?

vampires2  vampires

Maybe that one special moment, the entrance, when you feel pretty and special is worth it. Last year, I used a lot of suitcase space on costumes just for a three second entrance. This year, I’m broke and busy and probably just going to comfort. I applaud those who plan and sew and put together dazzling clothing for RT, I admire your sparkles and fancy boots from a distance, but this year, that will not be me.

Come say hi anyway. I do have one corset I plan to wear, probably just with jeans. And I have a couple funny t-shirts, but I’ll be the boring one, looking all normal and stuff. Another year, when I have more money and time, and maybe aren’t such a baby about walking in heels, I’ll dress up again.

But those of you worrying your little heads off about looking professional, just don’t. RT is cool like that. You can wear anything and still fit in.

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 7, 2014

Killer Bunny Weekly Paranormal-Scope

While I’m not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked with the paranormal in the world. In many ways, so are you.

The Paranormal-Scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by. Let’s have a little fun.  Spring is upon us and clearly bunnies are not what they seem.

The week ahead for:

Killer bunnies are running down your street. Seriously, run and lock your doors.

Killer bunnies have eaten everything in your garden. It’s time to eat out and visit friends for dinner.

Killer bunnies do not purr.  If it purrs, pet it and make a new feline friend.

Vampires do not fear killer bunnies.  Vampires have bigger fangs. Make friends with a vampire.  You know what they say about the size of a male vamp’s fangs being in direct proportion to …

Killer bunnies run a lot and need water.  Put out a water dish and you will not be harmed.

Temple cats and dogs are brave defenders of the hearth, and killer bunnies fear them and run in the opposite direction when they hear them growl.

Zombies ran down your street away from the killer bunnies.  Just stay out of the way of trouble.

Carrots attract killer rabbits.  Eat other vegetables this week and get some exercise.

Shapeshifters love to disguise themselves as killer bunnies.  They think it’s funny. Things are not always what they seem. Be prepared for surprises.

Dragons do not tolerate killer bunnies.  They eat them.  Many problems will be solved this week.

Killer bunnies fear hats.  Get yourself a nice hat!  But not one with flowers on it.

Killer bunnies are suckers for a carrot cake.  Be kind to others this week and receive a gift.Vampire King of New York


Susan Hanniford Crowley
Specializing in Vampires and Rare Supernaturals
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark

P.S. VAMPIRE KING OF NEW YORK is not out in Print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in ebook  in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Romance writers are always told to “put the five senses into your writing.”  Over the past few weeks I have been exploring the use of the five senses in romance writing.  Most romance readers want to vicariously experience the joys and thrills of love by putting themselves into the characters they read about.  In order to do this, the author needs to describe in detail, everything the characters experience—what they hear, touch, taste, and smell, and see.  This week I’m focusing on ways to incorporate the sense of sound.

Hearing is an obvious channel of communication.  Each time we hear a sound, we receive information about something.  So hearing is a major way that we communicate.  The article “The Voice of Love:  Building Romance through the Sense of Hearing” gives ideas for how to use the sense of hearing to make romance bloom. Some of these tips can be utilized in romance writing as well.

Another way to utilize hearing is the use of paralanguage to make your dialogue pop. Paralanguage is all the sounds we hear connected to language other than the words themselves.  Using these elements—vocal fillers, pitch, tone, rate, volume, inflection—you can give a complete picture of how the characters sound when they speak and reveal themselves.  A character who uses vocal fillers–um, er, well, you know, and like—has a character trait that may suggest hesitancy.  A heroine whose voice squeaks signals her excitement; the hero who drops his tone to husky is also excited, but in a different way.  How fast or slow they speak, how loud or soft their voice is, all set the scene and enhance what characters are experiencing.

And finally, make your romance novel richer by adding sounds the POV character would naturally hear or be aware of within the scene.  The crackle of leaves underfoot in a dry forest, the swift, dull thudding of horses hooves on dry mud, the blood pounding in the heroine’s ears as her heart beats faster at sight of the hero.  Sounds that surround your hero and heroine should sink the reader into the psyche of the character, letting the reader “hear” what the character does.  The better your descriptive writing skills, the better the experience for your audience.

For more tips on using the sense of hearing (and the other senses) to add emotion to your scenes, check out Rosemary Gemmell’s article “How to Write Romantic Short Stories.”

The following excerpt from Heart of Deception, one of my early short stories, shows how effective sound can be used to bring the reader into the scene.

Heart pounding, he laid her on the frilly coverlet, still clothed. His strong fingers slid her gown and chemise off her shoulders.  Celinda looked up at him, her eyes liquid pools of golden brown heated by the sure touch of his fingers.  She sighed, a slight sound that sent a blow to his heart.  Then he watched, incredulous, as her small hand gripped his, led it to the neckline of the gown now barely covering her nipples.  Sliding his hand beneath the fabric, she pressed his fingers into the soft white flesh and moaned as they brushed the tip of her erect peak.

Do you regularly use the sense of sound in your writing?  Or do you find yourself using only your favorite senses?  Thanks for sharing!

Read More…

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 5, 2014

Why Max? Coming out in Print This Month?

I was talking recently to a fan of the vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, Vampire King of New York.  We were trying to analyze what makes Max such an amazing Vampire King of New York yet reachable character, a person who has staying power with the reader.

1. He is Kingly and all the best qualities that goes with that, as seen in the scene when he is meeting with Arnhem Knights.

2. The reader was impressed that Max had been there with the Dutch and was part of the negotiations with the native people for Manhattan Island.  When I asked him if he used “mesmerization”, Max would only admit it wasn’t his finest hour.

3. I’ve always been amazed by Max’s financial prowess.  Throughout the history of the state, at one time or other, people have borrowed money from Max. He wasn’t a loan shark, and most people did not know there were borrowing money from Max.  His corporation V Meer Industries has so many subdivisions, you may be working for one and never know you’re really working for Max.

4. I asked the reader, what do you like best about Max?  He would do anything that he would ask his Arnhem Knights to do, like when the savage vampire escaped the courtroom and went right after Evelyn, Max caught him and ripped the creature’s head off.  It is sad that a vampire can become a savage, which is like a mindless shark.  Max when he goes to battle is right out there with the Arnhem Knights.

5. I love how Max can be vulnerable and at times silly, and Evelyn brings that out in him.  When he tried to court Evelyn he made mistakes. One night in particular, he tried to rush her. She freaked and went home to her sister Laura Cordelais (a vampire) and her brother-in-law David Hilliard (also a vampire). Evelyn is at the kitchen table crying and telling Laura how she wrecked everything with Max. David feels the King summoning him, and kisses his wife goodbye and goes to a closed bar where Max is seated with a bottle of blood wine in front of him. He related how he has ruined everything with Evelyn and how miserable he is without her. David hands him his phone to call her.  When he does, they are both apologizing to each other.  It’s a cute scene.

6. There are other scenes, silly ones, revealing ones, hot romantic ones.  We can’t share them all with you.  But we can share that Vampire King of New York will be out in print sometime in April.  I’m so excited.   Woo Hoo!

If you prefer an ereader, it’s at AmazonNook,  Kobo and other fine ebook stores.  I have a feeling it maybe going into print today!  If that’s the case, I will send a new post.   YAY!

Susan Hanniford Crowley
Specialized in Vampires and Rare Supernaturals

Update: Thank you to all the Nights of Passion readers for having mercy on an author who is still recovering from being very ill.  I just re-edited this piece.  On a happier note, Vampire King of New York has come out at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in print!  YAY!  Next Saturday I will have a launch party and contest.



Posted by: malanouette | April 4, 2014

What are your thoughts on writing programs?

Happy Friday, everyone! What are you reading this week? I’m reading Intrusions by Arlene Kay.

A quick update as promised on my first experience teaching a class. It was awesome. The students participated with lively conversations and great questions. I can’t wait to do it again. I actually ran out of time before I ran out of material. Phew!

Have you purchased software that has sat on your computer that have never been used? Well, I did this a couple of years ago. The learning curve on this program threw me for a loop. One of my New Years resolutions was to learn and use this particular software. I’m taking an online course on how to use it. Plus I went through the tutorials again. Maybe the first time I tried it I wasn’t ready to learn it. I am now.

What’s the name of the program you ask?

I think you’ve already guessed it. It’s Scrivener. Every author I know who uses it said they would never go back to Word or any other writing program. That’s quite the testimonial isn’t it? After working with it this week, I starting to be a believer. The course I took to make my life easier is Learn Scrivener Fast. I can’t believe I’m using the software. And I’ve only been through the basics. I can’t wait, to get to the tips and shortcuts section.

I’ll let you know if I can snag the coach as a guest here. Now I’m wondering what took me so long to use it. It has taken away a lot of the stress and maintenance to keep my series bible. organized.

Do you use Scrivener or another writing program? If you do, what do you think of them? How would you rate them?

I’ll keep you appraised if I still love it in a month or two.

Back to writing now. :)


Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 3, 2014

A Matter Close to the Heart by Gerri Brousseau

Dear Readers,

Today I want to talk to you about something that is very dear to our hearts here at Nights of Passion. No, it’s not about writing, or the pugs. It’s not about dieting or balancing all of life’s activities. It’s more than that. As you probably already know, our very own Leia Shaw has been trying to raise funds to get her autistic son a therapy dog. These dogs are highly trained to be companions to these special children. They have been proven to be highly effective in working with autistic kids. But like any service dog, the training is extensive and the dogs are expensive. The cost of the dog is $7,000.00 and it is not covered by any insurance. The expense is totally born by the family about to acquire the therapy dog.

We have been posting on Facebook and Leia has set up a donation site. You will also see a tab at the top of the page specifically for this purpose. We thank each and every one of you who have donated or purchased tote bags. Because of your generosity, we are now in the home stretch, but not quite there yet.

In that regard, Leia has written a children’s book entitled, “Special Dogs for Special Kids.” Rather than me running on about this, let me give you a little blurp about the book.

Dogs have a special place in kid’s hearts. They make us laugh, give us comfort, and some even provide therapeutic services. Learn more about how dogs impact special people’s lives in this beautiful photo book the whole family will love. ***All proceeds of this book go to help a little boy with brain damage buy and train a therapeutic service dog***

So dear readers, the final push is ON! We only need $2000 more for the therapy dog Teo! Let’s make this happen. Now remember, 100% of the proceeds of the sale price will go toward Teo’s dog. Won’t you please purchase one of these books and help. Here is the link. This is a very worthy cause. Hopefully soon we will be able to post a picture of Teo and his new dog. Thank you again for your generosity and for helping this very special little boy.

Posted by: Toni Kelly | April 2, 2014

Names, Titles… Quite Simply They Mean Something

Okay, so we’re at that point in a pregnancy where a couple will sit together to pick out a name. I had tons of little girl names picked out (since we didn’t get to use them up with our first son), but fate has blessed us with another little boy so it is back to the drawing board.

I’m not sure why it is so complicated. I’m not looking for anything wildly unique or even strange. I just want something I feel fits and I’m not sure we’ve come across it yet. Either way, it had me thinking about picking titles for books.

As a novice writer, I never put much thought into it. Of course I wanted the title to sound good but it really just had to have some sort of relation to what I was writing. After a few years of writing, I now put much more weight on the titles of my books as well as the titles of my characters. After all, you have no idea where your book may lead you and the last thing you want is the world naming their kids “Bobo” and “Ding-Dong” because that’s what you named your lead characters (I apologize to anyone who has these names. My main point is to make a reference to all the Edwards and Isabellas that came out after the Twilight series). Not that there are necessarily horrible names out there (although some will disagree) but it’s no fun if we all have the same name. Then again, each generation seems to go through their favorites.

What about you all? How do you choose names for your characters or titles for your books? Do you do lots of research or is it done at random? Please share!

Happy Writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | April 1, 2014

A Lesson in Character Development

Leia here with another post by my intern, Kuro. I asked her to write a post on something writing related and she put together this awesome reference list about developing your characters. For me, characters make a story. They are the most important part so I was thrilled to see how much thought she put into this and that she just gets it. So go Kuro! We’d love some comments if you want to weigh in on how you create your characters.

I’ve prepared this basic questionnaire in order to assist people of all writing levels with character development. Although there is usually more to it, this form can prove to be quite useful when creating an outline of your character.

Basic Information


(I like having a name with meaning, and not an obvious one either. For example: Adlai. This is a name of a character in one of my older stories. It is of Hebrew origin, and it means “Justice of God”. Of course, you may have to do some research beforehand, but that’s alright. Take your time.)

Zodiac Sign (optional):

(A zodiac sign gives the reader a notion of the character’s birthday without the author having to worry about choosing a precise date. Although I don’t usually do this, I’ve noticed that many writers fancy choosing a zodiac sign.)



(You can be more creative than you think with gender. Maybe they are a male that unintentionally gets confused for a female constantly? It’s fun to have ‘trap’ characters sometimes. It can add humor to the story when its needed.)



(Talk about this persons parents, their siblings (if any), and their overall relationship with their family. I think that its better to describe it in good detail rather than just “its bad/good”, but it’s your choice. It may not even be necessary depending on the plot of your story anyway.)



Educational background:

(What kind of school they went to and how this experience was for them? If your character has a rather impressive IQ, it would be a good time to mention that here.)


(The personality of a character is my personal favorite part of the character development process. You’d think that there aren’t many different traits you could build this character with, but that’s where creativity comes in. It’s best to make a character with little clichés.  )

Here are a few general traits that are usually worth explaining (optional, but at least do two):

Are they (a/an)…

Sensitive or analytical (do they make decisions based mostly on emotions or on logic)?

If a reason why exists, explain it:


Cautious or daring? If a reason why exists, explain it:


Optimist, pessimist, realist, maybe other? If a reason why exists, explain it:


Extrovert or introvert? If a reason why exists, explain it: 

It gets even better…


(Please be careful with this….catastrophes are born in this area. Give a character too much perks and they become severely unlikeable.)



(You should try to keep a good balance between the gifts and the shortcomings, but you must be careful here too. Compensating superhuman gifts with devilish flaws can become just as disastrous.)


Style of speech:

(This may not seem too important, but it actually reflects the personality, the educational level, the social status, etc. of the character. Do they speak clearly, or have a stutter? Do they tend to be profane, or prefer to be formal? What is there tone of voice?)

Life philosophy (optional):

(You can pick a quote for this if you want to.)


Religious stance:

(If relevant, this also includes the character’s relationship with other belief systems.)


Biggest vulnerability: 

(Be careful with this one.)



View on relationships:

(Try to give an explanation for these views, if possible. Take your time.

There are people who adore solitude and think of relationships as prisons, and sometimes there are extremely dependent people who always need someone by their side. There are all kinds of options here.)


Sexual orientation:

There is a whole spectrum between straight and gay, and I have characters in many of those spots. Knowing the difference between bi-curiousness, heteroflexibility and bisexuality – and knowing which characters are in each group – makes a huge difference when you’re writing about their sexualities. If not straight, is your character in the closet? If yes, why? If not, how did he/she come out?

Past relationships (optional):

(Optional…and awkward) How does he/she view sexual experiences?  What is the importance of sex for this character? This can range anywhere from waiting until marriage, to thinking it isn’t a big deal, to having a severe aversion towards everything about it:

Are they a social person? Explain:

 (Remember. There is such thing as “social introverts”, as well as “antisocial extroverts”. You must be somewhat familiar with the spectrum of different personalities before making a decision here.)

How important are friends to them?

Who are their most salient friends? Write a little bit about how they met, the things they went through, and what made them become so close.And if necessary, what tore their friendship apart:

(Note: “Salient”=most important/most noticeable.)

(Specify please. Which friends are most prominent? Perhaps the oldest, the closest, the one(s) who never left, maybe even the controversial friend that disappeared from your characters life, but remains missed regardless?)

Vocation *

This section is required if your character has a career.


Past occupations:

(You don’t need to list an entire resume here, but it’s useful to know.)

Attitude towards current job: 

(Is it your character’s dream job? Are they working towards a bigger goal? Is he/she doing it because they have no choice/is it forced labor?)

(OPTIONAL) Attitude towards current co-workers and bosses:

(Optional. Apply if useful) Salary:



I love this part.

What are their….

 Greatest phobias, and why? Explain:

Life goals/dreams. Explain: 

(If relevant) Compulsions/obsessions: 

(Can range anywhere from strange, to just plain disturbing.)

Secret skills: 

(Be cautious here.)

Do they want to change anything about their current life?

Do they want to change anything about their appearance?



Overall description:

(Please explain this as thoroughly as possible.)

Hair color and style: 

(You can use a reference here if you want too.)

Eye color/eye shape


(I can use myself as an example. I twirl my hair…a lot. If you find it relevant, go ahead and explain how the character feels about their habits.)


(Our clothing sometimes reflects who people are more than they realize.)


Athletic? Average? Dangerously thin? Explain if necessary:



Extra details (everything here is optional)

Daily routine:

Night owl or early bird?


Light or heavy sleeper? Sleepwalking and insomnia can be added here:


(Tip: Try to be as general as possible in the next few questions. For example, unless your character has a particular taste for a specific flavor of Sushi, you’ll be just fine with saying “Sushi” or “Japanese cuisine”.)

Favorite cuisine/food:

Smoker/drinker/drug user? (College experimenting counts): _


OOC trait: Everyone has an out-of-character trait. What is your characters? Explain if necessary:


***Special thanks to Kuro for providing this. She definitely gave me a few things to think about, and hopefully you found it useful as well. Anything else you want to add? Leave in the comments below! :)

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