Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gettin' Wild with Nicole McCaffrey!!!

HOW-DY!!! Welcome back, ya'll!!

Hope you're ready for a wild west adventure! Please join me in offering up a big ole How-Do to Nicole McCaffrey!!

Hi Sarah! It's great to be back with you! It's a gorgeous sunny Friday and I'm really looking forward to spending the day here! I'm no expert, but I'll be happy to answer your writing questions, and any others from today's commenter's.

*Is it wise to write a book within a specific genre based solely on what's hot in the market?

Yes and no. *G* Let me explain that a little more thoroughly, LOL. If you've ever thought of writing paranormal, for example, there has never been a better time. Vampires, werewolves and fantasy elements are super hot. One could argue that by the time your book hits the shelves, the trend may be waning, but there will always be a market for vampires just as there will always be a market for regencies. Write what you love to read--better still, write the book that you want to read but can't find anywhere else.

That's not to say only paranormal and regency are hot right now, LOL. E-publishing has come so far and done so much to expand the availability of a variety of genres. I don't think there has ever been a better time to be a writer. Chances are if you love it, there's an audience out there waiting to read it.

At the same time, I don't recommend suddenly switching from writing one type of story to writing another simply because that's what's hot right now--It's just my opinion but it kind of shows in your writing whether or not you're "feeling" a story or just phoning it in. If erotica is not your taste, then don't try writing it no matter how hot the market is--you won't be happy. So to someone just starting out I'd say read a lot, find what it is that calls to you, and then you'll know which direction to go. If gunfighters and saloon girls fuel your imagination--then saddle up and take the ride!

*Should aspiring writers write to please their CP's/contest judges or simply follow their heart?

Oooh, good question. There is no doubt that a good CP is worth their weight in chocolate. But what defines a good CP? Someone who encourages you to write to your strengths and doesn't want to change your story to suit them. If a CP makes suggestions to switch from passive to active voice, or encourages you to re-think the 37 "ly" and "ing" combinations in your last paragraph, or to find ways around using dialogue tags--that's great. And you should seriously consider her advice because she's not trying to change your voice, she's trying to make your writing cleaner and more vivid. But if she wants you to make your dark haired hero blond, or wants your beta to be more alpha or make your rough-around-the-edges FBI agent heroine soft and feminine--then you may want to re-think her advice. Is she suggesting this to improve your story--or just because that's what she likes? Are all her heroes alpha and all her heroines super feminine? You shouldn't change your story just to please her taste.

Same with contest judges. There are some great ones out there, but for every great one we get three or four not-so-great ones who forget that their job is to critique your writing skills--not you.

I guess the best advice is go with your gut. If I had a nickel for every author who has told me "but that's how I write" when I've suggested they clean up passive voice or PV, or anything mechanical, I'd be a very wealthy woman. And at the end of the day, it's your choice. If you feel strongly that you need to use "was" 90 times per page, or that weaving in and out of multiple PV's isn't distracting, then go for it, write it your way. But readers wont' get the full, all-senses-engaged experience with your story that they'll get with someone else's.

Only you know your characters, your voice, your story. Sometimes you just have to smile and say "Thanks. I'll give it some thought." and then go do it the way that feels right to you. If a CP becomes insistent on your doing it her way or tells you you'll "never be published" or makes nasty remarks because you didn't take their advice, then it's time to walk away. We wouldn't take that kind of abuse from a boyfriend or best friend, and we shouldn't take it from a critique partner. Ditto with contest judges. If they make negative remarks that have nothing to do with your writing ("oh great, another blonde, blue-eyed heroine!' or "this is a dumb story"--yes, I've received both those comments) just ignore them--and make the contest coordinator aware of their actions.

Thanks, Nicole, for the kickin' advice!! Now, for those of you who didn't know, Nicole's latest release, WILD TEXAS WILD, became available for your western reading pleasure June 18th. Congrats and Best Wishes, Nicole!!


All Raz Colt wants is land, a quiet peaceable existence and to put his life as a hired gun in the past. When the chance to earn a sizable fortune by rescuing a kidnapped heiress comes his way, he seizes the opportunity. Trouble is, the heiress doesn’t want to be rescued. Offsetting Arden O’Hara’s beauty is a rattlesnake personality and shrewish temper. Despite her claim that she faked the kidnapping so her fiancé would ride to her rescue, Raz knows someone is out to kill her. And if anyone gets the pleasure of wringing her lovely neck, it’s going to be him.

Arden O’Hara is desperate to go home. Her fiancé was supposed to ride to her rescue, proving it’s her–and not her father’s money– he loves. Instead an arrogant stranger, with weapons strapped gun-fighter low and a decided lack of sympathy for her situation, shows up spouting a ridiculous tale about someone trying to kill her. It’s infuriating when Raz Colt’s claims prove true after not one but several attempts are made on her life. She has no idea who this fast gun with the deadly aim is, or why he makes her feel as wild and untamed as the Texas wind. But like it or not, if anyone is capable of getting her home alive, it’s Raz Colt.

San Antonio, Texas
Spring 1884

“Brought you some towels, sugar.”

Raz Colt leaned back in the steaming bath water with a deep sigh. Life didn’t get much better than this. A cigar in one hand, a glass of fine bourbon in the other, and a pretty little dove for this evening’s pleasure. As she closed the door behind her, muffling the sound of piano music from downstairs, the cloying aroma of cheap perfume wrapped around him.

He took a sip of the bourbon and sighed again as the smooth liquid warmed his gullet. The past month had been busy as hell. He’d helped a friend clear his name of a brutal murder charge and brought the real killer to justice, then stuck around Colorado just long enough to make sure they hanged the bastard. He’d even provided a new rope for the occasion. It wasn’t often his chosen profession of hired gun brought him such personal satisfaction.

Betty Lou, or whatever her name was, inched closer, pausing long enough to refill his drink before taking the stool beside the tub. Dressed only in a camisole and pantalets, she had curves in all the right places plus a few extra, he noted with appreciation. A man liked a little something to hold onto in bed.

She trailed a finger in the bath water. “Want me to wash your back?”

He smiled languidly as the bourbon washed through him. “Darlin’, you can wash anything you’d like.”

He’d been riding for weeks, heading straight to Texas after finishing up in Colorado. For no reason other than a sudden yearning to see his home state. After all that time on the trail, he was more than saddle sore, with aches in places a man didn’t like to think about.

She giggled a little too much at his comment, but he didn’t mind. He sat forward, careful not to get the cigar wet or spill his drink, while she dipped a cloth in the water and lathered it with a spicy, exotic-smelling soap. Damn near anything would smell better than the fine layer of trail dust he’d come in with.

“So,” she said, gently applying the hot cloth to his back, “you new in town or just passing through?”

He closed his eyes, groaning as the heat penetrated aching muscles. Tired and sore as he was, she’d be lucky if she got a rise out of him before he fell asleep. “Ain’t decided that yet. What would you suggest, sweet thing?”

“Stay, sugar, stay,” she cooed. “If you’re lookin’ for a good meal, Ma’s Place up the street is the best. And if you’re lookin’ for work, try the Triple H.”

He slumped back against the tub as she moved around to the front, soaping his neck and chest. “Triple H?”

“It’s the biggest spread around. H.H. O’Hara’s the richest man in these parts. He’s always lookin’ for help.”

Raz took another sip of his drink then clenched the cigar between his teeth. Ranching. He’d tried that once. Didn’t pay nearly as well as hiring out his gun. And he’d never been one for taking orders.

Betty Lou—or was it Linda Sue?—dipped the cloth again. “Want me to wash your hair?”

The bath was included with the price of the woman. He’d always had clean habits, but he supposed half the men waiting in the parlor downstairs had no use for soap. “Why not?”

She ladled warm water over his hair, then lathered the soap between her practiced hands. “I ain’t never seen hair like yours before,” she purred. “It’s so black, it’s nearly blue. You Indian or somethin’, sugar?”

“Might be.” The fact that his mother was half Mexican, half Indian while his father was white wasn’t something he cared to discuss.

Betty Lou seemed to realize she’d hit a nerve. She slid closer, massaging soapy fingers over his scalp. “I think it’s real handsome.”

Through partially lowered lids, Raz noted with pleasure the gentle sway of her bosom as she scrubbed. She’d gotten damp while washing his back, and the camisole clung to her like a second skin. Rosy nipples, outlined against the wet material, practically begged for his attention. Her breasts were mere inches from his mouth, close enough to easily…

Of course, he’d have to set either the drink or the cigar aside to do that. He chose instead to simply watch, anticipating the pleasure ahead.

“Tell me more about this H.H. O’Hara.”

“Oh, the poor man,” Betty Lou sighed. “His daughter’s been kidnapped. I hear he’s right beside hi’self with grief.”

“Does he know who did it?”

She ladled rinse water over his hair. “They left a ransom note, but H.H. ain’t one to be told what to do. So he’s offerin’ a lot of money to the first man that brings his little girl back alive. With her virtue intact.”

“Her virtue?”

Betty Lou pressed a towel to his sodden hair. “H.H. don’t want nobody touchin’ his baby girl. That’s why he’s offerin’ such a big reward.”

Reward? He bolted upright in the tub, sloshing water over the sides with the sudden movement. Removing the cigar, he turned his full attention to Betty Lou. “How big?”

She moved behind him to knead the muscles in his back. “I hear’d tell it was ten thousand dollars.”

Drink midway to his lips, he paused. Ten thousand dollars?

Without a word, he handed Betty Lou the glass and rose from the tub. He felt her curious stare as he slid on trousers over still-dripping skin. Grabbing his gun belt, he strapped it on, then went for his boots. He shrugged into his shirt without bothering to turn it right side out or button it, rummaged through his trouser pockets for a handful of eagles and pressed them into Betty Lou’s palm. “This should take care of you for the rest of the night.”

His fallen angel looked downright disappointed, red-painted lips pouting prettily. “Where you goin’, sugar?”

Raz dropped his hat on over wet hair, then bent to place the cigar between her parted lips. “Triple H.” With a wink he strode toward the door. “Whiskey, women, and a fine cigar go a long way to make a man feel comfortable, but only one thing keeps a man warm at night, darlin’.”

She gave a huff of indignation and put a hand to one rounded hip. “What’s that?”

He tipped his hat to her and opened the door. “Money.”

Yee-haw!! Nothing like a devilish desperado to make you sit up and beg for more! I'd like to thank Nicole for being here today. I always look forward to her tasty teaser excerpts. She sure knows how to tantalize. *wink wink* If you'd like to learn more about my darling friend, Nicole McCaffrey, saddle up and head on over to her website: or

Here's huge ole THANK YOU for you, TLN'ers!! How about a little
MERLE HAGGARD and RAMBLIN' FEVER to send us two-stepping into the weekend! Hope you enjoy one my favorite partner dancing songs. Step lively and we'll see you back on Monday! :)


Cari Quinn said...

Hi Sarah and Nic! Congratulations on the release of Wild Texas Wind! The cover is gorgeous and the story sounds amazing. Can't wait to read it!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Hi Cari! So great to see you here. I really love that cover, LOL.

Sarah, thanks so much for having me today. I always have a blast when I hang out with you!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Nicole,
Very sage advice regarding CPs and contest judges. I love westerns and the extract was great.



Nicole McCaffrey said...

Thanks, Margaret--and thanks for stopping by!

Paty Jager said...

Great advice. ;) And a great story.

Darah Lace said...

Raz is one unforgettable hero! Ya done good, gf!

Sarah Simas said...

Yay! I finally got a chance to breathe! Summer may just do me in. :) How long till school starts? LOL

Hi Cari, Margaret, Darah and Paty! Great to see you here. Thanks for stopping by!

Nic, you're welcome here any time! :)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Nicole McCaffrey said...

I feel the same way, Sarah, LOL. I'm off my school year routine and this "looser schedule" is driving me nuts.

The kids are also making me crazy--and we're only two days in! Ack!!

Darah, Paty--thanks so much for stopping by.

Donna B said...

Great advice Nic. A good crit partner is definitely worth their weight in...uhem chocolate. But only if their advice helps improve your writing! (And don't think those hints about passive writing and POV slipped past us...)

Wild Texas Wind sounds hot! Enjoyed the excerpt. Good luck with it!

Sarah Simas said...


Hope the translator worked! :) Thanks for the comments about my blog!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Thanks, Donna! And thanks for stopping by 玫友!