Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taming the Beast within.

When I started working on the story that became Measure of Healing, I chose to work with cougars as my Weres for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’d never seen a Were-Cougar. I’d seen Wolves, Lions, Tigers, Bears , oh my. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) I’d even seen dragons, opossums and armadillos. These last two were in a young adult novel series about vamps and Weres. But I’d never seen a Cougar.

Then there was the way this story got started. It shares a common origin with the story being released next month by Elyssa Edwards, Mating Stone. It too is a paranormal with shape shifters. And both started as writing challenges. Neither of these two came from some sudden inspiration. Neither came from some a flash of creative insight. Both came because someone challenged me to write a story with a certain set of parameters. This time the challenge came from my friend Llew. I almost always take Llew’s challenges. She is extremely creative and a wonderful writer. One day you will all own books by Llewellyn McEllis.

Measure of Healing came about when Llew challenged a group of writers to write a fiction story based on a current events article. As I flipped through the pages of news on the internet I wondered what I could write about, I came across a story about the conservation efforts in the Everglades in Florida. Most particularly about the attempt to preserve an isolated pocket of cougars who were misnamed the Florida Panther.

This group of pumas (the official scientific term for cougars) had become cut off and had not retreated from humanity’s encroachment by fleeing westward. As man moved down the Florida peninsula, they became trapped and restricted to smaller amounts of territory, now almost exclusively living in the Glades. I’d been working on a different story about werewolves. I’ve long been fascinated by Weres. Not so much the ooh, scary man gets bitten and now howls at the moon type, as the we aren’t exactly human type. Yes, I’m a sucker for what some horror aficionados like to call the tame or “defanged” werewolf.

I heard L.A. Banks and Carrie Vaughn talking about this transformation last September. Both agreed with an opinion I’ve heard expressed by several authors of vampire and Were stories. There is something primal and sexual about the lack of control of the werewolf. The primitive, base feelings that this creature taps into are, in the correct settings, highly erotic. A Were is the ultimate alpha male. He doesn’t care about society and what the world tells him he should think or feel or want. He knows what he wants and he will move heaven and earth to get it. For a woman there can be something very sexy and satisfying if that thing your alpha Wolf…or Cougar wants is you. How he gets what he wants is the line that separates paranormal from horror. And the honest truth is there just aren’t very many horror Weres out there anymore.

So being in a Were state of mind already, I wondered what would happen, how it would impact the world if the animals being pushed toward extinction were Weres. Being intelligent and sentient live forms they would eventually decide to push back. And even more importantly, what happens to Weres if their base animals become extinct? And if the Florida Panthers were part of a larger Were community, what were they doing about the problem?

These questions formed the frame that became Measure of Healing. Alejandro Ramirez is a Florida Cougar, or at least half of him is. Dr. Gabriella St. Jerome is a human doctor whose past has become tangled in the Were world that she hates. In Measure of Healing she has to over come those feelings not just toward the Weres, but toward one in particular. Problem? If she does over come, it just might lead to the death of everyone involved.

Oh, by the way, Mating Stone, which is due out from Ellora’s Cave on February 8th came from a challenge to write a story set in February that included an amethyst, a Mardi Gras mask, a kiss and a groundhog. Were-Groundhogs? Naw…

Eternally Yours Contest

What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire?
Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line,
"My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.

The prizes –
1st prize--5 books

2nd prize--3 books

3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Sandra Cox Silverhills
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute For the Goddess
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O’Rourke
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Kelly Kirch Time for Love
Anny Cook Honeysuckle
Most of these authors will also be participating in a chat on February 4th from 1pm-8pm at Love Romances Cafe. If you have not signed up for the chat loop, it's at

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