Chasing Inspiration

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soul Song by Marjorie M. Liu

Marjorie M. Liu does it again with her latest installment to the Dirk & Steele saga. I was fortunate enough to participate in her publisher's Buzz program for this book. Dorchester draws names from a list of eager volunteers and sends out ARCs (advanced reader copies) to the lucky readers. The readers are to read the book and post their positive reviews on various websites. I'm a little behind on my end of the bargain, mostly because I didn't receive the book until Monday and I couldn't start really reading it until Wednesday due to work business. Enough about me. Let's talk about Soul Song.

If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Liu's Dirk & Steele series, you need to know a little background. Dirk & Steele is a "detective" agency that employs people with extraordinary capabilities. Some are shape shifters (yes, you read that. Not were-creatures but people who can shift into the shape and being of an animal. Long story, read the books!). Some are telekinetic, psychic, pre-cognitive, fire starters, telepathic, etc. They are fighting for the good of mankind against a growing evil. I won't say more here. You need to read the books. Yes, they are paranormal, but they are also romance and adventure and intrigue. Think X-Men meet Remington Steele. Only better than both because there's a dash of mythical creatures, a dose of magic and always lurking are the evil bad guys. *grin*

Soul Song is the 6th book in this series. The heroine of the story, Kitala Belle, is a world renown violinist who works magic when she plays. Music is a part of her, right down to her soul. Her curse, something she hasn't shared with anyone but her grandmother, is the ability to see when another person is going to come to a violent end. This gift of "sight" is a curse to her because there is nothing she can do to stop it. She can only see. Kit is a strong woman, and as such a strong heroine. Though she is resistant of her own brand of magic, she allows herself to grow through the circumstances she finds herself in and with a strength born in love, she is able to be more than she ever expected herself to be.

M'Cal is an amazing hero. Humble and strong and talented and sensitive and yet not clich├ęd, he mesmerized me from the first page. Here is a man who is afraid he has lost the very best of himself yet discovers through his encounter with Kit that all that is good and strong within him has only been sleeping. M'Cal is a merman, a prince of the sea. He was exiled to walk on land, and fell under the compulsion of a witch who would use him and his gift of song to not just manipulate people but to steal their souls.

Together, Kitala and M'Cal join hearts, magic and souls to over come an evil so pure it threatens to take over the world.

Soul Song is rich in story and rich in themes. It also happens to take place in one of my old haunting grounds - Vancouver, British Columbia. Cities, and islands, and Orcas, oh my! Seriously though, the backdrop for this story couldn't be any richer. And because M'Cal is a merman, yes, there are orca pods and seals and other creatures of the deep. I love water, the ocean specifically. Liu does a wonderful job of capturing the mystery and majesty of the ocean in her tale without the story becoming bogged down by marine life.

Some of the themes in the book are love, trust and belief, but it's also about sacrifice. Without saying anything that would give the story away, one of the themes in the book is about loving enough to sacrifice for that love, even if that means letting go. It is a powerful theme that when combined with this amazing love story and a superb action adventure takes wings.

Soul Song is a ride worth taking. Lyrical and compelling it combines the best of action/adventure and romance and blends these two elements with an artistic touch, adding believable elements of magic and "other". Marjorie, thank you for following your muse and giving us this story. We so appreciate it!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Visual DNA

I tried to get this to post here, cuz it's visually stunning. But for some reason Blogger doesn't like the html. So instead, here is a link to the profile I created on the Visual DNA site -

And here is the page with what I was going to post -

If you are feeling adventurous, check it out. It's really quite lovely. *grin*

Monday, June 25, 2007

Meme from Patti O'Shea

I got this from Patti O'Shea's blog. Fun times, and a great way to blow off the act of writing. Cuz I need more excuses in my life to not write. Anyway, since I'm reading the Dark Hunter series, Greek mythology seems to be a good fit. Well, enjoy!

Your Score: Orpheus

33% Extroversion, 66% Intuition, 100% Emotiveness, 85% Perceptiveness

You are an artist, an aesthete, a sensitive, and someone who has never really let go of that childlike innocence. To you, all of life has a sense of wonder in it, and the story of Orpheus was written about someone just like you.

When the Argo passed the island of the Sirens, Orpheus played a song more beautiful than the Sirens to prevent the crew from becoming enticed. When his wife died, he ventured into the underworld to charm Hades but, in his naivete, he looked back becoming trapped there.

You can capture your unique world view and relate it to others with the skill of a master storyteller. Your sensitivity and creativity make you a treasure to the human race, but your thin-skinned nature and innocence can cause you a lot of disenchantment and pain. What's doubly unfortunate is that, if you try to lose those traits, you never will, and everyone will be able to tell that you're putting up an artificial shell to prevent yourself from being hurt.

Famous people like you: Hemingway, Shakespeare, Mr. Rogers, Melville, Nick Tosches

Stay clear of: Icarus, Hermes, Atlas

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Just Sex...

Susan Kay Law, author of some amazing Americana Historical romances, recently moved from those beloved stories set in the American frontier to write a story that had been whispering to her for some time - a contemporary women's fiction novel.

Women's fiction is a category of genre fiction that is written by women for women that focus on the journey of a woman and is very relational in nature. Susie's first foray into women's fiction focuses on a woman who discovers her husband has been having affairs through most of his marriage. Life as she knows it can never be the same again. Especially because her husband believes that these affairs of his were "just sex" and had nothing to do with her. Through marriage counseling, he encourages her to have an affair of her own, to experience that it is just sex and that they can have an open marriage and still remain fully committed to each other.

Ellen finds herself trying to figure out what happens now. Does she forgive and forget for the sake of the children? Does she leave him? Does she go off and an have that fling? And how the heck would she go about doing that anyway? She's got a teen age daughter, for crying out loud! Besides, she has no radar to indicate if a man is married or not. And the last thing she wants to do is hurt another woman. Maybe it would be easier to just let life stay right where it is. But is easier better?

This story is Ellen's journey and I loved ever word. At times laced with Susie's trademark humor and at times poignant and aching, this story is about choices and how those choices can open or close possibilities. It's also about being true to who you are, once you discover who you are beneath who others expect you to be. It is lovingly written and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who believes in happy endings at the end of soul-wrenching self-discovery.

Kudos, Susie! I can't wait to see what you write next. *grin*

Friday, June 15, 2007

What Is Romance To You?

This question was asked on a bulletin board I visit from time to time for author Susan Wiggs. It was an insightful, and brave, gentleman who asked the question. It generated some interesting responses. And since I write romance in some shape or form, I thought I would ask the same question here.

What is romance?

Since I'm asking the question, I'll share my answer.

For me romance isn't something you have to plan. And it's definately not something you do. Romance are those perfect moments where souls connect and the world somehow stands still for a little while. It's not connected to a place or a time or an object. Romance is about a state of being.

Acting romantic is about doing. It's the planning a "romantic" dinner or date and then executing on it. It's the grand gesture of a diamond ring, a trip, a pledge. Being romantic is tied to a place or an event or an object. It is not necessarily tied to a state of being. Is the romantic dinner/date full of romance? For me, it is only if it includes one of those unplanned moments.

I married a man who doesn't act romantic. He doesn't buy flowers or chocolate or whisk me away at a moment's notice. He doesn't find sunsets romantic, though he does find them wonderful things to look at. He's just not romantic. I used to mind this because I had built up this expectation that these acts are romance and without them we couldn't be romantic with each other.

It took me a little while, but I finally realized that my husband embraces romance. When we have those moments where our souls touch and the world receeds and it's just us in that moment completely loving and understanding each other, he does and says the things that my heart and mind need. And I fall a little bit more in love with him. There aren't flowers, chocolates, candles, sunsets, etc during those moments. In fact, recently there's usually sheetrock dust and construction debris and a whiney dog surrounding our moments. But because the moment is about our souls, the surroundings and trappings don't seem to matter.

That's romance. At least to me. Sure, I like the romantic guestures and trappings, but they are fleeting. The romance my husband and I share, it lasts. And that's more meaningful to me.

Now it's your turn...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Hindi-Bindi Club

I have been waiting for this book forever! I've known Monica Pradhan since 1999. She was a member of Midwest Fiction Writers, which is a local RWA chapter here in MN. I served along side her on the chapter board for a year and I learned a lot from her about determination and striving toward making your passion a reality. Monica may not know this, but she's one of the reasons I never gave up writing during the dark days. I still have dark days, but they aren't so dark because of her. We didn't become tight but were always friendly with each other. I wish I could have gotten to know her better. Monica is one of these people that others are drawn toward. She's genuine and gentle and real and caring and has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. She is truly amazing.

Monica wrote three Silhouette Intimate Moments novels under the the pen name Monica McLean. They are great books if you can find them. Meaty stories with great characters and compelling writing. All are out of print but can be found at used book stores or used on sites like or Here's a list:

  • The Cinderella Bride
  • Just A Wedding Away
  • The Nanny's Secret

I have really enjoyed The Hindi-Bindi Club. Growing up I had friends who had immigrated from various parts of India to Canada. I never understood their parents' struggles and history growing up and found myself in later years trying to learn more about the different cultures and events. This book allowed me to live through some of the struggles in a real and engaging way. It's regenerated my thirst to learn more and for this I'm grateful. Don't assume that this book was meant to teach someone about India and the East meets West struggles and oddities. It's not. It's about people first and foremost. Mothers and daughters and their relationships through the lense of American and Indian cultures. It is, in essence, a beautful relationship story and a story of choices and journey. I didn't want it to end.

If you haven't read it, I encourage you to. It's a wonderfully accessible book that is entertaining and heart wrenching and thought provoking.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In This Moment

I belong to an online writers group where we share motivation and encouragement. One of the exercises we have periodically is to write about who we are and where we are at emotionally, intellecutally, physically, spiritually in this moment. I wrote today and I had to post it here. It's about fear. It doesn't have epiphanies or lofty answers or answers at all really. It's just me, in this moment. Honest and vulnerable. The type of thoughts I would normally keep in a journal tucked out of sight. But part of being authentic is being honest and vulnerable. I ask my coaching clients to become this way with me. The least I can do is rip open the vein and bleed a little myself. I encourage you to do the same. It's not comfortable. And it can sometimes be messy. But it's real and true. And I want that for all of you - the ability to be real and true.

In This Moment....

In this moment I am surrounded by my demons. A gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting, brain-paralysing fear that I will never write. That I will never finish. That I will never accomplish my dream. That my passion is misplaced. That it's all an illusion created by a dissatisfied soul. That I am lazy. That I am rebelling against the better angels of my nature. That 9-to-5 is what I am born to do. All I am born to do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

In this moment I stare at the sunflowers I have positioned to the right of my computer at work. In this shades-of-grey cubicle, they offer sunshine and whisper to me incoherent words of hope. I stare at them and I am grounded, if only for a little while. Until the demons start to seduce me again.

In this moment I crave silence in my soul. So I can hear my thoughts. So I can find my voice again and speak. So I can have peace. So I can know that peace does exist and isn't a wistful wish tossed up to a falling star.

In this moment I hear the clack of keyboards, of good, dutiful worker drones pushing through their call lists, connecting with applicants who desire higher education. I hear muted conversations and nasal cackles. I feel alone in the middle of business and not a little lost. I want to jump up from my cubicle and yell and convince someone that there's more than these glass walls and shades-of-grey cubes and pointless conversations trying to sell the idea of knowledge. I want to toss my project lists to the four winds and dance on my manager's grave. I want to shuck this life of other's expectations and conformity and politics and perceptions.

At the same time, i feel naive in this want because no matter where I go or what I do, the world is made up of shades of grey and politics and perceptions. Visionaries are lost by those who are afraid of different. 9-to-5 means shackles but it also means regular pay. Security in exchange for freedom. I'm torn. I'm tired. I'm afraid.