A Heroine Just Like Me by Alicia Dean…

I don't know if other authors have this problem, but I have written some twenty plus stories, and I often worry that all my heroines are clones of one another, and of myself.  (Well, not in the ‘fantasy-filled-Happily-Ever-After’ sense, but more in their traits, likes, and dislikes).  Although I strive to make each protagonist a unique individual, I am afraid it might not always work out that way.

I have found when I am getting to know characters in a new book, I tend to give my heroine a lot of my personality and preferences. I also feel they speak and behave a great deal like I do. (Other than the heroic, self-sacrificing, brave things they do…sigh…) Not to say that all my heroines are perfect, or at least I hope not. They also have flaws…sometimes they share my flaws, other times I give them their own.

When I set out to write a Young Adult series, I made a conscious effort to ensure my protagonist, Liberty Delacort Van Helsing, was not a ‘mini-me.’ Which wasn’t all that difficult, since she is eighteen and I’m…well…not. :) But still, even with the age gap, I could have made her a younger, hotter, tougher version of myself. I am sure there is a little part of me in her, but some of the differences are…
  1. While we both like white wine, Liberty drinks the sweet stuff, and I can’t stand it.
  2. She is afraid of and sickened by the sight of blood. While it’s not something I particularly enjoy, looking at blood doesn’t scare or nauseate me.
  3. She loves sunshine and sympathizes with vampires who can’t enjoy it. I prefer bleak, dark, rainy, weather, and could adjust quite well to being a vampire. (Once I acquired a taste for blood)
  4. She is able to resist Eli (sometimes, not always), and I would not have that kind of will power.

Do you have a tendency to write heroines who are like you? When you read a book do you see yourself in the protagonist? What protagonist have you been most able to relate to?

(Oh yeah, another big difference. Liberty is a virgin…;))

About my latest release, Liberty Divided (Isle of Fangs Book 2) (Click here to be taken to buy page on Amazon)

 One man can fulfill her destiny…the other can fulfill her fantasy.
To quell the rise of evil vampires, Liberty Van Helsing must embrace her newfound Hunter destiny. But she has a great deal to learn, and Eli Barkley—the vampire who has been teaching her—has already betrayed her once. Her goal is to shut Eli out of her life and become a better hunter on her own—and to focus on her new romance with hot Australian, Ryan Kelly, a human she can trust.

But when a rogue vampire begins savagely killing young women, the authorities insist Liberty work with Eli to find the murderer. Liberty must overlook Eli’s epic betrayal and find a way to get along with him if they are to stop the unknown maniac and protect innocent lives.

Yet, the more time Liberty spends with Eli, the more her unwanted attraction to him grows. She starts to question her feelings for Ryan—are they real, or could Eli be ‘the one?’ As Eli and Liberty delve further into the murders, clues surface that point to Eli as the culprit. Can she trust him now? Or will she have to plunge a stake into his heart, breaking her own, just when she’s learning to believe in him again?


After the bars closed and the streets emptied of people, Liberty and Eli walked back down the beach to the lot where their cars were parked.
She stumbled and Eli took her elbow, helping her stay upright. “Watch it now. I think you’re toasted.”
She rubbed her cheek and shook her head. “No, just tired.”
“You’re bombed out of your mind. In our future outings, we should leave alcohol alone. If you did run into our mystery maniac, he’d have you shredded to ribbons in no time.”
For some reason, that struck her as hilarious. She stopped walking and doubled over with giggles.
Eli took her shoulders and lifted her to face him. “What’s so damned funny? I’m serious.”
That made her laugh even harder. “You—you’re the one—” She gasped between bursts of laughter, trying to catch her breath. “You’re the one who’s—” She laughed some more. “Trying to be serious? That’s a switch, am I right or am I right?”
He snorted in irritation. “Wasted is what you are. For God’s sake, a newbie drunken hunter. Exactly what we need to take down this asshole.”
“Sorry,” she slurred, trying to focus, to sober up. “You’re right. No way would I be any goodn’ this con-con-dishen.”
He scowled. “Apology accepted. Second apology, I might add.”
She smiled. For some reason his reminder didn’t bother her. She poked a finger against his chest. “Don’t get used to it, bucko.”
He wrapped his fingers around hers, held on for a split second, then released her. “Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
“I took—I mean brought—my car. I can drive.”
“No way in hell am I letting you get behind the wheel. Lover boy can bring you to get your car tomorrow.”
She scowled, but Eli was right. She didn’t want to kill someone—or herself.
Just before they reached the parking lot, they passed a tiare shrub blooming with white flowers. “These are gorgeous.” She inhaled the fragrant scent. “And they smell amazing.” She turned a delighted smile on him. “Can I pick one?”
“Of course. The natives of Sang Croc want people to enjoy the beauty of their flora. The motto is, there are always more to grow.” He stopped and gripped a flower by its stem, pulling it from the bush. “Here you go.”
She hadn’t realized he’d moved, but suddenly he was close. Their bodies almost brushed. She didn’t remind him of the rules about no flirting. If she did, she was afraid he’d step away. He locked his eyes on hers and lifted the flower, gently tucking it behind her ear.
She swallowed hard and took a shallow breath. His eyes dropped to her mouth. Involuntarily, her lips parted.
He was going to kiss her…and she was pretty certain she going to let him. Even in her drunken state, she vowed she wouldn’t go as far as she’d wanted to go with Ryan. But she wanted to kiss Eli—had wanted to since she’d first seen him.
They’d come close a few times, but something had always interrupted them. Tonight, there were no distractions. She’d had enough to drink that she didn’t feel her normal inhibitions. But she couldn’t use the booze as an excuse. Her adrenaline was pumping, and she’d sobered considerably. Would she or wouldn’t she? Would it be disloyal to Ryan? They hadn’t exactly made a commitment, she hadn’t told him she—
“Are you and Ryan a couple?” Eli asked.
She blinked, not sure she’d heard correctly. “Do what?”
“Are you and Ryan a couple?”
“That’s not—not really your business.”
I need you to tell me that you are.”
She frowned and put a hand to her forehead. “What?” He wasn’t making any sense, and her head was fuzzy.
He stared down intently at her, his gaze roaming over her features. His voice was low in the hushed night. “If you say you’re not, I’ll do something stupid. If you belong to Ryan, tell me you do, and hands off.”
She didn’t answer. For several seconds.
His lips tightened. The two of them remained sheltered in silence in the darkness. It was so quiet, she could hear the ocean waves lapping the sand.
He took the flower from her right ear and moved it to her left. He trailed his fingers along her cheek, making goose bumps break out over her flesh. “There you are. Left side.”
“Left side?” Her throat was so dry, she could barely speak.
He nodded. “It means you’re taken. Now all the guys will know you belong to Ryan, and they’ll stay away.”
She clenched her teeth, angry at herself for feeling disappointed, angry at him for not giving her what she wanted. Rejected by two guys in two nights.
Screw this romance crap.
(Liberty Awakened, Isle of Fangs Book 1 is only 99¢ on the Kindle. Click here to purchase)


Rock Star Myths from a Former Rock Singer

Ever dreamed of being a rock star on a gigantic stage with a killer band behind you and adoring fans in front of you? Sure you have. Most people at least fantasize about singing well, and many enjoy the idea of being worshiped by a crowd of 80,000 people.
Although I never played to a crowd that large and didn’t enjoy international success as a rock star, I have an idea of what it feels like to be onstage and have rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in the business thirty years ago, when I was a rock singer. Although I never grilled George Harrison or Alice Cooper on how it feels to be them, I have been around them at parties. Enough to know the person you see on stage performing is very different from the one you see at the grocery store.

And from my own experience as a singer and actress, I have always been fascinated with the idea of the rock star as a real person. Here’s some of my observations over the years I was an entertainer...

Fact 1: Smoke and Mirrors - The expression ‘it’s all smoke and mirrors’ is one that must be clarified to understand the strange relationship between rock star and audience member. The stage, the lights, the music, the costume, the makeup (in Alice Cooper’s case) all contributes to the moment they are the rock star, not the guy or gal at the DMV lineup. Rock stars only exist on stage or when they believe they are being watched by someone who expects the rock star image.

Fact 2: Drugs – Although Ozzy Osbourne is famous for this behavior, many rock stars or performers are not tolerant of drugs and have a firm anti-drug policy among their crew. Do you hear me, Justin Bieber?
Fact 3: Trashing hotel rooms – When the show is over, many celebrities go home to wash the dishes, put their feet up, or at least call their kids and wife from the hotel room. The trashing of hotel rooms, entertaining groupies and having wild parties is counter-productive for a year-long tour and most of those stories of bad behavior were/are for publicity sake. Ever hear the phrase “no bad publicity”?
Fact 4: Taking care of the Voice – Lead singers baby their voices, coddle the vocal chords and aren’t about to jeopardize their ability to sing. Thus, rest and silence are key when on tour.
Fact 5: Costumes – Very few rock stars (except maybe Tommy Lee and the lead singer of Poison) actually walk around with the rock star look 24/7. Before tattoos, piercings, black leather and long hair, they posed for class pictures with collared shirts.

Fact 6: Female Rock Stars – Although we associate the phrase ‘rock star’ with crazy, wild, irresponsible men, there are many women rock stars out there who go backstage to diaper their baby on set breaks, call their husbands when the show is over and worry about bloating in their tight leather and chains costume. Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth, Ann Wilson, Joan Jett, Lita Ford even Pink, Fergie and Madonna have earned their places as women in rock with their talent, hard work, and perseverance. It’s a rough life for a woman who also wants to parent, have a garden, live some semblance of normality.

Although we love to adore, worship and revere them, Rock Stars put their pants on one leg at a time, worry about their children’s grades, get pimples, take vitamins. They are people too, ordinary folk who have relatives, love Christmas, spill food on their clean white shirts-- except for that moment on stage when they become the image they’ve worked so hard to create, the rock God, the amazing singer, the larger-than-life character who feeds our need to adore someone on a pedestal. For the duration of their show, they are ROCK STARS but after the show, they are just like us.

Kim Hornsby is the author of Necessary Detour, the Amazon Best Selling Novel about a retired female rock star who hides from the media when she retires and can’t stop spying on the strange family across the bay. In this novel Goldy, the internationally beloved rock star, shows us a real person with insecurities alongside her amazing talent. Check it out to get inside the head of a rock star!

The first day of school used to be a national holiday in my house...

Today at Beach Read Authors we have Rebecca J. Clark, author of SHAMELESS and mother in the Pacific Northwest.

Back when my kids were young and I was a stay-at-home mom, I used to look SO forward to the first day of school. Because that meant for a few hours every day, the house would be mine. I could get back into a routine—workout and clean the house in the morning, write in the afternoon until the kids got home.

Now, the kids are older. They still went back to school (high school and college), but it’s not such an exciting time anymore. Why? Because I don’t need a break from them like I used to when they were younger, more demanding and more needy.

 Now that they’re older...they just don’t need me as much and they’re not home much, and when they are home, they’re doing their own thing. We all work, and trying to find a time when all of us aren’t working or doing our own thing just doesn’t happen very often. Okay, never.

 That’s why I was so excited to take a family trip last month. We, along with my mother in law (whom I actually like, so don’t roll your eyes LOL), headed down to Lincoln City, Oregon, about a six-hour drive south of where we live. We rented a house right on the beach. We’d never been to Lincoln City or this house, so we were hoping for the best, hoping the photos online were representative of the actual house.

 We weren’t disappointed. It really was right on the beach. It was big, it was clean, and did I mention it was right on the beach? People asked us what we were going to do down there. Surf? Go to the nearby sand dunes (not so nearby FYI)? Visit all the little shops?

 Nope. Our plans were simple: Hang out with each other in the house and on the beach. Period. And that’s all we did. We walked on the beach together. We hiked the neighborhoods overlooking the ocean together. We built a fire and roasted marshmallows and made s’mores together. We played card games together. And we even—gasp!—ate meals together, something that rarely happens at home.

 Nobody was bored, not even my 17-year-old son and nephew (pseudo son who lives with us). Not even my mother in law who’s like the Energizer Bunny and needs to be “doing something” constantly.

 The five days we spent down there went by way too quickly. [Big sigh here]. And the first day of school also came way too fast. For the first time in years, this milestone actually made me a bit sad, because it means we are back to our routines of seeing each other as we’re coming and going.

 Which is why we’ve already planned another family outing—Leavenworth in November. Counting down the days...

Cute as Heck, Tough-Ass Chicks

image of strong woman with head leaning on the back of a dark and handsome man with tatoos
Today we welcome M.S. Kaye to talk about writing tough but lovable heroines and her new book, Fight Princess. Take it away M.S. Kaye...

Cute as Heck, Tough-Ass Chicks

This is one of my favorite types of characters, but she’s not always easy to write. Make her too tough, and she’s butch. Make her too cute, and she’s cutesy. Make her too sweet, and she sappy or weak.

So, how do you find that precarious balance?

1. Let her actions and other people’s reactions speak for themselves. Stay out of her head—especially, don’t let her dwell on herself.

2. Consider language, specifically cursing. Too much, and she’s vulgar. But a little is okay if the circumstances warrant it. Also, cursing in dialogue has a different effect than cursing in thoughts.

3. Make her cool and kick-ass—but not perfect. Given her background, her flaws should be understandable, even expected. The reader will identify with her and sympathize.

4. Allow juxtaposition of qualities—this makes the character interesting. Just make sure she’s believable.

5. If you’re going to do fight scenes, do the research. Different martial arts styles have different qualities and techniques. And, although women can fight, they are usually smaller than men and must consider that in a confrontation. (She’s not likely to out wrestle a man, but if she knows how and where to strike, she can control most situations.)

I’m looking forward to reading all your tough-ass chicks!

*Comment below for a chance to win M.S. Kaye's new book, Fight Princess!!


Things aren’t what they seem. Don’t get involved.

Celisse is too headstrong to listen. Her best friend’s boyfriend is dead, and she does not heed Cullen’s warning, slipped to her in a note as he’s being arrested for the murder.

Cullen tries to keep Celisse out of danger and also tries to avoid her, both unsuccessfully. He can’t deny his feelings for her anymore, but he knows he can’t have her. If she ever discovered the truth about his past, she’d surely hate him.

While struggling with her intense feelings for Cullen, Celisse uses her skills as an ex-prosecutor to investigate, all while continuing to fight for Ogden, the organizer of an underground fight ring. She eventually realizes things are connected—the ring, Ogden, Cullen, the murder, and herself. She races to uncover the truth before she’s arrested or becomes the next victim—or perhaps, the next culprit.

You can purchase Fight Princess at:
Barnes & Noble


M. S. Kaye is a 4th degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.

Her latest book, Fight Princess, is available from Liquid Silver Books, and Once is coming soon from Jupiter Gardens Press.

Contact M. S. Kaye at:
Follow on Twitter @mskosciuszko

How to Find Great Books on Goodreads

Ever wonder how to find your next great read? Christine M. Fairchild gives us an overview of the Amazon owned GOODREADS

Besides our fabulous Beach Read Authors site, one my favorite book sites for finding great reads is Goodreads, because it's driven by READERS!

Finding Fresh Fiction

Goodreads is a great place to find fresh fiction voices and new or cross-genre stories.
First of all, nothing recommends a book like a bunch of positive reader reviews. Sure, you can find tons of reviews on Amazon book pages, but you have to search for the book or author name individually, which means you have to know who you're looking for already. Otherwise, you're stuck searching the Top 100 lists, which are dominated by the same-old bestselling authors.

When I'm looking for fresh fiction and undiscovered authors, I'm typically looking for mid-list authors and/or indie authors. Goodreads is a better place to search for that type of book/author because a great book can rise to the top of the pile more easily in the Goodreads communities.

I'm more inclined to pick a book based on recommendations from like-minded readers than from the traditional book shelf categories you find at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Fortunately for me,  Goodreads allows readers to recommend books to other "friends" as well as lump fiction into:

1) unique Groups, such as "Psychological Thrillers" and "The Romance Troupe"
2) popular Lists (aka Listopia), like my favorites "He's a lover and a fighter!" and "Hottest Guy on a Cover"
3) personal Bookshelves based on subject matter, such as "Hot Heroes" and "Popular 99 Cent Amazon Books".

I can also search books for tags, like Magic, Adventure, or Role-play. Better yet, you can even find regional Goodreads Groups. One Group for my area is appropriately called "Seattle Area Goodreaders". Another is called BookTalking, which is dedicated to the art of booktalking in the tradition of Nancy Pearl from NPR. I love that Goodreads allows for this level of creative grouping from authors and readers alike. Though I admit I'm still waiting for the Gerard Butler Look-alike book tags or Groups!

Interpreting Ratings

I also enjoy the diversity of book reviews on Goodreads. Now, you have to be aware that there are lovers and haters on Goodreads. That means reviews by folks who'd never give the book less than 5 stars or better than 1 star because they have some unknown agenda.

For example, I got a 1-star rating on my book, An Eye For Danger, from a reader who admitted she didn't read the book. When I asked her why she didn't like the book and if there was anything I could improve, she said she didn't go past the first couple pages because she doesn't like books written in first person (authors call this 1st Person POV). Do readers on Goodreads have the right to rate a book they haven't read? Sure. Should readers take a 1-star rating into consideration? Yes, if there is a pattern of several low-star reviews. Fortunately for me as an author, most of my book's reviews are 4 and 5 stars.

And that's what you want to look for:
1) the ratings most readers give the book (44% give my book 4 stars, and 45% give it 5 stars)
2) the overall average rating (my book's average rating is 4.32 out of 73 ratings)
3) how many ratings have been given (too few reviews may be a book that isn't vetted enough, while too many may signal a mainstream book I don't necessarily want to read).

How do you see these stats? Just click on "Ratings Detail" next to the book's image (see image of my friend and colleague, Lisa Costantino's book, Maiden's Veil). A good book lies between an average rating of 3.0 - 4.0; a better book sits strongly in the 4-5 range. Note that Lisa's Women's Lit book is a 4.43 average rating. That's a great sign that readers are consistently recommending her book to their friends!

Discovering Hidden Gems

Occasionally, a really good book gets mid-range ratings, because the story or the writing breaks with traditional or expected books in that genre. In the Romance genre, for example, heroes and heroines are expected to be together at the end of the story. If a book breaks that rule, it can get rated lower even though the writing is wonderful.

My suspense book, for example, has more subplots and characters than most romance-style books, so some readers felt overwhelmed by this, while others praised it through the roof. Just goes to show there's no "one" perfect recipe to please every reader. That's why it's important to read the reviews for clues to book elements you like, such as comments about strong character development or a intriguing plot twist or an engaging mystery. Personally, I look for words like "strong" female characters as well as "thinking" or "smart" heroes. Nothing bores me more than a hero that is a dumb dumb, no matter how hot his abs are.

Me (right) and Lisa Costantino at pre-season
Seattle Seahawks football game.
You should also compare the responses between men and women readers. A book that appeals to both sexes is likely crossing genres and offering characters both men and women can connect to. I find that cross-genre/gender books typically have unique or compelling elements in either the story or the characters that I want to read.

Most men who read my Romantic Suspense, which is part Thriller and part contemporary love story, give it a 4-star review. Some male readers told me they thought it was more of a Thriller and didn't understand why it was categorized as Romance (again, Romantic Suspense is more of a traditional category). Meanwhile, many female readers are calling the book a Mystery. That's some diversity!

As an author, that feedback tells me I might need to revamp my marketing approach. But as a reader, those comments would tell me to be curious about a book that could make women and men alike blush.

So head over to Goodreads, find your ideal Group/List/Bookshelf, interpret the ratings, and look for clues in the reviews to find your perfect story! And enjoy :)

So what's your favorite way to search for books on Goodreads? Share your thoughts in our comment section and win one free ebook from your pick of our Beach Read Authors books. It's on me! Thanks for visiting :)


Christine M. Fairchild, aka the Editor Devil, is a former journalist with 25 years' experience as a writer/editor, from technical to marketing to exec communications to entertainment.

She specializes in "tactical" editing and storytelling techniques for authors, offering writing tips and tricks at http://EditorDevil.blogspot.com and through her Editor Devil Guides.

She's currently working on book II of The Goliath Conspiracy series, a follow-up to her popular debut romantic suspense, An Eye For Danger,

For free writing and editing tips and tricks, visit http://EditorDevil.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @fairchild01.