Monday, August 17, 2015

Guest Blog with Stephanie Joyce Cole - Plus a Tantalizing Tidbits Excerpt

Where Did That Character Come From? by Stephanie Joyce Cole

            In the early days after my first novel COMPASS NORTH was published, I had lunch with a friend who frowned at me across the table and asked, “I loved the book, but I couldn’t figure it out—which of the characters is you?”

            The answer is none of them.  We fiction writers do draw inspiration from real life and our experiences, but it’s not that common for an author to plant herself squarely in her novel.  When we conjure up our characters, they may be infused with our values and our vision of the world, but they are rarely cookie-cutter images of ourselves.

            The truth is, for most writers, characters mysteriously emerge from the mist in our brains, and we often don’t know why or how.  In my novel COMPASS NORTH, my main character Meredith had just arrived in Homer, Alaska, and she was lingering in a small cafe, bewildered, wondering what to do next.  At that point in my writing of that story, I was also wondering what Meredith was going to do next…and then suddenly, Rita, a grouchy old woman holding a rustic cane, was huddled on a bench in the wind right outside the cafe.  The story tumbled forward from there.  Somewhere, Rita had been lurking, waiting for a chance to escape onto the written page.  

            I resurrected the story “Gardens” to appear in TANTALIZING TIDBITS from a set of stories I’d written some years ago.  I hadn’t looked at it in a long time.  I was surprised to realize that Anne, the main character in “Gardens,” bore a significant resemblance to Meredith, the main character is COMPASS NORTH.  Both Anne and Meredith are shy, timid women in marriages that haven’t turned out the way they’d hoped.  The parallels in the stories don’t extend much further, but as a beginning point of both story lines, I’d found a main character who desperately needed to wake up and assert herself.  

            I can’t tell you what in my personal history draws me to such characters.  I don’t think anyone would describe me as timid or shy.  These types of characters are harder to depict, too, because they are less dynamic and appealing than bolder heroines.  Initially, they can appear whiny and spineless, though I certainly hope Anne and Meredith don’t come across that way.  But oh, the possibility for growth and change, for awakening and discovery, when these characters start to break out of their shells!  We prod them forward, cheer them on, and delight in their victories as they stand up for themselves and move forward in the world. 

            We writers have to love our characters, and cherish their flaws and faults, or the characters won’t come alive.  The villains are the characters we love to hate, but we do love them, with all their meanness and nastiness, and despite the trouble they cause.  We have to torture our main characters, in spite of the fact that we love them, to give them the opportunity to rise above the challenges they face, and grow into the life they were meant to live.

            So where do characters come from?  I don’t think anyone really knows, but we just hope and pray they keep on coming.

Tantalizing Tidbits
Ceci Giltenan, Tarah Scott, Sue-Ellen Welfonder, Victoria Barbour, Natasha Blackthorne, Ria Cantrell, Stephanie Joyce Cole, Kimberly K. Comeau, Kathryn Lynn Davis, Ted Grosch, Brenda Margriet, Mary McCall, Kate Robbins, John Robin, HD Smith, KyAnn Waters, and Victoria Zak

Genres: Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary, Literary, Fantasy, Time Travel, Historical, Women’s Fiction, Highland Romance, Humor, Erotica

Publisher: Cridhe Works LLC

Date of Publication:  July 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909513-2-2

Number of pages: 411
Word Count: 163,205

Cover Artist: Zak James Design

Book Description:

A collection of short stories written by bestselling authors, representing an eclectic mix of styles and genres. In a word, this book is a smorgasbord; an opportunity to try a bit of everything.

In the spirit of the smorgasbord, the collection is presented as a menu and authors have shared recipes which accompany each story—some fitting, some funny, some simply old favorites.

Ranging from ultra-short but spine tingling, to meatier tales that are nearly novellas there is a little something for every appetite including comedy, tragedy, fantasy, werewolves, at least one ghost, life, death, and of course love.

Dig in. We hope you find at least one tidbit you enjoy.

Available at Amazon


Savory fare for smaller appetites - short stories from a wide range of styles and genres.

The Motorcycle
by Tarah Scott
Paranormal fiction
3074 words

No man can ever fully master memory. But maybe, just maybe, he can learn to live with it. Even be glad for it. Even if that means reaching across space, time...and the grave.

Ida and the Nor’easter
Contemporary fiction
8014 words

Is there such a thing as a curse? With a storm looming on the horizon, 98-year-old Ida Walsh fears a repeat of the terrible events of her childhood. Will her indomitable wit and resilience be enough to save the day?

Literary fiction
4225 words

Anne begins to question the rigid limitations of her new marriage as she spies on a mysterious neighbor.

One Who Waits
Epic Fantasy
6538 words
Contains moderate violence

Al'a will die at his father's hands, unless he can master a forbidden magic.
Al'a Solaris, born into the Sun Priesthood, only wanted to prove his worth to his father when he delved into forbidden magic. Now, he must die at his father's hands, to restore honor to his bloodline. But the blade his father wields is also his final hope -- if only Al’a can discover its secret and master the fire within.

The Hole
Literary fiction

Just exactly why is Bernie digging that hole?

The Spirit Bottle
Literary fiction

A bushman's duty is his legacy for the tribe.

The Summons
Paranormal romance
5477 words

Contains mildly explicit sexual scenes

A magical journey where love knows no boundaries, the Summons combines romantic and ethereal love in a mystical setting.

Main Courses

Hearty fare to satisfy larger literary appetites.

The Seventh Sister
Paranormal romance
12,439 words

A story of love, legend, and magic
Down-on-her-luck American artist Maggie Gleason returns to Ireland, hoping to put old hurts behind her. Instead, revisiting the fishing village that enchanted her twelve years before only reopens wounds – until the unexpected appearance of roguish pub owner Conall Flanagan proves that the Ancient Isle is a magical place where anything can happen and true love always stands the test of time.

Falling in Time
by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Time travel romance/11,090 words

When love calls across the ages…

Aspiring writer Lindy Lovejoy knows all about happy endings. But when she travels to Scotland to research Celtic myth and lore, she never expected a chance to live her own storybook romance, until a stop at mystical Smoo Cave whisks her back in time and into the arms of Rogan MacGraith, a Highland hero who’d burn up the pages of the steamiest Scottish romance novel.

Clouds Across the Moon
Historical Women’s Fiction
17,151 words

In the 19th century Scottish Highlands, young Morna struggles with new motherhood, her child’s illness, and her inability to compete with her husband's idealized vision of her. Will she have faith in the magic of her dreams, and thus find the strength to save her child’s life--and her own--as she begins to recognize the truth and depth of the woman she really is?”

The Lady’s Portrait
Contemporary Romance
17,332 words

Contains mild to moderate sexually explicit scenes

When Gillian Beaton meets the captivating Ciaran MacLeod, she’s immediately attracted, but is she ready to trust again? Have her demons followed her to Scotland and can new love grow out of old heartbreak?

His Harlot
Historical Erotic Romance
23,018 words

*Contains extremely explicit sexual scenes that some readers may find offensive*

Late one night, in the midst of a summer’s hot spell, Thomas spies Rosalind in the woods, clad only in her shift, dancing in the moonlight. It’s really more than a man celibate for three years can bear. Thomas is in danger of falling into a sin so powerful it threatens to challenge everything he thinks he knows about himself and life…

Sneak Peek at Highland Legacy: King Arthur Strikes Back
Medieval Highland Romance
12,494 word

Michael wed Christina when he was nine and she was three, then promptly went about his life and tried to forget about her. Now the pair must unite to thwart the Beast, return the Power of God that was stolen by their ancestors, and save the world in an epic battle between the forces of good and evil.
*Please note, this is NOT a short story, it is an extended preview of Mary’s next novel, book III in her Sisters by Choice series due for release soon. It is a taste of things to come and while it does not end on a cliff-hanger, it is not a complete story.*


Looking for something lighter or perhaps a happy ending? The stories in this section won’t disappoint you. They are shorter and mostly romantic, or funny, or both.

Paranormal fiction
7099 words

Contains mild violence and a frustrating lack of S’mores

For those that like it short and sweet

Madison Monroe thinks she has everything in life figured out, until one ill-fated camping trip has her running for her life through the woods being chased by two wolves—both eager to claim her.

The Life She Had Before

Contemporary Romance
5429 words

A woman is torn between bitter revenge and the sweetness of a second chance.

Hi. My Name is Harold
3778 words

Is there light at the bottom of an empty peanut butter jar?

For Harold, giving up peanuts for medical reasons means the end of life's greatest pleasure…until his wife introduces him to all-natural peanut butter. But his addictive personality isn't satisfied with an occasional indulgence.

The Jewel of Grim Fortress
Paranormal historical romance
7105 words

Eradicating wayward supernaturals has its consequences.
The hereafter may be closer than Carson Kincaid thinks when he is charged to discover what ails Laird Maclean’s mind. Can Kincaid conquer his inner demons while battling the armies of evil?

Paisley Shaw, a powerful druid, has endured her share of hardened times starting the moment Laird Maclean stormed into her life. Now, she must find a way to stop him from taking her powers before it’s too late.

Beautiful Storm,
Erotic romance
7073 words
*Contains extremely explicit sexual scenes that some readers may find offensive*

Adrian Beck lost everything, including his passion for designing beautiful buildings, after 9/11.
Isabelle Clemet, of Clemet Hotels, is ready to rebuild after Katrina. She wants the Adrian.
Can an erotic late-night encounter on a secluded beach help a lonely architect rediscover his lost passion?

When a Rose Blooms,
Historical romance
4353 words

On the anniversary eve of his wife's death, Nathaniel kneels at her grave asking questions he fears were answered the night she died. Despite cold solitude, desire flares when he learns the woman who now haunts his dreams awaits him in the great hall. By morning’s light, she will meet him on the battlefield he has built around himself, and force him to choose between the living and the dead

Sorry for Your Trouble
1913 words

Ceci shares poignant but sometimes funny memories of the first funeral she attended in Ireland.

The Personal Ad
Contemporary sweet romance
4211 words

Always the best friend and never the leading lady, will Nina find love when she answers a quirky, sweet personal ad?

Excerpt from Onyx ... available in the Short Story Anthology:
Tantalizing Tidbits


The wind and tree branches whipped past me as I ran through the moonlit forest. The skin of my arms was already sliced from the branches, but I couldn’t stop. The cry of the wolves pushed me forward. I kept my eyes open for anything that might block my path.
My heart was thundering in my chest. The adrenaline that coursed through me moved my legs faster—but to where I didn’t know. I prayed it was the road, or the river—wolves hated water, right?
My breathing was labored and the forest crowded around me like it didn’t want me to leave. I whipped my head around as I heard the cry of the second wolf. Their howls surrounded me—as if they were running toward me from opposite directions. I stumbled, catching myself before I could fall. I had to keep moving. I had to make it to the road or the river. God I hoped I was running in the right direction.
I should have never agreed to this ridiculous “adventure”. I hated the woods, something my boyfriend Jeff knew, but he insisted we go camping. I was bribed with the promise of s’mores and burnt hotdogs, and of course I got neither. I’d left for a walk after he got drunk and suggested we go all pagan and try sky-clad hide the sausage. He didn’t even try to stop me, and then I got lost in the dark woods alone, without cell service—and no s’mores.
Now I’m being chased by wolves. Un-fucking-believable.
I whipped past another bush with sharp branches, sure the howls were getting closer. I’d never make it to the road or the river at this pace. It wasn’t like I knew where either was located—I needed to hide. Breathing heavy, I slowed to a stop. I spotted a large cluster of rocks ahead to the right. Forcing my tired legs to move, I hurried toward the small mountain of stone. I had absolutely no experience climbing anything, but I wasn’t going to give up. The higher ground would protect me until help could arrive. At least, I assumed—hoped—when I hadn’t come back that meant Jeff had alerted the rangers. I just had to survive until they found me.
I cringed at the sharp cry of a baying wolf. Reaching the rocks, I took hold and started to climb. I cursed as I scraped my hands on the rough rocks. One palm felt wet with blood, but I didn’t stop. Both were bloody before my feet were a meter off the ground. My hand slipped, but my shaky legs held. I reached out again, this time securing my footing.
Fear shot through me and I stilled when the rustle of quick padding slowed behind me. A low growl pierced the night. I wanted to cry or scream in frustration—I wasn’t high enough to be safe. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw the two wolves that had pursued me. If I wasn’t scared out of my mind and a hairsbreadth away from being eaten alive, I would have said they were beautiful. The moonlight shone bright off their glossy coats. The white wolf was so luminous it almost glowed. The black wolf’s coat was like liquid ink.
I was awed by their beauty, but holy hell were they big.
They growled at each other, snarling and baring their teeth, which was when I realized neither wolf was looking at me.
Okay, maybe they were just chasing each other? That was a stupid thought, they came from opposite directions.
I tried to ignore them. I heaved and pulled myself up another foot. I just had to reach the top, maybe then my cell phone would work. Damn wilderness technology vacuum. I cursed this trip again and Jeff for suggesting it. I almost slipped when I heard the far off bay of other wolves. Then all hell broke loose as the two wolves behind me started fighting each other.
Keep it together, Maddy. I tried not to panic, but when two extra-large wild animals are trying to kill each other at your feet, it’s really hard to think about anything else.
I struggled to hold myself up. My arms were shaking—from fear and exhaustion. I needed better leverage. I moved my left leg to a piece of rock that jutted out enough to create a foothold. I pushed up, but before I could grab the next handhold, the sliver of rock under my foot crumbled and I slipped. I cried out in pain as my ankle raked along the rock. Losing my grip, I fell back onto the ground with a thud.
The wolves, who’d been at each other’s throats seconds before, stopped fighting. Turning to me, they bared their teeth and snarled. I screamed, raising my hands to protect my head as both wolves lunged forward.

Continue reading Onyx & Madison’s story in Tantalizing Tidbits, where you’ll find plenty of other small bites, for those moments when you’re short on time, and need a quick read!