Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dragon's Heart Book Video!

Here's is the book video I made up for Dragon's Heart, releasing soon at New Concepts Publishing! I made it myself on iMovie! I was actually quite proud that I figured out how to make the video since I didn't even know how to use iMovie at this point in time last week!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Awakening accepted!

I just keep having more and more good news on here, don't I?

My good news for today is that I just got an email reply from my editor, informing me that I should please consider printing out the contract enclosed and send it back to the publisher for my follow up novel to Unity.

Where Unity tells the story of Darcy's first awareness of the world of Faerie, and her struggle to find balance between it and her real life, Awakening follows her story as she leaves Kinvara and tries to make a life for herself in Killarney. Little does she know that the world of Faerie will follow her down into that town, and Faerie itself will not remain so removed from her world as it used to be.

The story is set in Ireland and shares the mystical history that the land is rich with. I'm very excited to be told that this story has a tenuous release date of March, 2009. So keep a look out for it!

And Unity is still currently available at

Nikki Watson.

Book Signing Madness and Happy Days

This Saturday past Adra Steia and I had a signing in Daytona Beach. It was a blast, though I confess the best part was after the signing, when we strolled the mall, then went to the beachfront and had a fantastic dinner at Bubba Gumps, right on the ocean. Adra is a camaholic, and documented the occassion fully. Check out everything from our books, to our hot waiter, to our dinners, to a random jellyfish here.

Today is a happy day on an unrelated note. One of my favorite new authors, Elizabeth Amber, has released the third book in her Lords of Satyr series, Lyon. Lyon's been my favorite character throughout the series, and I am thrilled to finally have his book in my hot little hands. If you're looking for something new and unique, I highly recommend Elizabeth's writing - historical, paranormal, hot as hell, it's an all around win!

Monday, July 28, 2008


I am afraid of flying but I haven't always felt that way. Back in my twenties, when I didn't believe anything could kill me, I flew from Omaha to Chicago and Charlotte as often as I could. It also never occurred to me that the plane could go up in a ball of fire or blow out a big hole from an oxygen tank (I didn't even know they carried oxygen tanks) and drop from the sky like an anvil.
Back in those days, flying was also very special. You dressed up in your Sunday clothes and attempted to act like you used the manners your mother taught you. Of course, the experience of flying was different in those days. The seats were wide and comfortable. You got hot meals followed by snacks. The flight attendants spoke to you. Now it's hip to hip and elbow to elbow with maybe an inch of squiggle room. One false move and you can put your neighbor's kidney out with an elbow. You got hot meals followed by snacks. As for food now, well, be grateful if you get a tiny bag of pretzels and a soda.
There were no movies back in the 60's to take your mind off the monotony or terror depending on which way your mind tended to go. Of course there were no personal computers, CDs, DVDs, video recorders, cell phones or digital cameras either. Reading the safety rules passed for on board entertainment in the dark ages of my youth. I understand that airlines are considering to ending on board movies now. Take one step backward in the game of flying in the twenty-first century.
No one stood in security lines emptying their purses and pockets, explaining why the shampoo in in your carry-on or having the evil eye of security look at you accusatory if you had a nail file. God forbid.
These days I've become fearful of getting into the humongous chunks of metal that lift into the thin air. What keeps them up there any way?
Now that I am older, I treasure every moment I get to be alive. In spite of my fears, I fly any way white knuckling my precarious ride to my destination. I guess it beats walking the two thousand miles to Los Vegas. If I want to experience excitement and adventure, visit old friends and loved ones, I have to endure the security checks and death-defying ride in those metal birds. It's good they still serve alcohol on board. Or, at least they were still doing it yesterday. You never know. Things can change fast in the world we live in.
Happy flying!!
Sarah McNeal Author of The Violin, The Dark Isle and Lake of Sorrows.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What does my Dark Tarot card mean to me?

I seem to be posting a fair bit in this half of the month. Must be a sign that I have more time available to me. Or maybe, since I just started university last Monday, it's a sign that I'm starting to better manage my time.

We can hope. :D

I'm really enjoying the promo for my newest release, Unity. I think it's because, of the novels I have published, this one is the one where I really feel that I have come out into my own. On one of the the chat loops to promote our books, a very good question was asked. "What does your card mean to you?" And it got me thinking.

I was very lucky when I finally submitted my story into the Dark Tarot series. The Temperance card was still available to submit FOR! Unity was already on my computer and written, and I knew the sorts of themes that it explored, yet there were a few cards that I thought it could fit well under.

For me, what cinched it was the wonderful cover art. I mean, look at

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Those colors, and patterns, my name there in the middle of it. *grins* Isn't it beautiful?

In Unity, I explore the idea of two girls falling accidentally into
the world of Faerie, a fantasy world above or behind this world. As
fairies and elves are commonly attributed to have wings at their back,
what better for me to find than a cover with that very same
illustration? Add to that the fact that the Temperance card itself
means balance -something that my girls Celeste and Darcy find through
the passage of their travels- and I was sold! I hope you all are too. ;)

I'd like to thank the creative team at Tease for creating something so
perfect. I know I'm not the only author here to think so.

Unity, published by Tease Publishing. Available Now!

Nikki Watson.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My WIP: The Light of Valmora

Falcon McKnight
(He just looks like Hugh Jackman. LOL)

I've been a little stuck lately. Obligations have kept me away from my writing and I've really over-extended myself giving my writing a back seat. Well all that has changed. I was looking in on the classroom of the Carolina Romance Writers Spells of Unsticking Workshop taught by Emily Alward and her words hit me like a cement wall. I've been keeping myself from my work--work that I love. So I took some of her suggestions and, the next thing ya know, I'm back in the saddle.

By the way, Carolina Romance Writers offer a monthly array of workshops that are absolutely fabulous.

Any hoo, here is just a tiny bit of what I wrote today on my WIP The Light of Valmora. I'll add the blurb first.


To free his father from the Queen of the Dark Isle, Falcon must find the legendary Light of Valmora which lies hidden in the darkest place on earth. To complicate things further, he is falling in love with Izabelle, his brother’s woman.

Once rejected by Peregrine, Izabelle wants revenge. But when she tries to use Falcon to initiate her plan, everything gets out of control along with her heart.


He turned his back to her, leaned over and gathered up the blanket and saddle. Throwing the blanket over his left shoulder, he held the saddle balanced between his right hand and shoulder. As he made his way to his horse, he gave her a backward glance. “There’s nothing I can do to help you in your endeavors to capture my brother’s heart. That little matter is between you and Peregrine. I won’t be dragged into your silly little games. Got that?”
Izabelle watched him secure the saddle to the black horse that was peacefully nibbling grass near the clear water dashing over stones in the creek. Anger ran its hot fingers up her spine. Was there a more arrogant bull-headed man on the planet? Most likely not. But she was not about to give up. “I just need you to make Peregrine jealous,” she pleaded following behind him as he walked the horse up the hill to where the others were resting.
“Wait up,” she called to him and hurried her steps to catch up. As soon as she met his step, she took him by the arm trying to make him stop. “Please Falcon, help me. Haven’t you ever been in love with someone and they just couldn’t really see you?” His back stiffened when she spoke. She felt she had hit a raw nerve. Perhaps she could convince him yet to go along with her plan.
Stepping in front of him to face him and taking hold of the horse’s reigns, Izabelle pleaded. “Won’t you please reconsider? I just want Peregrine to notice me. What is a violin compared to a warm, breathing woman?” Reaching out, she clasped his arm in her hand. The feel of his skin and muscle beneath her palm felt warm and solid.
His muscles bunched under her touch as if the touch of her hand made him tense. He pulled back his arm from her and stepped back. Glaring at her, his mouth set in a thin line and his eyes blazed with warning. “Leave me alone. Go play your childish games with someone else.”
Her throat tightened and her cheeks tingled as if he had slapped her. Childish? “You pig-headed, arrogant bastard. I am a woman fully grown. I’m not playing any childish games as you refer to it. I am trying to win the heart of the man I love. Can’t you see that? Are you so cold to love that you can’t understand what it’s like to want someone body and soul?”
A dangerous look swept across his face. As if it were possible, his eyes grew darker until they were black and searing her with a look she had never seen before. She wanted to back away from him yet felt nailed to the spot awaiting her fate.
With sudden animation, he stepped toward her and gathered her into her hard muscled arms. His mouth came down on hers and his tongue ran along the seam of her lips until, almost against her will, she opened to him.
Izabelle didn’t mean to respond to him like some cat in heat but she found herself reaching up and sliding her hands into the silky thickness of his hair. It felt so good slipping her fingers through the soft mass of his locks. His kiss seemed to brand her and take possession of her until she became a mad woman.
All good things to your corner of the universe.

Sarah McNeal

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My latest HMB book

I have just finished the third book in a Regency trilogy for Harlequin Mills & Boon. This has been a difficult series to write for some reason, perhaps because I've had so many other books to revise and proofs to correct recently. However, the first two are now set for publication and the third has gone in. Before I send in the synopses for a new contract I am going to take a few weeks off to enjoy life and review some books for other authors.

The cover today is my latest release from HMB. You can enter a contest to win a copy of this book by visiting my website
- I think a lot of people are heading off on holiday so happy days to them! LOlL Linda/Anne

Monday, July 14, 2008


This picture of Keanu Reeves reminded me so much of John Douglas in THE VIOLIN that I just had to post it.
Here is an Excerpt and a Blurb from my latest release, THE VIOLIN.

THE VIOLIN by Sarah J. McNeal (Blurb)

Genevieve has dreamed about him all her life, but it isn’t until she buys his violin and finds the remnants of his life and the mystery of his death within its case, that she makes a decision that will change her life forever. Is there a way to change the past and save the man who haunts her heart?

THE VIOLIN by Sarah J. McNeal at Amira Press

John came to the Susquehanna River and turned north until they arrived in front of a house that had been converted into a restaurant. The front porch faced the river and had tables set with linen and hurricane globes that kept the candles from sputtering out in the light breeze from the river. The entire front of the house was one window after another until it appeared to be all glass.
Genevieve looked in awe at the splendor of the fine linens and the warm glow of the candles placed on every table inside as well as the little crystal vases of fresh flowers that were placed on each table.
A striking woman wafting in a cloud of thick perfume greeted them at the door and gave John with a familiar hug. Too familiar as far as Genevieve was concerned. “It’s so good to see you again,” the blond headed woman with stark red lips and rouged cheeks said. She smiled, oh, so prettily.
She wore a red satin dress with a dropped waist and a short hem just above the knees. Her black, silk stockings were rolled about mid thigh and, when she leaned over to give John a kiss and a generous view below her loose neckline, Genevieve could see the tops of her stockings. Several long strands of faux pearls hung from her neck and were tied in a knot just below her breasts accentuating the voluptuous orbs that bobbed unencumbered by a bra. A red sequined scarf was tied around her head and tied in a bow just above her left ear. The ties fell to her shoulders. She was definitely a modern girl for nineteen-twenty-seven. Genevieve remembered reading about this type of woman and recalled that they adopted the name of flapper.
The smile vanished from the ruby lips as soon as the painted lady's pale eyes fringed with fake lashes beheld Genevieve. The woman studied Genevieve slowly from head to toe and smirked drawing her lips into a thin, disapproving line. “Well, your standards have certainly shifted mighty low, John,” she said.
Genevieve drew in a sharp breath at the hurtful remark. As usual, she had no witty or philosophical retort. She stood there with stricken vocal cords and a little knot of pain in her throat. She was very aware of her haphazard apparel, her ordinary brown hair and blue eyes and her plain looks with not even a dot of redeeming makeup.
John loosened himself from the woman’s grasp. He smiled at the witch and said, “In with those claws now, Ruby.” Of course, her name would be Ruby. “I see you’re on your way somewhere so you probably want to go on and get there. You wouldn’t want to make some fella wait too long and lose interest.”
Ruby threw her chin in the air and sniffed the air. “By the looks of things, John, you’ll be having an early night tonight,” she said and twirled her beads as she slinked down the steps.
“It’s not the quantity of time, Ruby, dear, it’s the quality,” John called after her. “But you go on and have a nice time just the same.”
From some distance came a sharp reply, “You go to hell, John Douglas.” The click of heels fell faint in the distance.
John opened the door for Genevieve and guided her in with his hand to the small of her back. “Don’t mind her. Ruby’s just jealous. I hear she’s seeing Hank Shifford. He’s a nice guy I guess but kind of dumb and no where near as handsome as me.” John gave Genevieve a charming grin.
“You are the most arrogant man I have ever met,” Genevieve retorted but she couldn’t help smiling back.
A finely dressed waiter directed them to a table beside the front windows. Other diners were already there and more were threading through the door in a somewhat steady stream. Everyone seemed to know John and treated him well with kind words and generous attention. Genevieve surmised that John dined at this restaurant quite frequently.
Everything was perfectly beautiful from the table linens to the fine china and flatware to the meal itself. John kept her entertained with funny antidotes and stories until her sides ached with laughter.
During the course of the evening Genevieve remembered what the older Julia had told her about John in the dress shop in Sunbury the day she almost left to go back home. Supposedly John had a finance’. So where was this woman? Her heart felt a little heavy in her chest as she thought about John belonging to another.
She knew she should leave the subject alone and just enjoy this meal and his company for whatever time she could. She would be going back to another time and place soon. She had no right to be jealous or hurt that John had a life without her in it. But it did hurt.
“What are we doing here?” she asked interrupting his story.
His words sputtered to a stop in the middle of his little antidote. He was silent for a moment as if trying to grasp what she just asked. “What in blazes are you talking about?”
“What are you doing with me here? Don’t you have a girlfriend or maybe a finance’? What would she think about you being out dining with another woman?” There it was. She had just laid it out there. She almost wished she could take it back and that she hadn’t said anything at all. It was too late now.
At first, John looked pale and fell silent. He clasped his hands in his lap and stared at them for a moment. Then he looked up, smiled at her and said, “I swear to you that there is no woman in my life except the one sitting across the table from me right now.”
“But I ... well I...,” Genevieve started to tell him what the older Julia had said but her words ground down to silence. How could she tell him that? No sane person could believe she was from the future. What was she thinking?
John lifted a brow. “It appears that you are mistaken. Think about it, honey. Here we are in a small town. Everybody knows everybody else’s business. If I were cheating on my finance’ as you believe I am, wouldn’t it stand to reason that someone would tell her?” He grinned. “I can do some stupid and crazy things but I’m not that stupid or that crazy. Not yet anyway.”
Genevieve settled her spine against the back of the chair and looked at him for a moment. Her internal radar that was ever vigilant was ringing loudly in her head. She felt that John was holding back something. What secrets was he keeping? Genevieve’s heart wanted to trust him in spite of her misgivings. Perhaps the older Julia was mistaken. “So this is like a date we’re on?”
John rolled his eyes. “I would have thought that was perfectly clear. For Pete’s sake Genevieve, what else could it be?”
“I thought you were just being nice to me for helping your mother bake for the picnic tomorrow.” Genevieve clasped her hands in her lap trying to get control of her runaway heart.
“I hate to state the obvious but this is a date, a romantic interlude, if you will. I’m pretty sure you know how this works. I find myself attracted you. I hope with all my heart that you’re attracted to me. I take you out presenting myself in the best possible light to give you food and wine with the hopes that I appeal to you enough to merit a kiss. It’s an elaborate sort of mating dance.” John’s mouth twitched as if holding back a burst of laughter. “Now don’t go getting all nervous. We’re not at the mating part yet.” Then he did laugh.
He wasn’t quite the hero from a romance novel but he was charming in his own way Genevieve thought. He made her laugh. Mostly he made her insides churn all up. He would say the sweetest things and then ruin it by just infuriating her. She was sure there was no one like him, not ever.
He took her out of her comfort zone, away from safety. He made her step to the edge of her ability to cope then convinced her in his own enchanting way to take just one more step. But he always took the step with her.
He made her nervous. She couldn’t look at John without her heart racing and blood surging through her veins out of control. He was turning her world upside down.
She looked across the table at him and his eyes looked into hers almost as if he could read her thoughts. She felt the crimson tide of blood race up to her cheeks and neck in an embarrassing blush.
This was everything she had ever feared. She was in another time and didn’t know how she got there, didn’t know how she would get back to her own time, and, even worse, didn’t know if she wanted to get back to her own time. She didn’t understand any of it.
She did know one thing and it came to her like a blinking neon sign; she was head over heels crazy in love with John Douglas. It terrified her. She didn’t really know him. They had just met. Her insides were rambling out of control.
John reached under the table, pried her clenched hands loose, and took her right hand in his warm, comforting grasp. He leaned across the table, peered into her eyes and said ever so softly, “Don’t be afraid. Every thing's going to be all right.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Unity pre-release and an excerpt

Well, it's that time you've all been waiting for. Well, it's what I've been waiting for, at least!

All Romance eBooks now has my novel Unity on pre-order. Come Tuesday this week, you could have a copy all of your very own for the reading!

Now that I've wet your appetite for that much, let me share with you an excerpt from the novel.


Night art classes were held at the local dojo twice a week. Celeste's teacher was a slight blonde woman who had missed her calling as a teenage cheerleader and, through affiliation with the younger--and therefore cooler--students of the class, was trying to recapture her youth. Currently, Susanna was strolling up and down between the crooked rows of canvases in her class, murmuring, “Yes, very good, very good”.

When Susanna arrived by Celeste's canvas, the dark haired girl looked at her expectantly. As Susanna stared at the half finished painting, Celeste expected her to make some original comment. When Susanna only smiled accommodatingly and told her to “Carry on”, Celeste deduced her teacher was quite blind or very deluded. She had been trying for something abstract against the central figure, but the perspective was all wrong, the colors didn't quite mesh, and there was a weird thing going on with the eyes that she couldn't quite seem to fix.

'Creepy, 'Leste,'

Jasper said to her, taking some time apart from his current work of art as Susanna moved on to another round of appreciative, “Ooh, very good” to other students.

Celeste shot him a sideways look at his sudden appearance there. Jasper shrugged.

'So, who's he supposed to be?'

Celeste looked back at the canvas. There was no salvaging it now. The best she could hope for was that Susanna's blind streak would continue into the marking phase, but at the same time, she didn't really want to depend on an ignorant eye for the benefit of her marks.

'I think I saw it in a dream.'

Celeste answered him shortly, pulling the canvas down from the board and turning to the paints on the table behind her to start putting them away. From the floor, the man stared out in all his magnificence, garbed in a medieval style tunic bearing some sort of intricately designed crest on the front of it.

As Celeste moved away and started sorting through the brushes she was going to have to wash, Jasper stepped closer to the discarded canvas, still staring, bringing his hand to cup his jaw as he studied Celeste's work.

'His gaze is striking… and the colors…'

'You're my friend; you have to say that,'

Her words were dismissive. Celeste walked to the sinks and started soaking her brushes before washing them there.

'Anyway, are we on for tonight?'

'Photography at the beach? Wouldn't miss that for the world. What time were we meeting up again?'

Jasper didn't pause at her change of subject as he answered. He straightened, easily coming back to remembering there was a whole other world outside of Celeste's painting.

All paints were packed, and Celeste stuffed the ones that were hers in her bag. The others she returned to the cupboard in the back of the room.

'After dark. Say about ten?'

Jasper nodded. When she returned to the stand she had borrowed, Jasper had her canvas in his hands and was holding it up to her attention with curiosity.

'So, what are you going to do with this?'

'Nothing. I'm heading off now. It's not like I'm going to get anything more from today. If you want to come around to my place early, Natalia's making chicken curry, mild.'

Celeste was busy picking the canvas and the stand up as she spoke. She laid the stand next to the others on the rack and then the canvas, she put with the rest of the used canvases, ready to be painted over and used anew. Jasper had his eyebrows raised; she was not usually so dismissive of any artwork she made. However, he returned his expression to normal well before she turned to look at him again.

'Ooh, just the way I like it. Tell her to make lots. I'll definitely be there.'

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Unity, published by Tease Publishing. Available from July 15th.

Nikki Watson.

Trial by Fire

My new book Trial by Fire/Anne Ireland is due out in September from Eternal Press. At the moment Too Hot to Handle is at number two in the EP list at fictiowise and at number four at Eternal Press. I don't have a pic for it yet but I am giving you an excerpt

It was almost time. Isolde could smell the fear on her own flesh. That was one of the worst things they had done to her so far, refusing her water for washing and clean linen. She hated the smell of her own body now, the stench of dried excrement, sweat and fear.
She had spent the night in prayer, beseeching God to rescue her from this foul prison cell and the cruel men who tormented her in His name. At first she had been bold, certain of her place in the world, and the rightness of her cause. She had laughed at the charge levied against her. She had believed in the justice of both God and man. Now, after days of torture, abuse and unbearable pain, she no longer believed in anything. Yet still she had prayed to her god. That he was not the god of these men who called upon her to repent of her sins lest her soul be damned for all eternity, she knew beyond doubting. Her god was a gentle god, the god of nature and all things beautiful, of goodness and light, and love.
Perhaps her god was the devil as these men claimed? Mayhap she was a disciple of Satan: a witch who used her powers to destroy life. They had questioned her over and over again, starving her, beating her, never letting her rest so she no longer knew what was truth or what was false.
Isolde lifted her tear-stained face towards the tiny grill in the roof of her cell, the only source of light or air in the filthy dungeon. Why not offer her soul to the Lord of Darkness? She had never sought to do other than good, and for that she had been condemned to torture and the fire. Through a tiny crack in the ceiling above her, she could see a chink of light. It would soon be morning, and then they would come for her.
"If I am the vile creature they have named me, take my soul," she muttered fiercely. For all their cruelty, they had not yet broken her spirit. "If God has deserted me then let Satan come to my aid. Where are you, Beelzebub? Oh, horned creature, demon of darkness, whatever be Thy name. Guardian of Hell, I call on thee to save me!"
The sound of a heavy key in the lock of her cell made her start. She looked round as the man came into her cell, the sour, unclean smell of him turning her stomach sick. She knew him for her enemy. He had been determined to drag her down, bringing all his power and influence to work against her. A terrible fear gripped her, causing her to pass water. She felt the hot sting of urine against her inner thighs and was shamed.
The priest carried an incense burner. He made the sign of the cross before her, wafting the pungent fumes into her face as though warding off evil. His harsh features were devoid of feeling or pity.
"Are you ready to confess your sins, witch?"
Isolde gathered the last shreds of her dignity. It was difficult to stand because they had placed hot irons to the soles of her feet in an attempt to force a confession of guilt from her.
"I am innocent of all the crimes of which I am accused," she replied. She had been beautiful when they brought her to this place. Even now, with her hair shorn and her lovely white skin blistered and festering with sores, her face retained enough of its former beauty to infuriate her tormentor. "I have always loved God and sought to do good to others," she said quietly. "Of this alone am I guilty. I am here because the jealousy of others has caused my downfall."
"So, still you dwell in vain pride." The priest stared at her with his dull, cold eyes. "You have broken the laws of God and man, witch. You shall pay the price for your wickedness in the fire."
Isolde raised her head, gazing into his eyes with proud defiance. Gathering all her strength, she spat into his face.
"Curse you!" she cried. "You are the evil one, not I. I curse you, priest, and your seed for all eternity! May you feel the pain I feel as I die. May your soul wither and die in the pit of Hell! May your soul never find peace."
The priest recoiled in horror as her spittle touched his skin, then hastily made the sign of the cross over his breast. Isolde laughed to see real terror in his eyes. He actually believed in her curse!
In a moment the fear was replaced by hatred. He lifted his arm, summoning the others who had waited at the door, giving her a chance to make her confessions in private.
"The witch does not repent," he said in a voice filled with loathing. "Take her! Take her to the fire!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's in a name?

Written and first published in 2006, Svetkavista was my first novel-lengthed work. It was a book I never expected to write, about a people I never thought I'd explore, but there's a great deal of me in the book nevertheless.

Svetkavista is about a band of Rom, or gypsies, in Hungary in the 1800s, during a time when they were severely persecuted as a people, and horribly misunderstood.

She was Romani, a gypsy, like her mother, and her mother’s mother before her. Her family wandered the land, living outside of society, on the fringe. Some called them vagabonds and vagrants, others called them thieves and heathens, but they were none of these things. They simply…were. Their way of life was misunderstood, their values misconstrued. The nomadic people were viewed with distrust and distain all across Eastern Europe, and lately the movement to convert or enslave them had increased in popularity.

As I began to research for the book, I decided I did not want to portray the Rom in the same stereotypical way most romance novels do; I wanted an honest and realistic depiction of the culture, which was not an easy feat given the secretive nature of the Romany people. Their notions of clean and unclean, or marhime, are a major focus in the book, as the characters face punishments based upon the maintenance of a strict moral code, and the stigma of deep-rooted superstitions.

Much to her family’s dismay, Karina was čhaj, unmarried, despite her age. Her younger sisters had married at twelve and thirteen, and her brother took a wife at fifteen. She was now twenty-three, and still under her parents’ care. None of the young Argintari men of her tribe had ever expressed an interest in her hand, and her father had not, to her knowledge, done much in the way of finding her a husband either. Her family blamed her misfortune on prikàza, a form of karmic backlash. Cosmic bad luck.

Women were inherently marhime, unclean by their very make-up. A man could be declared marhime for a variety of reasons, and once branded as such, no other men were permitted to speak with him. Sex was never ever discussed. To yawn in public was a dirty and offensive act, because it implicated one was thinking about being in bed, where sex occurred.

What would a young woman living in this insular culture feel? How far would she go to explore her innermost desires? As such the book is deeply erotic in nature, a blending of cultural mores and basic human nature. Karina has never quite fit in with her tribe, and it isn't until her best friend teaches her about love that she realizes why.

The hero of the novel, Brishen, is a violinist. I myself am a trained classical violinist, so writing his character was a real treat for me. I was able to weave my knowledge of music and the violin in particular with his character development.

It was a traditional gypsy dirge that he played, one normally accompanied by a female voice, but no one dared sing. Not when Brishen was playing. The melody began slow, the horse-tail bow drawing across the G and D strings in a leisurely glissando that transitioned into a grating, dissonant chord. He held the notes, drawing them out, tormenting his audience with the unsavory sound before sliding his ring finger up a half-step, reconciling the note with harmony once more. Karina swore she saw him smirk, but his eyes never opened; his expression never changed.

Without warning, the mournful tone disappeared as Brishen’s tempo increased. He played faster with each passing bar until all traces of the mulengi djilia had disappeared, transforming into a fast-paced cante jondo. His fingers danced across the strings, his right arm a blur as he moved the bow in frenzied, staccato strokes. Several members of the informal audience began to clap in time. A few were inspired to stand and dance.

The question I get most frequently about the book, of course, is: What the hell does the title mean? "Svetkavista" is a Romany (gypsy) word meaning "ring" or "circle." The book centers around a love triangle, and by the end many things come full circle. In that regard, the title was perfect. Though there are Romany words interspersed throughout the novel, it is most assuredly written in English.

Svetkavista is available now in both ebook and print.

(All excerpts are from Svetkavista, (c) 2006 Kayleigh M. Jamison)

Family Traditions

When I wrote THE VIOLIN, I flavored the pages with some of traditions that have passed down my family for generations. The story is loosely based on a real member of my family, my Uncle John, who died while fly fishing with his friends in May 1927.

In the book I have my characters gather at meal time to discuss the day's events and family affairs. I remember growing up spending meal time as family communication time. Sometimes it was debate time as well. Why couldn't I go out on a date in a car? Couldn't I do the dishes next week instead of this week? All in all, meals were great times to remember.

I also remember my dad's passion for wild birds. My sister and I carry on that passion. Both of our houses are surrounded by bird feeders and birdhouses.

My mother made everything she cooked from scratch. As crazy as it may be, my sister and I still make everything for family gatherings from scratch. It's probably just stupid pride because it's definitely hard work sometimes. Our clothes were all made by hand by our mother who was an expert seamstress. Although we don't sew everything we wear now, we do still sew a mean seam from time to time.

I incorporated these family traditions in THE VIOLIN because it is an almost true story about my family so I felt it was important to make it real.

For those of you who are writers, do you bring many of your family's traditions to your stories? What about you readers, do you feel more involved in a story when you read traditions woven into the story that are most likely taken from the author's own family?
Sarah McNeal