Thursday, March 4, 2010

Achieving the Dream: Random Thoughts by Pat Cunningham

Achieving the Dream: Random Thoughts

By Pat Cunningham

This is it – after more years than I’ll admit to, I’ve achieved the dream and published my first novel. Not the first I ever wrote or marketed, by a long shot. I’d put it at #8 or #9 on that list, and that’s not counting all the books I started that went stale and ended up in the closet. This is the first one that got written, finished, sent to a publisher and got itself a contract. Better yet, BookStrand assures me they’ll issue a print version later this year. That’s PRINT, folks. A book with my name on it that I can hold in my trembling, sweaty, dry-skinned little hands and shelve next to my Stephen King hardcovers. I’m doing cartwheels in my head because my body’s so massively out of shape, but I’m sure you understand.

Since I can’t come up with a regular blog, I’m just going to jot random notes. There will not be a quiz and this does not count as part of your grade.

Inspiration: Stuff happens, and that includes books. Sometimes they just come out of nowhere. I was doing rewrites on “Coyote Moon” and trying to think up fresh descriptions for a couple of werewolves. For some reason Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” popped into my head. This segued into memories of director John Landis’s “An American Werewolf in London.’ Twist the title around and voila, suddenly I’m writing a novel. And yes, my hero’s hair is perfect.

The Perils of Pantsing: So I had the situation: English werewolf comes to America. Why? What happens to him here? I think the marriage idea came first, followed closely by the murder plot. I was three chapters in before I figured out who the killer was. Two chapters after that I got an even better idea, and had to go back to make sure I had all the clues and red herrings filled in. This is why pantsers probably shouldn’t try to write mysteries.

In-jokes: I do this to make myself laugh and keep me interested during those long, dry stretches when the words just don’t want to come. Originally Darinda was the granddaughter of Darrin and Samantha Stevens, hinted at but never named directly. I later chickened out and had her named after the character instead. Gotta watch out for those pesky lawyers. Apparently quoting movies is okay, because the editors left in both of my movie references. “The Wizard of Oz” quote is obvious, but brownie points go to whoever spots the reference to “Planet of the Apes.” I love this job.

Revenge is Sweet: I sent this book to Nocturne first. They bounced it in two weeks. I didn’t think the tone was right for them anyway, but I figured I’d take the chance. I doubt if they liked my playing fast and loose with the conventions of the genre either. The alpha male having to be guarded by the love interest? Hey, why not? In a lot of ways she’s tougher than he is. I had a helluva time coming up with situations in which she’d have to be rescued so he could keep his hand in. As for publishers, it found the home it was meant for. Lesson learned: keep sending stuff out until someone says yes. One editor’s reject is another’s sale.

Off the subject, I’m waiting for Harlequin to publish a book called “The Millionaire Vampire’s Secret Baby.” Somebody please tell me when this happens.

Your Turn: How did it feel when you sold your first book? When you held your very own copy of your first published book? What’s it like for you when inspiration hits out of nowhere? Do you sneak little “Easter eggs” into the story to give your friends or just yourself a giggle? Inquiring minds want know! Wishing you all good writing…


In the mood to vote? Press a paw toe? If so, check out the latest Dark Diva Best Book poll...and if you’re so inclined vote for Pat Cunningham’s BEST OF BREED ~ ~

by Pat Cunningham

Blurb ~

British werewolf Roderick Chase has been sent to Philadelphia to get married. Instead he finds himself the target of werecoyote assassins. His only hope: Darinda Lowell, a witch with a low tolerance level for arrogant alpha males. She agrees to act as his bodyguard and use her magic to find out who’s trying to kill him.

There’s no way the pushy wolf and the vegetarian witch can get along, or so Darinda tells herself. However, love tends to work a spell even a witch can’t ignore. Can she claim the wolf who’s won her heart, or will she lose him to a murderer?

"I like comedies. I like murder mysteries. I like paranormals. I like an evenly-matched hero and heroine engaged in snappy dialogue. And I just love me an English accent spoken in a deep sexy voice. I had a blast writing this book. Hope you have as much fun reading it." ~Pat

A BookStrand Mainstream Romance


She set her shoulder bag on the dresser and began to pull vials and drawstring packets out of it. The smug seeped out of Alfie’s face. “Hey. That better not be poison. I got rights.”

“Don’t worry. I’m brewing a truth potion. One good sniff and you’ll tell me everything and be happy to do it.” She smiled. “I would have gotten far less with the touch, but you had to insist on the hard way.”

“Hey. Hey, wait a minute—”

“Too late.” Darinda took a small clay bowl from her bag and poured the contents of a vial into it. Green liquid pooled in the bowl. Into this she sprinkled ground herbs from a pouch. A soft, smoky mist arose from the bowl, thick with the smell of mint. “You’d better wait in the hall,” she told Roderick. “This can have a powerful effect on people with sensitive noses.” She beamed evilly at Alfie. “Just imagine what it can do to a were.”

His imagination was working just fine. She could tell from his worried posture and the way he flinched from the bowl. She swirled the liquid in the bowl, and its steamy billow increased. Anyone other than the spell caster who caught a whiff of it would be compelled to speak the truth. She extended the bowl toward Alfie and watched his eyes glaze over.
And only then became aware of Roderick hovering far too closely over her shoulder. “I said wait in the hall. This stuff’s dangerous.”

“And leave you alone in the room with that?” He thrust his chin at Alfie. His voice slurred over the consonants, and his eyes didn’t seem to be focusing. “He’d kill you the second I turned my back. Fine mate I’d be if I allowed that to happen.”

“Whoa. She’s your mate?” Alfie said in the same fuzzy voice. “Dog, your pack’s standards have fallen.”

“Roderick,” Darinda said, “please wait in the hall. I’ll be all right. He can’t—”

Roderick shouldered her aside to confront Alfie. “You will not speak in that tone to my mate.”

“Holy scat, dog. She’s not even shifter. Don’t you teabags have rules against messing with the lower orders or something?”

“Bugger the rules. Bugger the pack. I never even wanted control of the pack to begin with. Bloody treacherous low-rankers fawning all over you, right before they go for your throat. Rip out your guts soon as look at you. Forget the upper ranks.” He snarled. “Lift your leg too high and it’s taken for threat. You can’t relax for a second. And this is your family. Think what outsiders are like.”

“Dog, that’s rough.”

“This trip is the first chance I’ve had to breathe in years. You are so fortunate,” he said to Darinda. “Free to be whatever you want, mate with whomever you please. I love this country.”

“I’m touched.” She tried to steer him toward the door and away from the misty cloud hovering over the bed. “Roderick, please—”

“I always wanted to be a cowboy,” he said dreamily. “Out in the wide open spaces with no damned pack trailing after you. Like that Eastwood fellow. He’s one of us, you know. A wolf. If he isn’t, he bloody well should be.”

“No way,” Alfie said. “He’s a coyote. Gotta be. He’s got a sense of humor. No wolf on the planet has a sense of humor. That’s why you mutts are doomed.”

“This is all fascinating,” Darinda said, tugging at Roderick’s arm. “However—”

“It would never work,” Roderick said. “The cowboy thing. Horses don’t like me. The predator-prey dynamic.” His wistful smile disappeared, and he seized Darinda’s shoulders. “You like me, don’t you?”


“I wouldn’t blame you if you hated me. You’ve put your life on hold and yourself at risk to protect me, and I’ve been such a perfect brute. I’m a—what’s the Yank word?”

“Putz?” Alfie suggested.

“I was going to say ‘ass,’ but I suppose yours works. Darinda, you’re a lovely, brave, patient woman who’s been kinder to me than I deserve. I’ve never met a wolf I wanted to stand at my side more than you.”

“Roderick you don’t know what you’re saying.”

“The hell I don’t. I’m in love with you.”

“Whoa, dog,” Alfie said.

Darinda got as far as “Rod—” before his mouth closed over hers and smothered all objections. She couldn’t stop her own response. She’d been attuned to him from the beginning, and the emotions that flooded her now through the contact washed away any objections. The female in her surrendered to instinct and rose up to match the male. The cards never lied. This arrogant, overbearing, meat-eating wolf was her perfect mate.

But not here, not now, not under these circumstances. Reluctantly she broke the kiss. “We’ll talk about this later,” she promised him.

“I get her when you’re done,” Alfie said. Roderick snarled, and Alfie recoiled. “Hey. Just asking.”

Darinda turned Roderick’s head to face her. “Do you really love me?”

“Of course I love you. You’re the only she I want.”

“Would you do something for me?”

“Anything, darling.”

“Open that window, stick your head out and take deep breaths.”

AVAILABLE: Tuesday, March 2nd ~ ~
If you haven’t already, take a look at COYOTE MOON by Pat Cunningham ~ Can a half-werewolf woman, unaware of her wolf nature, come to love the WereCoyote determined to free her wild side and make her his mate? ~ ~

ALSO available: BEST OF BREED by Pat Cunningham ~ “Confidence breeds beauty, no airbrushing required” ~ ~


Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, what a splendid novel werewolf achievement!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to John Landis and Warren Zevon. Those hours spent listening to the radio and going to the movies were not wasted in vain.


Paris said...


I love Warren Zevon! "Werewolves of London" It's one of my favorites but I adored "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" too;-) can't seem to get a happy ending out of that one though!

Love the new book and uhm, listening to the radio and going to movies are required occupational requirements for writers...aren't they;-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I never did answer your questions... cause, I was too darn tired when I first posted.
But it was a thrill to hold my first print book, When a Good Angel Falls... and to hold the following two.

I have snuck a few easter eggs into my novels, one of them being a reference to Bekki Lynn's Servin' It Up series, in my Her Insatiable Dark Heroes... it's just inevitable... lol...