Have you ever written your characters into a hole? I did this recently and had to pause in my writing schedule to figure out a way to salvage the situation. Jennifer and Paz, the only passengers on a private jet in my story, are     attacked midair by the villains who set off an electromagnetic pulse grenade. The blast disables the plane’s electronics and the aircraft plummets toward Earth. The pilots have been shot, and Paz is supposed to save the day.  

Since he has knowledge of advanced technology, I figured he’d use Jen’s diamond earrings for their inherent crystal properties and power the airplane.

Problem #1: When I researched diamonds, I read they can conduct electricity but they do not produce it (correct me if I’m wrong here). If anything, it might be quartz that has more undiscovered properties.         

Problem #2: Even if he finds a power source, isn’t the wiring on the aircraft fried from the EM pulse? (Research topic: non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons)

Problem #3: In the opening chapter, he shows up naked. O-kay, you’ll have to read the story to learn the particulars, but this means he has no futuristic gizmos on his person to help him out.

Solution #1: Allow him to keep his personal comm unit that looks like a wrist watch in chapter one even if his clothes have been ripped off by….sorry, spoiler alert.  That info is classified for now.  Anyway, he uses the comm unit as a power source and the diamonds as a wireless transmitter to power the engines.

Problem #4: Hero successfully lands aircraft. (Research source: Star Trek: The Starfleet Survival Guide). But where do they land? (Research topic: The Pacific Ring of Fire and the Izu Islands)

Problem #5: The villain has a fortress complex on this island. Is it Mediterranean in style? That’s illogical since we’re in Asian territory. Have the villains brought in native materials from their homeland and built it from scratch? Or maybe they took over an estate from a previous occupant.

I recall a couple of James Bond films with confrontations on islands. (Research James Bond). These are The Man with the Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice. Or maybe the estate should be Japanese since our heroes originated their journey in Tokyo. (Research topic: Asian castle fortress estates). I discover Himeji Castle. (Research: Construction, Maps, Interiors).  Very cool place.            

Yes! I can land my people, describe the island, get them inside the villain’s lair. Next up: They hitch a ride on a Chinese junk to escape the island. Uh oh, more research required. And although I can now have my hero land the airplane, I’d better look up what the basic controls on a private jet are called. A visit to is on order plus a look at the reference books on my office shelves.

As you have gathered by now, I research as I go along. I just do enough to be able to formulate my synopsis but the details wait for the scene itself. Then I have to stop, study the materials I’ve collected, visualize the setting, and write.

Oh, and this is for a paranormal romance, so don’t ever say we fiction writers make everything up. I just might have to challenge you to a duel.

So please tell us, what do YOU do when you’ve written your characters into a hole?



SAPPHIRE PHELAN is an author of erotic and sweet paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance, along with a couple of erotic horror stories. She also writes as Pamela K. Kinney, for horror, fantasy, science fiction, and two nonfiction ghost books, Haunted Richmond,Virginia and Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Bast. She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house and husband sometimes suffers for it!                          

How did you get started writing paranormal romance?

I started out published as a horror, fantasy and SF author, but been reading paranormal romance and I wanted to do that, too. So I wrote two short stories (both more fantasy romance than paranormal) and submitted both in 2005 to this publisher who was looking for fantasy romance stories for their print anthology. Both were accepted. Unfortunately, a year later the publisher closed its doors and gave everyone back their rights to their stories. During at the same time, I had just submitted an erotic medieval fantasy romance story, “The Curse” to this ezine, which was accepted. It was at that time I started to use the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, for any erotic paranormals I wrote. In 2006, my erotic paranormal SF romance short, Crimson Promise was accepted for Lady Aibell Press, an e-publisher (when LAP closed its doors and I got my rights back, I added more story to it and Crimson Promise was accepted by Phaze Books). From then on, I’ve been writing in this genre.


Has this always been your favorite genre?

Yes, though I love straight horror, fantasy and science fiction without romance, too.


How long did it take you to get published?

I actually got published for three poems of mine back in spring 1972—for Hyacinths and Biscuits Poetry Magazine. Then I was published over years, mainly in poetry and one article. It took until 2005 for my first fiction piece to be published.


You’re a member of Central Virginia Paranormal Investigations. Can you share some of your more unusual experiences?

Since I write nonfiction ghost books as Pamela K. Kinney and been to haunted places for that and later, with CVPI, did investigations, I’ve gotten evps (electronic voice phenomenon) on my digital recorder, snap photos of orbs and anomalies, and had personal experiences.


You wrote a non-fiction book titled Haunted Virginia. What does it include?

Ghost stories (more the myths and legends, though have some real paranormal experiences too—like the owner of Natural Bridge Hotel killed his wife and kids and they haunt the grounds of the hotel. The real story is that it is a manager who committed suicide and he is the spirit that haunts the hotel), monsters, urban legends that are fake and some that been proven true, myths of famous Virginians (like George Washington and Edgar Allan Poe), African-American and Native American Virginia tales, and true stories that people think are myths, but are proven to be real (like the house made of Civil War tombstones in Petersburg, Virginia).


Tell us about your writing process.

I write during the week most of the time and during the daytime when my husband is at work. This way, when he comes home from work, I can spend time with him. But I have written at night and on weekends when I have a deadline looming. Like now, I have a third nonfiction ghost book manuscript that is due by the end of May. And I wrote all month the sequel to Beast Magic, Dark Leopard Magic, so I could turn it in by February.


What is your current book about?

A divorced man who is tired of the women he meets who want to get married or want the bad boy types, listens to a friend who lends him this book, The Dummy’s Guide to Demon Summoning, so he can summon a succubus. He does get one, but finds that it will be more than a one night stand.


What is a succubus?

A succubus is a demon that seduces human males, mostly through nightmares while asleep. This would explain ejaculations. Same goes for incubus–seduces human women and even getting them pregnant. Of course, all is found is human male sperm, explained by they stole it from human males. 
What are you working on next? 
 I am working on the third nonfiction ghost book, Haunted Historic Triangle and Charles City now, then I will be working on sequel to Being Familiar With a Witch, A Familiar Tangle in Hell.
Ain’t Nothin’ Like Succubus Lovin’ blurb:
Finding a date was never more hellish. When Jordan Hudson borrowed his friend’s A Dummy’s Guide to Demon Summoning and called up a succubus, he found that dating and making love to a minion of Hell proves to be more than a one night stand.



Being Familiar With a Witch:

Unwitting Sacrifice (erotic Lovecraftian horror novella):




Advice to aspiring writers?
Keep on writing and submitting. If you want your dream bad enough, never give up. And join a writer’s critique group to help you hone your craft better.



CIRCLE OF LIGHT, my seventh manuscript, became the first novel I sold. It began as a dream, wherein I was at my job as a clinical nurse specialist. The dream unfolded in much the same manner as the excerpt on my website. My dream ended at the same place, but I couldn’t let it go. I had to finish the story! I wrote the whole thing, and that’s my first book that sold. CIRCLE OF LIGHT became number one in a trilogy and went on to win the HOLT Medallion Award in the paranormal category. The story has ancient prophecies, mysterious glowstones, a magical Blood Crystal that foretells the future, and a transcendent healing power inspired by love. It also has villains: the evil Souks, a slaver race; the nasty Horthas with their stun whips; the Twyggs with their grasping branches, a traitor in the central government; and mercenaries who hire their services as assassins. It’s an exciting story. No wonder I felt compelled to finish it.

CIRCLE OF LIGHT, originally published by Dorchester when I was writing as Nancy Cane, is now available in digital and trade paperback formats. And lest you think it’s all purely made up, I used a National Geographic article on volcanoes for the scenes on Taurus, a volcanic planet. I used my Star Wars and Star Trek sourcebooks and technical manuals for inspiration in terms of ships and weaponry. The capital city of Bimordus Two is a biome, a self-contained ecosystem. I cut out articles about these habitats at the time, and they’re probably still in my files. So research took many forms for this futuristic romance. And because it’s at heart a romance novel, woven throughout the exciting adventure is the developing love story of Sarina and Teir.

Attorney Sarina Bretton is kidnapped from Earth to become the legendary Great Healer, thus saving the galaxy from a dreadful plague. To activate her power, she must marry Lord Cam’brii, a stiff politician. Instead, she falls in love with the spaceship captain transporting her to the wedding.

Captain Teir Reylock is drawn to the feisty woman he’s escorting to the capital city, but he must fulfill his duty. He doesn’t count on being assigned as her bodyguard once they arrive. Now not only must he protect Sarina from the Coalition’s enemies, but also he must guard her from his heart.

Digital edition available from Belgrave House

Circle of Light                       Belgrave House

Trade Paperback edition available from iUniverse

Circle of Light


Every so often, I share what I’ve been reading or seeing at the movies. So here are my latest reviews.

AVATAR (Film Review)

Several words come to mind to describe this film: Awesome. Revolutionary. Mind-Blowing. The story itself is nothing new. Technologically advanced militants seek to exploit unskilled natives who live close to nature and worship spirits of the land. It’s environmentalists versus developers. Warriors versus innocents. Foreign invaders versus Native Americans. The parallels to Pocohontas are clear. What’s different is the amazing 3-D technology, the film making, the fantastic world building that makes you feel you are on this planet with these people. Amazing creatures. Floating mountains. Beautiful lush greenery. Fearsome beasts. Willowy seeds from the spirit tree. The Home Tree reminded me of the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or the great World Tree in Norse mythology. The blue-skinned natives, created through special effects, look wonderfully real as does the world they live in. But why must the military commander in sf/f always want to kill the poor natives or the friendly aliens? Can’t we make a genre movie without stereotypes? At least the story has heart, and you feel the triumphs and sorrows of the characters, but it’s really the feeling of being in this wondrous place that will stick in your mind when you leave the theater.

WHEN IN ROME (Film Review)

Movies have been done before when a person tosses a coin in a magic fountain and wishes for love, except in this story, the roles are reversed. A girl takes coins from a fountain on a lark and becomes the object of love for several wacko suitors. The only man she wants is charmingly real, but is his affection true or is it inspired by the magic spell? She has to return each coin to the man who tossed it in to undo the enchantment. Will she be able to give back the coin to the man she loves?

THE SLAYER by Cindy Dees (Paranormal Time Travel Romance)

Tessa Marconi jumps back in time to the Persian Empire to recover a stone fragment that will help mankind in its quest to reach the stars. But opposed to her is court wizard Rustam, who turns out to be a Centauri agent sent to stop her. Rustam’s duty is clear, but his heart is captured by the lovely woman who possesses the ability to soar with him into space every time they make love. He understands the significance of this latent talent Tessa harbors, and it just might bring about their doom. An unusual twist on the time travel theme.

THE NUDE by Dorothy McFalls (Regency Romance)

Widowed Lady Mercer has always harbored a secret crush on the artist known as Dionysus, until a nude portrait of her shows up at an affair of the ton. With her reputation in tatters, Elsbeth accepts an invitation to a house party from Nigel, Marquess of Edgeware. For some mysterious reason of his own, Nigel insists on repairing her standing in society. As she is drawn to the kind man, she realizes someone is trying to kill him. Is it Dionysus, the reclusive artist whose identity no one knows? His cousin Charlie who stands to inherit his estate? Or his trusted friend George who might be involved in smuggling? The Nude is a good murder mystery in addition to a worthy and engaging historical romance. It kept me guessing whodunit until the end.

DESIRE UNTAMED by Pamela Palmer (Paranormal Romance)

Kara MacAllister’s life changes abruptly when her ailing mother dies, abnormal creatures attack her, and a powerful stranger abducts her. Lyon says she’s destined to become the Radiant and save his alien race. Seduced by his sensuality, she opens herself to the possibility that she’s an immortal like him and his brethren, the so-called Feral Warriors, protectors of Earth and foe to an evil demon trying to rise again. She must assume her powers if her people and Lyon’s are to survive. But there’s one thing he neglected to tell her, and that’s the men’s shape shifting ability. Can she help him regain his animal form while taming the beast within? Imaginative world building, likeable heroine, and a unique premise. 

BEGUILED by Maureen Child (Paranormal Romance)

Artist Maggie Donovan has only recently become Queen of the Fae. She’s not too happy about this development especially when Fae Warrior Culhane pushes her to assume the throne. She likes her life in California just fine, at least until the former evil queen Mab escapes and Maggie’s niece is kidnapped and demons attack. Her peace shattered, Maggie has no choice except to accept her destiny along with the warrior who captured her heart. A delightful read.

KRIS LONGKNIFE: UNDAUNTED by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)

Princess and Lieutenant Kristine Longknife activates a political maelstrom when she brings onboard her explorer ship an Iteeche Imperial Representative. Why does the member of an enemy race want to meet with her grandpa, King Ray? Ron, the taciturn official, won’t say, except that the grave matter concerns both their peoples. This meeting opens up a can of worms that King Ray is reluctant to expose, so instead he sends Kris on an out of the way mission to Texarkana to quell the flames of political unrest. Kris, with the Iteeche entourage aboard, meets more resistance than expected, but with her usual panache she accomplishes her task. Returning home, she only has to convince her superiors to listen to what the Iteeche have to say. Great setup for a sequel.