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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Author and Character: Meet Kristine Cayne and Jamie Caldwell

I am pleased to be involved with the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Today’s guest is Kristine Cayne, the author of several paranormal romance books and an excellent colleague.  I’ll start with the interview – you’ll wand to read down to the author info!

Hi, Kristine Cayne and Jamie Caldwell. I’m glad to have you on my blog. First off, like any good partnerships, I want to know how you first met.

Kristine: Hi, Ronald! Jamie and I met when I was working on an anthology of the Caldwell family with five other authors from the Rainy Day Writers group. The anthology begins in the 1850’s with James Caldwell, the first of the Caldwells to settle in Seattle. Each story focuses on a Caldwell hero or heroine. My story is called “Aftershocks” and introduces Jamie, his wife Erica and their daughter Chloe. But the story doesn’t end there. I loved the Caldwells so much that I began my own series, Six-Alarm Sexy. The first book, Under His Command, is a deep exploration into Jamie and Erica’s life after the earthquake in “Aftershocks”.

Author, tell me what you would tell me if your character weren’t listening. Why do you love him/her? Hate him/her?

Kristine: The thing I love most about Jamie is his integrity. He’s a true hero who risks everything to help strangers in need. I love firefighters and the goodness they embody. Of course, I realize that they aren’t altogether altruistic. They do get a rather huge charge out of facing off with danger. What I don’t like about Jamie is that he sometimes carries his hero complex too far.

What drives you craziest about him/her?

Kristine: The way he let Erica take over his life, all because he didn’t want to upset her. Well, that’s what he says. I think it’s because he didn’t want to bother arguing. It took a freaking earthquake to wake him up!

You might know my son through his fictional avatar, Ezra the Dream-Traveller. He’s eleven-years-old. Would you introduce your character to Ezra – do it now, please!

Kristine: Hi Ezra. I have a real-life hero for you to meet. Jamie Caldwell is the lieutenant of the Seattle FD’s technical rescue team. They’re among the bravest of the firefighters, and the smartest.

OK, Jamie. How would you describe Kristine? Do you like being written by her?

Jamie: Kristine is persistent and a stickler for details. I tried to get her to lighten up my equipment, but she refused. LOL. Seriously though, she saved my life and my marriage. I really had to work for it and exposing myself to anyone, even my wife, was scarier than any fire I’ve ever faced. But man, was it worth it!

Each of you, tell me about a time when you had to share something with each other.

Kristine: Admitting to Jamie that I didn’t like the pain aspect of BDSM. I knew he was a macho Dom, and I thought he’d think I was a loser, that I just didn’t understand the appeal. As it turns out, he’s not much of a fan of pain either.

Jamie: *lifts a brow* Except when the payoff in pleasure is greater than the price of the pain.

Kristine: *blushes* Right. Except for that.

Jamie: It was surprisingly difficult to admit to Kristine some of my past experiences, the mistakes I made with some of my subs. *sighs* Those are regrets that will never go away.

Now, how about a time when you had an argument.

Kristine: Erica has had great difficulty dealing with the risk of Jamie’s job and the pressure it puts on their relationship. At some point in the story, Jamie offers her an out. We disagreed on this point. I really didn’t want him to do it.

Jamie: That’s because you don’t trust Rickie the way I do. I knew she would refuse.

Kristine: Sure, but there was a small cha—

Jamie: *shakes his head* Nope. But if she had taken the out, I’d have done it. I’d do anything to make her happy.

Kristine: Yeah. And that drives me nuts!

Author, describe your novel(s) in a way that will appeal to my audience.

Kristine: My novels are realistic and raw. My heroes and heroines are tested in every way possible. They have to earn their happy endings by drawing on each other’s strengths and compromising on their differences. It is only through this growth that they are able to overcome their conflicts, both internal and external, and find true happiness. Six-Alarm Sexy is a cross between “Rescue Me” and “Chicago Fire”—real, raw, and super sexy.

Character, what do you think about being fictional.

Jamie: Oh man. Have you seen the number of Facebook pages dedicated to firefighters? I come alive every time a woman reads “Aftershocks” or Under His Command, every time a woman checks the date on her sexy Firefighter Calendar, and every time a woman closes her eyes and dreams of a hot firefighter.

Author, I’m going back to that first question. Did you start the book with Jamie, with the plot, or some other way?

Kristine: In this case, the plot came first. I wanted to write a romantic suspense novella for the Romance in the Rain anthology. Since the story had to be in Seattle, I thought: earthquake. Then: who responds to earthquakes? Firefighters! Jamie’s character developed from there.

What in your life made you want to do this crazy thing of putting words on a page or in a file, and hoping someone cares?

Kristine: I’ve always wanted to write. I just needed the courage and encouragement to do so. When I met up with a fabulous bunch of writers here in Seattle, things took off and I’ve never looked back.

Now, author, tell me all about this book and prequels/sequels. – Spoilers can be left out. Character, you may interrupt, but I have the delete key!!

Kristine: I’m currently working on two series. The first is my Deadly Vices romantic suspense series.  I currently have two books out in that series: Deadly Obsession and Deadly Addiction. I’m hard at work on the third book, Deadly Betrayal.

Jamie: I hear that actor, Nic in Deadly Obsession, does all his own stunts.

Kristine: *nods*

Jamie: Rickie goes all fan-girl about this guy. Don’t tell me he’s a Dom too?

Kristine: Well, not exactly. Let’s just say he has some very dominant tendencies.

Jamie: Great. I hope Rickie never find out.

Kristine: *laughs* Anyway, my second series, Six-Alarm Sexy, consists of erotic firefighter romances. It features the technical rescue firefighters from the Seattle Fire Department. I dig into their personal lives and relationships, exposing the effects of their high risk jobs and their adrenaline-fueled behaviors.  Here’s the blurb to Jamie’s book, Under His Command, the first book in the series.

A firefighter desperate to save his failing marriage earns the trust—and the sexual submission—of his controlling wife in the most pleasurable of ways.

After an explosive one-night stand results in pregnancy, Jamie Caldwell is thrilled to marry the perfect foil to his Dom side. But when his submissive wife starts cringing every time he gives a command, Jamie shackles his dark desires. A bout of rough, frenzied reunion sex makes him wonder if now he should free the Dom he’s kept in chains and teach Erica the joys of submission and sexual surrender.

Erica Caldwell secretly loved every sinful thing Jamie did to her on their first night together. However, terrified she’ll become a codependent doormat like her mother, she repeatedly rejects Jamie’s dominance, despite craving the kind of release only he can give her—the release that comes from yielding to Jamie’s every demand.

Hoping that the trust required by BDSM will help them rebuild their faith in each other, Jamie and Erica embark on a journey of sexual exploration. But is it too late to repair their crumbling marriage?




Jamie: So what do you have in mind for the other books?

Kristine: Each of your siblings is getting a book. But each book is tied to the technical rescue team.

Jamie: What? Are you giving Tory a book too?

Kristine: Um… yes. Is that a problem?

Jamie: Are you kidding me? You’re going to hook my baby sister up with some adrenaline-junkie from the TRT and delve into their sex life. Sure that’s a problem. Tell me who it’s going to be so I can make him transfer out.

Kristine: No way, Jamie. I’m the author and I decide. No matter how much it makes you squirm, Tory gets to have her HEA too. And it’s going to be with a very hunky guy from the team.

Jamie: *gets an evil glint in his eye* You know, Kristine. My palm is starting to itch. Do you know what that means? Give me a minute and I’ll have you squirming.

Kristine: I… uh… think we need to move this interview along now.

OK: Goofy stuff.

Favorite piece of music: Hmm… my favorite song changes all the time. Right now it’s “Too Close” by Alex Clare. It’s hard and sultry at the same time, and I think it perfectly represents my heroes right when they’re about to fall.

Favorite recording artist: Depeche Mode.

NY Times or Post? Neither. I read the news on the Internet.

Wine, beer, or liquor? I love Chardonay, but sometimes only a cold beer will do.

Poetry or song lyrics? Song lyrics, definitely.

Pizza or paté? Pate. Hey, I’m French Canadian!

How do we find your blog, email you, or buy your books?

Blog (

Facebook (

Twitter (

New Releases List ( or

Website (htttp://

Goodreads (

My books are all available on Amazon. The Deadly Vices books are also available wherever ebooks are sold. J


Under His Command: US Link:
UK Link:
CA Link:

NOTE: Under His Command will be FREE on 1/23 and 1/24!


Deadly Obsession: Amazon US –

Amazon Paperback US –

Amazon UK –

Amazon Paperback UK –

Nook –

Nook UK:



Apple iTunes:

Diesel ebooks:




Deadly Addiction:

Amazon US –

Amazon Paperback US –

Amazon UK –

Amazon Paperback UK –


Nook UK:

All Romance eBooks:








Award-winning author Kristine Cayne is fascinated by the mysteries of human psychology—twisted secrets, deep-seated beliefs, out-of-control desires. Add in high-stakes scenarios and real-world villains, and you have a story worth writing, and reading.

Kristine’s heroes and heroines are pitted against each other by their radically opposing life experiences. By overcoming their differences and finding common ground, they triumph over their enemies and find true happiness in each other’s arms.

Today she lives in the Pacific Northwest, thriving on the mix of cultures, languages, religions and ideologies. When she’s not writing, she’s people-watching, imagining entire life stories, and inventing all sorts of danger for the unsuspecting heroes and heroines who cross her path.

To learn more about Kristine and her stories, visit her website:

Hope: A Tragedy, by Shalom Auslander: A Review

What would you do if Amelia Earhart showed up, aged in real time, in your parents’ house when you here a kid? What about if it turned out that the groundbreaking female aviator had been smuggled off the atoll where she had landed, and brought her to your parents’ attic before they bought the house, and that you couldn’t possibly throw out Amelia Earhart even as she became more and more claustrophobic, eccentric, and unsanitary? Take the thought experiment a little further, and imagine that you and your parents came from a long line of aviators, dating back to a decade after the Wright Brothers managed to get an engine powered aircraft to fly in 1903 Now let’s say that you’re Jewish, the year is 2012, and you find that the woman in the attic wasn’t Amelia Earhart, but rather Anne Frank, the girl who died at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Or so you thought.

Shalom Auslander does just this kind of a thought experiment with the Kugels (nu, you expected the Murphys?), who buy the house from the Messerschmidts, who hid Anne, who had become accustomed to hiding in attics. In the words of the senior Messerschmidt, no matter that he was the fifth generation of Messerschmidt to own that farmhouse, he was certain that the headlines would have read, “Fifty Years after Hitler, Germany claims its 6,000,001st victim,” or some such nonsense, and believes that the new Jewish owner will be able to do what he could not. Fat chance, Senior. As Solomon Kugel’s mother, living in a room that Solomon and his wife Bree were counting on renting, told him, “You want I should give you Elie Wiesel’s address next, and you can turn him out too?”

Auslander turns the entire novel into two meditations. First, what is death? And how does one greet it? Dozens of last words are quoted by Auslander’s protagonist Solomon (Auslander’s first name, Shalom, is nearly eponymous with the Hebrew name for Solomon, “Sh’lomo”) who muses again, in sometimes rough language, what his own last words and epitaph would be. Second, Auslander explorer our responsibility to the past and to each other. In particular, he seems to treat Solomon’s wife, who shrilly opposes Kugel’s mother living with them and doesn’t accept Anne Frank’s presence for a minute, with kid gloves, as if she held the opinions and made the demands that even Solomon thought were right and just – but impossible.

Auslander’s style is so satiric that it is difficult to treat his writing seriously, but serious it is. This is literary fiction that entertains, introspection along with knee-slapping, profundity spoken with profanity. The author of Foreskin’s Lament covers some of the same territory as Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (, but does so in a way that the book can be enjoyed in the context of Sara Silverman-style in-my-own-face humor.

The Pursuit of Cool, a Review

Ever need to revisit a time in your life that lives just out of the edge of imagination, in the haze of half-recalled images, song lyrics with ellipses at each end, and fragrances that blend together like the Tempera paint of out-of-control kindergarteners? You know the one – you are trying to tell the story to yourself and remember that it was more than the classes you cut, or job you lost, or the girl who dumped you? Several strategies come to mind, and fortunately for me, as a novelist and a book reviewer, most of them involve story-telling.


The Pursuit of Cool, a new novel by Robb Skidmore(TMIK Press, 2012), could be counted as a coming-of-age story about three kids who bond as suite mates as freshmen in college. By the same logic, you would call The Grapes of Wrath a travel journal. The place of the novel is AnyPrepTown, USA, but the time? It is SO ‘80’s, SO Reagan, SO age of greed, and SO tinged with the dissatisfaction that living a life dictated by what your image should be rather than who you are that it just might define the decade.


You remember the ‘80’s, right? Remember those big-hair rock-pop bands that MTV sold us? I thought so. But do you remember all the alt-music that came from bands with names like Siouxsie and the Banshees or the lyrical but almost painfully dark Bauhaus? No, I thought you might have forgotten them. I began the novel riding on memory lane, in that happy storytelling mode of “Oh, yeah, I remember where I was when I heard that.” At first, I  found myself hating but envying the beach-bum gorgeous Ian Lacoss, identifying with the brilliant but socially maladroit Charles Boyd, and riding the narrative wave with the inner monologue of lead protagonist Lance Rally as they make their way through their first years of collegiate liberation from parental control. Soon, however, I was buried under the cultural references. I found that it was easier to read The Pursuit of Cool with my computer open, on one tab and Youtube on another, in order to do quick lookups. In fact, the book owns “cool:” defining it, bringing it into your eyes, ears, and even your nose, and piercing you with it if you allow.


The narrator hovers over Lance like a thought translator who has a point-of view only slightly more in-the-know than Lance himself. I am reminded of the role of Nick Calloway from The Great Gatsby. Nick’s “truth” about Gatsby changes – he assets that Gatsby is a landed scion one moment and a self-made man in another – based on Calloway’s own evolving sense of reality. Lance asserts, through his narrator, an evolving sense of reality that shows a young man totally unprepared to confront a life that offers him his own independent choices.  Through the first two-plus years of his college career, every interaction is about what his image is. This obsession with looking suave, sexy, caring, sympathetic, resilient – in a word, “cool” – is Lance’s way of confronting girls, friends, classes, alcohol, everything. Since his family gave him only one option of how to be in college – high GPA, Honors/Awards, Internships and all those other prerequisites to the Top 10 MBA, it is not surprising that Lance is left to his own devices when his path veers off the Gordon Gekko indenture.


Weighing in at 410 pages, The Pursuit of Cool did get slow for me by around page 300, because this is not a plot-driven novel. In fact, by following the three boys becoming men and reacting to growing up with all things Reagan, the book is a long essay on the nature of “cool,” and whether such a thing is really attainable after all. For me, the essay was too long. I would have preferred to part with some of the exhaustive, encyclopedic cultural references in order to get to the point: how do the three characters deal with the disillusionment of trying to live someone else’s life? That having been said, Skidmore does a commendable job at underscoring the existential question of an important period of American history through the prism of the coming-of-age novel.