Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

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As the holiday draws near, activites are picking up around the home. I'll be spending the next week enjoying my family and friends, but before I do, I wanted to take a moment and wish all my cyber-friends a very Merry Christmas and a safe holiday season.



(((HUGS)))
AJ

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten Days and Counting

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If you’re stopping by today you must be caught up on your holiday preparations. Good for you. Or, if you’re like me, you’re just chasing your breath. Whatever reason I’m glad you did.

Holidays are a time for family and friends, but with all we seemingly have to do it seems we have little time to spend with the family and friends. Let me tell you a secret, one that will help relieve the stress your feeling. The family and friends will never know or notice what you didn’t get done. They will see all that you did do and will rejoice your efforts.

So this year, I’m baking a limited amount of Christmas cookies and not the piles I normally do. There are always so many left over and I’m the one who eats as many I can before feeding to the birds and deer.

Gifts are numbered this year too.
Everyone will get a wrapped gift, the rest are going into bags or card gifts.

Christmas breakfast will be a crockpot of cream chipped beef which can be made days before and my children love. Christmas dinner went from sit down to buffet, again with many dishes prepared day before. Dishes that are familiar. The holidays are about home.

And, I’m actually thinking of making it a ‘Come home in your sweats or PJ day’.

My family will be fed and have gifts and non-stressed mother. They will be happy!

So do you have any time-saving hints or recipes for this holiday?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friday's Friend Victoria Gray

I love reading different time periods, and my Friday Friend, Victoria Gray, has done just that. You're going to love her blog and excerpt. Enjoy!


1)You recently had a new release. Could you tell us a little about it?Autumn, my new release with The Wild Rose Press is Angel in My Arms, the story of Amanda Emerson, a Union spy undercover in Richmond, and Steve Dunham, the Union officer she enlists in a daring rescue. The scheme to rescue a double agent
from a Confederate prison where he’s awaiting execution plunges them into danger and sparks an irresistible passion between the roguish officer and the beautiful sable-haired spy. As the treachery surrounding them thickens, every moment he’s with her jeopardizes their lives, but they discover a love that’s worth the risk.
Steve Dunham, the hero in Angel in My Arms, is built like a Viking, has a twinkle in his eye, and he’s got guts. Best of all, he’s the kind of man who’s had his share of women, but when he falls, he falls hard and forever. A seasoned Union operative, he faces danger on a daily basis, but when the woman he loves is threatened, he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.
Amanda Emerson, the heroine, is a sable-haired beauty who joined up with a nest of Union spies living in Richmond. She’s skilled at deception, but when she falls for the handsome spy she’s drawn into their latest scheme, there’s no way to hide her feelings. Amanda’s gutsy and tender, a woman who doesn’t even realize how beautiful she is. She doesn’t want to fall for Steve – their love puts both in danger – but some tides are too hard to fight.

2) Did you have to do any special research for the novel?I did extensive research before and while writing the novel. I’d learned many years ago about Elizabeth Van Lew, a Richmond spinster known as Crazy Bet who was actually a Union spy. I modeled one of my characters, the spymaster, Betsy Kincaid, after Crazy Bet, incorporating some of her tactics and the places she frequented into the story. I also researched the historical figures of the time, such as the Confederate first lady, Varina Davis, and the historical landmarks of Richmond, including Libby Prison, the site of the jail escape that is central to the story.

3) Why do you write in the genre you do?I’ve always had a passion for history, so historical romance seems a natural choice. I find myself swept away by the sense of being in another time when chivalry was still in vogue. Setting a story in an historical time period creates a world quite different from the hustle and bustle of twenty-first century life.

4) What was your favorite scene to write?My favorite scene takes place soon after Amanda and Steve have accomplished the rescue. Yearning for Amanda, Steve sneaks into the spymaster’s house and finds her asleep. She stirs to awareness, finding he’s covered her and stoked the fire; his tenderness flares to passion, and they explore the delicious pleasure they can bring one another.

5) What kind of books do you read?I enjoy many different genres. Of course, I love historical romance, especially those set during the Civil War era or Victorian England. I’m also reading a steampunk romance that strikes me as Victorian England with gadgets, and I devour non-fiction that’s related to my writing. One book I’ve pored over recently details actual letters exchanged between soldiers and their loved ones during the Civil War – what a powerful book!

6) How do you spend your down time?When I’m not writing or working at my day job, I enjoy walking and hiking, cycling, and getting away to the mountains or the beach with my husband. I’m also a movie buff – I especially love comedies. Most of my movie “keepers” are films that make me laugh.

7) Are you a goal setter?Absolutely. I set long-term and short-term goals for my writing and other aspects of my life. One of my new goals is to run a 5K. I’ve started a running program that is designed to work me up to a 5K (3.1 mile) non-stop run. At this point, I can handle intervals of 5 minutes running and 2 minutes walking with no trouble…the next short term goal here is to shorten the walking intervals to 1 minute, and so on. By the spring, I should be running a 5K with no trouble.

8) What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was a hike in the Blue Ridge Parkway out to a rock formation that my husband had read about in one of those lovely guidebooks that make everything sound like a spring picnic. Hiking normally isn’t all that adventurous for me, but this particular route involved navigating a few segments where there are narrow ledges with sheer drops – I have a fairly pronounced fear of heights, so these were not fun for me. I persevered, gritting my teeth, I observed my husband was having the time of his life while I was literally white-knuckled with fright. Collapsing onto a fallen tree after making it past the last of these ledges, my husband was kind enough to point out a very large snake skin – the fact that the skin looked very fresh and had rattles at the end put a quick end to my respite. That hike proved a little too adventurous for my tastes, and it’s not an experience I’m looking to duplicate any time soon.


Blurb:

Amanda Emerson must break her cousin, a notorious double agent, out of a Confederate prison before his imminent execution. She’s a skilled Union operative, but for this mission, she needs a man. Even a man who looks and acts like a Viking warrior.
Caught with Rebel battle plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham isn’t about to refuse the assistance of the sable-haired beauty who shows up at the jail and slips him the keys to his cell. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides saving his neck - he’s the key to her plan.
He may be trading one noose for another, but he won’t forsake her. The spoils of his victory will be her surrender. And the terms of surrender will be sweet.

Buy Links:
Angel in My Arms is available from The Wild Rose Press (print - http://www.thewildrosepress.com/angel-in-my-arms-paperback-p-4328.html and e-book - http://www.thewildrosepress.com/angel-in-my-arms-p-4308.html), and other retailers including:
Digibooks Café (http://www.digibookscafe.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=107&products_id=1086),
All Romance E-Books (http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-angelinmyarms-484011-158.html),
Amazon.com (Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Angel-In-My-Arms-ebook/dp/B004BLK63A/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1291012033&sr=1-1 and print - http://www.amazon.com/Angel-My-Arms-Victoria-Gray/dp/1601548435/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291012033&sr=1-1

Excerpt:

Amanda sank into a chair and gazed into the crackling flames. Her heart ached. And there was only one cure for it.
A cure that would not come tonight. She’d outgrown childish Christmas wishes many years ago. She knew better than to hope for a miracle that would not come.
Kate padded across the floor, her footsteps soundless against the braided rug. “Joshua will be here to take me home shortly. I’ll return in the morning.”
“You belong with your family,” Amanda said. “Betsy and I will be fine. We’ve—”
A rap against the door cut through her words.
“Don’t tell me Captain Reed has returned,” Betsy muttered, eyeing Kate with a critical glare as she marched to the door with impatient strides.
She mumbled a few words to the unseen visitor and closed the door almost as quickly as she’d opened it.
“It seems I was wrong.” Betsy placed a wrapped package in Amanda’s hand. “You have an admirer.”
“Prescott?”
“I don’t know,” Betsy said with a reluctant smile. “The messenger didn’t say who’d sent him. Only that this was for Mandy.”
Mandy.
Amanda was sure her heart skipped a beat.
She unwrapped the package with slow, careful motions, intending to savor this moment, the pleasure of discovery.
Her lower lip quivered as she removed her gift. Ivory hair combs, exquisitely carved. Amanda examined her treasure with the wonder of a child on Christmas morning. She slid the combs into her hair.
A folded slip of paper lay within the box.
Amanda read the boldly scrawled message. She’d been so very wrong.
Her wish had been granted.
Someday I’ll hold you again.
****
Steve shoved his hands in his coat pockets and braced himself against the cold. The warmth of his room at Lily’s Place beckoned him, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. Not just yet.
The boy he’d paid to deliver Amanda’s gift ran to him, reported the deed had been done, and rushed home, a silver coin clutched in his grimy hand.
Home. How many years had it been since he’d even had a home? Ten…no, eleven. He’d never been in one place long enough to put down roots, not since he left Boston.
With his collar turned up and his hat slung low to obscure his face, Steve skulked through the streets of a city where he didn’t belong. The truth broadsided him with the merciless force of a cannon ball. One week past his twenty-ninth birthday, he had no wife, no child, and a rented room in a brothel in which to lay his head.
A few weeks ago, he wouldn’t have given a damn. He’d never needed anything beyond a warm bed and a willing woman.
But nothing had been the same since he’d first laid eyes on Amanda.
Even in her prim and proper gray dress, she’d robbed him of breath. She hadn’t known that. Until he kissed her.
Longing speared his heart. He was in love with a woman he had no right to want. His partner’s sister. A beauty who could have her choice of men...men who would give her every comfort she deserved. Amanda deserved so much more than he could ever give.
But that didn’t change a damned thing.
He couldn’t stop himself from loving her.


Learn more about Victoria at:
www.victoriagrayromance.com
www.victoriagrayromance.blogspot.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hard Candy Christmas

I can handle holiday shopping, especially when the spirit of Christmas fills the air and finds its way into the hearts of the other shoppers. When a stranger smiles, remembers the manners his or her mother taught them and wishes you Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday, it’s magical.

Yesterday, my husband and I ventured outside of our small town and went to the big city for a few gifts that aren't stocked on our Five & Dime shelves in rural America and surprisingly that is exactly the experience we enjoyed. A true sense of Christmas.


Maybe it's the tough financial times we've all experienced over the past year that has made us realize what is truly important. It's not the number of gifts you receive or give on December 25th that is important but rather the smile and twinkle of the person offering you a hug and kiss, for no other reason than they love you. Even a cyber-hug.

It will be a hard-candy Christmas in my house. We’re watching our pennies, and I must say, I haven't been so excited about the festivities for a number of years. We are well. We have a warm home and the cupboard is not empty. So we’re good. And with the extra dollars we’ve found or been able to save, we’ve decided to help others instead of buying another toy or article of clothing that would most likely find its way into the spring yard sale box.

My happiest memory as a child was if the years when we received only one or two gifts and a candy cane or an orange. There wasn’t a pile of gifts. I remember them well. One year I received a fuzzy, pink housecoat and slippers. Another year a Susie Smart Doll. I loved that doll. And one year, Sants showed up early with a stereo and a Christmas album. On Christmas morning, we each received a record. I got the Beatles. I have wonderful memories of listening to the Christmas album my mom played over and over while baking sugar cut-out cookies and driving my parents nuts listening to Paul, John, George and Ringo.

My DH and I hope that what we’ve been able to put aside and give will make the season happy for a few others. Perphaps they will have a treasured memory.


So, as you shop, please remember the true meaning of the season. Find it in your hearts to help someone, and look others in the eye, smile and wish them all a Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friday's Friend Vivi Andrews

Today, I welcome one of my darling Ruby-Slippered sisters and world traveler, Vivi Andrews. Vivi amazes me. She is such a profilic writer, and oh so fun. Please welcome her.


Hi, I’m Vivi and I love the holidays. You know that Andy Williams song The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Yep, that’s how I feel about the Season of Giving. Even though the temperatures are dropping, hearts seem warmer and more open. It’s a time of year when all of us – no matter our age – can reacquaint ourselves with the sense of magic that we might think we’re too grown up for during the rest of the year.

But it isn’t all candy canes and mistletoe. As countless Christmas movies filled with mishaps tell us, the holidays are also a time when our stresses can be amplified and swallow up our visions of sugarplums. Those To Do lists can feel a mile long – shopping, decorating, baking, caroling… and still keeping up with your day-to-day life? Good luck!

And it isn’t just the time crunch we’re feeling. Presents aren’t cheap and we’re in a recession. Even though Angel Trees and Adopt-a-Family programs are great ways to help those whose holidays might be a little darker this year, there are still going to be too many of us struggling under a stack of holiday bills come January.
And then there’s family. Even if you come from a wonderful, big, boisterous, amazing family like mine, it can still be stressful coordinating all the zany holiday gatherings. And for those who aren’t fortunate enough to be blessed with big loving families that get along well together, the holidays can be a time of keen loneliness and intense stress at tense family gatherings.

I still believe this season is the most wonderful time of the year, but there will also be times in our holiday stresses when we could all use a little pick-me-up.
That’s how I was approached for the holiday paranormal collection I’m a part of with Carina Press. They were looking for books that would be a fun escape from the holiday mayhem. I was flattered to be asked and delighted by the chance to write a story that featured my favorite season – even if I didn’t really go the traditional holiday route with No Angel.

My heroine Sasha finds herself on an angelic quest to march through Hell (literally) to rescue her boyfriend on Christmas Eve. And then if she succeeds, she still has to bring him to meet her parents on Christmas morning! The stress of introducing a significant other to her folks is bad enough, but add demonic minions to the mix and it becomes a holiday ride that breaks the mold – and hopefully gives the reader a few giggles as a break from the stresses of the most wonderful time of the year.
Are you gearing up for the holidays or ready for a break from the madness already? Do you love this season or think it’s just overhyped commercialism at work?

My Website: www.viviandrews.com

No Angel Blurb: When Sasha's boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!
Jay—aka Jevroth—isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.

Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...

No Angel Link: http://ebooks.carinapress.com/CEDA4A54-F75F-410E-BED2-0DA5ABBAB687/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=D77F6D35-85DD-4060-9E0F-448C53DB8E9B

No Angel Excerpt:

Chapter One - Cloudy with a Chance of Angels

On the day Sasha Christian’s boyfriend got sucked into the fiery maw of Hell, she baked cookies.

This is not to say baking cookies will trigger abduction into the Underworld, but it is important to understand that this was not the sort of day on which one might expect one’s significant other to be kidnapped by demonic forces.

It was a Tuesday. And Christmas Eve.

Thirty minutes prior to the abduction, Sasha stood in the ten-items-or-less line at Ralph’s, holding a single bottle of molasses and fighting the temptation to count the items in the basket of the woman in front of her.

If she counted even eleven items, Sasha didn’t think she’d be able to stop herself from tackling the woman and bludgeoning her with her own canned yams until she retreated in blood-spattered shame to the three-mile-long non-express line. Since this would likely result in Sasha’s ejection from Ralph’s and force her to locate another grocery open at four-twenty on Christmas Eve where she could buy unsulfated molasses to finish her gingerbread cookies, she decided it was best to avert her eyes.

Instead, Sasha concentrated on the flat-screen above the checkstand where a twenty-four-hour news channel recapped the holiday frenzy in a highlight reel. Tinsel, holly, rosy-cheeked celebrity faces, blah blah blah.

She’d already seen the segment twice. Her oh-so-brilliant idea to pop out to the store had turned into a marathon shopping expedition. Just finding a parking space had taken more time than she’d planned for the entire trip.

Damn holiday crowds.

Sasha gritted her teeth and reminded herself that she loved the holidays. Jay was the Grinch in their relationship. During the rest of the year she might be the misanthropic one, but at Christmastime she was Tiny Tim, bouncing around God-bless-us-ing everyone…when she wasn’t entertaining violent fantasies about women who got in the ten-items-or-less line with at least eleven items, making her even later than she already was.

Four-twenty. Jay was due at her place in ten minutes and instead of the Christmas utopia she’d planned as a surprise for her bah-humbug boyfriend, he would find an empty apartment with a bowl of gingerbread goo in the kitchen.

If the apartment was still there at all. Sasha was reasonably certain she’d left the oven on.

The fact the news channel hadn’t broken in with a live aerial shot of her apartment building in flames was somewhat comforting. The holiday montage continued with footage of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels from earlier that afternoon.
A slow, panning shot of the courtyard showed a throng worthy of Times Square on New Year’s Eve, jostling and chorusing a barely identifiable rendition of “Hark the Herald” as they stared skyward. The first angel mass always did draw a crowd.
Dark clouds—imported from Seattle for the occasion, no doubt—layered the Los Angeles sky above the blocky, geometric cathedral. On cue, as the bells began to peal, a hole opened in the clouds like a camera iris widening. Spears of sunlight streaked down to gild the tan stone of the cathedral, lighting the alabaster cross that thrust out over the plaza, but no one in the crowded courtyard was looking at the building.

All eyes were on the gap expanding in the clouds as a figure appeared, riding the rays of light.

Gold-kissed wings spread wide in an eight-foot span to slow his approach until the white-robed figure seemed to float on his graceful descent from the heavens
Sasha rolled her eyes. How cliché can you get? Trust an angel to play it up for the crowd. The holier-than-thou bastards were worse than starlets when it came to mugging for the cameras.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Okay

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I know quite a few writers stress out around the holidays. Obligations tend to suck up our time even more so then the other days and our writing moments are usally one of the things we feel we need to put aside. I've learned after many years that my writing doesn't only occurr while typing words on this keyboard. I'm always thinking about my plot, my characters motivations or actions, and about their conversations. I can do this while I'm baking, cooking or cleaning the bathrooms. I can always find a second to jot myself a note which I can come back to.

Don't stress. Enjoy your family and friends. Remember, "Home is where the story begins."

I'm going to take a few days to enjoy my life. I hope you do too. Have a wonderful holiday and remember to take a moment to give thanks for those who surround you, support you and for the talent you've been given.

Blessings.




Join me on Friday Nov. 26 at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/ , where I'll be asking a Black Friday question.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friday's Friend Debra St. John

Today, I'm happy to welcome Debra St John.

Debra St. John has been reading and writing romance since high school. She always dreamed about publishing a romance novel some day. She lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, who is her real life hero. Her debut release, This Time for Always is a Champagne Rose and Rosebud bestseller at The Wild Rose Press. She followed her debut with Wild Wedding Weekend. This Can't Be Love is her third release from TWRP.

1) You recently had a new release. Could you tell us a little about it?THIS CAN’T BE LOVE is my third release from The Wild Rose Press. Zach, my hero, was a secondary character in my first book, but I always knew he deserved a
story of his own. Finding Zach at her grandfather’s mountain retreat is quite a surprise for Jessica, who’s running away from a really disastrous relationship. Of course, Zach turns out to be everything Jessica has ever wanted/needed, even if she doesn’t realize it at first.

2) Did you have to do any special research for the novel?The setting for THIS CAN’T BE LOVE is actually based on a real place we vacation each summer. After our very first visit I knew it would be the ideal setting for a book. Everything fell into place when it came time to write LOVE, and it turned out to be the perfect place for Zach and Jessica to fall in love. It was a lot of fun having Zach and Jess explore and visit many of our favorite places. We always take tons of pictures while we’re there, but there were several trips where I took even more than usual. I also took copious notes about everything: sounds, sights, smells, so I’d be able to bring it to life for my readers.

3) Why do you write in the genre you do?I love the Happily Every After. With a real world that doesn’t always guarantee that, it’s quite nice to be able to give that to my characters each and every time.

4) What was your favorite scene to write?At one point Zach and Jessica have some, um, fun, with a jar of hot chocolate sauce. That was really fun to write!

5) What is the best writing advice you’ve received?To join my local RWA chapter. Without the fabulous ladies of Chicago-North RWA I never would have published my first book. Over the years they have offered invaluable advice and support. We have a fantastic critique program, and I don’t even think about submitting, or writing any further, until I’ve gotten their advice on my first chapter.

6) How can readers find you?I can be found at www.debrastjohnromance.com. I also am the Sunday blogger at the Acme Authors Link and the Thursday blogger at Heroines with Hearts. I love it when readers pop in to say hello! My books are available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.com.

7) Do you have a writer’s cave or are you able to write anywhere anytime?When the muse is strong, I can write anywhere. A few years back I finally invested in a lap top so I actually could write anywhere. I don’t work in the summer, so I tend to get most of my writing done then, but it was hard to be sitting inside at the computer when the weather outside was so beautiful. Now I literally write anywhere: front porch, back porch, patio, out by the pond, living room couch, bed, etc. I do have a ‘home base’ of sorts in my den, but I tend to be more productive on my laptop. I also made sure I didn’t install the Internet on my laptop, which helps immensely to eliminate various computer distractions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beware. Be safe. Evil Lurks!

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I decided to post this blog this week because next week, with the holiday, we all will be too busy to sit and read anything. Also, I’d like to reach as many friends and friends of friends before they head out the door and become victims, so please pass my blog link on.

Holiday shopping is dangerous. Humming classic tunes, we head to the stores with visions of the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday fogging our minds. The malls are busier than any other time of the year, and as we juggle packages while seeking the next ideal gift for little Bobby or Susie, predators lurk near. Your purse or wallet is his target. The packages you carry are his prey. You are about to become his victim, IF you don’t do something to protect yourself from the holiday nightmare.


1) Keep a list of your credit card numbers and contact phone numbers at home.

2) Dress comfortably.

3) Do not wear expensive jewelry.

4) Never go shopping by yourself. If you do, walk with other shoppers to and from the store or ask a security guard to walk you to your vehicle.


5) Avoid shopping at night if at all possible.

6) If you can’t park near an entrance, consider parking near the roadway entering the store. Thieves do not like to have an audience when committing their crime. Also search out well lit areas. Familiarize yourself with the area you’ve parked.

7) Strip your car. Put all CD, sunglasses, loose change anything of any value out of view.

8) Hide your GPS and garage door opener from view, or better yet leave them at home. A thief can easily break a window take these items and wait to follow you home. Only to rob you later.

9) Do not use your keychain control to lock your doors. Techno savvy thieves could pick up on the frequency and unlock your car.

10) Avoid revolving doors. Predators can grab your purse as entering and make a clean get-a-way before you can emerge.

11) Men carry your wallets in your front pocket and woman carry your purse close to your body with the flap turned toward you. When walking with someone, carry the purse between you. Consider using a fanny pack. Only carry the necessary cash and or one credit card. Leave check book and other credit cards at home.

12) Do not flash large amounts of cash.


13) Watch while your credit card is receipt is filled out and that your credit card is only swiped once. Also request any carbons. Keep receipts in your pocket, not in your bags. Make sure you get your credit card back.

14) Never lay your purchases down.

15) Avoid using restrooms where there are long, dim, hallways.

16) Do not use arcades or video stores as babysitters for children of any age. Predators are waiting.

17) Make regular trips to your car so that you’re not over burden.

18) Save your most expensive purchases for last. Go straight home. Do not stop afterwards for lunch or dinner.

19) Do not carry big packages that obstruct your view.

20) Have your keys in your hand when exiting the store. Walk with authority. Check backseat and under car. Lock door immediately.

21) Be aware of approaching strangers. Con artists may try various methods to distract you.

22) Stow your purchases in the trunk. Never in the backseat. Remember a thief doesn’t care if you have to replace your car window.

23) If you see what looks to be a parking ticket under your wiper, ignore it and pull away. Check it at another location.

24) Never go home if you think you’re being followed. Go to a busy, well-lit safe place.

25) Even though you have a zillion things on your mind, stay alert, don’t be the easy target. Remember for whom you went shopping. You, not the gifts, are what is important to them.
Have a wonderful holiday.


If you have another tip or experience relating to a scary experience, please share.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friday's Friend Kelly Fitzpatrick

Today, I welcome one of my Golden Heart Sisters Kelly Fitzpatrick who has a lot to say about juggling life and writing. Please welcome Kelly. (((HUGS))


Hi! Thanks for having me today Autumn!

I was playing one of my Wii fitness games the other day and it got me to thinking. One of my favorite Wii games is Big Top Juggling. It’s pretty much what it sounds like and surprisingly true to life. In the confines of the game I’m a clown balancing on a big ball while I juggle little balls. The story of my life in a nutshell.

Just like life, sometimes I lose my balance and fall off my big ball onto my big butt. Other times I drop my little balls and have to start over with new balls. When all is right with the world, my balance is flawless and my balls are in sync, the game will throw me two giant exploding balls, complete with sound effects and blasting graphics, to test my skills.

I’m not sure what everyone else is juggling in real life. Me, I juggle my writing career, which is a mini juggling act of its own with writing, editing, submitting, research, education, networking, and the offshoot of networking, the dreaded promo. My nemesis. I made a commitment to myself long ago that I would do something related to my writing career everyday. I’ve kept my promise whether that one thing was updating my website or writing a few hundred words. To keep myself on task, I jot down deadlines and goals in my calendar each month. And I recommend a little meditation to clear the mind. Me time, walking, reading or deep breathing.

Being a wife, mother, and homemaker is the hardest juggling act of all. I want to see Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs be a homemaker for a day. Keeping a house clean is a dirty, dirty job. Being a wife, mother, and homemaker requires the skills of a cook, maid, nurse, chauffer, cheerleader, referee, personal shopper, interior decorator, gardener, psychologist, hostess, financial planner, and lover. I’m a big fan of delegation—for most of the stuff. I’m not particularly good at any of these skills. So you’re on your own. But kudos to you if you do any of these things well. My husband says I do it all well and I think he’s just learned to embrace mediocrity.

Then there’s the day job. I don’t have a career outside the home. I have a part-time job to get me out of my pajamas and out of the house. The job also finances my writing career (which is a money pit) and keeps up my office skills—just in case. When I leave my job on Thursday afternoon, I feel like I need some medication. After I chill, I don’t think about the day job again until I go back on Tuesday morning. And even at work I’m really busy plotting murders and love scenes in my head.


Last but not least we need to juggle ourselves, which brings us full circle. People, women especially are busy taking care of everyone around them. Without our health (mental and physical) we cannot nurture others or work or write. That’s why “I try” to eat healthy. I exercise by walking to work and back, along with my Wii fitness regime. I do charity work. I pursue my passion of writing. Moderation is my mantra when it comes to food, fitness and spirits. I also believe in quality of life over quantity, giving me a handy excuse to indulge in a little chocolate therapy and the occasional cocktail or three.

So there you have it, meditation, delegation, medication, and moderation. What are you juggling? Any tips for your fellow jugglers?

Come visit me any time day or night at www.kellyfitzpatrick.webs.com to find out more about me and what I’m juggling.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Think I Can. I Really Do.

The end of the year is right there in front of me. December sits at the bottom right hand corner of the November calendar with the holidays marked in vivid red.
New Year’s Eve among them—the date most of us set goals for the coming year.
Last December, I sat ten goals for myself. While I achieved many of them, (Woohoo), I still have a few that I really want to accomplish before the clock ticks down on the year. Can I do it? Maybe.

But even if I don’t make the all the goals, or just miss the target, like loose another ten pounds or finish the book, it’s alright. I might lose five more pounds or only need to write the ending, and hey, I’ll take it.

The thing about goals, while it’s the carrot dangling out that is the big prize we need to remember the journey toward the reward is more important. We’re striving to change bad habits, or overcome demons, or just make ourselves and the world a better place. It’s hard work and nothing is accomplished over night. The journey has to be rewarding, otherwise the goal will never be achieved.

I worked on all my goals throughout 2010. Ten of them. I’m happy that I kept them in the forefront of my mind and achieved six of them. I made time for my friends and family-the benefits have been wonderful. I tightened my belt and ask myself ‘Do I really need this before making purchases’. Doing so has helped keep our expenses under control during a year where watched two sons marry. I cleaned out a good portion of my house and got rid a dumpster of clutter. I don’t miss I thing. I also finished and submitted my next book, which lead to a contract. All this was accomplished in baby steps which I practiced every day. I’m close to achieving two others, but last two… Well, I’m not giving up, but I’m going to enjoy myself while trying, and if I make them, ‘Yeah!’ , and if I don’t, ‘Yeah! I took steps toward the prize.’

Come December 30th , 2010, when I make my goals for 2011, those two goals will be tweaked and on the top of my list.

It’s never too late to start working toward your goal. Enjoy the journey!

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Makes A Hero HOT!

Hey. It's Friday and today I welcome Wilder Rose author Becca Dale. Wilder Rose means hot, folks and Becca has a new holiday themed release out today. Congrats, Becca.

Becca is doing somrthing different today which really gives us insight into her characters. Read on.


What makes a hero hot? A good friend of mine loves the polished type. You know the man who looks like a CEO even on vacation? Nope, that doesn’t do it for me, but when I’m with her, I find that I notice those guys more. I look for them so I can offer a “check him out.” Personally, I want the guy who is a little rough around the edges, one you can be proud of in public but is rarely refined behind the bedroom door. Because my taste and that of the women I know are so divergent, a question has bounced around in my head a great deal lately. I worried that perhaps my characters had become too much alike, that my taste had overpowered the men and women of my stories. The general standard claims there is someone for everyone, but if they all became alike, my guys might not be broad enough to attract readers. In the end, an online friend suggested I ask the women involved – my heroines and my readers. So here are my most recent heroines’ perspectives on their guys. I would love to hear from readers as well so please leave a comment.

Today’s Panel Judges and Their Heroes:


Jess – Surrender at Sea (Forty-two-year-old bodyguard whose first husband was an abusive and manipulative jerk.) Sean (Twenty-eight-year-old game designer who sees the fun in a situation more often than not.)



Kya/Hannah – Kya’s King (An impressionable but tough girl/shifter who wants to be a
vet and longs for a family that wants her no matter what.) Ja (A soldier to the end driven by honor and the need to protect his clan no matter the cost to individual happiness.)




Jenica—Jingle all the Way Twenty-something, single mother whose ex left because he needed more: more excitement, more freedom, more people, just more than Jenica and
their small town could offer.) Burk (International businessman born and raised throughout Europe and the Americas. Smooth on the exterior – a man with everything and nothing at once.

Lily—Untamable [Available Jan. 2011] (Red haired spitfire as fiery as her hair implies but only for the boy she once loved and the man he has become). Thor/Thunder (Ex bronco rider who raises rodeo stock, rugged and defensive as the horses he trains.)
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Becca—All right ladies, let’s begin by talking about what you look for in a guy – personality wise. Who wants to go first?Jess – I will. When it comes to men I like a little control. I bent to the will of my ex-husband for too many years. I have no intention of ever doing that again.

Kya—Yes, but there is a certain security in a man who takes charge. I can appreciate a guy with the strength to tell me no as long as he’s willing to listen to my side.

Lily—I think that’s the key, Kya. He has to be willing to listen and to share. People love Thor but he doesn’t show real emotion around others. I think he’s been told how great he is by so many women that he doesn’t believe it so he plays his own cards pretty close to his chest. That’s my only problem with him. No matter how big of a stubborn mule he can be, he needs to bend on occasion and reveal what he’s thinking if he expects me to be vulnerable to him.

Jenica—Right. He can push me but he needs to recognize my limits. There’s nothing wrong with a little manhandling as long as he isn’t a jerk like Jess’s ex was.

Kya—That sounds like a dangerous philosophy, Jenica. Define manhandling.

Jenica—Wow, I don’t even know how to answer that in a public forum. Uhm, you know the kind of guy who will make sure he has your full attention at all times even if it takes an occasional love tap to do it.

Jess –Love tap my a—my butt. No guy better put a rough hand on me again unless he wants to find himself on his back with my knee to his jugular.

Lily—I don’t think Jenica meant abusive, Jess. She’s just saying that sometimes a man has to do something that breaks through a woman’s defenses. Thor tied me up to get my attention, but in reality the situation opened his eyes more than mine.

Jess –Bull. No matter the situation, no man should use his strength against a woman just because he can. You girls are too young to recognize that fact. Men can be jerks more often than not and I think—

Kya—Not every situation is black and white, Jess. Don’t try to make Jenica feel bad because she sees things differently than you do.

Lily—Exactly, sometimes what is on the surface of a man doesn’t reflect the full truth. I don’t think any of us can judge.

Jess –Seriously, I hope my daughter isn’t this naive. You girls—

Becca—Whoa, people. I see you all have different opinions on personality. How about we shift gears and focus for a moment on the physical. Can you describe the perfect guy?

Kya— Ja’s big. Broad and muscular with well developed muscles. He had dark hair and unusual green eyes that make me forget why I’m mad at him no matter how much he ticks me off. Whether he is in feline or human form he exudes a raw almost feral power that turns me on. I know he would give his life for me, but if I push him too hard, that need to control every situation could break loose and overwhelm us both. It’s like all this delicious, protective, yet somewhat violent, strength simmers just beneath the stoic soldier’s façade, and I can’t wait to turn it loose. (blushing) Does that make sense? I am turned on by the idea that he might not be able to hold back even though I know he will.

Lily—(laughing) Thor couldn’t be more different. He has dark hair but that is about the only similarity. He’s tall but not overpowering and his muscles are lean and long, a working man’s strength. He’s also arrogant as all get out and it shows in the way he walks and even his stance. He has no problem laughing and demanding his way through life, but for me he is just so damned masculine. I think I love his hands the most. They’re strong and calloused but almost magical when he touches me. Maybe because when he does reach for me, I have his full attention. The whole world narrows to him and me when I am in his arms and I forget every reason why I should push him away. There is something incredible about having a social man like Thor tune out everyone one and everything beyond me with a sensual caress.

Jenica—Yeah, I know what you mean. I can’t resist Burk’s touch either. Not that he’s much l like your Thor beyond the lean muscles part. He has golden hair and a shadow beard, but he dresses like a city boy. Like Ja his eyes are killer except they’re this weird piercing blue that remind me of a wolf for some reason. It is his voice that really gets me though. I’ve lived in Keaton, ND my entire life. Everyone sounds the same-and no we do not talk like the people on Fargo though a few of the old timers come close. Burk has a bit of a British accent that mellows everything he says and makes me crazy. Is that physical? (grins self-consciously) I’m not sure if sound counts as physical, but it is so much a part of him, and it does such lovely things to me that I have to include it. What about you, Jess? You’re awfully quiet.

Jess – (shifts uncomfortably and studies the rest of the group) I’m almost embarrassed to describe Sean. Not that he isn’t insanely hot, more that he is so damned young. He should probably be with someone like you girls, but for some reason he likes me and that is part of his draw. He has this wild sun-bleached hair that gives him a California rich-boy image. Like Thor, he has a casual confidence about him that reflects in his stance and his sexy smile. That smile is what does it for me. It’s like trying to resist an adorable puppy. (grinning) He would hate that reference but he would turn it so I had to admit how much I want to pet him every second he’s in reach. Physically he’s a big man, not your typical computer geek, but he would never use his strength against me. Not that I would put up with it if he did, but I love knowing that he won’t ever try. Still when he holds me close and I can feel his hard body, I must admit I melt far easier than I should.

Becca—Well, I guess that answers my question, ladies. Physically my heroes seem to run the gamut though I see they tend to be tall. Huh? I wonder why that is. Personally, I like a man to be close to my height so I can look him in the eye. There is nothing grosser than snuggling in a man’s arms and finding your face pressed to his belly. Darling hubby is only about six inches taller than me and I am short. None of their personalities seem much alike either which is good. I would still like to know what kind of man catches readers’ attention and if it is different in real life versus the fantasy of a romance novel. Please share.

You can contact Becca at:
Email: authorbecca@yahoo.com

http://beccadale.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1230421314#!/pages/Author-Becca-Dale/127093937346285

http://tinyurl.com/37llplj

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

True Love

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Do you love to write?

I do, and write about just about anything. Leaves floating to the ground like a flurry of angels feathers. Family dogs romping and growling playfully in the afternoon sun. Mom shutting off her internet service the weeks I’m to stay with her.

Writers write. It’s as simple as that. They have to. It’s in their blood to create images, characters and stories using well chosen words.

If I go more than a few days without jotting down or tapping out passages, I feel listless. Almost like I’ve been physically restrained and need to move and accomplish something. Today is that day.

For the past five days, I’ve been MIA from my keyboard due to my son’s wedding. It was an awesome day.

The groom’s men dressed at my home and looked as if they’d just walked off a 1940’s movie set in their formal attire.
A bright sun peeked now and then from behind its mask of gray clouds. Trees of gold and crimson waved with the sudden gusts as if gesturing to friends.

My son showed he has a bit of a romantic in him by writing his new bride a note on the bulletin board in the room where she would wait to her turn to enter the church. The message, which I will not share with the world—it’s theirs, brought tears of happiness to her eyes and a smile to my lips.

The ceremony was simple and tastefully done. Afterwards, bubbles of joy surrounded the bride and groom before lifting prayers
for a long blessed marriage for the couple to the heavens.

The day is now a memory. One I will draw on when writing about true love.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome Friday Friend Sherry Gloag

Today I welcome fellow rose author Sherry Gloag.

It's going to be so much fun learning more about her and her new release, "THE BRAT". Hi, Sherry.

Why do you write in the genre you do?


I love the concept of romance and what it means to different people. And I love people watching. I enjoy the inter-action between them when they forget others can observe their behaviour. I may not hear what they are saying to each other, but in a way that makes it even better, because then I can lay my own interpretation upon the actions.

If I could hear what they were saying, I’d probably have it all wrong, but it doesn’t matter because it gives me the freedom to allow my imagination to run rampant and create my own scenes around my observations.
We live in a world and age surrounded by stress and anger. Therefore, when I read, I read to enjoy, to escape, and, for a brief time to believe in a stress-free zone. Or at least a zone where everything wraps up neatly in a HEA. And now, when I write, I find I focus on the consequences for my hero and heroine of actions - either their own, or those of others - hidden in the past.

In my debut novel, The Brat, my heroine, Gina Williams, and my hero, Ben Kouvaris, have to come to terms with actions taken by their mothers twenty-five years ago. Now when Gina and Ben come face to face for the first time, they find those actions, like a stone thrown into calm waters ripple out and have far-reaching consequences for the most unlikely people.

Both Gina and Ben have some major lessons to learn, ghosts to lay, and beliefs to re-arrange before they have the remotest chance of their HEA.

Do you have a writer’s cave or are you able to write anywhere anytime?

I always try to carry a pen and note pad with me wherever I go, so I can jot down ideas and even expand them, so in that sense yes I can ‘write’ anywhere, but my chosen spot is at a desk in a bedroom where I can work ‘uninterrupted’ . I when I say ‘uninterrupted’ because that particular message hasn’t quite filtered down to those who need to know. :-)

How do you spend your down time?

When the weather is good, and this summer we’ve had the sun, accompanied by a killer
Autumn, I’m so pleased to be here today, thank you for inviting me.
north wind, I love to work in the garden or go walking. The walking time is often used to discuss problems with the characters. While writing The Brat, very few of ‘my’ ideas went into it. The characters had definite ideas and kept me in line while I wrote.

I love reading. Romance, obviously is a major part of my reading. I also enjoy mystery and detective stories. Crystal craft work is another major source of relaxation for me.

What was your favorite scene to write?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I am not a plotter, so I’m never quite sure what’s going down on the page until I read it back. So there are many scenes that truly surprised me. But to answer your question, the scene that stays with me, is the one when after she’s spoken on the phone with Ben’s father she faces her ‘ah-ha’ moment. She discovers she has some major adjustments to make and has no time to practice as she finds Ben waiting for her with questions of his own.

What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

ROFL! Autumn I almost fear to expose the fact I’m seriously grammatically challenged, in case any potential readers take to their heals and run in the other direction, instead of to the ‘buy button’ or book store cash register! :-)
How did I overcome it? I’m not sure I ever will, as there are some long-term school issues involved. I have taken online classes and have two or three sites I visit if I need answers. And I do belong to a wonderful online crit group and several members are grammar whiz-kids who soon put me right. In the final stages of preparing The Brat for publication, I worked with a fabulous editor and she also offered suggestions.

You recently had a new release. Could you tell us where we can find you?

The Brat, published earlier this month by The Wild Rose Press, is my debut novel.

Buy The Brat from The Wild Rose Press = http://bit.ly/d5nVDC
And at Amazon = http://amzn.to/bclDhY
My Website = www. sherrygloag.com/
My blog = http://bit.ly/bnuELA
Book Trailer = http://bit.ly/9O6j6C
Facebook = http://bit.ly/daeGN7
Goodreads = http://bit.ly/bTOzHC
Twitter = http://twitter.com/SherryGloag

Autumn, thanks you very much for inviting me to join you today. I’ve loved being here.


Blurb

Gina Williams has a secret and prays it is buried with her childhood persecutor, Em Kouvaris, as discovery will ruin her reputation as a famous children’s author. She soon discovers the son, Ben Kouvaris, new owner of her publishing company, has uncovered her past and is making demands. Will he ruin her career if she doesn’t comply?

Ben Kouvaris is blown away by the unknown beauty at his estranged mother's funeral, and when his father demands he marry, immediately, to secure the family business, he knows just who he wants as his temporary bride. But can Ben persuade Gina to trust him?

Excerpt for THE BRAT

“I guess life diverted your dreams.”

The earlier light-hearted banter between them vanished. “Yes.” Ben signalled the waiter, passed over his credit card, and rose.

She leaned forward to pick up her bag just as her phone rang. Without checking the caller ID she took the call.

“You think I don’t know what you’re up to?”

The last time she heard that voice the Inspector had walked into her house seconds later. The phone almost slipped through her fingers, and she swung away from Ben’s perceptive stare.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“You won’t deny your family’s existence for much longer, I promise you.”

The dial tone buzzed in her ear. Dear God in heaven, what did that mean? She’d never denied her family! They’d deserted her.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Golden Leaf Winner Evil's Witness

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I'm posting early this week for two reasons. One, my son is getting married to a wonderful girl. I can't wait to call this young woman, who has been my daughter's best friend for eight years, daughter. Their marriage is really meant to be. Maybe next week, I'll share a picture or two. She is going to be so beautiful. And son... well, I made him. He's gourgous.

The second reason for posting early is in the title. This past weekend Evil's Witness won the 2010 NJ Golden Leaf award for 'Best First Book'. The judges, I understand, were booksellers, librarians and readers groups. I'm so thrilled and honored. I can't tell you how much.

There were a lot of reasons for me to remember this conference. I got to hook up with a four of my Ruby Slippered Sisters (2009 Golden Heart finalists). They are truly a special part of my life. I saw many old friends and had great conversations over drinks and dinner, and I made new friends. I hope they all become old friends as time goes on.

The workshops were awesome. The special breakfast and luncheon speakers, Sharon Sala and Robyn Carr were inspiring. I think I did well with agents. We'll see how things pan out. And the booksigning held afterwards was a dream come true for me.

Now, with my toes finally finding the ground, I'm diving into the first round edits which hit my email upon my return.

If you can possible attend a conference, go. Being around others who understand why you talk to no one phyiscally in the room or on the phone, is truly like walking among the stars.

Please stop back Friday when I welcome guest Sherry Gloag, author of BRAT. Love that title.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome Friday Friend Amber Leigh Williams

Today, I welcome fellow Wild Rose and Wayback Series author Amber Leigh Williams. She is going to take care of my cyber home this weekend while I'm at the New Jersey conference. Yeah, Amber!


It’s October! Superstitions abound! Recently my sister informed me that Friday the 13th doesn’t mean anything sinister unless it takes place in October. I’m not sure if I agree, but October does seem to amp up my superstitious nature. I’m definitely looking out for those shifting shadows and strange happenstances. Growing up, I watched my grandmother draw an X on the windshield whenever a black cat crossed the road in front of her vehicle. We also had a family ghost named Myrtle. If you think I’m kidding, you should’ve been there when we heard frantic footsteps pacing across the attic floorboards late at night and when our refrigerator’s ice dispenser randomly spit out chunks—timed in such a way that passersby would get pelted. We were convinced Myrtle had a benevolent sense of humor. She never scared the bejesus out of anyone except the dog and a couple of new boyfriends. In fact, Myrtle was the boyfriend initiation rite. If the dude could handle a Myrtle encounter, we knew we had a winner! (Yes, my DH was one such contender…and, ah, the memories!) I wonder if to this day any old boyfriends think of us and shudder ;)

Last month, my western romance trilogy went from ebook publication to an audio book collection. In the final book, Bet It On My Heart, I was thrilled when the opportunity to throw in a powerful and poignant superstition scene presented itself. Years ago, in an earth science book I read about the ghost lights of Marfa, Texas.
For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, for over a century outside this Texan town people have been seeing mysterious, allegedly paranormal lights. Scientists at first tried to distinguish them as a reaction to rocks underneath the soil but after some daytime digging no such rocks could be found. Then they attributed the lights to headlight reflections from a nearby route. Watching the lights, however, it’s clear that these aren’t headlight reflections and the reported sightings date back before cars were invented. The lights are so popular, Marfa built a viewing platform on the bluff overlooking the site and the TV series Unsolved Mysteries filmed a segment there.

So intrigued was I by the Marfa lights, I kept a photocopy of the book’s article in my writing notes. With Bet It On My Heart, the chips fell in all the right places. The book takes place in the fictional small town of Wayback in west Texas. The cowboy hero, Keefe, drives his heroine, Calli, out into the quiet countryside for some special alone time. What they see and experience there creates one of my favorite moments of the book. You can purchase Bet It On My Heart, and its award-winning prequels (Blackest Heart and Bluest Heart) in ebook at The Wild Rose Press (http://www.thewildrosepress.com/amber-leigh-williams-m-352.html?zenid=1be052bfd41335d14b8fdbcf81dd17dd) or in audio at AudioLark today (http://www.audiolark.com/books/tag/amber-leigh-williams/)!

So readers, I’d love to hear your favorite paranormal phenomena—real life or fictional! Writers, has your own experience ever crossed over into your work? A special thanks, too, to Autumn for letting me share today!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking Among The Stars

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I’m so excited. It’s been over a year since I’ve attended a conference or workshop. This weekend is the New Jersey Romance Writers conference and I’ll be there. Even though, my novel, EVIL’S WITNESS, is up for an award, Golden Leaf Best First Book that is not why I’m excited. Well, okay, I am but there's more. I can’t wait to be surrounded by other writers and learning more about the craft and industry which I love.

I’m sure you understand how it is no matter where your interest lay. When you’re with others who understand your enthusiasm for something, it’s like walking among the stars. I’m eager to meet face to face friends I’ve made online and to see those I haven’t seen in months. I feel like a sponge ready to soak up knowledge in the workshops I already have highlighted on my schedule to attend. I’m also a little nervous about taking an agent appointment, telling her about my new wip and hearing her thoughts on the romantic suspense genre in today’s tight market.

So today, I’ll be tweaking my pitch and getting my books and promo material ready for the book signing which is another reason for me to be excited. This will be my very first RWA conference signing.

God, it’s going to be a blast! If you’re in attendance, please say hi. Have a great weekend everyone and join me again next week for an update. AJ


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Friday, October 15, 2010

Welcome Kathy Kulig

Today, I welcome a good friend and chapter mate, Kathy Kulig. Kathy writes HOT paranormal romances. You will really enjoy what she has to say and her books.

Take it away, Kathy.

I love flipping through mythology, ancient folklore and supernatural books to stir up ideas for my novels. Take a myth, twist it a little, surround it with interesting characters, a compelling setting and premise and you have the start of a story.

While researching shapeshifters and dragons for DRAGON WITCH, here are a few things I found:
Cryptids “are creatures that are believed to exist, but for which there are no existing physical records or evidence.”
And Cryptozology is the science of trying to prove the existence of these creatures.

Most of us are familiar with cryptids such as The Lock Ness Monster, Sasquatch or Bigfoot, but there are many others with fascinating stories. And if you’re a writer they may give you ideas to develop stories.

A few Cryptids that have yet to be proven as real:

Dragon of the Ishtar Gate is one of the Cryptid creatures depicted on the walls of Babylon (575 B.C.E). It’s cited in the Apocrypha—a collection of stories claimed by some to have been excised from the Bible—as a dragon that was kept in the Temple of Be by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Jersey Devil- I’m a Jersey girl so I’ve heard this one before. This legend dates back from Colonial times and this monster is supposed to be spotted in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
Kingstie- Is a 30-foot water creature seen in Lake Ontario since 1917.
Mothman-A tall, somewhat humanoid creature with fiery red eyes and large wings. It’s spotted in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Ogopogo- A plesiosaur-like creature seen around Lake Okanagan in British Columbia.
Trunko- A white-furred sea monster seen by a ship’s crew in 1922 off the coast of Margate, South Africa.

Some cryptids that were once considered mythological creatures but were later proven to actually have existed are: the duck-billed platypus, the giant squid, mountain gorilla, and Komodo dragon.

One of my favorite research books for myths and legends and just about anything strange and unusual when it comes to supernatural topics is THE CRYPTOPEDIA – A DICTIONARY OF THE WEIRD, STRANGE AND DOWNRIGHT BIZARRE by an author friend of mine Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer. http://tinyurl.com/33oey9x

In there he has a section on Dragons and Dinosaurs. Dragon myths are found throughout the world and share many similar physical characteristics even among cultures that had no contact with one another. The most common explanation for this is that these people unearthed dinosaur bones. The size and shape of these discoveries later developed the myths and legends for dragons.

A lot of this information I found in a reference book called “The Cryptopedia, A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre” by Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer. This is a great source for stirring up paranormal story ideas.

I’m so impressed by the creativity of paranormal authors who can take an old myth and create a story with a new twist or make up an entirely new one.

Many of my stories have a variety of shapeshifters—a man with a 300 year old Celtic curse shapeshifts into a stag but he can be a man only beneath the moonlight. I’ve used a twist on an ancient Norwegian myth where a person can don the skin of any animal and become that animal by willing it so. In this particular mythology, I’ve had a shapeshifting mountain lion, wolf, bear and leopard. My demons also have the power to shapeshift, an ability mostly used as a disguise to hide their presence on earth. My demons have been a coyote, falcon, wildcat and one has the ability to appear as any other human. Imagine the trouble he can get into.

When I wrote DRAGON WITCH, I wanted to write something different. A friend at work does origami. She travels all over the world to origami conventions. She made me an origami dragon. Funny because I never told her I liked dragons. I have him on my desk at work. Of course, I looked at him and thought dragon shifter! This creature when in human form has a voracious sexual appetite. I set the story on another world, because It has always been my dream to write a SciFi-like story. Then I added another love interest, an interstellar transport Captain—a hunky guy that the biologist/witch heroine had a steamy affair with, and she can’t, for the life of her, forget. Toss them all on this planet in a desperate situation where lives are at stake, and that’s the set up for DRAGON WITCH. I hope you’ll enjoy it, because I had a blast writing it.

BLURB: Biologist and witch, Jaida Chel combines nature magick with herbal science to protect Kai, the last shapeshifting dragon on her world of Somerled. But when Captain Brayden Stokes reenters her life not only is Kai’s life at stake, but so is Jaida’s secured position in the colony. Brayden and Jaida can’t resist the sexual heat between them, even though she knows a relationship would be doomed. Fleet pilots don’t stay planetside for long.

Jaida is torn between Brayden and her dragon and companion, Kai. When Kai morphs into a human twice a year, his sex drive is ravenous. He must mate for twenty-four hours or die. Unrestrained passion between Kai and Jaida temps Brayden into a forbidden encounter. With Jaida’s sassy, wicked ways, the three cross boundaries, exploring eroticism beyond their imagination. When secrets and betrayals are revealed, Brayden must risk everything for one last chance at love.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

BORING

REALLY BAD opening line: Sara Amos gripped the steering wheel tighter. She was nervous because she was starting a new job and had already pissed her new boss off.

Pretty bad opening, uh? What’s missing?

It's bare bones. There's not a sense used, nothing to grab the reader and bring the story to life.

We learn about our world through our five senses. Knowing this, it would make sense that we learn about our character’s world through their senses. Writing vivid, sensory details will engage your readers. Great writing integrates all the senses in a way that they blend and harmonious with the rest of the prose. So how do you that?

First we need to reach into ourselves and embrace our senses. Grab a pen and pad. Go sit outside on this autumn day and immediately close your eyes. The sense of sight is the easiest of all to write, using only it is lazy.

Now without opening your eyes concrete on your four other senses, one at a time. Again, without opening you eyes, scribble on you pad. Reach deep. Don’t just write the first element you recognize.

What do you hear? If you hear a sound you don’t recognize, what does it remind you of? Is it sharp, clanky or soft sound? Think out of the box.

What do you feel/touch? Not just through your fingers tips. Does the ground under feet feel spongy because of the downpour last night? Is there a bite to the breezy or does the sunshine kiss your cheek.

Smack your lips together. Stick your tongue out. What do you taste? Be Rachael Ray of sensory words.

What do you smell? Smell is the most powerful of senses to bring back memories. You don’t want to forget it. If you have a memory write it down.

Finally, open your eyes. Now what do you see? Really look at the world surrounding you. Look for the details. Details that will make your reader say, “Hmmm..I never looked at the old house down the street that way. It reminds me of a tired old boot, sort of sagging. It’s chimney leaning like the tongue away from the boot.”

Okay, we’ve got our senses sharp. Now let’s put them to the page.
Take the bare bone paragraph above and make it your own. Please post it in your comments and let’s learn from each other. Come on! One little paragraph. There is no right or wrong.

I will guarantee once you try this exercise, you will grab your current wip and start editing.

Let’s have fun.

Here's my attempt this morning:

Wet leather. She was going to smell like a freakin’ cow if she didn’t get a grip on her nerves. Sara Amos shook a mint from a tin, trapped the pill between her gloss covered lips and dropped the package into the cup holder with a ping. Six months she knocked— No, banged on the ivory doors of the Chase law offices before she had been granted entrance. Now that she was in, she planned on staying a long time. She pushed the button on the dash. Her relaxation CD whirled in the player for a second before fuzzy strands fill the car. Eyeing the passenger mirror held on by duck tape, Sara stretched her fingers one-at-a-time in her skin-tight suede gloves and curled them into the grooves of the steering wheel. Her new boss would just have to get over the fact she dumped him years ago.

***
Join me Friday October 15 as I welcome Paranormal/erotica author Kathy Kulig.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Friend Caroline Clemmons

Due to techo difficulties inside my own head (wedding stuff fogging), I'm late getting this blog up. I apologize to Caroline. She is a dear on-line friend and has the most beautiful cover I've ever seen for her new release Texan's Irish Bride. I hope she forgives me.

I asked her a bunch of questions and well, she answered them all. Great gal. Please help me in welcoming Caroline Clemmons.



1) You recently had a new release. Could you tell us a little about it?



Thank you so much for asking. THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE is a September 2010 release from The Wild Rose Press. Set in 1885 Texas, the hero is rancher Dallas McClintock. He has spent years working toward building his reputation as breeder and trainer of the best horses around. He believes neighbors are finally accepting him and he's earning their respect for his talent with horse. Just when things look great, he is trapped into marrying Cenora Rose O'Neill. She and her family travel with a band of Irish Travelers, thought they are somewhat outsiders. When they were turned off their land in Ireland, they had nowhere to go and fell in with the Travelers. Cenora's Da is a champion talker, plays musical instruments, but has no other skills--none that would support his family. Dallas ends up taking Cenora and her eccentric family to his ranch.



2) Did you have to do any special research for the novel?

Yes, I did a lot of research on the Irish Travelers. Looking into this group was fascinating, but I didn't need all I learned for the book. Still, research grounded me in the culture and helped me make the book more authentic--at least, I think so. I also made a trip through Bandera, Medina, and Lost Maples State Natural Area. All of those are in Texas and near where this fictional ranch and town are set. Researching Irish superstitions and blessings was fun. I learned some of my grandmother's superstitions are Irish. Although she said she was not superstitious, she was. So am I. My husband and I made a couple of trips to Ireland, which inspired me to have an Irish heroine. In fact, this is my second Irish heroine. Can't let all that research go to waste, can I? My family stayed at the Mayan Dude Ranch at Bandera, Texas for a few days when our daughters were small--7 and 10. That inspired a love for that area of Texas. I loved everything about researching this book. I hope readers will love it as well.



3) Why do you write in the genre you do?

I write in those genres I enjoy reading--historical, contemporary, and paranormal. It would be difficult to write in a genre which I didn't enjoy reading, don't you agree? I love history, especially Texas history from 1870 to 1900. I read other periods, but that time is what I enjoy writing. The first time travels I read were by Kathleen Kane, and I fell in love with the idea of a person thrust out of his or her time into another. You start off with built in conflict. I also enjoy contemporary books, so I write those, too. All of my books are set in Texas, even though some have portions in another place.



4) What was the hardest scene to write?

I suppose the sex scene when they arrive at Dallas' home was hardest. I wanted it to be fresh instead of the same old, same old. I really worked on it and I hope it comes across as credible and enticing.



5) What was your favorite scene to write
?



I think the ones with the heroine's father. He was a fun character--all blather, but he truly loved his family and tried his best to protect them. He had a blessing for everything and never used one word when a hundred would do. Such fun!



6) You have an amazing backlist. Would you like to tell us a little about it?

Thanks for asking. My first book was BE MY GUEST, which I sold to Kensington in 1998 for their short-lived Precious Gems line. My next sales were THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE and THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND, which were released in 2003 by Kensington. A novella, HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, was in the bridal anthology GOING TO THE CHAPEL in 2004. In 2009, I participated in a Civil War anthology with some friends, NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, and my novella was LONG WAY HOME. This year OUT OF THE BLUE, a paranormal time travel, and this western historical, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, were released. Release date for my next book, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME, has not yet been announced.

7) What do you consider your strengths, in terms of writing?

I think characterization is my strength. I love my characters, and they become real to me while I write. I've been told I make them come alive on the page, and I hope that's true.

8) What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?



Writing sex scenes is my downfall. Since my character become alive for me, I feel as if I'm intruding on my characters. Plus, there are only so many ways to insert Tab A into Slot B. I'd really prefer to just close the bedroom door.



9) What is the best writing advice you’ve received?



Never give up.



10) What is the worst advice you’ve heard, to you or an author?

I know of someone whose writing I loved but whose critique partner told her she kept making the same mistakes and should just quit writing. Unfortunately, she has.



11) What kind of books do you read?



I read historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances as well as mysteries. What I read depends on what mood I'm in. I never read books that end badly--at least not if I know it before the end. I want books with happy endings. If I wanted to be depressed, I'd watch the news. For me, reading is relaxation. A book may stay with me mentally for a long time, but that would be because I loved the characters. I re-read favorite books to see again how the author worked magic with her words.



12) How do you spend your down time?

With family, reading, with friends, travel with my husband, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and family history/genealogy. I had already completed and published a book on my mother's family and one on my mother-in-law for her family. My brother and I are compiling a book on our father's family and it's taken a lot of our time. We hope to finish the book and send it to the printer this year! Genealogy is like crack cocaine--once you start, you can't quit. There's always one more couple, one more record, one more thing to discover.



13) Are you a goal setter?

Yes, but that doesn't mean I'm a goal finisher.



14) What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?

I suppose hiking through ruins in the Desert Southwest. Although, I drove on the Autobahn in Germany, which turned out to be much easier than weaving through some of the very narrow streets in older parts of the towns.



15) What advice would you like to offer to aspiring authors?

Persevere. Hone your craft. Fine good critique partners who will offer constructive criticism and who will encourage you in your writing. Remember what Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up." Don't let anyone steal your dream!



16) How can readers contact you?

My email is caroline@carolineclemmons.com

Blogs: http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com

http://slipintosomethingvictorian.wordpress.com on the 20th

http://seducedbyhistory.blogspot.com on the 7th

http://www.incurablediseaseofwriting.com on the 11th

Website: www.carolineclemmons.com

Facebook Fan Page

Goodreads

Twitter as CarolinClemmons with no E in Caroline



17) Do you have a writer’s cave or are you able to write anywhere anytime?

I prefer to hibernate in my pink cave. It used to be my youngest daughter's room. She decorated it with romantic prints one year for my birthday. It's a pleasant room and I enjoy spending time there. All my research books are there, my CD player, my PC, and a good desk chair. I do have a laptop and use it when I'm traveling.



18) Conferences: What advice can you offer to author’s attending them?

Conferences are a great way to network and learn new craft and business tips. I've been to RWA Nationals and always loved it, but I have to say I've really received more benefit from small conferences. With fewer people at a more intimate conference, I think I've been able to make more friends and learn more. Dreamin' In Dallas ia my favorite, but San Antonio RWA chapter's, NOLAStars, and the two in Houston are very good. Yellow Rose RWA has had some great small conferences, too. I urge writers--especially pre-pubbed or recently pubbed--to attend as many of the small conferences as possible. Usually the speakers are great plus I was able to meet people informally. Wherever you live, there will be conferences in your area. It's best to spend the night at least one night if you can afford it and make time in your schedule. So many things go on after the actual seminars--like dinner, sitting around talking--that you miss out if you don't stay overnight in the hotel.



19) Write the book of your heart. What does that mean to you?

Not writing to trends, but writing what I really want to write. At the present time, I'm working on another time travel, but there are western historicals and contemporary stories I plan to write asap. If your heart isn't in the book's premise, you won't do your best work. I used to be a featured columnist and reporter for a newspaper. I can give you however many inches you want for a newspaper pretty darn quick. A book is different. Unless the author cares about the premise and the characters, he or she will not do his or her best work.



20) What is your most valued writer’s memory and why?



I suppose it's a photo of my mom holding THE MOST UNSUITABLE BRIDE. She was so proud of me. She's just beaming in the photo she asked me to take. It's a terrible photo because she'd just had a really bad fall and split her mouth and lip so badly she required plastic surgery in the emergency room. She didn't care that her lip wasn't completely healed, she wanted a photo with my book. The heroine of that book, Pearl, came from a tiny kernel of a story my grandmother told about a girl in her town who quit school because the kids made fun of her. I decided Pearl needed a happy ending, so I wrote the book. She gets her happy ending all right, with a handsome husband who eventually cherishes her. Of course it takes a while for him to figure out he can't order Pearl around like a servant, and to realize he loves her. Lots of fun making him suffer.

Bio for Caroline Clemmons

As long as I can remember, I've made up adventures. Okay, I admit the early creative stories featured me riding the range with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and saving the West. What a disappointment to learn that Roy was exclusively committed to Dale! Eventually, my best friend from across the street and I decided to become better detectives than Nancy Drew. We drove our parents and neighbors crazy sticking our pert little noses where they didn't belong. About that time I started writing down my adventures, but mostly I was a reader. Not until I read Nora Roberts' early novels did I decide to create my own romance manuscripts. My road to publishing was a lot slower than Nora's was. No surprise there! I still read Nora's books—as well as those of countless other authors—but now I write full time. Unless life interferes, that is.

My Hero and I live one a small acreage in the ranching and horse country of North Central Texas. Our two daughters are grown, and supportive of my writing. Living with Hero and me now are Webster, our sweet black Shih Tzu, and our two shorthaired cats: Sebastian, a black and white tuxedo who thinks he's our watchcat; and Bailey Erin, a shy apricot tabby. When I'm not writing, I love spending time with family, reading, traveling with Hero, browsing antique malls, and digging into family history and genealogy. Writing about strong heroes and heroines who overcome amazing obstacles to forge a meaningful life together is my passion.