Beginning January 1, 2013

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GUEST BLOG: SANDRA COX

Angels Among Us


"It is not known precisely where angels dwell--whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God's pleasure that we should be informed of their abode." Voltaire

Do you believe in angels? Do you believe they walk among us? That they watch over us?

We've all had moments when we are certain something or someone has interceded on our behalf, stepped between us and tragedy...

Something tells you not to take the flight you're scheduled for. You feel silly but at the last minute cancel your reservations. You find out later the plane you would have been on crashed.

You're running ten minutes late because you can't find your cell phone. Then you get caught in a traffic jam where you find out ten minutes ago a car ran a red light and hit another driver head on.

Your loved one is dying. He/she looks at a blank wall and gives a blinding smile of recognition and moments later passes in peace.

You turn down a group of your peers that have invited you to a concert out of town. The carload is killed in an accident on the way back home. If you'd gone with them, you would have been killed as well.

You're coming home alone late at night. Your car stalls out in front of your house. If it would have happened earlier, you would have been stranded.

Has something similar happened to you? Do you feel someone or something interceded at some point on your behalf, and if so how? And do you think the intercession was an angel that walks among us?

~*~
And speaking of angels, what about all those wonderful organizations out there that give unstintingly to others. If there are any that have made a difference in your life, or that you belong to, please feel free to mention them in a comment.

I live in North Carolina with my husband, dog, cats and an occasional foster cat. I’m a vegetarian and believe in the adage, ‘if it has a face don’t eat it’, and I’m an animal advocate.

As far as my writing I’m a genre hopper. I write nonfiction metaphysical, YA Crossover, paranormal romance, time travel and western romance. My blog sites are: www.sandracox.blogspot.com and www.downtownya.blogspot.com. If you’re in the vicinity drop by and say ‘hey.’

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GUEST BLOG: AVERY FLYNN

Let’s Eat
By Avery Flynn


Without a doubt, the best dinner I’ve ever eaten was at Restaurant Eve. My mouth waters just thinking about it. My palate comes to life when I say the name of this amazing restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, Va. Like Pavlovian’s dogs, typing out the name has my hands itching to call up and make another reservation for the tasting room. After all, my five course meal there changed my debut novel, Up a Dry Creek, in a profound way.

My heroine Claire Layton’s career aspirations were in the toilet when I started writing Up a Dry Creek. She was a strong-willed woman without a driving passion in life. That is not a combination for a heroine I like to read about, let alone write about. None of the careers I tried out on her fit. I was at a total loss.

Then, I ate at Restaurant Eve. Run by the husband/wife team of Chef Cathal Armstrong and Meshelle Armstrong with their partner Todd Thrasher, it is in a converted historic warehouse. You walk inside the gate and travel up a candlelit cobblestone path to the entrance. You can eat in the dining room or, as my husband and I did, in a small tasting room, which has space for only a few tables. In the tasting room, you choose from five, nine and surprise multi-course tasting menus featuring an amazing assortment of dishes created using local ingredients.

Now, I have three kids which means I’m a fast eater - all the better if you’re cranky two year old means you have to leave the restaurant NOW! But this time it was just my husband and I. We went with the five course menu. Our server described each dish and how it was made, then we savored each bite. The flavors rolled onto my tongue and exploded in my mouth. Amazing. Each dish was better than the last and in between courses there were little bites of things to taste and enjoy. Several hours later, I put down my desert spoon and sat back in my seat sated and blissed out. I didn’t think it could get any better. Then, our server came out with a gift basket of coffee, homemade Irish butter, scones and our personalized menu rolled up in a scroll. That folks, is what you call great service.

After that meal, Claire became a restaurateur. The poor girl can’t cook (something we have in common), but she loves food and the joy that comes from eating a great meal. Claire’s restaurant is called The Harvest Bistro. She uses locally-raised and locally-grown food. She’s so passionate about the local food movement, she decorated Harvest with photos of the farmers who provide the produce and meat she feeds her diners. While Dry Creek, Nebraska, may not be ready for a gourmet restaurant on par with Restaurant Eve, the residents have flocked to Harvest’s Full Moon Special when, once a month on the full moon, she serves a five course gourmet meal.

As soon as Claire made her career change, the story of Up a Dry Creek fell into the place and the characters became real. So not only did I get the meal of my life at Restaurant Eve, so did Claire.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Author Avery Flynn is a small town girl living in a big city and was inspired by her former western Nebraska hometown for the setting of her fictional town of Dry Creek. In Up a Dry Creek Avery tells the story of Claire Layton, a restaurateur minding her own business until she discovers one of her customers dead in her dumpster. As her world begins to unravel, security expert Jake Warrick shows up in search of the killer and things go from bad to worse to.hmmmm. He is the sexiest man she's ever seen. And Claire is doing the impossible-distracting him from the case. Check out her website at www.AveryFlynn.com

Monday, June 27, 2011

GUEST BLOG: NANCY NAIGLE

Juggling Fiction and Non-Fiction
Nancy Naigle


I did my first hometown book signing in the library in Emporia, VA last Monday. It was a fun evening. We started with a Book Talk about Sweet Tea and Secrets, and then followed up with a Q&A, a book signing and snacks. We enjoyed sweet tea, of course, cupcakes and delicious country ham biscuits. A great southern evening.

One thing that we talked about was how I balanced everything I have going on. You see, aside from writing I live on a working goat farm. I’ll admit most of my contribution to the goat farm these days is by way of administrivia except when we have bottle babies to feed or we get close to State Fair time when I manage the scholarships for the meat goat show and announce the weekend activities. Monday through Friday most of my attention is turned to Bank of America. Why? Because I’m an SVP and that duty calls, and it pays the bills, too. This is where you find out that I’m right AND left brained. My position with the bank is as a Six Sigma Black Belt. I coach associates in the six sigma methodology and provide support to Corporate Audit in their assessments of processes in the bank to insure we have the right controls and rigor in place. Statistics and organizational stuff – all day long. Writing fulfills my creative side. That combination keeps me balanced I think.

I told the folks at the library as long as I remember to keep the two careers – writing and the bank – straight I should be fine. If I start telling fiction at the bank and the truth in books, that’ll be a problem :-)

I’m not special though. I bet all of y'all reading this are wearing multiple hats every day. Some of us might multi-task a little better than others, but in the 21st century you have to be able to juggle to just get through what is business as usual in our busy lives.

Here are a few tips that I believe really help me stay focused and keep progress moving forward. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Know your goals. Okay, I know this sounds silly but it’s important. Everyone’s goals are different. Even in a room of writers you will get dozens of different goals. Some just want to finish a book. Others want to get a big NY house deal, while someone else just wants their book in print without any care to distribution. Someone else might be writing to pay a debt, or change a heart. There aren’t any right or wrong answers, but if you don’t know the goal...you probably will never achieve it.

Make your goal clear. SMART – specific – measurable – attainable – relevant – timely. There’s no sense making a goal that is unachievable. These components will help you think through what’s important to you and set a goal you can measure your progress toward. For example: I want to publish a 90k novel with distribution in print and e-formats with a publishing house in 2012. Having a clear goal will help you list out the milestones you need to achieve on a timeline toward achieving that goal you’ve set.

Plan what you’re going to do, then do what you plan. This goes for anything from the grocery list to your writing journey and anything in between. Shortcuts don’t usually really end up saving you anything. Make your plan when you have a clear head and you’ll be less tempted to skip important steps.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Delegate those things that you’re not good at, and share your strengths (or barter them!). Trading strengths is a great way for two people to be more productive. You do what I don’t do well, and vice versa. We both win!

Be honest with yourself about the time you have. No sense planning to spend 30 hours a week writing if you don’t have that time. You’d be better to commit to a plan that you can stick to. Think about it this way. If you write one page a day, you’ll have a book at the end of the year.

Share. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Following your dreams is no fun at all if you don’t have friends to share it with. Make times for your friends. They are worth the juggle and you’ll feel better and be more productive for it.

What things do you do to keep your eye on the goal? Let’s share.

Nancy Naigle writes love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

Living on the cutting edge of technology in her day job, Nancy spends each night creating make-believe small town worlds filled with community, heart, and suspense. She hopes readers will accept her invitation to visit Adams Grove and will grow to care about the residents as much as she does.

Her debut novel, SWEET TEA AND SECRETS, is available now and being met with good reviews. In this Adams Grove novel, a woman comes home to settle her grandmother’s estate only to find that she is the only thing standing between a dangerous con and a secret from her grandmother’s past.

Nancy’s next Adams Grove novel, OUT OF FOCUS, will come out in November 2011. In OUT OF FOCUS, a mother gets snagged in a web of friendship and betrayal while desperately searching for her missing son. OUT OF FOCUS won several awards in 2010 including the CT-RWA The WRITE Stuff and Maryland Writers Association Novel Contest in the literary/mainstream category.

A Virginia native, and spending most of her life in the Tidewater area, she and her husband of 16 years moved inland to quiet Southampton County. They now live in a log-sided home on a working goat farm with their two labs and more kids (the four-legged kind) than they keep count of, where they are living out their own small town love story.

All Nancy’s books will be released in e-format and print. Stay up to date on releases, appearances and news on Nancy’s website: www.NancyNaigle.com

Friday, June 24, 2011

GUEST POST: LINDSAY KLUG

Hi, everybody! Lindsay Klug here, ready to chit chat with you.

The only problem is, I have no idea what to talk about. That’s right. The writer has no clue what to say. Sometimes it happens. The dreaded Writer’s Constipation looms and ideas hit a tiny clog and stop flowing.

But where does a writer get a plunger to free the ideas? I usually try a short flash fiction piece. Something between fifty and one hundred words, and it would have to include three words. Say…Dark, eyes, and salad. Are you ready? Here’s a little fiction to get the juices flowing:

The images flashing across my TV screen are making me grimace. Blood, gore, violence. What happened to good old psychological thrillers? I change the channel to another scary movie, one about a man trying to track ghosts. When he turns his video camera on and sees a pair of ghost legs dragging themselves from the room, I jump and my salad spills all over the couch.

Grumbling, I walk to the dark kitchen to get a towel. A thud from outside draws my attention, but only my eyes are reflected back in the glass. Nerves are shooting through me, making my chest tighten and stomach clench with anticipation.

The cat leaps onto the counter, sending me stumbling back against the refrigerator in fear, gripping at my chest. With a nervous laugh, I throw the towel on the counter and turn to walk back to the living room. But the man staring at me through the window catches my eye first.
~

Well, that certainly got my ideas flowing again. Now I’ve got the beginnings of a story about a stalker itching to be written, among the other three hundred stories floating in my head.

Now what? I’m overflowing.

This is where my wall of sticky notes comes in handy. Yes, that’s right. I have pads of sticky notes sitting next to me as I write, because you never know when the next idea will hit. As they come, I jot them onto the note and tack it to my wall, where it resides among the plethora of other stickies.

Oh, disorder. How you’ve penetrated my workspace.

If you’d like to see how I managed to cobble together my first release, The Life And Times of Delila, hop on over to http://lindsaysbooks.webs.com and have a look around. You can also find information on my next release, due this summer. And be sure to stop by the blog every Wednesday for an ongoing web story at www.ichbineinteufel.bogspot.com.

Thanks for having me, LASR, and happy reading, everybody!


Lindsay Klug is an author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and horror. She lives with her husband, two children, and pets. When she’s not chasing her kids around, she’s working as a pharmacy technician, dreaming up her next tattoo, or writing. Lindsay can be found on Twitter (@infidelqueen) and on Facebook (LindsayKsauthorpage), as well as Good Reads and Manic Readers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

GUEST BLOG: PAMELA THIBODEAUX

Look a Level Deeper


Where do you get your ideas?

This question is either highly appreciated or deeply resented by authors. I mean, are great inventors asked the same question? Was Einstein, Ford, Bell or the Wright Brothers asked where their ideas came from? How about Bill Gates or the owner of FaceBook or any other musician, film maker, or other modern-day creator?

Where does anyone get an idea for anything?

Some say from life. Others credit their muse as the means by which they get their ideas. My answer is usually: Divine Inspiration. Lately I've been thinking about a comment I often use and how it may relate to this question.

As Christians we are called to look a level deeper - as writers we are taught to look a level deeper.

Judge not lest ye be judged, walk a mile in his shoes, don't mock what you don't understand....these are all variations of that statement.

What does this have to do with where I get my ideas?

Everything!

This statement doesn't apply only to people but every aspect of life.

Look at your circumstances - go a level deeper and ask questions: Why are they the way they are? Who made them this way? Where did I make a mistake (in thoughts, words or deeds)? What (if anything) can I do to change them? When will they change? How can I change/grow as a result of them?

Who, What, When, Where, How & Why ....These deep, searching questions of the heart and soul are the wellspring from which all creativity -from which all of life- flows.

This is what we writers do...we look at a person, event or circumstance and then ask questions - in doing this we get the inspiration to write down those answers. We get to know our characters and what motivates them. By continuing to ask throughout the creative process, we add twists and turns, depth and texture and we often write the answer we'd like to see which is usually very different than what is obvious or common.

The answers to these questions were imperative for Carson Alexander of In His Sight, if he was to save the heroine (Lorelei) and her daughter (Laurel) from the danger he sensed lurking on the horizon.

If you are a reader, then read with this new insight. If you're a writer, ask yourself if you are looking a level deeper into the lives & circumstances of your characters and even into your life for answers and inspiration. If you're the average person wondering how to change your own life know that you can.... with the power God gave you.... the power to create (through thoughts, words & deeds)!

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Pam's titles are available in Ebook & Print and ALL are available for Kindle and Nook!

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com
Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com
Bayou Writers Group: http://bayouwritersgroup.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GUEST BLOG: MATT DUNN

If you had to do it all over again...what would you change?

Regrets. I've had a few. But then again... If you're lucky enough to be a working novelist, it's a little churlish to say you'd do it differently if you had to do it all over again. Besides, you have so little control over how and when your books are published, you have to wonder whether doing anything differently would have made any difference.

That said, I've written a book a year for the last six years, so I suppose I'd take a bit more time off. Although if I did, I wouldn't have written six novels, and had the pleasure of seeing them published in as far-flung places as Turkey, Croatia, Brazil, and of course, the U.S.

Perhaps I'd have started writing when I was younger - but then again, I wouldn't have had the material. Mind you, seeing as I write about relationships – or more specifically, people with relationship problems, I could probably have done without going through so many of them myself.

I'd put a disclaimer in the front of my books saying that even though I write about this stuff, if you corner me at a party, I won't necessarily be able to solve all your relationship dilemmas. Although thinking about it, there have been some party conversations that have inspired actual scenes in my books. And in one case, a whole book.

Maybe I'd spend longer writing each one - I'm a firm believer in the observation that you never actually finish writing a book, you just decide to stop working on it - although if I didn't have a deadline, I'd probably never finish. And I suppose that so much of what makes a book is defined by where you were 'at' when you wrote it, which is probably why when I had the chance to 'tweak' The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook and Ex-Girlfriends United for their US release, I decided against it: What if Leonardo Da Vinci had kept re-touching the Mona Lisa? We might never have seen it. And not that I think my books can in any way be compared to the Mona Lisa – though they may occasionally raise the same enigmatic smile - but they're preferable in their original form. To me, at least.

Ex-Girlfriends United is all about someone who's made mistakes in his past – trouble is, he hasn't realised they were mistakes until they come back and bite him on the behind - but the karmic reparations he has to make will hopefully ensure he doesn't repeat them. And that's what mistakes are, isn't it? Learning experiences. Though the trick is, I suppose, actually learning from them.

So would I change anything? Probably not one paragraph – of my books, or my life. After all, anything bad that's happened? Well, like I keep reminding myself, it's all good.

Good material, that is.

About the Author: I was born in Margate, but escaped to London and then M├ílaga (which is in Spain, for those of you who didn't pay attention in geography class), where I worked as a newspaper columnist - and played a lot of tennis - while writing my first novel (although not at the same time, obviously). I now live back in London, but spend a lot of time in Spain, where I’m writing my sixth novel and still playing a lot of tennis (again, not at the same time).

Previously I’ve worked as a professional lifeguard, fitness-equipment salesman, and lastly an I.T. headhunter, where my success in re-writing other peoples' CVs made me think I might have a talent for fiction.

My second novel, The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Of The Year Award, as well as the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. And while it didn't win either of them, I was still pretty chuffed to be nominated.

And (if you're interested) I've also written about life, love, and relationships for the Times, Guardian, The Sun, and a number of magazines, including Company, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and Scarlet (phew!).

http://www.mattdunn.co.uk/

Monday, June 20, 2011

GUEST BLOG: REGAN TAYLOR

THE MORE WE CHANGE, THE MORE WE STAY THE SAME
Or Do We?

I recently re-read two long time favorite books of mine: Rosemary Rogers Sweet Savage Love (and the rest that followed in the series) and Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. While quite different in voice, both books offer very much the same in presentation.

They both have action, adventure, good guys, bad guys, travel exotic places (maybe we don’t think travel to England exotic, but to a Gascon of hundreds of years ago, I think it equates with our version of exotic), intrigue and romance. Oh yes, The Three Musketeers is a romance with all the requisite trappings. In some ways it is four romances because there are, at the end, four Musketeers.

Many, if not most, romance readers and writers fell in love with the genre thanks to Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Diana Galbadon contributed to the mix and Jamie and Claire live on through generations of fans.

We have changed in our tastes in some ways since Mr. Dumas wrote in the 19th century and Ms. Rogers in the late 20th. The version of The Three Musketeers I read was 730 pages and Sweet Savage Love isn’t far behind at 636 in what appears to be 8 pitch font. If an author were to pitch D’Artagnan and his compatriots story today I have no doubt it would be suggested to the author to write a four book series; one for each of the heroes. If Sweet Savage Love were to cross an editor’s desk today I imagine that it would be suggested as well that the book be divided into two stories – and clean up the points of view please!

When I first read Ms. Rogers’ earlier books every character in a scene had an opportunity to have their point of view shown. It really didn’t bother me and it certainly didn’t when I re-read it recently. Interestingly to me, Dumas had very clear points of view. One character ruled in his or her scene. And one scene made me chuckle because it began “It was a dark and stormy night.” All this time I thought Snoopy had cornered that phrase.

When I choose a book to read I look for certain things. With so many books and so little time, choosing can be a major event because I want only the best of the best in reading. I want some action, I want to travel to a different time and place, to experience everything about those times—by the way, Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander are wonderful for bringing those experiences to life with their descriptions of rooms, houses, parks, clothing and food. At times you know just how that Vienna torte would taste on your tongue. I want a bit of mystery and some suspense. It’s always good to see the bad guy get theirs.

Most of all, I want romance. I suppose that is obvious when you are talking about writing and reading romance – but that is the most important element to me – a palpable, intense romance that will endure through time. There is nothing like that happily ever after feelings and the hope that it will be a part of my life.

I’ve heard two editors speak to the length of paragraphs in ebooks—so the text will fit easily on a page paragraphs shouldn’t be too long. Dumas had a few that ran on for over two pages! Admittedly they did get me a bit lost—and that was in the print book! A rather hefty one that weighed four pounds! And yes, we do see some longer tomes come out way, witness Karen Marie Monings’ Shadowfever in hardback!

When Dumas wrote there were few readers and books were written for the duration. Families would gather round and the characters became part of those families because in the stories lasted longer. No quick novellas to be finished off in one evenings’ entertainment. No, the stories became part of the family’s life for a time.

And today editors are sticklers for purism in points of view. Despite the fact there are two people in that bed making love, we see only one point of view at a time. I miss having both of them there with me as I read their scenes.

But the bottom line for all of us, I think, is we will want a good story. Be it a short story, novella or full length, we are still look for a story that draws us in, takes us to a different place, moves us emotionally and stays in our memory for a long time to come. We may have changed in terms of format and length, but we still want a good tale to carry with us. 

From earliest childhood Regan was an avid reader and upon discovering Alexander Dumas and Charles Dickens she was hooked on books that carried the reader away to a different time and place. Preferring the quiet of her room and a good book to spending time with people she traveled far beyond those four walls.

It was while working as a police dispatcher, first for the California Highway Patrol and then her local police department, she began to write fiction, primarily time travels and romantic suspense. In the spring of 2009 she returned to the day job she always liked best, working as a legal secretary. Although, curled up in her bunny slippers with her furfaced children, Mel, Missy and Bogie, while writing is one of her most favorite things to do. 

 Please check out her website.




Friday, June 17, 2011

GUEST BLOG: GAIL MacMILLAN

Why I Write Historical Romances
By
Gail MacMillan


Several years ago, while recovering from an especially painful illness, I read my first historical romance. And was utterly swept away. The dashing, handsome hero and the beautiful, bold heroine caught up marvelous adventures helped me escape away from my discomfort and into their world of romance and intrigue. It was a world I decided then and there to enter with my own words just as soon as I was able.

A university graduate with major studies in world history, I felt I already had the background to attempt the genre. A number of years of writing non-fiction history books and magazine articles on a variety of subjects further qualified me (I believed) as a decent craftsman. So, recovered and confident, off to writing one I went.

In my final year at university I’d concentrated on local history, the dramatic events that made up the turbulent eighteenth and nineteenth century in the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada. Such events as the War of 1812 and the Acadian Expulsion appeared fertile ground in which to grow an historical romance. I didn’t know how stories of this genre set in this small corner of the world would be received but it was the place and its past I knew best and about which I was most passionate.

My first several attempts met with rejection. Maybe the Maritimes didn’t appear exciting or exotic enough for a romance editor’s taste. Still, I battled ahead.

Then the light bulb went on in my brain. Maybe the reason for my lack of success was because I’d been neglecting the fairy tale aspect in favor of dry historical facts. Maybe I needed to have a little more fun with the story. I went back to the second of my rejected manuscripts and began revising and revising and revising.

Lady and the Beast was the result, followed by Caledonian Privateer, both of which were pure joy to write. Currently two more historicals are in the works with lots of other ideas galloping or flying under full sail across my mind.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about writing historical romances is, although you must have a sound knowledge of the era and location about which you’re writing, never lose site of the fact that it is a romance. Readers who want purely historical data will be buying non-fiction. Your readers are looking for swashbucklers and bold beauties engaged in sweeping adventures…just as I was all those years ago when I picked up my first historical romance and was forever hooked.

I hope that at least one reader will find comfort and escape by reading my work as I found years ago in the pages of several historical romances. That would be my best reward.

Gail MacMillan is an award winning writer with twenty-three published books as well as numerous articles and short stories presented in magazines in Canada, the USA, and Europe. A graduate of Queen's University, Gail lives in New Brunswick, Canada with her husband and three dogs. www.GailMacMillan.com

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

GUEST BLOG: CATE MASTERS

Rock ‘n romance!


My daughter’s obsession with the Bret Michael’s reality dating show on MTV at first made me chuckle. We live in central Pennsylvania, and Bret Michaels grew up in a town about 20 minutes from us. Then I realized what a fun concept a reality dating show would make for a romance novel! Combining my love of music with romance – what could be more perfect?

An imperfect hero, for one. I love slightly flawed characters who find redemption in stories. Jet Trently is just such a hero. Committed to his craft, but afraid to release his new songs, and looking for love in all the wrong places – on his reality dating show, Rock Bottom. I had such fun creating the female contestants for this fictional show! They’re an eclectic bunch, with a few surprises tucked up their frilly sleeves.

The heroine, Billie Prescott, is committed to being a hard-nosed journalist, and has long ago sworn off rock stars. Despite her best efforts, she can’t resist Jet’s charms (he has so many!). Of course the show’s contestants take an instant dislike to her - women can sense competition like that, lol. Billie dubs them The Bimbo Brigade, among other nicknames, and doesn’t take them seriously. Until one night… well, I won’t give that away. You’ll have to read it for yourself! *grins*

Billie’s a woman true to my heart. I fell in love with Paul McCartney when I was about six (yes, he just broke my heart for the third time when he announced his engagement!). The late Sixties and Seventies provided the soundtrack for my youth, and hearing that music always takes me back. Besides books, the only thing I can’t resist buying is CD’s. From all types of rock to country to those indefinable songs that resonate with me on a deep level, I love music and can’t imagine life without it. If I lived on a desert island, I couldn’t pick only five albums to bring along. I’d have to recruit a carrier pigeon to bring me new CDs, or hook up a satellite radio to listen to the new releases!

Jet’s my fantasy rock hero – handsome, intelligent, creative, hard on the outside but once you get past that defensive barrier, he’s fiercely loyal and loving. When he sings, women toss their panties onstage, he’s so inspiring, lol.

Rock Bottom releases June 20 from Lyrical Press.
Blurb
For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits over and over. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

Here’s the trailer:


Excerpt

The cottage appeared tiny from the outside, but actually had two stories if the bedroom loft counted. A boomerang-shaped overstuffed sofa dominated the main floor, and cabinets topped with bookshelves lined either wall. In a small nook sat a ceramic-topped iron bistro table and two chairs.

As cozy as a beach getaway.

She swung her carry-on bag atop the tufted ottoman. Turning to retrieve her suitcases, she stopped short.

Jet leaned against the doorway. If his presence had been palpable in the house, he overwhelmed this small space.

His lopsided smile appeared almost shy. “Need any help settling in?”

The personal touch. If he hoped to make it literal, he could forget it. Despite her resolve, she found him overwhelmingly distracting. She had trouble recalling what she’d planned to do.

Glancing around, she thought she’d be pretty pathetic if she claimed to need help.

“Nope, I think I can find everything.”

Stepping inside, he closed the door and moved toward her slowly. Purposefully.
Her pulse quickening, she tensed, but couldn’t find her voice to ask what he wanted.
He touched the cabinet. “There’s a small fridge under here. I’ll have Cindy stock it for you.”

Nodding, she tucked her hair behind her ear. “Great. Thanks.” She felt sure he must hear her heart pounding. And think her an idiot. “It’s an adorable little place. You’re saving the magazine a bundle by letting me stay here.”

When he moved closer, his crystal blue eyes felt like a laser piercing her own.

To clear her head, she turned away. “It’s situated perfectly too. Right next to the house.” Could she possibly sound any more brainless?

She sensed him directly behind her. His soft tone made her muscles go fluid. Her eyes drifted shut, imagining his famous voice singing to her alone.

“If you look out your bedroom window, you can see into mine. Right over there.” His arm lifted beside her and pointed.

His warmth penetrated her skin. He smelled like ocean and musk. An impulse struck her to guide his arm around her, fit herself against him. Fill her senses with him.
Snapping to reality, she fumed at his flirting, but made her voice sweet as honey. “Oh, over there? I appreciate you telling me.” Smiling, she turned. “I’ll be sure to keep my curtains closed.”

Tensing, he straightened, and his nostrils flared.

Her muscles drew taut in response. You shouldn’t have made him mad--not the first day.

But his eyes crinkled at the corners, and he cocked his jaw and nodded. “Billie Prescott.” He said her name with a kind of wonder.

Not quite knowing what to make of it, she gave a giddy laugh. And wanted to die. “Jet Trently. We finally meet.” As though she’d been waiting. Or it had been prearranged. By whom? The universe?

To recover her composure, she went to her bag and pulled out her laptop. “Any internet connection in here?”

He flopped onto the sofa and extended his arms across the back. “Wireless, pretty much from everywhere.” With a kind of amused curiosity, he watched her. “We need to talk.”

Her mind blanked. The way he spoke sounded so intimate, as if he wanted to discuss their relationship. His gaze seared into her, and she had trouble remembering they had no relationship. “About what?”

His mouth curled into a smile. “The show. Don’t you want to interview me?”

She felt her face flush. He played a cat and mouse game. And he’d trapped her already.


Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com, on Facebook, Goodreads and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers! Email her at: cate.masters AT gmail.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Phillipa Ashley

If you had to do it all over again...what would you change?

I’d try to enjoy the journey more and not worry about what lay ahead.

Not that I haven’t had the most exciting time. I’ve had five novels published in many countries, won an award and had a movie made of one of my books. I’ve been very fortunate but you know what? Despite all the fun and excitement, I’ve still wondered whether I could have done things differently? Should I have written a particular scene differently? Could I have made it longer/better/ funnier/smarter?

Okay, I’m naturally a worrier, maybe all authors are. Maybe that anxiety is an important part of wanting to develop as a writer and make each book the best it can be.

I think part of that feeling is because I got into print very fast by publishing standards. My first book was completed in spring 2006 and published by a UK publisher in October that year! Everything was new to me, being edited, on the shelves, reviewed, read… it was a real rocket fuelled journey with no time to draw breath.

Now, with all my books being published in the US in the space of two years, I feel I’m on another high-powered journey.

But at least now I have previous experience to draw on, a great network of author friends and lovely readers to support me.

Wish You Were Here is also about looking back – in the heroine, Beth’s case, she’s been hurt badly by a man she thought loved her eight years before the book starts. Jack Thornfield even proposed to her, after a short but intense holiday romance. She thought he was The One; he swore she was The One.

Then they both got back to reality and - nothing.

Angry and confused, Beth moved on. She had to because the sudden death of her beloved mother left her having to help her father bring up a young family. She’s grown up and though she’ll never forget Jack (or forgive him) she’s had to be strong and look to the future for the sake of everyone she loves.

But when she meets Jack again, in very trying circumstances, those feelings and passions just can’t be denied…

I hope that readers will find Wish You Were Here a tender, romantic read, sometimes funny and occasionally sad.

It’s a novel about regrets, family and secrets and ultimately about growing up and whether you should hold out for the biggest prize of all: true love.

So thanks for having me at LASR. And here's a question for your readers: What’s the one thing you would change if you could go back in time? Or wouldn’t you change a thing?

I live in a Staffordshire village with my husband and daughter but I try to spend part of the year in the Lake District – walking, visiting literary locations and trying to track down the ultimate Lakeland pub and tea shop. I also love body boarding and have recently had my first surfing lesson.
http://phillipa-ashley.com/
http://phillipa-ashley.com/blog

Monday, June 13, 2011

GUEST BLOG: VICKY BURKHOLDER

I've recently been working on a new story, an urban fantasy. I like the characters. I've mapped out the settings and built my world. I even have the plot roughly worked out. But I've been struggling with it - not with the writing, but with the reason I'm writing it. After all, I have three other romantic fantasies - all full length novels - sitting on my computer waiting for me to finish editing them and send them out. But here I am, writing another.

In talking with my writing friends, I hear the same story from them as well. Whether agented, contracted, published, or still waiting, we all face the same wall at some time. Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I giving up sleep, television, other activities I enjoy just so I can write?

The answer is, because we are writers. Because we can't stop. Yes, it is an addiction. And obsession. Something inside that drives us to create. But we also need to learn to temper creativity with common sense. To that end, I have put my new story aside. I've got enough of it done and made enough notes that I can easily pick it up again and start anew. I've gone back to my earlier work and started editing one of them - and discovered something. I really like the story. Why did I put it away? Why did I let it languish?

Maybe I needed time to hone my craft or to be able to look at it with fresh eyes. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I went back to it. I know the story will be all the better for my having waited.

In the meantime, there's this other story I have an idea for...

As for other stories... my newest release is Prime Time - a futuristic romance that takes place on the moon. It is available for purchase from www.captivapress.com

When it comes to righting wrongs, there's no time like Prime Time.

Deena is a Prime, born and raised to Porter parents in the Lunar habitats. Life is hard, but with a rag-tag group of friends, she gets by.

Jake is a wealthy Techie, part of an elite security force searching out the source of the deadly drug Utopia. He can't imagine the hardships Deena and other Porters have endured and is determined to make a difference.

Deena reluctantly teams up with the hunky Techie. With the help of other Primes, both realize that not only is the danger to them all far more deadly than Jake and his team first imagined, but that love doesn't care about class and status. Can they stop the seemingly untouchable Utopia suppliers before time runs out for them all?

Contains some sensual scenes of m/f sexuality.
Vicky’s career includes work as a technical writer/editor, a stringer for a local newspaper, and an editor and copy editor for e-publishers. At various times in her life, she has been a teacher, a secretary, a short-order cook, a computer specialist, a DJ, and a librarian. She’s married to the most supportive guy in the universe and, with him, raised four great kids. She currently has novels and novellas under both her name, and her alter-ego, Victoria Allen, published with Captiva Press, Ellora's Cave, and Draumr Publishing. You can view her website at: http://burkholv.wordpress.com

Friday, June 10, 2011

GUEST BLOG: JOANNE TROPPELLO

Brand your name; don’t promote your book
by
Joanne Troppello

That’s a strong statement, I know, but I wanted to capture your attention. 

Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Michael Crichton, James Patterson, Anne Rice, Mary Higgins Clark…we all know those names or at least a good portion of them.  So what’s my point?  Just that…we know their names; we don’t all remember the names of their books.

Your fans are not going to always be able to spout off the titles of all your books, but if they like your work and if you’ve become popular, they will remember your name.  If they know your name, they can easily find you online or in the bookstores.  When they find your website, then they can look up your books.  When they go to the bookstores, they can find your specific titles. 

As an author, hopefully you will continually be writing more books.  Your readers may not always know your current works, but they’ll keep track of what you’re working on and when your new releases come out.  So, how do we, waiting for the day we’ll be on the best seller lists, brand our names and market ourselves as authors?

That question being put out there, you still, of course, need to work hard on marketing each of your books, but the way to really become popular is to market your name. 

One of the best ways to brand yourself is to have a website.  You always need to have an online presence; that includes branding yourself in the social media networks.  Another good idea is that you should continuously try to write articles in your trade, and post them in free online writing networks.  Usually, you just need to register and then you can begin posting articles; sometimes certain sites will need to review your articles first.  These sites will allow readers to link to your profile, where they can follow a link to your website.  Other online article posting sites allow you to list a byline with a direct link to your website. 

You must remember that you are your greatest fan and you need to take advantage of that fact and promote yourself wherever you go.  Of course, some people may feel this is taking you down to ego-land, but there are ways to promote yourself and your work without seeming to be overbearing.  I don’t usually like to be in the center of attention, but as my husband mentioned the other day, I’m an author now and I’d better get used to it. 

Join writers groups and other writing associations and always attach your byline in everything that you write and have your “elevator speech” prepared and ready to use at all times.  So what’s an elevator speech?  It’s a short pitch on something you’re trying to market and since you’re trying to market yourself, be prepared to tell people that you are an author and when your next book is going to be released.  Be ready to hand out a business card or at least be able to give out your website. 

Blogging is another way to brand your name.  You always want your readers, potential readers and the press to go to your website.  You can do this by offering them something.  How do you do that?  You need to provide good content that is always updated.  That’s why it’s good to have a blog directly on your website or if you have it through another online service, to at least have the blog link prominently displayed on your site.  You can even create a newsletter.  This will be a bit more time consuming than writing a daily or weekly blog, but it is something that you can think about as you get farther along in your writing career. 

Don’t forget to keep on promoting your name.  You are your biggest fan!  Make your marketing count!  

As a romantic suspense and inspirational romance author, I write contemporary romance with a classic feel.  I am also a freelance writer / marketing consultant, located in Pennsylvania.  I have two books published.  Shadowed Remembrances is a mystery novel and Mr. Shipley's Governess is an inspirational romance novel, published through Wild Horse Press.  Several different companies have contracted me to write non-fiction, how-to articles each week.  I also work as a freelance marketing consultant for a local medical organization and I manage facebook and twitter accounts for different clients.  I love to write and read and spend time with my family. 

Website: http://www.joannetroppello.weebly.com

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Sara Reinke

This post is part of Sara Reinke's Name Before the Masses Virtual Book Tour. To keep up with the tour, please see her tour schedule.

13 Things You Hate/Love About Writing


1. Love — the “a-ha!” moments when everything in your plot click and come together

2. Hate — the “dammit” moments when nothing in your plot seems to be working out as you’d planned

3. Love — creating new characters; envisioning how they look, sound and act, imagining a background/back story for them and watching as they grow and develop throughout the course of a story

4. Hate — when I can’t find the right “tone” for a character, but I feel like I’m almost there. I don’t know what the character is missing, but I know he or she isn’t fully realized or represented yet. These are bang-your-head-into-keyboard moments.

5. Love — the way I lose myself in my writing when I’m “in the zone”

6. Hate — writer’s block. More bang-your-head-into-keyboard moments.

7. Love — building passion between my characters, watching as they fall in love on the page

8. Hate — when my hero does something stupid to mess up the perfectly good relationship I’ve been building for him

9. Love — to hear from readers who get my stories, who are as excited and enthusiastic about them as I am

10. Hate — reviews that only say things like “I hated this book” without offering any reasons why—because I might agree if something doesn’t work for them and try to resolve in future books

11. Love — being in charge of my own career path now by self-publishing; by investing in myself and my stories and putting out the best stories that I can—that I want to write

12. Hate — being my own boss. I keep denying my own requests for vacation time.

13. Love — all of the wonderful, amazing people (readers and writers alike) I’ve been fortunate enough to meet over the past few years. Every single one of them has enriched both my writing and my life, and I’m immeasurably grateful.

"Definitely an author to watch." That's how Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine describes Sara Reinke. New York Times best-selling author Karen Robards calls Reinke "a new paranormal star" and Love Romances and More hails her as "a fresh new voice to a genre that has grown stale." Dark Thirst and Dark Hunger, the first two books in her Brethren Series of vampire romance are available now from Kensington/Zebra Books. The third installment, Dark Passion, is available in print and ebook formats from Double Dragon Publishing. Her latest release, Backwoods, is available in multiple ebook formats, as well as paperback. Visit online at www.SaraReinke.com.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GUEST BLOG: DIANE DAVIS WHITE

The Cowboy Wore Tartan is the first book in a six book series. When 4 brothers and 2 half brothers meet and marry, they are steered toward their prospective mates by their Wily old grandfather, the Patriarch of the family.

This is a fun series, lighthearted and playful, with gradually increasing heat levels until the last book, The Chickasaw Wore Plaid, turns up the heat to scorching. I planned the books this way to entice the reader to step a little further into the fire with each book.

The Campbell's are coming to Texas and things will never be the same!

Archie Campbell and his business partner, Graham Macdonald conspire to increase their floundering business by using their grandchildren in an ad campaign, posing as a happily married couple. The only problem is getting the younger generation to cooperate.

Tav Macdonald isn't keen on marriage, even a pretend one. Yet his first sight of the lovely Vanessa Campbell has him rethinking his position on the matter.

Vanessa Campbell has no intention of indulging her wily old grandfather's scheme to marry her off to a Texas Rancher. Seeing the handsome cowboy, however, gives her pause to reconsider the idea.

This book is available at Kindle as well as FictionWise and All Romance eBooks. Be sure and get your copy soon and begin the slow burn that eventually erupts into a roaring bonfire of passion.

Excerpt:

"Last night has nothing to do with today, Tav. You’ve been promising to show me the ranch. What better way than to have me along while you do your chores?"

"Watch yourself, missy. I might put you to work."

"I’m game," came her snappy answer. "We have horses and cattle and sheep in the highlands. On a much smaller scale than this of course, but I’m no stranger to what you call wrangling. I’ve even mended a fence or two in my time."

"You? Mend fence?" Tav let a scoffing sound escape. That mistake cost him a stinging slap across the rear with a rawhide glove for his insolence. He turned and snatched the glove out of Nessa’s hand. "Lady, if you want me to turn you over my knee, right here, right now, in full sight of every man on this ranch, do that one more time."

"You sound so ferocious, Mactavish." She smiled wickedly. "Too bad I know you so well. You’d never dare—"

He didn’t know what made him do it. One minute he was holding her glove and glaring at her, the next minute he’d grabbed her around the waist and slung her over his shoulder. He headed for the barn. Nessa squirmed and squealed. He just held on firmly and slapped her shapely rear once when she wiggled so hard they almost fell in the mud.

Once in the shelter of the barn, he closed the wide double doors and turned to face her. Nessa had backed up to the far wall. There was no escape. He grinned. The woman was conveniently close to the ladder to the loft. Every frustration he’d felt for her from the moment he’d laid eyes on her, every sleepless night, and lust filled thought merged into one mindless drive. He took a step, then another, moving in on his prey.

Primeval hunger blinded him. Like a conquering clansman taking the spoils of war. She looked so defenseless, though she didn’t cower. Her eyes were trained on him—huge, startled, so blue no sky could match the shade. She held herself poised as though to run—or fight.

Tav’s blood surged, pushing him painfully against his zipper at the thought of wrestling her to the ground, tearing away the cloth that separated their flesh. Her lips parted slightly, tongue darting out to lick the corner of her mouth. God help him, he was going to ravish her.

He closed the distance, halting inches from her. One hand came up of its own volition, stroking the silky flesh of her throat. He heard a growling noise, not recognizing it as coming from his throat. Tracing the contours of her finely molded facial bones, he allowed his other hand to circle her nape, drawing her up toward his mouth.

"Stop, Tav. Please."

Her softly spoken plea barely registered as he took her lips, silencing her words. Nibbling at her lips, sucking them, pressuring them apart with his tongue, he mindlessly devoured her mouth, coming alive as she responded, stroking her tongue against his with the same frantic urgency.

He pressed her to the wall, lifting her to fit him, sliding a knee between her thighs. She closed her self around him and the damp heat of her seeped through their clothing, burning his muscled flesh as she moved against him.



I grew up in Southern California, but my heart has always been in the wide open plains of the Heartland. When I write, I see the images so clearly, it's as though I'm there. My stories flow from the heart, and when someone tells me the like my work, I am content. Sometimes I think I was born writing, and have been doing so since I could put pen to paper. My first efforts at short stories began when I was in the first grade, and I took a sabbatical to raise a husband and two sons, then returned to the craft I love.

I write for pleasure, mainly western historical with Native American Heroes, the occasional contemporary romance and also bit of whimsical fantasy. My heroes are always modeled after my late husband, whose Chickasaw heritage inspires me. Alpha heroes are the only kind I write, and they have to be compassionate, passionate and intelligent or they never make it to the page. My published work includes Native American Romance and I'm published in several anthologies as well. Along with writing, I've branched out to produce book trailer videos.

Visit my websites at

www.dianedaviswhite.com or www.heartsentvideos.com

email me at diane @ dianedaviswhite . com

Check out my blog at http://dianedaviswhite.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

GUEST BLOG: BELINDA ROBERTS

TEN THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT BELINDA ROBERTS, AUTHOR OF MR. DARCY GOES OVERBOARD


• A summers day on the beach in Salcombe is my idea of perfection!

• My favourite books are the Jennings and Darbyshire series by Anthony Buckeridge - never read them in a quiet place as you won’t be able to stop laughing out loud!

* My top entertainers are ‘All the Kings Men’ a cappella group - my son sings with them - but I’m not biased - they are genuinely great!

* The piano in our house is the most prized possession - although I can hardly play, my four children and husband can - so there’s always someone making a noise ...

* I used to enjoy sport but find it hard to keep going ... until December 2010 I got up one day and went for a run before breakfast - and have done so every day since then ... who knows how long it will last!

* Last summer we made a film version of ‘Mr Darcy Goes Overboard’ in Salcombe starring my four children and their friends. Ten hilarious, exhausting nonstop days to film, many hours to edit ...

• I love my Apple Mac xxx

* Cartoons, illustrations, quick sketches - a fine black marker is one of my best friends!

* My children range from age 6 to 22 - one just starting school, one just finishing an MA at Oxford - all the same fabulous husband!

• We are lucky enough to live at a place called Longbourn ...

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard is Belinda Roberts' first novel, although she has written a number of plays including 'Angelica' (pub Samuel French), Beetleheart, Christmas Candy, OTMA's Glory, Starry Night and Vivaldi's Angels. She lives near Stratford upon Avon, England.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a yacht must be in want of a female crew...

The balmy seaside resort town of Salcombe boasts the best in bikinis, sandcastle contests, and a fiercely competitive squad of buff local lifeguards as Regatta Week approaches. And if that weren't enough excitement, Mrs Bennet hears that the splendid villa Netherpollock has been rented by a young man of great fortune. She is determined he'll go out with one of her daughters, until Mr Darcy glides in on his stunning yacht Pemberley and she decides he would be the better catch...

Monday, June 6, 2011

GUEST BLOG: WENDI ZWADUK

A Day In the Life


I’ve been asked lots of times what the life and times of a romance author has to be like. Some people have a preconceived notion that life must be glamorous and thrilling. Some think all I do is sit and stare at the computer screen. I’ll try to walk you through a normal day in the life of Wendi Zwaduk. General attire? Jeans and a comfy tee or hoodie. Socks, because I get cold easily, and at least one animal hanging over my shoulder wanting to know what I’m doing.

7:30 – Time to get up, get tot around, make tot lunch, get tot into bathtub and turn computer on.

8:30 – Take totlet to school, run errands and start the day job. The day job takes me about 4 hours. Lots of computer work, lots of finding things on web pages. It’s not super alluring, but it’s fun and hey, those couple bucks help pay the promo bills. Throw first load of laundry in and fold whatever it was that I forgot to take out of the dryer the last time I did laundry. In this period of time, I tend to forget the laundry is in the washer/dryer and rush to get it done before it gets smelly.

1:00 – if the day job stuff is done, then it’s time to work on writing for a while. Now the muse doesn’t always want to cooperate. So sometimes it’s the time I read blogs, fiddle on my blog, or research for writing. Hey, you gotta have a moment to look at those hotties that fuel the muse. She gets cranky if I don’t. I usually have lunch somewhere in here. Nothing thrilling, just something I tossed in the microwave. I’m still doing laundry and more than likely as I’ve walked past a counter, I think, I should clean that off. I’m a queen of procrastination, so if the muse is being herself, I will end up scrubbing the kitchen down, pledging the wood furniture (you know, using Pledge to clean them), flip around the tv to find noise to listen to while I’m goofing around and glancing at the computer. At least once or twice I beg the muse to stop being so fickle. This is when she sticks her tongue out. Brat.

2:45 – get in line to get tot from school. This is where I people watch. It’s fascinating to see what people do while waiting to pick up their kids. I usually fiddle on my phone to read what’s new on the epublisher pages, who has a new book out, and what I might like to read.

3:30 – tot in car, heading home. Then there’s homework, cuz the tot has to be smart, dinner, cleaning up after dinner, then it’s time to do reading homework. Seems like not a lot, but it takes time.

7:30 – been a 12 hour day, but it’s not over. I’m still catching up on that laundry. I’m working to make sure I don’t forget something in the dryer this time. Then, if I’m lucky, the BFF is around, so there’s the marathon chat session. Yeah, we talk A LOT.

8:30 – tot goes to bed, DH goes to work, now its time for me to try to get something done. If the muse is happy, we write. If she’s still being cranky, then I blog.

See? It’s not thrilling. But it’s my life. I’d love to say I’ve got a cool soundtrack playing while I work and write, but it’s whatever’s on the television or iPod.

What’s your day like? I’d love to know I’m not the only one wandering around in the jeans and tee brigade.

Logan Malone needs an acting job and fast. With his string of broken hearts, his professional life lies in shambles. To resurrect his career, he must audition for a television role which could be the job of a lifetime.

Cass Jenson needs an actor for her made for TV movie. The previous actor dropped out, leaving her stranded. Her savior shows up looking sinfully sexy and totally right for the part, but what part is she auditioning him for - her movie or her bed?

Friday, June 3, 2011

GUEST BLOG: NICKI GREENWOOD

Staying In Your Write Mind


As a writer, you already know the health risks that come with spending hours in a chair. Exercise is important to your physical well-being. There’s another part to that equation, though: your mind, that treasure trove of money-making ideas for the next bestseller.

Your brain is already getting plenty of exercise while you hammer out the latest draft of your book. There’s a theory that engaging your brain regularly with stimulating tasks helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If that holds, we writers should expect to be sharp as a tack for the rest of our lives. But what about the burnout you get after spending all that time plotting how your hero and heroine will reach Happily Ever After? Just as muscles fatigue after hard exercise, your brain needs a rest after all that work.

Sleep is one option ... but don’t count on your brain wanting you to take a restful nap after it’s been running Mach two for eight hours. Your body needs a cooldown after a good run. Your brain needs one too.

Meditation is a wonderful way to eliminate the mental noise after you’re done working for the day. Simply sitting quietly and focusing on one thing, or shutting out stimulation altogether, can quiet your mind and indicate that it’s time to slow down. Try a candle, some music, or a pleasing object. Notice sound, shape, color, or movement. With only one thing to focus on, your brain will relax and ready itself for some much-needed downtime.

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are some other possibilities. These disciplines have the added bonus of relaxing mind and body at the same time. My local park offers free classes during the week. Do a search and find one near you, or borrow a DVD from the library on one of these methods. They’re inexpensive. All you need is yourself, some comfortable clothes, and room to move.

Lastly, don’t forget about real life. Talking with other people stimulates different areas of the brain, with the perk of training your ear for character dialogue. You can also turn to other creative outlets, such as painting or gardening, which will likewise switch your mental gears. Take a dog for a walk. Check out some local artists at a coffee shop. Sit on your porch and watch the world go by. After all that work, you deserve a break. The manuscript will still be there tomorrow, waiting for you to return to Mach two.

About Nicki Greenwood

Nicki Greenwood graduated SUNY Morrisville with a degree in Natural Resources. She found her passion in writing stories of romantic adventure, and combines that with her love of the environment. Her works have won several awards, including the Rebecca Eddy Memorial Contest. Her first book, Earth, debuted in 2010 through The Wild Rose Press.

Nicki lives in upstate New York with her husband, son, and assorted pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys the arts, gardening, interior decorating, and trips to the local Renaissance Faire.

WATER - Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press

Water Elemental Morgan Clifton has finally found somewhere to belong. As the chef at a bed-and-breakfast on beautiful Nantucket Island, she uses her gift—the power to manipulate water—to cook for guests, and even influence the weather. At last, she fits in...and then the bottom drops out. The property’s been sold, and the new buyer rattles her peace of mind from the first word out of his mouth.

Businessman Trent Williams lives on dissolving dreams—dismantling properties and selling off the pieces. When he arrives to buy the Seaglass Inn, the last thing he expects to find is a mysterious chef who won’t leave. The more they battle, the more intrigued he is...especially about the secret she’s hiding.

Trent believes in finance, not family. Morgan longs for the ties that bind. Are they running from each other, or are their clashes the first step to finding true happiness?

For more information on her books or upcoming events, visit Nicki’s website at http://www.nickigreenwood.com.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Lori Foster Q&A

Comments on this guest post enters the commenter into a drawing for one of two print copies of When You Dare. Please make sure you include your email address if it is not included on your public profile so we are able to contact you for your mailing address.

A Q&A WITH LORI FOSTER…

When You Dare, May 2011 (Now on sale!)
Trace of Fever, June 2011 ● Savor the Danger, July 2011

1. Much of WHEN YOU DARE is set in Kentucky. What part? Why this setting? Does the area have special meaning for you? For your family?

I rarely specify a “real” area when writing books, because I find that too limiting. However, when I set stories in Kentucky, I’m usually thinking of Williamstown because that’s where I spent most of my summers growing up. Being on the lake, boating, skiing, swimming, sunning myself and just plain having a great time, are some of my best memories. My parents had a fishing cabin there—one bedroom, small but open space for eating and sitting—and I loved it. No air conditioning, no heat, but who cared? I learned to ski when I was six, and our routine was to put on our jammies for bed, and in the morning we changed back into bathing suits. Not much else was needed.

Being on a lake makes everything better—especially coffee in the morning. You stand on the deck and watch the fog rise off the lake, and peace just settles around you. It’s perfect.

2. Where have you lived? How long?

I’ve lived in Ohio all my life. My husband and I grew up here, went to school here, got jobs here, and now we’ve raised our sons here. Actually, though hubby and I didn’t meet until the 3rd day of our sophomore year of high school, we always lived near each other. I love Ohio, especially the suburbs with the small town vibe. I can’t imagine ever moving away from my family. We’re all pretty close—and I like it that way!

3. Did you enjoy school?

I was not a great student. That is, I got good grades, but never, ever enjoyed school. As an energetic daydreamer, it was an almost painful thing to have to sit still during class. When I hit high school and could pick most of my own classes, I had several writing courses like horror fiction, humor literature, and composition. And I went nuts on art class. Every study hall or free period was spent in the art room. I had an amazing art teacher– a wonderful artist and an eclectic teacher, which was perfect for me.

4. Have you had other jobs in addition to your writing?

I’ve worked as a cashier at Kroger where one of my jobs was also to clean the break room and bring in carts from the lot—through rain and snow and blistering heat. I worked on an assembly line at Procter & Gamble. I’ve also been a babysitter and house cleaner. In comparison, writing is a dream come true! Sure it’s difficult at times, and it really soaks up the hours, but always, with past jobs as a comparison, I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love, to share it with others, and to be compensated too!

5. Motherhood—you were able to stay home with your children. How important was it to be able to do that?

I’m one of those women who would have gone stark raving mad if I’d had to turn my kids over to someone else. I’m the supreme mother hen and a world-class worrier. When I think of what other mothers have gone through—many who didn’t have the same opportunity to stay home with their children—it breaks my heart and again, makes me feel so fortunate and blessed. When the kids were younger—before I’d ever published—my husband and I lived on a very tight budget to make it possible for me to be home, but I’ve never regretted that.


6. Do you ever “steal” attributes from your boys or your husband and give them to your characters? What, if anything, have your learned from living in a houseful of men that has helped you develop your male protagonists?

My kids are hilarious—they get that from their dad. They’re also very physical guys, athletic and protective and outspoken. Alphas for sure. So yes, I’ve often stolen lines, actions, or attitudes from them to use in books.

Living with all guys...well, our house drips testosterone, but it’s so fun! They’re forever amusing, and give me the perfect opportunity to witness “guyness” and to appreciate male traits for how they differ from mine.

7. The family you grew up with—do you have brothers, sisters? If so, are you close? Do they live nearby?

I have an assorted family—which maybe helps explain the less-typical families I write about. I have a sister, step-sister, and a half brother, but none of us thinks in those terms. My stepfather—who passed away recently—was my Dad in every sense of the word. I miss him terribly.
Hubby and I are all about keeping family together and close, so most of the family gatherings happen at our house. We get both sides of the family together as often as we can, which is usually four or five times a year. Depending on nieces and nephews, who has a date and who doesn’t, we can get upwards of 60 people at a time. And we love it! You can never have too much family.

8. What attributes do you share with Dare and Molly? Of course, Molly is a successful writer, so you have that in common. Anything else?

Molly actually came about because of some reader mail I’d gotten—threatening me. I know readers get very invested in stories, and I’m thrilled that they care so much. Occasionally they write me with their frustrations over something that didn’t go quite how they wanted it to, or because they want a character to have a book, but I don’t have a book for that character. That’s fine—I enjoy hearing from them. But threats? Well, I’ve had a few that crossed the line. That’s not the typical reader, and it can be worrisome.

After one particular threat, the idea for Molly and the elements of the storyline dealing with one of her readers as a suspect took shape in my mind.

I love hearing from readers, whether they liked a book or not. But, just like Molly, I think my privacy is important, too.

9. How did the first Reader & Author Get Together come about?

Dianne Castell and I wanted to do a “thank you” to the community of readers and writers, and we envisioned it as being very small. We thought if we got a dozen people, we’d be happy—but our first year, we got around 100 attendees.

From there, it’s grown like crazy! We love to visit with other readers and authors, and we know they enjoy it too, so we’ve worked hard to keep the laid-back, easy atmosphere of the event so that lots of chit chat is possible, while at the same time doing something really worthwhile—like donating our raffle money to great local charities and bringing in agents and editors so newer authors can pitch their work to them in person, and longtime readers can get questions answered.
By dipping into our own pockets, and thanks to donations from publishers and agencies, we’ve kept the price a very affordable $50. This year is our seventh Get Together here in the Cincinnati and Dayton metro area and it will benefit One Way Farm’s Children’s Home. Information is on my site and registration ended May 19th. And Saturday’s big book signing is open to the public. Come by and see us! http://www.lorifoster.com/community/readergettogether.php

10. What is your professional schedule moving forward?

Currently I’m hard at work on another single title, but ask me in a week or so and that answer could be different. 2011 has been wonderful so far with an anthology in March titled The Guy Next Door, and then a new single title series out May, June and July—When You Dare, Trace of Fever, and Savor the Danger, with some part of the hero’s name in each title. (P.S. There’s a bit of a link between The Guy Next Door and my three new novels. Although the books tie together by characters, each can be read alone.)

Also in June is another “benefit anthology,” which is a pet project of mine where proceeds from the anthology go to a local charity. In 2011 the anthology is The Promise of Love and, as do the proceeds from the Seventh Annual Reader & Author Get Together, it will benefit One Way Farm, a home for abused and abandoned children.

11. What made you decide to write?

I was always a daydreamer and I always had stories in my head. But I didn't know I wanted to write until I was grown and already had 3 sons. Then I got sick once (like with pneumonia) and because I felt too yucky to even get out of bed, my sister brought me over a bag of romance novels. I was instantly hooked! Almost immediately, probably within two years, I went from being a reader to wanting to write the same type of books I loved to read.

12. How many revisions does each manuscript go through before you submit?

In the earlier stages of my career, quite a few! But now, not much revising at all. I do most of my revising in my head long before I ever sit down to write.
Each new day, I reread what I wrote the day before and make any changes that are necessary. This way, when I finish the story, it really is finished! Having said that, I still read the book several more times. Once for the line edit, where the editor makes corrections to things like spelling, continuity, etc.

Then the copy editor goes through and generally puts in a lot of commas and semi colons that I then take back out. (Reading the copy edited manuscript is the hardest part for me. Copy editors really, really don't understand things like dialogue and male or female point of view. Makes me nuts!)

Then you get the galleys, which is the last stage of the editing process. The galleys show you exactly how the book will be printed. I read the galleys very, very closely to try to catch errors. Unfortunately, at that point, my eyes often go right over typos because my brain knows what should be there, and just compensates.

* Funny story - I was once reading galleys where the heroine had her hand knotted in the hero's shirt. Only the "r" was missing from shirt. Think about it. Now there's a whole new meaning! Good thing I caught that one, or the book would have been printed with that in it.

13. What do you think about reviewers?

There are some who are wonderful. They're professional and articulate and they get their point across - favorably or not so favorably - without resorting to grade school rudeness. They do a great service to readers who don't want to waste money on a book they might not enjoy.

Then there are some who are just nasty and are looking for an outlet. I feel really bad for anyone who immerses herself in ugliness. I see it as a bid for attention, and the fact that they need to do that is really very sad.