Thursday, December 29, 2011

Auld Lang Syne II - I've Come A Long Way, Baby

I wasn't going to post until Monday, after the holiday, but just for fun, I was skimming through my old posts to see what the last few New Year's were like, and well, here I am.

Three years ago I catered a wedding on New Year's Eve. I forgot all about that. My first last and only job in NC. It was icy raining, I had to drive UP a mountainside, and then back down. I did not like the people, they did not like me. The groomsmen were drunk as pigs, the bride was a demanding little bee-yotch, the father hit on me, and the only people I really talked to were the dogs. A far cry from my catering clientele in Rhode Island. (I'm not casting aspersions, I'm just saying it's different down here is all.)

I had also, during the course of that year, finished writing and querying MASQUERADE. Lots of interest, no takers. I'm still thinking it's all about the sex, or lack thereof. But you know, I still stand by that. I don't need to write sex to have a good book.

Two years ago, I was still writing THE LADY'S FATE but calling it MisMatched. I was also in the throes of trying to put together a YA (yeah, I know huh - I do still like that story and think it might be a good one to finish but not right now.) I thought about going on a diet, and you know what happened to that thought. I finished REMEMBERING YOU and queried that. I really thought I was going to land an agent with that one. And well, things happened to make me take a really hard look at my writing life.

Now last year at this time, I wrote a post (which you can find here) and after re-reading it, I thought WOW, that was really prolific. Now I'm not saying I'm a prolific writer by any means, but every once in a while I do have a moment. And that was mine. I built my fence. Thinking on it now, it's like a giant mandala, and I suppose that was the purpose of it all along. Only I didn't know that then.

This year, looking back, I have accomplished a lot. I'm very proud of me. Certain things, not so much, but for the most part I'm pretty happy with the decisions I've made. I've made mistakes, sure, who hasn't, there were probably a lot of things I should have done differently, but I made my choices and there we have it. No changing it now.

Looking ahead, I can only take it one day at a time. Because joy happens in life, and you have to be ready to accept it, and you know what else, so does shit. And somehow it all evens itself out.

It's not fun being a writer sometimes. It's a head game for the most part. It's also very lonely and isolating and if I didn't have you guys, I wouldn't be where I am today.

No, I'm not going to sing again, but I want to thank you all for being there for me. Being a writer is a tough job. Being a published author is even harder. You have to love it with your whole heart. Dreams really do come true, and it's within each and every one of you to make your own a reality.

So Happy New Year my friends. May you all find your heart's desire in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Holiday Surprise

I was recently asked to prepare a little holiday post for Sia McKye's blog "Over Coffee" and I am honored it's up today. It features my latest heroine, Miss Ophelia Trent. And in the version for Sia, I've only allowed 1200 words to capture her spirit, and only one man to capture her heart.

In the novella, (which will be out in January) Miss Trent finds there is something to be said for waiting until you're older before you marry.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Wishing you all the joy of the holiday season. I'll see you in January sometime.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Finding My Feet

After last Friday's post, I feel a lot better about my new life as a published author. And it's all due to YOU. My blog friends. Listen now, as I break out into song, but please by all means hear Josh Grobin.

You lift me up....

Sorry, I'll stop now.

Anyway, in trying to deal with all those twisted emtions, stepping away from the blogs for awhile was a given. I had to. Besides the fact I was a dribbling sniveling mess, one of the reasons I decided to take a hiatus was because of all the pressure (real or imagined) that people expect you to blog about important stuff once you're published. That you "know" things other writers don't. That the wisdom you've gained should be shared with everybody else. And believe me, if I had it, I would have shared it. See, but the problem was, I ain't no smarter now than I was before September 29th. It's still the same incoherent babbling.

The other reason I needed to take a hiatus was because my father is not doing so well. He's had a few ups and downs over the last few years, but this last bout (since I published actually) has had him in and out of doctors offices and hospitals at least twice a week so it's been a lot of emotional upheaval in more ways than one. He's holding his own for the time being, has an appointment with another specialist after the holidays, so hopefully they can figure out what the f*ck is wrong with him. (He's had ALL the tests, ALL the scans, ALL the bloodwork, and no one can give him a definitive answer why he feels like shit all the time.) So I'm over there a lot. (My life with my parents has always been complicated and whether they support me in my book writing is neither here nor there. They're still my parents and I do love them dearly.)

The third reason I needed to step away for awhile is I needed to get on with the process of finishing the next novel in my series -- THE DUKE'S DIVORCE. Between The Monster and being at my parent's beck and call, it's been a little dodgy finding the time to really get the flow I'm looking for, but I can report, I am now at 68,736 words, so I'm 2/3 done.

Any published author will tell you, after the first book comes out, there's this INCREDIBLE mind numbing PRESSURE to produce another book, whether traditionally pubbed or indie. And I took the responsibility of placing it on myself. Let me just say, there were a few days where I thought I was really going to throw in the towel. Ask Bridget, she can attest to the upheaval with email I sent her. I thought I was going to explode.

But, I found out, I can only write a book so fast, or slow, they all come out one word at a time. And even then, sometimes for every 15 written, I have to delete 14. You know how it goes.

Anyway, what this rambly post means, is that, I guess I'm still on hiatus, but I've found my feet, so to speak. I can stand upright for now. I can breathe. I can tell you stuff, just because I can, because I know you'll listen and I don't have to impress you. I can just be me. I may not be around like I used to be, but I'm still here. I love you guys, I really do, and I wouldn't be where I am without each and every one of you.

You lift me up...

Sorry. I'll stop now, but you know what I mean. And sorry in advance for making that song stick in your head for the rest of the day.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Happens to Us?

I've been floating around the blogs the last few days and ran across an interesting thread from published authors that's really resonated with me. I was going to keep silent on it, but I've found, yeah, I need to say something.

It's an interesting phenomenon that happens to writers after they become published. Elana Johnson, Tahera Mafi, Michelle Davidson Argylle, and Jody Hedlund have all voiced their emotional upheaval. I felt the same thing after my book showed up on the Kindle. I was overwhelmed with how many books were bought, yet down-hearted that it wasn't enough. But what did I expect? I would sell a million copies overnight, that one of the agents who rejected me would call and say, "oh yes, I was so foolish to let you go, let me offer you a contract now", that I would become the next overnight sensation because I had finally self-published this "thing" that I'd been working on for two years.

I know there are differences between indie authors and traditional authors, but the feelings are basically the same. I take from Elana, lost and alone. I put my book out there and waited for the accolades, the kudo's the press, and nothing. I take from Tahera, that giddy feeling of going into a bookstore (although, I have to check my Kindle stats every 3 hours) and staring at the cover, feeling the pride, yet not wanting to be conceited about it. I take from Michelle the overwhelming jealousy over what someone else has. My own crazy insanity that another author got 57 reviews overnight and I only had three for two months.

I have done something no one else in my family ever did, but my family doesn't care. Not one note of congratulations, not one encouraging e-mail. NOT ONE. Like, who cares, it's just Anne, being Anne again, just another one of her hare-brained schemes to make money (I refer back to my catering business -- they all said I couldn't do that either.) This hurts so badly you can't imagine. My own family doesn't give a shit that my name is on a book. That it's being read by 182 people whom I've never met. If that doesn't make you a little emotional, then nothing will.

And so, after three months of watching and waiting for the "big break", I finally came to the conclusion, there's nothing any different about being a writer than there is about being a chef, or a cab driver, or a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. When the next day dawns, you put on your pants, brush your teeth and go to work. I just happen to work from home, downstairs in my basement.

The expectations that life is going to change in some dramatic way after we are published are fed to us, by us, by other writers, in where we read about the debut author snagging that million dollar movie deal. We want to be JK, Stephanie, Kristen. We want it to be us. Desperately. (And if you say you don't, you're lying. Okay that's a blanket statement, so I take it back, but we all do think at least once, how fab it would be to be famous.) We want the awards, the fame, the hype, but when it doesn't come (to most of us) we're left feeling out of sorts in our own skin, and wonder who it was that we could blame for lying to us, who told us this was the way life was going to be when you get published.

And we find, it was only ourselves.

Yes, I do take pride in all I've accomplished, but what I need to remember is, I'm just a writer who wrote a book. Sure, I'll be jealous, and afraid, and excited, and overwhelmed by all these crazy emotions. The feelings of abandonment, despair, elation, joy, and trepidation are just the natural process of evolving from writer to published author. Kind of the same feelings after you've had a baby.

But what I've found through these last three months, is to just let it go, and get on with what I do best. Love my daughter, pen my next stories, and catch up with the laundry.

What else is there really?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Monster Child

Seven years ago today at 7:02 am, weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces, and 17 and a quarter inches, (don't know what it is with the 7's, hope they're lucky) my Monster was born (after 28 hours of labor I might add.)

She looked like a chipmunk, slept like an owl, and ate like a baby gorilla. I guess now I know where she gets her love of animals from. She was a lot of fun back then, I'd dress her up in her little outfits and we'd go to all sorts of places. We could never go anywhere without being accosted by at least 5 little old ladies who wanted to ooh and ahh over the most beautiful baby in the world. Kind of like a hot guy with a puppy on the beach, but not.

Evertime we went to my parents house, my father would make me take off her shoes and socks so he could kiss her toes. Yeah, I know, eewww, but hey, he's my father. My mother bought her all kinds of "princess" attire because, well, what else do you buy for a baby as beautiful as this?

During the last 7 years, I never thought my life would become what it has. There's been a lot of ups and downs, moves, changes in lifestyle, that I never thought I would ever do, but you know how it goes -- a baby changes everything. Truthfully, if she wasn't around, I think I would still be stuck in a restaurant somewhere spending my paychecks on shoes I would only wear once, dating the wrong kinds of men, and trying to keep up with Giada and The Barefoot Contessa. I can say without any doubt, I never would have written, or finished, any of my books, let alone published them.

The Monster has kept me grounded through all the joys and triumphs, bad times and uncertainty. For such a litle person, she's kept my head on straight, because it's not about ME anymore, it'a all about HER. And I don't even think I have to tell you how spoiled she is.

I can't tell you how much I am in love with her because that would take volumes. I thank God everyday for allowing me to have her in my life. She's smart, kind, a whizz at baseball, loves math (of all things), reads voraciously, (wonder where she got that from), forgets when I yell at her, writes me love notes all the time, and has an appetite the size of a grown gorilla. (The kid could eat macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

Happy Birthday Monster Baby! You've made all my dreams come true.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy, safe, and fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday.

I also wanted to say, I'm going to be taking a hiatus. There're so many things I've been needing to get done, and I'm finding 24 hours in a day is just not enough. Something has to be set aside for the nonce, and I'm afraid, my darlings it's you. As I'm sure you've noticed in the last few weeks, I haven't been around to many of your blogs and I do apologize. It's not you, it's me. I just can't seem to find the time.

I'm hoping to get everything accomplished by mid-December, but one never knows how long this "stuff" will take. And if I don't see you before Christmas (which I sincerely hope not) I want to wish you all the best and brightest for the holiday season.

I will have posts up on my author web-site if you feel the need to stop by and see my shiny face. I only post on Monday over there.

So, I hope all your NaNo dreams come true. I pray you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. I wish the best holiday season for you and your family.

I'll talk to you all soon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On The Grille -- Book Review House of Diamonds

On Today's Menu -- Karen Jones Gowan & HOUSE OF DIAMONDS

I recently finished Karen's book HOUSE OF DIAMONDS, the follow-up to her UNCUT DIAMONDS. I probably should have read the first book first. I sort of kind of knew H of D was a sequel, but didn't really think about it until I got into it and realized I was missing part of the story.

As the book opens, Marci (the main character) is facing a sort of mid-life crisis: inasmuch as she is the mother of seven (yes 7!) children, her husband is away on business (yet when he's home, he's also a high ranking member of their church and therefore not around very much), her passion about her writing is forcing her to make choices about her life she's not quite comfortable with, and her house seems to be falling apart around her ears.

I felt for Marci. As a non-practicing member of any faith, I was struck by how much Marci relied on God to provide the answers to her questions. (She's a Mormon.) And when her sister's child is diagnosed with a brain tumor, that faith is sorely tested. (This part of the book made my heart bleed. As a mother, I felt the pain and anguish poor Cindy had to go through with Baby Jordan.)

Marci tells a tale of hardship, but also incredible hope that one day she will be able to work on her dream -- of becoming a writer. With 7 kids, and an almost non-existent husband, I felt her pain. As a woman, I could so understand her need for "me" time. As a writer, I could definitely feel her frustration that there was simply just not enough time in the day. Add to that, a memorable conversation in K-mart at Christmas with a snobby college professor (who I so wanted to smack upside the head), and poor Marcie's passion for writing is subsequently squashed. I felt so bad for her.

And let me just say, that not having read the first book, I was uncertain of why she picked HOUSE OF DIAMONDS for her title. I didn't get it, and looked for some measure of metaphor throughout. Not until the very last page did the title come into play and I thought it was very apt.

I liked this book. I could relate to Marci and her struggles. It almost felt autobiographical at times and that lent it an endearing quality. This book also gave a lot of insight in what it means to be a Mormon, (something I had absolutely no idea about, other than the fact they can't drink coffee) and how in times of great stress people of faith seek comfort.

I have a few questions for Karen --

Is this book autobiographical? In some aspects it must be, you seem to draw from personal experiences.

Both Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds are highly autobiographical, although details of certain instances have been tweaked for narrative flow and fictional purposes. During all those years of me (like Marcie) wanting so desperately to write and being unable to find the time, guess what I wrote? Pages and pages in my journals, and these are what I drew from in writing the two Diamond novels. If I wanted, I could continue the saga of the McGills as they pull up roots in central Illinois and move to San Jose, CA, and then to Utah where the children have come of age. Because it's all there in my head, my heart and my journals.

Is the story about Baby Jordan true? This really ripped my heart out.

This story is very much the truth, and my sister who Cindy is based on was good enough to send me copies of the journals she kept during this time. Descriptions of what the doctors were doing and even things that were said to her are taken directly from her journals. It was such an intense story on its own it required very little fictionalization.

And what about the "professor" and his cutting Marcie down in K-mart - that she would never be a real writer? Had someone said those awful things to you? (This read so "real" to me, I couldn't help feeling upset at his insensitivity.) And if so, how did you manage to put those feelings aside and write a book?

This did not actually happen, although there was an arrogant college professor who was a member of JAW, my writing group. The scene where Marcie presents her ideas about Stephen King and the professor's subsequent scoffing really did happen. I just exaggerated and made him even more of a jerk than he already was, because that is just oh so satisfying! But let me say that House of Diamonds is set in the 1980's and the entire writing/publishing world was much different back then. It was difficult for a woman to break in, especially one from a little Midwestern town. Back then women went to New York to be writers, because they often had to work in the industry, or know someone in the industry to get a book published. So even though he didn't say those words to me, it's the kind of sentiment that was often expressed about a wife and mother wanting to write, even a decade after the women's liberation movement.

Thanks so much, Karen for allowing me the privilege of reading HOUSE OF DIAMONDS.

You can find Karen's books here at Amazon
and here at B&N

Also, House of Diamonds is available at the new online bookstore in all formats.

And there's a 2 for 1 sale! Preorder print book House of Diamonds from the publisher's website and get Uncut Diamonds for free!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Case You Didn't Hear

My fabulous friend, J. Bridget Chicoine, has recently been signed with Rhemalda Publishing. UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright will hit the shelves next October, but let me tell you, I've had the honor of reading this book, and you need to put it on your TBR list right now. Bridget is a literary genius, and writer extraordinaire, and you will not want to miss this book.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm at Nicki's Today

I'm over at Nicki Elson's today where we'll be dishing about writing, naturally, my overlapping series concept, and why I love a good corset.

It's going to be a good time.

Oh, and she did the magic with YouTube and found my most favoritest song in the whole world, so there's that too.

Hope you'll stop by!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Save a Turtle

A couple of months ago, I ran a blog post "Write a Blog Post, Save a Dog". Unfortunately, I only found out about it on Friday and posted on Saturday so not too many people got word.

However, I found out about THIS early enough, so I all hope you'll help. It's about the slaughter of innocent ENDANGERED sea turtles in the British Virgin Islands.


The British Virgin Islands has a Sea Turtle Hunting season December 1st through March 31st.
They are legally allowed to harvest Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles, both endangered animals.
Hawksbill turtles (must be 15+inches carapace length) and Green turtles (24 +inches carapace length) but these sizes still put them in the late juvenile / sub-adult age and the fact they do not have a size limit is even worse since those are the ones probably nesting here but live elsewhere.
There is a moratorium on loggerhead turtles, leatherback turtles, & all sea turtle eggs.

So I signed a petition to Ralph T. O'Neal, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, which says:

""Stop the legal harvesting of endangered sea turtles in the British Virgin Islands""

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:


Karl Pytlik


If we don't stop this, we might not have these great turtles anymore. And what will we tell our kids if we don't? It's just a click to sign your name. They're not asking for money, just a signature. C'mon, look at that face. How can you say no?

Thanks to Bish Denham for pointing this out to me.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Good Morning. I was recently given a gift by the lovely Anne R. Allen of the book INDIE CHICKS an anthology of personal stories from Indie women writers.

If you are woman

A writer

A Mom

A survivor

If you are overwhelmed, prone to anxiety, unsure, or just have no clue how to manage writing and the stress of real life at the same time

This book is for you.

Twenty-five personal essays from women Indie Writers that will leave you laughing, crying, shaking your head, and saying, "Oh my God, that is so MY life."

Not only are there the personal essays, but sneak peeks into the latest books of the writers and where to find them on the interwebs. I put so many books on my TBR list just compiled from this anthology, my reading list will take me into 2014 I'm sure.

This book is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC and I can't rave about it enough.

Also, all proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for cancer research, so it's a win-win all the way around.

You can buy it here on Amazon.


In other news, I'm posting tomorrow on a special cause that won't cost you anything but a click of your mouse, so please, please, please stop by. Here's a hint... and with that face, you won't be able to say no.


And I'll be at Nicki's on Wednesday for another interview, and she found my favorite song in the whole world on You Tube, so I hope you'll swing by for that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- BOOKS!

Traditional ones, indie ones, books that speak of rocks.
Short ones, long ones, books made with great

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit
the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack,
Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is
purchase the
book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and
then email the receipt to:


She will
then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are
not familiar with String Bridge,
check out the book trailer:

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page,
yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of
heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as
with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and
musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge
is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the
difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout,
seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that
allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world
begins to unravel …
String Bridge is
a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a
hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer
of great skill and depth.
She doesn't pull back from the difficult
scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds
barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop
character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her
next novel, and next and next.”
~ Karen Jones
Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

ALSO Ali Cross and a few of her Ninja Crew have all released today.

There's a Twitter feed that's also happening at 11am (MST) at #DARKCARMA with great prizes and book give-aways so go join in the fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

At the Grille -- R Mac Wheeler

Good morning everyone. We're straying a bit from my usual posting. As you can see, my blog has been taken over by this giant. I've long wanted to do an interview with my absolutely fabulous crit partner Mac Wheeler, and after having gone round in a number of conversations, he finally consented.

Mac's a prolific writer, authoring over 19 books, and has finally gone the self-publishing route, putting his BLACK LAKE series out to Kindle. Filled with ogres, orcs, dragons, wizards, daemons and trolls, it's a character driven fantasy epic that enthralls and delights those who have a hankering for the "other" side of life.

1. How did you end up becoming a writer?

Sitting at a traffic light one day on my way to work, my door flung open and an ogre ripped me out of my car. I knew he was an ogre just like that. Ya can't miss the tusks and snout, let me tell ya. He dragged me along on this epic journey to secure peace for his warlock and witch friends. Oh, the stories I could tell ya about them dragons we came 'cross. We experienced many near-death events that changed me—in a dark way, let me tell ya. We became great friends after a time (wrapping up each other's knife wounds, wizard afflictions and such can bring two critters together like nothing else), and I decided to dedicate my life to erasing the unfair prejudice against ogres and their cousins (orcs, dwarves, elves, trolls, goblins and daemons). They aren't such bad folks. Just misunderstand. Just because them trolls think centipedes make a great snack….

2. What is your favorite genre to write?

Non-fiction—such things as brain surgery and rocket science. But since I don't know much attall about those things, I make up lies about my neighbors and their late night séances, my ogre and elf friends and such. Actually most what I right about is the bare butt truth, cross my heart. I just change the names to protect the guilty, as they say.

3. Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?

As a former draftsman, I've used many different plotting devices, but I can't imagine why anyone would refer to themselves as a graphic printing apparatus. During a recent trip to Black Lake, I met a wizard who went by the name The Muse. Funny coincidence you would ask about him. He was a cranky, smelly troll though, and I wouldn't follow him out of a blizzard.

4. What do you read? Who are your favorite authors?

I read the back of the cereal box every morning. I have the intention of one day pulling the A section of the encyclopedia out and starting on a new world exploration. But that sounds like a lot of work. Tony the Tiger has interesting things to say.

5. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I like to stay up into the wee morn' hours and watch my drunken neighbor stagger into his house (if he gets started in the right direction—sometimes he doesn't, and ends up at Tom's house, but since his key doesn't fit Tom's door….) Most of my stories are naked truth. Cross my heart. My ogre friend and I experienced many a knee slapper crisscrossing the Range. Oh, let me tell you about this one ogre bar wench we met with the grandest pair of….

6. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Getting the right edge on my quill. Aggravating as all get out how quickly those things get rubbed to a stub and you have to start all over. I mean, really. Can't they develop a better method for getting ideas on parchment?

7. How long were you trying to get published before you decided to self-publish?

I woke up last Tuesday and said I just ought to do it. I grabbed up a handful of my scrolls and went down to the corner where this printer set up a shop a few years back. I told him what I wanted to do and he just glared at me. Well, I'll tell you that put a damper on my publishing plans, so I came home and opened a Kerr jar of brew and read the back of my cereal box for an hour until I calmed down.

8. What is the most surprising thing you discovered during the self-publishing process?

After a couple Kerr jars, the print on the back of the cereal box gets right fuzzy.

9. The Black Lake series consists of four books. Give me a little blurb on each.

There's volume one. Volume two. Volume three. And volume four. I gotta tell ya I went through a ton of quills.

Mac on Kindle

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm On the Veranda Today

Good Morning. Today I have the honor and priviledge of hanging out on the veranda with Christine Glover. She's going to interview me, a la Barbara Walters style. I've long admired Christine's interviews with other authors and I can't believe she's going to interview ME! I'm so excited. So I hope you'll stop by as we dish the dirt on writing, self-publishing, and other little tid-bits about the craft.
photo courtesy of FeatherStone Winery

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's menu -- Champagne! Let's celebrate!

First up, I just want to say how really blown away I was by the response I recieved last Friday on Tara's blog. I was really touched by all the warm feelings toward me and my books. You know it's hard sometimes to really grasp the scope of what I'm doing, trying to achieve, by self-publishing. It's hard also to accept the good wishes and pats on the back, even from total strangers. So to all of you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I also want to thank all my new blogging friends. I've met so many wonderful and fascinating people on this writing journey, it's mind blowing. I've reached the elusive 300+ followers and I just don't know what to do with you all. Big group hug comes to mind. It's such a humbling experience to know 304 people stop by here and read what I have to say. You guys keep me so real and I thank you for that.

Also, just for fun, (and some really mad prompting from Tara) I am now on Twitter. I know, can you believe it. Never thought I'd see the day. But I Tweet. Albeit slowly, and not everyday, but I am there. See, it's right there on my sidebar so it must be true. As for FaceBook...that's a whole other ugly monster.

On the writing front, I'm deep into the middle of THE DUKE'S DIVORCE, book three in The Reluctant Grooms series. I so wanted to finish this by Thanksgiving, but I'll have to do some wicked mad writing to achieve that.

I also recently finished reformatting REMEMBERING YOU, (for those of you who remember Genna and Tony and Pete) and I'm hoping to get that bad boy out to Kindle shortly. One more quick line edit, just to make sure I've got all the nasties out, and I'll be good to go. A couple more days I think.

And, I'm also getting my act together to get THE LADY'S FATE out in paperback. I've got to do a little more research, and reformat, but I'm hoping to have paper soon.

And although I'm not doing an "official" blog tour, I will be stepping out from the Grille on a few occasions, next Monday as a matter of fact. I'll be sitting on the Veranda at Christine's where she will be conducting an interview with yours truly. She has some pretty snazzy Barabara Walter's type questions, I might add. So if you're not busy, mark it on your calenders and take a spin over. Also on the 16th, I'll be hanging at Nicki's for some more fun back in the 80's, so hope you'll stop by for that too.

Thanks again, so much for all your support. It really does mean the world to me.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Overlapping Series

If you missed the post on my author blog on Monday, it was about how I got into writing a series. When I first began working on THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, it was suposed to be a simple love story between Penny and Will. As the story progressed, other characters naturally evolved and because they were Will's friends, I found myself with three other single male characters who had to find brides but didn't want to. Hence, The Reluctant Grooms Series was born.

However, because I'm a pantster, I began writing these books without rhyme or reason, doing the research into the era as I went along. The stories were supposed to be in succession, each man finding his bride a year after the other. At one point, however, I hit a giant snag. One of my characters had to be in London for the Parliamental session. I dove into my research and found, Parliament wasn't in session for that month. Nor, for the remainder of the year in fact.

I had three books begun, each with about 40K words each. And now, each of the these stories wouldn't work. I'm a stickler for accuracy in my facts, (I hate it when reading an historical and there's a mistake.) I didn't know what to do. I couldn't throw away all these books and start over. I needed to find a way to make them work.

And so I decided to make them wrap-around each other, or overlap, if you will. For those of you who remember THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, this is the story which began it all. We have William, Robert, Richard, and Ellis.


March 1810 -- September 1810.

William requires help finding out who is after Penny. Robert and Richard play significant roles. Ellis has two small scenes.


May 1810 -- June 1811

Robert plays a significant role for Ellis in helping him aquire the hand of Violet.


September 1810 -- February 1811

Robert and William help Richard fight for Amanda.


March 1811 -- July 1811

Ellis and William seem to be able to help Robert with his bride Fiona.


May 1811 -- October 1811

I haven't quite figured out this story yet. Rory is still new to me. But he still overlaps with the others somewhat.

Now, writing the stories this way solved several problems at once; allowed me to combine characters and storylines from one book into another, kept me from having to do uncessary research (and therefore allowed me to write more), and kept all the characters fresh in my mind. They're all friends and friends lives do tend to overlap

However, the biggest drawback to writing a series in this way is keeping all the characters where they're supposed to be in all the other books. For example, at one point in THE LADY'S FATE, Violet is waiting to hear from Ellis. He explains, he was in Trilling for the nuptials of his brother William. Because in THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, Ellis does indeed show up for the wedding. In THE CAPTAIN'S LADY, Robert needs to be single as the villain mistakenly identifies him as his wife's new lover, and William needs to be married, because Penny and Amanda both need to be pregnant at the same time. And somewhere in THE EARL'S ENIGMA, all the characters from all the books need to be at the Prince Regent's grand party in June of 1811.

Yes, I have a lot of notes.

But I'm loving the way it's turning out.

Tell me -- Do you read series novels? Do they overlap or are they progressive?

Stay tuned next week when I discuss overlapping characters... especially these two.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Great Debate....Prologues

Happy Halloween Everyone. Today is kind of a mish-mashy post, but I will try and keep it together to form a cohesive essay.

Yesterday morning, while listening to "Flashback" on the radio, they played Elton John's Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding. The Monster Child was with me and as we pulled up to my mother's house, I remained in the car. Funeral for a Friend was still playing and I wanted to hear the opening to Love Lies Bleeding so I would have a good song in my head for the rest of the day instead of the stupid deoderant commercial. The Monster ran down to the house, went in, and then came back out two minutes later very upset that I still sat in the car. "I'm going to be late," she yelled. Funeral for a Friend was just ending.

"No, you're not," I replied. "Here's what I've been waiting for." And the opening chords to Loves Lies Bleeding struck. I began singing the song, beating my fingers on the steering wheel, while she just rolled her eyes and ran back down the driveway.

And it got me thinking...

Back in the 70's, rock bands would have these long musical introductions. Some of them were good, some not so good, but you'd have to wait to get to the real "song". Think Lynard Skynard, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull. (I'll bet half of you have never even heard of these bands.)

Any-hoo, it got me thinking...

Those musical introductions were prologues. Depending on the composition, some evolved into the song lyrics, some were of a different nature altogether and didn't make any sense. (Perhaps the composer smoked a little too much gange and thought it would fit, I don't know.)

But it got me thinking...

About the great debate of prologues. Depending on how they're written, they either serve the book well by giving us a piece of the story we wouldn't find in the natural progression of the plot line, or is just something the author wanted to throw in just to keep us guessing.

I had a prologue in THE LADY'S MASQUERADE. It was one page, 263 words total. It was a snippet of the villain's character from his POV that allowed for a bit of intrigue before the story began. I always liked it, I thought it was wicked cool. But then, I took it out because I found while querying, prologues weren't in fashion anymore.

Having gotten back into revisions on MASQUERADE again, I think I'm going to put it back in, because up until page 256 out of 260, we don't see or hear from the villain. We don't know who he is until he makes his very short lived appearance. And you know what, not having to deal with an agent, editor, or publisher, I can do whatever I want.

Tell me -- Do you write prologues? Do they leave your readers guessing, or are they an intregral part of the plot that needs to be told, but not in the story?

And now for your viewing pleasure, as it is Halloween, some pictures I dug around for last weekend. Dressing up on Halloween was not one of my strong suits, but these pictures are proof that I did.

Halloween 1992. Me and Lawrence. My true soul self harking back to 1973 (incidentally the year Good-bye Yellow Brick Road was released).

Halloween 1998. Me and Jed. That, my friends, is a fake tattoo, but the boobs are real.

Have fun and be safe tonight!

Oh, and PS, on my author blog I discuss how I came up with my series if you'd like to take a peek.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why I Chose to Self-Publish

I'm over at Tara's blog today, spilling my guts about why I chose to self-publish. I hope you will all stop by. If not for me, then for Tara. She's such a cool cat, she writes in Polish and Russian, loves race cars, and knows her way around a throwing knife.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Aversion to SemiColons

Happy Wednesday Everyone. Back in the swing of things, as today is a writing post day, I decided to do a post about punctuation. Or more pointedly, semicolons.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't use them. First of all, I don't know what they're for. According to Strunk and White

If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single complete sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

Yeah, okay.

Gallagher's romances are entertaining; they are full of love and desire.

(My own play on the example they give.)

It is, of course, equally correct to write each of these as two sentences, replacing the semicolons with periods.

Gallagher's romances are entertaining. They are full of love and desire.

Which is what I do. As I'm typing along in Word, sometimes, when I complete my sentence, my little green squiggly line will appear and then I will go to my Spelling & Grammar tool to see what I've done wrong. (God I love Word.) And it will say, "replace with semicolon". And I do not. I always separate the sentences.


The semicolon is used in ways that are similar to those in which periods and commas are used. Because of these similarities, the semicolon is often thought of as either a weak period or a strong comma.

Now in this chapter, Mirriam and Webster throw out phrases like independent clauses, coordinating conjunctions, grammatical construction of the second illiptical clause, and my favorite, conjunctive adverb. In this chapter, there are ten rules to learn before you can use a semicolon.

My question -- Why?

Why would anyone want to torture themselves learning how to use a semicolon when most of us have enough trouble with a plain old comma?

Why would you want to use a weak period when a full stop will do? Or a strong comma? How many beats is a strong comma anyway? Two? Three? Enough to take a sip of coffee?

Tell me -- Do you use semicolons? Or am I the only one who doesn't? Any other punctuation you want to diss today?

PS In rereading my latest work in progress, I found not one, but two semicolins. My bad. But I still don't like them.

PPS I hope you'll swing by on Friday when I explain my reasons for self-publishing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's a Book Fair Today

There's a book fair today hosted by M.A. Leslie, and I'm involved, at my new author website as well as 90 other authors which you will be able to find here at M. A. Leslie.

Please take a look-see, you might be able to find something you like. Genres are extremely well represented. The links at M.A. Leslie are up and running.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Millionaire Matchmaker

Good Morning My Darlings. Have you ever been fixed up? Have you ever had well meaning friends, business colleagues, your Aunt Grace say to you -- "I know the perfect man for you. You have just got to meet him!"

Ugh. Yes, I'm sure we've all been there. How'd it go? Did you take them up on the offer? If so, how'd it turn out?

I've been fixed up on many occasions. Always to disastrous results. Now, mind you, all parties involved knew what we were getting into. Sometimes it was a blind fix up, other times it involved double dating. Where, during some part of the night, I would drag my friend in the ladies room and ask, "How could you possibly think that man and I had something in common?"

Now, I don't doubt the sincerity of these people, they truly believe they know us better than we think we know ourselves and according to them we are so blind to know what we want, we'll take a look at someone who would not be on our radar at all.

Yeah. I know my own mind. I know what I'm looking for in a man. My list of prerequisites is pretty long.

The other night I was trolling through cable tv (the bane of my existance -- 92 channels and not a thing to watch) when I came upon the show The Millionaire Matchmaker. I had never seen it before, although had heard of it and decided to watch just to see how a millionaire went about finding a date.

Well, it's the usual tv trope, interview the guy, find out what he wants in a woman, interview the girls (notice that's plural), have a big meet-and-greet where the matchmaker introduces each man to about 15 girls the matchmaker thinks he'd like to meet, and see who he picks.

O.M.G. Can I just say this show is almost as bad as The Bachelor/ette series.

Now on this particular episode, one of the men was a real jerk. Wanted a woman who would basically give up her life and dreams and goals to fulfill his every desire. Yeah, I'm not kidding. He wanted a June Cleaver sort, although he wanted her to look exactly like Jessica Simpson. (his words, not mine.) So the matchmaker found him 15 women who fit his list (his list was longer than mine, and extremely detailed).

And it got me thinking. One of the things the matchmaker kept telling him was he had to let go of his list. He had to think outside the box because he probably wouldn't meet the "woman of his fantasies". And I agreed. This man wanted several things that to me, just weren't possible. But he insisted. He would not give up his list. He wanted a woman who --

had a 36 - 40D bust size (no bigger, no smaller)
would bear him twin girls (huh? how can you think that that's what you'd get?)
would give up whatever it was she was doing and live with him (her family, her life, her career)
was a great cook (like a professional chef kind of cook)
was a church going woman (which is important, however he demanded that she be of his faith only or convert)
had long blond hair (but not dyed)
had a devastating smile (but real teeth not teeth that had been worked on)
and the piece de resistance had an IQ that was not higher than his (I almost threw up in my mouth when he said that)

Guess what. He found one. Yup he did. I could not believe it. To me, this man was a narcisstic, egotistical a$$hole, the kind of man women fought in the 70's. Can I get an "Amen for Gloria Steinam" here? But somehow, he persevered through the matchmaker's discouragement and got exactly what he wanted.

Question -- When finding your significant other, were you fixed up? Did you have a list of prerequisites? Is he/she your ideal partner? Or did you just meet someone and "know" they were perfect for you?

Second question -- If anyone knows a guy who looks like Tom Selleck, has the tenderness of Denis Leary, is as smart as Tom Brokaw and the money of Warren Buffet, could you send him my way.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brunch at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Eggs Benedict, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, and Potato Pancakes.

I haven't had Potato Pancakes in awhile. With warm chunky home-made apple sauce. Yum!

Having never done a brunch before, I'm not sure what I'm doing today other than sharing my random thoughts about things that have happened to me lately in the writing world.


On October 9, I recieved a rejection letter from an agent I had sent a query to on April 11 for THE LADY'S FATE. It read in its entirety -- "Nope. Not for me."

Yes, that was all it said. AND, it wasn't even signed. I had to look again at the sender name in my inbox to find out who had been so rude. I've had better form rejections. For two seconds I wanted to write her back and ask her why did she even bother sending me a rejection. Within the six months I waited, the book went through 3 more revisions, two more beta readers, was published and is now making money. Yeah, I wanted to write her and say, "No, thank YOU for rejecting me." Glad I wasn't waiting with baited breath for her reply.


Recieved another rejections of sorts last week in my inbox. I've tried to keep up with old friends in other parts of the country, so I sent out a letter informing them of my latest news in the publishing world, gave them the links to my new website, sent off pictures of the covers, and one of The Monster from first grade.

I have recieved one reply. It read -- "Great to hear from you. Good luck." That was all. Haven't heard back from the other four yet. Now I realize I've not been the best correspondant, but I expected to get at least an acknowledgement. And "good luck" is, well, what is that? Sounds like "glad you finally got what you wanted but never want to hear from you again" to me.


Monster and I were in the car the other day when she asked why I had so many books in the box on the front seat. I explained that I had just bought them all from the library book sale (saving books, helping libraries).

"Are you going to read them all?" she asked.

"Of course," I said.

"Which one are you reading now?"

I picked up THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. "This one today. This one yesterday." I showed her WOMEN IN LOVE (D.H. Laurence). Then I picked up DANCING IN THE SHADOWS OF LOVE (Judy Croome)(Which had already been in the car). "This one two days ago." Then reached for THE BEND IN THE ROAD (Nicloas Sparks) "This one I just started, and this one is from last week." I picked up STRANGER IN MY ARMS (Lisa Kleypas)

I watched her face in the rearview mirror take it all in. Then she said,

"Doesn't your brain hurt?"

Gotta love The Monster.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Now for the Plan...

My heart is full. So full, it has burst at the seams. I cannot thank you all enough for coming to my new author website opening on Monday. It was so wonderful to see all your shining faces in the comments. I wish, how I wish, we could have all met in person. What fun it would have been.

I wanted to say, because people have asked, what my schedule is for the new blog. Truth to tell, I have no idea. I'd like to say once a week on Monday, but even that is tentative at this point. I have this blog too, which I will keep up on M-W-F.

I'm diving back into THE DUKE'S DIVORCE today. I got a great piece of advice from Mr. Bailey, and so have to incorporate that into what I've already written. (I swear that man is Hemingway reincarnated!) I'd like to get that out and published before Christmas. And I'm also trying to reformat REMEMBERING YOU for publication, hopefully before Thanksgiving. And then there is THE LADY'S MASQUERADE that's been waiting for my attention since last April. And my latest SECRETS ON THE BEACH which hit me upside the head the other morning at 4am.

I have a lot on my plate, I know. But isn't that what we, as writers, are supposed to do. Have a writing plan? Know what we are supposed to be writing, revising, drafting every year. Of course, barring any unforseen circumstances.

Truth to tell, I had a writing plan when I was still searching for an agent. But that went out the window with this whole self-publishing thing. I guess I should write another one. Probably be a good idea. Keep me on track and all that.

Tell me -- Do you have a writing plan? Do you know where you want to be next year in your writing career, five years from now, ten? How many books will you have written? Will you still be searching for an agent? Will you self-publish?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Part Two The New Website

Sorry about all the craziness this early morning. I think I've got the problem solved. I hope.

If you would care to take a gander, here is the link (please God let this work)

If you find nothing there, please let me know.


Could someone please go here and tell me what you find?

I can't access my account properly. It's supposed to be my new website. If you find a girl sitting in a chaise with my name across the top could you leave a comment here. Or if you find a plain white background. I made a huge mistake this morning and now find I have two websites with the same url. Ugh!

And if anyone knows how to fix this problem it would be greatly appreciated.

Today's Post My New Website

Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties on my part, (because of my only having one cup of caffeine) I made a serious serious mistake in trying to get my new website up and running. I'm really sorry for this, and am crying now in my tea.

I wanted you all to see it, I'm so proud of it and can't get it to show. I'll be working to fix the problem, and hopefully by the end of the day, it will work.

Thanks for your kind understanding.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Today is not my usual venue, but this is something I've been thinking about for a long time and couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Alex and Matthew have come up with this great idea and I just had to participate.

Keeping it short and sweet, here are the three blogs I think everyone should read.

I Think; Therefore I Yam by Susan Swiderski. Every time I go there I learn something new. I am never disappointed with the font of information this woman has, from states, to shoes, to billboards. Her laws from the states, and weirdest news stories of the week are just a few highlights I enjoy. Go on over, you won't be disappointed.

Laws of Making by Deren Hansen. From the Hero's Journey, to the Virgin's Promise, Deren shows us how to break it all down, and write from the bottom up. A little philosophy thrown in for good measure, I love the way he makes me think about what I write.

R. Mac Wheeler. The best crit partner anyone could ever ask for. He knows more rules to writing and how to break them than anyone else I've ever met. Crits back from Mac make the St. Valentine's Day massacre look like a parade. So much redline, you might go blind. But well worth the horror. If you can get through one of Mac's crits without giving up writing all together, any New York editor will seem like the Easter Bunny in comparison.

So those are my picks to Pay It Forward.

Have a great weekend everyone, and don't forget about my big cocktail party on Monday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The New Blog

Well, as I'm sure you've all seen, I've added a couple of new things to this blog. Being sick last week made my eyes crazy and as I couldn't read on the computer, I decided to fool around. Pretty cool, huh?

I made all the changes I wanted to, getting up a header of pages instead of keeping them buried on my sidebar. Some of you may have noticed that THE LADY'S FATE is gone and in it's place REMEMBERING YOU. Yeah, I've been wanting to do that for a long time. I love that story and want it told. It makes me homesick when I read it though. I'm hoping to get it out within the next couple of weeks. It's done and ready, the only thing I'm balking at is the formatting. It's still in a messy word.doc and formatting to Kindle is going to be a nightmare. Not only do I have headings, I have sub-headings, in different font sizes. lol. Can I just say Extra-Strength Tylenol.

The plans for the unveiling of my new author/website blog cocktail party are all set for next Monday, October 17th. It's going to be held in an English garden so please dress appropriately. Sweaters and shawls would be just the thing to keep handy. I do hope you'll all stop by. And as it is an all day affair, the alcohol level will be low, champagne, I think, for the most part. No hard liquor. I am trying to be civilized after all. Here's a little sneak peek of the venue, just to entice you to come.

AND, not only is it the unveiling of the new blog, there is also a secret (well, several secrets actually) I'm keeping until then. So if that doesn't entice you to come, well, I don't know what else to do.

I'm not sure at this point if I have anything ready to post for this Friday. I've been working so hard on everything else, I'm kind of out of ideas, so maybe I'll take a break and relax. Try on my little black dress, see if it fits.

Hope to see you next Monday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love In The Time of Cholera

Good Morning Everyone. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful autumn day where you are. As we are discussing love today, I'm afraid the title of this post has nothing to do with the book LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. It is, I'm afraid, a misnomer.
(Although I have heard that book is fantastic.)

You see, I've been sick. Very sick, as a matter of fact, since last Monday. It is that time of year when the weather changes, and living in the foothills of the Piedmont, the temperature goes down at night, and then during the day it gets hot. However, when the breezes blow, they whisper cold.

And that is what I got. A cold. Only I never get the common cold, where one can function normally, albeit slowly. NOOOO, I get a cold, then a sinus infection, then an ear infection, then either bronchitis, or pneumonia.

I knew it was coming, I could feel it last Sunday night, that little tickle in the back of my throat. I immediately called my mother to make me a pot of chicken soup, which she did. But it didn't help. Monday morning, I woke to a scratchy throat, funny eyes, pain in the head, and an all-over funky disposition.

I hate being sick, I mean, really, who enjoys snots, aches and pains, and coughing til you puke. I hate it though because I can't do anything. And because of my inability to remain in bed, I push myself to do the things that need doing, therefore getting sicker.

Tuesday morning, barely able to move, I called the doctor, who thankfully had an opening at 11:30. I stumbled into her office, plead my case for a Z-pac, which she sympathetically bestowed upon me, and I made it back to my house and into my bed where I remained for the next four days.

I haven't been quite this sick in a very long time. My mother thought I had contracted the flu. I refused to believe that, but suffered through flu-like symptoms for 2 days. I could not move. I won't bore you with the details of my illness, but I will tell you, at least the flu is good for something. I lost eight pounds.

Now, The Monster was sick as well, though she only had a cold, so she pretty much had the run of the house while I was down. My mother took her for the first part of my malaise so I was left alone to fend for myself. I did nothing but remain in bed, too sick to even watch tv.

When The Monster came back, so did her father. He stayed with us while I was down, which was a blessing. I could at least be assured she was eating on a regular basis. However, he did not once offer to feed me. Or get me water, or Tylenol, or even do the dishes.

When I emerged from my sickroom on day four, only wanting to take a shower and crawl back under clean sheets, I found the kitchen a dumping ground for every single dish, pot, pan, and glass from the cupboards. I then made my way downstairs to the laundry room to put the dirty sheets in the washer and found a pile of clothes on the laundry room floor a mile high.

What is it about men and their inability to do anything when someone is sick? He said, "But I didn't want to mess up the laundry. You know how I shrank all your stuff the last time." Which was true, but no matter how you try, you can't shrink towels. And the dishes? "Well, you hate the way I load the dishwasher and I didn't want to piss you off on top of being sick." And I do hate the way he loads the dishwasher, but I think I might have let that one go as I was on my way back to bed.

What is it about men, that they do not seem to possess a compassionate bone in their body? Or is it just my particular man? Come to think on it though, I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of any of my former men waiting on me when I was sick. Not one glass of water, not one Tylenol, not one hand brushed against my forehead.

And now, he's sick. Yes, I knew he would get it eventually. He's upstairs in the guest bed, fever, chills, coughing his lungs up. I've given him Tylenol, cough syrup, chicken soup, orange juice, water, cough drops (the good kind), checked his temp -- 101.9, gotten him another blanket, another pillow, a box of Kleenex.

Now I know why women are nurses.

Tell me -- Does your man help when you're down and out? Or do you get up and deal with the family because you know he won't? Is he a total baby when he's sick, or does he grab a couple of pills and head off to work?

PS I am feeling much better now, thank you very much. Getting ready for the cocktail party which I hope you will all attend. Details coming soon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

On The Grille -- Book Review South of Charm

On Today's Menu -- SOUTH OF CHARM by Elliot Grace

I thought this book was about baseball. It wasn't. It was about human frailty, a ten-year-old's dreams, and unfathomable courage.

Danny Kaufman is a normal kid, with a baby sister, and a loving relationship with his parents until the day his mother finds a Playboy air freshener in his father's truck. On that day his whole life changes.

Watching this boy's life spiral out of control as his family negotiates the unfamiliar and terrifying waters of mental illness got to me. Stuck me right in the heart with an eight inch blade and twisted it until I couldn't stand it anymore. Truthfully, half-way through this book, I had to set it down. (And I never do that.) Danny's pain, along with his father's confusion over his wife's actions, and the stubborness of his mother's religious family tore me apart.

I found myself screaming at Danny's father to take his wife to a doctor. I wanted to slap his mother for torturing her children and husband and for not realizing and accepting that she needed help. I so wanted to take Danny and his sister Katie home with me and keep them safe, hug them and feed them, and just love on 'em enough to make the pain go away.

Of course, this is a book, so I couldn't. But such is the profundity of Elliot's writing. Beautiful, compact, and precise, it leaves no room for misinterpretation. My emotional response to these characters was such that I felt completely helpless. Tears coursed down my cheeks on more than one occasion. I cursed Elliot for writing this. (Sorry El. I really didn't mean it.)

SOUTH OF CHARM is an uncommon read, revealing facets of human endurance beyond the scope of my reality; that a child (children) would have to live in constant fear, that a family would have to live this way is beyond my ken. But such was the period that the book was set. Back then, diagnosis for the mentally ill were almost non-existant. And I must add that some of the actions in this book are hideous to read, and scary to contemplate. It's not for the faint of heart (even if you do read Stephen King on a regular basis.)

When all is finally revealed in the end, you do get a sense of closure for Danny and his family, yet the images Elliot penned will haunt me for a good many years to come. I felt for the characters, as if they were real people. Such is the gift of a master story-teller.

Questions for Elliot --

I have to ask if this is autobiographical in nature? Not to get you to tell any family secrets, but you write Danny's experiences with such first hand knowledge, it's hard to tell what's fact and fiction.

In every book we read, every dysfunctional plot or life altering mishap, the inspiration for that moment was borrowed from memory, an experience that eventually led to a story. Perhaps it was something simple, an oriole fluttering overhead, or the way your next door neighbor limps to the end of his drive in order to fetch the morning paper at the same time every day. Or maybe it was something that changed how we felt about this world we live in. In this case, I was able to hold young Danny's hand and guide him along his journey, having already experienced much of the same during my childhood. As a boy, I saw firsthand the debilitating affects of mental illness, and what it means to perhaps not forget, but to at least forgive. As for those baseball scenes in the story...the trophy still sits atop a shelf in my basement ;)

I know you have foster kids as well, did any of their experiences end up in the book?

Every child whom my wife and I have accepted into our home, brings with them a best-seller, their very own family trauma. Some have been open about their lives, expressing a need to share some of the horrors they've experienced. Others keep it bottled up, releasing snippets of pain through their grimaces at the dinner table, the remains of tear streaks, long dried, upon their cheeks every morning. For the most part, I'm forbidden to speak on their behalf, many of their cases still hinging on a judge's whim, and therefore was unable to include any of their stories in the book. I'll be closing out my tour with a blog post of one child in particular, however. The one I call The Girl. A young lady whose story will bring the perfect ending to this Charming Endeavor.

Lastly, is the cat real? Or is he simply metaphor?

As for that my first ever book signing, I found myself enjoying the many interpretations surrounding its occasional presence throughout the story. If memory serves, the majority of readers felt that this mystical feline was indeed a metaphor, representing the boy's guardian angel, or simply his imaginary friend, called upon when needed. Emails have been sent my way, not stating whether they enjoyed the book or not, but demanding more information about the tabby. I think it best to say that perhaps the cat represents something different to each of us. And to each of us, the cat's quite content being exactly that ;)

Thanks so much, Elliot, for the honor and privilege of reading SOUTH OF CHARM.

And what's a tour without prizes along the way...from Elliot...

At month's end, I'll be giving away signed copies of my book, "South of Charm," two $25.00 gift cards from Barnes & Noble, and upon it's highly anticipated release, Stephen King's new thriller, "11/22/63," due out on November 8th.

and to win...

-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)

So good luck and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy News

Good Morning My Darlings. As you have been witness to my posts of late (in the wrong place, the wrong date, the wrong subject on the wrong day) it is safe to say I have been busy in the brain. Trying to get my book(s) ready for Kindle is like trying to thread the eye of a needle with a camel. (Look Linda, it's Wednesday and I have a camel reference, yay!)

Okay, maybe not impossible, but really really hard. For me. And I appreciate a certain someone's telling me it would be hard and I should probably find someone to do it for me, but being a stubborn wench, if you tell me I can't do something, then I absolutely have to try.

And as you saw from Monday's post, I made a few mistakes along the way, but like with everything else you try the first time, there's bound to be one or two. (I'm not going to tell you what my first souffle looked like, suffice it to say, over time I can kick a souffle's *ss!)

So anyway, this is just a little happy news I thought I would share with you. On Friday I have the honor and priviledge of doing a book review for Elliot Grace's SOUTH OF CHARM. He's got prizes and give-aways so you better stop by and see what's what. Fantastic book, and that's all I'm going to say.

My new author web-site/blog is almost ready to be unveiled. Waiting on two more thingy-things to come to fruition before it can be revealed. Also, I'm this >< close to launching my own book THE LADY'S FATE to Kindle so I hope you'll come by for that. And if I throw a major cocktail party you guys will come, right?

I also wanted to give a giant shout-out to all my new friends who've followed me on my side bar. I'm so thankful for your shiny happy faces. I've been crazed the last few months, which is why you probably haven't seen me on your blogs, but let me reassure you, once I get my book(s) out and I'm over this hump, I'll be by. (Look Linda, two camel references.) Your support means the world to me.

And for those of you who've been kind enough to present me with awards, thank you so much. I know I haven't done anything with them, but soon, I promise.

I'd also like to say, there are a few more changes coming to this blog in a few more weeks, so it'd be swell if you stuck around. I'm so busy lately, and with there only being 24 hours in a day, it's hard to get some things done in a timely manner.

So, anyway, that's all the news I have. I hope you'll stop by on Friday for Elliot.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tips on Publishing to Kindle

Good Morning. Some of you may have noticed I published a post on Saturday. Well, it wasn't supposed to happen like that. As I'm in the process of actually publishing to Kindle now, my brain is getting fried and the simplest tasks (like remembering a date, go bye-bye.) So before I forget all these, I'm going to share a few more tips with you on how to publish to Kindle.

Now these are after you've done all your formatting on your word.doc correctly, reviewed the manuscript, and are ready to upload to the Kindle process.

1) Be sure to read all the Kindle "Help" pages before you even start.

2) Make sure you have a "small" and a "large" cover. Your cover designer should already know this. You need the small one for the thumbnail print (where it says "upload your cover" (I believe this is step 9 on the first page). My small cover was around 250 x 350 pixels. The large should be at least 700 x 1200 pixels. (This is when you upload it for the book itself.)

3) Also, download the MobiPocket Creator and the Kindle Previewer (not Kindle for PC but the Previewer) before you begin the process. It will save you boatloads of time and aggravation. (They take a few minutes to do therefore should be done beforehand because once you get started on publishing the book, you really don't want to take time out to wait for downloads.) You can get the Kindle Previewer if you go to Amazon and plug that into their search engine. The page pops up and you have to scroll down to find it, but it's there. I believe you can get the MobiPocket Creator just by googling that.

Okay, and this next step was hard for me, I had to do it three times before I did it correctly so I suggest you pay attention. (Because I didn't read what I was supposed to read first.)

4) Before you can upload to the MobiPocket Creator you have to save your word.doc to HTML format. Click on File > Save > Web Page > (a box appears) click Web Page, Filtered. (A box will appear that says "Saving this material you may lose information." Ignore it and continue. Trust me. It will save you the panic. And three different uploads.) Now also make sure the name of the file is the title of the book. (Because I didn't and the whole thing got so messed up.) Click Save and it should appear in your files as an HTML doc.

When you upload to the MobiPocket, these steps are very straightforward and if you've done everything correctly, it should "Build" your book in record time. Also if you've already downloaded the Kindle Previewer, you can see what it will look like before you hit "Save and Publish". Don't get all freaked out if you don't see the page breaks, they don't show up. And the cover will be in black and white. If everything looks normal, you're good to go.

5) Also, another important thing to remember, when you're writing any of the information on Page 1, Title, Description, Contributors, etc. there are two little boxes in the bottom right hand corner of the page. One says Save as Draft, the other, Save and Publish. DO NOT TOUCH the Save and Publish key until you have filled everything out, looked at the book, and are really ready to go to page two. While you're writing your stuff, and filling out your fields, hit Save As Draft after every field. Especially the Description. I didn't realize you should because I blinked and it was all gone. Three times. Yeah, learn something from my mistakes. It'll save you a sleepless night and a migraine.

6)Make sure you take a good look at the Pricing and Royalty page. If I read it correctly, you can only get 70% on certain countries. Austria, Canada, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom (also check Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man), United States. *Belium, *France, *Monaco (***As of late October). You'll have to check off each of these countries separately. If you're only doing the 35% you can hit World Wide Territories. And also, that has to do with your price point. It's the difference between 99 cents and $2.99. If you hit World Wide Territories on a $2.99 book, you'll only get 35% royalties. (That's if I read it correctly.) Which is why you need to put in the single countries themselves for the 70% royalty rate. (Math is so not my strong suit so if anyone knows any different, please jump right in and let me know.)

7) Now this last thing should be a no brainer, but for me, it was late and I was crazed from doing all the downloads. When you find the field that says "Contributors" put your name there as author. I didn't and I got a nice letter informing me I had only listed the illustrators. So don't forget about you. (And by the way, they don't have a listing for "Cover Designer" so I used "Illustrator".)

And so, I think that's that for all my fumbles and bumbles along the way. I have some more tid-bits of information to share, but you'll have to wait for next time. Hope these help. And if anyone has any other input to share, PLEASE feel free to jump in in the comments. I am no expert.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Bachelorette

Good Morning. With my travails into the never-ending question about love, I'm going to share another secret with you. I watch The Bachelorette on tv. I know, I know. It's kind of nauseating sometimes, but I watch it to get character ideas. (Ha, yeah, if you believe that, I've got some bottom land for sale, cheap.)

No, really, I do. I always watch the beginning episode and pick out the guy I think the girl will eventually fall in love with. Just on first impressions. And then I skip the next few episodes until she gets to around 10 or 12 guys. That's when the real fun begins and they go to exotic locals.

On this last season, Ashley fell hard for a scoundrel, a rake, a big fat jerkface who broke her heart when he left the show. Now we all knew his reasoning behind it -- he thought he was going on the show for a different woman and he was disappointed with this girl and he couldn't fake affection -- but she didn't know any of that. He told her he missed his child back home and he couldn't stay there any longer.

And she fell hook, line and sinker for his BS. It made me cringe that he was such a low life scum bag to break her heart like that. I wanted to yell at the tv I was so mad. (And of course this is reality television so there are always moments like this.)

It took a week, but she got over it, and they went to Thailand. She and 11 other guys. Woo-hoo. She had a couple of good dates, and then lo and behold, Scumbag was brought to Thailand. And this time I really did scream at the tv. Because she wanted to see him. She wanted to see if he really was the true man of her dreams.

And he wasn't, thank the Goddess, but the guy she eventually picked, was not the guy I would have picked for her. Needless to say, I was disappointed in her choice, but you know, she's not me, and I'm not her, and we all have different ideas about who we eventually fall in love with.

Tell me -- Have you ever been in a relationship that all your friends told you was bad for you and you didn't listen? Have you ever loved a guy who was so out of your normal comfort zone your friends thought you were on crack?