Friday, September 30, 2011

On the Grille -- Book Review Three Daves

On Today's Menu -- THREE DAVES by Nicki Elson

Friday's have been such a weird thing for me lately, and I feel badly that I didn't even post last Friday, but all that is about to change. Starting today and for the whole month of October, I will be doing book reviews here at the Piedmont Grille. I have some great guests planned and some surprises and give-aways so make it a point to stop by on Friday's, have a gnosh, and relax.

This first book review is a surprise for Nicki, because I didn't tell her, or even ask her if I could do one. I won a copy of THREE DAVES sometime at the beginning of the summer, and finally had time to read it out by the pool.

For anyone who wants a trip down memory lane to the 80's, this book is for you.

Sprinkled with euphemisms, music, fashion of the era, and a few well-placed Jane Austenisms, THREE DAVES is a good-time blast from the past with a romantic twist at the end that even I didn't see coming.

Nicki Elson takes us on a journey when rites of passage for girls were plagued with doubt, guilt, and Madonna hair. We follow the main character, Jennifer, through four years of college and three very different men named Dave.

Jennifer Whitney thinks she's the last American virgin in 1986, and embarks on a quest to rectify the situation without looking like a slut (her word). She meets David, (#1) a friend of a friend, who turns into her friend and then becomes her first sexual encounter.

Somehow along the way, Jen's tastes in music change as well as her taste in men. Enter Dave (#2) a beautiful bad boy, who's only thought is his next score (be it sex, drugs, or punk rock 'n roll).

Hastily dumping him when she realizes he's not the "Dave" for her, she meets Big D (#3) at a frat party. Big D is like a dream come true -- star athlete, 4.0 GPA, from the right side of the river -- "D" appears to be everything Jen's ever wanted.

Until Jen has an accident and all three Dave's show their true colors.

This book was so much fun, and it took me back to a past I thought I wanted to forget. Okay, Kajagoogoo anyone?

If you want a trip back to the 80's, this book is for you!

Available on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

E-Publishing Under Your Own Name or Having a Company

Today I'd like to talk about a decision I made when I decided to e-publish. Now, most of you know Anne Gallagher is not my real name. For those of you who didn't know that, sorry. It's not something I talk about for very personal reasons. I decided a long time ago that I would build my "platform" if you will, on the name Anne Gallagher. I like that name, and has been in my family for several generations.

Having said all that, when I decided to self-publish, I went to the Kindle help pages whereupon I found out I had to provide my "publishers" information. WHO is publishing this book. I am one of those persnickety people who gets all weirded out by seeing a name on a cover and then reading the title page and finding out the two names don't match, I feel cheated. (I know I'm just weird.)

Having also decided to go with the automatic deposit, I had to have a bank account in that name. And because Anne Gallagher is not a real person, (well she is, if you Google her, there are about 10,000 of them in this country alone) I didn't want my money going to anyone else but me.

So I decided to publish under a company name. Shore Road Publishing. It's where I used to live. (see picture above) I really wanted Beach House Publishing because that was the name of my old catering company (Beach House Casual Catering) I wanted the same thing. But Beach House Publishing is already taken. So, can't. And variations on that theme also came up with someone else using it.

In having found a new name, I then decided to file that in the Register of Deeds office so no one else could use it in my county. It's for tax purposes. I wanted to keep my business separate from my real life. (If you decide to file one, I suggest Sole Proprietor.)

Hence the next step was in going to the bank and opening up a simple business account. Because I also have my checking account there, it was free. And like I said, SIMPLE. I just wanted the account for automatic deposit. If somewhere down the road it looks like I'll need to add more to it, I always have the option.

And because I am the sole proprietor of the business, I do not need a tax I.D. number, I can use my own SSN. Which is nice, one less thing I have to keep track of.

I also opened up a PO Box under the name of Shore Road Publishing so I can get mail there.

Now most people who self-publish aren't so anal when it comes to deciding HOW they're going to publish. They just use their own name and SSN, hit Save and Publish and be done with it. I'm going to tell you why I didn't do it that way.

The Monster Child.

As a single mother pushing 50, I have to think about her future. The best thing about self-publishing to Kindle is the "long tail". Meaning, these books will remain "in print" until I decide to take them down. There will never be just a single print run, there will never be 'no returns' to the publishing house (at least I hope not), they will always be there floating around in cyber space. Which means, hopefully, they will always be generating royalties.

Having made the decision to start my own "publishing company", somewhere down the road, I will incorporate and make The Monster a partner, the CEO of that company. So when I die, it will be hers. And she can do whatever she wants to do with it. The "long tail" if you will. Either keep it or not. I won't care, I'll be dead. And if she ever wanted to pursue a writing career, she could also publish under Shore Road Publishing.

So that's what I did, and why I did it. (This, of course is the simplified version.) Now, for some of you, this may not be the way to go. Only you and your accountant can decide what's best for your future, but in having set this up now, it's one less thing I have to worry about later.

If you decide to go with a company name, rather than your own name, here are the three easy steps.

1) File your company name with the Register of Deeds in your county (or town or city hall, states vary) If you are the Sole Proprietor, you do not need a tax I.D. number and can use your own SSN. Most Small Business Administration offices will have the one page paperwork, or town or city hall. Mine cost $14- to file it.

2) Open up a business bank account under the company name. (Again, you don't need a tax I.D. number, your SSN will be fine.) Like I said, mine was free because I also have my checking account there. I deposited $10- into the account just so it would have something in it.

3) Post Office Box is a really handy thing to have as well. For six months it costs $27-. They'll send you a reminder when you have to re-up.

So for $51- dollars, I have my own company again. I also don't have to worry about Amazon sending my money to someone who isn't me. I don't have to worry about the post office losing my mail. And I don't have to worry about The Monster's future. For now.

Tell me -- Have you thought about doing this? Even if you're going the regular publishing route? Do you like to keep your writing life and real life separate?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Men In Love

Good Morning My Darlings. One of the greatest joys of being a writer is that I get to make stuff up. Go into my own little world and create characters, people if you will, put them in situations and see what they do, how they react. My favorite part of being a writer is creating a man who falls in love. I know how women do it, I am a woman, (last time I checked) and we're so e-mo-tion-al. Googly, giggly, giddy, starry-eyed, e-mo-tion-al wrecks. (Okay I'll admit, yes I am.) We primp, we preen, we wonder, we talk, we discuss, we lament with our girlfriends and an-a-lyze every single thing he says and does.

I must have read 10,000 romances over the course of my lifetime. Mainly historical. And all of them have had strong, macho heroes. They react to their situation instead of analyzing everything to death. Only when they realize they're going to lose the girl do they generally start thinking about what the problem is.

Which I think is why romance is the biggest selling genre. Men are men, women love them, even when they do stupid things. Men don't really show their emotional side and we know that about them. However, in reading romance, the author does tend to do that, and we eat it up like candy. What women do you know right now has said these words, "Oh I wish my husband, boyfriend, significant other, would just open up to me and tell me what he's feeling."

I must say, in my own stories I'm guilty of the same thing. My heroes go off all stalker and stomp around hitting things, when all they really want to do is cry. Only until they realize they're absolutely going to lose the woman of their dreams do they TELL her what's what.

Tell me -- Have you ever read a book where the man TELLS the woman how he's feeling, first, before he flies off the handle and beats things up? Do you think, we, as female writers can really get into the heads of men and show their emotional side, or are we second guessing ourselves?

Apologies to any men reading this. Please by all means jump in and discuss.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I've been wracking my brain for a week to try and come up with a post for today. Actually I have 4 right now in draft mode, all waiting to make the cut. But someone said something to me the other day and it's been nagging at my craw so I thought I'd talk about it.

I'd asked a writer friend to take a look at the final proof for THE LADY'S FATE for me. Make sure everything was looking good. I thought I had written a pretty tight story, cleaned up all the typo's and punctuation and what not. Had all the details in all the right places. Was/am pretty proud of the way it turned out. So this reading was just kind of for my piece of mind.

Now this writer, an excellent "working" writer, gave me some pretty fantastic feedback, of which I was glad. She confirmed all my expectations that it wasn't a piece of doo-da, and even though it won't win a Pulitzer, expelled my doubts that I do indeed write a pretty good story.

BUT, she did say I had to watch my adverbs. I have too many -ly words. However, as she wasn't an avid reader of the historical romance genre, she didn't know if that was the style in which they were written.

And I've been thinking about this a lot. Do I really use too many adverbs, -ly words in my manuscript? And the resounding answer is yes. I do. And I'll tell you why.

I like them. They serve a purpose for me. Don't get me wrong, I mean they're not everywhere , but they are there.

For example -- He quickly bounded up the stairs. Okay, he's bounding, so we know what that means. You can only be bounding one way, and that is quickly, so we don't need to say quickly. Hence, delete quickly.

However, I also have -- She answered brightly. Can you see the expression on her face? I could have written -- She answered with a bright smile. But that's just way too long and brightly does the job in one word instead of four. To me, this is an either or choice. I choose brightly.

Now these are just examples, but you get my drift.

The other reason I use them, is because most readers aren't writers. They don't analyze every single sentence structure for mistakes. They're just reading a book, trying to escape their everyday lives. I mean, that's why I read. To escape.

There was a big hoo-hah a couple of years ago about Dan Brown and his writing style. Writers were dissing him, saying he writes like a hack. Well, you know what, I read Dan Brown on vacation and I thought he was a pretty good writer. You know why, because I was reading as a reader, not a writer. The story sucked me in and kept me reading (until the wee hours one night.) I wasn't analyzing his content, I was swept away with his words. I was in Paris, in Spain, on a plane, on a boat. I was trying to figure out who dunnit, right along with Robert Langdon.

Now I couldn't tell you how many adverbs he used, and quite frankly, I don't care. I just liked his book.

With the Big 6 crumbling, and authors and writers using more and more places to get their work seen and read, yeah, sure, some of it is going to suck. I mean, you have to KNOW the rules, before you break them, and we all don't have agents as gatekeepers. BUT, if you have a great plotline, engaging characters, and keep the pace moving forward, I don't think readers will care if you use a couple of adverbs.

And that's what it's all about really. Isn't it? Keeping the reader reading. So they will say, "Hey, I read this fantastic book the other day, you should read it."

Tell me -- How do you feel about adverbs? What rules do you break? Are there any you would like to break, but just can't because of the way you were taught to write?
(Maybe someday I'll tell you about my aversion to semi-colons.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Returning to Broken Love

Good Morning Everyone. I hope you had an enjoyable weekend. Please note, this is an unusually long post today. I have a lot of ground to cover.

So, today's topic is Returning to Broken Love. You might ask what Broken Love means -- I'm talking about getting back together with someone who's broken your heart. Devastated you.

I don't do it. Ever. Have never. Will never.

There's something about the physicality of a broken heart. Now I know that when someone breaks it, it doesn't really fall apart, but it sure does feel like it. And I'm not talking about high school broken hearts, I'm talking about real true adult broken hearts. (And I've never been married, so I can't speak for what happens in a divorce. This is from a single woman's point of view.)

When you think you've found the "one". You are giddy and in love and everyday is Heaven on earth, there is no other person in the world who means as much to you ever. There is the promise of something "more", of a lifetime together, perhaps. There are years invested, and friends and family, vacations, commitments.

And then, he does something so inconceivable that you just can't believe it. He breaks your heart.

Let me tell you about Richard. We were incredibly in love. He was a chef, I was a restaurant manager, we started dating and somewhere around the two year mark we built and opened a restaurant together, almost from the ground up. I helped with everything, from ordering to hiring, cooking, waitressing, building, picking out tile, redecorating. You name it, he cleared everything through me before he made the final decision. We had our first opening night and invited 100 of our closest friends and clients. It was magical. Things couldn't have been better.

We had our second opening night for the community at large. I was there already greeting guests, serving drinks, when he walked in with another woman. A woman I knew from town. A woman I had no idea he had been seeing on the side, while I had been slaving away helping him with the restaurant.

I literally heard my heart snap in half. After the initial shock, and the dead silence of having the customers watch me to see what I would do, (because it was a small town and everyone knew us as a couple) I walked out of the bar right then and never looked back. Sure he called, and tried to explain, and cried and begged me to come back, but I refused to even take his call. Two months later, the gossip killed him and he lost the business.

I was bereft for about 6 months. Really. I lost almost 30 pounds. I refused to see my friends. I was totally humiliated. I cried ALL the time. I lost a part of myself that I couldn't get back. I swore I would never fall in love again.

Cut to Nevada 10 years later. I started a relationship with Terrence, but I never let my heart get completely involved. I was very leery of the whole "love" thing. But then he was accused of a crime he didn't commit and he asked me to stand by his side, to support him. So I did. Our relationship changed after that. (I knew he didn't do it, and the judge ruled he didn't do it. It was a set-up.)

Sitting in a diner, having a turkey sandwich with my best friend, I realized I was in love with him. I denied it, of course, because I wasn't ever going to be in love again. But there it was. So I committed to him and the love. To make a long story short, 3 months later he told me he was in love with someone else. My best friend.


But she wasn't in love with him. They tried dating, it didn't last 6 months, and she married another guy. Of course he came begging back to me and I turned him on his ear.

The reason I'm discussing this topic today, is that my ex, Monster Child's father, has come back to North Carolina. I'm not going to get into the where-for's and why's about our break-up, it's just too ugly. But it did get me wondering why I won't get back with him.

People change, absolutely, and he has, for the most part, done a complete 180 from where it was that broke us up. But, throughout the last 8 years, he's broken my heart more times than I can count. I gave him chance after chance, because I did love him with all my heart and he is my daughter's father and I thought a family should really try.

The last two years without him around have been hard on The Monster. She loved her Daddy, and now he's back, she's over the moon. And I never wanted to take her away from him, but he was just so damned toxic. He was killing both of us, the three of us, so I made him go.

But now he's gotten his shit together and I'm happy for him. I like the fact he can come over to my house and we can have a civil conversation instead of screaming, or crying or throwing things. I have made peace with my ex. I have to get along with him, he is my daughter's father. I have forgiven him (for the most part) of all the things he's done to me. But I will never forgive him for breaking my heart.

He's asked, The Monster has begged, why he can't move back in. Why we can't be a real family again. How do I explain to my 6 yr. old about broken hearts. About losing trust and hearing lies and the damage it causes.

Once my heart is broken, it takes a long time to heal. And mine has so many scars on it right now, it's held together with super glue and duct tape. Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't fall in love ever again. That's a whole other blog post. What I'm saying is, I won't attempt to rekindle a dead fire. I won't ever get back together with a man who's broken my heart.

Tell me -- How about you? Would you, or have you, gotten back together with someone who broke your heart in a major way? Or is once it's over, it's over?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brunch at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Belgian French Toast, Peach & Blueberry Tart, Scrambled Eggs with Chives, Cream Cheese & Crispy Bacon, Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Don't knock ice cream for breakfast until you try it.)

I don't know if I mentioned I would do Brunch on my new list of things for the restaurant or not. But I think it's warranted. I have some things to tell you.

I'm sorry I haven't been around the last few days. More to come on that later.

Also, very sorry about the missing link on Wednesday for the Step-by-Step Guide Mac did up for Amazon. I tried to fix it throughout the day, but it didn't work. Let me try it again right now and see what happens. If you go here, you'll find it. And if this doesn't work, well....I'll think of something.

And hey, thanks to all my new followers. I really appreciate you coming by and adding to the fun and madness here at Piedmont Writer.

Now, as most of you know, I decided some time ago that I would publish THE LADY'S FATE to Kindle in September. I thought when I announced last spring it would give me enough time to work through all the things I needed to work through, and then, boom, there it would be.

Okay, so I kind of put it off for awhile. Well, that's not true. I read the Kindle Help pages. I went to a couple of blogs and got some more information. I wrote up a post on formatting. I thought once I got the information in my brain it would make uploading all that much easier. You know, read the directions twice, THEN put the bike together.

Yeah, no, it doesn't work like that. I read directions until my eyes bled. I worked on formatting scrap manuscripts until they were all so crazy I had to completely delete ALL the formatting and start again from scratch. I have so many screaming emails in my inbox back and forth to Bridget who was walking me through the steps, I sometimes wonder why she remained my friend.

Let me tell you right now, if you have the money to have someone format your manuscript, spend it. I realize I gave the impression that it was kind of simple, but let me share with you from the deepest reaches of my heart, it's not. Not in any way shape or form. Not unless you really know how to click your buttons, find your drop down boxes, read directions in tech speak, and know how not to crash. And I haven't even gotten to the MobiPocket Creator yet.

Formatting a manuscript for Kindle is NOT easy. Not by a long stretch. It's difficult, it's time consuming, it's frustrating (especially when you don't know what the hay-zoo you're doing) and it causes pounding blinding headaches. Bridget offered time and again to do the formatting for me, and you know what, I refused.

Why not, you may ask, if she knows how to do it and I so obviously don't. Because I got it in my head that I would do it. Someone told me awhile ago, they thought it was too hard for me and that it would be so much easier for me to pay someone to do it. Well, you can't tell this east coast, type -A personality, Irish, Taurean she can't do something.

And so I'm still in formatting mode. Yup, formatting the manuscript mode. And I haven't even gotten to the Table of Contents yet. (Oh yeah, did I mention you need to make one of those, and not the easy kind that you just write, but you have to link to your formatting. No? Sorry, I'll get to that next week I think.)

Anyhow, this is just a friendly little piece of advice -- if you've got the cash, and a perfect manuscript, go for it. Upload to Kindle. If not, make sure you invest heavily in Tylenol, have a great friend to help you when you think you're having a heart attack, and have more patience than you ever thought you had.

I'm sure I'll laugh about all this when I actually see the book up for sale, but right now, no, I'm not laughing.

I promise to be in a better mood next week.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Format for Kindle Part II

Last week I set about to show you How To Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and Agents. I talked about the right formatting tricks on your computer to get your manuscript in professional order. This week, I'm giving you links. (Because quite frankly the task is so daunting I couldn't do it.)

Here is a link for a checklist posted by April L. Hamilton on what you need to do for uploading to Kindle.

Also, my friend and Primary Reader, J.Bridget Chicoine, has also posted two important posts on formatting, and I would like to highlight those as well. Anything that makes writing easier should be looked at.

The first post shows you, with simple step by step instructions, ways to improve how you navigate through your manuscript. In revisions I'm sure you'd all love to be able to find just exactly what you're looking for without going through tons of notes written on scrap paper (like I do).

The second post shows how you can format your scene headers, which then allows them to automatically appear in the correct order. (And let me tell you how many Chapter Fourteens I had for one manuscript.) **** This is a godsend, I suggest you memorize this, as at some point you will need to use this tool when you have to upload a hyperlinked table of contents.

Hope you take a moment and give these links a look- see.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finding A Character

Good Morning Everyone. If you were here on Friday, you read the beginning of a story I "found" at the beach. Today I would like to show you just exactly HOW I found it. And if you haven't read it yet, (and if you want, no pressure) go now and take a gander. I'll wait.

Okay. Are you back? Good.

Now, most of you who have been reading me for awhile know that I call my daughter, The Monster Child. What you may not know about my Darling Monster is that she can make friends with anyone. Including inanimate objects.

On vacation at the beach, she made friends with any child under 4 feet tall. The second week we were there, she made friends with one child in particular, Sophie.

Sophie was beautiful, with huge blue eyes, very petite, and with a gor-ge-ous man, (who wore no wedding ring) as her companion. I watched carefully as Monster and she built a sand castle, and then played in the water. I warned Monster about going out too far in the surf because Sophie was smaller than her. The man, her dad, watched them, and me, all morning. Under the guise of my sunglasses, cowboy hat, and long sleeved shirt, I watched him right back.

(The first week there I gave my body to the Sun Gods. I ulitmately paid for that in sun poisoning. Even with SPF 85.)

That first day with Sophie, I waited for "the wife" to appear. She did not. The second day, Gorgeous Man and Sophie appeared with friends, several other children, and assorted adults. I assumed that one of these friends was G-man's brother (I mean, you could tell, they looked alike). However, no woman who would seem to be his wife or any kind of significant other. Gorgeous Man engaged with them, but sat to the side, watching Sophie and my Monster play. I went down to the kids on several occasions but he did not. However, I knew he watched me.

For the remainder of the week, while our kids played together, we played "undercover staring". You know, he looked my way, I looked away, I looked his way, he looked away. I felt like I was in my 20's again. Like I said, he was GOR-GE-OUS. Tall, 50-ish, sooo tan, Marine type haircut, and Paul Newman eyes. Very, may I repeat, very drool worthy.

On our next to last day at the beach, my mother came down and sat under the umbrella with me. However, she was blocking my view of Gorgeous Man so I moved my chair and faced away from the water and more toward the sand. Of course, she made a point to ask why I wasn't watching the Monster. So I nodded to Gorgeous Man and said, "I have something else I want to stare at for awhile."

Oh. My. God. You should have heard the lecture I got. I won't bore you with the haranguing, but even at almost fifty years old, why can mothers make you feel like you're ten years old again. Suffice it to say, she thought I was out of my mind for wasting my time staring at a man I would never meet.

I tried to explain to her the point wasn't in meeting him, the point was in memorizing him. To which she stared at me open-mouthed like I had sprung horns and breathed fire.

I'm a romance writer. I write about men and women and situations and circumstances that relate to love, the finding it, the losing it and everything in between. I also don't get out much back home, so seeing a real honest to God, bona fide hunk-and-a-half on the beach wearing nothing but a pair of orange surf shorts... well, yeah, I'm gonna stare at him. Especially as he was my age. (If he'd been 30, I'd have passed. I'm not a Cougar.)

That night, somehow the topic of G-man came up at dinner and Mary, (my mother's friend with whom we stayed) asked me if I'd introduced myself. I said no. She asked why not. And I said, "I don't want to meet him. I just want to look at him." Again, why not. To which I replied, "Because if I speak to him and he's a toad, then everything I've thought about him all week will be for naught. I've built him up to be something he's probably not and meeting him would only crush the fantasy."

The next day on the beach, (our last day on the beach) I had several opportunities to actually speak with Gorgeous Man. Several opportunities, my friends. And I did not take one of them.

Now, back home, I wonder if I did the right thing. I think I missed an opportunity, an important opportunity for my writing. But then again, did I?

In not speaking to him, I had a character already in my mind. I made up a whole backstory about who he was, why he was without wife, his background, his job, his compulsion for packing every single thing he might need for a few hours on the beach, even his family. Did I do him justice as a "character"? I don't know. Only you can be the judge of that.

Tell me -- If you had found an opportunity like that, would you have taken the time to speak to him? Or would you, like me, just stare and make stuff up? Do you take your characters from whole cloth, or do you piece them together to make them fit?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

It stuns me to think that 10 years have passed since that tragic day. A decade has gone by, and as I look back, I still can't begin to fathom what happened.

On that morning, I was attending my cousin's father's funeral. Not a happy day to start with to be sure. The service was sad, naturally, and as I drove back to my house to get ready for work, I was feeling nostalgic for times past. I remembered June's father with fondness, we had a running joke of sorts about a guy in a green truck.

Getting ready, I turned on the tv in the living room for noise, something I normally never do. I watched in horror as Matt Lauer related the events of the morning. I sank onto the couch wondering if this was an episode of Punk'd. I couldn't believe what I saw, couldn't imagine this was real. And then I watched the first tower fall. (I'm chilled now, thinking of it as I write this.)

I remember feeling panicked, as if the end of the world was beginning. What could I do? Where were my parents? My brothers? My best friend? As the hours progressed, and I heard of the other tragedies, I knew this was it. The end of the world as I knew it was upon me.

My boss (another cousin) called and asked what I was doing, where was I, I should have been at work already. I told him there was no way I was working, I had too many other things to do, namely pray. He said, (and I will never forget this because he screamed at me) "Get your ass in the car and get up here. What's happening in New York doesn't concern you, you're insignificant in the scope of what these bastards are trying to achieve."

So I went. Yes, I did. During the 30 minute drive I couldn't help notice there were no planes in the air. Rhode Island is small, and you can always see planes landing and departing no matter which part of the state you're in. It was eery to think that at any minute a bomb was going to fall out of the sky. (At the time I left the house, the media still had no clear focus on what had happened, other than terrorists had infiltrated the country.)

I worked, but as there were television moniters at the site, the clients we had weren't buying and I was home relatively early. By that time, both my parents were home, and we sat glued to the television set, while my mother tried frantically to find my youngest brother, a Captain in the Groton, Ct. Fire Department. Knowing my brother, I was sure he and his crew were either on their way, or in New York.

I'm not sure if I should be thankful or not that he wasn't. Groton is a Navy base and the Commander would not release them to go, just in case the "bastards" did something else. During that unbelievable day, no one was sure what was going to happen next. My brother deeply regrets he was not allowed to go to New York.

Looking back, I cannot help be overwhelmed with emotion. Who among us cannot? On that day, I may have been "insignificant" but the people who lost their lives were not. Every single one of those souls lost was significant to someone. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, grandparents. They were all SIGNIFICANT. The men and women who gave their lives to help save others were SIGNIFICANT.

September 11 was a turning point in our nation's history. In the hundreds of years since our country was founded, blood has been spilled. We have seen the ravages of war, both inside and out. But never have we been attacked in such a way as to damage the very fiber of our America. Our nation, one nation, under God, with liberty, and justice for all.

None of us should ever forget what happened that day. Our children should be taught the significance of those poor people. The significance in the strength of our nation. The significance of what it means to be American.

God Bless Us, Everyone.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beach Man

On Today's Menu -- Flash in the Pan

This is part of the story I "found" at the beach. I will also be using this in Monday's post as part of a discussion. It's very long, so I hope you'll stick with it. However, it's 98% dialogue so it reads fast. But if not, I understand. And there are two swear words, but nothing vulgar.


Lanie dug her toes into the cool wet sand. Clicking the arms on her chair and reclining further, she enjoyed the ocean breeze wafting over her body. Clad only in a black and white maillot, she stretched lazily and watched her daughter, Camelia, try to tip the castle pail over without spilling any of the too-wet sand. Normally, Lanie would have gotten up and showed Cam which sand was best to use, how to tip the bucket correctly, to tap the top lightly and release it slowly, but she didn’t want to be Type-A Mommy here. No, this was their first day of vacation, and Lanie wanted to relax, to remember what it was like to be normal for a change. To just be.

She closed her eyes for a moment and yawned, then forced them open again. The last weeks tried to intrude on her thoughts, but she refused to indulge. She was here now, and besides, Cam was down by the shoreline building sand castles with another little girl who'd joined her, and it wouldn’t do for her to fall asleep, as much as she needed it, longed for it. The past three months had taken its toll and Lanie was exhausted. Combining that with the ride up from Charlotte, which had been a serious test of her driving skills, even with the stay-over at her brother’s house in Pennsylvania, had left Lanie a zombie. If given the opportunity for five minutes in the sun, Lanie knew she’d be asleep for hours, looking like a lobster by the afternoon even if she did slather on SPF 800. She took another deep breath of the salty, seaweed-laden air and let her mind go blank.

The Block Island ferry skimmed the surface of the sea in front of the furthest ocean breakwater. It’d be nice to take a day-trip, she thought, when a shadow fell across her lap.

“Hi, sorry to bother you, is that your little girl in the pink bathing suit?” a deep voice asked.

Lanie squinted through her sunglasses to make sure Cam was still there, and then up at a man clad only in florescent orange surf shorts. “Yes. Is the other yours?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want to intrude, but I like to know who my kid plays with.”

“I know how you feel.” Lanie readjusted her chair to a sitting position and took another look at the stranger. Late forties, tan, broad shouldered, a baseball cap worn backwards over a military style haircut with a smile that revealed perfect teeth.

“Jack, Jack Tremont,” he said and thrust out his hand.

“Lanie Spezciak.” She shielded her eyes from the sun with one hand as she took his hand with the other. “Good to know you.” She liked his grip. Strong. Not afraid to shake it like a man, even though she was a woman.

“How old’s your girl?” He asked as he moved to her other side, leaving her face free from the sun’s glare. He flipped his ball cap around and she saw his eyes were Paul Newman blue.

“Six, going on fourteen,” she answered. “Yours?”

“Five, although she’s pretty good at being five for now, thank God.”

Lanie laughed. “Wait. Just wait until she watches her first episode of Hannah Montana. It’ll be all over then.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Seagulls screeched over the awkward silence that settled on them.

Considering their kids were playing together, Lanie felt the need to offer. “Would you care to pull up a chair, or are you waiting for someone.”

“No. I mean yes. I’d love to join you if you don’t mind. I’m kind of new at this beach vacation game and need all the help I can get.” He lowered his voice. “Sophie’s mother passed away almost two years ago from breast cancer, so I’m alone.”

“Oh God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to imply….”

“No, it’s okay. Although I don’t normally bring it up within the first two minutes of conversation. I’m just still not used to being mom and dad and sometimes, like now, in a new place, having a new experience, I like knowing there’s another mother around to make sure I don’t screw up.” He gave a self-deprecating chuckle and walked up the sand to get his things.

He pulled the small Radio Flyer wagon alongside her little area and began unloading. Lanie watched in disbelief as he took out a cooler, two sand chairs, a large stack of towels, a small beach bag, umbrella, assorted beach toys, and a battered quilt.

Lanie laughed as he dug the hole for the umbrella. “My God, you look like you’ve packed enough for three weeks.”

“Can’t help it. Didn’t know what I might need and I didn’t want to go back up to the house.” He glanced over at her minimalist setting of chair, bottle of Coppertone, and two towels. “You pack light. You staying there?” He pointed to the yellow house that abutted the beach.

“No. We’re up on the back side of Swamp Road. I haven’t gotten around to getting a stroller yet.” She nodded to a beach buggy at another blanket. “Where are you staying?”

“Lane Two. My brother’s place.” He placed the umbrella in the hole and opened the shade. “He’s not here yet. Sophie and I came up early, before the rest of the family arrives.” He opened one of the sand chairs, tucked a towel over the back, and plopped in it. “I thought it might be nice to settle in before the crazy starts, you know. You renting?”

“No. Staying at my best friend Margo’s house.” Lanie unscrewed the top of her water bottle and tried to stifle a big yawn.

“I’m sorry, am I boring you?” Jack asked.

“No, it’s not you, sorry. It was a hell of a drive up from Pennsylvania yesterday. We hit construction, and then in Connecticut I got lost trying out a new route. We didn’t get in until late and I’m just tired.”

“You from P.A.?” Jack dug into his cooler and brought out a Coke.

“No. Brockton, Mass., originally. I went to college here, U.R.I., with Margo. I live in Charlotte now, with my mother.” Lanie wondered why she had to clarify that. “Are you from Rhode Island?”

“Yeah, Bristol. We bought an old fixer-upper to be close to the water, but funnily enough, we never went to the beaches over there. We’ve always come down here.”

“There’s something about Narragansett,” Lanie said, “that precludes all the other shoreline in Rhode Island. I’ve always loved it down here.” She sighed wistfully, thoughts from her days at the university flowing through her mind at lightning speed.

“What do you do?”

Jack’s question brought her up short. What could she say without giving herself completely away without lying?

“I’m a writer. You?”


Lanie smirked.

“What? It’s a noble profession.”

“For some people.” She thought of Dermot Handrigan and revulsion crowed in the pit of her stomach. That scum-bag had brought out the worst in Douglas, but she had gotten the last laugh. Dermot hadn’t been smiling the last time she’d seen him.

“I’ll have you know….” Jack’s chin jutted out. “I’m an environmental lawyer. I champion the weak and downtrodden spotted owls and piping plovers, and keep people from destroying beaches like this with billion dollar McMansions.” He looked over his shoulder at the three-story monstrosity that sat at the top of the bluff.

“You were probably the one who kept Margo from getting her permits,” Lanie said under her breath.


“The woman I’m staying with. Margo Turner.” She remembered the fight Marg had to endure for years to rebuild after Hurricane Bob in the 90’s. Coastal Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and the Town of Narragansett, had poor Margo wondering if she would ever be able to claim her parents house again. After tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention revamped architectural, structural and sewer designs, Margo had finally been allowed to rebuild.

“Margo Turner? The Margo Turner? From MSNBC?”

Lanie glanced over at Jack. His mouth hung open. Margo’d always gotten that reaction.

“Yes. That Margo Turner.”

“No. I had nothing to do with her house,” Jack said as an afterthought. Then, “You’re really friends with Margo Turner?”

“Since college. We lived down here all through school.”

“Holy crap, I had no idea. She must keep a wicked low profile. I’ve never seen her and I’ve been coming down here for at least fifteen years.” Jack shook his head, as if missing the opportunity to meet Margo Turner was like missing the home run that bounced off the Green Monster at Fenway.

Lanie smiled. “You probably have seen her,” she qualified. “She doesn’t really look like she does on tv.”

“You mean she’s ugly without make-up.”

Lanie laughed. “Well, I wouldn’t say ugly, but she does resemble a middle-aged housewife. Pretty normal looking if you asked me.” Margo had always been beautiful, but when she hit her mid-thirties and her career had taken off, she stopped wearing make-up when she wasn’t on camera. Hardly anyone recognized her out on the street. Margo had told her it was like having a split personality.

Cam strolled up from the shore, the sand castle looking more like an ancient ruin. Sophie ran to her father.

“Mommy, will you come in the water now?” Cam asked. She placed her sandy hands on Lanie’s knees and leaned over her mother for a quick kiss.

“No, baby, not quite yet. I’m still a little tired from yesterday. You hungry?”

“No, I want to go swimming.” Cam’s face wore a pretty pout.

“I’m sorry, Luli.” Lanie used Camelia’s pet name to soften the blow. “In a little while, okay.”

“I’ll go in with them,” Jack said.

Cam turned to her new hero, a huge smile on her face. “You will?”

“Sure. If it’s okay with your mom.”

Lanie looked at Jack, then Cam. What could she say? “It’s fine. But no daredevil stuff, you hear? And no going past the hippo rock.”

“Thanks, Mommy.” Cam kissed her mother again, grabbed Sophie by the hand, and the two girls ran down to the water screeching.

“Hippo rock?” Jack asked.

“The rock that looks like a hippo.” Lanie pointed to a huge boulder in the middle of the small breakwater that lined the western tip of the beach. “She just learned how to swim underwater, but I don’t want her to dive too much, if you don’t mind. I have a fear of dry drowning.”

Jack looked perplexed, but said okay, then strolled to the two little girls waiting for him in knee-deep surf.

Lanie adjusted her chair one more notch to recline a little further and watched the children frolicking in the waves. Jack held their hands as they moved farther out into the water. The small beach was perfect for kids, with gentle waves until the tide changed when the water became somewhat choppy for those under a certain height and weight. But it was coming on low tide now and for the next several hours, the water would be calm.

Lanie closed her eyes and listened to the water lap at the shore. The sun, warm and penetrating, sank into her tired limbs, relaxing her like no massage ever had. She refused to worry about Camelia being in the hands of a virtual stranger. She refused to feel guilty about Douglas, or her mother. She was here, in the now, on the beach, eight-hundred and ninety-one miles away from everyone and everything she was responsible for. She couldn’t help it. She drifted off, the sounds of the ocean and the cries of a lone seagull lulling her into the void.


Douglas called to her. Lanie looked down the hospital corridors, into every doorway, but she couldn’t find him. His voice became louder, more insistent. “Where are you, I need you.” Suddenly, Dermot Handrigan appeared in hospital scrubs, several papers in his hands. “You think you’re going to get away with this?” He screamed at her. “It won’t happen. I’ll make sure you never get a penny.”

Lanie woke with a start. Breathing heavily, she took off her sunglasses and rubbed her eyes. Just a dream, she said to herself. Just a dream.

“Hey, you okay?”

Lanie flinched, and turned to the voice at her left. Jack. She scanned the beach and found Cam and Sophie back among the castle ruins.

“Yeah, fine. Just a dream.” She fought to get her pounding heart to slow. Dermot Handrigan always did this to her, awake or dreaming. “How long was I out?” She replaced the sunglasses on her face, reached for her water bottle, and took a long drink.

“’Bout an hour. You said you were tired, so I thought I’d let you sleep.”

“Thanks, I think.” Lanie stretched and adjusted her chair to a sitting position. She glanced down at her chest, then pressed her fingers to her thighs. White under bright pink. Lanie hoped Margo had aloe gel back at the house.

“I was going to slather some lotion on you, but thought that might be a little too presumptuous.” Jack’s voice held the faintest hint of sexual undertone.

Lanie shot him a sideways glance. Could she have misheard him? She hoped so because she didn’t need complications from a vacation affair. Sure, getting laid might be nice, might even help her relax a little bit more, but a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am was not her style. And any kind of relationship, other than beach buddies, was simply out of the question.

“You sure you’re okay?” Jack asked. “Aside from the sunburn.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Why? Was I snoring?”

Jack snorted. “Actually yeah, before you started talking.”

Oh, shit. She hated that about herself. Douglas had always slept in the guest room when she was on a deadline. Stress inadvertently made her a sleep talker.

“Uh, what did I say?” Lanie took another drink from her bottle and drained it.

“Something about Delmore?”

Lanie fussed with a towel that wasn’t cooperating as she tried to lay it over her legs. Tried to forget the image of Dermot Handrigan.

“Sounded like Delmore, Dermore,” Jack repeated. “I don’t know. Something like that.”

“Dermot.” She waved her hand in a circle. “Nobody important.” Lanie refused to take the bait.

“Sounded like you were afraid of him.”

There was no misunderstanding the concern in his voice. And like a lawyer, there was no way he was going to let it go.

“Dermot was a complete asshat to me when I was going through a rough time, that’s all. But it’s over and done with, and I don’t have to deal with him anymore. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and I guess I’m not completely free of it yet. No big deal. Sorry if I scared you.” Her tone wasn’t polite, but she didn’t care. She didn’t owe Jack anymore explanation than that. She stared out over the ocean.

“You want to talk about it? Sometimes it helps to talk about it.”

Living in her microcosmic world, she had forgotten how nosy people could be, even if it was with the best of intentions.

“No, Jack. I’m good. But thanks.” She looked up at the sun, then around on the ground near her chair.

“Lose something?”

“No, I’m looking for a stick.”

“A stick. On the beach? What for?”

“To find out what time it is. Sundial. You know.”

Jack reached into his beach bag and pulled out a hefty gold watch. “It’s a little after twelve.”

“No wonder I’m hungry,” Lanie mumbled.

“You want a sandwich. I made some PB and J.”

Lanie smiled. “No, thanks. I think we should head back up to the house. I’m kind of fried, and I think we’ll take a little breather from the beach. No sense in overdoing it. We’ve got two more weeks of this and I should set the precedent today.”

Lanie stood up and called to Cam. “C’mon, Luli, time to go.”

Camelia stood up and faced her mother. “Now?”

“Yes, now. We’ve been down here since eight-thirty. We’ll go back to Margo’s for a few hours and come back down when the sun isn’t so hot. Besides, you must be starving.”

“Jack fed me.” Cam placed her hands on her hips.

Lanie looked at Jack.

“You were asleep and the girls were hungry,” he said sheepishly.

“Well, no matter,” she said to Cam. “I want to go back up and you’re coming with me. C’mon.”

Cam stomped up the beach, her hands now clenched into tight little fists.
“I want to stay here. Why do we have to go back to Margo’s?”

“Because I said so, that’s why. I need to get out of the sun for a little while. What’s the big deal? I said we could come back later. The ocean’ll still be here.”

Camelia cocked her head and stared at her mother. “Promise?”

“Yes, I promise. Now go say good-bye to Sophie.”

Camelia turned and ran off down the beach. Lanie wrapped one towel around her waist like a skirt, folded the other towel and placed it on the seat of the chair along with her empty water bottle, bottle of sunscreen, then folded the chair up.

“I hope it wasn’t something I said,” Jack said.

“No. I’m just hungry. And sunburned. And who knows, I might be able to get in another little siesta on the hammock if I can get Cam to watch some tv. I’m sure we’ll be back down later.” Lanie waited for Cam who seemed to be having some kind of great discussion with Sophie.

“What will I do without you?” Jack asked.

Lanie snapped her head around to stare at him. Douglas’s exact words for nearly seventeen years.

“I’m sure you’ll find another mommy to hang with,” Lanie replied.

“Yeah, but not one who snores.”

She couldn’t help smile. She yelled to Camelia to hurry up and remembering her manners, said to Jack, “Thanks again, for letting me sleep and watching Cam. I appreciate it.”

“Anytime.” He paused. “You sure you’ll be back later? I mean, for Sophie,” he added quickly. “You know, how little girls are. I think they’re already best friends. Wouldn’t do to promise and then renege. That’d be breach of contract.”

Camelia sidled up to her mother. Lanie gave Jack a cautious smile.

“Four o’clock,” she said, then turned and headed up the beach.

The End (so far)

Any questions -- comments -- critiques?

Please note, I do realize this weekend marks the 10th anniversary of September 11, and I will be posting Sunday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Format Your Manuscript for Kindle or Agents

Good Morning Everyone. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve gotten a ton of questions on how to reformat manuscripts for the Kindle. As I know most agents also read partial and full requests on their Kindle, this might be good for some of you as well. With the help of my critique partner, Mac Wheeler, I’ve tried to give step-by-step instructions, but if you have any questions, I’ll be around most of the day. And if anyone else has anything they’d like to add, please feel free in the comments.

And this if for Word docs only. If you use anything else, I’m sorry I can’t help you.

First up, you really need to be friends with your menus and toolbars. (And I know most of you are already familiar with yours, however, some of us who aren’t computer literate had no idea what a plethora of treasures could be found there. Believe me when I tell you, knowing what these do make life a whole lot easier.)

File Edit View Insert Format Tools Table Window Help

or if you're using Word 2007:

Home Insert Page Layout References Mailings Review View

Second, I absolutely can’t stress enough to try this on your ‘scrap’ files first.
I did at least four of mine before I tried it with a completed ms.
And please don’t panic. You can always undo any changes you make with

Click Edit > Undo.

Okay, here we go. You have to be in Print Version to do these changes.

View> Print Version

Word 2007: Views > Document Views > Print Layout

1) MARGINS Change margins to 1" all around, top bottom left side right side --

File>Page Set-up> In each box manually change the number to 1”> click on Portrait (not Landscape) picture> click OK

Word 2007: Page Layout > Page Set up > Margins > click Normal

2) PAGE NUMBERS Move page numbers to top right hand corner. (For agents, you will have a header anyway with your name and title – When reformatting for Kindle, you will remove the header and page numbers. Word doc. automatically gives you 0.5 header and footer when you remove the information stored there. Which is fine.)

3) PAGE BREAKS Insert page breaks TWO carriage returns after end of sentence (Kindle required)

Insert> Break> A little box appears. Click OK.

Word 2007: Insert > Pages > click Page Breaks (or simply: Ctrl + Enter)

Now, inserting a page break into an already existing document, you will find beginning on the next page there may be white space. What you have to do is delete that white space until the Chapter heading falls at the top of the page. Sometimes you may find that you’ve accidentally deleted the page break.

To check this go to View> Normal Layout. (Word 2007: View > Print Layout)

You will see if the page break is there or not. If not, Just re-insert the page break.

As an aside, if you have two carriage returns for a scene change or POV change that's fine, they will show up where they are supposed to. Page breaks are only for end of chapter stops.

4) TABS This is the biggest issue with Kindle formatting that I have found. Hopefully you never used the tab key to create paragraph indents (like me). If you did, you must remove all of these manual tabs. In HTML they are considered characters (like letters in the alphabet.) There is an easy way to do that in Replace All:

Ctrl + H > select the "more" button > position cursor on Find what > select Special button > click "Tab" > leave "Replace with" empty > click Replace All
We can now Reset Tabs with the RULERView > Ruler
Word 2007: View > Show Hide > check the “Ruler” box )

Step 1: Select all text from very the first paragraph to the end of the document. To do that, “set your insertion point,” that is, click before the first word of first paragraph. Hold down Shift + Ctrl and press END—This selects to end of the document

Step 2: In the upper left hand corner of the ruler, there is a tiny box, with a tiny black line, click on the box until a downward point is shown. Now you drag the “First Line Indent,” which you find on your ruler, to the width you wish to set your paragraph indents.

Set the indent to half an inch.

Step 3: It’s best to now go to every line through your entire document that isn’t a full paragraph of text, which you want centered, like chapter headings and scene break characters (if used), and reset the tab to zero.

(And now, the easiest way to center is a keyboard shortcut
- Position your cursor on the line you want centered
- Hold down Ctrl and press the “E” key (Ctrl + E))

Now you have set automatic tabs throughout your document. Every time you hit ENTER for a new paragraph, the new paragraph is automatically indented.

5) JUSTIFICATION. Where the right side of the document falls in line to flat edges, which is what normal books do.

Format>Styles & Formatting AA> (The sidebar will come up) In the sidebar find Normal click Normal> (Another box will appear) Click Modify> click the picture of the justify all button> Click Automatically Update at the bottom> click ok

Unfortunately, you’ll have to go through your manuscript again to find the white space between words. You’ll need to delete the white space to allow the sentence structure to realign itself. As an aside, I use the backspace key to delete the white space, it seems to work better for me than delete.

6) Change spacing between sentences. I’m old school and still use two spaces between sentences. To change these, always do this when the document is completely finished. That way you won’t have to do it repeatedly.

Edit> Replace > A box appears In Find What hit the space bar two times > In Replace hit the space bar one time > click Replace All

As an aside, after this step, you’ll have to click on one of the little green lines that appear between your sentences to get rid of them. Click Tools > Spelling and Grammar > A box will appear click Ignore Rule > Close. That should fix it. Now if you add anything more to the doc. you’ll have to repeat this step.

7) Change the Font. I keep my font on Times New Roman because I don’t like any of the others for my historical romances. However, for my contemporaries I’m more inclined to use Sans Serif. It looks more modern.

Format > Styles & Formatting AA > (The sidebar will come up) In the sidebar find Normal click Normal > (Another box will appear) Click Modify > Click Format > (Another box will appear) Click Font > (Another box will appear) Click whichever font you want to use from the drop down menu – (remember to change the pt. type as well – I use Times New Roman regular 12 pt – If I wanted to change this I would use Serif regular 10 pt.) Click OK > the first box will reappear make sure Automatically Update is checked off > Click OK

8) Em-dash. I have also heard that the em-dash really messes with the Kindle format. I need to check this out. So, I have changed all mine to ellipses. I suppose you could use two hyphens to form an em-dash, however, in dialogue you can’t get the close quotation marks to align the right way, hence, ellipses. When I have more on this I will let you know.

9) Special Characters. I’ve always used the **** to separate scenes because I had no idea there were so many other characters to choose from. I am particularly fond of this one  .(Which does not show up from Word.) However, much to my consternation, Kindle cannot read them. (And obviously neither can Blogger.) So I suggest if you have anything other than **** or #### in your manuscript, remove them and reinsert these good old mainstays.

10) LINE SPACING Line spacing is 1.5 for Kindle ms. Even with agents who read on Kindle.

Format > Paragraph > Line Spacing - 1.5 click OK


Doing all this to a ms. takes a lot of patience, and trial and error (for me). Just breathe, and remember before you throw your computer through the window, close the doc. down, and walk away.

Also, on your tool bar there is Help. Just type in what you need help with and the answer magically appears. Which is what I did quite a few times.

And you may ask, why all the steps? And I will tell you, because this is how I learned to do them. I'm sure there are many tasks that may be done at the same time, but I'm a chef by trade and sometimes you can't add all the ingredients together or you end up with a mess.

And that’s that. Whew. I know this seems like a lot of work, but once you try it and see the results, you’ll say, “Wow, this looks like a professional document.” I know I did.


PS My Readability Statistics for this
Flesch Reading Ease 73.0
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 6.4.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

Good Morning Darlings. As it is Labor Day and I'm sure none of you are about, as you are enjoying the weekends' festivities, (or getting ready for school) this will be a very short and very sweet post.

First up, thanks again, so much for all your lovely comments on my cover.

Second, thanks for all your lovely comments on my new menu at The Piedmont Grille.

Third, thanks to all of you who heard the pleading in my voice and helped out with the "Write a Post, Feed a Dog" Campaign. I'm not sure how many pounds we raised but I do know there were two different links going on. When I get more feedback on this issue, I'll let you know.

Fourth, I'm so happy to meet so many new friends at Karen G's Labor Day BBQ Bash. And if you haven't gone over and tried some of the fab food, or made some new friends, shame on you. Get on over there now, there's still time. (It's not just a BBQ, it's a blog hop to meet new readers and writers. I've met several interesting people I never would have found on my own. And I think it's safe to assume we all need new friends. Isn't that what blogging is all about?)

And lastly, but most importantly, I have been inundated with questions regarding how to format a manuscript for Kindle or agents (because most of them read partial and full requests on their Kindle). I've done up a post that will appear Wednesday the 7th of September. I hope you'll stop by.

Now go enjoy the rest of your Monday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Write a Post, Help a Dog -- Today is the Deadline

I never post on Saturday but I found this on The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog this morning.

Pedigree is resurrecting its insanely successful Write a Post, Help a Dog program. In 2010, 391 bloggers wrote about the program and with each post, Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelter animals. In all, 7,820 pounds of food was donated to two shelters renowned for their care of senior dogs: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Castaway Critters in Harrisburg, Pa.

How you can help in 2011

Simply spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011 and once again Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of food for each blogger's post. Here's all you need to include in your post:

The Write a Post, Help a Dog program is aimed at raising awareness and food for the more than four million dogs that wind up in shelters and breed rescues each year.
For each blog post mentioning the Pedigree Foundation from now until midnight ET on September 3, Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of its new dry Pedigree recipe food for dogs -- its best recipe ever -- to a shelter, because every dog deserves leading nutrition.

The Pedigree Foundation -- a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization is committed to helping dogs by providing grants to shelters and rescues and encouraging dog adoption. This year the Foundation has already raised more than $376,570 against its goal of $1.5 million to carry out its work to fund grants that not only help shelters operate, but to further shelter innovations.
The Pedigree Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. In addition to writing a blog post, here's how you can help:

Donate online at
Apply for a shelter grant from the Pedigree Foundation by completing a form at
Purchase Dogs Rule Gear at where the proceeds go to the Pedigree Foundation to help loving dogs find a home. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 10 percent off Dogs Rule Gear by using the promo code BlogPaws10 from August 22 - September 30.

Now, the deadline for this is TONIGHT, and the link is at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog. So please go there, link up, copy and paste, or blog what you can to help this fabulous cause.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the Menu Today -- Grilled Salmon, Ribeye Steak, Fried Zucchini, and Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

My last meal at the beach. I haven't had a grill for years, so I cooked a lot while I was there.

First up, I just want to say Thank You All, for coming by and commenting on my cover Wednesday. Your words of encouragement had me weeping all day. Honest. I was so scared to unveil it, scared no one would like it. It really means a lot to hear you say how beautiful it was. So Thanks.

Back to today's post, I know most of you aren't even around this weekend, being Labor Day and all, but I thought I'd ease back into my routine. Keep myself busy.

I'm going to try and treat The Piedmont Grille as a different kind of restaurant this year, matter of fact, like the one Richard and I used to own. Last year, I was kind of all over the place with my menu, not really focused on just exactly what I was trying to achieve. This year, I'd like to really concentrate on what's important. The food, the service, the atmosphere.

So, for your dining pleasure, here's a short list of some new things you'll find here at The Piedmont Grille.

Book Reviews -- I've never done them, however, I think it's a good idea. Just like when we added comedy night at the restaurant, it was different, we took a chance, and it added something extra to the atmosphere.

Author Interviews -- Never done one of these before either, but like Barbara Walters, I want to get answers to the questions no one else has asked before.

Flash in the Pan -- Small snippets of work from me, to hopefully keep you engaged in what I'm trying to achieve. Richard always had a small pan fire burning in the kitchen on any given night and on occasion the fire department would have to step in. I don't think my flashes will require the SCFD, but I hope to leave you with a little bit more than a charred taste in your mouth.

Brunch -- Which really should be on Sunday, but I don't post on that day. I also don't know what will be on the menu, so I guess it'll be a surprise.

Next week, I'll begin to post with my regular schedule again. Mondays are about love, considering I am a romance writer, Wednesdays are about writing, as that is what I proclaim I do, and Friday's we're here at the Grille with a whole new menu. Hope you'll stop by often.

Have a great holiday weekend!