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.