Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome, Elaine Cantrell


Life’s highway is littered with stumbling blocks with some being bigger than others.  LOL.  That sounds like the beginning of a high school graduation speech, but never mind; it’s true anyway.  When I encounter stumbling blocks, my first reaction is panic.  Oh no!  Why did this happen to me?  The blood pressure rises, and if my husband is nearby he gets a play by play recap.  Then, I take a deep breath and start to strategize.  Usually the stumbling blocks aren’t as horrible and big as I thought they were.  Nine times out of ten I can find a way around them with minimal disruption to my life.  Still, that being said, some stumbling blocks are so big you have no choice but to go through them since you can’t go around them.

Sometimes the stumbling blocks can get in the way of a great romance too.  Let me share some stumbling blocks that trip up my hero and heroine in Return Engagement, my new release from Whiskey Creek Press.

The first stumbling block is the heroine’s age.  Elizabeth is five years older than Richard, and since they meet when he’s only seventeen this is a pretty big stumbling block.  Elizabeth is an up and coming actress in Hollywood so naturally her romance with a minor makes the headlines.

The second stumbling block is my hero’s family.  Richard is the son of Senator Henry Lovinggood who plans to make him the president one day.  He’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side, not an actress whom the senator suspects of being a gold digger.

The third stumbling block is my heroine’s family.  Elizabeth comes from a less than stellar background.  Her family consists of unwed mothers, alcoholics, and welfare recipients.  If being an actress isn’t enough to damn her in Senator Lovinggood’s eyes, this will.

The fourth stumbling block is the fact that Elizabeth is engaged to another man.  Alex is a wonderful person, and Elizabeth’s mother sees him as a son.

And lastly… I can’t tell you about the last one without giving away too much, but it’s HUGE.  It makes all the others look insignificant by comparison.

Here’s a blurb and excerpt from Return Engagement.

Blurb:
Elizabeth Lane has heard the call of the four most seductive words in the entire English language: what might have been.  Would you risk everything you hold dear to find out what might have been?  That’s the choice which Elizabeth has to make.

Elizabeth is lucky, for she has it all, money, fame, a satisfying career and a devoted fiancé.  Her humble beginnings are all but obscured, but she isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard.  Senator Lovinggood plans to make Richard the President of the United States; he’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side.  Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time it won’t be so easy, for Elizabeth wants to know what might have been. This time she’ll fight back, a struggle which ultimately leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.
Excerpt:
This excerpt takes place after Richard and Elizabeth meet on a California beach after a ten year separation.  They went to a beach front carnival, and now they’re on the way back to their cars.
“Look at the moon, Richard.  Have you ever seen anything so big and beautiful?  Isn’t it lovely the way it’s reflecting off the water?”

“Yes, but not as lovely as you are.”  Richard made a sound of disgust.  “That is so trite.  You’d think I could do better, but all evening I’ve had trouble saying what I mean.”

“Maybe it’s because you’re trying too hard, but for the record, I think you’re doing just fine.”  She shivered and hunched her shoulders as she hugged herself.  “That wind is cold.”

Richard immediately removed his jacket and handed it to her.  “Here, put this on.”

“Won’t you be cold?”

“I’m fine.  I’ve got on long sleeves and that’s enough.”  His eyes twinkled in the moonlight.  “In fact, I kind of like the idea of you wearing my clothes.  Sounds like high school, huh?”

The chilly wind that blew across the moon-drenched water snatched Elizabeth’s laughter away.  “Who cares?  Sometimes it’s nice to be as irresponsible as a teenager.”

“Let’s sit down and watch the moon awhile.”

Elizabeth willingly sank into the damp sand and cuddled close beside him.
“Richard, about this evening….”

Elizabeth, about Alex….”

“You go first,” Elizabeth urged, glad to put off telling him she couldn’t see him again.
“All right, I will.”  He turned slightly, an almost angry look on his face.  “What the hell do you think you’re doing getting yourself engaged to Alex Crawford?  It’s obvious to a blind man that you don’t love him.  You’ve been teasing me and flirting with me all evening.  You’ve even kissed me.  Right now your body language makes me think if I wanted to take this snuggling any further you’d be willing.”

“Wha…” Elizabeth sputtered.
 
“You don’t strike me as the type of woman who’d pick a man for a night of sex and then go back to her fiancé like nothing had happened.  If that’s true I don’t think you love Alex as much as you think you do.  The question is: what are you going to do about it?”

Elizabeth moaned and hid her face in her hands.  Richard expected this surprise meeting to lead to something more that a hot dog on the beach, a casual meeting between two old…friends.  I’ve done enough damage for one evening; I’m going home before I cause any more trouble.  I’ve betrayed Alex and given Richard hope for a relationship with me when there is no hope. 
She tried to jump up, but Richard grabbed her and held her close.  “The wind is cold, and you can think just as well, no better, in my arms.”

Elizabeth gave up the effort to get away from him.  “Yeah, right.  Being in your arms clarifies everything!  I’m so confused I don’t know if I’m coming or going,” she cried.  “I do love Alex.  I do!  That’s why I agreed to marry him, but with you I feel like a different person.
 
“I know I shouldn’t have flirted with you and kissed you, but I couldn’t help myself.”  Her eyes misted with tears.  “I didn’t want to help myself.  It’s like it was ten years ago only better because now nobody can accuse me of corrupting a minor.  You asked me what I’m going to do, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know.  The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t think I can stand it if you walk away again.”

Elizabeth threw her hands over her burning face again.  “What kind of woman am I?  I haven’t seen you in ten years, yet here I am leading you on and encouraging you to…  What’s wrong with me!”

Richard jerked her hand away from her face and kissed it.  “From my point of view things have finally taken a turn for the better.”  Satisfaction oozed from his voice.

“You’re willing to admit you don’t want to lose me.  It’s taken ten years, but we’re back where we belong-together.  Everything I ever felt for you came back the minute you spoke to me.  Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it too.”

“I…”  Elizabeth fell silent.  After all; what could she say?

“Let me help you make up your mind about what to do.”  Richard pushed her back into
 the sand and kissed her, a delicate, brushing of lips that deepened as hearts caught fire.

For more information on Elaine - Visit her website and blog.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet Mariah & Taylor - Sisters in Time


Today, through the power of the pen…okay, the computer keyboard, I’ve been able to bring together my two heroines from Sisters in Time.  I thought it might be interesting to the readers of this time-travel to hear from each lady personally about her thoughts on waking up in a new and strange era.  We’ll start first with Mariah Cassidy, our pioneer wife and mother of two children then go to our modern-day attorney, Taylor Morgan.

Ginger:  “Good Morning Mariah.  It’s very nice to have you here.  A reader can only imagine how strange it was to start off on a trip to town for supplies and awaken in another time and place. Tell us how you felt about it.”

Mariah: *runs her hand down her long gingham skirt and sits a little straighter on her stool.  “It’s very nice to be here, although it does bring back some frightening moments.  *glances around at all the equipment and leans back to study the cylinder-like mike.*

Ginger:  “Tell us a little about what happened the morning you woke up in 20th century Colorado.”

Mariah:  “There isn’t much I recall except packing a lunch for the trip and waiting for Frank to bring the wagon around.  The children and I had already done most of the chores indoors and were ready to go.” *sighs*

Ginger:  “Go on….”

Mariah:  “The last thing I remember is stopping next to a boulder so our son could… well you know.  A nest of rattlesnakes spooked the team and I reckon I was thrown off the wagon seat and hit my head. Frank did the best he could to manage the horses—”

Ginger:  “I’m sure it was a frightening moment for everyone, but tell us how you felt when you opened your eyes for the first time after the accident.”

Mariah:  *widens her eyes* “Scared.  There I was in some big ol’ bed, in a room filled with strange contraptions—like in here. *gestures to speakers and control panel* “I had a tube in my throat, couldn’t talk, and a man I didn’t recognize at all sat by my bedside constantly and called me Taylor.  I swear, you don’t have any idea how exasperating it is not to be able to speak.  I had no idea then who Taylor was or why he thought I was her.”  *turns and smiles at Taylor, seated next to her*

Taylor:  “Well it wasn’t any picnic waking up in your archaic bedroom with your pesky husband bugging me, either.”

Mariah:  “Pesky?”

Taylor: “Yes, pesky.  The man wouldn’t take my word that I wasn’t his wife.  And how you lived back then with no cell phones, hair dryers or nail salons, I have no idea.  *Bends her knuckles and examines her manicure*

Mariah:  *swivels on her stool* “Your husband was insistent, too.  I must have told him a thousand times my name wasn’t Taylor.  It wasn’t bad enough that I had to be in a hospital for such a long time, I couldn’t believe the… the tacky clothes he brought and actually expected me to wear them to your house.  I have doilies that cover more.

Taylor:  “You wouldn’t know style if it was forced on you…and it was.  Those things hanging in your… your armoire are a far cry from New York’s fashion center.  I couldn’t tell the difference between your daytime and nighttime wardrobe.”

Ginger:  “Ladies, ladies, we’re getting off track here.  Let’s get back to the interview.  Taylor, tell us about your first impression… in a kind way if you don’t mind.

Taylor:  “Can you imagine landing in a space in time where words like Taxi, phone, radio, and Lexus don’t make any sense?  I felt like I came from Mars and spoke a totally different language.  Frank, Miss Priss’ husband, got frustrated with me.  How is that my problem?”

Ginger:  “It must be alarming to wake up in a place totally strange and then have to be without the usual comforts.”

Mariah: “It’s equally as frightening to wake up in a place full of gadgets you know nothing about.  I almost fainted when the basin in Taylor’s kitchen growled at me.  And I had no idea that ice boxes had come so far.  Frozen meat, sodas, and what about that little device that opened cans all on its own?  My goodness.  I tell you what though; I’ll never be able to describe the thrill of flying.

Ginger:  “That’s right.  You flew in an airplane, didn’t you?”

Mariah: “Yes, David arranged for me to have that most wonderful experience.

Taylor:  *Her face red, her jaw tense*  “What other wonderful experiences else did David arrange for you?  Did you sleep with my husband?

Mariah:  *Lowers her gaze* “Not of my own will.  Remember, he kept insisting I was you.  *turns accusing eyes to Taylor*  “Well, you slept with my husband!”

Taylor:  “It’s not my fault.”

Mariah:  “Then whose fault is it?”

Taylor:  “I didn’t write the story, Ginger did. I was on my way to work, minding my own business when she dragged me into her plot.  It’s her fault.”

Mariah:  “Yeah, it is her fault.  Frank never would have thought of sleeping with someone else. We were perfectly happy until she dreamed up this combination time-travel historical. *cast a stony gaze at Ginger*

Ginger:  *checks her watch*.  “Oh dear, we’ve suddenly run out of time.  This has been very interesting, but we’ll have to say goodbye for now.  All I can say in closing is Sisters in Time is available now.  Visit Eternal Press or amazon.com.  Thanks for joining us.  I’ll be back next time with a book that features only one heroine.

Disclaimer:  I don't want to hint that my characters are fibbing, but everyone who knows me, knows that I'm a pantser and all my characters are story-driven.  Mariah and Taylor forged their own tale, and now they just can't live with the outcome.  They should have thought about that before they dragged me into their scheme.  I'm certainly not one to air dirty laundry during an interview, but I felt it necessary to defend my good name.  *smile*




Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Welcome, Kim Upstone - Stopping by on her Blog Tour

 
Genre: Self-Help/Women’s Issues
Publisher: Infinity Publishing
ISBN:0741458195

I am one of 9 children born to a business entrepreneur father (still living) and a housewife (deceased). I’ve been married 32 years to my husband Doug who is a sports writer. I have 2 children Melissa who lives in Hawaii and Brent, who is married and lives in Tempe, AZ. He and his wife  are expecting their first child, Grace, in August. My husband and I care for my sister Debbie(who is 5 years older than I) who has special needs, and of course we have Frank our 4 year old cocker spaniel!  (he’s in one of the pics I attached for your amusement) We moved to AZ 7 years ago to get away from the cold. 


How often do we notice butterflies soaring in the beautiful sky, observe their gorgeous colors against the backdrop of the blue sky and envy the way they can easily glide on the gentlest of breezes and think to ourselves, how wonderful it must be to be a butterfly. The freedom and happiness that they must feel, no worries no cares. We may forget they were once a caterpillar, grounded with a limited view of the opportunities available, opportunities that can only be seen from the vast freedom the sky provides. It took courage to leap from the branch and leave the safety the earth provided them. They had to leave behind all their caterpillar friends, climb to the top of the tree and believe that the wings that they have been working hard to strength will serve them when they need it most.

Of course the butterfly is an analogy for us. How often do we allow ourselves to remain grounded when we want to fly? We can come up with so many reasons not to risk flying. I hear every excuse in the book from; I don't have time, or the energy, I work too many hours, I have children, family, friends that need me, on and on it goes. Oh you think it would be nice to fly but you're not all that fond of heights and besides all your caterpillar friends can't fly so you may be up there all alone and why take the risk?

Let's be honest if you can come up with all those reasons why you cannot fly, can't you come up with one, yes just one compelling reason you should try. All it takes is one real reason. That one reason combined with a change in your thinking can motivate you to begin and then continue climbing higher and higher on those branches. The higher you push yourself up that tree, the easier it is to start thinking about the benefit of soaring above the crowd of caterpillars remaining safely on the ground.
You might be able to serve as a role model for the grounded caterpillars, showing everyone that they have nothing to fear. Being an example of what you can do by just trying. Showing them all that there is no limit to what you can do, maybe you will now be in a position to help all your caterpillar friends out. But you need to realize that if you return to the safety and remain grounded with your old friends, you will surely lose your interest in flying. There is nothing wrong with visiting but don't get comfortable or it will be harder and harder to leave.

You need to leave the caterpillars and work to meet other butterflies to share with and learn from.
Butterflies that have ventured where you haven't, tried things you have yet to try and have taken even bigger risks than you could have imagined.

Decide today, take the risk. Become a butterfly. There is no reason to remain grounded when you were born to fly! Show our colors off against the backdrop of the blue sky and soar with the wind!
Kim Upstone is the owner of A New Day A New Vision which is not only the name of her company, but her life philosophy. As an author, motivational speaker and intuitive designer and interest into the effects of environment upon individuals. Her book Feng Shui for Special Needs is given out as a free eBook for people with life and learning challenges.

Kim Upstone is the owner of A New Day A New Vision which is not only the name of her company, but her life philosophy. Kim believes that each new day we can create a new vision for ourselves, home and environment. As an author, motivational speaker and intuitive designer she resides with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona. With a background in interior design and interest into the effects of environment upon individuals. Accreditation in staging and feng shui soon followed, in addition to study in the field of neuro- architecture. Her first book Step by Step To Sold and Feng Shui to Sell are reflections of those principals. Created as guide for home sellers looking to prepare their home by combining Feng Shui and Staging techniques
Feng Shui for Special Needs, her second book, is given out as a free ebook for people with life and learning challenges. Based on her own personal experience, and working with special needs children and adults to make enhancements to their environments all in an effort to allow them to flourish.

Her new book 
All I Want Is Everything released in December 2009 is drawn from her life’s journey of searching how to find her everything and learning to dance in the storm. All I Want Is Everything is a guide to help women reclaim happiness and peace in the search for their everything.
Website:  http://www.anewdayanewvision.com

Here's Kim's Lineup:
Purchase book on Amazon

July 27 - Author Interviewed at http://bkwalkerbooksetc.blogspot.com 
July 28 - Guest Blogging at http://mizging.blogspot.com
July 29 - Author Interviewed at http://deannajewel.blogspot.com     
July 31 - Author Interviewed at http://myimmortalstories.blogspot.com     
August 3 - Guest Blogging at http://mzging.blogspot.com   
August 5 - Guest Blogging at http://ashleysbookshelf.blogspot.com    
August 10 - SpotLighted at www.trishsilver.com  
August 12 - Guest Blogging at http://amomentwithmystee.blogspot.com     
August 16 - Author Interviewed at www.thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.com  
August 18 - Author Interviewed at http://margaret-paranormalromanceauthor.blogspot.com    
August 20 - Guest Blogging at http://hotgossiphotreviews.blogspot.com      
August 23 - Author Interviewed at http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com    
August 25 - Guest Blogging at http://authorsbyauthors.blogspot.com  
August 27 - Guest Blogging at http://walkermuse.blogspot.com   Me
August 30 - Guest Blogging at http://www.mommyreadstoomuch.blogspot.com  
September 1- Guest Blogging at http://kippoe.blogspot.com  
September 7 - Guest Blogging at http://cindy-vine.blogpspot.com  
September 8 - Author Interviewed at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bkwalker     
September 10 - Guest Blogging at http://azpublishingservices.blogspot.com    
September 13 - LIVE CHAT  http://virtualbooktourcafe.weebly.com  7:30pm EST
September 19 - Author Interviewed at http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com 





Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winning Mr. Wrong

I'm very pleased to brag about my "cyber sister's" upcoming release. The following is the video for Marie Higgins' Inspirational fiction coming next month from Walnut Springs Press.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sad News

Show Low, Arizona - On July 24, 2010, Pretty Bird Pomerantz passed away peacefully in his sleep, or...he may have fallen off his perch and suffered a fatal blow to his head.  Pretty Bird was approaching his fourteenth birthday, according to his owner, Ms. Virginia Pomerantz, and had lived a very sedentary life since his narrow escape with death several years ago when he was attacked by a crazed poodle. Pretty Bird lost his leg in the fracas, and all hopes of a prosthetic limb were abandoned after seeing the vet bill for the surgical removal of his mangled limb by a guy in a white coat using a pair of finger nail clippers. Pretty Bird will be sorely missed by his owner and will be buried privately in the backyard.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the animal shelter of your choice, or you could just have a beer and toast PB's memory. That little sucker has been clinging to his perch with one leg for years.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome, Diane Scott Lewis

Severe Self-Editing

Several years ago I wrote and researched a novel set on the remote North Atlantic island of St. Helena during Napoleon’s exile in 1815. Most of the people who accompanied him wrote diaries and memoires…so many details and history. The island itself was a character due to the odd flora and fauna and geographical setting. I stuffed the novel, Elysium, with these nuggets until it grew to over 150,000 words. The first agent that actually read the book said I had too many characters and needed to develop the two main characters more. So I ripped out several characters, fictional and historical, (which left huge plot holes I had to repair) to make room for Napoleon’s POV along with delving deeper into my heroine’s.

With all that introspection, the novel again ballooned to over 150,000 words. The agent rejected me anyway, not on size but theme. Later, I received a publishing contract from an up and coming small press which wasn’t afraid of large or “outside the box” books. The joy! Then they filed for bankruptcy before I even began edits.

I set the book aside for over a year, but the story kept calling to me. I read Elysium again a few weeks ago and said, “What crap! This needs additional severe self-editing.” First I went through and cut extra words: “just” and “very” are good ones. You also don’t need “she/he wondered; she/he knew; she/he saw” in their POV’s. I slashed the “telling” and added more “emotion”. I studied each scene, do I really need this scene, is the info important, or can I move that one line of info elsewhere? “But I loved that scene!” Oh well, no room. In many scenes the characters blathered on too long, repeating themselves…snip snip!

Get to the point faster! Do I really need to name all the unusual plants on the island, even though they’re fascinating to me? More cuts. Do I really need to keep saying “really”?

The experience has forced me to look at my writing in a different light: cut extra words, scenes that go nowhere, remove superfluous characters. Can two, even three, characters be combined into one? Make every word and all the dialog count and move the plot along.

I’m amazed that I’ve shaved the work down to 137,000 words, still large but manageable. Now I lament that I might have cut too much and removed the historical points I wanted to include. I might sneak back and…add a few back in.

My friend, and an extremely talented writer, Anita Davison, designed this cover for my as yet unpublished book.

For more info on my recently published historical novel, The False Light, adventure and romance in the eighteenth century, and my other books, please visit my website.

Monday, July 19, 2010

We've Come a Long Way, Baby - or Maybe Not!

The old west was a tough place where men were men and women were scarce.  During the mid-1800s, "Mail Order Brides" became a common way for finding a life partner.  With few occupations available to pioneer women outside of being a seamstress, teaching or whoring, any female wanting to travel west considered being a bride her only option.  Tons of men from the east had already migrated west to claim land, start businesses or pan for gold and find their fortune.  Unlike today, the emphasis was not on the woman's looks, rather the need for a companion.

Some enterprising men earned a living by delivering the women west. Wagon trains carrying countless 'ladies' were a common sight. But how did they book passage? Prospective grooms wrote letters home and asked that clergymen pass on information, or they took out ads in newspapers.  Females interested responded in kind, and it was through letters, which sometimes included the exchange of photographs, that women got to know their intended spouses.  Usually some sort of finder's fee was the impetus to those who started the business of transporting the ladies to their mates.  Those hoping to find a better life were often disappointed.  Being a pioneer wife wasn't a bed of roses and not for the faint of heart.

Imagine the surprise!  I can't even fathom marrying someone I'd never met.  I wonder if women cheated back then like they do now on the computer dating sites.  Of course men do it, too.  I'm talking about posting a photo taken years and pounds ago.

 See, times haven't changed quite as much as we believe.  Instead of wagon trains west, now technology has provided us with different methods of mating.  Prior to the computer, mail order magazines, showing mainly women from undeveloped countries looking for a better life were a much-used option. Now, a large number of "dating" sites have cropped up on the Internet.  Some claim to match you with your soul mate and screen the membership, while others are clearly more interested in garnering membership fees and could care less about anything else.  I know of what I speak.

I wrote a book based on my sister's experience with a computer dating site.  Like some women in the old west who were single, divorced or widowed, she turned to a new and promising way to help find that certain someone.  What happened wasn't pleasant, and I offered Embezzled Love as a warning.  Here's the blurb and an excerpt:


They advertise on television—“find your true love; we’ll match you with the person of your dreams.” Their irritating spam clogs your computer inbox—"free tonight? Let’s chat.” You can turn the channel or hit the ‘trash’ button, but the promises still linger in your mind. Is it any wonder divorced and lonely, Cassie Fremont, signed up for an on-line dating service?  What later shocked her was cost of the ticket for a ride on the roller coaster from hell.


Cassie awoke to an unusual sound outside. She rolled over to wake Evan only to find him gone - strange that he would get up so early on a Saturday morning. With a wide yawn, she forced herself to leave the warmth of her bed and get up and walk to the window to investigate. She pushed the curtain aside and peered out. The bright ascending sun blinded her momentarily, but once her eyes adjusted she saw a small tractor - a bobcat she believed they were called. Evan stood with three men and watched another dig gaping holes in her beautiful lawn. “Oh my God,” she spontaneously shouted, pushing the window open. “What are you doing?” Her words went unnoticed, covered by the roar of the lawn-eating monster.
She rushed to her closet, pulled her robe from its hook, and shoved her arms through the sleeves while stuffing her feet into her fuzzy slippers. Her soles barely touched the stairs as she flew down to stop the destruction before it got too far.
She burst out the back door. “Evan, what’s going on?”
“Hi, baby girl, sorry we woke you, but we wanted to get an early start.”
She barely heard him over the din of the tractor, and felt uneasy under the watchful stares of the strangers in her yard. She raised her voice to be heard. “Can I speak to you inside for a moment?”
Evan craned his neck toward her to hear. “What?”
“Inside, I need to speak to you inside,” she yelled.
Evan followed her into the house. When he tried to wrap his arms around her in a morning embrace, she pushed him away. “What the hell are you doing to my yard?”
He looked surprised. “I’m making some improvements.”
“How do you figure that digging a huge hole in my beautiful lawn is an improvement? Evan, I love my back yard.”
He reached for her hand. “Babe, if you love it now you’re gonna go crazy for it when I’m done. I’m putting in a big fish pond, complete with all the plants and a foot bridge.”
“Why?”
“Because, your home is going to be the showplace for our business - I need clients to be able to view my work. When I’m done, you won’t believe it’s the same yard.”
Cassie slowly shook her head in disbelief. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“Don’t worry. I promise it will be a thing of beauty. You trust me don’t you?”
“I guess I have to at this point.” She pictured her once beautiful sod. “By the way, who are those guys?”
“Some of Stan’s extras. I hired them for the weekend.” Evan said with excitement. “You don’t mind putting up a little front money do you? I don’t have enough cash to pay all three of them.”
“Well … I guess I can handle it. How much do they get an hour?”
“Mexican labor is cheap, even in California. I promised them six dollars.”
“I’ll have to get dressed and get to the bank before noon. I don’t have enough cash on me. Do you have any other surprises I should know about? Swimming pools, tennis courts, riding stables?”
Evan laughed. “Nope, just a great big pond that we can load with lots of Japanese Koi.”
“Aren’t those expensive fish?”
“Nothing’s too good for my baby. Besides, I ordered a new credit card for the business to get us started. It should be here any day now.”



There are still Mail Order Brides, today.  As in the catalogs, most are from underdeveloped countries or places where women have little value.  There are documented cases of disappointed grooms or brides that have resulted in murder.  So, think about the risks before you jump headlong into something that may not turn out as happily as you expect.  Yes, I know there are happy-ever-after cases out there, but what are you willing to risk in hopes of becoming one?

If you'd like to read more, visit Wikipedia.  It has some interesting facts and figures.



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mainsteam Versus E-Pubs

With all the continued interest and growing popularity of e-book readers, I've really re-evaluated my "bucket list." The recent announcement that Dorchester has been dis-invited from RWA because of failed contractual obligations doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to figure out that lagging paperback sales are the problem. Readers are finding new horizons using Kindle, Nook, Sony and IPad, to name the four most popular hand-held devices.I consider myself lucky to be involved in this "reading" revelation and wonder why I would want to be part of a big house.

Let's look at a few of the advantages we e-pubbed authors share:
1. Ease of editing and conversation with our peers.
2. Growing help with promotion and marketing strategies.
3. Extended shelf-life. If your book isn't a hot seller with one of the big houses, your work can disappear forever. In e-publishing, you have the right back to your work once your contract expires, and you can improve and re-contract elsewhere. I've done this with my first three books, and I feel I'm offering a much better product this time around. If you're happy where you are, your current publisher may offer to re-contract your work.
4. New opportunities for personal appearances by providing demonstrations about ebooks and the ease of downloading.
5. A lot less stress. Believe it or not, we enjoy a minimum of stress to promote and sell. Mainstream authors have already received advance on their royalties, and now they have to earn it.

I'm sure there are more advantages, so feel free to share them in the your comments.  Libraries are getting on the bandwagon, as are schools and colleges. Someone wise once said, "Blossom where you're planted."  I'm planning on doing just that.


The Dorchester/RWA article is here:

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2010/07/15/thursday-midday-links-dorchester-dis-invited-from-rwa/

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It Bugs Me When...

Finish the sentence.  What bugs you?  I'll start.

It bugs me when people ask for a url that they missed in a previous email.  You have two choices...look back through your trash and find it, or Google it like everyone else does.  My time is just as valuable as yours and your actions scream L-A-Z-Y.

I know this is just being nitpicky, but I hate getting on the computer to over a hundred emails and finding posts filled with two word responses.  "Thank you."  "You're Welcome", but most of, "I commented."   That's the purpose of the comment...leave one and it shows up.  You don't have to announce it to the entire loop.  Yes, we're very proud that you're devoted and supportive, but...

It bugs me when someone schedules a blog date with me and then doesn't show up.  I'm not supposed to be your private secretary, although I do keep a calendar.  I would expect most people do.  I had one person who booked three separate times and never showed for any.  Do you think I'm inviting her back.  I don't think so.

And just in case you wonder why I'm up at 12:50 a.m. acting all cranky...I have a dentist's appointment in the morning and to me, it's like going before a firing squad.  Unless you share "dentaphobia" with me, then you can't begin to understand how my insides start twisting the day before and make me physically sick.  I can already smell that horrid stench that reeks in all dental offices, and the thought of having people with masks in my face, in my mouth, probing,... Oh, excuse me, I have to go take another Xanax.

At least, I found a dentist who does sedation.  So I'll only have to suffer until they put me out.  Then I'll come home and sleep the entire day and forget it ever happened.  The sad thing...it costs $150.00 more to be sedated, and I'm only going for a cleaning.  Yes, I'm a wimp.  So, what's the biggest thing that bugs me?  Dentists.  *lol*
 

Sweet dreams everyone...my Xanax has kicked in.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Christine de Pisan: Medieval Author

Hi, Ginger.  Thanks for having me today.  I wanted to share with your readers a fantastic book I discovered a couple of weeks ago.....wonderful research and great for defending those attacks on your heroine when people say, "women didn't do that back then."  To paraphase Mr. Darcy, aka Colin Firth, in Bridget Jones' Diary, "Oh yes they f*****g did."

The book is LADIES FIRST: History’s greatest female trailblazers, winners and mavericks by Lynn Santa Lucia. “LADIES FIRST is a fascinating account of some of history’s most inspiring women….Adventurers and athletes, politicians and scientists, artists and educations, revolutionaries and criminals—LADIES FIRST celebrates some extraordinary women who have singularly and collectively cleared a path for other females to follow,” so says the inside flap of the book. The book offers biographies and insight on more than three dozen women, from Pharaoh Hatshepsut (ruler of ancient Egypt) to Razia Sultan (warrior queen of India) to Hildegard of Bingen (Renaissance woman) to Marie Curie (two-time Nobel Prize laureate) to Sally Ride (America’s first female astronaut) to a whole bunch of other fascinating women.

Today, I’m going to write a little about Christine de Prisan (also spelled Pizan), Europe’s first professional female writer…a widow who made a living for herself, her three children, her mother and a niece writing.

Christine de Pisan: Medieval Author, page 70:

Christine was born in Venice, Italy in 1364 to Tommaso di Benvenutol da Pizzano, a philosopher and astrologer who became a favorite of Charles V of France. Christine benefited from her father’s position in the Court by having access to the royal library and it’s 900 plus volumes. Encouraged by her father, she learned French, Italian and Latin and explored “books on philosophy, science and geometry.” (73)

Her mother, who was not quite as enlightened as her father, saw to it that Christina learned the womanly arts, too…that of spinning, needlepoint and running a household. In addition, Christine wasn’t such a maverick that she didn’t conform to the codes of society and at the age of 15 married Etinne de Castel, a scholar ten years her senior. By all accounts, it was a happy marriage, but ten years and three children later, in 1489, Christine was a widow when Etinne died suddenly of the plague.

In addition to her husband’s untimely death, her father had died in 1487, leaving her mother a widow as well. Christine now had her own children, mother and a niece to care for and her husband’s estate was tied up in malicious lawsuits and disputes. Though eventually settled, for a few years, Christine had to support the family herself.

To find comfort in her new found grief, she turned to quill and scratched out poems, ballads and prose. “She sent her verses to various members of the court and, as was the custom, they began to send her gifts, then money in return.” Word of mouth brought her writing to the attention of others and commissions soon poured in. She quickly became known “for her skills as a scribe, translator, essayist, historian, and political analyst,” as well as a poet. For two decades “she would write allegories, instructional texts, even a manuscript on military strategy.” (75) In 1404, wrote a biography of Charles V at the behest of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, brother to the dead king.

This being the middle ages, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there were a great many treatise, poems and essays written by men attacking women as “vain, deceptive and lewd.” (70) Christine took up the quill, not to support her family, but in defense of the fairer sex against the unjust attacks. In return, the men “dismissed her as incompetent, or demanded she retract her commentaries.” (75).

Frustrated by the continued assault on women, in 1405, she wrote her most ambitious novel yet, Le Livre de la Cité des Dames (THE BOOK OF THE CITY OF LADIES). Using Reason, Rectitude and Justice as female guides, Christine relates the stories of “Queens, princesses, warriors, poets, inventors, weavers of tapestries, wives, mothers, sibyls and saints” to demonstrate both the power and the piety of women. (78).
Le Livre de la Cité des Dames is quite possibly the first biography on women ever written. It is also the first of fifteen major works Christine wrote.

In 1415, however, she was forced to flee Paris due to the Hundred Year’s War and take up refuge in a convent where her daughter was a nun. Her writing was on hold for eleven years, then “in 1429, a young peasant girl from Domrémy donned armor, rallied French troops and the tide of a war in stalemate in favor of the French.” After Charles VII’s coronation, Christine composed her last work “Hymn to Joan of Arc.” Christine died later that year.

Her death did not erase her from history, however. Her works have lived on as a memorial to “the first consciously feminist voice of modern Europe.” Even her contemporaries realized the importance of her works. In 1442, Martin Le Franc wrote in Le Champion des Dames “For the sake of strangers, let us celebrate the valiant Christine—although death has snatched away her body, her name will live forever.” (79)

For more information on Christine de la Pisan as well as links to her writings, check out these websites:

Distinguished Women of Past and Present
A Celebration of Women Writers
Other Women's Voices
xenophongroup

Anna Kathryn Lanier

Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/
http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Beware of Hidden Cameras

I've always loved Walmart... not just for the shopping, but the people watching opp. Actually, when I go there, I get a good dose of self-esteem. But, the problem I'm facing now is the rash of pictures taken in the stores and shared on the Internet. Am I really as "fetching" as I feel when there, or am I going to show up on a "Walmart people" blog or email?  Maybe there is a reason that women wear Burkas in some places. :)

This sampling will give you an idea of what I mean. Do these people feel the same way I do when I look at others. Do you suppose they assume they are normal?  Take the woman in this picture?  Trust me that isn't me yet, but I may be working my way to her level if I don't get my ass out of this chair.  I've always heard of "back boobs", but I'd truly never seen them until now. And lady...get a longer blouse...surely you feel a draft.

 And speaking of drafts...are you trying to tell me this guy doesn't realize his pants are falling?  Looks like he has a bad rash.  Maybe he's headed for the Desitin or baby powder aisle.  Oy vey!














Me thinks this lady is in the wrong aisle.  She should be in "lady's lingerie".  Wow, I've bet she can black her own eye on a bumpy road.










I'm a little speechless on this one.  I'm not sure what to say.  It looks like a butt crack, but then again, he may be the person with the hidden camera.  Smile!





If the bin had an arrow on it, pointing to the left, that would just sum up this picture.  Don't these people have mirrors in their homes?








Me thinks Grandpa got into Grandma's closet by mistake.









I hope that's a gym membership or fashion consultant she's signing and not just the ATM machine.






And the

 "Pièce de résistance": 



What the well-dressed Walmart shopper in Tennessee is wearing these days.  Trust me, I've seen her many times.  :)



Kudos to People of Walmart for letting me have some fun with their pictures.  If you want more, just click on the link.  :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reality TV versus Fictional Romance


Warning - this may be a repeat of a post I made elsewhere - Hey, I'm a busy person.  :)

As a bona fide romance author, I’m constantly amazed by what passes as believable on television these days.  The new generation of program creators have come up with shows that supposedly represent what happens in “real life.”  I’m here to tell you if the shows I’ve watched truly fall under the definition of “reality,” I’m resigning as a female human being.

In working with editors, we authors are constantly reminded that what we write has to be at least somewhat believable despite the fact that we write fiction.  The plot has to be ingenious enough to draw a reader in and hold them captive until the very end, but never make them scratch their head in disbelief.  Television, it seems, can present the most implausible situation, broadcast it weekly, and garner humongous ratings, yet if an author presents something ridiculous, he/she is haunted for years with crummy reviews.

If you haven’t witnessed the boob tube insanity for yourself, picture a short, little black man who dresses in garish clothing, wears a giant clock around his neck, calls himself Flava Flave and entices a dozen good-looking but evidently brainless women to come on live TV and compete for his affections.  One look at his ugly mug makes me ask, “Why?”  There isn’t enough money in the world.

Or, how about Bret Michaels and his Rock of Love?  The script is the same, except ex-not-well-known-rocker, Michaels, flaunts his bevy of beauties and his blond “weave” all over the country in buses that sport his name in big letters…usually two, but only until he narrows the field down enough to fill only one.  The aim is supposed to be finding his true love, but since he’s been on three seasons now, you’d think he’d figure out what he’s doing isn’t working. Oh sign me up! There’s nothing like swapping spit with someone who’s just had his tongue down the throat of ten other women…and usually while they all stand by and watch.  There is no length to which these women won’t go to in order to win their man.  And what a prize he is.  NOT! Part of the thrill is touring from county fair to county fair to watch him perform.  Gag!

My most recent find was Real Chance of Love.  Here, two brothers, Real and Chance, members of a not-at-all-heard-of band, The Stallionaires, are looking for the love of their lives.  They also entice a dozen or more beauties to come spend time in their “mansion,” and compete with the others and be the last woman standing.  What constantly amazes me is that these bimbos stomp their feet, cry, and get pissy if they aren’t the center of attention at all times.  I keep asking myself, “What did they expect when they signed up for gig?”  Since this was Real and Chance’s second season, I’m pretty certain we can expect a third.  These two are definitely not my dream men…I’d rather read a novel and create a hero in my mind’s eye.  Real is maybe five feet tall, wears spandex arm covers, has a black weave longer than Cher’s, and Chance has a Mohawk and a space between his front teeth almost wide enough to drive through.  Someone should encourage the producers to at least find someone with sex appeal so these women don’t appear quite so stupid. 

There are so many more ridiculous shows like this, and I’m ashamed to admit I know the names of most of them.  Let’s just agree that I learned them by doing research for this post.  *grin*.  I Love Money, The Tool Academy, oh, and let’s not forget the Kardashian clan who somehow managed to wriggle into fame and fortune on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  Really…the entire family, and now there’s a spin off for two of the sisters. Pah-leese…Do we really care what Khloe and Kourtney are doing?

  What I have noticed during my “research” is that on most of these shows you earn a new name.  It’s usually something given you by the “star(s)” because there’s no way they could remember common monikers.  It’s much easier to call those in their harem things like: New York, Doll, Classy, Cornfed, Mamacita, Hot Wings, or Sassy.  Just in case you wonder…New York started on Flava Flave, migrated to I Love Money, and then went on to get her own spin off.  Cornfed was Real’s failing choice last season, while Mamacita and Sassy made the finals this year, but were left standing in tears when Chance choose Hot Wings and Real waltzed off with Doll.  Oh God, help me…I know the entire cast and what happened to them. 

So tell me; why would you want to watch something as ridiculous as reality, when you can read a great dose of fiction that’s believable?  The only thing you can count on with reality TV is that there’s nothing original to be found.  If you watch one show, you’ve watched them all.  They just are filmed in different places, have different names, but believe me…all cast men no one would ever conjure up as a hero or leading man.  Give me a good book any day!

   




Saturday, July 10, 2010

What Pulls You Out of a Novel?

I read for years and years before I wrote my own first novel.  Funny, now I find it very hard to read without the critical eye that's been inflicted on me by my own continuous editorial sessions.  Each time an author completes a manuscript and submits it for publication, an editor is assigned to help hone a story into a novel. Each occasion is an "learning" opportunity.

My first editor, Cindy Vallar, was my greatest teacher.  She taught me the importance of getting my historical facts correct.   Nothing pulls a reader from a story faster than finding something that doesn't belong to the era or hearing dialogue too modern for the time.  Through Cindy, I also learned the distinct difference between telling a story or showing a novel.

Now, when I read, there are certain things that yank me right out of the moment.  A good novel should put you in the role of the main character and leave you there.  These are a few of the bothersome things that may seem nit picky to some, but they actually stop me dead in my tracks when I'm reviewing a book:

Internal dialogue.  I hate it.  I would prefer to read everything in the same tense.  Jumping from a story told in third person to a barrage of internal thoughts in first person takes the smoothness out of the read.  I can tolerate one or two words that the character might think, but an entire paragraph....nope.

Predicting.  When I'm reading and the author uses a descriptive tag before the character speaks, I have to ask myself, "How can they describe something they haven't heart yet?"  Many authors continue to predict dialogue, but the habit moves the novel back to "story-telling mode'' in my opinion.

Time passage.  I prefer the *** or * * * * standard to indicate time passage, rather than telling text, i.e., Three weeks later, she was cleaning... or Later the next day.  Phrases like that smack of telling and I'd rather move into a scene and know time has passed by some action taken by the character.  Example:  Cassandra's stared at the calendar.  Three weeks had passed since she'd last tasted his kiss... 

Redundancy.  We all do it.  It's easy when you're writing in spurts to forget what you've already shown the reader.  I don't think any of us go back and re-read everything we've written when we begin the story again.  It takes good editors to weed out the repetitious stuff.

Word Echoes. The English language is comprised of a myriad of words that mean the same thing.  Try eliminating duplications and finding new ways to express yourself.  Example:  She closed the door behind her then closed the window.  How could he be so closed-minded. 

Overuse of tags.  Nothing bores a reader more than ending very bit of dialogue with "he said/she said."  Rather than telling, use an action tag that shows the shows some action yet identifies the speaker.  Example:  It's cold in here," he said.  Better:  "It's cold in here."  He moved to the fire and rubbed his hands over the flame.


Overusing "It."  Some authors make the mistake of thinking the reader knows what "it" is.  When possible, identify "it" for the reader.  

And of course, my favorite of all--the writing error I'm still trying to avoid: Overusing the word, "that."  Remember, if the sentence reads well without it, you don't need it.  Example:  He told her that he was going to work.  Read the example without "that" and it makes perfect sense.

These common pitfalls are so easy to spot in other people's work, but I'm pretty sure if I re-read my latest WIP, I'll find  I've managed to forget a few of my own pet peeves. Ah, if only I could be as perfect as I want to be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ebooks and Apps? Yay or Nay?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jul/03/marcus-du-sautoy-apps-books

Follow this link and you'll find a very interesting post about the future of e-books.

While most of us who've been in the industry for a time have found cause for celebration in the recent "interest" of hand-held devices and downloadable reads, this prediction of what looms is distressing.  Of course it's only the natural progression of technology...the need for greed to make more money by creating newer, more intriguing applications to add to the newer gadgets.

As I responded to the poster who shared the link on one of my loops, I see the addition of "apps" to e-readers as an attempt to lure youngsters to read more, but will they?  When I'm engaged in a book, I don't want to stop and throw pies at the queen or take a spin on Harry Potter's broom.  Reading then becomes a game and steals away the opportunity to fantasize.  Are we doing our children a disservice by allowing everything to become "electronic?"

A recent study has shown that children who spend countless hours playing video games display a loss of concentration in the classroom.  While we may think we are letting them improve their hand-eye coordination, what are we doing to them, really?

I think this post about applications added to books is interesting and a good conduit for discussion.  How do you feel about adding apps to your work?  I say No!


What next...Instant messages to disturb us when we've finally left the computer or television to lose ourselves in a book?  I think technology is awesome, but I also think we're getting carried away.  Here's an example of Alice in Wonderland for the IPad:

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction