Monday, December 31, 2012

Out With The Old and In With The New

On the eve of the new year I am already beginning to fill hope and renewal.  No matter how good or bad the past year has been I ALWAYS look forward to the new year.  There is always something I can do better, something more I can hope will transpire.

2012 has been a year of challenges, opportunities, and a lot of serendipity.  In my mind, every challenge opens a window or door of opportunity.  And the simple act of waking each day and being open to what may come provides many serendipitous blessings. So, I am saying goodbye to 2012 challenges and hello to 2013 opportunities. I will strive to be present in each day and open to all the blessing it will bring.


As part of these new opportunities I am partnering with other writers to share 2013 resolutions. I have lots of resolutions this year. Some are the usual: lose weight, eat healthy, exercise, be more patient, and look for opportunities to make a difference in the world.  Other resolutions are more specific to a current or recent challenge.

For the next nine days, a group of my favorite author friends and I will be helping each other with one of our New Year's resolutions. (Special thanks to Jessie Smith for suggesting this to us!)  Each resolution is different. Mine is to take a vacation.  I didn't get one last year and this year is looking iffy.  So, each of the writers will be guest posting on my blog about this resolution and their approach or ideas to help me make my resolution this year. After the other eight authors have posted, I will wrap up with how I'm going to make this resolution work for me. In turn, I will be posting on each of their blogs to help with their resolutions too.  The list of writers and resolutions is at the end of this blog.  I hope you check each blog every one of the nine days.  I suspect some of these resolutions are on your list too. We would also love to hear your stories and resolutions along the way.


The Resolve 2013 Tour begins January 1st and goes for nine days.  I hope you will take the opportunity to stop by each of the nine blogs below on each of the nine days.  Get to know these wonderful authors better and maybe get a couple of ideas on how to make your own 2013 resolutions successful.  Of course, there are always prizes for commenters. (I'm offering a $25 gift card to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or iBooks. Other authors are doing there own gifts.) But the best prize of all for me will be hearing from my readers and friends. What better way to start the new year than with connecting in our shared desire to be better, to do better, and to reach for the stars?


THE RESOLUTION TOUR - January 1 - 9, 2013




Happy New Year! What are some of your new year resolutions?  I'm happily anticipating all of your comments.

Monday, December 24, 2012

HAPPY HOLIDAYS


This time of year always puts me into a reflective mood.  I enjoy all the music of the season, both religious music and secular music. I love getting together with family and friends. I love the renewal of giving that always comes this time of year.  So many people reaching out to strangers with their hearts and their service: serving meals, providing warmth and companionship, and giving gifts.  There are many holiday traditions at this time of year.

As I have friends and family of many faith traditions, and some without faith, I strive to be particularly respectful at this time of year.  I've listed some of these traditions below.  The one theme that goes through all of them is ending darkness and bringing light, as well as forgiveness of past mistakes and a commitment to being a better person moving forward .  I know I am a better person for getting some understanding of the different ways we celebrate in December, and I hope in sharing these with you it will bring some light into your understanding as well.

First week of December, Chalica - Chalica begins on the first Monday in December and lasts seven days. It is a way to honor the seven principles that congregations of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition promote. Each day, a chalice is lit and the day is spent reflecting on the meaning of that day’s principle and doing a good deed that honors that principle. The seven principles are: 1) recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person; 2) strive for justice, equity and compassion in human relations; 3) accept one another and encourage spiritual growth in our congregations; 4) promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; 5) affirm the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; 6) work toward the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and 7) promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


Dec. 8 , Bodhi Day - This Buddhist holiday commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautauma (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment.Bodhi Day is observed in many mainstream traditions including the traditional Zen and Pureland Buddhist schools of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. In Japanese Zen, it is also known as Rohatsu. In Tendai and other Japanese sects, it is called Jōdō-e.  Services and traditions vary amongst Buddhist sects, but all such services commemorate the Buddha's achievement of Nirvana, and what this means for Buddhism today. Individuals may choose to commemorate the event through additional meditation, study of the Dharma, chanting of Buddhist texts (sutras), or performing kind acts towards other beings. Some Buddhists celebrate with a traditional meal of tea, cake, and readings.



Dec. 8-15, Hannukah - This eight-day Jewish holiday starts the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. Also known as the Festival of Lights it commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.  During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a 'hanukkiyah'. There is a special ninth candle called the 'shammash' or servant candle which is used to light the other candles. The shammash is often in the center of the other candles and has a higher position. On the first night one candle is lit, on the second night, two are lit until all are lit on the eighth and final night of the festival. Traditionally they are lit from left to right. A special blessing, thanking God, is said before or after lighting the candles and a special Jewish hymn is often sung. The menorah is put in the front window of houses so people passing can see the lights and remember the story of Hanukkah.  In many Jewish households, Hanukkah is also a time for giving and receiving presents and gifts are often given on each night.

Dec. 21-22, Winter Solstice - The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural traditions for celebrating this date have arisen.  Many people mistakenly believe this holiday is celebrated today only by pagans or witches. In fact, it is celebrated by many cultures around the world, including: Zuni and Hopi (Soya); Persians (Yalda); Romans (Saturnalia); and Saxons (Modraniht).

Dec. 21-25, Pancha Ganapati - This Hindu festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Ganesha, Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, the family focuses on a special spiritual discipline to bring forth a new beginning and mend past mistakes.The entire five days is focused on creating a vibration of love and harmony. The first day begins with immediate family. The second day includes relatives and close friends. The third day includes business associates. The fourth day includes music, arts, drama, and dance. On the final day, love and harmony is experienced in all three worlds (the physical plane, the astral plane, and the spiritual plane) and especially from the great God himself.

December 25th, Christmas - Christians around the world celebrate this as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Though the precise birth date is not known, in the mid fourth century, the Western Christian Church placed the date as December 25th.  The original date of the celebration was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church.  As of 2012, there is a difference of 13 days between the modern Gregorian calendar and the older Julian calendar. Those who continue to use the Julian calendar or its equivalents thus celebrate December 25 and January 6 on what for the majority of the world is January 7 and January 19. For this reason. Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is January 7.

December 26-Jan. 1, Kwanzaa - This week-long celebration is held primarily in the U.S., and more recently in Canada. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture. Kwanzaa has seven core principles: Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.




My wish for each of us is that in whatever way we celebrate the holidays, that we do it with a commitment to understanding, a commitment to bringing light into the world, and a commitment to search for a way toward peace for all of us.

Happy Holidays to all my friends, family, and readers!





Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Marriage of Inconvenience by Christine Young

Today I'm featuring author Christine Young and her new historical romance, A Marriage of Inconvenience.  Please enjoy the excerpt and my review below. Don't forget to leave a comment in order to have a chance at winning the $25 gift card she is giving away at the end of the tour. Also, if you follow the other stops in the tour you get a new chance to enter every time.


BLURB:

A REGAL BEAUTY

When the duchess decides to wed her to a wastrel and a fop, Ravyn Grahm takes matters into her own hands and declares her engagement to another man. Instead of fessing up and telling her great aunt what she has done, she goes through with the pretense. Aric Lakeland is the bastard son of an earl and has a dangerous reputation. But Ravyn is willing to do most anything to keep the duchess from discovering the lie.

 A DEVIL-MAY-CARE SMUGGLER

He'd bought land in America, looking to put down roots and end his life of adventure, but Aric Lakeland got more than he bargained for when he encountered a beautiful heiress who made a promise she didn't want to keep. But the promise could not be undone and standing between them were more obstacles than either ever dreamed. Aric had made plans to spend the rest of his life in America and that was at odds with Ravyn's plan of living in England and running her father's estate. Now, he'll have to choose between his dreams and the woman he loves more than life.

EXCERPT

Ravyn opened her mouth.

All that came out was a breathless sound. Aric turned a corner on the path and in front of him was a pool, basking in the light from the moon. They stood high on rocks that rose above the water. Before she could comprehend what he did, he dove from the lofty perch. His body knifed through the blackness below. Seconds passed before she watched him break the surface of the smooth water. Ripples spiraled outward. He shook his head, droplets spraying everywhere. He swam to the beach and rose from the dark, gently dripping water from the pool like a replica by a French painter: smoothly muscled, balanced, potent, in essence masculine in his grace.

Moonlight rippled over glossy flesh like daylight over water, heightening the play of muscle beneath skin that was as fine-grained as amber. The mixture of blatant male power and equally blatant male splendor sent heat racing through Ravyn, shortening her breath, making her feel as though Aric were running his hands over her.

The idea was both frightening and fascinating. Trembling, she held her breath, waiting for him to acknowledge something. For a few moments, there was silence except for the cry of an owl. 

Aric disappeared only to suddenly stand beside her on the rocky ledge. Despite the trials of the day and her fears for Lilly, Ravyn found she enjoyed watching Aric. It sparked something inside her she had not known existed. When she looked at him, she found herself wanting to stroke him, test his resilience.

The golden heat in Ravyn’s stomach spread again, sending an inferno streaking through her, making her catch her breath in pleasure.

Fear and desire fought within Ravyn, making her shake. Despite that, she couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to coil closer and closer to the heat, letting fire consume her to her very core.
The sound of her own voice alarmed her. It was much too husky, reflecting the tug-of-war between ingrained shyness and blossoming passion. She enjoyed watching Aric far too much, and the thought of touching him intrigued every part of her. She wanted to do everything he asked. The thought of pleasing him was an incredible lure.

His voice was deep, dark, warm. It made Ravyn feel as though she had been kissed by a spring breeze. Gentle fingertips traced the line of Ravyn’s neck and collarbone. And she watched him. The strength in him intrigued her.

He took it as much for granted as he did the air he breathed. She couldn’t take him for granted in that way. Not any longer. The realization made her shake.


MY REVIEW

First, I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with historicals. I love learning about history and all the nuances of that. I really love it when the protagonist goes against the historical norm in that she is strong and stands up to her rights.  What I hate about historicals is the way men assumed they always know what's best and often forced themselves--literally and metaphorically--on women and kept them in "their place' in society.  It is important to understand this, so you can take my review in that vein because this book offers both of those situations.

A Marriage of Inconvenience is the story of two people who are very much in love, but so stubborn and sure of their partners needs, that they constantly end up hurting each other. In spite of her obvious feelings of attraction and desire for physical intimacy, Ravyn is deathly afraid of sex and even more so of bearing children.  Though she is a virgin, her knowledge of the marriage bed and child birth is from her mother's horrific experiences and a best friend who was raped.  Needless to say not positive.

Aric has a problem in general with aristocrats and a very defined view of what they want in life, this includes Ravyn. When she forces is hand into a marriage he actually has hopes for working out, all of his prejudices become magnified and no matter how much she proves she is a strong woman who can--and wants to--thrive in America, he doesn't believe her. Add to that her refusal to consummate their marriage, and you have one very frustrated alpha male.

I applaud the author for tackling a subject that was probably more the norm than we realize. Aristocratic women often had their husbands chosen for them, and I can only wonder how loveless and horrible the marriage bed could be.  Add to that the liklihood they would die in childbirth, or their child would die, it must have been a miserable life for many women. 

I must admit, I grew increasingly frustrated at Ravyn's I want you/I don't want you thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  Even when the reason was finally revealed more than half way through the book, it didn't seem enough to me.  Yes, her fears were justified. However, given that she was regularly risking her life in America throughout the book, and their sexual explorations included everything except intercourse, it just didn't ring true to me that she would refuse her husband--a man she clearly loved--the one thing he desired.  I was also equally frustrated with Aric's truly mean choices to prove she wasn't fit for America. They did not at all show me a man who loved her and I had a hard time liking him.

The writing sparkles much of the time. The dialog is excellent and the characters are well-drawn.  I understand why the author made the choices she did. I understand the need to have her characters constantly butting heads.  However, for me, it didn't work as much as I would have liked. I would have made different choices in how the relationship progressed.  I may have let Aric know the problem earlier and then put the onus on him to make it better instead of repeating the same behavior again and again.  But then, I don't write historicals, and I still appreciate that the author wanted to show a side of women's lives that was not at all easy.  I'm definitely conflicted about the book.  In the end, what can any author ask, but that a reader cares enough about the characters that she gets angry, sad, or happy when they don't behave as she wishes?

 

BUY LINKS: Rogue Phoenix Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel, to Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

Contact Christine:  * Website * Facebook * Twitter * GoodReads *

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Christine will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  You can follow all the stops on the tour and increase your chances for winning. The stops are listed below.  Please, take a minute and say Hi to Christine and ask questions about her book.



Tour Stops

December 10:  Romantic Historical Lovers
December 11:  Tamaria Soana
December 12:  Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
December 13:  Queen of all She Reads
December 14:  MeganJohnsInvites
December 17:  Urban Girl Reader
December 18:  SnifferWalk
December 18:  STOP 2  It's Raining Books
December 19:  Bodice Ripper Novels
December 20:  Maggie's Meanderings (You are here!)
December 21:  My Devotional Thoughts
December 31:  Reviewing Shelf
January 1:  The Muse Unleashed
January 2:  Ramblings From This Chick
January 3:  Sugarbeat's Books
January 4:  Wickedly Wanton Tales
January 7:  Jinni James
January 8:  Love Saves the World
January 9:  Christy McKee  the "Sweet Spot" of Life
January 10:  Book 'Em North Carolina
January 11:  Welcome to My World of Dreams

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogging with Christy McKee and Happy Holidays

Today I'm blogging with Christy McKee , on her blog "The Sweet Spot of Life."  She did a great interview with me and is featuring Healing Notes.  If you wish to stop by and Say Hi. That would be great.  All comments will still be entered in the $25 gift card at the end of this tour in January.

Speaking of Giveaways. The Webbiegrrl Ginormous 30,000th visitor giveaway of 70+ books has ended.  She sent me the list of 15 randomly drawn names as winners of the three books I was giving away.  So, if you entered, be sure to check your email and the Webbiegrrl site to see if you won. If you didn't win one of my books you likely won something.  With so many books to giveaway, I imagine some people won more than once.  It was great fun to be part of a big effort.

I hope you are finding your holidays wonderful.  As a show that I'm getting in the holiday spirit, I thought I would share with you my wonderful husband playing guitar at church with two women from the choir as they sing We Wish You a Merry Little Christmas.  It makes me smile every time I watch it.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I hope that title got your attention!  Isn't it every author's dream that the next book will be "The Next Big Thing."  The book to finally break out to a list--NYT, USA Today.  The book to finally have people wanting to recommend it to book group readers. The book to finally get people talking about it on their own without the other pimping it at all.  Yup, that's the dream for me.

Unless you are already Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling or many of the other consistently amazing, wonderful "big thing" authors, most of us harbor this hope in our mind.  And, if we are honest, most of us believe the next book is THE book.  That's what this tag-your-it blog meme is all about. I'm not sure when it started, probably a year ago or more.  It is specifically designed by authors who believe/want themselves and their fellow authors to be "the next big thing."

I was tagged by the intelligent, funny, and always interesting Melissa Yuan-Innes.  She also writes as Melissa Yi for her romantic suspense novels and Melissa Yin for her lighter fare.   The tag string up to her is long, but the most recent two before her included Cindie Geddes,and Gary Jonas. I strongly urge you to visit each of their blogs too and learn about their books. They were tagged before me, which means they were handpicked by someone who believed in their work. You'll miss out if you don't give yourself the opportunity to see what they are writing.

I met Melissa in a novel workshop run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch several years ago. The first thing that struck me about her was that she was very petite and very young--young enough to be my daughter.  The second thing was that she was amazingly intelligent.  Her education and occupation is as an E.R. doctor, her second passion is writing novels that are not easily categorized but always interesting.  I'm pretty sure I've read every one she's published and most of her short stories as well.

So, the meme requires each author to answer the same 10 questions and then to handpick other authors to participate.  So here are the questions and my answers. I'm talking about my new YA novel I'm writing under the name of Maggie Faire.

What is the working title of your next book?

I just completed my first Young Adult novel in October and sent it out for representation. It is called Chameleon.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've been reading a lot of YA over the past two years and absolutely loving it. I really wanted to write one and I wanted to return to my roots in SF and Fantasy.  The inciting idea came from a mash upof several things I strung together.  Four years ago, I was hiking in the redwoods and admiring all the different kinds of lichen that grow there. I began to think about what special properties each might have and what impact lichen has on the creatures who eat it. That led me to remember several articles I've read about drugs that have been discovered or formulated from natural plants and fungi found in the forest, which also led me to remember numerous articles and controversy around things humans do to modify natural plants to make them bigger, stronger, grow faster. So, I imagined a world where lichen "naturally" modified humans and animals who lived in the forest to become all the mythological creatures we've read in fairy tales. Into that world humans begin adding growth hormone to the lichen in order to make it reproduce faster and to engineer the drugs they need. As you can imagine, that changes the mutations everywhere.

As is usually the case when I'm writing SF or Fantasy I tend to begin with an idea in search of a character who can embody it. Knowing I wanted it to be YA, I wanted to explore the biggest issue for young people as the transform into adults. For me that is how a girl discovers/chooses who she is as an individual separate from her family and friends. What would be more devastating than a teenage girl who was an uncontrolled human chameleon? If she looks at someone she immediately turns into that person--male, female, young, old, it doesn't matter. That would be devastating and certainly make it very difficult to figure out who the real person is on the inside and the outside.  Thus Chameleon was born, Book 1 of the Forest People.

What genre does your book fall under?

I assume it is YA Fantasy because it includes mutated beings which have become what we know as faeries and yetis and shape-shifters--all the mythological creatures.  Some might tag it as urban fantasy because it takes place in today's time and there is cross-over between the worlds. However, because of the roots in biology modification and making drugs from plant materials, it has a bit of SF in it too.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm horrible with the whole casting thing--mostly because I never remember names even when I liked them in a movie.  The only actor names I have is for the Chameleon, Camryn, and for the Boha'a spiritual leader, Abrani Daj. I also really trust casting directors to know who is the best and tend to really like films who use primarily unknown actors--particularly when they are teens.  However, when I start creating my characters I do pick out pictures from the web in order to keep my vision consistent.  So, here is what my collection for the main characters looks like at the moment.


Camryn (The Chameleon) - Carey Mulligan









Ohar (Mazikeen Faery Royalty)












Dagger ( Boha'a thief)








 Koška (Dagger's sister who is also a cat shapeshifter)















Abrani Daj (Spiritual and magical sage of the Boha'a) - CCH Pounder










 Sela - nurse at the psychiatric institution and human (Agnoses) mentor to the Chameleon. - Alexandra Blatt







What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I can't make it in one sentence, but I think I can in two.

A human chameleon must learn to walk between a world where she is not wanted and a world where myth is reality and everyone wants her for their own agenda. The choices she makes in each world can destroy everyone she loves and everything she knows.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be traditionally published. As to representation it depends on how the current conversations go and if I feel that agent representation is the appropriate path for my career. If I don't use an agent, I will use a literary IP attorney to negotiate the publishing contract.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Actual writing time was about 4 months for the first draft.  Thinking about it was three years off and on.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don't have a good comparison because it is more cross-genre than most YA I've been reading. However, I would love it if the characters were as strong as those written by Melissa Marr and Kristin Cashore; the world-building was as good as P.C. Cast; and the heart of the story stuck with you like Jerry Spinelli's Star Girl did for me.  When I first conceived the story, I thought of it as Avatar meets Wicked Lovely with a Harry Potter story arc.  You can see why I dropped that idea. Too many disparate comparisons, which ends up telling you nothing without reading the book.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think I've answered this completely in the "Where did the idea come from" question.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

This is designed to be part of a series, though each book will have a complete story in itself. There will be an arc of the characters lives as each comes into his or her power and understanding of the world and its issues. There is also, of course, the ultimate fight against the Abaddon--that which can destroy everything.  I haven't completely decided the length of the series. I'm guessing it will be five books. I'm hoping to do it in five, but as I haven't written them all I can't say for sure.

 Next Authors

Why is it important that authors choose authors?  Because we read a lot of books and have some sense of who is writing at a level we believe is ready for the next step. We also know these writers personally and can recommend them as good people too.  For me, both are important for a long term career.  So here are my five picks for The Next Big Thing.

Jamie Brazil (Friday, December 14th) - Like me, Jamie is a transfer from the non-fiction world.  I believe her transfer in her first novel is absolutely wonderful. Jamie's current series is light romantic comedy with a twist.  In her book, Prince Charming Inc. she turns the whole gold-digger concept upside down. Her writing is fun, intelligent, and sweet with plenty of twists. I am dying for her to get the next book in this series done. She also happens to be part of a documentary film crew and has been involved with some really great projects.  Intelligent, sweet, and someone who you meet and immediately want to become best friends. She is the real deal.

Jenna Bayley-Burke - (date to come) - Another romantic comedy writer--though she does do the occasional angsty book.  I've been reading Jenna since she wrote for Harlequin Mills & Boon.  She really makes me laugh, both in her books and in person. I've loved every single book. I'd love to see her move to single title and become the next Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Rachel Gibson. The mother of three active children and two dogs that are as big as ponies, I'm amazed at how she manages it all. We are sisters born of different mothers. Though we are nothing alike and years apart, I absolutely love her.

Delilah Marvelle - (date to come) - Delilah's sexy historical romances have been delighting readers for the past six years.  Her HQN Scandal Series and Rumor Series have both been very popular, and she is reviving her popular School of Gallantry series to complete those books in 2013. Delilah pioneered the video gossip blog and does many workshops on sex through history. Her energy and enthusiasm for writing and for readers is truly enticing. Delilah is the type of writer who supports everyone around her. She mentors the beginner and the intermediate writer, always willing to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with anyone who asks.

Cathryn Cade - (date to come) - Cathryn's career as a librarian and her life in rugged Montana, where she is a cowgirl at heart, does not seem to reflect in her choice of topics for her romance novels. Instead her imagination takes her to other worlds, including outer space in her SF Orion series. Her current Hawaiian heroes series are contemporary paranormal romances based on Hawaiian mythology. However, you can always count on her belief in love conquering all to save the day. Cathryn is one of those behind-the-scenes women. You know the kind who do all the work and ask for none of the glory. I believe she is due some great glory for her books and is ready for the next big thing.

Teri Brown and T.J. Brown- Teri is working very hard to finish up a book before Christmas, so she won't be posting as part of the meme.  However, I still wanted my readers to check out what she is doing.

I first met Teri when she was writing her first novel and together we were critique partners with a larger group of authors on the cusp of publishing. When she released her first YA, Read My Lips.  I loved the entire premise and wanted great success for her. She has volunteered in schools, helps young people understand the healing power of writing, and truly has a passion for encouraging young readers both in reading and in life. In the past two years, she has simultaneously begun a career writing adult historicals which are becoming very popular.  In short, she has the career path that reflects my own. Though we cover different genres, we both write YA and Adult. She is truly primed for a bestseller list. I will be jumping up and down wildly the minute it happens.

Please do visit the websites of the above authors. I believe you will love their books. Even though each one is different from what I write we all have something in common. We all believe in love. We all believe in good triumphing over evil. We all believe that telling a good story is a calling.  Enjoy!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Virtual Travels with Maggie

Today I'm doing a guest blog at Books are Magic. I'm talking about why I write wounded heroes and heroines.  It would be great if you stopped by and said Hi.  I'm still running the $25 gift card giveaway for this final tour for Healing Notes.  It will be awarded the end of January.

Resources for Today and the New Year

I thought today, I would post something a little different.  Each day I spend probably an hour (sometimes two) visiting other blogs I like. Some of them are authors I happen to love. Others are just interesting information or relate to something I'm writing.  So, I thought I'd share some of those blogs with you. You might decide one of them is interesting to you as well.

Author Blogs

There are a lot of author blogs I visit, but today I'm going to talk about the three that I make sure never to miss.  In later blogs I'll share others, including book review sites and blogs I think are amazing.

Jamie Brazil - Today she's talking about "Banishing the Beloved Hoodie."  Jamie writes fun, humorous, romantic comedy.  But that's not the only reason I follow her blog.  For the past several weeks she's been sharing her "struggles" with cleaning out closets and deciding what to keep and what to giveaway. She's an amazing vintage shopper and quite the fashionista, so she has some real steals that are hard to give up--even if she hasn't worn them in ages. Hoodies aren't necessarily vintage, but I think you'll smile at this timely blog.  I live vicariously through Jamie's fashionista struggles as I'm someone who can barely figure out which t-shirt to wear with my worn jeans.

Jessa Slade - I like her Amok on Mondays, which is a new feature, where she interviews an author.  Today she is interviewing Jenna Bayley-Burke.  The thing I always appreciate about Jessa's blogs is that they are funny and intelligent. She has a wicked sense of humor and it truly reflects her personality.  Most of her postings are very short (unlike mine), but they still make me smile.

The Three Janes - This blog is written by three indie writers: Susan Lute, Nancy Brophy, and Cassiel Knight.  The do have regular guest bloggers too. I like this blog for two reasons: 1) It is a truly realistic reflection of the struggles and triumphs of the indie writer. Sometimes it has new insights into the business, but most of the time it is a writer sharing her journey. I like that. 2) These three women are amazingly supporting of other writers. They truly believe that promoting others is as important as promoting themselves. I like that Karma.


Marketing

Every corporate salesperson, SEO coder, and social media maven has ideas to sell about how to market a book.  Most of it is repurposing marketing information for corporate widgets into bookselling. Most of it doesn't translate well for today's market.  I currently follow two marketing blogs.  Although there are authors who actually love the whole promo part of writing, I am not one of them.  So, I'm always looking at what other opportunities I should be evaluating.  Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I don't.  But I always learn something.  There are others I follow too, and I will share them in later posts after the new year.

Author Marketing 101 - This blog is run by two authors who also have extensive marketing backgrounds: C. Morgan Kennedy and Therese Patrick.  What I like about the blog is that they describe things in a language everyone can understand instead of all the jargon.  They also give very specific examples by analyzing an author's website or promo items, with pictures and pointers.  That really helps drive the message home.  This week/month they are doing a checklist and guidebook on their site which encompasses all of their previous posts.  So, it's definitely the time to visit if you haven't before. Even if you have, it's a great reinforcement of things you've learned.  These two women REALLY know what they are talking about. Conferences beg fro them to come talk and every time they do, they get off-the-chart positive reviews.


Webbiegrrl - Webbiegrrl is a marketing blogger.  She is also a romance writer, but I follow her marketing blog and I'm participating in her 70+ book giveaway.  Honestly, I found her by accident and I don't know her personally. Her marketing information is more on the 20,0000 foot level and I find it always makes me think. She's also quite willing to give advice if you comment on the blog.  Today she is talking about


The Business of Writing

I've met countless writes over the past decade who are just like this picture. Their head is in the sand, not wanting to deal with the fact they are a small business. In the "olden" days writers counted on their agent to take care of "the business."  Others simply figured as long as the publisher sent checks, that was enough and they would have the tax accountant report it all each year.  Both of these approaches are not sound. 

First, no matter how amazing your agent may be, unless you are J.K. or Nora, he or she has many other clients and your business is not necessarily at the top the list to watch.  Not that they will purposely screw you (though some will) but things can fall between the cracks. Only YOU are 100% in charge of your business.  In the end you sign the contracts. You accept the deals.  If you are an indie writer you are also the publisher which makes your small business even more complex.

Again, I always follow two blogs for this topic as well. One is written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, author of more than 100 fiction books and numerous non-fiction books and articles. She continues to publish both traditionally with NY and independently.  She pulls no punches about her opinions and, even if you don't always agree with her, you will learn something important. The second is written by David Vandigriff, who is an intellectual property attorney and has been blogging for a decade now about the changing publishing business and its impact on writers.  I highly recommend both of these bloggers.


Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Her blog provides powerful information about the writing business, contracts, agents, editors, and the general state of the industry.  Right now she is doing a series on wills and the importance of including the control of your literary property in your will.  On her site, there are two areas where you will want to read not only the articles but all the comments of themany authors who follow this blog.  Those two areas are: The Freelance Survival Guide and The Business Rusch.  The literary property and wills series is under the latter.

The Passive Guy - This blogger, David Vandigriff, is an intellectual property attorney and again very knowledgeable about the publishing business. He does often talk about contracts, and keeps me abreast of the latest court cases and suits. However, equally as often, he talks about changes in the business of publishing and has the perspective of history to offer an intelligent analysis of what these changes may mean.  Often Kris and Passive Guy also talk about the same topics because they do read each others blogs.

That's enough for one day. I hope you find one or more resources here that are of interest to you as a reader, a writer, or simply a follower of the publishing industry.




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Giveaways Galore

December is always a month for giving, and it is very true of authors as well.  I am participating in three giveaways this month and probably additional opportunities will come along as well. I'm also adding a special giveaway to this blog post that includes PRINT copies of books. 

Do I have your attention?

The special giveaway can be entered through the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of the blog.


Other Giveaways You May Like


Jessa Slade did a fun interview with me on Monday.  As part of that interview I am giving away two (2) copies of my Science Fiction with Romantic Elements book, ETERNITY.  I know several of my readers love SF, so this is your chance to get a copy.  All you have to do is go to her blog by this Saturday (December 8) and make a comment.  You can also get extra points by following me on Twitter and on Facebook.  Also, if you don't already know about Jessa Slade's amazing books, you may want to check her out. She has great characters, lots of adventure, page-turning excitement, and great sexy romance in every book.

Webbiegrrl coordinated a huge 70+ ebooks giveaway with more than 50 authors participating.  That is a LOT of books. Chances are just going to the website and commenting or jumping in the giveaway will yield you at least one book if not more. I put up 5 ebook copies of each of my Windtree Press books: Eternity, Undertones, and Healing Notes. This giveaway ends December 15th, and you can enter several times--even every day. So get on the ball.  Even if you already have all of my books, you might want to win one of the other 70 books she is offering.

My GoodReads giveaway includes three (3) autographed print copies of HEALING NOTES.  It also runs until December 30th.  This is available both in the U.S. and to International Readers. So, if you like to hold an actual paper book in your hands, you will want to get in on this one.


The Super Not-so-Secret Giveaway Only Available On This Blog


For those who enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below, two winners will get an autographed set of all four of my books.
Expendable - Romantic Suspense
Eternity - SF Romantic Suspense
Undertones - Romantic Women's Fiction
Healing Notes - Romantic Women's Fiction

What do you have to do to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway? (Yes, there is always a catch)  You need to become my fan on GoodReads.  Why?  Because I only have 10 fans there and that is the #1 place where people read my books and talk about it.  I'm feeling a bit unloved.

Actually, I don't know why I don't have a lot of fans there. Probably because I've never told anyone I'm there. I have a lot of fans on Facebook and plenty of Twitter followers, and a fair number reading this blog; but GoodReads not so much. So, this is a completely selfish endeavor to get those numbers up. And for that two people get autographed books and the rest of you get to see me on GoodReads and we can both share what we are reading.  So, ENTER already!  There are other things you can do too to get entries in the giveaway, but the GoodReads fanning is the big point getter. :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Featuring the Always Remarkable Jessa Slade (or is that markable?)

Jessa Slade is one of those people who simply blows my mind on a regular basis.  She is seriously smart, uncannily unpretentious, and frequently freaking funny. (Yes, I too can alliterate).  I absolutely LOVED all of her books in the Marked Souls series, and that is saying something because I've always stayed away from books about any kind of demons.  But I highly recommend Jessa's repentant demons.

Today she is featuring her new novella relating to the marked souls series.

I forced (begged) her to agree to an interview. You can judge for yourself if her answers show that she relished the experience. Enjoy!

Book Blurb


Possessed by a divine entity, Cyril Fane fought rampant evil and the pain of more private losses with a fiery golden sword…until he was beaten and left for dead by a malevolent force. Now exiled from his angelic brethren, he reluctantly joins the Chicago league of talyan—immortal warriors possessed by repentant demons—as his only chance to reclaim his sword and his place in the holy sphericanum.

Bella McGreay, mysterious mistress of the Mortal Coil night club, has also danced around an uneasy affiliation with the talyan. She has secrets of her own to keep, and as the days shorten toward the winter solstice, shadows are deepening all around. Even as she barricades herself against the joys—and terrors—of the Christmas season, she’ll have to decide whether the shadows or her secrets are more dangerous.

Bella and Cyril have good reason to fear evil when an old enemy returns to torment them and the Chicago league. But only together will they find a way to the light after the darkest night.

BUY LINKS:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Smashwords  |  All Romance eBooks  |  Kobo

Interview

What are your roots?

Mostly blond, but turning more gray now. I’ve been writing a long time, since I was a kid, actually. I was doomed from the very beginning, from my very own page one.

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?

Not enough, according to my grandmother, or I wouldn’t use the F word so much. And the sex scenes would fade to black after the hero rounded first base. In my defense, my grandmother has the uncanny ability to flip directly to the bad parts.

How do you describe yourself as a writer?

Tricky. That’s not necessarily a good thing, I realize, so I try to keep it in check. I have readers who tell me when I’m too amused by myself. Sitting in the dark giggling to myself is always the first sign that something has gone very wrong. Or maybe very right. But probably very wrong.

What do you think is the special power of the genres you write in?

Hope in the darkness. No matter how bad it gets in my worlds (and sometimes it gets pretty bad) my people find hope. And six-pack abs. When I grope around in the dark, I find half-filled water glasses, wet dog noses, and alarm clocks going off before the sun. I wish I could find six-pack abs.

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel?

Story ideas gnaw at the inside of my skull like naked mole rats. Did you know naked mole rats can chew through concrete? Well, now you do. So what chance does my skull have? Better to just let them out. Then they are in your head.

What was hard for you in writing this novel?

For me, the hardest part of any book is writing it. That sounds stupid, but it’s true. The blank page is a bitch. The only thing worse is filling it up. And the only thing worse than THAT is rearranging it so it’s right.

Are there themes that recur in your work?

Striving. My people are usually up against long odds but they charge ahead. They using bang into a few walls, but onward they go. The fools. No, no, I kid. I always give them something to strive FOR, and they know they’ll get their Happily Ever After. Eventually.

What are you working on now?

Excellent question! I wish I had an answer. I have three stories currently trying to kill me. One is the second book in my Sheerways science fiction romance novella series. The second is a notsuperhero story. The third is a futuristic mashup mess that is trying to lure me away from the first two which are both half done.

What would you like to write in the future?

I have a middle grade fantasy plotted out that would make a fabulous movie. (Ahem, looking at you, Peter Jackson.) I want to write it for my grandmother. I will not use the F word.

If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be?

Find your own passion first. You can’t contribute to a passionate relationship and you can’t teach passionate living to anyone else until you’ve experienced it yourself.

Great Advice, Jessa! Passion is key.

Thanks for joining me here. Now let's get to what Jessa is giving away this week.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *


Jessa is giving away an ebook copy of her first Harlequin Nocturne Craving DARK HUNTER’S TOUCH.  To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment or a question.

DARK HUNTERS TOUCH

Yearning to be free, Imogene has fled the idleness and cruelty of the phae court to hide in the sunlit realm of humans. When the Dark Hunters find her—and they will—she will face the Queen’s wrath.

But she is tired of running, and after a chance encounter with a seductively handsome stranger named Vaile, Imogene embraces the earthly passions within her, if only for one night. But has she fallen for a man—or an illusion?

BUY LINKS:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  All Romance EBooks

 

About Jessa Slade

Jessa Slade is the author of paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance, and science fiction romance. Basically, anything with woo-woo and woo-hoo. 


Contact Jessa:  website | twitter | facebook | goodreads


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Caribbean Christmas by Jenna Bayley-Burke

Caribbean Christmas
Release Day!!!

First, I have to say that  Jenna Bayley-Burke is an auto buy for me, and that is a high complement because I don't read a lot of light contemporary romances. I usually find the characters to be too unbelievable--unbelievably naive or unbelievably goody two-shoes or the situations unbelievably conceived.  However, every one of Jenna's books I've read have believable characters in interesting situations that could be real. Add to that her wonderful and wacky sense of humor and she has hooked me every time. 

So, when I heard she was starting a series in the Caribbean I begged Jenna to let me feature her book on my blog and to consent to an interview. I haven't read this one yet, but I do have it on pre-order.  So, enjoy the interview and the blurb. I would strongly encourage you to join me in buying the book. You will be glad you did.



’Tis the season for unwrapping the gift of pleasure.

Under the Caribbean Sun, Book 1

When Saskia snags a last-minute ticket home to the Caribbean isle of Anguilla, she intends to surprise her workaholic father and to reconnect over Christmas. When she finds he’s away on business, there’s still plenty to fill her time while she waits. Sailing, snorkeling…and an unexpected, very adult attraction to her girlhood crush.

Joe Prinsen is certain Saskia has returned to the island only to ask for money. He feels it’s time she learns the truth about her father’s depleted financial situation from the man himself. And he intends to make sure she sticks around long enough to hear it.

Except the girl he remembers has matured into a devastatingly sexy woman. She's taking all his noble intentions and unwrapping them, one by one, until their shared desire is revealed in the warm Caribbean water. Saskia’s only home for Christmas. And once she finds out the secret he’s hiding, she’ll no doubt leave the Caribbean, and him, for good.


INTERVIEW


What are your roots?  
On one side I can trace back to the Mayflower, on the other only a few generations out of Russia, Hungary & Poland

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?  
I think so. I come from a family of amazingly long marriages, so I do have a blind faith in love.

How do you describe yourself as a writer?  
I like to have written. I hate to be interrupted. I love falling for a new story.

What do you think is the special power of the genres you write in?  
I write contemporary, which is special because it is so easily relatable, and effortless to escape into.

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel? 
I’ve been to the Caribbean once, on a cruise with my grandmother to help her take a breather after my grandfather’s death. The beauty and the magic of the place began our healing and I’ve wanted to return since the moment we left. Now I get to spend lots of time there, if only in my imagination.

What was hard for you in writing this novel?  
Finding time to write. I’ve had a wonky year health-wise, so finding time where I could concentrate was a challenge.

Are there themes that recur in your work?  
I like modern fairytales. I seem to gravitate to Cinderella or Beauty & the Beast.

What are you working on now?  
I’m doing the edits on Caribbean Casanova, the second in the Under the Caribbean Sun series, and writing Caribbean Crush, the third interlude.

What would you like to write in the future?  
There are so many stories I wish I could hold onto long enough to get them down. ADD is not all that helpful for an author. I’d like to write more.

If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be?  
You deserve moments of bliss. Too often women get caught up in making everyone else around them happy, they don’t take the time to make sure they feel the same joy. That sounds so philosophical. Who knew I had it in me?

That is great advice, Jenna!

I suggest everyone run right out and buy this book. I know I'm already wishing I was spending my Christmas in the Carribean.

Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Samhain |


ABOUT THE AUTHOR IN HER OWN WORDS

College confused me. I went in determined to become an orthopedic surgeon, and  came out with a triple major – Psychology, Religious Studies, and English. Thank goodness organic chemistry mystified me, or my life might have turned out completely different. Or not. I always wanted to write, it just seemed like a far away goal – a someday not a today.
After managing department stores and executive recruiting, I got lucky and had my first of three children. After two years of fertility treatments, I wanted to be with him as much as I could and opted to stay home. I started writing then, and developing recipes for magazines like Cooking Light and Better Homes & Gardens.
After my second son was born I had a health crisis, and as I lay in the ER I worried about what my boys would make of the things I’d left behind. Stories started and never finished, notes on novels never written, not to mention the rolls of film I’d yet to develop and put in albums. Grateful for life and high on pain meds, I was making some brave decisions. Like writing a book in a month for National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo).
That book (after much editing) became my first romance novel, JUST ONE SPARK, published by Mills & Boon in 2006. COOKING UP A STORM followed, as have a series of single-title romances from Samhain Publishing (HER CINDERELLA COMPLEX, PAR FOR THE COURSE, COMPROMISING POSITIONS, PRIDE & PASSION, PRIVATE SCANDAL, FOR KICKS, and DRIVE ME CRAZY).
COMPROMISING POSITIONS will always hold a special place in my heart, not because it sat atop the Amazon Bestseller list for two weeks, but because it was the story I was writing when I got sick, the half-finished book I worried my boys would find and wonder why I hadn’t completed it. Nothing compares to showing my kids that when you have a dream you chase it, catch it, hold on with both hands, and never let go. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions and Changes

Memory Pictures
  • The smell of homemade bread
  • My sister with an olive on each finger, ready to eat
  • My aunts bringing their specialty dish to share: home made pies, green bean casserole, candied yams, giant green salads
  • Playing statue-maker in the backyard
  • Smelling the rows and rows of roses my grandparents carefully tended
  • Pushing my feet on the floor of the double wooden swing my grandfather made while sharing secrets with cousins
  • New children, new friends, new relatives introduced to the family each year
  • An abundance of food--enough so that every family had leftovers to share and take home
  • Sharing personal and family challenges and triumphs. Sometimes with more than 50 people attended a family gathering there was a lot to share.
  • Blessing the food and giving prayers of thanks.

In my family, Thanksgiving has always been the day that all the relatives would find their way to one house to celebrate.  Growing up I was fortunate to live near many aunts, uncles, and cousins. When my maternal grandparents were alive we would most often end up at their house. Later, around high school, families began to scatter around southern California. Then we would take turns hosting Thanksgiving. My grandmother and one of my aunts also took in foster children during my childhood. This led to an expanding view of family for all of us. It also encouraged us to reach out to our circle of friends and acquaintances and invite them into our family.

As an adult, my siblings have been scattered all over the United States and sometimes in other countries. It is rare for all of us to be together at Thanksgiving anymore. However, wherever we are we try to get together with whoever is near and their extended family. As I'm the oldest of nine children, and my mother is the oldest of five, it seems there are always at least three or four families to gather. The few times when I have been unable to make it home to see my parents or to be with relatives, I've always been fortunate to be part of a group of friends who made me feel like family as we celebrated together.

This year the usual larger gathering of several relatives at one home won't be happening anywhere in my extended family. My parents, aunts and uncles are all getting much older. Health issues have plagued them and their ability to get around is severely hampered. So, each one is having a smaller gathering with more immediate family in the area. My husband and I will be with  my parents and my baby sister and her boyfriend. I am thankful my parents are still alive, and blessed that I live close enough to visit regularly. I know that many people do not have anyone near them.

I hope that wherever my readers and friends find themselves this Thanksgiving, that you will make for yourself a family for that one day and take time to count your blessings. Whether that is with a stranger at a soup kitchen or with a large group of relatives, there is so much in our lives to be thankful for. I want to leave you with a Thanksgiving Video a good friend shared with me. It shows in pictures and words many things for which we can give thanks no matter where we live.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear of your own traditions and what you are doing to celebrate your blessings at this special time of year.