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Thursday, December 31, 2009

On New Year's Eve


As far as my writing career is concerned, 2009 has been a good year. I didn’t have a new release in 2009, but my Christmas 2008 release The Best Selling Toy Of The Season has done pretty well. In addition, I signed a contract with Whiskey Creek Press for the publication of Return Engagement.

Return Engagement is one of my favorites. I started working on it several years ago and finished it in record time. Ever since then I’ve been revising and polishing it. Every single time I thought I was done with it I’d see something else I wanted to change.

I totally fell in love with my hero, Richard Lovinggod. He’s tall, blonde, and exciting with a killer body and gorgeous blue eyes. He might also be a little dangerous. He works for the FBI, but his father, a US senator, wants him to run for the presidency. His family has megabucks, but money doesn’t impress him. Neither does the girl his father wants him to marry. Sheila is related to the Russian czars, but her cold, superior manner doesn’t suit Richard at all.

Richard lost his heart ten years ago to Elizabeth Lane, but Senator Lovinggood doesn’t think she’s a suitable woman for Richard. Her beauty and talent made her a Hollywood legend, but she’s older than Richard, and the senator thinks she’s probably an immoral fortune hunter. He broke them up ten years ago, and it was the best day’s work of his life.

But some things are meant to be. A chance meeting on a California beach brings Elizabeth back into Richard’s life. And this time he won’t let her go. He has no idea that Elizabeth’s association with him will put her in the crosshairs of a man bent on revenge.

I don’t have a release date and haven’t even spoken with my editor yet, but I can’t wait to get started. I’ll let you know more as I do.

In the meantime, I wish you a bright and prosperous new year filled with health and happiness, and I hope all of your dreams come true.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Command Center AKA My Christmas List Was Strangely Calm


If you were reading my blog last year you know that right after Christmas I resolved to simplify things because I almost killed myself with too many commitments and too much cooking and entertaining. I'm happy to say that I kept that resolve. How did I change things? Here goes.

First of all, I omitted a couple of parties. These particular parties were things we went to because we felt obligated to do so, not because we particularly wanted to. This year we politely declined.

Second, we usually have a quick lunch with our good friends on Christmas Eve. That was when we exchanged presents. We never had enough time because we had to rush away to cook for a dinner that night. (You really wouldn't believe my schedule. If you'd like to check last year's blog you can see for yourself.) This year we had dinner with them on the twenty third instead. We had plenty of time to exchange gifts, talk, and enjoy each other's company.

Third, I ordered some food this year instead of cooking everything from scratch. Our local grocer baked my turkey, cooked my stuffing, and made the gravy. A local bakery baked pumpkin and apples pies for me, and I bought frozen sausage biscuits, brownie bites from Atlanta Bread Company, pita chips and artichoke-spinach dip, and a fruit cake from Costco. My tropical fruit salad came from a can.

I did a ham from scratch as well as a macaroni, but that's it unless you count coffee and tea.

Was the food as good? Almost, but not quite. The fruit cake was awful, though, and the pumpkin pie was nowhere as good as mine. Did it matter? No, not at all. Everyone ate, drank, and laughed just as much as if I'd done the whole thing from scrach as I did last year.

I gave as many gifts as ever, but I ordered some of them instead of going to the store to buy them. I also gave gift cards to some of my hard to buy for people instead of wracking my brain looking for something they wouldn't like anyway.

I didn't skimp on decorations, and I still used my Christmas china which I had to drag out and wash the same as usual, but these things are too special to skimp on.

Will I do the same thing next year? You betcha. I like having enough energy to enjoy myself instead of feeling exhausted. I even plan to go shopping tomorrow to exchange a couple of gifts.

I guess what I've learned is that I should pick and choose where to invest my time and energy. Some things are worth going all out for and some aren't. From now on I'm going to figure out which is which.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas


May your Christmas be filled with enough peace and joy to last the whole year through.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Darlene to the Rescue


Have you planned your menu for Christmas yet? Are you looking for something different and can't find it? If so maybe you'd like to include this recipe for chicken salad croissants. (Or maybe turkey salad.) The recipe came from my friend Darlene who's a great cook. When she brings something to a party the dish empties pretty fast. As they used to say on TV, try it you'll like it.

Darlene’s Exotic Chicken Salad

4 cups cubed cooked chicken. I use rotisserie chicken from grocery store.
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green pepper
1 2 oz jar diced pimentos drained
½ cup margarine
1/3 cup whipped cream
¼ cup sour cream
3 Tbsp sliced green onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp cider vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper
¾ cup salted cashew nuts

Mix together first 4 ingredients. Combine next 10 ingredients and mix well. Pour over chicken mixture. Mix and add cashews. Chill in refrigerator. Tastes good on croissants.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Partridege In A Pear Tree Is What?


There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

This week, I found out when my friend forwarded an email to me. So, here's everything I didn't know about that partridge.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Wow, who knew that?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Year's Theme Is....






I decorate two Christmas trees each year. One tree is an old fashioned family tree. It has ornaments that we’ve collected over the years, our personalized ornaments, and even some new ones I’ve seen and liked. But the tree that gives me the greatest pleasure is my white theme tree.

My granddaughter and I came up with the idea of a second tree about ten years ago. I was tired of all my old decorations and wanted something different. I also wanted to do something that would be special for the two of us. So, the idea for a theme tree was born.

This year’s theme is birds. I’ve spent the entire year looking for ornaments for that tree. I bought some off Ebay; I found some in the bottom of a box of old decorations; I picked up some last Christmas when everything went on sale, and I’ve scoured the stores this year searching for the perfect bird. I’m not a purist. Some of the birds are glittery, and some look a little country. It doesn’t matter; if I liked it, I got it for the tree.

If you’re interesting in your own bird tree here are some low cost suggestions to get you started.

1.Look in your own back yard. Pine cones look gorgeous on a Christmas tree. You could spray them with fake snow or even put glitter on them. Either way they’d look great.

2.Make your own small bird nests out of twigs and plant material in your yard. Super glue or fishing line can hold it together if necessary. I put a bird’s nest with a little bird in it on the top of my tree.

3.Use feathers instead of tinsel or icicles. I went to a craft store and paid under two dollars for a pack of colored feathers. I attached fishing line loops to the feathers with Super glue. They look so colorful and beautiful. Of course if you have peacocks or chickens maybe you can find feathers in your own back yard.

4.Create your own bird eggs. Poke a pinhole in the end of an egg and blow out the contents. Then paint or dye it. Wonder if you could use a hard boiled egg instead? It isn’t like the tree’s going to be in the living room forever. I have eggs on my tree, but they are artificial. I bought them during the after Christmas sales last year.

5.Search for birds in discount stores. I found some really pretty ones at Wal Mart for a dollar apiece. I wanted an assortment of colors, but you could go to a dollar store and buy enough red birds to do a tree very cheaply. I always see a lot of white doves there too.

6.Try Ebay.

7.Floral supply houses are a great source for birds. One of my favorites came to me stuck in a flower arrangement. They are quite inexpensive too.

8.I think red holly berries would look good on a bird tree.
If anyone decides to do a bird tree I’d love to see some pictures of it.

I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by during my Wings Press month. I put all of the comments into a hat and drew the name Susan L. who responded on October 20. Susan, I can’t find your email address. Send it to me so I can get your book to you.

I have another contest going on through my newsletter. If you’ll go to my web site at http://www.elainecantrell.com and click on the newspaper link you can get the details. I’m giving away two books, Lip Service by Susan Mallery and Unhallowed Ground by Heather Graham.

Friday, November 27, 2009

And Last But Not Least...



Welcome to the final week of my Wings month. Yes, I know it lasted for six weeks, but who's counting? Remember to leave a comment for one of the authors so that your name will be entered in a drawing for a free book. Check back next week to see if you're the lucky winner. Today let's welcome the fabulous Barbara Edwards. Barbara, thanks for coming.

Thank you, Elaine for asking me to be your guest.

1. Tell us a little bit about you so we can get acquainted. What three words do you think best describe you as a human being?
Only three? I’m caring, neat and loving.
Also I’m a native New Englander and graduated from the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. My dark stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.
I’m a past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America. I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.
I’m married to a retired Police Sergeant.
Most of my exercise is when my Belgian Shepherd demands a walk.

2. When did you know that you wanted to be an author? How did it come about?
I have always wanted to write. I think my biggest inspiration was my father. He would read to us every night from the classics. Only one chapter no matter how much we begged. I still remember Robinson Caruso, Tarzan, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn with pleasure.

3. How long did it take you to get published?
Not long after I became serious about my work, but ten years in the real world.

4. How would you define your writing?
Dark and complicated. I can’t write ‘short’ or with a single plot line.

5. Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your work?
Jayne Anne Krentz and Nora Roberts are my heroes. I want to grow up to be just like them.

6. What are your future goals for your writing?
I think I’ve found my niche. Although I love writing historical romance, I’ve found paranormals are close to my heart. I have several more planned and started to follow Ancient Awakening.

7. Besides your writing, what things are you passionate about?
I have two antique roses and am looking to collect more to put in my cottage garden of perennials. My husband and I also do Civil War reenacting and are looking forward to the 150th anniversary cycle.

8. Tell us what you’re working on now.
A sequel to Another Love and the second book in my Rhodes end series, tentatively titled Ancient Blood. It picks up where Ancient Awakening ends and continues with a new love story involving a werewolf.

9. What’s the name of your Wings release?
I currently have three books with WingsEpress.
Another Love is a historical romance set in New England in 1892.

Another Love
Some promises are made to be broken.
Caught in a web of political intrigue, graft and threats to a beloved child, Meg Warren and Drew Larkin hunt the men threatening the downfall of President Cleveland and the economic fabric of America. From a poor farm to the ostentatious world of New York’s elite, they sift lies, discover trust and an attraction they cannot resist. The last thing they expect to find is a love worth more than gold.
"Quote." – Pat Potter, award winning author calls Another Love…“A real page turner with wonderful characters and a unique plot. You can’t miss with this one.”
Review from Romantic Times Magazine **** 1/2 (four and one-half stars)

Excerpt:
Meg quivered like a trapped bird in his arms. Her slender bones were as fragile and delicate as the lace edging her collar. Alarm widened her eyes.

"How can you prove your innocence? I can think of a way.”

His mouth locked over hers, smothering her protest. His tongue probed the seam between her lips and she moved head back. He instantly slipped his hand to the back of her head to hold her still. His tongue coaxed.

Her thick hair loosened from its knot. The heavy length cascaded over her shoulders and down her back. Drew groaned when the silken tresses brushed his hands. His fingers twined in the softly scented curls. He tugged gently. Upon her gasp, his tongue surged between her lips.

Her hands stilled, then she caught his lower lip with her teeth and bit down, hard. She whirled away to face him from the other side of the small room. If he thought she looked regal before, now she looked magnificent. A Greek goddess, breasts uplifted with pride and rage, her hair flowing like dark water over her slim shoulders.

She pointed an accusing finger at him and he fully expected a bolt of lightening to char him to a cinder. "I will not prove anything by going to bed with you," she cried.


Annie’s Heart is a historical romance set in Kansas, 1872
Blurb: Only two coins and a gold pendant heart separate widowed Annie Moss from disaster. The fields need to be plowed, the barn repaired and food stored for the winter, but she is alone and afraid. Her dream of a home for her children hangs from the promise of a wandering man to keep moving on, a man she has no reason to trust.
Trace Randolph has lost everything except his honor, so when a desperate Annie saves his life he knows he must pay his debt, even if it means marrying her. The only promise he makes is to leave before the winter snows. A promise he finds impossible to keep.
"... Barbara Edwards creates a romance that proves life is about surviving disaster. Growing back stronger, and most of all, the courage to love." **** (four stars), Gerry Benninger, Romantic Times Magazine
Available at http://www.wings-press/Bookstore/Annie’s%Heart.html
Rachel’s Rescue is a romantic suspense
http://www.wings-press/Bookstore/Rachel’s%20Rescue.html
Blurb: Rachel Winslow lost everything in the Sudan desert. She defies everyone to return and find the truth, betting her survival on a dream.
Jake Spenser’s years as an agent are over, but he teaches desert survival to others. He’s vowed never to return to Ankria, but when his nephew is missing, he must use Rachel to find him.
Through danger and betrayal, Jake and Rachel find a dream can come true.

10. Would you share all of your links with us so we can keep up with you?
My website is www.barbaraedwards.net
I have other excerpts and buy links for all my books as well.


Thanks for sharing with us, Barbara. I love reenactments myself, but roses are beyond me. Good luck with your writing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Thanksgiving Day


On Thanksgiving Day I wish for you:

that your turkey is juicy and your cranberry sauce tart; your mashed potatoes are creamy without any lumps, and your dessert melts in your mouth without sticking on your hips; that you enjoy the Macy's parade, and when you read the paper you find great Black Friday sales. But most of all, I hope you make warm and beautiful memories that will fill your heart with joy every single year when the holidays roll around. Have a great Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Issues, Issues, Issues


His issues

The people at The Welcome Inn have issues, big issues. Take Buck Abercrombie for example. Buck’s the head of a successful construction company, people in the community respect him, and many of his dreams for the future are coming true. So, what could possibly be wrong in his life?

For starters his attraction to The Welcome Inn’s manager, Julianna Martin. After his marriage failed, Buck’s leery of women. He fights the attraction with everything he’s got, but it gets harder every day.

Excerpt:
Across the courtyard Buck saw the door of Julianna’s apartment swing open. Julianna stood in the door to say goodbye to her boyfriend. Buck’s heart skipped a beat or two. She wore a green satin kimono that revealed some beautiful, womanly curves and some very shapely legs. Her glorious hair looked charmingly disarranged, and Buck wondered if it would feel as silky as it looked. He imagined running his hands through those beautiful, rich curls and wondered how it would feel to taste those pretty, pouting lips.

With chagrin he realized that the rest of the crew stood there watching him watch Julianna. “Get back to work,” he snarled, ashamed of his momentary weakness.
He saw a few smothered grins, but the men did as he said. Nobody felt brave enough to defy his order.



Buck’s brother Travis also causes him a headache. Travis got into trouble awhile ago when he tried to blackmail the mayor. Imagine Buck’s surprise when Travis ends up on his door begging for a job.

Excerpt:
“Travis isn’t giving you any trouble, is he?” Buck asked.

“No, I don’t even see him very much.”

Julianna hated to be nosy, but like everyone else in Martin’s Crossing she felt curious about the Abercrombies. Eighteen months ago Travis ran Abercrombie Construction while Buck worked in Alaska. Desperate to close a deal, Travis had tried to blackmail the mayor to gain his cooperation. The mayor had refused to play ball, and Travis had made good on his threats. At the last minute the mayor’s marriage and career had been saved when Travis’s cohort confessed the scheme and proved the mayor innocent of any type of wrongdoing.

Buck had left Alaska to run the company founded by their father, and Travis had only stayed out of jail by a miracle. He was, however, a pariah in h is own town.

“Where did Travis work before you hired him?” Julianna asked.

“He didn’t have a job. He’s been living off his savings, and when that finally ran out he started looking for work, but nobody would hire him. He has to eat, so I took him on.”

“Is he doing a good job?”

“Strangely enough, he is. I’ve given him the dirtiest, hardest work we have, and he hasn’t complained. He does it right too.”

“Maybe he learned his lesson.”

“Maybe, but he still has a lot to prove to me.”


Her issues.

Buck isn’t the only one with issues. Julianna Martin The Inn’s manager has a few issues of her own.

Excerpt:
“Melanie, why does Julianna dislike Buck so much? He’s nuts about her.”

“Oh, that’s Mrs. Martin’s fault.”

“Julianna’s mother?”

Melanie nodded. “When Julianna was just a little girl her father ran out on them, and Mrs. Martin had a real hard time. She filled Julianna’s head with all sorts of nonsense.”

“I can just imagine what,” Travis muttered.

“Oh, yeah. She thinks men are all immoral jerks who’d like nothing better than to take advantage of a woman. She encouraged Julianna to be independent so she wouldn’t need a man to support her, and Julianna followed her advice. She worked hard and turned the Inn into a moneymaker, and then Buck came along and bought it and started giving her orders. She automatically resented him even though she was attracted to him.”


Their issues

Someone is stalking Julianna. She doesn’t know why, and neither does Buck, but he makes it his mission to watch out for her.

Excerpt:
She wasn’t alone in the bedroom. She saw a shadowy figure silhouetted against the drapes and supposed he must have made a noise that wakened her.

She broke into a cold sweat. Should she scream or pretend to be asleep? She quickly made her decision as the dark figure approached the bed. “Buck, help me,” she screamed.

She had hoped that the noise would frighten the attacker away, but instead he crossed the room in two big strides and grabbed her. Julianna struggled mightily, but the bed covers hampered her, and the intruder was a strong man.

His hand clamped over her mouth, and when she refused to stop struggling, he drew back his fist and hit her solidly on the cheek. Momentarily stunned, Julianna relaxed into the bed. The attacker ripped the covers off and dragged her from her bed. Seconds later her limp body hit the floor with a thud as the intruder turned to face an enraged Buck Abercrombie. Buck’s fist smashed into the man’s face twice, and he lay still.

“Julianna! Are you okay?”


Of course dodging bad guys can lead to complications.

Excerpt:
Julianna slid gingerly under the covers and Buck reached for the lamp. He plunged the room into darkness, and both he and Julianna lay tensely in the bed. Both were careful not to touch the other.

Eventually, Julianna turned on her side and spread out, assuming her favorite sleeping position. Buck’s legs were in the way so she gave an impatient kick to scoot him over.

“Stop kicking me,” Buck protested. “You’ve got most of the space anyway.”

“I do not.”

“Yeah, you do. I’m barely hanging on over here.”

Julianna sat up and reached across Buck to measure the space. “You have all kinds of room left.”

“I don’t,” Buck argued. “If I turned over I’d fall off the bed.”

“Honestly!”

A short silence fell on the room.

“I can’t sleep on this side of the bed,” Buck complained. “You’ll have to change with me.”

“I like this side. I’m not going to move.”

Buck turned over heavily, causing the bed to rock and shake.

“Be still,” Julianna smartly commanded. “How can I sleep if you keep bouncing me around?”

A minute or so passed, and Buck turned over again, bumping Julianna with his knees. Nerves on edge, Julianna kicked him again. This time he kicked her back.

War broke out with a flurry of shoving, kicking, and struggling that ended with Buck on the side of the bed that he favored with Julianna molded to his side. She shoved against the bed with her feet in an effort to root him off the edge, but Buck held fast.

The Welcome Inn is now available at http://www.wings-press.com or http://www.amazon.com Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of The Welcome Inn.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mystery Anyone?



1.Hi, Donna, thanks for stopping by. I know your new book which was just released is book number 3 in your mystery series. What can you tell us about the series?

Thanks for letting me visit, Elaine. The "Fiddling With Murder" series is set in the Missouri Ozarks. Constancy Grace Stafford, who was abandoned by her young mother and brought up by her great-grandmother, is an old-fashioned girl. By profession, she's a kindergarten teacher. She's always had a problem with being a bit clumsy, but falling over a body begins the worst trip she ever took.

2.Obviously you like mysteries. Which other genres appeal to you?

I enjoy some fantasy, specifically touches of fantasy interacting with the real world. I have two stand-alone books in print, which are a product of that interest. On the Wings site, one is labeled paranormal romance, the other fantasy romance. The romance is family-rated, and both could also be classified as mysteries. I call them my "fairy-tale mysteries".

3.Were you inspired by other authors? If so, who?

I'm not sure I would say I've been inspired by other authors--except in general ways. I've always loved to read, always loved mysteries and fairy tales. I don't consciously try to imitate any particular author or style, but each book I read teaches me something else about writing.

4.When writing a new book how do you decide on the theme, genre or topic?

I write in the genres I most enjoy reading. Topics can come from anywhere. In Fiddler's Lament, the Missouri caves, the village where I was born (which is now nearly a ghost town), and a long-deserted resort along an abandoned rail line all came together to provide setting. Out of that the story grew. I seem to have one main theme running through all my books, but I didn't realize it until I had written several. It wasn't a conscious decision. My books tend to grow like pearls. Some little seed gets planted in my brain and things begin to grow around it. It's not an easy or comfortable process, but hopefully it produces something worthwhile in the end.

5.What do you think is the hardest part of writing?

Getting a complete first draft written. I've never been able to outline in advance, no matter how many times or how many different methods I've tried. I wish I could. Getting from the beginning to the end is like walking into a difficult maze--lots of dead ends and backtracking before I get out the other side. Then there's the marketing, but that's another story.

6.What’s the easiest part of writing?

Rewriting, revising, polishing. I love the moment when I first get to the end of a story. Then I can go back and tidy and polish. I can make sure everything is coherent and work on little details that hopefully will make the characters and settings come alive to readers.

7.Do your fans’ comments influence you? How?

I think all of us love to hear from anybody who reads our books. I'm a very shy person. Before I was published, I was too timid to contact authors to tell them I enjoyed their books. Now I see how much it can mean to writers to get that feedback. Hearing from my readers keeps the writing spark strong. I started a Facebook group for the series. Readers don't have to be my "friend" to join. They gave us some great input when Pat Evans and I were working on a cover for Lament. I won't write my books by taking opinion polls, but I do like to hear from readers, whether or not they like the books.


8.Could you tell us a little about your pathway to publication?

I have been a writer all my life, well, since I was six. They didn't have public kindergartens in our part of the Ozarks back in the 1950s. Just before I was ready to start first grade, my mother put a pencil into my hand and showed me how to write my name. From then on, I was fascinated by the idea that I could make marks on paper and other people could look at them and know what I meant. I didn't seriously begin to write long fiction until we moved to a place that gave me severe culture shock. I worked through it by writing, finished a couple of manuscripts and eventually decided maybe I should try to get them published. Those first two still haven't been published. They were learning exercises. My first publishable manuscript became a book in 2003. In 2005, I found Wings e-Press. They have been fantastic to work with, and I now have five books with them.

9.Could you share your links with us so we can find you on the web? Be sure to give a buy link for the new book.

I have a website and a blog. Information about the series and other books are at both places. Books are available at the Wings bookstore.

10.Okay, now for the good part. Would you share an excerpt with us, please?

[Constancy sees a photo in the local newspaper that reminds her of an old classmate.]
I hadn’t heard anything from or about Eeper for years. Not that I’d tried, but in a town the size of Fraserton any news about former residents spreads nearly as fast as news about current residents. Even if you don’t seek out gossip, you hear it sooner or later. I certainly hadn’t heard that Eeper was playing fiddle with Hillbilly Hoedown.

The man in the polka dot shirt and overalls sure looked like him. His hair partially hid his ears and a beard hid his chin. Even so, those features were distinctive. I’d always thought he looked like a young Abe Lincoln, although I never had dared say it to his face. He probably would have taken it as an insult. I wiped my damp eyes and squinted at the paper again, trying to make the slightly blurred picture more clear. It didn’t help a bit.

Well, I had my own personal music expert right here, and he had actually played with these people. “Danny?”

“The apple butter is every bit as good as the blackberry jelly,” he said, and put another piece of bread in the toaster.

“Danny, listen. When did Eeper start playing with Hillbilly Hoedown?”

He turned and looked at me. “Eeper?”

“His whole name is Edsel Elwood Elmer Powers.”

“Edsel-- Taken individually, they’re all fine names, but what kind of parent would hang the whole lot of them together on their darlin’ baby boy? And how do the names translate into Eeper?”

In my opinion, Danny, whose complete name was Brendan Conor Aengus Egan, didn’t have much room to complain, but that was beside the point. “I don’t know why his family named him that, but he was a physics whiz in high school so he signed his name as a capital E with a superscript three after it. It looked like E cubed, but he pronounced it ‘E to the third Power’, as in Powers, get it?”

Danny rolled his eyes. “Nobody could be bothered to say ‘E to the third power’ every time they yelled at him, so they shortened it to ‘Eeper’. Of course, his folks called him Ed, but he wasn’t going to take that from any of his schoolmates.”

“Edsel Elwood Elmer Powers,” Danny repeated, shaking his head. Then he gave me one of his best police interrogator looks. “Is this Eeper an old flame?”

“Nothing for you to worry about. I’ll admit I had a crush on him for about two days in second grade. That was only because he was new. After that he might have struck a few sparks, but they weren’t sparks of infatuation. He was in and out of school here. His family lived in Fraserton when we were in second and third grade, then they moved and were away for a long time. They were back here for our sophomore through senior years, but left again right after Eeper graduated. His dad was our preacher both times. I was halfway scared of Eeper, to tell you the truth. The kid was more than a little beyond weird both times.”

“In what way?”

“In high school, we couldn’t decide if it was because he was a scientific genius, or because he was a first-class musician, or because he was in total rebellion against his family and all their most precious beliefs. He had loads of talent and intelligence, but it seemed like he enjoyed getting into trouble more than anything else in the world. One of our favorite games in high school was trying to guess what he would eventually make of himself. Some kids and a few teachers thought he would go on to win a Nobel Prize in physics or play at Carnegie Hall. Others were convinced that he wouldn’t get any farther than the county jail.”

“Interesting character.” Danny looked again at the paper, focused on the picture. “So where does your wild and weird Eeper fit into Hillbilly Hoedown?”

“Surely you met him when you played with them.”

“I met nobody by any of those names and the whole group seems to be in the photo,” Danny said. “Which one are you calling Eeper?”

“There. The fiddler.”

Danny looked downright shocked. “Woody Powell? A scientific genius? A rebel? Surely you can’t be serious.”

“Woody Powell, huh? Well, I’m not surprised he changed his name. I can’t vouch for his intelligence as Woody, but when I knew him as Eeper he was the smartest kid in high school. Back then he could have taught some of the science classes, especially physics. The teachers either loved him or hated him.”

“But, darlin’, Woody can’t even speak straight English.”

“Believe me, he can if he wants to. Or Eeper could. Back when I knew him, he could speak every kind of English from good standard American to British aristocrat snob, and three or four foreign languages to boot. What’s he doing now? Speaking Ozarks Hillbilly all the time?”

“That’s the whole of what I’ve heard out of him--when he opens his mouth at all.”
“He had a couple of Ozarks dialects down pat. One minute he would be speaking perfect grammar book English. The next minute you could mistake him for the mossiest old geezer from the deepest, darkest, most forgotten holler in the hills.”

“When Woody speaks, which isn’t often, mind, you’d think he had never in his life been more than six yards from his plumbing-challenged cabin in the woods. You’re telling me now that he could speak several different languages in high school?”

“He could. I don’t remember which ones, but he seemed equally fluent in all of them. I know he could talk to the French and Spanish teacher in either language. The Powers family did missionary work overseas during the years they were away. I suppose Eeper learned the languages then. He probably made it a point to learn all the nastiest words from every one of them just so he could embarrass his family.”

Danny kept staring at me as if he didn’t quite believe my story. “I’ve never heard Woody curse or mention anything the least bit off color, which is not something I can say of all the folk I know. Are you sure our Woody is your Eeper?”

Great excerpt, Donna. Readers remember to leave a comment for Donna so that your name will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of my Wings release The Welcome Inn.

Oh, if you were wondering why Donna had her picture made in front of a hearse, this is the vehicle that carried her mother-in-law to her final resting place.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Museums Can Be Murder



Last week we welcomed a professional clown who just happens to be an author. Today let's welcome a PhD who just happens to write mysteries. Leave a comment for Sarah and your name will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of my Wings novel The Welcome Inn. Okay, here's Sarah.

What if you had to move a large collection of heavy, awkward plaster casts of Roman emperors and Greek gods out of an old building and the only way was to lower them down through an elevator shaft? And someone cut a cable while you were doing it so that a statue crushed your museum director?

This is the premise behind The Fall of Augustus, my latest Lisa Donahue archaeological mystery. It’s set in a fourth floor attic museum very similar to one that I worked in for three years at the University of Illinois. The situation with moving the casts was based on facts; what happened inside the elevator shaft was not.

If a setting can be a character in a novel, then the former World Heritage Museum (now fictionally moved to Boston to protect the innocent) is a humdinger. It was a labyrinth, so crowded that student guards couldn’t see all corners of a gallery. Pigeons soared through broken windows and left their deposits on statues of Greek gods. Dismal enough during the day, it was positively creepy at night. I took my turn at closing the museum, giving my password (the name of a Greek goddess) to campus security, ignoring the shadows cast by suits of armor and the rustling of winged creatures (pigeons, or bats?), and racing down the back stairs before the alarm tripped. What a great place for a murder…

In the novel, storerooms in odd locations (on two different floors and in the basement) provide convenient hideaways for stolen artifacts and dead bodies. The odd layout of the building (one staircase that only goes to the second floor, two others that go to the fourth floor) makes it easy for villains to escape. Needless to say, this drives the police crazy.

The human characters in Fall are just as odd as the building—an Assistant Director with a clothes fetish, a janitor who likes mummies, and a Don Juan preparator who has a talent for making artifacts disappear. And most sinister of all, a new museum director who makes Lisa’s blood run cold. Murder by transport amphora, anyone?

The Fall of Augustus is Sarah Wisseman’s third mystery. It is available in trade paperback and ebook at Wings: http://wingsepress.com/Bookstore/The%20Fall%20Of%20Augustus.htm

For more information, go to Sarah’s website: www.sarahwisseman.com

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HE's A Professional Clown Who Writes Romance


Okay, you're gonna love this guy. Not only is a professional clown, but he's also a romance writer! Wings Press month continues with guest Ralph Horner. Leave a comment for Ralph and your name will be entered in a drawing for a copy of my Wings release The Welcome Inn.


1. Hi, Ralph. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I’m a former computer programmer,and I have also been a clown since 1991. After 9/11 main frame data processing changed and became more user friendly, putting many computer programmers and operators out of work. I now have my own entertainment business, Always Clownin’ where I do Ragz and Redi the clowns, a magician, Sponge Boy (you can’t use Bob), Santa Clause, a pirate, a cowboy, Mr. Hyde and the Easter Bunny. I also write comedy bits for a couple of clubs and I teach balloon art, magic and humor at a local community college.

The first writing I did was in grade school. I wrote a comic strip called ‘McDroodle and the Devil’. Once a week and showed it to whoever was interested. It was about a nerdy family man who is constantly tempted by the devil and then gets into various adventures. My brother did the art work and I handled the story line. Other than that I always had story ideas in my head, but I didn’t start to write novels until 1981.”

I was married in 1973 to my current wife, Toni and have two grown children, Angie and Randy and three grandchildren from Angie.

I joined my first writers’ support group in the early nineties, and have been in one ever since. I now belong to the South Side Scribes in Orland Park, IL where I’ve been for about twelve years.

I have had various short stories published since 2002. In August 2007, ‘Pandora Spoxx’ was featured by Wild Cat Books in their monthly ‘Startling Stories’ Anthology. In June 2008, ‘Atalanta Alters the Tide of Alida’ was published in the ‘Heroes of Ancient Greece’ anthology by Night to Dawn Books. In March 2009 my first novel, Tandem Tryst was published by Wings ePress.



2. Most romance writers seem to be women. How did a guy get interested in writing romance?

Actually I consider myself a Paranormal writer. I write Fantasy, Gothic and Time-Travel stories. My first published novel Tandem Tryst is also a paranormal time-travel, but with a bit more romance and also mystery than other stories I’ve written. For Tandem Tryst, the idea just came to me, what if a man lost his wife and then through the miracle of time-travel he found her in another life. Once I got the concept down, I gave the story a White City setting and added a mysterious stalker who is after the very ring that gives the main character access to going back in time.


3. Can you describe the time you realized that you were a real writer?

It happens sort of gradually. The first story I had published was a novella. In 2002. Classic Pulp Fiction Magazine serialized it and its sequel in four parts.


4. Are you working on anything new?

Yes, the sequel of Tandem Tryst called Midnight Mist. I’ve only got about a third of it finished.


5. What other writers have inspired you?

Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Washington Irving. I was also inspired by film and television writers, like Rod Serling and Richard Matheson.


6.Why do you write? It's hard work!

Like one of the writers in my support group said, “We have to.” I also enjoy writing for escapism and I like to write stories that I myself enjoy reading when they’re finished. One example is, when my daughter was little I used to read her a couple of stories a week. At Christmas time we had a toy village under our tree and she asked me if I could buy a story about a little Christmas village. Since there weren’t any, and I was writing by then, I wrote her the story. It wasn’t ready until the following Christmas, but I read it to her every year after that, and also to my son when he was little. I never tried to get it published maybe someday I will.


7. What can readers expect when they read your book?

They’ll feel as if they’ve gone back in time to the World Columbian Exposition, riding the huge Ferris wheel and exploring the midway. They’ll also enjoy a compelling story of reincarnation romance between two people from different centuries, and a mysterious woman stalker, wearing various ethnic disguises, who tries to steal the very ring that brings the main character, Jeff, back in time. Is she a stranger, or someone much closer to the heroine?


8. What are your future goals for your writing?

I don’t really have any specific goals. I’m just going to keep writing stories, try to get them published and promote them and see where it goes.


9. Where can we find you on the web?

My website is www.ralphehorner.weebly.com.


10. Would you tell us about Tandem Tryst and share an excerpt with us? Where can we buy the book?

In this Time-Travel mystery romance, three years after Jeff Voss’s young wife Marcy dies, he locates an enchanted ring. Jeff discovers that while wearing it, he goes back one hundred years to the time of the White City of 1893 Chicago. Jeff soon learns the purpose of the ring when he meets Melody Bishop, a twin of his beloved wife. He finds out Melody is Marcy’s ancestor and her now living soul. Although Jeff may have several obstacles, including her boyfriend, he feels he has a second chance in this distant time with the love that was taken from him prematurely. To complicate matters dark forces are at work, as a mysterious woman wearing various ethnic disguises, stalks and continually attempts to steal Jeff’s ring, even if by murder.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Much later Jeff was awakened by the sound of tinkling perfume bottles as if they had been bumped on the dressing table. It was so dark in the room he couldn’t see if anyone was there. He broke into a cold sweat and sensed someone was standing over him in the blackness. Then Jeff’s heart started to race as he recognized the intruder’s perfume as that of his stalker!

Jeff could hear the sound of his own heart as he lay still, afraid to breath. The silence of the intruder chilled him as he finally made out a shadowy figure standing at the foot of the bed. He was going to ask who it was until he recognized the perfume. Quickly turning to light the lamp next to his bed, there was a rush of air on the back of his head, then a heavy dull thud on his pillow. He flinched, dropping the match. The form rushed out of the room. Jeff got his bearings then leapt out of bed. The phantom in a long dress turned left in the hallway heading for the stairs. He ran after her. Reaching the top of the stairway, his visitor scurried down the steps. Jeff chased her down the dark stairway as fast as he could. He had to know who she was, but feared this woman could be waiting for him in the shadows for a second chance to crush his skull.

When Jeff got to the landing of the parlor, he could barely see, and there was silence. His attacker might be hiding in the room or maybe she had gone out the kitchen door. He found the front parlor door still closed. Had someone exited that way Jeff would’ve seen it. Considering she was somewhere in the living room, he trembled. She could attack him with her weapon at any moment.

The sound of footsteps came down the stairs. He froze. This could be his attacker who had slipped back up to the second floor and was returning to finish the job.
“Who is it?” he yelled, hoping to wake someone.

“It’s me,” Melody whispered.

“Melody?”

A lamp on the wall at the foot of the stairway went on. Melody blew out the long match. “Why did you run down here?”

“Someone was in my room and tried to kill me. If I hadn’t turned away to light a match, she would have bashed my head. I chased her down here but lost her in the darkness.”

You can purchase the book on-line at Amazon.com, at my publisher Wings-Press.com, at the Chicago Architecture Foundation gift shot and on-line and at Bookies at 103rd and Western in Chicago.

Thanks so much for talking with me, Ralph. I'm looking forward to reading your work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Blogger Lizzie Starr Is Here! Enjoy!



I’m delighted to visit with Elaine during her Wings month. I’ve been a Wings author almost since the company’s inception--a real old timer.  I write mostly fantasy romance with the occasional side trip into contemporary and futuristic. I even have a few historicals in me yet. Not quite as eclectic as my reading, but give me time.

Visit either Wings or my website and you’ll discover a large proportion of my library has books with the word Keltic in the title. My first book, By Keltic Design, was originally just going to be that one tale. But no… my characters had family and that family wished to be involved as well. Six books later, I thought I was done with the Zeroun clan and Keltic books. I put the Tales of the Double Keltic Triad to rest.

But the sisters and children had children. And more ideas keep flowing into my brain. Prince of Dark Ness bridges the two series and my latest book Blue Keltic Moon begins a new series, Children of the Keltic Triad.

Guess I’ve gone beyond series to family saga.

My books stand alone, but as with any series, they build upon each other. Just like the worlds I’ve discovered while writing them--Faerie, a parallel universe where the Anasazi disappeared, the world of fairies (oh yes, there is a difference between the fairies and the gentry of Faerie), the Alfar worlds and the place between--the world between worlds. Besides the obvious family connections, the tales are also held together by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What about the author who comes up with these interesting worlds? Ah, I only wish my life were half so intriguing. I’m the lunch lady at a parochial school. Although I have learned some interesting things listening to the kids as they come through the lunch line. Like how to French kiss. Did I mention I work in a grade school? ;)

I like working with food. It’s easy for me and allows me lots of mind time where I can plot or plan scenes. There’s always some sort of journal or notepad nearby so I can capture some of my thoughts. I don’t have any set time for writing--just try to fit the words in when I can. Luckily when I leave work, most of my time is my own. Or my characters--depending on how insistent they are.

My books are a whole lot more interesting than I am--at least to my notion. So, here’s the blurb and an excerpt from my latest Blue Keltic Moon

Duty before love. As much as Breanna’s heart protested, Gowthaman would have to wait until she returned with the rescued Alfar0Sindhu prince.

Love before self. Following Breanna into the world between worlds, Gowthaman faces the pain of his past, risks his intellect, his sanity and his life. For her.

Destiny before all. In the time of the blue Keltic moon.

One
“Yield.”

“Never.” With the clang and ring of faerie steel against faerie steel her opponent’s sword slipped the length of hers and he twisted away. “Ha.”

Silent, Breanna advanced, the tip of her weapon swaying slightly, a slow, mesmerizing dance meant to lull an opponent into complacency. A seasoned fighter would hold the tip steady, ready for a thrust, slice or defense. This was a new trick Granda recently taught her. One she hoped hadn’t been passed on to her opponent as well.

He took a backward step then stood his ground. Eyes calm, he watched her advance, his own sword gripped lightly but steady in his hand. She allowed herself a half smile and his eyes slitted with confusion though he remained still.

Lunge. Parry. Slice. Sounds of battle filled the glade quieting the birdsong. The metal clangs echoed off the ancient trees, and dropped heavily from the overhanging branches.

“You will yield.”

He danced away and shook his head. One eyebrow lifted in a cocky arch. “Shouldn’t waste your breath talking. Need it for fighting,” he panted.

Knowing she gave him an advantage, she glanced at the sun. Time passed too quickly and she had somewhere else to be. Unlike others of her clan, she wasn’t able to manipulate a time portal.

As she knew he would, her opponent took the bait.

A quick sidestep. Crouch. Swing one leg. Connect.

Flailing his arms for balance, he went flying forward and crashed to his knees. Then he ate dirt. Breanna leaped to his side and planted one knee in the center of her brother’s back. “Yield?”

He angled his head to spit out a mouthful of dirt and dried leaves. “No.”

A low growl vibrated in her throat. She wrenched his free arm back, angling it high between his shoulders. “I don’t have time for this.”

He struggled against her weight and laughed. “Sorry to keep you. Yikes!”

The tip of her sword dug deep into the soft ground an inch from his nose. She yanked the shining steel from the dirt and planted it again, this time a half an inch closer. “Yield.”

She grinned when he slid his hand from his sword hilt, flexed his fingers then pressed his palm flat against the ground. “Okay.”

“Say it.” She tugged, just a little, on his arm.

“Okay, Bree, I yield.”

In one lithe movement she stood to the side and held out one hand. Chance rolled away from her sword and lay on his back staring up at her. Finally he shrugged, took her hand and hung heavily making her strain to help him to his feet.

Chance scrubbed a hand through his short, white-blond hair. “Geez, sis. This was just supposed to be practice.” He moved his hand to his shoulder, cast her a disgruntled look, and rubbed. “Man, Bree. Did you have to pull so hard?”
She shook her head. He was never serious about practice. “You know how important this is, Chance.”

“Yeah, yeah. But there hasn’t been anything to fight against since Jayse and Lucidea killed Fiedhlim.” An odd, distracted look passed through his expression and Bree wondered how often he thought about the evil Faerie who had fathered him. All her life she’d struggled to keep that taint of evil from her beloved baby brother. Now he was nineteen, almost a man. And like any man, he wouldn’t let her into his thoughts.

“We never know when or where a new threat will appear. I want to be able to keep both of our worlds safe.”

“Ever since Granda handed the leadership of the Alastriona over to you, you’ve been nuts. What? Are you on some sort of power trip? Granda left the Alastriona because there wasn’t enough to keep him busy. Where are you finding all these threats? Where have all these dangers been hiding? Think they were waiting just for you?”

It was an old argument. She didn’t know why she felt there was something lurking, some evil power waiting until the protectors of mankind were lackluster and lazy. Deep in her bones she knew, she understood a power waited. And that power would soon become impatient.

Chance waved a hand then moved toward the thick tree trunk where they’d left their scabbards. He wiped his sword on the hem of his tee shirt then sheathed the blade in the plain, worn leather. “Whatever. I know you’ll make me practice. And I will.” He turned to her, the laughter gone. A dark, serious light shimmered in his blue eyes. “I feel a gathering of some power, too. If my... if Fiedhlim wasn’t dead, I’d say he was gearing up for another attempt to take over.”

Eyes wide, Bree stared at her brother. “You... feel it?”

He gave her a typical adolescent eye-roll and snorted. “I’m not stupid. I’m half-Faerie, too, ya know.”

Interesting. She’d never suspected Chance had any inkling of the vibrations she felt in the dark night, much less honed the powers he’d exhibited so strongly when he was a baby. Being raised by fully human parents in a clan made up of a multitude of Fey peoples hadn’t been easy. She’d been pretty precocious herself. Much to her father’s dismay.

“Why haven’t you said anything before now?”

“I wasn’t sure.” The darkness left his eyes and the clear blue sparkled with mischief. “Besides, I knew you’d really hit my training hard then. It’s bad enough now.”

“We need to talk about this. Do Mom and Dad know? Granda or Jaysson?”

“Nope, nobody but you. But...” He glanced at his hands and spread his fingers in a helpless, beseeching gesture. “I don’t suppose you’d keep this quiet. At least for awhile. At least until I understand a little more about what’s going on.”

“Until we understand this, baby bro, I’ll keep your secret.” She sheathed her sword and wrapped one arm around his shoulders. His broad, well-developed shoulders. She paused in surprise. When had her little brother gotten so muscular? Must be all the training she put him through. “But you and I are going to talk about it. And soon.”

He opened his mouth, but she stopped his speech with a shake of her head. “Not now. I’ve got to be somewhere and I’m running late.”

His sly, knowing grin and waggled eyebrows made her groan.

“Off to the library again?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. Gowthaman’s found some new old manuscripts.”

“Since when are you interested in old manuscripts? Oh wait. I know. Since Gowthaman has something to do with them.” Chance laughed, holding his stomach as if trying to hold in the glee. It didn’t work.

Drawing back her fist, Bree punched his arm. Instead of laughter, a harsh oomph of air burst past his lips.

“Geez, sis. Did ya have to hit so hard? Good thing we’re grown up or I’d have to run and tattle to Mom.”

“Grown up? The way you tease?”

He danced a jig around her then bowed. “Part of my Faerie heritage.”

“Honestly, Chance. I’ve been helping Gowthaman...”

“Got the hots for him more like.”

Heat blazed in her cheeks but she refused to fall prey to Chance’s effective teasing. “Like I said, I’ve been helping him with research. You know Lucidea’s determined to get her uncle back from the world between worlds.”

“Yeah, she’s been trying for what... oh, since I was born? I know that’s a serious concern and everyone’s main focus now. But come on, Bree. Just admit it. You go to the library for the librarian.”


Here’s where you can find *lizzie on the web.
www.lizziestarr.com
http://starrwords.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Is Norma Huss?



Who is Norma Huss? That's a good question. Norma and I share a publisher, Wings Press, and she agreed to be part of Wings month (six weeks actually) at my blog. I've gotten to know Norma through her interview, and she sounds like a wonderful person. I've also read an excerpt of her work, I think if you like mysteries you'd like her book. Remember if you leave a comment for one of the authors your name is entered in a drawing for a free copy of The Welcome Inn. That's my Wings release. Okay, let's get to that interview.

1.Hi, Norma, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. First of all, congratulations on your achievement. It’s not as easy as some people think to get published. How did you find Wings ePress?

Norma - Thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog. And you are right - it’s not easy getting published. This acceptance was a long time coming. In fact, I gave up on Yesterday’s Body two or three times, but then, I took a look, tweeked the story, and started over - sending queries to agents. Some showed a bit of interest, even read parts or the whole manuscript. But agents didn’t think they could sell my manuscript. Finally, I researched small presses on the internet. When I checked the Wings ePress site, they were looking for books with older protagonists. That fit my manuscript. I then realized a friend had published through Wings. Unfortunately she has since died, but I have a copy of her book. I liked the quality, the cover art, in fact, the whole presentation.

2. How did you celebrate when your book was accepted?

My acceptance of many rejections has been along the lines of, “Oh, another one.” It took me about three days to realize this wasn’t, “Another one,” but the real thing! So, perhaps, I’m only working up to that celebration. I’m sure receiving my two print copies of the book will generate a real celebration. (And, that might happen before this interview sees print.) My husband wants a “real book” to read. I’ll also send one to my mother who turned 100 this October, the same month my book came out.

3.There's nothing like holding your copy in your hand. Oh, yeah, you'll feel like celebrating. Did you always want to be an author? When did the writing bug bite you?

When I was in fourth grade I began writing my first book - but I never finished it. Then I wanted to be a champion ball bouncer. Then I wanted to be an artist. When my oldest daughter was five, I wrote and illustrated a picture book for her in the vain hope that she’d dress herself without whining. But my writing ambitions didn’t take hold until the youngest of my five children was in high school. I started with short children’s manuscripts and had several published in magazines. Finally, without kids in the home for inspiration, I turned to adult mystery. (Of course, I don’t have any murdered bodies in the home either.)

4. That's good. About no bodies I mean. Has being an author made you feel any different about yourself? If so, how?

I do have an identity other than wife, mother, and grandmother, and writing gives me that. But, I think with publication of Yesterday’s Body, that identity has been strengthened considerably - a least in MY mind.

5. Tell us about Norma the person, not Norma the author, if indeed you can separate them.

I guess, other than “the author,” I’d classify myself as wife and home-maker. I no longer have to clean house (thank you very much!), but I don’t mind laundry, and I love to cook. Which is why my amateur sleuth also loves to cook. In Yesterday’s Body, she sometimes tosses together an impromptu meal (one of my specialties too). I don’t have the recipes in the book, but I will post her favorites on my website www.normahuss.com (which, I hope is up by the time this interview appears).

6. Tell us about your typical writing day.

Typical day? Is there such a thing? As I answer these questions, my typical day includes a lot of frustration over the whole idea of websites, as well as registering copyright, publicity, what’s next. But my daughter is helping with the website, the copy is on its way for registration, and hey, isn’t this publicity?

My USUAL typical writing day starts with doing the daily sudoku to get my brain moving. Then I sit at my computer in the basement with my back to the window overlooking any number of distractions, pull up my Goals page to inspire me, then proceed to write. The length of time I work is directly connected to my level of enthusiasm. If that’s low, I may realize I need to wash clothes, or organize closets. If the level is high I’ll suddenly realize it’s two in the afternoon and I haven’t had lunch yet.

7. What future goals have you set for yourself as a writer?

My goal is to write the second in the Jo Durbin series, to finish and market the first of another series, and to continue working with a co-author toward a picture book about bloodhounds. (Visit my website to read about a wonderful volunteer family.)

8. Do you have a work in progress? If so, is it the same genre as Yesterday’s Body?

Yes, I do (see the answer above). The working title of the book nearing completion in the second series is Death of a Hot Chick, so you know that it, too, is mystery.

9.What advice do you have for people who want to be authors?

Keep at it. If I’d stopped after ten years, Yesterday’s Body would be gathering dust under the bed. Another bit of advice is, keep learning. That book under the bed would not have been the book that is now published. I learned from agent comments, from countless “how-to” books, and from the in-person and by e-mail encouragement from writing groups. So, that is my third bit of advice. Join one or more constructive groups of writers. Writers are unique in helping their competition. Actually, writers don’t think of other writers as competition. They think of them as family.

10. Okay, now tell us all about Yesterday’s Body. Give us an excerpt if you’d like, and be sure to tell us where we can buy it. I know I’m looking forward to reading it.

Hey, I can’t tell you ALL about Yesterday’s Body! You’d never buy it.

I can tell you that Jo is no spring chicken. In fact, she says: “I’m not saying Abbott Computing Services suffered from an acute form of TV demographics, but how did I get the job? I wasn’t under forty. I wasn’t anorexic slim. I didn’t have a face that would launch a thousand ships, or even a rowboat.”

But, I’ll tell you something that’s only hinted at on the Wings website. Jo is acting the homeless bag lady, even inventing an imaginary cat to further that image. She hopes to write and sell a best-seller of that life, “as she lived it.” Finding a murdered body was not in her plan.

Part of chapter one is on Wings ePress, Inc. website.

Available from www.wings-press.com and www.amazon.com I understand it will also be available from www.fictionwise.com as well as by order from your favorite book store. (But wings has the best price.)

I’ve enjoyed meeting you electronically, and I wish the best to all. Okay, read my book, and Elaine’s books too!


I sure second that last part. Thanks for coming, Norma. It was a pleasure to meet you too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Laura Hogg Stopped By


Hello, there. It's week two of my Wings month, and today's special guest is author Laura Hogg. I got to know Laura a year or so ago when I reviewed The Twelfth Kiss for her. I enjoyed the book so I'm glad she could be here. If you're interested in either submitting a manuscript to Wings or checking out their books you can do so at http://www.wings-press.com.

Remember that if you leave a comment for any one of the authors your name will be entered in a drawing for a copy of my Wings release The Welcome Inn.

Okay, let's get to that interview. Laura, thanks for stopping by.

Laura: It was my pleasure.

1.For the benefit of anyone not familiar with your work, can you tell us how you became a writer? Is it something you always wanted to do? When I was a little girl, I played piano and wrote poetry. Growing up, I wrote stories and songs, being in a rock band. In college, I wrote stories. Then one day, in my thirties, I got the courage to submit my first story to a publisher.

Music and writing, for me, were always intertwined. It was my goal as a youth to someday get a book published. It was a scary thing, submitting.

2.I know what you mean about scary. I still get scared when I submit something. Tell us about your writing. What genres do you write in, etc.
I mostly write historicals, romance, and paranormals, and some modern-day. I love history and research stuff all over the map of time. My next story to come out will be a Western, Emma the Outlaw. Let’s see, with Wings ePress, I have a story called The 12th Kiss. It’s an adventurous story set in 1820 London.

With other publishers, I have a variety of work out. One of my novels, Romeo vs. Juliet, is a time-travel. The hero is an Elizabethan man, and the heroine is a modern-day women. When my hero does something bad, his wife chases him through many eras in history, and they have quite a time of it. My novel, For the Love of a Queen, is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the near future.

My novella, Double Vision, is a paranormal where the hero and heroine fall in love on the astral plane.

My short stories are various, from Medieval to the 1920s, and my work ranges from sweet to very steamy.

3.Do your family and friends know you’re a writer? If so, what was their reaction? They know. My mom was very supportive. I lost her recently and dedicated my one and only Inspirational Romance to her.

My dad, a sister, husband, and daughter are also supportive. My daughter is also a writer, but her style is very different than mine.

4.If you could travel back in time which era would you pick? (I bet I know the answer to this one. I’ve read the book.) Hard choice. Aw, thanks, Elaine. That is very sweet. Thanks for reading my book. The Regency was a fascinating time, that’s for sure, but as a female, gosh, this choice is difficult…I’d have to say maybe the 1920s because women gained a lot more freedom. I'm currently researching this exciting era. I’d tell my friends to save money and not invest in the stock market, if I could go back there. ;) But if I could just drop in for a day or two and observe, I’d really like to hear Jesus speak in person.

5.How long did it take you to write The Twelfth Kiss? Here’s the strange thing. It usually takes me a lot longer to write a book, but…well, let me backtrack for a sec, at that time in my life, I was yet unpublished. I was going through something very stressful and prayed for help. I, as a Catholic, also asked the Angel Raphael to add his prayers to mine. One day shortly after, I woke up and felt inspired, and this story came out in a mad rush. I was so inspired, in fact, that I named a main character Raphael.

Then I put the story up with a large critique group for many months. (The revisions took longer than the writing of the first draft). The Regency era was new to me at the time, and I was still researching that time in history and fixing things in the novel as I learned new details. Most people in the group were great and offered me wonderful advice on how to tighten up the novel. It was a lot of work, but fun! However, there was one Regency expert who tore the book up to shreds and was harsh in her criticism. It discouraged me so bad that I almost gave up writing. After days of sadness, I lifted my chin, so to speak, and forged ahead.

I polished the novel with the advice of many people to help and submitted it, my first, to a publisher. It got rejected. Months later, that publisher went out of business. The second publisher, Wings ePress, accepted it! Wings, what a coincidence.

I got the email at night—my first book contract! And called up my mom. She was so happy for me.

6.That's an inspirational story, Laura. Thank you so much for sharing. What’s your writing day like? Well, currently, I'm the breadwinner, because my husband was laid off. I work at a little school during the day helping out kids and adults with reading disabilities. It’s a great job with the best bosses. Then I come home at night and plop down at the computer and write/research for hours at a time.

7.Are you working on anything right now? If so, can you share a little with us. I'm working on many things right now. I have several under contract at this time and have yet to get assigned editors for those. Those stories differ greatly: one is a Victorian novella, others vary from modern-day stories about a female rock musician (hmm, wonder where I got that idea from, lol) to paranormal (A lady has to go to hell and steal the keys from the gatekeeper to hell, gets down there and discovers it’s her ex-lover) to many other types of stories, including a screenplay.

8.If you could meet any author in the world, who would it be? Someone who would be open to reading my work! (Why does the little guy get ignored so often? When I buy books, I often go for an unknown author first). I have a multitude of library cards and use them. Good thing I take the bus home from work and can get in more reading time.

9.Give us your links so we can find you on the web. Be sure to tell us where we can find your books.
This is the addy for my paranormal blog:
http://traveltheages.blogspot.com/
If anyone who writes paranormal would like a guest spot there, please let me know. Authors should help each other out when possible. We’re all in this together, right? I believe there’s room up at the top for all of us.

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/l_hogg

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/editpicture.php#/profile.php?id=626483435&ref=profile

My husband is currently putting together another web site for me, so I don’t have one right now.

The 12th Kiss (set in 1820): http://www.facebook.com/editpicture.php#/profile.php?id=626483435&ref=profile

Double Vision (paranormal):
http://www.aspenmountainpress.com/paranormal/romance/double-vision/prod_74.html

Romeo vs. Juliet (time-travel), For the Love of a Queen (post-apocalyptic), Copacetic and Baby Vamp (Vintage 1920s—nothing to do with vampires, lol):
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/laura-hogg-m-166.html?zenid=0822b8b1803fd9539238850b75325206

Isanne’s Revelation (Medieval time-travel, Inspirational Romance)
http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/cartage.html?main_page=index&cPath=154

Emma the Outlaw (Western):
http://eirelander.webs.com/emmatheoutlaw.htm

And others under contract but not out yet.

10.Would you share an excerpt from The Twelfth Kiss?
At one-thirty a.m. a lord dressed in breeches laced over a pair of fine shoes, a quality shirt, a lush white cravat with a diamond pin sparkling within its folds and a velvet trimmed coat pushed open the door, dripping wet; long, drenched strands of blond hair sticking to his neck, and falling to his shoulders; and he gripped a pistol at his side. He was accompanied by an angry-looking stout man even bigger in muscle size than he was, nicely dressed as well, but obviously not a lord, more like an American. The lord strode across the room with his friend and sat at the bar, great perturbation marring his features. He ordered a drink and slammed it down. He gestured rapidly for another. The innkeeper poured him one.

“What troubles you this night, my lord?”

“My wife has been kidnapped. My brother-in-law and I are searching around here. I have others looking elsewhere. Have you seen anything unusual this way tonight?”

Chuckling caused him to turn around.

“Is something funny?”


Laura, thank you so much for the interview. I'll look forward to reading more of your work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome Mary Jean Kelso



Back in 2007 a small press called Wings Press published my novel The Welcome Inn. I had a great experience with them. Their editors were courteous and treated me as a professional which isn’t always the case. Their authors are friendly and helpful too. Wings puts out its work in both print and ebook form, and they take a good many different genres. If you’re an author and would like to submit to them or a reader who’d like to check them out their address is http://www.wings-press.com.

During the month of October I’ll be featuring several Wings authors here at the blog. If you leave a comment for one of my guest authors you’ll automatically be entered in a drawing for an electronic copy of my Wings release The Welcome Inn.

We’ll begin to today with an interview with Mary Jean Kelso. Mary Jean, thanks for coming to the blog.

1.I’m always curious about where authors get their ideas. What about you? Do you ever write about real people and events?

A. I suppose, in a way, I do. I have a lot of historic events in my family history and found myself automatically writing about the early west. Upon further research I found the characters oftentimes might be a spin-off from some of these genealogical happenings. However, they in no way reflect the actions of family members. At least, not in the past. Now that I have done more research and found out interesting tidbits, I’m sure some of those will pop up in future stories.

2.When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take you to get published?

A. I have written ever since I could put my fingers on Qwerty keys. I finally recognized it as a possible career in 1963. Although I had items published in local newspapers, it took until 1984 to finally see my first novel published. Goodbye Is Forever first came out through Great Basin Press, Reno, NV, as Mystery in Virginia City. It is in it’s 3rd printing through Wings-press.com.

3.What’s your favorite of the books you’ve written? Can you tell us why?

A. That is so hard. Ask any writer that question and it is like asking them to choose one of their children as their favorite. Each book has it’s own characteristics. I would probably have to say the first book because it is still in print and launched my writing career.

4.How long does it take you to write a book? Do you plot the book in advance or make it up as you go along?

A. Completing a manuscript can take me from 3 months to a year. It all depends on how much other work is going on. Since the Children’s Picture Books started coming out, I find a lot of my time tied up with those—proofing galleys, approving art work, etc.

Plotting, for me, leads to writer’s block. My stories are mostly character driven. That’s the fun for me. It is like the experience the reader gets when the story is fresh and there are twists and turns and excitement. That is when writing is FUN. The rest—making sure everything fits, all the questions are answered, the character doesn’t have blue eyes in Chapter 2 and brown in Chapter 10, etc.,-- is plain hard work.

5.What do you think is the easiest part of writing? The hardest?

A. See above.

6.Do you belong to a critique group?

A. No. I don’t have time to be a “joiner.” In the past, I did belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, The National League of American Pen Women
and other groups.

7.How much of yourself is in your books?

A. Not much except for one. It has a lot of autobiographical details in it. And, no, I’m not going to say which one. Only my closest friends know.

8.Can you tell us about when you received ‘the call’?

A. When I met a woman who had 8 kids while I had 3. Some of her first words to me were, “I am a writer.” I thought about it and decided if she could write with that many kids, surely I could do it with five less. My first book was dedicated to her.

9.Do you have any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

A. Never give up! There are many people out there that could have seen success if they had just kept trudging along. I have had many distractions, disasters and difficulties in my life. Still, I am finally feeling like a success. You have to keep writing through all these tribulations if you are going to reach your goal. Sometimes, you will find, the writing is therapeutic. It’s what gets you through the tough times.

10.Please share your links with us so we can find you on the web.

www.authorsden.com/maryjeankelso
www.Amazon.com
www.andyandthealbinohorse.blogspot.com
www.guardianangelpublishing.com
www.wings-press.com
www.whiskeycreekpublishing.com
www.booktour.com


To search for me use “Mary Jean Kelso”

Six years of newspaper articles are up on www.lahontanvalleynews.com

I won a 1st Place for Best Spot News – 2008 from The Nevada Press Association
and a 3rd Place for “Fernley Floods” from The National News Association
and recently was invited and joined Made in Nevada.

Here's a little excerpt to whet your appetite for more of Mary Jean's work. After reading it, I'd sure buy her book!

Excerpt:
Charlie studied the baby. “Why’s his eyes so slanted? And why’s his skin so light? You and me’s more deep brown. How come he’s so much lighter, Effie Mae? You tol’ me I was the first.”
“You was, Charlie.” she lowered her eyes.
“We was married. What’d you do, Effie Mae?”

Thanks for coming today, Mary Jean. It's been a pleasure.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Evolution Of The American Family


The summer before I started the first grade my mother and father bought a house in one of the newest neighborhoods in our small town. Guess what they paid for it. Eight thousand dollars. It was bigger than the national average but only had one bathroom. A generation later my husband and I bought a house that was about average in price. We paid thirty five thousand dollars for it. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it, and in some places it was. We live in the South where prices are cheaper.

If you like looking at statistics across the decades you'll enjoy a photo essay done by Woman's Day magazine. The essay showed the evolution of the American family, and it deals not just with housing prices but family size, the price of eggs, and much more. By the way, don't get freaked out by the price of eggs. The magazine adjusted all prices for inflation. Here's the link: http://www.womansday.com/wd2/Content/Family-Lifestyle/Evolution-of-the-Household. Hope you enjoy your trip to the past.

I have a new excerpt up in the CRR contest. Please don't forget to vote for me. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, please look at last week's post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Want Your Vote


Have you read any romances in the last few years? If so, some of them probably shocked you. Even mainstream romance is explicit, but some of the erotic romances would curl your hair. Maybe in a good way, maybe bad. It just depends on your point of view.

I think the way you view romance novels depends a great deal on how you define the word romance. To me, romance is more that just a steamy sexual encounter. Romance is that breathless, heart pounding, thrilling, pulse racing sensation that you get when you first fall in love. It’s as much about emotion as it is physical love. It’s the feeling that a whole new world is opening to you, and you can’t wait to explore it.

I’m not the only one who’d define romance this way. Several authors who write sweet romance recently banded together for support on a Yahoo group called Classic Romance Revival. I’m a member of this group, and I do love it. It’s nice to be able to communicate with authors who share your point of view.

Besides the Yahoo group, ..CRR.. also has a website located at http://www.classicromancerevival.com. The website just launched so the group is doing all kinds of promotions to spark reader interest. One thing they’re doing is a contest for authors. Each week the authors will post excerpts which the readers will read. Afterward, they’ll vote on the one they like best. First prize for winning the contest is a publishing contract with a small publisher called Desert Breeze Publishing.

Okay, I entered the contest. My entry is called Rest Thy Head, and I’d appreciate it if you’d read my excerpt. If you like it, I’d appreciate your vote. The address is http://classicromancerevival.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=37&Itemid=193

If you’re interested in being a part of the CRR Yahoo group you can join at

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/classicromancerevivalauthors/?yguid=285825457

Thanks, and don’t forget to read a good romance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Choices Meant For Kings



Hey, guess what? Author Sandy Lender is on a blog tour, and she agreed to stop by and talk to us. If you like fantasy you're going to love Sandy's work. So, here's Sandy.

Bringing Readers on a Writer’s Journey
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
http://www.authorsandylender.com

Elaine asked if I could write about my journey as a writer. She suggested a couple other topics that interested me, too, but this one tugged at the back of my mind. The journey of Sandy Lender as a writer? I guess I’d not thought of my writing as a journey before, and yet it really is.

I started out when I was way young—about six or seven. I would write stories for my great grandmother and she would share them with the people in her apartment building. Cool, eh? Then I wrote short (as in one sentence or two) “articles” for Mrs. Zeller’s class newsletter in first grade. My story writing lengthened into what my young mind considered books because I started them with a table of contents (complete with page numbers) but I didn’t really get serious with writing until junior high when I won first place in a competition for writing a sequel to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I took creative writing and English electives in high school and college that fueled my writing habit. I got into magazine publishing upon graduating from college and have been doing that for 17+ years. So my writing journey has been a long one.

I’m not done, though. I don’t consider the journey “over” just because I’ve found a publisher (which is its own perilous little journey, doncha know) and have gotten my first couple of novels out in the marketplace. I’m still learning new elements of the writing craft. New characters still visit me at bizarre hours of the night whispering their stories in my ear. There are still new outlets to fling my work toward. So the journey continues and I invite readers to join me all the time.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”


Here's a blurb about my novel Choices Meant For Kings.

Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?


A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
http://www.authorsandylender.com
You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”



If you'd like to follow Sandy's blog tour go to the following address to find out where you can find her.

http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2009/08/virtual-book-tour-choices-meant-for.html

Sandy, I'm looking forward to reading your book. Thanks for sharing with us.
Elaine