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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: 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 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

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

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

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
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.

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

Friday, September 11, 2009

Low Country Tales

Not long ago I took a trip to Charleston, SC. If you’ve never been to Charleston you’re missing a treat, especially if you like history. In Charleston the past and the present mix so seamlessly you aren’t sure where one leaves off and the other begins. At any rate, I took a tour while I was there. As the tour progressed I noticed a great many small houses that were trimmed in blue. I asked the tour guide about that, and he said the doors and windows were painted blue to keep the spirits out. Intrigued by his answer, I decided to do a little research and see what I could find out.

My research led me to the Gullah people. The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Low Country of South Carolina, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. This area once extended as far north as Cape Fear in North Carolina and as far south as Jacksonville, Florida, but today the Gullah are confined to the South Carolina and Georgia Low Country. The Gullah people are also called Geechee.

The Gullah are known for preserving their African linguistic and cultural heritage. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure. The Gullah language is related to Jamaican Creole, Bahamian Dialect, and the Krio language of Sierra Leone in West Africa.

Most of the Gullahs' ancestors were brought to South Carolina through the port of Charleston. Charleston was the most important port in North America for the Atlantic slave trade, and almost half of the enslaved Africans brought into what is now the United States came through the port of Charleston.

The Gullah have been able to preserve so much of their African cultural heritage because of geography and climate. The slaves were put to work on rice plantations while the slave owners fled the hot, malaria infested rice growing areas. Left in relative isolation, the slaves were able to keep and pass on their cultural traditions.

African influences are found in every aspect of the Gullahs' traditional way of life including their beliefs about hags, haunts, and plat-eyes. Hags were believed to be the disembodied spirits of witches who could shed their skins and “ride” people. Riding meant giving people nightmares. Sometimes the hags were believed to be vampires.

The young and the old were especially susceptible to being ridden by hags. To stop a hag from riding you, you had to catch her when she was out of her skin and salt the skin. This was pretty hard to do so most people painted their doors and windows blue to scare the hag away.

Haunts were believed to be the spirits of the dead who could return to cause trouble for the living. The worst of these were “plat-eyes.” Plat-eyes were evil spirits that could assume various shapes and rob a person of their wits. To repel these evil spirits the people used a mixture of gunpowder and sulfur because no plat-eye could stand the smell of this mixture.

The picture at the top of the page shows sweet grass baskets that are made by the Gullah women. The baskets are beautiful, the quality is outstanding, and many of the designs date back to slave days.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Paranormal in Fiction

Today let's welcome paranormal author Tracey Kitts to the blog. Tracey agreed to guest blog today and talk about the popularity of the paranormal in modern fiction, in particular the werewolf. Thanks for coming, Tracey.

Why We Like Werewolves

What is it about werewolves that has captured the imagination of so many people? Is it their strength, their power? Is it their ability to reveal the animal within? Or is it something more? After all, beauty has always been drawn to the beast.

In Red, book one in my werewolf hunter series I say, “It is not a coincidence that before people on other continents were aware of each other, they had all developed their version of the same legend.”

But am I wrong? Was there ever such a thing as werewolves or do we all just long to unleash the beast sometimes? Everyone has experienced a moment at some point in their lives, whether it was brought about by pain or pleasure where they just wanted to growl. Is that merely our inherent primal instinct or something wild within?

Perhaps we yearn for the long forgotten freedom of our cave dwelling ancestors. Or maybe we just love a hairy chest. It sure would be great to wolf out on the boss sometime or flash some amber eyes at that annoying guy who always gives you the wrong change at the video store.

Or better yet, how great would it be to mate for life? To give that kind of commitment without doubt, protection without a price. Do we envy the ability to give ourselves completely, no matter what the cause?

Whatever your reasoning may be, the world loves werewolves. Whether it’s movies or books, the werewolf has graced the covers of more magazines and more silver screens than anyone except Dracula.

For some it’s his raw sex appeal that keeps them coming back for more of the furry type. For others it’s the idea of being able to kick some serious butt the way most werewolves do. I mean, have you ever seen a wimpy one?

So, whatever culture you’re from in whatever part of the world, it appears that lycanthropes are here to stay. Perhaps lycanthropy is real after all … only it spreads through our imaginations instead of through our bloodstream.

Tracey H. Kitts is the author of the Lilith Mercury: Werewolf Hunter Series with New Concepts Publishing.

For more information on Tracey and her books, you can find her at or

To watch the book trailers or just have some fun you can also visit Tracey’s Blog.

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