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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome Chris Redding



Before we get to our guest author, let me remind you that you have until Friday morning April 1 to look over my release party excerpts and make a comment. I'll announce the prize winners on Friday.

My guest today is Chris Redding. Chris thanks for coming, and we're ready now for that guest blog.


The bad boy holds a special place in my heart. I married the antithesis of a bad boy, but for some reason they hold some appeal. Maybe because I can watch them and be friends with them without worrying about succumbing to their charms. Not that I think I ever really succumbed to anyone’s charms. I don’t trust anyone that much and you come on strong I back off.

But they are fascinating.

Let me clarify. Bad boys are not the kind you see on cops with their girlfriend/wife/mother/sister yelling at them from the trailer. These are men who are so enamored of women that they have studied them for years.
Probably since birth.

What are some of the traits of a bad boy?

He’s fun. He’s confident. He’s good in bed. (Or at least he thinks he is.) He thrives on being bad and he knows how to get you to do what he wants. He has studied women for years and knows every type and how to get past their defenses. Think about your hero. Wouldn’t he be fun to write this way? Wouldn’t it be fun to live vicariously through a guy like this? (What? You don’t sometimes imbue your characters with traits you’d like to have?)

So bad boys come in all shapes and sizes. He doesn’t need to be an ex-Special Forces guy. He can be that college professor or the accountant who does your taxes. Wow. Now I really want to write a bad boy in my next book.
Bad boys study women endlessly. They don’t just know generalities about women. They know specifics about the women they are pursuing. There is a certain charm in that. They do see women as individuals. During the chase. After, probably not.

He isn’t a player. A player will brag, only go after one type of woman and cares only enough about them to get them into bed. A bad boy is discreet about his conquests, likes all women and does know more about them then just how to get them into bed.

Doesn’t that sound like a fun hero of a romance novel?

He doesn’t have to be ex special forces. My boss is a former bad boy. He’s a paramedic who used to be a paid firefighter. Why do you want your hero to have bad boy qualities? Because it can stir up the story and give it conflict.

How does a bad boy do this? What are the techniques? There are three of them: Tell you that you are beautiful, encourage naughtiness, occasionally fight.

Don’t all of those sound like a hero in a romance novel?

Bad boys know how to compliment a woman in a way that is unique to her. They don’t go for the obvious, but rather something very personal to the woman. Think about giving your heroine some unique trait. Maybe she snorts when she laughs. He finds that irresistible. So he’ll comment and compliment her on it. But he does it in a way that she isn’t offended. It will most likely take her off guard. She’ll respond.

Think of the buttoned down heroine getting to let loose with her bad boy. She goes out and buys that party pack of glow-in-the-dark ribbed condoms. Haven’t you ever seen someone really let loose? It’s invigorating to watch.
Or think of that person who doesn’t laugh very often. Getting them to laugh is so cathartic. There was a deliver guy at a library I once worked at. He went about his business and never made eye contact. That’s a challenge to me. So I said hello to him every day. By the fifth time he said it back. I think one of the librarians within ear shot had never heard the guy’s voice.
That’s how a bad boy feels when he can get a woman to let loose.
Think of the possibilities.

Today I’ve just scraped the surface of what a bad boy is and how you can use him in your writing.

Chris Redding’s latest book, Incendiary, is out now.. A firefighter accused of arson tries to find the real culprit while rekindling a long ago love.

Chris Redding lives in NJ with her husband, two boys (one of which is a bad boy to be) a dog and three rabbist. When not writing she works in the male dominated field of Emergency Medical Services. For more details about her books visit www.chrisreddingauthor.com. She blogs at http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com. Her next book A View to a Kilt will be out July 1

Chris, there's nothing like a bad boy! Thanks for coming today, and good luck with A View to a Kilt.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Hello! Did you remember to stop by my party yesterday? I'm celebrating the release of A New Dream, and I'm offering some nice prizes. If you missed it yesterday, you can still participate. Go back to yesterday's posts and leave a comment for a chance to win. Winners will be announced on Friday morning.

I have a wonderful guest this morning. Her name is Janet Lane Walters, and she writes for Vanilla Heart press. Janet, thank you so much for coming by. I know authors get tired of answering this question, but unless you’re Danielle Steele or someone like her, some people don’t know you. So, could you tell us a little bit about you and your work?


As I tell people I’ve been published since the dark ages. Actually my first short story arrived in print in 1968. I went on to write a dozen short stories for adults and for children. When one of my short stories came back with this editorial comment, “This sounds like the plot for a book,” I decided to learn how to write longer pieces. Those were the days when editors often sent critiques. Since I’d read the comment “Write what you know,” my first efforts were sweet nurse romances. The first one was published in 1972 and the great thing is that it was accepted by the first editor to turn it down but with comments. The book was rejected 17 times and revised that way. What I received courtesy of some wonderful editors was a course in writing. I kind of branched out from medical romances and now I consider myself an eclectic writer. I write mysteries, fantasy for YA and adults, romance, suspense and occasionally venture into non-fiction. I’ve kind of lost track of how many pieces of writing I have available but I think there are around 39 novels, 4 or 5 non-fiction books, a half dozen novellas and 4 or five short stories. I know there are people who are fanatical about keeping score but for me, I just keep writing.


That's a great story! I wish I had started earlier myself. Congrats on all of your work. What’s the hardest part of writing for you? The easiest?


I find the rough draft to be the hardest and that’s because in my head I have the story but often putting it into the right words is difficult. Another hard thing is setting. One of the first critiques I received from an editor was “Why are your characters existing in a vacuum?” When writing short stories, setting is done in a word or two so this had become a habit. I still have to tell myself “Setting. Setting.” The easiest part of writing for me is the characters and their dialogue. Since these people live in my head I know them. A reader once remarked that Pacing was my forte, but since I really don’t know exactly how I pace my stories perhaps this could be the easiest since it’s totally an unconscious action on my part.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the fourth and final book of a YA fantasy series – The Henge Betrayed. Though listed as young adult I’ve had some feedback from adults who enjoy the book. This one is called Confrontations and will see evil defeated and good prevail.


Sounds good to me! Could you share your “call story” with us? I’m not sure I know what a “call story” is. I just write what comes into my head.


Just to make it interesting, please share three things with us that nobody else knows about you.

With the many years I’ve lived and the number of people who have brushed and entered my life I’m not sure there is anything someone doesn’t know.


I'm pretty much an open book myself. We’d love to read an excerpt. Don’t forget to include a buy link.

HEALWOMAN DARK MOON
Janet Lane Walters
Vanilla Heart Press


Part One
Moonrise
1 The Hodara of Healing in Bethsada

Mabe sat on one of the stone benches in the Grotto. The Eldest had called her here and she didn’t know why. She didn’t think she had done anything to deserve a judging, but why else would the god and goddess want her presence? Soon, the moon would rise and she would dip her hands in the chill waters of the crater lake. Midra and Midran would speak. The only time she had heard their voices had been the night she’d finished her training and had been accepted as a Healwoman. She rubbed her hands along her arms.

The Eldest touched her shoulder. “The time is near. There are things I must tell you.”

“Are you sure ’tis me they want?”

“You are part of their plans for the future.” The old woman smiled. “In the days of yore, the Three of Midra--Seer, Warrior, Healer--united with their mates. Together they defeated those who embraced the dark faces of Midra and Midran. For a time, the priestesses and priests who served the god and goddess walked in the light and brought miracles to the land. But as time rolled on its circular path, what was once came again. The dark face of Midra enthralled the priestesses. They turned from the light. Then the power of the goddess faltered. Midran drew his priests into the shadows. Still, what was will come again.”

Mabe nodded. She’d read the old tales kept in the archives. She had found them fascinating, but were they true? They told of the days when the face of the goddess had darkened. ’Twas then the Healwomen had walked away from the temples to found their own place. In the years that followed, the temples had ruled and men had little power in ruling any of the four divisions of the land now known as nomes. Gradually, the priests of Midran had gained strength, first in the light. Then they had embraced the dark face of the god.

She glanced at the dome over the cavern. Rays of moonlight shone through the four crescent shaped holes, one for each nome. Keltoi, Sippal, Nilos and Incal. Bands of color--red, yellow, blue and white--spread across the water. The arrival of the colors never failed to startle and amaze Mabe. What caused them to appear? She turned to the Eldest. “What do the legends have to do with me?”

“One will come from Keltoi. She is a daughter of this nome. Her lineage rises from the Seer, the Warrior, the Healer and their spouses. She will have four talents and will be the gleaner who finds the Four and Four. One pair for each nome. They will bring light from darkness. You will seek and find her. Bring her to Bethsada so she can enter the hodara and learn.”

Mabe nodded and accepted the task. She felt both humbled and excited to be chosen. “When do I leave?”

The Eldest rose. “The god and goddess will tell you when.” She placed her hands on Mabe’s head. “Seek their blessing. Their commands are for you alone.”

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Home Page Vanilla Heart Publishing

Janet, your excerpt sounds great. I'm sure the book will be a great success. Come back and visit me soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Review

The first review came in for A New Dream today. Clean Romance Reviews said,

I thought this book was very enjoyable. Well written with good side characters and a nice plot. Matt and Violet are sweet characters with good interaction. Matt was the best character though and showed a lot of strength and growth. Violet was easy to relate to, flaws and all. I got caught up in this story, especially as the plot thickened - I could really feel what the main characters were feeling. Great story about truly falling in love and what really makes your dreams worth living.

Thanks for Coming

Thanks for coming to my cupcake party. I won't post winners until Friday in order to give others a chance to eanter the contest. I'd like to leave you with the video about A New Dream. Don't forget to come back Friday to find out who won the prizes.

Did She Do A Job On Him!


In this excerpt, Matt meets with his physical therapist. If you want to read the excerpts in order, go the first cupcake post and work your way back. A New Dream is available at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585


Matt stared at the empty physical therapy room and took a
sip of the hospital brew the physical therapy assistant had given
him. It could use a little work, but it did have a much needed jolt of
caffeine in it. He sighed, blinking away sleep. Why’d they schedule
him so early in the morning? He could have slept a little longer. It
wasn’t like he had anything to do.

The door opened with a click, and a tall, well--built, young
man with dark hair entered the physical therapy office.
The man poured himself a cup of coffee. “Who’s the new
guy?”

The physical therapy assistant, Betty she’d said her name
was, shoved a folder at him. “Matt McCallum.”

“Oh, yeah. Man, that’s a shame.”

Betty scowled at him. “It’s always a shame when people are
hurt as bad as he was, Being a football player doesn’t make him
any different from anyone else.”

“I know and I didn’t mean anything bad. It’s just that he
played one year of pro ball, and it looked like he was going to be
one of the greats. Now, he’s here to get fitted for a prosthesis.”

“Well, I think he needs some counseling. He has that dull,
withdrawn, shell--shocked look on his face.”

“Most amputees feel that way in the beginning,” the man
answered. “We can schedule him with Dr. Whitney if we need
too.”

Matt’s fists clenched. Didn’t they know he could hear them?
Didn’t they know how it made him feel for them to talk about him
like he was an old, washed up nobody?

The man picked up a file and joined him in the waiting area.
“Hi, Matt. I’m Sam Dickson.”

He held out his hand, and Matt took it briefly.

Sam indicated the file in his hand. “It says here you got the
bandages off yesterday and that the stump is nicely healed. Is that
right?”

Matt shrugged. “I guess.”

“Your other leg is banged up pretty bad too, so we have to
work with that as well, but the sooner we get started, the better off
you’ll be.”

“That’s what they say.”

Sam nodded. “Okay, today I’ll show you how to take care of
yourself. After that we’ll fit you for a temporary prosthesis.”

Matt’s head spun; he swallowed hard and focused on a bar
mounted on the wall to steady himself. “All right.”

Matt was a quick study. He paid close attention when Sam
showed him how to clean and protect the stump. Then, Sam passed
him the sock that went over it. “You put it on,” he said.
Matt repressed the shudder that shook him as he pulled the
sock on and smoothed it.

“Very good,” Sam approved. “I hope
your motivation is this good once we get you up to walk.” He
laughed. “As a former athlete, a physical task might be more
appealing than what you just learned.”

Matt drew a deep, shaky breath. Of course he was
motivated! It humiliated him when anybody saw his legs or had to
help him get around. He was desperate to regain some control over
his own body.

A tall, striking brunette passed through the room and
waved to Sam who grinned and waved back at her. “Gorgeous isn’t
she?” he asked Matt, the look on his face reminding Matt of a
gamboling, goofy puppy. “Layla is her name. I’ve been trying to
get her to go out with me.”

Matt barely glanced at her. “Yeah, she’s pretty.”

Sam eyed Matt with a quizzical expression on his face.
“That was sure lukewarm, buddy. A woman that drop dead
gorgeous ought to get your heart pumping. Are you worried about
women now that you’ve lost your leg?”

Matt’s face colored, but he made no reply.

“Man, you need to think about how lucky you are. I know
you’ve lost a lot, but you can still be with a woman and father
children. Hurting your legs doesn’t mean the romantic side of life is
over for you.”

Matt raised his eyes to Sam’s for the first time. “You left out
one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Not too many women are interested in having sex with a
cripple. Seeing a stump like mine is a good way to kill the
romance.”

Sam squatted down so he and Matt were on eye level with
each other. “Matt, the nurses said you’re engaged. Have you talked
to your fiancée about all this?”

“That won’t be necessary. Stacey was with me yesterday
when the bandages came off. She turned as white as a sheet and
said she had to go home. A messenger brought her engagement
ring to me this morning.”

Matt cringed when he saw the look of pity of Sam’s face.
His stark, unemotional rendering of the facts hadn’t fooled the
therapist.

Sam slapped his shoulder and said, “Not all women are like
that, buddy. Some of them will stand by a man through thick and
thin. Next time you’ll choose better, right?” He stood up and took
hold of the handles on Matt’s wheelchair. “Let’s see about fitting
that prosthesis so we can get you walking again

What Is She Thinking?


In this excerpt, Stacey reacts to Matt's injuries. If you're just checking in, you can go to the first Cupcake post and read the excerpts in order. They'll make more sense that way. A New Dream is available at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585

Remember, if you leave a cupcake recipe you'll be entered in a second drawing for a cupcake trinket box pictured with this post.

Stacey shuddered and splashed some more water on her
face. The nausea had passed now. She staggered back into her
bedroom and threw herself across her bed. Matt’s legs looked
horrible! She’d give anything not to have been at the hospital when
the bandages came off. It had been bad enough when a sheet
covered Matt, but to actually see his mutilated legs turned her
stomach and made her feel faint.

She knew one thing, though. Until this afternoon she hadn’t
really understood that Matt’s football career had ended. Oh, she
realized he had lost a leg, but somehow it hadn’t been real to her
until she saw it for herself.

Rolling over, she curled into a tight, little ball. She had had
such fun going places with Matt. People always recognized him
and wanted his autograph. He had plenty of money too, and he
wasn’t stingy with it. The fame and money had thrilled her, but it
was all over and done with now. No more autographs or big
money.

Her stomach lurched again. She had more than just fame
and money to worry about. Matt had wanted to kiss her this
afternoon. In fact, when the doctor came in to take off Matt’s
bandages he had caught her sitting on the edge of the bed kissing
Matt. The doctor had kidded him about it, but she hadn’t minded
being interrupted at all. She…didn’t like to touch him too much
now.

Her thoughts drifted to the afternoon of their accident. Their
parents wouldn’t approve, but she and Matt had gone to Greenville
and checked into a luxury hotel that morning. They had spent his
last day of freedom in bed together. She drew a deep, shaky breath.
The day had been everything she’d dreamed it could be. Her body
tightened with the faint echo of passion. Matt was a good lover.

Oh, why did they have to have such a terrible accident? What
would happen to Matt now? Her engagement ring winked and
twinkled as it caught the light. She stared at it for a moment and
began to cry.

Excerpt 3 A New Dream


Have you ever wondered what you'd do if you woke up in the hospital and found that something awful had happened to you? That's what happened to Matt McCallum the morning after his accident. Remember to leave a comment if you'd like to be entered to win my cupcake Prize. A New Dream is now available at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585

Matt awoke early the next morning because the dull, aching
pain in his legs made him sick to his stomach. Must have been one
rough practice, he thought. He didn’t much want to get up yet. He
still felt tired out and kind of …heavy. Yeah, that was it; he felt
heavy. Too heavy in fact to bother opening his eyes, but Stacey was
holding his hand, so he forced himself to wake up.

A short, round, little woman, not Stacey, held his wrist. The
way she looked at her watch he decided she must be taking his
pulse. Where was he? What had happened to him?

He had to clear his throat before he could speak. “Who are
you?” he croaked.

She beamed at him as if he had done something wonderful.
“Oh, you’re awake now. I’m Nurse Whitaker. How do you feel?”
“I’m tired, and my legs hurt. Where am I?”

“You had a car accident last night, Mr. McCallum.” She
pulled a sheet and a thin white blanket across his chest. “You’re in
the hospital.”

“Stacey…”

“Your girlfriend is fine. Don’t worry about her.”

Matt closed his eyes for a moment and rubbed his throbbing
temples. “I don’t remember what happened.”

“That’s normal. You may never remember everything.”

Matt tried to sit up, but he couldn’t muster enough energy.
“What’s wrong with me? Why is it so hard to sit up?”

“Oh, that’s because of the medication we gave you to help
you rest.” She patted his arm and checked an IV that he hadn’t
noticed until she touched it. “We didn’t want you tossing and
turning all night.”

“What’s wrong with me?” he repeated.

“Shh, don’t worry about that now. The doctor can talk to
you later when you feel better.”

Matt didn’t like the blank expression on the nurse’s face at
all. I must be hurt pretty bad. “No, tell me now,” he insisted.
Nurse Whittaker stuck a thermometer in his mouth. “You
have some trauma to your legs, Mr. McCallum, but the doctor says
you’re going to be fine.”

Matt spit the thermometer out. “Trauma to my legs?”

“Yes, sir, and I’d rather you talk to Dr. Williams about it.”

It’s bad. It has to be. “Tell me,” he demanded.

“Mr. McCallum…”

Matt forced himself to sit up. His head spun and made his
stomach turn over, but he managed to pull the sheet off his right
leg. Wow, he must really be out of it. It looked like most of his leg
was gone. He shook his head to clear away the cobwebs and looked
again. His leg was gone!

He started to shake and grabbed the nurse by the arm.
“Where’s my leg?” he cried.

The nurse took a look at one of the monitors in the room and
called, “Jenny, would you bring me another dose of Mr.
McCallum’s medication?”

A nurse arrived with a syringe which she injected into
Matt’s IV. “There you are,” she soothed. “You’ll be comfortable in a
few minutes.”

Dizziness washed over Matt. “What did…you…give…me?”

“Something to make you rest,” Nurse Whitaker answered.
“You go to sleep and don’t worry about a thing. We’re taking very
good care of you.”
****

One Of My Favorites


My heroine Violet Emerson is a baker so it seemed appropriate to share some cupcake recipes with you. This is one of my favorite cupcake recipes because I love Red Velvet cakes. I got this recipe from www.allrecipes.com, and they said it was one of their most popular recipes.

The photo is from www.luxuryrecipes.blogspot.com A New Dream is available at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585

Ingredients
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 (1 ounce) bottle McCormick® Red Food Color
• 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

• Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons sour cream
• 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
• 1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 30 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Frost with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.
4. Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese, softened, butter, sour cream and McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth.

Cupcake Party Continues


If you'd like to read the excerpts from A New Dream in order, just start with the first post and work your way forward. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win my cupcake prize. A New Dream is available at http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585

This excerpt takes place right after the accident.

Marilyn McCallum drew a deep, shaky breath and groped
for her husband’s hand. “We’ve been waiting for hours now,” she
quavered. “What could be going on in that operating room, Rod?”

Rod never answered. His face contorted and he sprang to his
feet as a nurse approached. “Would you like some more coffee?”
she asked.

“We’d like to know about our son,” Rod answered. “Is
everything okay? He’s been in there so long.”

Nurse Whittaker patted him on the shoulder. “Please, don’t
worry. Dr. Williams is the best doctor on staff. He’ll do everything
he can.”

As she bustled away, Stacey Thomas, who sat beside
Marilyn, dropped her head into her hands. Marilyn tried to ignore
the smear of blood across the girl’s back. She swallowed hard
against sudden nausea. Stacey was fine even though Matt’s fate
was still up in the air. “Hang on. It can’t be long now.”

Tears slid down Stacey’s face. “This isn’t the way the day
was supposed to end. Matt and I had a beautiful time, but now…”

A tall man in sweat--stained surgical scrubs approached
them. “Mr. and Mrs. McCallum?” The doctor’s voice brought all
three of them to their feet.

“How is he?” begged Marilyn, her eyes anxious, wide, and
staring in her white face.

“Better than I expected,” the doctor admitted. “His left leg
was mangled from the knee down. It took a long time, but I think
we’ve saved it. He has four screws and two plates, and he’ll
undoubtedly have a limp for the rest of his life, but we did save his
leg.”

“He kicks with his right leg anyway,” Rod muttered.

“Ah, well, that’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you
about. I’m sorry, Mr. McCallum. I saw him play last year, so I know
he had a wonderful career in front of him, but in spite of everything
we did, his right leg was hurt too bad to save. We had to amputate
right above his knee.”

“At least he’s alive,” Marilyn sobbed as she rhythmically
shredded a tissue. “I don’t care about his leg; I just want my son to
live.”

“I can almost promise you he will,” the doctor comforted
her. “Barring unforeseen complications, he’s going to be fine, and
as soon as his leg heals we’ll fit a prosthesis on him and teach him
how to walk again.”

“When can we see him?” Marilyn begged as she wiped away
her tears.

“He’s in Recovery now. We plan to put him in ICU until he’s
stable. The last thing we need is an infection, and we can watch him
better there. We’ll let you know as soon as he gets there. Then you
can see him for a minute.”

Rod groped for the sofa and fell backwards onto the
miserable thing. “The best kicker in thirty years,” he whispered,
quoting what a sports announcer had said on TV only hours earlier.
“The best kicker in thirty years, and now they have to teach him to
walk again.”

He jumped up as if he’d sat on a porcupine. “I’m going
home, Marilyn. Are you coming?”

Marilyn’s eyes bugged. “Are you serious? I’m not leaving
until I’ve seen him.”

“Stacey?”

“I… I’ll… go with you. I need to tell my parents Matt’s out
of surgery.”

Marilyn watched in amazement as Rod and Stacey hurried
away and sat back to continue her vigil alone.

Welcome to My Cupcake Release Party!


Welcome to my cupcake release party for A New Dream! Why a cupcake theme? Because my heroine Violet Emerson works in a bakery, and because cupcakes are tiny little works of art. During the day I’ll be posting excerpts and some of my favorite cupcake recipes. If you comment on any of the posts you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a cupcake prize consisting of a cupcake stand, cupcake decorating kit, cupcake recipe and decorating book, and some cute little cupcake cups. If you share a cupcake recipe of you own you’ll be entered in a drawing for a second prize, a trinket box shaped like a cupcake with a bunny on top.
My first post is a blurb and the first part of the prologue from A New Dream. Hope you enjoy it! The buy link is http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=2676585

Blurb:
After an auto accident destroys his pro-football career, Matt McCallum struggles to find a new dream for his life, but nothing engages him the way football did. After a stint in rehab, he takes a job managing a grocery store where he meets Violet Emerson.

Violet works in the bakery department, but her dreams carry her far beyond the doors of Chef’s Pantry. As soon as she can save the money, she plans to open a catering business. And she thinks the new manager’s broad shoulders and blue eyes are simply divine.

Thrown together at work, Matt and Violet find a common dream for their lives, but a loose end from Matt’s past returns to jeopardize their future. Will love be enough to save their new dream before it turns into a nightmare?

Prologue

The red convertible cut a path through the moonlight, its
headlights dancing along the arched limbs of the trees above the
road.

“Oh, Matt, it’s such a beautiful night,” Stacey declared with
a sigh. “I’m going to miss you when you leave tomorrow.”

Matt reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. “I’ll
miss you too, but if I don’t report on time, I’m in trouble with the
coach.”

“That’s what I get for falling in love with a pro football
player,” Stacey teased, her blonde hair turned to frosted silver by
the light of the full moon above them.

Matt squeezed her hand that wore his engagement ring. “It’s
too late to back out now,” he teased. “You’re mine.”

“Mmm, do I like the sound of that!”

The car rounded a curve, and without warning a deer
bounded across the road.

“Look out!” Stacey screamed.

Matt braked sharply to avoid the animal. The tires slid on a
patch of loose gravel in the road, and he lost control of the
convertible. It fishtailed and started to spin in the road.
Matt hauled the steering wheel to correct the slide, but it was
useless. The car turned around once more and skidded backwards
for a short distance before it charged off the road. It jumped a steep
ditch and went airborne. All Matt could see was a blur of trees and
darkness as the car careened into the woods. It made a lazy turn in
the air and came to rest bottom side up.

The last thing he remembered was the sound of Stacey’s
screams.
****

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome Kendall Evans


My guest today is Kendall Evans who is a fellow author from Astraea Press. Kendall, welcome to the blog. For the benefit of those who may not know you, would you share a bit about yourself and your work?

I am a romance writer who enjoys writing Christian romance, sweet romance, and occasionally, non-fiction.

Though I'm relatively new to this side of the publishing realm, I've been writing for years under another pseudonym. I've written everything from poetry to epic novels, but my first release as Kendall Evans is my very first foray in 1800's historical.

I live near the beach and consider myself blessed to be able to smell the salt of the ocean air and hear the waves crashing over the shore. And watching the sun setting at night over the shoreline is truly breathtaking.

I work from home, mostly business consulting and freelance writing (website copy, ads, and the like), and I'm surrounded by wonderful friends and family who continually bless my life.

That's lovely bio. How much of yourself, your personality, or your experiences is in your book?

I think every book I write has a little bit of me in it, but as for personality, surprisingly, not much. Since most of what I’ve written so far has been historical, the heroines suit the time frame. My personality is a lot stronger than Anna’s was in Anna’s Shattered Faith. As far as experiences go, so far I’ve not been able to include any of my experiences in my books as they are historical. Maybe one day, I’ll shoot for a contemporary!

Most people think authors live glamorous lives. Describe a typical writing day.

My glamorous life begins with coffee, checking and responding to e-mails, then settling down to work on my day job. Then it’s errands, cleaning house, and back to work until around six or seven. I take a break for at least an hour or two to keep from burning out. I usually don’t start writing until late in the evening, and I write for about an hour or two until I’ve reached the word count I’ve set for myself that day. That varies depending on how close I am to the end of the book, how tired I am, etc. Once I reach my word count, I relax with a book until lights out. I know a lot of people must envy me now.


LOL. My life sounds very much like yours. When writing a new book, how do you decide on a theme, genre, or topic?

Writing as Kendall Evans, I will only focus on sweet/inspirational romances, and I really like the idea of all of my books being historical. So that’s pretty much decided. I was just offered a contract for another book that is set in the 1950s during the Korean War so the historical aspect greatly varies.

I don’t really decide on a topic or theme until the idea strikes me. It’s all a very quick decision process.

That's true of me as well, the deciding on a theme part. If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

L.M. Montgomery because she wrote my favorite books—the Anne of Green Gables series.

Jane Austen because I have yet to read a book of hers I didn’t like, and she left such a legacy. To be remembered for your work long after your death is quite an achievement.

I love Anne of Green Gables! One day I'd like to take a trip to Prince Edward Island and see the house that was the inspiration for Green Gables. Would you share your links with us?

Sure. Right now, I have two:

www.kendallevans.weebly.com
www.facebook.com/kendallevans2010

We’d love to read an excerpt from one of your books. Don’t forget to leave us a buy link.

Every syllable dripped with the woman's pain, and Daniel resisted the urge to reach out to her, knowing she didn't want anything but a truthful answer to her question. He hitched one hip on the corner of his desk. “Not if I can help it.”

“But the odds are he will.”

Daniel shook his head slowly. “I'm not a betting man, Mrs. Hampton.” He folded his arms across his chest. “You look like you could use a cup of coffee.” Without giving her a chance to respond, he walked over to the spindly-legged table next to the only cell in the office and poured a cup of steaming black coffee into a tin cup.

He heard Anna sigh. Anna. When had he started calling her that in his mind? She'd certainly never give him permission to do so aloud. “Here you go.” He handed her the cup and pulled a wooden chair closer.

Anna surprised him by sitting down and accepting the coffee. “I'm sorry. I don't mean to take this out on you, Sheriff.”

“You're angry, scared, and confused. You need some place where you can express those feelings, and I reckon I'm as good a place as any.” His lips tilted in a smile.

Her light blue eyes watched him. Stray tendrils of pale blonde hair had escaped her bun and now hung around her face, giving her a disheveled appearance. Daniel still thought she was about the prettiest woman he'd seen since, well, he couldn't remember when.

She shifted in the chair, and the movement snagged his attention. She continued to look at him, awaiting information or maybe a kernel of hope, something to keep her from falling apart.

“Around seven this evening, Barnaby'll let us know his terms for releasing Sam.”

“How will he contact you? I’m sure he’s not just going to come knocking on the door.” She sounded tired...and tearful.

Her emotion tugged at his heart. The urge to comfort her grew stronger. “One shot. The mayor should be telling everyone to return to their homes now.”

“Beth!” Anna surged to her feet, but Daniel stepped in her path, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Mary’s mother will be taking Beth home with her and her family. It's best that she not be here.”

Anna sank back down onto the chair. “How can you be sure Barnaby will keep his word?”

“I can't, but right now, waiting is about all we can do. He's going to need to pass through Strawberry Junction, and he's not getting through with your son.” Daniel squatted down beside her, listening to her struggles for breath. “I promise you I will do everything I can to save him.”

“I feel like I should be doing something.”

“All you can do now is pray.”

The words might as well have been a gunshot for the effect they had. Anna jumped back to her feet, coffee sloshing over the rim of the cup. “That's all everyone wants to do is pray! What makes you so sure God is listening? If hundreds, no, thousands, of people are all praying at one time, how can you be so sure He can keep up?”

Anna’s Shattered Faith
Kendall Evans
Available now from Astraea Press
http://astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662255&mode=product&product=2626103

Kendall, that's a great excerpt. I can't wait to see what happens with Anna. Come back and visit me again, and good luck with your book.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New Dream

A New Dream was released today at http://www.astraeapress.com I'd love for you to check it out. Please put March 29 on your calendar as well. I'll be doing a cyber release party for A New Dream right here at my blog, and I have a wonderful prize lined up.

Here's an excerpt to (I hope) pique your interest.

Prologue

The red convertible cut a path through the moonlight, its
headlights dancing along the arched limbs of the trees above the
road.

“Oh, Matt, it’s such a beautiful night,” Stacey declared with
a sigh. “I’m going to miss you when you leave tomorrow.”

Matt reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. “I’ll
miss you too, but if I don’t report on time, I’m in trouble with the
coach.”

“That’s what I get for falling in love with a pro football
player,” Stacey teased, her blond hair turned to frosted silver by
the light of the full moon above them.

Matt squeezed her hand that wore his engagement ring. “It’s
too late to back out now,” he teased. “You’re mine.”

“Mmm, do I like the sound of that!”

The car rounded a curve, and without warning a deer
bounded across the road.

“Look out!” Stacey screamed.

Matt braked sharply to avoid the animal. The tires slid on a
patch of loose gravel in the road, and he lost control of the
convertible. It fishtailed and started to spin in the road.

Matt hauled the steering wheel to correct the slide, but it was
useless. The car turned around once more and skidded backwards
for a short distance before it charged off the road. It jumped a steep
ditch and went airborne. All Matt could see was a blur of trees and
darkness as the car careened into the woods. It made a lazy turn in
the air and came to rest bottom side up.


The last thing he remembered was the sound of Stacey’s
screams.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jill of all Genres



Hello! We are very fortunate today to have Linda Swift with us. Linda agreed to guest blog for me, so Linda, take it away.

Jill of all Genres

We are all familiar with the expression "Jack of all trades and master of none." And when it comes to writing, I often think of myself as "Jill of all genres" and fervently hope the logical conclusion "Master of none" does not apply here. Writing instructors and "how-to" writing books all advise us to focus on one genre and become proficient in it. If we write a certain type material, we will become known for that and readers know what to expect from us. Makes good sense, doesn't it? I have two very good author friends who have done this quite successfully. Both write historical and contemporary, romance and mainstream. All books by one are set in Texas and the other always writes about the sea.

So why don't I do this? Good question and I'll try to answer it. I began writing poetry as a child, then I wrote in longhand a 500 page romance at sixteen. Life happened and my next writing was children's stories for my son and daughter. I went to college belated after my children were in school and one summer I enrolled in a poetry class, the Jesse Stuart Creative Writing Workshop. I wanted to sign up for fiction but admission required a short story and I had only a few poems. Teaching, working toward two additional degrees, taking care of a husband, house, and two children left little time for writing. But I did write poetry.

My children grew up, left home, and we moved to another state. Still teaching, and attending college, I finally had an opportunity to take a fiction writing class. It was here I wrote my first short story that was submitted to the Indiana U. Writers' Conference, winning the Fiction Skills Scholarship for that year. More short stories followed, many published in small literary magazines. I wrote a few plays, one of which was produced on TV by a local theatre group. And I began to wonder if I'd spent 13 years preparing for a career in education when I really wanted to be a writer. I stayed in education, which I did enjoy, for 20 years, then my husband and I took early retirement and I became a fulltime writer. It was a shock when I compared my former salary to the $69. I earned that first year. Both money and recognition were slow to come and it was almost ten years before Kensington published my first two novels. The line closed just when my next book was to be released. Demand for mid-list authors shrank, my agent was ineffectual, and I was an orphan until I discovered ebooks.

In three years, four publishers have released six of my books and one short story. I am contracted with three additional publishers for release of four books and two short stories in 2011 and have two books under consideration elsewhere. My books include poetry, contemporary and historical romance, women's fiction, and mainstream. The settings are all over the U.S., St. Croix, and England. So you see, I really can't focus on a single place or genre. I have led a nomadic life and my work reflects that. And this requires numerous publishers in order to match my potpourri of material to their requirements. My focus now is on novels set in any historical period but for the life of me, I can't narrow the setting to any one place. My plots focus more on inner feelings and conflicts than with edge of your seat action. But I hope that my readers will find a common thread running through my work that they can relate to, regardless of the genre. And that thread is an honest portrayal of human emotions told in a story from my heart.

Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest, Elaine. I hope you and your readers have found something of interest in my visit. I invite you to visit my web site to learn more about my available and coming soon books. www.lindaswift.net



TO THOSE WHO WAIT, my just released contemporary mainstream is an example of ordinary people facing extraordinary problems and overcoming them. This is not a HEA book and the conclusion may not satisfy you if that is what you require. But I predict you will laugh and cry as you read it and feel real empathy for the people caught in events beyond their control.

http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=871



HUMANLY SPEAKING: Conversations With God is a volume of prose poems that reflect my own questions about some of the people and events in the Scriptures. My hope is that it will cause you to examine your own feelings and seek your own answers.

Both books are available as ebooks and also will be in print very soon.



http://willowmoonpublishing.com/huspcowigod.html

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Matching Wits With Venus


Readers, I'd like to introduce you to fellow Astraea Press author Therese Gilardi, author of Matching Wits With Venus. Therese is guest blogging about food and her ethnic heritage. Therese, thanks for coming.


BETWEEN THE FORK AND THE PEN


Between St. Patrick’s Day and National Noodle Month, March is a celebration of my ethnic heritage, a sensory salute to my certainty we are indeed what we eat. I’ll never know for certain if the generous number of vowels in my surname endowed me with a special food gene, but I have my suspicions. You see, while other women mark momentous occasions with annotated scrapbook photos, I recall the seasons of my life in food.


When I set my table, I lay out the touchstones I need to get myself into a certain state of mind as both a diner and a writer. My menu is like my i-Pod playlist, something I shuffle whenever I feel I need to open my mind and my creative third eye to a new possibility. For example, if I’m serving up pasta in a pot I’m reliving my childhood, an endless round of christenings, communions and graduations commemorated by the mother of all Italian meals, a tin of rigs (for the uninitiated that’s a foil pan loaded down with homemade rigatoni, thick meat sauce and melted mozzarella cheese). One taste of this meal and I’m twelve again, with all of the yearnings and discomforts I need to get inside the head of my middle-grade protagonist.



Handmade guacamole and blue corn tortilla chips? I’m dipping back into dusty days on the barren plains of north Texas and the haunting miscarriage that led to my poem, “Dallas Delivery”. A few bites of those crunchy chips and I’m remembering the sense of failure when I lost my child, and the guilt I felt at eating a full meal (penne with tinned green beans) for the first time in months upon my return from the hospital.




Of course most of my culinary tricks of hand take me to lovely memories, and enable me to write from a positive perspective. For example, feeling grainy home-made applesauce slip through my teeth reminds me of my first home in New England, where my beloved daughter and her fabulous older brother taught me the meaning of the word contentment, which inspired one of my favorite essays, “Confessions of a Reformed Stage Mother”, a piece whose publication taught me that confiding about one’s shortcomings as a parent will not result in blackballing from civilized society.




I know I’m lucky; lots of writers through the years have felt the need to turn to the bottle for their inspiration, whereas I’ve been able to find my motivation in the market stalls, restaurant tables and numerous kitchens that have been a part of my life. During my twenty-three years of marriage, my husband and I and our children have lived in three U.S. and two European time zones. We’ve visited around twenty-five foreign countries and the majority of American states. From Boston to Bratislava, London to Los Angeles, the one constant for me has always been food. Where I’ve been to eat, what the food looks, tastes and smells like, and what conversations and interactions I’ve had with my fellow diners and servers are the first things I record in my journal whenever I visit someplace new, be it across the street or across the world.




Long after memories of monuments and museums have faded, I recall markets and dining tables, and how I felt as I tasted what a culture and its people value. I have found that even in countries where I don’t know all of the proper vocabulary, the language of the fork is universal. These culinary exchanges have formed the basis for many essays and short stories and have informed all of my senses, which I believe has helped me become a more intuitive writer. Like the legendary explorer Marco Polo, I have discovered that inspiration can be found all over the world. All I have to do is use my noodle.



Therese Gilardi

Matching Wits With Venus

Astraea Press, March 2011

http://theresegilardi.com

join me on Facebook

blog: http://theresegilardi.wordpress.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oh No!


I'm sorry if you showed up today expecting a release party. The edits for A New Dream are taking longer than we expected, but I promised a party today, and that's what we're having. I'll be posting excerpts throughout the day. Leave a comment on any post, and you'll be entered in a contest to win an electronic copy of any of my releases. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can reach you.

Here's an excerpt from Return Engagement. In this excerpt Richard and Elizabeth have met on the beach after a ten year separation. They decide to go to a beachfront carnival.

They rode the Ferris wheel and the tilt-a-whirl two times each. Then they went through the haunted mansion which gave Elizabeth a great chance to scream and cling to his side. She hid her face against his shoulder, savoring the male scent of him. When they left the haunted mansion, they found a place that sold cotton candy and funnel cakes. They bought a huge amount of both and devoured the sugary treats as if they’d never had anything so tasty. I shouldn’t flirt so brazenly with him, Elizabeth thought but who cares? Her obvious joy caused some bystanders to smile as they remembered their own courtships.

She paused when they passed a shooting arcade. “Richard, you’re FBI, so I guess you’re supposed to be a good shot. Win me a stuffed animal.”

Richard groaned. “Those guns are probably all sighted wrong so you can’t win. Couldn’t I just buy you one instead?”

“No, that won’t do at all. Never mind. It’s okay if you don’t think you can do it,” she replied with no hint of a smile whatsoever. Would he try to win a prize for her or not?

Richard stepped up to the counter and inspected the row of guns provided by the arcade. “Okay, I know a challenge when I hear it. I’ll win you an animal if I have to stay here all night.”

The attendant, a wizened gnome of a man with a sour expression on his face, wandered over to them. “Win a prize for the lady, mister? Dollar a shot.”

“Yeah, I’ll give it a try.”

He selected the gun he wanted and shot, but he missed. “Just as I expected, the sights are off, and it pulls to the left.” He adjusted for the bad sights, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. This time he hit the target dead center.

“Hooray,” cheered Elizabeth. “I want that big white cat over there. How many does he have to hit to get it?”

“Ten in a row,” the man sourly replied.

A few minutes later Richard and Elizabeth walked away carrying the big cat with them.

Elizabeth tucked her arm through his. “This is so exciting! Nobody ever won anything for me before. You are such a good shot. I bet you’re one of the FBI’s best marksmen.” Is he blushing? thought Elizabeth. I bet it’s been a long time since a woman made him blush.

She couldn’t resist the urge to tease him. She came to a halt and looked intently into his face. “Why, Richard, are you blushing?”

The color in Richard’s face deepened. “I don’t think so. It’s just the lights.”

“Oh, yes you are! You always used to blush when I teased you. Did I embarrass you?”

Richard ducked his head, a little gesture that probably sent her blood pressure sky high. “All right, my face does feel a little warm” he admitted, “but no, you didn’t embarrass me. It’s… well it’s kind of nice to have you flirt with me and brag on me. I’m surprised how bad I wanted to show off and win that damn cat for you.”

“You are so sweet,” she declared, giving him a warm smile.

“I don’t believe it! Is that what I get for winning the cat? Sweet? I don’t want to be sweet.” Ignoring the crowds of people all around them, he jerked her close which made her breath leave her in a little woof. “I want to be your lover. I want you to say I’m sexy and that you want me. I can’t believe you think I’m sweet.”

Elizabeth willingly threw both discretion and Alex to the wind. What did discretion or Alex matter at a time like this? “Oh, that’s what you want, is it? I’m glad you made your intentions clear, Mr. Lovinggood.” She took a small step toward him and obligingly tilted her face upward.

She had known Richard wouldn’t waste his chance. His eyes darkened as he bent his head. Elizabeth gasped when his lips touched hers. She had forgotten how his kisses made her knees shake, her heart pound, and almost burned her up from the inside out.

Richard finally lifted his head. “You have a lazy, satisfied smile on your face,” Elizabeth breathlessly observed.

A smile crossed his face. “Yeah, I do.” His voice dropped. “You held me so close, and you kissed me like you’d never get enough of me.” He gently stroked her cheek with his fingertips. “That kiss thrilled me from head to toe. I…I don’t ever want to let you go.”

Elizabeth looked around at the crowds of people everywhere and blushed herself. “It’s one thing to kiss an actor in front of a camera, but I don’t like to be too affectionate in public. No more kissing right now, please.”
“Can I kiss you later when we’re alone?”

Alex! Elizabeth came down to earth with a thud. “No. We shouldn’t have kissed at all. It’s my fault, and I apologize.”

Richard laughed as if she’d said something hysterical. “You don’t have to apologize for that. You won’t hear any complaints out of me.”

Oh, lord! What time was it? She glanced at her watch. It was time to go home. Maybe Mother and Alex are worried about me. I haven’t behaved very well tonight. It isn’t fair to Alex for me to go out on a date with Richard. Oh, but you can’t call this a date! Yeah, right, and maybe the sun won’t come up tomorrow. She picked up her cat, and they started the walk back to their cars.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hello, Ginger


MY special guest blogger today is Ginger Simpson. Ginger, take it away.

My Thanks to Elaine for hosting me today on this leg of my blog tour. Email has become such a large part of my life that I can't imagine living without it. Cybespace is where my friends live, where my publishers wait for my submissions, and the major way in which I communicate with everyone. I thought it only fitting that I share what I view as some of the most annoying practices. I would like to point out that although I find them bothersome, that doesn't mean that I'm not also an offender.



Using all caps. - From day one, it's been drilled into my head that if you type in ALL CAPITALS, you're yelling. I hate to be yelled at, don't you? But give someone the benefit of the doubt. I once mentioned the faux pas to someone and she informed me that she has only one arm.


Forwarding. - Something that makes me want to type in all caps... those who haven't learned how to forward a message so that every previous email address to which the post was sent doesn't appear. How many times have you had to click ten times to get to the meat of the message? Annoying isn't it? The answer is simple...hit forward from the actual message you want to send. Don't close it up and go back to page one and forward or you're sending pages and pages of email addresses. Although I've often been tempted to send every email listed a promotional message about my books, I've refrained. Besides, most people don't want their emails forwarded from one place to another. That's why there's the bcc: line. And...there is a wonderful little tool called "email stripper" you can download to clean up those messy forwards.




Subject Lines - Wouldn't it be nice if we all remembered to change the subject line and make it fit the content of the message? Ever scan through digested messages and find yourself amazed that only one topic was discussed in all the posts? I recently opened a message that said "sad news" and it contained someone's 4-star book review. Didn't seem all that sad to me.




Typing urls with spaces and words - If you're going to give someone a link to your page, why not type it as such? It's so much easier to click on a link than to have to type the whole thing out. Use the whole address. And if you type it as a link...check your spelling.




Signature Lines - Nothing is more annoying than receiving an email that has a signature line longer than the message. If you're multi-published, rather than listing every book in your sig line, how about using a tag line or a link to where the books can be viewed. Chances are people aren't going to read through the entire list anyhow. Your signature line shouldn't be viewed as a post of its own.




Receiving 'lucky emails' - Please don't send me emails that threaten bad luck if I don't send it on to seven people within the next ten minutes, or promises an outpouring of money if I do. I don't believe yet I'm always afraid not to comply. Spare me the angst.




Digest Users - While I also use digest and realize it's value, the thing I find most annoying about it is being drawn back to a conversation that has already been discussed and settled. As a group moderator, I've often handled someone who's acted inappropriately only to have a 'digestee' bring up the whole settled manner all over again. I'm not sure there's a solution other than reading everything before responding.




As I said, I'm probably guilty of half the things that bother me. I especially get disgruntled at clicking on response messages that say, "thank you," "congratulations", "good going." I wonder, wouldn't these best be sent to personal emails, but then it's so much easier to just hit 'reply'. I deplore clipped messages that don't give any hint about what the sender is responding to. These are usually digest people who just read last Sunday's message and are answering on the following Friday. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Give me a clue. :)




The biggest problem I encounter in email is the lack of tone. People can't see your face, your smile or hear the chuckle in your voice. Don't make them guess when you're kidding. Give them an emoticon clue. :) Of course, then you risk becoming addicted to them and typing them throughout everything, like I do. *lol* goes a long way to giving someone an indication of your tone. Unfortunately, email has taken the place of phone calls and face-to-face meetings, and there are just some things you can't personalize no matter how hard you try.




I'll also remind you to be careful when forwarding emails. I once found myself in the midst of a giant mess because someone sent a personal email to an entire loop. I didn't do or say anything wrong, but my name was mentioned in the post. No one was interested in an explanation and I found myself invited to go to hell and ostracized by people that once liked me. It was a horrible experience and left me paranoid. Look at the "to:" address before you click send.





Misdirected emails happen more often than you realize. Although, as I said, I didn't send the post nor did I have anything to do with composing it, I now make it a common practice to watch what I say. There is no confidentiality in email and what you say might come back and bite you in the butt. I have no desire to have teeth marks in my derrière.

While I'm on the topic of cyberspace, there is a lot more to consider than just email. Computer dating is all the rage, and although it can result in a happy union, it can also be devastating. Such is the case in my book, Embezzled Love. That charming guy who seems like a dream just might turn into a nightmare. Here's a sample for you:

EXCERPT:
She turned her attention back to her email. Most of the other messages were spam. She hated that. There should be a way to stop people from littering your inbox with crap!



The scroll key took her back to the message from ‘Blue Eyes’. It seemed that everyone picked a corny screen name for themselves. She had selected ‘Dream Weaver’. She nervously clicked on the message:

Hi,

I saw your profile on Perfectmatch.com and thought I’d jot a quick note to you. It sounds like we may have some things in common and I’d like to have the opportunity to get to know you a little better. I notice you didn’t post a picture of yourself; I didn’t either. I don’t have any current ones, but check out my info on the site and if you like what you read, would you be willing to share you phone number? By the way, my eyes are blue and my name is Evan.



Oh, God, what am I doing? She eyed the delete key and pondered using it. Her shoulders sagged.

What are you thinking, Cass? When did you get so desperate that you’re shopping for men on the internet? He’s probably butt ugly.



She pushed back from the desk and started to stand, but her eyes drifted back to the message still displayed on the screen. God, was she the loser she felt she was—pitiful and unable to meet a man face-to-face? But, what if this was her knight in shining armor? She slid the chair forward, and leaning with elbows resting on the desk, she propped her face in her palms and read the message once again. Again she fingered the delete key, but…



What would it hurt to just read about him?



She typed the dating site URL, entered her password, then scanned the page for the search option and keyed in Evan’s screen name. Again, the slowness of her computer irritated her. The blinking lights on the tower indicated processing, but it seemed to take forever.



Impatiently, she raked her fingers through her long, dark hair, tucking it behind her ears while she admonished herself. Okay, so you will read his bio and that’s all. You posted the ad, someone responded and now you can delete both the profile and the message. You are above finding a man on the internet—only losers use this method.



On his profile page, just like on hers, there was a large empty space where a photo should be. She anxiously scanned his vital information, hoping to see something that would be an immediate turnoff. Unfortunately, he sounded better than average; at least better than what she had encountered in person.



Hmmm. Five foot eleven inches, sandy blond hair, non-smoker, occasional drinker, owns his own business and looking for a confident woman who would like to share some good times and possibly more. Blah, blah, blah. Let’s chat.

She mentally added the blue eyes to the image in her mind. He didn’t sound so bad. The only thing she would change was his height. She stood five foot ten and liked really tall guys.



Stop it. It doesn’t matter if he’s only five feet tall; you are not going to meet him anyhow.



She quickly rose and walked away. Maybe taking a shower would wash these stupid notions out of her mind.

It didn’t help. The warm water was refreshing but thoughts of Evan were firmly planted in her mind. She didn’t understand this sudden bout of desperation to find someone. Sure, her status at work had changed. She still had the same title, but wasn’t treated with the respect she once had. She couldn’t change her profession at this stage of her life, but having someone to share her off hours and personal life would certainly be an improvement.



She turned off the water and grabbed a towel. She glanced at the reflection of her nude body in the mirror and smiled. I’m not so bad for an old broad.



Clad in her robe with a towel on her head, Cassie walked out of the bathroom and down the stairs. Her nightly routine of removing her make-up made her wonder why she went to so much trouble to look glamorous. In the laundry room, she paused to hang the damp terrycloth on the side of the hamper and let her hair hang free. She ran her fingers through the wet tangles as she strode toward the kitchen to turn out the lights.



The inside of her mouth felt like cotton. She opened the refrigerator, and despite all the childhood warnings issued by her mother, Cass took a big swig from the milk carton. Mom was snug in her own part of the house and would never know.

Cassie wiped the wetness from her upper lip on the back of her hand then reached over the sink to switch off the overhead fixture. She headed for the bedroom, but as she passed through the living room, the multi-colored blocks on her computer screensaver in her adjacent office caught her attention.



She sighed and walked to her desk. I guess I should turn the stupid thing off before it explodes. As soon as she touched the mouse, his profile appeared, ‘Blue Eyes’. Despite her better judgment, Cass pulled out the chair, sat, and clicked back to her email screen and started typing.

Hello back,

Glad you answered. This is my first time doing this, but then I bet everyone says that. I never thought I’d be corresponding with a mystery man.

I read your profile and liked what little I read, but I’d like to know more about you, too. I consider myself to be an independent woman and, like most others out there, I would like to meet the right guy. I’ve been married once, but he certainly wasn’t the one. What kind of business do you own, Evan? I’m in the insurance business and live alone in the San Fernando Valley. Where are you? I think it’s a little too soon for a phone number exchange. Do you mind if we just email one another for a bit?

Hope to hear from you soon.

Cheers,

Cassie



Before she had a chance to change her mind, she hit the send button. She turned off the computer, wondering what possessed her to be so impulsive… so desperate.

This is a ture story based on my sister's experience with her dream guy. If you enjoyed this sample and would like to see how the story played out, you can find Embezzled Love at http://www.lbfbooks.com. It's also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I have a few copies myself and I'm always willing to sign one although I still have problems believing anyone would want my signature on something other than a check. Be sure to follow me on March 16th when I take up space at Lisabet Sarai's blog. http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com Again, thanks to my hostess, Elaine for allowing me to blog here today.

Come back soon, Ginger.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kate George is in the House



My guest blogger today is Kate George. Kate writes mysteries filled with romance. I asked her to tell us about her work, and this is what she had to say. Welcome, Kate.

I’ve been thinking about romance lately and why I like writing romance into my mysteries. I’ve been a mystery fan since I was maybe eight years old. I was fifteen when my mom introduced me to The Moon Spinners. I loved that book with a passion. It remains my favorite Mary Stewart to this day.

My favorite mysteries tend to have at least a little romance, a love interest, or something to do with relationships in them. It tends to up the ante, and adds another level of interest so that if the plot isn’t exactly riveting the twists and turns of the relationships keep me interested.

But why is that? Why do the ins and outs of human relationships fascinate me? And not just me, romance is the top selling genre of books, so many, many people must like to read about relationships. I searched around the web a little looking for an answer that satisfied me. I didn’t find any scientific studies, although there must be one somewhere.

I couldn’t find a scientific reason why women read romance, but I know why I like them. First I like romances to be funny. Just like I like my mysteries. And I like the male lead to really like women. But mostly I like the satisfaction of a happily ever after. Even those of us with good relationships and marriages have to deal with the stresses of everyday life. When we read a happily ever after we get to forget the stresses and experience the rush of emotions that come with a happy ending. We (and by we I mean me) get to experience satisfaction of getting the guy – heart and soul.

Because face it, once in an established relationship we rarely get that rush. We get security and love, and those are good things and we wouldn’t want to lose them. So what do we do? We read books that give us that feeling without jeopardizing our relationships. It’s win, win!

Look at that. I’ve managed to ramble on for almost six hundred words with out really talking about why I set California Schemin’ in California. The short answer? British Columbia Schemin’ just didn’t have the same ring to it.

Award winning writer, Kate George, is the author of Moonlighting in Vermont and California Schemin’ (due out March 1, 2011). She lives in Vermont with Dogs, kids, and currently, snow. You can reach her at www.kategeorge.com. Her books are available at www.mainlymurderpress.com, amazon.com or can be ordered from any bookstore.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What To Do When Nothing Else Works


Our guest blogger today is Belinda McBride. Belinda, welcome to the blog. Thanks so much for coming, and I'll turn it over to you now.

What to do when Nothing Else Works

It’s bound to happen to all of us at some point. You hit the wall and you are going to miss a deadline. It can be a fierce case of writer’s block, or perhaps Real Life rears its ugly head. You might come down with the swine flu or a member of the family has a crisis. The point is, your writing comes to a dead stop and there’s nothing you can do about it.

With me, its usually family issues; I caregive for my disabled niece and my elderly mother. Burnout is common among caregivers, and I’m no exception to that rule. I’ve hit that invisible wall more than once.

There will undoubtedly come a time when you have a deadline and you cannot meet it. You stay up late at night, struggling to get words on the page. You cram in a little on your breaks or even on the job. The point I’m making is that sometimes we lose control, and it isn’t pretty. So what does a writer do?

First, communicate. Tell your editor or your publisher. Co-writers if you have them. Please don’t labor in isolation. These are the people who not only rely on you, but have the tools to help you surmount the problem. They might help you gain a few extra days or even reschedule the project.

Second, look objectively at the problem. How many words per day do you have to hit to make your deadline? Can you approach your writing differently? I had a friend who had to write a novel in a shockingly short period of time. She turned to Randy Ingermasson’s Snowflake Method to help her construct her story, and then write it. Her editor was aware of the time constraint and helped her with the extra editing and polishing the manuscript required.

Third, be realistic. Things don’t always go as we plan. If you have a contest or other hard deadline that isn’t contracted, you might simply have to accept that you won’t be able to participate. Just remember, there are lots and lots of contests and calls for submission out there. If you missed a call for an anthology, consider submitting the story as a stand alone. If you don’t have Plan B, then make one.

It’s a terrible feeling to fall short of your obligations, and that in itself can hold you back. For the future, reconsider how you manage your writing. I know that if there’s a hard deadline, I’ll stress, worry and ultimately procrastinate till the last minute. Knowing that about myself, I rarely sign a contract before I have a first draft in hand. I also know that I don’t write well during the fall and winter, so that’s the time of year I focus on editing and promotion.

Know yourself, look at long range goals as well as short term goals and leave enough space in your calendar for change. By doing so, you’ll be able to survive the bad times and shine when things are dim.

Happy Tails!
Belinda

Belinda writes erotic romance for Loose Id, Changeling Press, Dreamspinner Press and Passion in Print. Please visit her website at:

http://www.belindamcbride.com
Or her blog at:
http://www.belindam.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Party's Postponed


I'm sorry, but the cupcake release party scheduled for today has been postponed until March 15. So has the release of my book. I'm blogging all over the blogosphere today to raise awareness about the book, and some of the posts were already sent before I found out about the delay with the release. So, if you check some of the posts out and see something about a party today, remember that the party will be on March 15 which is release day.

Here's a list of where I'll be today.

Lila Monroe at www.lilamunro.weebly.com

Caridad Pinerro at http://www.caridad.com/blog/

MJ Daniels at http://www.mjdaniels.blogspot.com

Classic Romance Revial's blog at http://www.classicromancerevival.blogspot.com

Hope you can join me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome Beverley Bateman



I have a treat for you today! Beverley Bateman stopped by to say hi. Beverley, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Canadian and live in a small town in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, often referred to as ‘God’s Country’. There are lots of lakes here, one after another. We have beaches and mountains, so in the summer we swim and in the winter we ski - downhill or cross-country. It’s orchard country, so we have fresh fruit all summer. It’s also wine country and we produce award winning wines and ice wines. I live on a small lake with my husband and two Shiba Inu dogs. We have a small RV and spend most of the summer traveling and camping. We’re looking at maybe becoming snowbirds. I always spend at least 2 - 3 hours writing when we travel. I try to work out at my local gym, and take cycling classes four days a week, when we’re home, hoping it balances out what I eat. I have a daughter and a son, both married, but they live some distance away. I’ve been writing for a long time. Every once in a while I think maybe I should do something else, but I know that I can’t stop writing. I love my characters and developing stories for them.

Your life sounds like fun to me. How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’ve never actually thought about that. My background is nursing so in my medical thriller I use my background. It also helped with the research. I strongly believe in women helping women. When women unite they become stronger. This is a recurring theme in my books, so that would come from my beliefs. I’m a positive thinker so I always believe that there will be a happy ending. Some of my traveling, such as cruising, has been included in my books. So I guess a fair amount of myself is included in my books - but any sex scenes are strictly from the depths of my imagination.

LOL. That was funny. Most people think authors live glamorous lives. Describe a typical writing day.

A typical, glamorous day? Well, first I’m not a morning person so I don’t leap out of bed at the crack of dawn. I get up around 8:30 and have coffee. Four mornings a week I head for the gym where I work out and do a cycling class. Often I think about my WIP while cycling and work out problems, if I’m not working too hard.
Back home I change into a glamorous outfit consisting of a sloppy sweatshirt and stretchy tights. Then I head for the computer. It depends if I’m editing or writing. If I’m editing I read over the last few pages and then start reading and editing for the next few hours. I take a break, get more coffee, do emails and check Twitter. I’ve just discovered Focus Booster, which is a 25 minute times you can download to your desktop. Every twenty-five minutes it reminds you to stand up and take a break. After emails it’s back to editing until dinner. I make dinner and spend a little time with my hubby. After that I may watch a TV show or read. I may do a little research for a new book I’m plotting, or working on, and maybe jot down a few plot points or character background. If I’m writing a new WIP, where I put editing - substitute writing and maybe some research.

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

Good question. I usually write romantic suspense or medical thrillers. So my genre doesn’t change a lot. In my present WIP I am bringing in a little paranormal - but just psychics and modern day witches and it’s still a romantic suspense. I think my themes tend to be fairly consistent; good triumphs over evil; women helping women and love wins in the end. The topic - hmm - that depends. I did a tour of a police department and listened to the officer who monitored online chat rooms for child predators. I decided that would make a good story so I wrote The Target. I saw the commercial about what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and I wondered what would happen if someone woke up there with amnesia, and a bloody knife in the room. That’s now Waking Up in Vegas, my present WIP. The topics usually present themselves to me and the light bulb goes on.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Oh, wow, great question. Let’s see - probably Nora Roberts. I’d love to talk to her about her writing schedule and how she manages to be so prolific. She writes as two different people and her characterization is exception. She always manages to pull me in and I’d love to know how she does it. I’d also like to meet Greg Iles and pick his brain on how he manages to develop such terrifying plots, braid them together and keep you up reading all night.

I'd like to know how she does it too! Would you share your links with us?

My website is www.beverleybateman.com . I don’t blog yet. I did set up a site, but haven’t found the time yet. I’m on Face book under Beverley Bateman and Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelownawriter . You can also check me out at Wings http://www.wings-press.com/ and http://whiskeycreekpress.com/authors/Beverley_Bateman.shtml .

We’d love to read an excerpt from one of your books. Don’t forget to leave us a buy link.

This excerpt is from my medical thriller, JUST LIKE YOU, about cloning. The buy link is http://whiskeycreekpress.com/authors/Beverley_Bateman.shtml

Adam placed his beer mug back on the table and looked across at Evie. “How’s the residence?”

“It’s nice; small, but compact. There’s a kitchenette, and a computer, but no phone.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I thought it was odd. It’s like they don’t want you talking to anyone in the outside world. I asked Nurse Byrne, but she gave me some ridiculous answer about not being able to get telephone wires to the residence. They have a phone at the hospital. They’ve got all that special equipment hooked up to something. I don’t see why they couldn’t hook up a bloody phone if they wanted to.”

“I’m sure there’s a logical explanation. You can always use the phone in the hospital.” Adam suggested.

“I wouldn’t count on it. Nurse Byrne said something about the phone taking our mind off our work. They can’t expect us to think about work every minute we’re awake.”
Adam hesitated. “You can always use a phone in town.”

“That’s easy for you. You have a car. I have to take a taxi to get into town and I think they only have one. Basically I’m out of touch with the rest of the world.”

“I have a phone at my place. You can always come over there and use it.”

“Really? See, that doesn’t make sense. If you have a phone, why can’t I get one?”

“I guess doctors outrank nurses. Who do you need to call anyway? I’m here.” Adam grinned across at her. Picking up her hand, he gently kissed her palm.

Evie felt the warmth rushing to her cheeks. “Well…I…I mean…”

“Like I said, you can come to my place anytime you want. I wouldn’t mind at all.” Adam waggled his eyebrows in a suggestive way.

Evie laughed. “Well I don’t know…are you trustworthy?”

“Totally, just ask me.”

Evie tried to pull her hand back but Adam held on to it until the food arrived. He picked up the burger that had been placed in front of him. “Mmm, nothing like a good old fattening hamburger.” He struggled to get his mouth around it, eventually managing to take a bite, savoring the taste.

Smiling, Evie watched him, then turned her attention to the food in front of her, a huge plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. It looked like the meals she used to eat back home. Picking up a piece of chicken with her fingers she bit through the crisp skin. The succulent white meat was cooked to perfection.

“This is excellent.” She took another bite. “I think I’m going to have to get a car. I didn’t realize how isolated I would be. I’d like to come into town whenever I feel like it. I’m not sure how dependable their taxi is.”

“If you need a ride, just let me know. I can drive you.”

“Oh no. I don’t want to be a bother. Besides you’re not always here. Is there any place around here where I could look for a car?”

“No I don’t think so.” Adam reached across and picked up her hand again, giving it a quick squeeze.

Evie felt the warmth shimmer over her. “I guess I’ll have to wait. I get the feeling I might learn patience while I’m here.”

As she pulled her hand back Evie noticed his long, artist fingers with short-clipped nails. extending from his large, square hand covered with fine, blond hairs.

He moved his hand back so it covered hers. His other hand reached across the table, tipping her chin up so she looked directly into his steely blue eyes. “You’re a very
nice person, Evie Dalton. I’m going to enjoy getting to know you better.”

Fighting the swirling emotions that he’d sent into orbit, she attempted to focus back on the hospital. “How long have you been working at Ophidian?”

“About a year. Why?”

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd?”

“Odd in what way?” Adam frowned.

“I don’t know. It’s just a feeling. The hospital seems to have more going on than just cosmetic surgery for the stars. I heard a scream last tonight. I think I heard two today.”

Adam pulled his hand away and picked up his burger. “It was birds or a wild animal. There’s nothing going on that you need to worry about. Just concentrate on my surgery and my patients.”

“But, there are parts of the hospital I haven’t even seen. They were avoided on my orientation tour.”

“If you’re not working there you to don’t need to go there. Jeez, Evie, don’t ask so many questions. Just do your work. That’s what you’re getting paid for.”

“Do you know what’s going on?” She stuck her chin forward, fixing her gaze on Adam.
“Dessert?” The waitress scooped up their plates.

“No thank you. Nothing for me.” She replied.

“No, just the bill.” Adam dugout his wallet and threw money on the table. “Let’s not ruin a great evening.”

He lowered his voice. “We get paid well and the cost of living is cheap. What more could you want?”

Before Evie answered, he stood, pulled her chair out and helped her to her feet. Turning her slightly so she faced him, running his finger gently across her lips. “You’re a beautiful woman, Evie Dalton. Don’t mess tings up with too many questions.”

Evie stared up at him for several seconds, then turned and strode over to the counter. “Give me a package of cigarettes, any brand.”

“I didn’t know you smoked.”

“I don’t. I quit years ago, but when I get really stressed or upset, I need a cigarette.”

“You can’t smoke in residence, you know. The hospital has a non-smoking policy everywhere on site.”

“I know that, Adam. I’m well aware of all their damn policies. I just don’t know what they really do at that place. And if I need a cigarette, I’ll go into the bloody woods and have one.” Evie yanked the clear cellophane wrap off the package, leaving it on the counter. “Do you have matches?”

The waitress tossed a package to Evie. “You can’t smoke in here.”

“Fine. I’ll smoke outside.” She yanked a cigarette from the package and headed out the door. Outside she leaned against the wall, lit the cigarette and took a long drag, blowing the smoke into the night air. She watched the thin stream of white smoke rise slowly then vaporize.

Adam stood watching her.

She took another drag. “A couple of puffs and I’ll put it out.”

“Take your time. I’m just surprised.”

“Like I said, I quit. I just need one every now and then.” She took another puff, tossed the cigarette to the sidewalk and ground it out with her heel, dropping the
package into her purse. “Okay, we can go now.”

They walked back to the Porsche in silence.

Adam opened the door and Evie slipped into the luxurious leather seat.
“Look…, aw jeez, never mind.” Adam strode around to the driver’s side and started the engine.

Evie stared out the window into the darkness.

Adam put in a Duke Ellington CD as the car sped quietly through the night. The motion of the car combined with the wine and the cigarette started to release some of Evie’s tension.

As they approached the hospital, an icy shiver crept out of the darkness and slithered down her spine, leaving her feeling cold and uneasy. She knew she wasn’t wrong. Something was definitely not normal here.

The car stopped in front of the residence.

“Thanks, Adam. It was fun. I’m sorry if I over-reacted.” Evie held out her hand.

Adam took her hand, pulling it to his lips and kissing the back of it gently. “I didn’t handle it well. Let’s just forget it.”

“I’d like that. I guess I wasn’t prepared for the remoteness and the secrecy. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.” Evie reluctantly pulled her hand away and opened the car door. “Thanks again for dinner. And hey, I would like to see your place sometime.”

“It’s a deal. I’ll even cook for you.”

“You cook?”

“Of course. I’m not just a pretty face.”

She chuckled. “Yeah, right. Okay. I’ll take you up on that.” Closing the car door she headed inside. At the top of the steps she turned, watching Adam drive off.
She stood staring at the huge hospital building in front of her; standing white and shimmering in the moonlight. It was chilling, like an ice palace, or even a modern day gothic mansion.

No matter what anyone said, she knew there was something abnormal going on, something they didn’t want the world to know about.

A blood curdling scream filled the air.