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Friday, August 31, 2012

Indie versus Traditional


Lately, I've been spending so much of my time reading Indie authors on my kindle that I haven't picked up a pocketbook in a long while. But as you know, paperbacks are given out freely at the RWA Convention, and I lucked out…came home with a suitcase full. Many were for my dear ole mom. (Truly!!!) Okay - I admit to grabbing a few for myself, also. :)

 

Soon after, heading off on another short trip, I decided to pack along one of the Romantic Suspense paperbacks by a New York Times, Best-selling author—one of my favourites that I used to read quite often. Unfortunately, since I've become published everything I read gets automatically edited. (Gawd…that's another whole blog!)

 

So you can imagine how shocked I was when I noticed, from the very first page, that the writing was difficult to read. If it were my own, I would consider the work unacceptable and needing to be edited. I found many long and convoluted sentences, some having 40 words or even more. Sentences I had to reread in order to understand where the author meant to go. Descriptions were over the top and unconnected somehow, just thrown in as if the word count was down. There were even repeated words close together, obviously overlooked…a beginner's no-no.

 

I know that some folks trash-talk Indie authors, and at times with reason. Many haven't learned their craft as well as they could, and they decide to publish their work anyway. Some with beautiful little stories ruined by the lack of professional editing. Heck a few of my own from way back weren't as well finished as I would have liked, and they were published through an E-publisher. But every one of us, whether Traditional or Indie, go through a learning curve….and that's fine.

 

But when the public is paying ten bucks or more (in Canada) for a bestseller—expecting an awesome read—it's a little disconcerting that the last few Indie books I've read were as good and many even better. These sold for prices ranging from $.99 to $4.99.

 

Just saying!!

 
Has anyone else come across the same type of situation? Paid a lot of money for a book and felt let down by the quality? Please share your own experiences.



Mimi Barbour is the author of two paranormal series...The Vicarage Bench & Angels with Attitudes.
 
Her new Romantic Suspense "Partners", recently released, is a very short introduction to the second book in the series. "Roll the Dice". This full-length action-packed powerhouse will be released September 15th.





Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mother Nature Throws Hissy Fit by Joan Reeves

A few years ago I was asked to write a piece for a hurricane hunter since I have quite a few of the storms under my belt, so to speak. I thought about this article tonight since many of my relatives in Louisiana are under siege by Hurricane Isaac at this very moment and decided to share that article with you today.

Experience Is A Great Teacher

One thing hurricanes will teach you is to respect Mother Nature. You can spend billions trying to protect property, but, in the end, it may be for naught because the force of wind, rain, and the ocean is unimaginable.

Going through a hurricane or typhoon is great fodder for the writing grist mill, but it's not an experience I'd encourage anyone to seek out. However, I must say the storms I've experienced have cropped up in various books I've written. There's nothing like Mother Nature to provide the ultimate external conflict.

My Storm Story

You see, I grew up in Louisiana so I know a little about hurricanes. The first one I remember was Hurricane Audrey when I was very young. We lived in New Iberia, and it was hit hard. We had no electricity for more than a week. Stores had no food. Our television antenna was the only one still attached to a roof on Weeks Street where we lived. My dad was particularly proud of that fact. I can remember Daddy went out to try to find milk and other food, but he couldn't get through the streets because of all the fallen trees. I don't think Audrey was considered a major storm in the grand scheme of things, but she did a number on Louisiana.

Through the years, there were other storms. We usually rode them out. Don't ask me why, but evacuation wasn't even discussed in those days. There was no media hoopla as occurs now from the first day of hurricane season to the last. On two occasions, we did leave, driving to the northern part of the state to stay with relatives. I don't remember the name of the hurricane that hit those times, but I do remember seeing the photographs in the newspapers afterwards. The pictures seemed like war-ravaged battlefields with nothing but rubble strewn across what once was a town.

Entering Typhoon Alley

When I was in my twenties, I said farewell to hurricanes and headed to the Far East where I was introduced to typhoons. I was a young military wife whose husband flew with the planes they evacuated when typhoons threatened. The men left, and all the women and children stayed behind. Since we lived on Okinawa, right in the middle of Typhoon Alley, this happened frequently. We who were left stayed behind to ride out the storms as best we could.

On Okinawa where I lived, there were wooden and cardboard box shanties on the hillsides. The cardboard box our stereo console came in adorned the side of one of those shanties. Some traditional Okinawan houses were made of wood, but most of the buildings, residential and businesses, in the civilian community and on the military bases and posts, were made of concrete blocks with solid concrete slab roofs and steel doors. Windows and doors were equipped with shutters, either thick slabs of wood or rolling steel shutters. When typhoons approached, we all knew what to do so eventually we took our safety for granted.

The first typhoon I went through was a horror. Nearly eight solid hours of shrieking wind, pounding rain, and anything left loose flying into the steel doors. The noise was unnerving as less sturdy buildings disintegrated and became shrapnel that pounded our steel door all night long.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Six years later though, after innumerable typhoons, a storm was an occasion for a typhoon party. It was nothing to see people down on the seawall below my house which perched on a cliff above the East China Sea. Those who liked to party hearty would stand on the seawall, leaping and racing the waves that bounded over the huge concrete wall.

I too was guilty of venturing out just to see what was going on. Being cooped up for hours on end makes you kind of stir crazy, especially when you're by yourself. So visiting with other wives and walking around and taking pictures during the storm had become commonplace to me. Often, I'd even venture down to the sea wall, a ribbon of concrete bordered on each side by giant chunks of coral about the size of a small SUV. Needless to say these boulders of coral dwarfed my petite five feet one inch height.

Wakeup Call

After one such storm, I walked down to the sea wall to observe the ocean, one of my favorite activities. A chill came over me as I noticed the huge coral boulders had been tossed about like child's toys, scattered like rough marbles over the flat plain between the street and the sea wall. That was the last time I went down to the seawall during a storm.

Since then, I've lived on the Texas Gulf Coast. I've never forgotten what wind, rain, and a storm surge can do. I watched a 50 foot tall pine tree next to my kitchen window start to uproot during Hurrican Alicia. I've suffered flooding by tropical storms—lost a breakfast room one year and about ten years later a Chevy Blazer in another storm. I've had to drive flooded streets with water up to my wheel wells but made it through. (This is one reason we always have a 4 wheel drive SUV or pickup. You never know when you might get caught in street flooding in Houston.) I've boarded up for "small" hurricanes (category 3 and below) that changed direction at the last minute, but I don't let that stop me from doing it again. Instead, we say a prayer of thanksgiving if it doesn't come our way.

To this day, I keep hurricane supplies (weather radio, batteries, candles, water, and food) at the ready. One reason we bought a house in the Hill Country was to have an evac home for us and our family should the call come to evacuate. I'd never hesitate to leave. Houses and furnishings can be replaced, but people can't.

Post Script

The photo you see here is one I took of the sky above my home on the evening that Hurricane Rita was bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast. No special colorizing filters or anything were used. That's exactly the way the sky looks when a hurricane is approaching. My mom pointed out that color when we were kids and told us if we ever saw the sky that color, to take cover.

(Joan Reeves is a Kindle bestselling author of romantic comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers. Beginning in August, you will also find them as audio books at Audible.com and iTunes. For more information, please visit Joan's website or SlingWords, her blog.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Love Affair with the Ford Mustang

My first car was a brand new 1964 ½ Ford Mustang. It was my last quarter of college and I was preparing to teach school. Driving scared the crap out of me. Actually, my daddy as a driving teacher scared me senseless, so I didn’t have my driver’s license at 21. Daddy showed me car after car and made me drive each.  I couldn’t drive the stick sift cars. Clutch, brake, and gas pedal, oh my!  I said no to small cars and not so small cars.

I was studying like crazy, but Daddy took me out to dealerships, telling me the best qualities of any car we might be able to finance for me. We looked under hoods and Daddy interrogated salesmen. My parents certainly had no extra money. One June evening we walked into the Ford dealership in Macon, Georgia. And then I saw her, the car I could love.   Sitting in a spotlight, a gold Mustang called to me. I still remember walking over to the magical looking car and touching the door handle. For the first time I wanted to open the door and sit inside. I was sold!  She might as well have been Cinderella’s coach!  I treasured the brochure that showed the car I wanted. Mustangs were so new that dealerships had a few to show and ordered cars for buyers.

We shopped for deals but found none. The day we went to search for a place for me to live in the town were I would teach, we stopped at the Ford dealership near there and got the first discount offer. We signed on the dotted line. My parents put up the $200 deposit and I had to finance the car insurance in the car cost.  A moth later I had my first car!

I still have that car and include Mustangs in all my books. I suppose that would be part of my brand!

What was your first car? Do you remember the first time you saw it? Tell us about it.
  

Margo’s Choice

Setup: Margo’s daughter is helping her dad work on an old Mustang she wants to drive as soon as she can. 
Except:

Grandma put a tablecloth over a crate near the tent entrance, then set out paper plates and a platter of sandwiches. She dragged two small stools to the crate.
“Dee, sit down and eat.”
“Well, Dee, are you having fun watching the men work?” Grandma asked.
“I-uh…”
Jay spoke up for her. “That girl’s a big help. She isn’t just watching like a prissy female afraid to get her hands dirty.”
Granddad added his two cents worth. “Our Dee knows her wrenches from screwdrivers and pliers.”
“Yep,” Dee said. “I used a monkey wrench, too.” She popped the last bite of her sandwich into her mouth and tried to chew despite a grin that spread across her face.
When Grandma finished her sandwich, she cleared the plates and empty platter. “Don’t let them work you too hard,” she said.
“I won’t,” Dee responded.
“Hell, that girl will work us to death,” her granddad teased.
For hours Dee leaned over the car ‘til her back ached. She’d squatted handing things to the men ‘til her thighs burned. Cars had more removable parts that she had realized but she loved every minute of it.
Car parts were spread on blue plastic spread over wooded flats all over the tent floor.
Dee examined her broken nails and scratched hands as she drove the loaner car home. How many girls had such great grandparents? She sang along with the radio, loving it when the very oldie “Mustang Sally” came on, as if someone had ordered it for her.
She had a car to drive until she and her dad finished the Mustang. Her grandparents had offered to help her get a newer car and then a new one when she finished college.
She tapped the steering wheel in time to the music.
Instead, she’d drive a classic Mustang she and her dad could keep running forever.

              
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M0U8CU
            Margo Lake isn’t looking forward to seeing her ex husband Jay again. After 16 years of separation the marine still knows how to push her buttons. She has never stopped loving him, at least in some ways, though she really doesn't like him.
            When she learns he isn’t coming for a visit but is retiring, she fears what he can do to her heart if she lets him inside. Even more, she fears for the heart of her youngest daughter, the child who adores him, the child he doesn’t believe is his.

        SPECIAL PROMOTION     THE GIFT
OR
FREE WITH THIS CODE ON SMASHWORDS.COM ONLY
Coupon Code: SN92J    Expires: September 13, 2012 The price will go up.
           
            THE GIFT is story about an old fashioned woman in a modern world, written in an old fashioned way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting the Word Out About...You


What little promo specials do you do?

As an aspiring author, my goal is to let the world know about me. Ergo, the sign on the window of my Chevy van.


 
I love my sign. Mr. Man (my husband) even helped center and attach the sign to the window, carefully measuring every angle and smoothing the bubbles out. He didn’t think much about the sign after that—and then people began to take notice.… 

Because I write under the pen name P.L. Parker (my maiden name), I leave gender out of the picture. (I read somewhere that just using initials can aid in bringing the male population in as fans.) My husband has been confused with me on numerous occasions and he doesn't always view it as amusing. For example - he (nice guy that he is) took my van to the car wash. A very sweet young man approached him and asked if he was the romance author. My disgruntled husband growled "No. My wife is!" 
The young man grinned. "Oh really," he said. 
Mr. Man tried another car wash, same thing happened. Another time we were driving down the freeway and a truckload, literally a truckload, of cowboys drove up beside us. They were hanging out the windows on every side yelling, "Oh Yoohoo, Mr. Romance Man - yoohooo!!" His eyes straight ahead, my husband made for the nearest off ramp, growling all the while. I of course was laughing my head off. 

Then there was the time his truck broke down (he manages properties) and he had to borrow my van for the day. He indicated later it was hard to be professional when all his contacts were eyeing the van, then him, then the van - and grinning! 

I drive every day and seldom have any comments, but it seems as though every time he is out driving alone, the catcalls and comments fly. It is if he is cursed. Little by little, his love for the sign
diminished…and now has died. 

Next year, we plan to trade in the Romance Van. Mr. Man has indicated that when the time comes and we have a new vehicle, my sign will go by the wayside.NO SIGNS ALLOWED! What is he thinking? Give up my sign? How will anyone know who I am?



P.L. Parker is the author of two 99 cent e-books available on Amazon:

Riley's Journey and Fiona


 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST by Cheryl Pierson


In Oklahoma where I live is part of the area known as “tornado alley.” The story opens with a newly divorced police officer starting down the stairs of his apartment building with the tornado sirens wailing in the distance. All in a day’s work for a police officer in Oklahoma City, but the excitement is only just beginning on this very unusual day. Who would ever expect to find love in the middle of Latino gang warfare and a tornado?

I was so pleased that my story was included in one of the very first anthologies that VICTORY TALES PRESS put out, and I can’t say enough good things about Rebecca Vickery and her publishing companies. TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST also appears now as a “stand alone” short story in one of the VTP imprint companies.

One thing that is very exciting to me about this story is that my daughter created the cover for the e-book stand alone version. I have several new releases heading your way over this upcoming fall and holiday season, and wanted to start by showcasing this short story. Although it’s not “new”, it’s the one that started it all!

I will be giving away 2 copies of TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST–all you have to do is leave a comment. Please check back late Monday evening, the 27th, to see who the winners are! I hope you enjoy!

The set up:

To Make the Magic Last
Police officer, Steve Cooper, heads out for work one morning just as the city’s tornado sirens blast a warning. In the stairwell he runs into a different situation—a gang war in his apartment building. Shots ring out and Steve catches a bullet. Seriously injured, he pushes the beautiful woman who has come through the door behind him back toward safety.



Christy Reed, his enchanting new neighbor, pulls him into her apartment and attempts to stop the bleeding. Recently arrived from Mississippi, Christy has no idea what the sirens and gunfire mean, but she knows enough to be terrified.

The phone lines aren’t working and the storm is bearing down. They take refuge in the bathroom as the sound of a freight train roars over the building. Through the pain, Steve finds himself drawn to Christy. There’s some sort of magic about her. Christy feels the same about Steve. He’s the man she’s always dreamed of meeting.

When the building collapses around them and they meet the gunmen once more, will Steve and Christy have what it takes to help each other through this? Can they make the magic last?


EXCERPT FROM “TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST”:

The wind was roaring outside, deafening even in the small bathroom. They were practically yelling to be heard above the storm.

Hesitantly, Christy crawled over the side of the tub, careful of where she placed her hands. Finally, his good arm came around her in a strong embrace, pulling her down flush with his body until she lay on top of him. She tried to hold herself away from his shoulder, but he drew her down, tucking her head beneath his chin, and she reached to pull the comforter around them.

Steve could feel her shaking as she lay down. She was more afraid of the storm than the gunmen, it seemed. But as soon as he thought it, she asked, “Do you think they were after you, or just anyone who came down the stairwell?”

Her breath was warm against his neck, the comforter enveloping them in a cocoon of false security. The wind roared outside, deafening in the small bathroom. There was a high-pitched sound of rending metal, the heavy clunking noise of tearing wood, and Steve knew the roof of the building was gone.

Christy gasped, pressing closer into his chest. He patted her awkwardly, his arm at an odd angle. After a moment, he answered her question. “Neither. They were after each other.” They’d been yelling at each other in Spanish, he remembered. He had just happened to walk into the middle of rival Latino gang warfare, ongoing in this neighborhood, day and night. What was a girl like Christy doing in this area? “Right now, this storm is more of a threat.”

She had stopped shaking despite the fact the storm still blew with wild strength outside. She seemed to have forgotten it, lying so close to him. But he knew they were still in terrible danger, and he might not get the chance to tell her what he needed to say if he waited.

A long moment of silence hung between them, the only sound the worsening storm outside. “Christy.” He touched her arm again, and she glanced up. “Thanks for trying to . . . help me.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

Her voice sounded muffled, he thought. Like she was crying, and trying to hide it. “Sure you did.” The comforter was soft. The bleeding was stopped. And, Steve decided, he loved the feel of Christy Reed’s body on his, warm and curvy, and more comforting than that damn piece of down-filled material ever could be.
Her fingers slowly curled into the folds of his once-starched uniform, then settled against the soft cotton tee shirt.

“You’re doing it . . . even now, sweetheart.”

Slowly, she lifted her head and met his eyes in the dark haven they’d made. “Steve—” she broke off, raking her teeth over her bottom lip quickly, nervously.

He smiled at that habit of hers, thinking how he’d like to kiss her; how he wished he knew her better; how it would seem to her if he even . . .

Hell with it. He pulled her to him slowly, her lips coming across his, warm and sweet and soft as the brush of butterfly wings. Uncertainly, she tasted his mouth, and he opened for her, letting her explore him. Her right hand moved to his jawline, her thumb skimming his cheekbone before her fingers found their way to thread through his hair.

“What’s happening to us?” she murmured, drawing back slowly to look at him.
Her voice was quiet and low, and Steve realized that they must be in the eye of the storm. There was no sound but the rain now, and far away in the distance, the wail of a siren somewhere. “Magic,” he whispered, believing it himself. He’d never felt so protective of any other woman—even Lacey. Christy needed him, but she was a giver, too.

She shook her head and lay back down against his chest. “Magic always fades away.”

Not this time, he wanted to say. But he was too exhausted to form the words. Instead, his hand drifted to her short curls, tangling gently there, finding comfort in the clean softness. She’d been hurt before, he knew; he could hear it in her voice. He wanted to know who…and why. But he couldn’t ask—not right now. He couldn’t keep himself awake. “Christy, I’m . . . so tired.”

There was a long pause. He knew she was afraid, not only of the storm and the predators, but also of what was happening—the magic they’d made so suddenly, the fire that had kindled so unexpectedly between them. He wouldn’t let it disappear, he thought fiercely. She was something special—he could feel that already. Something worth holding onto.“I know, darling,” she whispered finally. “Just rest, okay? I’ll be here when you wake up.”


Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Saturday, August 25, 2012

No More Lies


Talking about abuse and physical violence is such a complex and painful subject for many women that one should approach it very carefully. In my medical romance, NO MORE LIES, I kept the physical violence in the back story and mentioned it sparingly.

 My heroine doesn’t want to remember the past, doesn’t want to talk about it and carefully hide it from her daughter and from the man she loves. As a successful psychiatrist, she treats abused patients and projects the appearance of a strong woman and dedicated doctor. Yet, because of her inner fears, she refuses to face her distressing experience and deal with her problem. Olivia is so terrified about the past catching up to destroy her daughter’s peace of mind, that one little lie leads to another, and another,… until the past catches up with her.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott.
By the way, I should mention that far from being a dark novel, NO MORE LIES is a sweet and spicy story that will make you smile, laugh and cry-- the story of two psychiatrists with conflicting theories on how to treat their patients and tame their own emotions.

 Now, a reader got very upset at my heroine and labeled her a Disappointing Heroine, giving me a 1*, and complaining about the heroine’s bad decisions. Rather than directly answering her, I will report her comments here and answer them:

“The story begins promisingly with Olivia's past love, Luc, showing up unexpectedly at her work - little did she know that he had a new name and that she'd recommended he be hired for a job based on his publications!... Olivia's got plenty of good secrets, and some good reasons for those secrets, but she also makes a lot of seriously stupid decisions. The thing is, I'd be able to connect with her anyway and be more understanding of those stupid decisions if it wasn't for her job as a highly respected psychiatrist. She should know better than to lie to her daughter and let her believe that her father was a dead war hero. And plan on telling her daughter the truth about the abusive man who demanded Olivia get an abortion when Melissa turns TWENTY FIVE. Seriously? I could almost understand someone doing that... if they weren't shrink.”

Dear Reader, why are you claiming to know what a shrink would do or say? Do you think a shrink would advocate a truth that could deeply affect her daughter’s mental health?

By the way, my book is based on the true story of a friend, paralyzed by fear for most of her life. To protect her child, this abused woman distorted the truth and buried it as deep as possible. With great effort, she managed to build a successful career as a psychiatrist and sacrificed love and marriage to create a happy family atmosphere for her child. Life was good for her and her child, in spite—or maybe because—of the few lies that embellish the painful past and ugly truth. Now that's her opinion, and the path she'd chosen.

Back to my very enthusiastic “fan”!


“Plus then there's the fact that every time she gets a single mother in her office she consistently tries to put her own warped philosophy on them - that they need to be strong and independent and that they shouldn't allow a man to help them, even if the man wants to. Like wow... how did this woman get her professional reputation again?”

 I am pretty sure that any psychiatrist, or any successful career woman, would encourage women to be strong and independent. I had many female chemists reporting to me in my lab. They can attest to how, as their Director, I urge them to rely on themselves. That certainly didn’t preclude—for them and me—being happily married and honoring thy husband!

Again from my reviewer: “Unfortunately the heroine's constant bad decisions and hypocrisy really took away my enjoyment of this book in light of what her character should have been like. I think there were a lot of other directions her character could have gone in, within these circumstances that would have made the book stellar.”

Dear fan, the heroine faced a lot of internal conflict. The hero tried to help and succeeded in making her reach the right decision at the right time. Isn’t that what a story is about? Conflict and growing arc? Would you rather have a perfect heroine, without any flaw? Then why would I write her story?

And here is why I call her a fan: “I've enjoyed a lot of Mona Risk's other books and I'll be sticking to them.”

 Thank you, dear reader. I’m glad I’ve elicited such a heated discussion for my book.

What would you choose? A lie that brings a smile, or a truth that draws tears?

This is how another reviewer commented on the story:
http://tonivsweeney.com/tvsweeney@tonivsweeney.com/Book_Review/Entries/2012/8/24_No_More_Lies_by_Mona_Risk.html

MY OPINION by Toni Sweeney: A good book and a very romantic love story. In describing Jeremy Rutherford, Ms. Risk give a chilling portrayal of a man who, right or wrong, has to have his way. Other reviewers have said the portrayal of Olivia’s reactions aren’t realistic. Let me tell you: They are. Having been in this same situation, I reacted the same way Olivia did, though in my case, I ran 1500 miles away from the source of the threat.
Characterizations are spot-in and Luc is a man we might all wish we could meet in real life. Though in the beginning, Olivia comes across as cruel in her treatment of him, once the cause is learned and the reason for her fear, her giving up everything, even the man she loves to protect her child doesn’t seem so cold after all.
Do you think Olivia should have told her child the truth at a young age? When is the right age to tell your child: “Your father was a jerk and wanted me to get rid of you?”

Do you think the abusive father has the right to be informed of his daughter’s existence?

NO MORE LIES     http://tinyurl.com/79r88wp available for 99 cents
   A lie that brings a smile... or the truth that draws tears?
Dr. Olivia Crane lives a quiet life. No one questions why she doesn't socialize or where she spends every weekend.

When the visiting physician from France strolls into her office, with open arms and a confident smile, her perfect control is about to crumble.
Good God, he can't be Dr. Luc George, the man she loved ten years ago? Should she return his scorching kisses, or should she lock her door before he digs into her many secrets?

Secret daughter, secret friend, secret enemy. Had Luc really known his sweet Olivia back then? He wants her back, but he wants the truth, too. Now, Olivia has to face her past before she can grab her second chance.

 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Fruits of Summer

by: Stephanie Burkhart

I love fruit in the summertime. It's cool and refreshing on a hot day, and doesn't feel heavy in the stomach. Whether the heat is a dry one or a humid one, a juicy piece of fruit always snaps me back.

I opened my frig the other day and discovered I possessed a grocery store of fruit:

Blueberries
Watermelon
Cantaloupe (my son, Andrew, could eat the whole cantaloupe in one setting)
Cherries
Apples
Grapes
Raspberries
Bananas

Celery & Carrots. (Okay, these guys aren’t fruit, but the family gobbles them up like fruit)

In humid heat, I prefer a juicy watermelon. For me, the taste is refreshing.

My ultimate favorite is blueberries, especially in dry heat.) According to Wikipedia, blueberries help lower cholesterol. (and they have resveratol) Right now, I'm munching on grapes. I'm a red seedless grapes girl. Again, according to Wikipedia, grapes have resveratol which has been linked to inhibiting cancer and heart disease. See how a glass of wine could be good for you? hehe


I'd love to hear your thoughts. What's your favorite summer fruit and why.

My latest release is "Journey of the Heart," a sweet vintage romance that's set in the heart of California wine country in 1946.

JOURNEY OF THE HEART


Blurb: Can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

Excerpt:
"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart.

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases.

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"

BUY LINK: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

I'm is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. I grew up picking blueberries in New Hampshire. My last visit to Napa Valley, CA was in 2007 where I visited Sterling Vineyards, but my favorite Napa wine is Mondavai.

FIND ME ON THE WEB AT:

WEBSITE:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

TWITTER:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor

GOOD READS:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart

YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee

PINTEREST:
http://pinterest.com/sgburkhart/

Monday, August 20, 2012

Controversy

I was talking with my husband about my books and I was saying how lucky I've been with reviews. (Knock on wood!) Even the lady who was upset that the wife was the cheater in Divorce, Interrupted still gave me 5 stars for my writing and the story.

When I set out to write Divorce, Interrupted I didn't think it was controversial at all. People cheat, people divorce, and people get back together. It happens. But, I've had lots of reviews of people talking about "a touchy subject", and "handled it well in spite of the topic", and "I didn't know the wife was the cheater."

Sometimes it is easier to write a couple with some backstory together to get them "in the sack" in the story. LOL Divorce, Interrupted seemed to write itself. I knew the anger they had to deal with, the issues that must be resolved for a happily-ever-after, and the love that was still there to make the whole story possible.

Personally, I'm the kind who would never forgive-and-forget and my husband has a family history to never cheat or allow himself to be cheated on. So why did I write this story for Todd and Lisa Miller? Because I've seen people move on after affairs and sometimes it works and we write fiction so I could let this be one time that the couple did get a redux on the happily-ever-after.

Divorce, Interrupted is still 99 cents at Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords, and All Romance eBooks.

Jill James, author of Divorce, Interrupted, Dare To Trust, and Defend My Love-coming soon
also Dangerous Shift - paranormal romantic suspense - at major online retailers and coming soon in print

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Readers Love Romance Says Morgan Mandel

I can't help but notice that romance books are still very popular. It may have something to do with the escape factor. For a short while the reader, no matter her age or looks, can feel beautiful and loved. Not only that, she gets to wear the most gorgeous clothes, which emphasize her perfect figure.

I've always loved Cinderella stories, and, judging from the reception of Girl of My Dreams, many others do as well.The heroine in Girl of My Dreams has what I call hidden beauty, which of course doesn't remain hidden long. Her other qualities shine as well, such as unselfishness and decent moral character. Otherwise, she wouldn't be my heroine.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 2 illustrating her unselfishness:
Squaring her shoulders, she grabbed the pen nestled in her hair. One of the lobby chairs was empty and she headed toward it. With barely a glance at what she was filling in, she completed the application and signed all the papers with her full legal name, including the contract, release and addendums Blake had specified to make sure the studio was protected against contestants who got cold feet.
Biting her lip to keep it from trembling, she took a last look at the signature that would change her life. She’d done it and there was no turning back.
No more behind-the-scenes madness of pulling a television show together. No more walking into the studio to find Blake’s brilliant blue eyes red-rimmed from lack of sleep and his begging-to-be touched raven hair rumpled because he’d pulled his hands through it. No more staying late Fridays while he used her as a sounding board to brainstorm over pizza.
She’d miss his wit and his glances of appreciation when she offered a suggestion, along with so many other things she’d grown to love about him in the last six months. She dare not think of them all, or she’d cry.
Whether or not the gamble paid off, she’d never lay eyes on Blake again. That in itself would almost kill her, but it wouldn’t be half as bad as knowing she’d failed him in his time of need if she didn’t do this.
Blake must get his golden opportunity. The studio must be saved, even if it meant sacrifice on her part.
“I wish there were some other way,” she said, as she pressed the down button for Hair and Makeup.
She disliked calling attention to herself, yet soon she’d let strangers examine every pore and treat her like a lab specimen. And that was just the beginning. The worst was yet to come when she faced the cameras. Jillian shuddered, but her feet did not falter as she stepped off the elevator.

Find Girl of My Dreams at:


 
Morgan Mandel writes romances, mysteries and thrillers
Coming Soon: Her Handyman, a contemporary romance
Excerpts & Links to all her books at: http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com
Her Amazon Author Central Page is http://amazon.com/author/morganmandel
Twitter: @MorganMandel
Blog: http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

COVER UPDATE FOR LONG WAY HOME




Several years ago, friends on a private loop decided to put together an anthology set around the Civil War and invited me to participate. That’s not my usual time period--I write either contemporary or historical set between 1870-1895. I wanted to be a good sport, though, so I joined the group. We started with eleven, but people had to drop out for various reasons, including one who stomped off in a huff because the editor wouldn’t let her include her Mexican historical. At the end, we had six of us who contributed novellas and our anthology placed third in the EPIC. Woohoo!

Now that I have the rights back, I’ve republished this story on Kindle and Smashwords. It’s the only thing I’ve written which does not take place in Texas--not even a scene. It was fun to write, and I hope readers enjoy it. I based it on historical journals about the area of Northwest Georgia from which my ancestors migrated to Texas. Witherspoon is not a real town, but named after a Granbury, Texas antique mall where my daughter and I once had a booth. I used some family names, though: Parmelia, Sarah, Bailey, Hardeman, and McDonald (the Scots clan to which my Johnson family is aligned). I also used the home description from the home of my Johnson ancestors Recently, my husband redid the labels on the cover and I like this version better..


What do you think of the updated cover?
Doesn't this soldier have a sweet face?
Here’s a blurb from LONG WAY HOME.
Parmelia Bailey has promised to keep her family safe until the men in her family return from War. That includes bringing her brother’s fiancée, Sarah Hardeman, and Sarah’s mother and sisters to stay at her grandmother’s home in town. Maybe she shouldn’t have stolen back her horses from the Yankees, but she could think of no other way to rescue the Hardeman women.

Darrick McDonald waited four years to return to Witherspoon, Georgia and Parmelia. Who would have dreamed war would bring him back. He had to protect Parmelia from a renegade who’d vowed to make her sorry she’d turned down his proposal. He prayed he wasn’t too late.


Spunky heroine, Parmelia Bailey
From iStock Photos
Here’s an excerpt from LONG WAY HOME:
At last, she turned into her grandparents’ drive and pulled around to the back. With a huge sigh, she stopped at the carriage house. Surely a week had passed since she caught her horses last night. All she wanted now was to crawl in bed and sleep for days, pretend the war never happened. She couldn’t relax yet, not until the horses were back with those Yankee scoundrels.”
“Sarah, let’s see your mother and sisters inside. After that, Rob and I will deal with the chickens and cow.” Parmelia’s hands shook as she climbed out of the buggy. Fatigue, relief, and fear turned her limbs to jam.
She walked Sarah and her family to the back door where Grammy and Mama took over.
Parmelia returned to the carriage house. “Rob, help me unhitch the horses and put their bridles on so I can take them back.”
“Why don’t I do that.” Darrick McDonald stepped from the shadows. He appeared calm, until she looked at his face.
Parmelia was surprised sparks didn’t shoot from his dark eyes and ignite the entire carriage house. She clutched her throat, hoping a way out of this predicament would come to her. How had he known to come here, to wait for her?
“Darrick, you—you gave me a fright.”
“Did I? Perhaps you have a guilty conscience.” He freed one of the horses.
“When did you come back?” She fought for an idea, but none came to her.
“Late yesterday.” He walked back and forth beside Lady. “Funny thing, you having two horses after the Army confiscated all the livestock in town. Another coincidence, two Army horses went missing overnight.”
“Did they?”
He stopped and gave her a piercing look.
She gave up with a sigh. “I can explain.”
“I’m listening.” His eyes were still dark with anger.
“My brother’s fiancée. You remember Sarah Hardeman? I had to bring her and her family to town. I—I had no way to do that without a team.”
Rob added, “These are our horses anyway. You low down, yellow-bellied Yankees stole them from us.”
Oh, Lord. Leave it to her brother to make things worse.
“Hush, Rob. Give me the bridles. Put the cow in the barn then come help me with these chickens.”
He pouted and handed over the tack. “Oh, all right. I never get to hear anything good.” Rob untied the cow and stomped toward the barn.
“So, you’re a Yankee officer now.”
“Captain.” Darrick crossed his arms. “I’m waiting for an explanation, Parmelia.”
Her temper conquered her good sense, and she stepped toward him. “You’ve got your nerve, coming here wearing that uniform, you...you traitor.”
He stepped forward until they were almost touching. “Call me what you will, but you’re the one who stole two horses in a time of war.”
She refused to retreat. “How can you accuse me of stealing, when you Yankees have taken over our town?”
“Because you did steal them, and you weren’t even clever about it. I followed their tracks to your grandparents’ home. You do realize that with a less sympathetic Colonel, they could lose their home?”
Dear heaven, she hadn’t considered her grandparents if she were caught.
“No!” She took a step backward. “I was going to return them. Rob’s right, they are ours. They know me, so they were eager to come to me.”
He pulled a small, withered apple from his pocket.
Rats, she must have dropped it, one of the few from their store of fruit in the cellar.
Darrick held the apple in front of her nose. “Looks to me as if you coaxed them away.”
She sighed, “Maybe I did, but it was only to use them for a little while. Sarah and her family were in great peril.”
He tossed the apple from one hand to the other, but stared at her face. “Are you crazy? You could have been killed.”
She grabbed the apple from him. “Sarah, her mother, and sisters could have been murdered and their home burned. We barely got away in time as it is.”
“If you had bothered to consult the Colonel, he would have sent soldiers for them. As it turns out, I would have taken my men and gone.”
“Are you crazy? You could have been killed.”
Shocked at the concern in her voice and in her heart, she continued, “Um, I mean, they might not have recognized you and could have shot you. Or, that man that tried to take my horse could have killed you.”
Oh, no, she hadn’t meant to tell that last part.
He grew angrier and grabbed her arms. “What do you mean?
She tried to twist away. “Nothing.”
“Parmelia Bailey, who tried to take your horse?” He turned her to face him.
Refusing to meet his gaze, she stammered, “There, um, there was a man in the woods, a ways north of the Mitchell’s house. He…um, he jumped at me and tried to take Beauty, but Rob and I got away.”
“You are the stubbornest, orneriest woman I’ve ever known. Don’t you realize what could have happened to you?”
“It crossed my mind,” she snapped and raised her face.
“If you were mine, I’d, I’d...”
“Yours? You moved away and left me, remember? And now you’re a Yankee officer.” Lord, she shouldn’t have reminded him she’d loved him. Worse, she still loved him.
She willed tears not to fall. Keep your anger up, don’t let him know how he hurt you.
“You know why I left Witherspoon. You know I had no choice.”
“There’s always a choice.” And she would have chosen to go with him, if only he’d asked, even if she had been only sixteen.
“Like you chose to steal these horses?”
She shrugged away from his grasp. “Steal? Soldiers stole them from us. Do you understand the term borrow? That’s what I did.”
“In times of war, the government has the power to confiscate items from civilians. Do you understand that?”
“Call it what you wish, it’s still stealing when you take what’s not yours and keep it.”
“Maybe we’re only borrowing your horses.”
She thought his mouth twitched to hide a smile. His humor only irked her more.
“Like you Yankees borrowed from the stores in town so we can’t even buy supplies—that is, if we had money. Which we don’t.”
He smiled. “I heard you had plenty of those Confederate dollars.”
“Oh, you...you Yankees make me so mad. Take my horses and leave.” She turned and stomped toward the house.
He called, “Aren’t you going to invite me in to say hello to the family? Maybe you could bake me an apple pie.”
She slammed the kitchen door and leaned against it. His laughter floated around her.
From the front of the house, she heard Mrs. Hardeman complaining and Mamma and Grammy’s soft, soothing answers. She wondered how much of Mrs. Hardeman’s grousing they’d have to endure.
Parmelia pushed away from the door, and then remembered those dratted chickens. Peeking through the curtains, she saw Darrick leading the horses away. His long, lean body looked good, his walk a confident swagger. Dark brown hair caught the sunlight. Lordy, he was better looking than he had been four years ago when he lived in Witherspoon.
When he’d touched her just now, she’d sizzled. She’d wanted to throw herself in his arms and have him reassure her, kiss her, love her. How could he create these sensations inside her when he’d abandoned her four years ago? When now he sided with their enemies?
She jumped when Sarah came up to her.
“Parmelia, is something wrong?”
“I—I just remembered the chickens is all. I’ll get Rob to help me get them down and into the chicken coop.”
“Nonsense. My sisters and I will do it. You look all worn out. You must have ridden most of the night.”
She shrugged. “I’m all right. We started for your place close to midnight.”
Sarah’s dark eyes sparkled. “Did you really take those horses from the Yankees?”
“Yes, but they’re on their way back to those thieves now. Darrick McDonald was waiting for them in Grammy’s barn.”
“Darrick?” Sarah touched Parmelia’s arm. “Oh, Parmelia. Is he still as handsome?”
She sighed, hating to admit the truth. “More. And taller. He sure fills out his uniform, too, but it’s blue.”
“Oh.” Sarah paused. “But he’s here, and you talked to him. That’s something, isn’t it?”
Before Parmelia had to answer, Rob slammed inside the kitchen. “That old cow’s still upset. Am I supposed to milk her or what?”
“I’ll get the pail for you.” Parmelia retrieved it from the screened in porch. “The stool’s still in the barn.” She clasped her hands. “Fresh milk. Oh, that will be wonderful. We’ve been without it for a month.”
Rob called, “We got to have hay.”
“Maybe she can eat the lawn tomorrow. I’ll try to barter some hay.” But who had any supplies except the Yankees? Sighing, she went back into the kitchen. She simply could not deal with another crisis today.
“I took off my extra clothes, but my hair’s a mess.” Sarah stood at a small mirror over the washstand and smoothed curls of brown hair from her face. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think my teachers at Thorndike Academy of Young Women would approve of my appearance.”
Parmelia looked at herself over Sarah’s shoulder, then gasped. What must Darrick have thought of her? She told herself she didn’t care then admitted she did. She’d been so careful about her appearance when he’d called on her years ago. He must think she’d turned into a hoyden. Peering at her rough hands and broken nails, she thought maybe she had. Oh, what did it matter? Forcing back tears and regrets, she pulled at her men’s britches and curtsied to Sarah. “I don’t think anyone from Mrs. Carrington’s School for Young Ladies would even speak to me.”
They broke into giggles and went in search of Katie and Nancy.



Smashwords buy link::  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/108471?ref=CarolineClemmons 

The buy link at Amazon is:
http://www.amazon.com/LONG-WAY-HOME-ebook/dp/B005HQYUSK/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1327094984&sr=1-5

For more information on me and my books, please go to my website at www.carolineclemmons.com or my personal blog at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com. While there, please sign up for my newsletter to keep informed of new releases, giveaways, and fun contests.You'll also see buttons to find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and WattPad.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shapeshifter Summer Read by Vijaya Schartz

A peaceful town in Arizona, peopled with artists and a few horse ranches. What could be more benign? But that's how all exciting stories start. In this summer read, the hero is a gorgeous Native American sculptor, and the heroine a forest ranger.

Arizona Game Ranger Madison Huntley, investigating a wild animal attack on a ranch in Cave Creek, discovers disturbing details. If she didn't know better, she'd say the legends frightening the ranch hand might be true. But Madison isn't just a wilderness cop. As a biologist and a wild life expert, she believes in facts and science, not scary tales.

Kaletaka, a Hopi Native, enjoys fame among the white man, forging haunting sculptures of half gods, half humans. When he awakens bloody, with no recollection of what he did the night before, he remembers the legends of his tribe, and the meaning of his name. But as hard as he tries, can he escape his destiny?

Can Madison solve the mystery killings and insure the safety of the town? Let alone her own safety? For each step closer to the truth and to Kaletaka, unleashes an unspeakable evil, and no one is safe...

"Phenomenal world building, characters the readers cares about, and an intriguing mystery… COYOTE GORGEOUS has all the elements one expects from a Vijaya Schartz story! Easily recommended!"
4.5 Shamrocks - Debbie, CK2sKwipsandKritique

"So many times my theory of who done it was thwarted and yet I was thrilled to stay on the edge of my seat until the very last word just to find out"
Five stars - Book Junkie Reviews

"excellent characters... well written. Fascinated about the subject matter and the legends..."
Five hearts - Romance Book Scene

"I'm not sure Kaletaka could have been more scrumptious if he tried...and he knows his way around a kitchen to boot... a fast-paced, action-packed and enjoyable read."
Four stars - The Hope Chest Reviews

"...a fantastic story, with the integration of Navajo legend into the modern setting... this volume is a real page turner... I am a Choctaw Indian myself... I was truly impressed with the seamless integration of the Navajo legends of skinwalkers. This is a fun read that I highly recommend to anyone with a passion for shapeshifters, Indians and mystery."
Four stars - Cassie - Bitten By Books

"Ms. Schartz has blended ancient Hopi lore into a beautifully descriptive story... opened my understanding of the importance of keeping traditions alive... Kal's works of art bring his heritage to life for everyone to see and appreciate. Thanks go to Ms. Schartz for an intriguing story."
Four Angels - Fallen Angel Reviews

Enjoy this summer read, 99 cents everywhere!

Vijaya Schartz
Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Vijaya's books on Amazon:

Vijaya’s books on Are:

Vijaya’s books on B&N:



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Play Nice

I've been cleaning out files and wrapping up some projects. By the time you read this, my first 3 audio books may be available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

The file cleaning always takes place after finishing a book. I found an article I had saved a long time ago, and it still made me laugh – somewhat hysterically, I might add.

From a software vendor’s newsletter, the focus of the article was to encourage us to "be nice" to our computer equipment. The article alleged that some people battered their computer. Oh, no. Horrors! Say it isn’t so!

Computer Battering? Horrors!

Actually, I’m surprised more people don’t fling the frustrating pieces of metal and plastic through the nearest window. I’ve been sorely tempted at times, but the closest I came was flinging a wireless keyboard onto the floor. A few times.

Why? Because the darn thing kept losing the signal. I’d be typing along, look up, and see that a letter or two in every word was missing. Back I’d go to correct. Eventually, I was so frustrated that I slammed it to the floor. After I’d cooled down a bit, I connected a wired keyboard and moved on.

Universal Law of Productivity

It seems to be one of those universal laws that the more behind on a project you are; the more things go wrong – like that old humorous saying you see on desk signs: "The faster I go; the behinder I get."

Sure, I know that it’s not smart to vent your anger and frustration on an expensive piece of equipment, but it sure can be satisfying! However, I don’t make a habit of destroying anything that I paid hard-earned money for. Actually, that’s the one and only time I ever did that. I was on deadline and at the end of my rope. I rejoiced in dropping the remains into the recycle bin.

I’ll take Eric Porterfield for the defense. Mr. Porterfield said: "The most overlooked advantage to owning a computer is that if they foul up, there’s no law against whacking them around a little."

If you've ever been at the end of your rope because of computer hardware or software problems, just remember these wise words from journalist Mitch Ratcliffe: “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.”

Post Script

Hey, I'll take tequila over computers any day.

(Joan Reeves is a Kindle bestselling author of romantic comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers. Beginning in August, you will also find them as audio books at Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. For more information, please visit SlingWords or http://www.JoanReeves.com.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

DO SHORT STORIES AND NOVELLAS SUCCESSFULLY SELL AS EBOOKS?


I followed a long conversation on FaceBook a couple of days ago concerning the length of fiction in ebook form--"Do you like short stories or novellas, or do you prefer a full-length novel?"

This was interesting, because there didn't seem to be much disagreement among those who commented. The general consensus was that if the story was entertaining, the length didn't matter.

I was surprised to learn, though, how many readers paid little attention to the length when searching for an ebook. Quite a few commented they looked at the cover and genre, read the blurb, noticed the price, and bought it. Most agreed, but added that sometimes they thought they were buying a full-length novel, but the purchase turned out to be a 20,000 word story.

My first Dime Novel, Angel and the Cowboy, was reviewed by a reader. She gave it one star. I was shocked. In her review, she said, "The heroine is no angel, I can tell you that much. And the hero was just hateful. Also, it was a very short story, and somehow I should have been told that."

I make a point of not replying to a reviewer, but I did answer hers. "I can't imagine why you think Angel was not a nice person. What did she do? And how did my hero act that was hateful? And did you not see the number of pages listed near the name of the publisher?" I offered her a refund and explained how she could get that. Her reply cracked me up--"Okay, I admit I made a mistake about the length. But you need a lesson on how to write romances. I suggest you read some good romances by these authors:...And she listed four names, all with the same publisher. I'd never heard of any of them. I suspect they were her friends.  

One of the first things I look for on Amazon when studying a book I might like to buy is the length. Would you believe that is not always available on the Buy page? Mine do state the length, but I have seen some without that information anywhere.

All my Dime Novels are close to the same length--about 21,000 words. For 99cents, the reader gets a fast-paced story with some humor--enough for one evening's reading. I'm a slow reader, but even I can read an ebook this length in one evening.

That's the beauty of novellas as ebooks. Even though we're saving a full-length novel for a special time or for a trip, the novella length provides a great amount of entertainment without investing days to read it.

Tagline for: Kat and the U.S. Marshal
One night in a barn on a cold December night was not enough for Diego Montoya. Will Kat Garrison welcome him with open arms as she did that night?
~*~
As they danced, Diego brought her body flush with his, and he kept his right hand just below her waist. He pressed her closer, too, much more than was proper. Slightly dazed, she could barely think.

She whispered. "Diego, move your hand to my back, above my waist."

Whispering back, he said, "No."

"Yes. Do as I say. People will talk."

His voice rumbled low and deep. "I like it where it is."
****
NOW AVAILABLE: 99Cent Dime Novel-a Western Trail Blazer novella

Amazon/Kindle
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008GWEVZO


Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178481

 Monkeybars
https://www.monkeybars.net/PbRJV
https://www.monkeybars.net/monkey/thing/63886ebc52fb8cfac929fd23e2ddbd3d

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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