Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The H in my DH

In preparation for the Christmas rush of visitors to our humble home, I spent hours and hours in the kitchen; devising menus, finding recipes, doing advance prep when possible. More hours were spent cleaning said humble home. And still more in decking the halls inside and out.

You get the hair-frazzling frenzy.

Through it all, I had unflagging assistance with the scheming, cleaning, and decorating from my dear husband (DH).

That’s right, He of the Lost Recipe, knows how to help in more ways than creative filing.

Well, he's not that handy around the stove. But everywhere else, he was elbow-deep in holiday preparations. The man can wield a vacuum cleaner with the best of them. Not to mention a snow shovel. Or, bliss, a body massager.

So now all the guests have come and gone; fed, watered, and gifted. I sit at the table with my book and my mid-morning coffee before me. Blessed peace reigns over the sunny day.

The DH thanks me for all the hard work I’ve done to make another wonderful holiday. Just as he leans over to follow his lovely words with a kiss, the birds in the yard break into mad song.

“Listen to that,” says the DH, his brown eyes twinkling. “The birds want to kiss you, too.”

Sometimes, the H in DH stands for more than husband.

photo credit: Stuart Miles

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Beginning!!

The end of the year always makes me think of the year passed, and the year ahead.  I’ve never been a big “resolution” maker.  Mainly, because if you don’t accomplish them…that can make the new year suck. 
But, I do try to set goals.  For me, there’s a slight difference in the two.  One puts me closer to where I want to be in life, and the other makes me feel like crap when I don’t accomplish it.  I know subtle, but it’s there J One of those goals was that by a certain age, I’d return to my hometown, and open my own business.  I’m here!  (I’ll have to keep you posted on the rest.)

This year, I spent the first Christmas with my family and friends in TN that I’ve spent in over 10 years!  Having lived outside of TN for over twenty years, I normally switched off the holidays with my ex, which is probably why Thanksgiving became such an important time of year for me.

Being only inches away from my niece and nephews as they opened their gifts, instead of mailing them and hearing from my brother of their excitement can’t be explained.  Spending months in my hometown, becoming a part of my family and the community I’d moved away from for so many years inspired a short story that I wrote for the holidays, Christmas’ Journey.

Christmas’ Journey is one woman’s attempt at giving back something to the community she loved.  Maybe, along the way, she can find a little holiday magic to help her, not only in giving back, but in finding a long-lasting love.

Blurb:  Christmas Davis wanted to give something back to the community she loved.  But, that opportunity was lost to her.  Although won by another, would his ambitions allow him to help those in need?
Presley Marino knew she might say no, but she was the only person he wanted.  Together, they could change things in the hometown they both loved.  That part would be easy, but convincing her and his brother wouldn’t.

Would they allow an uneasy history to silence a need for change, or would they force a new beginning?
I hope that y’all are enjoying your time with family and friends!  And I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Nothing much else to say today -- I'm off enjoying the day with family and friends, and I hope you're doing the same!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reindeer as Pets by Paisley Kirkpatrick

This time of year, images of Santa’s reindeer appear in movies and TV shows shaping your children’s view of where they live and how they act. Sure, Santa’s reindeer are special – they can fly – but impress your kids by telling them there are more than just the ones living at the North Pole. A herd of reindeer can reach the thousands.

Most live in the forests and tundras of Northern Asia, Scandinavia, Siberia and Greenland. In some regions of Finland, Norway and Russia reindeer are kept as pets. They pull sleighs and can run up to 40 miles per hour.
These reindeer play games, too. They participate in races by pulling kids on sleds or skis around a track.

In Norwegian communities, reindeer are given as wedding gifts. They are strong swimmers, weigh between 200 and 700 pounds and eat 12 pounds of grass, lichens and plants a day. While they don’t have the glamorous job of pulling Santa’s sleigh your children should agree reindeer are pretty cool even if they can’t talk like they do on TV.

The year that my husband and I visited our exchange daughter in Sweden, she took us to Stockholm, Sweden. This unique city has a delightful place to visit with reindeer. I will never forget standing on the railing of the fence and petting the antlers of a huge reindeer. They were in the velvet stage and so soft. It almost felt like magic even to me as an adult. Every year at this time, I can vividly remember the day I met a reindeer.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I’m a Santaholic

Christmas is only three days away and I cannot focus on my writing. Every December I fall in love with Santa Claus. I’m unable to help myself. We romance writers recognize the ultimate happily ever after. My addiction to everything Santa began decades ago when I married my husband and moved into his home. You see, our street is special. I know everyone reading this will say the same about theirs.

However, we not only decorate our homes we go a couple steps further with a tradition established long before I joined my husband. In December our block long street transforms into Candlestick Lane. In the daytime you can appreciate the long-ago artist neighbor who created the signage that invites you in.

Each house comes with two candy cane candles which miraculously pop up the first Sunday of every December. When you buy a house on our street you join a long line of neighbors who honor the past. A different neighbor hosts our Christmas party where we celebrate the season with young and old alike. We are known throughout our community. Cars motor up and down at night while children press their noses to the window glass.

It’s easy to understand their reason. We all yearn for traditions, familiar links that united us as human beings. I’m proud our street, with its shifting population of seniors replaced by young families, holds this faith close.

I’ve acquired a Santa ornament collection over the years which will ultimately pass on to our sons and their families. So I begin another tradition. I believe that’s the true meaning of this holiday. Pass on the love, the cherished memories and the fellowship.

What special tradition makes this time of year special to you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Gift

Nice things often come in small packages at this time of year. Here is a gift I found recently. I hope you like it.


This is Evan Marshall’s memory aid for writing action or reaction sequences so your writing is logical and smooth. F-A-D stands for feelings/thoughts, action, dialogue.

A heroine’s feelings or thoughts come first. This may need a paragraph or a page, or she may have a split second flash.

The she reacts to what she has felt (or thought) with a physical action. She freezes. She smiles. She looks around frantically. She throws her arms around her lover’s neck. The action is justified by her just-stated inner state.

Finally she speaks. What she says will advance the story because it will invite a response reaction from whoever is in the scene with her.

Here’s a non- F-A-D sequence:
“I’m sorry, Brad,” Amy said. “I’m just not ready.” Her hand trembled as she stared down at the small, black jeweler’s box. Her mind raced through her now familiar list of marriage pros and cons.

Here’s the same sequence using F-A-D:
As she stared down at the small, black jeweler’s box, Amy’s mind raced through her now familiar list of marriage pros and cons. Her hand trembled. “I’m sorry, Brad. I’m just not ready.”

Which sounds more logical? Which sounds smoother and more polished?

I think F-A-D. It’s a gift that will keep on giving to me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Today I was tired and for a change watched old shows on the TV. In fact, four old episodes of FRIENDS. Particularly the one where Ross goes to London to marry his British fiancée, Emily. Joey, Chandler and Monica fly with him. Phoebe stays home because she’s pregnant and big. Rachel stays with her because she can’t stand to see Ross getting married. But she changes her mind and follows them, wanting to tell Ross she’s still in love with him, before it’s too late.

When she arrives at the hotel, she finds him kissing Emily, and just hugs him saying, “Congratulations.”
When the pastor tells Ross, "Repeat after me, I, Ross, take you, Emily, to be my wedded wife…”
Ross says, “ I, Ross, take you Rachel to be my wedded wife…”

Emily didn’t take it well at all! And I couldn’t stop laughing at Ross’ predicament.

Oops, wrong name blurted at the worst possible time. I couldn’t believe my eyes, because my new story starts with Mary-Beth blurting the wrong name while making love to her fiancé. Nothing like saying the wrong name to put the kibosh on wedding plans!

But what if the wrong name turns out to be the right one?

RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN is a sexy romantic comedy set in France.
What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold. She signs up for a summer training program in surgery with Yves, and flies to France to confront her past and the man who broke her heart years ago.

But she never expected the French doctor--who’s also a count-- to insist on his trainees staying at his historical chateau. Sleeping under his roof, next door to his bedroom, is more temptation than Mary-Beth anticipated. Desire for Yves burns as hot as ever, especially when he focuses all his charm on Mary-Beth to convince her she needs passion in her life. While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.

Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?

Excerpt:Chapter One

“Love you, Yves.” Marie-Beth Drake purred and cuddled deeper against her lover’s broad chest.

Already half-asleep, Steve squeezed her to his side, with a faint “Hmm”. Soon, his light snores filled the air. Sated and relaxed, she stroked his silvery hair. “Love you—”

She froze.

What had she called him?

Oh God, oh God. Had she said Steve or… Yves?

Her fiancé grumbled in his sleep. She immediately yanked her hand away from his head. Her fingers flew to her lips and her stomach somersaulted. She couldn’t have whispered the loathsome name? She’d buried it long ago and forgotten the sexy French doctor and his charismatic smile.

Had Steve noticed the slip of her tongue?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Myths about Writing Novels

I’m working on my second novel with Laura Kelly, my eagle-eyed and talented editor from The Wild Rose Press.  I’ve been a serious author for ten years, but daily, my suppositions about writing and publishing get blown to smithereens.  

Myth #1  Stories pop out of a writer’s head, like Venus from the clamshell, fully formed.

So not true.  Stories might pop out of my experiences and my imagination in mysterious ways, but they are rarely fully formed.  No.  It’s up to me to sculpt the story myself, then grab an assorted group of critics to give me a feel for how my plot and characters play out for them.  More rewriting after that.  More critics.  More rewriting.  One final critique, then I’m ready for submission.

Myth #2  Once the novel is submitted, it is ‘fully formed.’

Don’t you wish!  From what I understand, publishers expect a novel to be 85% to 95% complete.  Makes sense to me.  Still, the editing of that 5% to 15% of the novel is a challenging, complex process, guided by an astute editor and a willing writer.  I have never worked so hard as I have on my story under the tutelage of my editor.  This is the nuance stage, the chance to perfect a novel.  Think word by word, sentence by sentence, scene by scene.  My editor and I rethink the whole book, making sure that the whole is truly the best sum of its parts.

Myth #3 Revision is painful…editor as dentist, writer as patient, book as a pesky root canal.

Definitely not true.  I love revising my novels under the watchful eye of my editor.  This is the ultimate experience of an artist…the big league, the BIG show.  As much as I adore my cadre of armchair critics, it’s in the capable hands of my editor that I feel the Venus of my story rising to perfection.   My editor knows my market, she gets my book and after years of editing, she also understands how to help a writer like me manage the tough job of revision.

Any thoughts about my myths?  Do you have more to add?  Am I nuts that I love revision so much?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Latest Obsession

Not quite a month ago I got an email from one of my older publishers asking me what kind of promotion I was doing. Promotion? Not much at the moment. Why? I asked.

Well, because some of my old titles over at Amazon were selling quite a few more copies than they’d expected given how old the titles were.

I said, okay, that’s interesting and I checked it out and sure enough Promises To Keep, my first book in the Gaian series, was ranked around 1,200 over at Amazon. Even more, I was on a couple of best seller lists, including at number 11 on the Space Opera, just under one of Orson Scott Card’s Ender books, and above the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Okay, that’s just plain weird because I had no idea why a book I wrote in 2004 would be burning up the charts like that. It had good reviews, it had finaled in a published author’s contest but at its peak it never sold that well.

So I investigated a little more. First of all, it is the entry book to a series of four titles about a future time when a colony of Earth has gained its independence. Some of the titles take place during the war, some just after it ended. The premise is that some of the men from Gaia, the former colony, are desperate for wives so they start kidnapping women from Earth. You see unless a Gaian man finds a woman he matches he can’t have sex with anyone, so being guys they are pretty motivated to make that happen.

Add to it that Gaia has a shortage of women due to the destruction of one of their girl’s schools at the beginning of the war, so they have to look to Earth, even if the Earth’s military was responsible for the destruction.

This provides me with goals, motivations, and a lot of conflict for my characters since it is usually a guy from Gaia falling for a woman from Earth he might not otherwise want to be involved with. Also the guys tend to get very hot and bothered as soon as they meet the women, so it isn’t hard to add a sexual component, although I don’t write these books as sex romps the way I do some of my other books.

But these books have been out there for quite a while. The book Promises To Keep was published in 2004. Even with good, albeit older reviews on Amazon, it shouldn’t be outselling Hitchhiker’s guide.
So I have to make some guesses as to why that might be.

First there is the price of the first book: $2.99. That’s an interesting price point. Cheap enough so that people are tempted into looking at the book. The premise is interesting. Since most of the action takes place on the Gaian flagship “The Promise” I’ve sometimes referred to the book as “Mars Needs Women meets the Love Boat”. The cover is pretty good, a nice blue color and a half-naked hunk on the front. I think people are picking it up because there isn’t a lot of science fiction romance out there, the price is right, and the book shows as a recommendation when someone buys a similar book.

Which brings me to my latest obsession: Novelrank. Novelrank is a website that takes Amazon data and tracks it for different books, translating the data into approximate sales. If you are selling more than one book an hour, then their algorithm can miss some sales, but for books like mine, they claim to be pretty accurate. They update the data hourly as it comes in from the Amazon sales sites.

I’ve been following Promises To Keep for the past couple of weeks using Novelrank: as well as the other books in the Gaian world. Sales of the other books aren’t as good as the first book but for older titles they are respectable. Some of that might be that they are a dollar or two more than $2.99 and also some people will read the first book of a series and then not bother picking up the second or third or even fourth book.

But then there are the times I’ll see that there was a sale of all four titles in the same hour, and I just wonder. Did someone like my world so much they bought all four at the same time?

This makes me smile. You see, it isn’t really the money although when I get my next check I expect I’ll smile then as well. It is the thought that somewhere someone is reading my words and enjoying the world I built out of my head.

Next week on Wednesday I have chat to discuss the Gaian world on the NCP Network at 7PM EST. I'm looking forward to talking to people about my books.

RWA wants to know what I consider success? That’s success.

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Christmas was my favorite time of the year when I was a child.  Isn't it everyone's?  Even as my kids were little, I loved Christmas.  Seeing their faces when they opened their presents, the joy they had as they got older and buying gifts for people less fortunate then themselves.  It was a great time.

As time goes by, Christmas tends to stress me out more and more and I just don't enjoy it like I used to.  Trees are hard to find. We always cut our own, but I have developed an allergy to all Christmas trees except Scotch Pines.  They are becoming increasingly difficult to find and how I fight against having to get a fake tree.  Everything is so expensive.

This year as I sit in my living room looking at the bare tree, yet to be decorated, I remember the peace that comes with Christmas also. The evenings of sitting with the lights off, except for the lights on the tree, and just enjoying it. It really doesn't matter the amount of gifts around the tree, its the joy of always having my family close.  This year will be no exception as my oldest daughter travels from North Caroline to be home for the holidays.

The family grows this year with the addition of our first grandson who is just fascinated with the tree.  One of my fondest memories is of my kids being very little and sitting in front of the Christmas tree with just the lights on as we sang Christmas songs.  The simple things of being with family and just enjoying each other is really all I need for Christmas.  What's your wish for the Christmas season?

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Our Own Stuff"

"Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it." ~David Sedaris

I found that quote this morning and it made me stop and go, "Huh. How true is that? Each of us does bring "our own stuff" into what we read."

Don't agree? How many times have you started writing something and had to scrap it because the characters just weren't speaking to you? How many times have you started reading a story and put it down because you just couldn't relate to the character?

We DO bring "our own stuff" into what we're reading or what we're writing. As writers, when something interesting happens around us, we frequently stop to think, "how can I use that in a story?" We see something, hear something, and BOOM! We HAVE to use that.

Then, when we're reading something someone else has written, we tend to identify with one particular character. If something bad happens to that character or they do soemthing that we think is 'out of the norm' for them, we can get angry with the creator of that character.

We've all heard stories of authors getting letters from 'fans' angry with them for having a character do or say something that they feel is 'not right' for that character. Even though that character sprang from the author's imaginaion, not the reader's, the reader feels they "own" that character. One of our readers swatted Cai with the second book in our Lusting Wild series because the hero of that book was the villain of book one. She was angry that we made her love him. The first book in that series is Changing Times and the second is Changing Hearts. Luckily, the hero in Changing Focus was never a villain, so we didn't get bruised for writing his story.

We agonize over our stories. We strive for perfection. We work our tails off to get everything right in our work. We hope people will become invested in our characters, our plots, our little worlds. We wait anxiously for that first review, the first time someone says, "Oh, I read your book!" We obsessively check our email for fan mail.

What we don't do is stop to think about others bringing their "own stuff" into our world. And quite possibly, we shouldn't. If we stopped to try to please everyone else, we'd never be able to please ourselves. We need to embrace our characters, give them life, and then turn them loose into the world to see what life they take on for themselves in the minds of our readers.

So what do you think about this issue of control? How does it affect your writing?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dessert for that After Dinner Hour

When Christmas season rolls around, I get all warm and fuzzy. I put up the Christmas tree with my boys and we make a big occasion of it. I wrap all my presents on Christmas Eve, meaning I get to bed at some ridiculous hour. My husband usually gives up and goes before me. ( : I also do a lot of cooking in preparation. This year I figure to have roast beef and a pasta dish as well as a big salad and lots of sides.

And then there's dessert. I've got a sweet tooth and on Christmas Day I don't mind indulging. This year, I've decided to try a cheesecake recipe that I'm going to share with you.

Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake

24 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 pint whipping cream
5 jumbo eggs separated
2 envelopes gelatin
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream (or St. Brendan's)

Soften the gelatin in the water in a small saucepan. Stir the egg yolks into 1 cup sugar. Add mixture to the gelatin and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Let cool. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa and beat again. Add the Bailey's and beat some more. Slowly add the gelatin mixture in and blend well. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cheese mixture. Pour over a ready-made crust or a crust of your making, and refrigerate for several hours or let set overnight.

For some crumb crust recipes, check out these tutorials:

For my Blueberry Crumble or Bailey's Co-Co Bay recipes click on the links.

Want more holiday recipes? Get a free gift from Gabriella today. A free eBook download of HOT IN THE KITCHEN featuring today’s hottest romance authors and sizzling recipes.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joanne--Dave Barry's guide to Holiday gift-giving

Hi Everyone,
It's the 8th of the month, and I'm sharing a post from Dave Barry regarding holiday gift-giving and what men are thinking: (hint, they're not)

"Your standard man, at this point in the Christmas season, has purchased zero gifts. He has not yet gotten around to purchasing an acceptable gift for his wife for LAST Christmas. He did give her something for last year, but he could tell by her reaction to it that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables AND an air compressor. Clearly this gift violated an important rule, but the man had no idea what this rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him."

Me again: What is the worst Christmas gift that your husband/boyfriend ever gave you for Christmas? Mine was a vacuum cleaner. (Yes, really!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Memories

"the unemployed horse"

by Richard Condon
narrated by Allan Melvin
from MGM Records

I did my pre-holiday house cleaning the other day while listening to Christmas CDs. (Okay, maybe I'm dating myself here.) One in particular, Rudolph, Frosty and Friends' Favorite Christmas Songs, provoked a twang of nostalgia. Listening to the voices of Burl Ives, Jimmy Durante, Fred Astaire and others from classic holiday TV specials, especially Frosty the Snowman, brought on a rush of childhood memories.

One recollection came from when I was about four years old, and involved a Christmas gift from my aunt and uncle. My very first audio book—Irving "the unemployed horse."

Irving is a talking horse, who gallops from New York to the North Pole to save a snowflake named Gus. All ends happily-ever-after when Gus arrives safely and Irving gets a job with Santa. The inside and outside covers illustrate the story. I listened to those 78RPM records over and over again, driving my two older siblings crazy.

The nostalgia has stayed with me, teasing me, haunting me. So I jumped onto the internet and fired up that wonderful invention of a search engine. And what do you know? I found several sites referencing Irving, including, to my utmost joy, available downloads and an audio stream from

I found reviews in Billboard and Life magazines from 1947. (No, I wasn't alive in 1947. Not even close.) Life wrote, "A delightful fable about a horse that rescues a snowflake from a fate worse than death." Sounds like a pitch to me, and in only sixteen words.

C. H. Miller Hardware Co. placed an ad in the Daily News, Huntington and Mount Union, PA on Friday, September 26, 1947, advertising a Christmas lay-away plan, including several children's records. Irving was listed for $1.45, tax included, alongside Tubby the tuba, Herman the littlest locomotive, and the Bear that wasn't.

The story of Irving and Gus by Richard Condon is narrated by Allan Melvin. If you're old enough, you might remember Allan as the voice of Magilla Gorilla and as Alice's boyfriend, Sam the butcher, from the Brady Bunch.

Listening to the download of Irving "the unemployed horse" has brought a huge smile to my face.

What holiday memories make you grin?

I wish you all a happy and blessed holiday season!


Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a pre-published writer who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories. You can also visit Dawn Marie at Castles & Guns on Tuesday December 20. Twitter: @DawnM_Hamilton

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mouse Wars

It is fall and winter is slipping around the corner with a vengeance. No wonder a black field mouse crept in probably when we left the door open for our cautious Boxer. He likes the door opened very wide. Once when he was young one of the children allowed the door to touch him, more likely slam on him. Now I have to stand at the door and urge him to go out. Most of the family isn't that patient and simply prop the door open, thus in came Fernando.

My daughter texted me while I was at work and informed me that Fernando, yes, she named him, and friend were peering at her while she was watching Fellowship of the Ring for the umpteenth time. I urged her to chase them out by opening the sliding glass door and run screaming at them (a time honored family tradition), which she did try. They appeared not to want to go out despite her effort to herd them in the right direction.

It wasn't the right direction for them. Some primitive instinct informed them that since old man winter was breathing down their necks they needed to find a warm, safe burrow. Unfortunately, they thought they found it underneath my skirted loveseat in the family room. Were they unaware that I just steam cleaned the carpet and the furniture?

This was really testing my ability to live in peace with nature. The last time this was tested was when a pair of mating Mallards tried to make the backyard swimming pool their new home. The Mallards' desire was strong, but perhaps not as strong as my voice or throwing arm. I tried the peaceful solutions first, which included chimes, pin wheels, blow up alligator floats to no avail. Finally, I resorted to running laps around the pool, yelling insults, which had to make the neighbors wonder if they were directed at them.In absolute frustration, I threw a scrub brush in the air and the bird flew into it. No kidding, despite the fact he flew into it, he took it as a not welcome sign and moved on, taking his mate with him.

I've tried the peaceful solutions with Fernando. My daughter wants him to live because he is so cute and small. Fernando is just a rodent-sized frat boy hoping to get by on his good looks and questionable charm. Even now, I can hear him by the fridge. Soon he will invite all his frat brothers to my house, of course he'll call it his house. All his mice friends will munch down on dog food since my dog doesn't seem to particularly like it. They'll dine on any tasty cheddar nibble left in the traps.

"She does put out the best cheese for me," Fernando will brag to his furry friends as he plucks a another piece from the trap. He aggravates me so with his bold ways parading across the kitchen while I type. My ninety-pound Boxer looks at the mouse, then me, as if saying, "Aren't you going to do something about that?" Since my daughter was gone at school, it was time to put an end to Fernando. I pulled out all the appliances and chased him around with a spatula. Quite the nimble, and resourceful fellow. When it looked like certain death he ran up my pants leg. Argh, talk about distracting me.

This is war, Fernando. I pulled out the bottle of bleach. When besieged by mice or ants, I wash everything down with bleach. I can endure the stink, and I am also gone ten hours of the day. My little unwelcome visitors are very close to the smell. I also believe that I am wiping away all the mice germs.

Fernando has to go. You know what mice bring, don't you? Friends, lots of them, while I was hoping for company for the holdiays I wanted the two legged kind. I need help, tell me fellow warriors your tricks of relocating the little critters, be it fair or foul.

Breaking News: Since orginally writing this post two weeks ago, Fernando and NINE of his friends bit the dust because of my Mouse Warrior fiancee. This just shows an engineer can outsmart a tiny rodent any day.Because my sweetie did the trapping, I decided that I am still in harmony with nature.:)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Someone once asked if my husband and I ever thought of collaborating on a book.

“Are you kidding?” I gasped. Visions of screaming, scratching and foot stomping charged through my mind—and that’s only the cat’s reaction. Think of my reaction while my husband furrows his eyebrows, purses his lips and starts crossing out my carefully crafted paragraphs with his number two pencil.

Nope. Vonnie doesn’t run with scissors, nor does she collaborate when writing.

Calvin writes in a more literary style with beautiful imagery. He throws in a dash of the supernatural. He adores an ending that hangs out there, blowing in the wind for the reader to decide what really happened. I like my endings tied into a neat bow, dripping with happiness.

So when the Roses of Prose, another blog on which I contribute, decided to write a progressive story for the holiday season, my mouth kinda went dry. Me collaborate on a story with thirteen other writers? Just the thought made my teeth itch.

As it turned out, a few couldn’t contribute. One was moving, another taking care of an ailing mother and two knee-deep in edits. That left ten of us.

Frankly, it didn’t take long for me to realize ten women can’t all agree on anything. Granted all nine of the other writers are sweet, intelligent, creative women. Yet we all have our ways of thinking through things.

There were so many details to decide. Like what was the premise of our story? Character names? Back story? Time frame? Was this a Christmas story or a politically correct holiday story? Would the bedroom door be closed or open? Well, you get the picture. The emails with "what-if" questions were adding up in my mailbox like ants on a piece of dropped cake.

The project turned out to be a growing experience for me. I learned to pick my battles and mostly to keep my big mouth shut—or my fingers off the send button, as it were.

One lady wrote the first chapter and posted it to our group’s files. The next lady in line took over, adding her own flair in the second chapter, and so on. I ended up writing four chapters to make up for those unable to participate. And wouldn’t you JUST know it, every time it was my turn to take over, the heroine and hero were headed to the bedroom. I think it was a conspiracy.

We’re offering it in December as a FREE read. Thirty chapters (1200-1400 words each) of romance. Why not stop by The Roses of Prose every day this month and read the next installment of A HOLIDAY TO REMEMBER?

Book Blurb: Candy Wright didn’t become a high-powered Manhattan business executive by letting men walk all over her. She watched her mother work herself to death to give her daughter a better life and is determined to make her proud. If that means not risking her heart, not letting any man get too close, then so be it.

Mitch Johnson lives a simple life in rural Georgia. Holding his secrets close. Hiding from the life he left behind. The last thing he wants—or needs—is a woman to remind him of his past.

When the two are thrown together in a freak snowstorm, sparks fly. Mitch is everything she’s worked to escape. Candy is a reminder of his painful past. But the attraction between them won’t be denied. Will love thaw their frozen hearts, or will secrets tear them apart? One thing is certain; it will be a holiday to remember…

2011 - What a year!

This is my time of year to look back and see how I did with my goals I set at the beginning of the year. Sometimes I surprise myself and sometimes I fall a little short.

When I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for Tempting Adam in 2010 I knew 2011 would be an exciting year. It has more than lived up to my expectations.

Tempting Adam came out in February. My first Indie book came out in October and I will have another Indie book out before the new year kicks off with champagne and fireworks. I started a newsletter and actually have real people who signed up for it. LOL

Just this week I had two sales in the UK. The UK!! In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined how I would feel to see people all the way on the other side of the world buying my book. I thought that happened when you hit bestsellers lists, when you did great for your publishing house.

I'm paraphrasing here, but I believe the saying goes something like this. When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you still land among the stars. That is the thought I'm taking into 2012. I might not have hit the moon but I am definitely floating among the stars.

Wish upon a star. Shoot for the moon. May all your dreams come true in 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changed My Life

In my opinion, books have more power than people in this modern age give its credit. Books can still change your life in a way, I think movies and other forms of entertainment can't quiet accomplish. As with you, I have read tons of books. Some I hated, most I liked and a few I loved.  And it's those few that changed my life.

The first book to do that was Little Women. Much like every other girl. I know most girls swear they are Jo. Me, I'm Beth.  I wanted to be Jo. Strong and sure and fearless even if I burn the back of my dress. I have an older brother and no sisters and as an Air Force Brat, I never stayed in one place for very long.  All I had was my family and a father who did and could go off to war at a moments notice.   That wasn't the only lesson, Alcott taught me.  I learned about the difference of women, of the differences in one female. Me at different parts of my life, I think I've been an Amy, Meg or Jo. As I've grow older, I realized that in different parts I'm all those girls but still mostly, Beth.

The second book that changed my life was The End of the Affair. Growing up, church was attended on Sunday then Sunday school and when we moved to New York City, it was Catholic school. For me being religious was just a part of me. I believed in God even when I didn't bother with Him much. When I picked up that book, I discovered that my faith has never faltered though I'm not the greatest of followers. I guess that's why my faith hasn't faltered, it never had to be tested.

Another book to change my life too was See Jane Score (SJS) by Rachel Gibson. When I was younger, I always wrote but in college, I choose a major I could find employment after graduation and writing wasn't going to be it. Well, since I'm a PRO member of RWA you know how that turned out. Well, anyway, I was reading SJS and having so much fun that I never wanted the book to end. When I closed it, I knew I had to write. I wanted to give that fun, magical whirling sensation I had to others and to experience every sensation of writing such an exciting jaunt.  Now here I am. Plugging away even when I'm ready to stab myself in the eye with my pen. (would never do that but I'm sure you understand the feeling)

That's the power of books, to influence your life's path, make you discover who you are, or a trait about yourself you might have lost or never even questioned. Don't think for a minute that only these books changed me. No each word I've ever read whether an Edith Wharton, a Sandra Brown, or Christina Dodd or Terry Spear and everyone in between have each changed my life.  So, thank you. 

Now tell me which book changed your life?

Monday, November 28, 2011

True Wedding Story

“Dearly beloved...”

The radiant bride and nervous groom stand before the altar. The minister intones the marriage service. A congregation of family and friends witness the solemn, lifelong vows.

“If anyone shall have any reason why this man and this woman should not join in holy wedlock, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

The expected silence to the mere formality reverberates to the rafters of the old church.

A small hesitant voice rises from the hushed congregation.


I wonder if the baby in the third row will be a comedian when he grows up. Because he sure brought the house down at the wedding my son attended.

Do you have a funny wedding story to share? I’d love to hear it.

x-posted at

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My favorite time of year!

One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is over.  I love getting together with friends and family, cooking too much, eating too much, and just simply being surrounded by people that I love and that love me.  And now everyone is moving on…preparing for the Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

In the past we’ve discussed Fairy Tales, and the fascination with re-telling them.  Now, we even have Grimm and Once Upon a Time to add to that list.  But, what about the holiday season, and the stories told at this time of year?

I have to admit, by now, I’m sure all of you know, I am a holiday junkie, and love all things Santa related!  But, what makes a great holiday movie.  I’ve written my first holiday short story, which will be available as part of a special holiday promotion with Red Rose Publishing.  In developing the story idea the elements I wanted included were:  Christmas magic, giving/charity, HFN/HEA, a little holiday love, and of course there had to be a little snow J

But, as I sit watching this season’s run of holiday shows, the same questions came to mind as when we’d discussed fairy tales.  Are there fresh ideas?  Every movie I’ve watched this season seemed to have an It’s a Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Carol meets “Here Comes Santa Claus” theme.  Nothing is wrong with that, but are we afraid of new ideas?  Do we stick with traditions so fiercely that if someone has a different view of the holidays, they can’t break through?  Is this why someone produced Jason X?

The creators of the stories of my childhood and my parents’ childhood were great, but isn’t it our time to begin to create those same wonderfully written imagined places for the next generation?

What are the must have items for a great holiday story?  How many remakes of an old classic have you seen this holiday season?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blog Tour for Dreaming of the Wolf--free copies of the book!

This is what I'm working on now, in edition to everything else. Blogs. Guest blogs. Interviews. And writing. And editing! Somewhere in there I've got to do some Christmas shopping!

Thanks to everyone for hosting me! And ahem, Jake Silver of course, because he's really the star of the show. And thanks to Sourcebooks and Danielle for setting these up and providing the free books for the contests, and to reviewers who had the opportunity to review the book. It's going to be a very busy month...before December!

So here's the schedule!

12-1 Preternatura
12-2 Over the Edge
12-5 Night Owl Reviews
Rom Fan Reviews
12-7 SOS Aloha
Fresh Fiction
12-9 Literary Escapism
Cindy’s Love of Books
Bitten by Paranormal Romance
USA TODAY'S Review and Interview: Happy Ever After
12-13 Love Romance Passion
12-14 The Long and Short of It
Debbie’s Book Bag
Paranormal Haven
12-19 Sia McKye's Thoughts over Coffee
Thoughts in Progress
12-21 Star-Crossed Romance
12-28 Fang-tastic Books
Book Lover and Procrastinator

I'm off to update my website, and even get a guest blog done before it's time to run to work. So have a super great Thursday!!

A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing edits are done!!! Finn's just too sexy for his own good. :)

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."

Friday, November 25, 2011


Why are you reading this? Why aren't you eating more pie, more turkey, more ... whatever! If you're in the States, I'll bet you're either full of food or getting ready to be full of food.

Let's just take one small moment and truly give thanks. I blogged about this elsewhere so I won't repeat myself TOO much, but let's just say "thanks" that we live in this country. That we have food on our tables. That we are literate and have a chance to learn. That we are safe. It's not that way for so many people, so pause and thank Whoever for that.

Then heck, go ahead and have that second piece of pie. Everybody knows there are no calories on Thanksgiving day! And any that sneak on your thighs will be worked off on Black Friday when you tussle with the crowds.

So enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

I can pinpoint the moment I started my writing journey - my real writing journey. I'd been writing for years but until I joined RWA I had no idea what putting words to a page to create a story really meant.

I ran a fan club for country singing artist, Kevin Sharp. One of his fans wrote him a letter thanking him for helping her through the painful times with his beautiful voice and songs. I answered her letter and told her I was a writer and asked for advice. BOY oh boy did I get it - she told me to join RWA and get into a local chapter, attend national conferences and take all the classes I could. That was twelve years ago and we are now best of friends. I consider her my mentor and am so thankful for that letter she wrote to Kevin. He loves that I am writing, too, and when he wrote a story of his remarkable life surviving cancer, he asked me to write the introduction.

This proves to me that we can find gifts everywhere. I consider Karen Rose Smith to be one of my gifts and thank her for bringing me here to this place where I've found the greatest friendships, support, learned to write and become part of a great network. As far as I am concerned, writers are the best kind of friends to have. I am thankful for each of you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discovered characters

Writers are always on the lookout for new material, whether a new premise or an unusual type of career. Here are two examples which piqued this romance writer’s imagination. One is remarkable line of work, the other one is what most of us would consider a fairly ordinary job.

I took my extended family to the Ojai Raptor Center. Working with birds of prey is definitely an extraordinary occupation. The staff rehabilitates rescued birds so they can be released back into the wild. However, some of these magnificent creatures cannot be set free.

I was enthralled watching a bald eagle perch on a skilled handler’s gloved arm. The man said it took a year to get this particular bird’s trust. Found on an Arkansas road, he ended up in California. Hitch’s injuries prevent him from surviving in the wild.

Other birds have been humanly imprinted. All raptors have sharp talons, not something you want to experience firsthand. A pair of young kestrels who fell from a nest were later released by some foolish people. One landed on a shocked shopper’s shoulder. I learned that even a few days in captivity, fed by humans, can disrupt a bird of prey’s ability to hunt for itself––or to fear humans.

As you see I’m fascinated with this line of work. Who wouldn’t be? The wheels are probably turning inside your head. Raptor handler as a protagonist? Definitely a strong character. One who would capture the reader’s empathy. Everyone admires those who lend a hand to the creatures in our world.

A few days later work trucks invaded our street. We’d received notification of a planned electrical shutdown. That morning three power poles were replaced along with extensive rewiring. Men at work. Gotta love them!

Women admire physically competent men, and one who works in a dangerous field—high up in a cherry picker or attached by his belt to a forty-foot pole¬––grabs your imagination. I developed a few scenarios around a team, multiple stories of their lives and the women who ultimately fall in love with each of them.

Story ideas and imaginary characters pummel us everywhere we look. I have a difficult time keeping them inside a folder once I jot down the initial idea. They resurface again and again. Staying focused on the hard work of completing my current story is a true challenge. It’s always easier to start a new one, isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving to our FTH members in the USA!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Entering a Contest

I just submitted the first chapter of my WIP to a contest, something I haven't felt brave enough to do in five years. Back then, the most helpful comments came from a judge who was encouraging. She said she could hear my voice, said my many technical flaws could be corrected.

Since then I've studied the craft of writing. I've presented my WIP to a critique loop and to a solo CP. I've judged contests, and read entries that run the gamut of storytelling skill.

I know contests are not the be-all and end-all of life. My entry may not resonate with one or more of the judges. But I'm hoping I'll score better than five years ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My New Contemporary Romance

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Right Name, Wrong Man
What’s a future bride to do when she utters another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms–– a name she thought she had erased from her heart after one blissful night, years ago? Before setting a wedding date, Mary-Beth Drake must reassure herself she has outgrown her youthful infatuation for handsome surgeon Yves Malroux.

A trip to France and training with Yves would convince her she’s in control of her emotions. Except that sparks fly between them.

Will Mary-Beth ever realize who’s her right man?

“Love you, Yves.” Marie-Beth Drake purred and cuddled deeper against her lover’s broad chest.

Already half-asleep, Steve squeezed her to his side, with a faint “Hmm”. Soon, his light snores filled the air. Sated and relaxed, she stroked his silvery hair. “Love you—”

She froze.

What had she called him?

Oh God, oh God. Had she said Steve or… Yves?

Her fiancé grumbled in his sleep. She immediately yanked her hand away from his head. Her fingers flew to her lips and her stomach somersaulted. She couldn’t have whispered the loathsome name? She’d buried it long ago and forgotten the sexy French doctor and his charismatic smile.

Had Steve noticed the slip of her tongue?

Heart pounding, she studied his closed eyes and slightly gaping mouth. Not to worry. Her fiancé slept as peacefully as a man content with life—as he did every night.

Shivering with mortification, she slid out of his arms. Her throat ached with sudden dryness as she covered herself with a robe and rushed downstairs.

In the living room, she grabbed a bottle of Merlot from the bar, filled a glass and swallowed it, and poured a second one. Her mind in shambles, she settled on the sofa to organize her thoughts.

Hanging over the fireplace, her fiancé’s portrait focused a serious look at her. She blinked. “I don’t know how it happened. Honestly,” she groaned with an apologetic grimace.

Sultry images of the French surgeon obscured her vision. Yves smiling, his knuckles caressing her cheeks, his face reaching closer to hers. She snatched her head back and touched her lips, swollen from Steve’s kisses. And remembered Yves’s passionate embrace. “No, please.” Her world tilted on its axis.

Weary and confused, she emptied her glass. “You’re history. Gone, Dr. Malroux.” To think he’d left Boston the next day after the blissful night she’d spent in his arms, and never came back, never called the chubby medical student she’d been then. “No more crazy dreams or heartaches,” she scolded in a strangled groan.

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