Friday, July 29, 2011

A Book for All Seasons

This might seem a little coocoo but I believe some books fit into a season. And I'm not talking about holiday stories. After all, a margarita is yummy in July not January, hot chocolate works in December not August. Books are the same way.

Summertime just calls for the contemporary whether erotic or suspense, a hot alpha male and a sexy heroine enjoying all the great traits about summer. Less clothing, sweat dripping off a man's chest, dousing yourself in water, bodies sticking together. Everyone just trying to find relief. Oh la la summer.

As for autumn, a season when the leaves change color (unless you live down under or California or Hawaii) and you pull out your sweaters. The cool breeze that has a little snap so your skin prickles and curling up in a blanket. That's just perfect for a cozy mysteries, women's fiction, and of course, paranormals as we start to think of Halloween, gifts or talents even sides of yourself to explore on that all hallow night.

Then Jack Frost comes whipping the cold air down from the arctic and ripping the leaves off the branches and draping everything in a frosty gray. Winter is the one season when anything might go because your struggling to stay warm and travel to worlds that would banish the stillness of the winter. Historicals, Western, Regency, Victorian or all the other time periods that whisk you away. With the holidays, you might not be reading much, Hannakah, Christmas, New Year's Eve. There is much to do and perhaps not enough time to read. As for me, I purchase my holiday books, category and single title, however I read them in the new year when the endless winter just drags on and now I have that same holiday feeling through the winter.

However, winter works for the dark paranormal and erotica. When the dangers defrost your blood and gets it pumping with the creatures of these books. And erotica when being in a bed with a hot guy is a nice way to spend a February day.

Ah, then the trees sprout little green shoots, flowers bud and ice melts. And historicals have there fun in the sun. Extravagant fashion, commanding heroes and ladies who are more than their pretty dresses. Having a season, searching for a husband, and the cowboy who rides up on the ranch.

So it starts all over again.

I know crazy, right? You're probably giggling. Truthfully, I'm not rigid in my reading schedule since I'll read a good book no matter the season. But the seasons just help bring the stories alive. We generally pick books to read based on how we feel and seasons affect us. How many of us have said I tired of reading whatever and want to spice it up? I just might be right.

Do you have a sub-genre you like to read during a season? Or even a book that you read every season? Silent Night during the holidays or any others? Please share.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Antidote to Rejection

Rejection sucks more than the vacuum department of a Sears store!

~Bonnie Staring

As happens more often than not in the publishing industry, I received a rejection for a manuscript.

I huffed and puffed and blew around the house for a while. I whined to my ever-patient husband who read the email and pointed out all the nice things.

Then, for the first time, I reached out to my writing gals and pals. Notes dinged into my inbox and across my page offering cabana boys, chocolate, margaritas, and hugs. Empathy and encouragment filled the messages.

Little by little, I was cured of the rejection blues by the kind words of dear friends and cyber friends.

I’m back in the chair with my hands on the keyboard. My skin hasn’t been thickened by rejection, but strenghthened by friendship.

Thanks everybody!

photo credit: Slice of Gateaux by Simon Howden

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How do you feel about the remake of classic fairy tales?

Recently, I read an article about the remake of Snow White with Julia Roberts. Then I saw another article which talked about Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Same movie. No. Last I read, they had not signed Julia Roberts’ Snow White. Kristen Stewart is Charlize Theron’s Snow White.

A while back Red Riding Hood was released by Warner Brothers, and coincidentally directed by Twilight’s Catherine Hardwickle. I have to admit, I was anxious to see this movie, and although I did enjoy the twists: wolf to werewolf, loner boyfriend, surreal dreams, etc., I don’t know how I feel over all about the rewrite of children’s fables into adult stories.

Now, having said that I have to also admit that I am one of those folks that always wondered why the princesses always were in some state of waiting on their heroes to rescue them.

Rapunzel locked away in a tower.

Sleeping Beauty…sleeping.

Snow White…poisoned and waiting.

All of this began to make me wonder what was the real purpose of fairy tales, and which came first the tales for adults or the tales for children.

Wait for it…

Yep, you guessed it…it would seem that in a lot of cases with the fables I researched they were originally intended for adults.

What I didn’t know was that originally not only were the fables for adults, but also had a sort of class association. Women of lower status told the tales to children sort of as teachings. As they became more associated with children inferences of sexual or violent natures were cut from the stories. Although some folks disagreed because they believed it took away the value of “teaching” from the tales. But, as this continued more and more we were left with the versions we have today.

All of it is fascinating to me. I find myself in conflict. A part of me loves the idea of fables that teach children the importance of making certain choices or decisions. Another part of me does not like the overtones: women need men to rescue them, women’s helplessness, etc.

So, why not rewrite them? Then another part of me asks “When do we write something new?”

Honestly, I’m completely confused, but I guess we’ll all find out how folks feel because the battle of the Snow Whites might tell us what we need to know. Will the children or the adults win?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10,000 Sales and Counting!!!

by Terry Spear

Marriage, Las Vegas Style

Ebook By Terry Spear

Published: July 23, 2011
Category: Fiction » Literature » Romance - Contemporary
Category: Fiction » Literature » Romance - Adult
Words: 48015

I self-published for several reasons, but it turned into 10,000 in short order!

1. I was giving away my stories for free in my newsletter and readers wanted to buy them to get them in one book instead of reading them as a serialized read.

2. Fans were asking me to write faster, but I already write fast and have tons of stories ready, or nearly ready, to be published.

3. Some were novellas and my publishers weren't interested in anything that short. Some had already sold, the companies have bitten the dust, and I had the rights back. The epub companies they had been with hadn't sold but maybe a couple of dozen of the stories during a time when ebooks weren't as much in demand.

4. Some were novels that other publishers turned down. I'm never one to start something and not see it through. But after a couple of rejections, I'd set the manuscript aside and figure, the next one will make it. I did this so often, that I have a huge stockpile of books.

5. I'm eclectic, so love to read just about anything, and when I find an author's voice I love, I read everything she or he writes. Some readers are like me and are willing to check out my other works even if they're not about wolves or Highlanders. :)

Lady Caroline and the Egotistical Earl

Ebook By Terry Spear
Published: Jun. 12, 2011
Category: Fiction » Literature » Romance - Paranormal
Category: Fiction » Literature » Romance - Historical
Words: 91825

6. I can't NOT write. I have to write about different stuff as the mood moves me. It's that old saying, "Write the book of your heart." When I do that, I can get it out of my system and continue to write fresh werewolf stories, or fresh Highlander stories without them sounding as if I'm writing the same story over again, just changing the character names. I love my Highlanders and I love my wolves and now my jaguars, but it really helps if I can take a short break and write something else. Or even write something else while I'm working on a longer book and am trying to figure out where to go with it.

7. I hoped that maybe short reads that weren't as expensive might catch new readers' eyes and after giving them a try, they'd check out my other books.

8. I hope that someday I can just write and quit the day job.

9. I love to create new stories and no publisher would publish them as fast as I can write. :)

10. I love being able to write out of the box.

So 10 reasons turned into 10,000 as I uploaded my very first three vampire shorts the last two days of February.

I made 21 sales on Amazon that first day. More than I had made at one of my ebook publishers in the two years they'd had any of the books.

Vampiric Calling Goddess in Training

And the sales would dip and rise daily as I continued to edit books and add them to the growing list of books offered for sale. Until I counted them all up and was shocked to find I had sold 10,000 books already!

One of the reasons I'm self-publishing is that I can. It's like when I was doing embroider work and cross-stitching and quilting and rug-hooking...I had given more than enough to my family members that they couldn't use or want any more. And I began to incorporate that work into original handmade teddy bears that began to win awards. I offered them to the world.

So it is with my writing. I have more than enough stories to share with the world. And now more than ever is the time to do so.

I'm working on revisions to a couple who made a hasty marriage in Las Vegas, and I'm over a quarter way done on writing the new book in the World of Fae series, The Winged Fae. No sense in stopping now!!!

Do you find you have more ideas than you can write???

I have so many partially written books in addition to the fully written books that it makes it fun when I have a break between contracted books to look them over and work on them some more.

Whatever way you go with publishing, never give up! Write to your heart's content and love what you do! Readers will appreciate you for it. :)

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stress as a cure for writer's block

As I've reported the last few months, I'm in the throes of moving. By the time this is published, I hope to be settled in our new home -- "settled" being a relative term, of course. Let me put it this way: I hope the furniture and our clothing has arrived by the time you read this. If not, well, it'll get interesting!

The Move Process has been relatively stress free until the last week. Then we had a glitch with the financing on the new house (resolved in a few hours), a glitch in the closing date & time on the old house (resolved in a few days), a glitch with the processing of the proceeds from the sale (resolved in a day)... you get the idea. Every day, a new stress, a new thing to resolve.

This has wreaked havoc with my writing. I'm still on target to finish my book by the end of summer, but dammit, life has to slow down just a tad. In an odd way, though, I'm finding that this is a great way to write. I leave the book alone for days at a time and barely remember the characters. Then I go back and re-read the last few chapters I wrote, make edits, dig in, and write a new chapter. The book constantly feels fresh and new to me. I'm going to be curious how it works out in the end. Will it hang together?

Only time will tell. But I may learn from this and try this process on my next WIP, once the dust has settled. If it works, then once again I've found the silver lining in my personal little raincloud. And if it doesn't work and it turns out I've written a disjointed mess, then I least I have some words on the page and something to start with.

Lemons/lemonade. That's my motto, and I'm sticking to it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beginning Lines and What They Can Do For a Story

We’ve all been told how important the beginning line is to our stories. I found a list of opening lines of well-known books. Would they be acceptable today? Some of them are quite well done, others…well, I am not so sure.

Writing and reading has changed so much over the years that I ponder what an editor or agent would have said to any of the authors of these classics. Opening lines have always been intriguing to me because I can’t write a decent one to save my life.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” - Rebecca

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” - Madeline

“Call me Ishmael.” – Moby Dick

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice

“Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary” – The Raven

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – A tale of two Cities

“Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife.” – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” – The Old Man of the Sea

“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.” – The Red Badge of Courage

Do you have any favorites? I have always loved the beginning to Rebecca and it calls me back to read the story yet again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Growing a Story

I’ve struggled with my current work in progress, adding layers to the characters, surprise twists, and, hopefully, foreshadowing just enough to hold the reader’s interest without giving away the farm.

The other day I came across a photograph of mine which represented where I am and where I want to be. You all know “Before” and “After” pictures. Here is one which includes both, side by side.

I view these two potted geraniums as stages in a story. The geranium on the left has bare branches. I call them bones––a rough draft––the spine of the story with incomplete elements.

Shall we hop up the weaker plant with a strong dose of fertilizer? Ah, too much too quick and you may kill it. The same applies to my story. I do not rush revisions. Instead, I put the manuscript aside and leave it for awhile, to later read with fresh eyes. I weight my critique partner’s suggestions and comments.

Don’t fool with word choices until you’ve nailed down any structural weaknesses. Of course, you will correct obvious typos or grammar errors when you spot them. Is every scene necessary? Check for redundant thoughts. Typically, revision means ‘to tighten.’ But make sure you retain your voice. Eliminate clichés. Instead strive for something more unique.

There are a hundred different items to consider from passive voice, using concise language to varying sentence structure. You work diligently, your passion shines, and then, lo and behold, the once bony plant sprouts lush growth, an overabundance of life trails out of the confined space.

Voila, all the time and effort has paid off beautifully. Everyone wants to touch those velvet leaves––savor the texture––embrace your well-crafted story.

Certain areas challenge each of us in growing a story. Mine are nailing down my theme. I start with one and then somehow my characters lurch and strain in another direction, wanting to change my theme. Whether this is a weakness or strength depends on the outcome. If the new theme is more compelling than the original perhaps I need to listen to my characters. After all, it is their story.

What part of growing a story challenges you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

That's My Guy!

Bollywood movie stars with heavy eye make-up. The rugged Marlboro man. A courier in Louis XIV's court with a white perfumed wig and lace cuffs. An African hunter with intricate body scars made by rubbing wood ashes into knife cuts.

Astrologers and biologists assert subtle, yet powerful, attractions such as compatibility and pheromones. Culture (and advertising agencies) dictate prevailing standards for attractiveness, but I feel the attraction for a hero should be deeper than his skin tone. My kind of man doesn’t have to have rippled abs or azure eyes.

My eyes might linger on a man with physical beauty, but as soon as he opens his mouth, or fails to hold open the door, I know.

Oh yes, I know.

So what makes a memorable hero? What I find desirable may not be what turns you on, but I like a man who has:

1. intellectual curiosity
2. ethical values
3. above average vocabulary
4. interesting career path
5. honest charm
6. a nice butt
7. lovemaking skills (and the capacity to experiment)
8. dishwashing ability
9. kind eyes
10. used a shower regularly

What traits do you value in your heroes?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Treasure Hunt

Digi Book Cafe Summer Hunt
Prizes: Kindle eReaders

1.Visit the 12 author’s websites listed below and locate the unique word. In each website look for a picture similar to the Digi Books Cafe picture. The picture maybe in the first page or in any page of that website. The hidden Digi Books Cafe picture contains a specific word, such as paranormal, romance, and ebooks. Collect the words and email them to
Put Summer Hunt in the subject of your email. *The unique words are in blue. the words are book related such as paranormal, romance, and ebooks

Here are the twelve participating authors:
Hunt 2 – July 19, 2011 – August 22, 2011

Mona Risk -
Lynne Marshall -
Caroline Clemmons -
Gail MacMillan -
Gini Rifkin -
Hanna Rhys Barnes
J L Wilson –
Kathy Lane -
Laura Kaye –
Linda Banche -
Phyllis DeMarco -
Stacey Joy Netzel -

2.Every purchase at  enters you into the drawing.
To buy Prescription in Russian
Click on search in the upper left corner, it will open an Advanced Search page with a box where you enter the first letter of the title: P
A list of the books starting with P will be displayed.
Prescription in Russian is in the page 3.
Buying this book at DigiBooks Cafe entitled you to be entered in the drawing for a Kindle.

Blurb:  Fyodor Vassilov is a Russian widower, surgeon and officer. Duty demands he provide a mother to his four little boys and marry a woman who loves children and a big family.
  Jillian Burton is an American pediatrician on a mission to improve medical conditions in Belarus. Following a bitter experience, she has lost her illusions about men and marriage.
  When they work together for six months in his hospital, their fascination with one another shocks them both. Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?

Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller.

Night Owl Reviews:  Mona Risk is one of my favorite authors for several reasons. She knows how to pull a reader into the minds of her well-crafted characters and she also makes you want the best for them. Her work also takes me on a journey be it local or overseas. Prescription in Russian is a wonderful read for any contemporary book lover.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cheerleading squad

I heard something a while back that really hit home for me. A woman had lost 300lbs in 3 years by dieting and exercise. What struck me about her transformation was what she said, “In order to succeed at anything, you have to surround yourself with people who understand your vision, and support it.”

There couldn’t be a more truthful statement than that, and it especially goes for writers.

In order to succeed, we do need each other and that cheer squad at your back. We need that support system to find our way through the darkness of rejections, bad contest scores, cruel judges, and the struggle to continue to write. We’ve all met up with that moment, when we’d considered throwing in the towel. To give it all up, and say, “I can’t do this.” I know I have, and had to fight to come back.

I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t have the support of friends and family for my writing. They don’t always understand why I continue to write, after so many rejections, (I could wallpaper my den, and down the hall), but even without always being a part of my writing world, they continue to support me. They see my vision. Maybe not as clearly as I do, but yet, they still see it happening for me. If they don’t, they still are very supportive, and continue to be positive in their statements.

Recently, I met up with a group of old work colleagues for dinner, one of the gal’s asks, “Are you still writing?”

I responded, “Yep, still plugging away at it.”

“OMG, it’s time to give that up. It’s been long enough, and you’re still not published. Obviously, what you’re writing isn’t very good. I mean, anyone can write a book.”

In that moment I knew I wouldn’t see this person again. It was a hurtful statement that really stabbed at me. It gave me pause, for a second, maybe two. People who make remarks like this clearly don’t understand the publishing world, and the difficulties that authors face, and how much we love to write, regardless.

My response, “It’s not about publishing, or the money, it’s about my love for the written word.” I ended the conversation with, “Why don’t you write a book?”

I got no response, she ordered another drink.

The economy, has taken a familiar industry and transformed it into something, I personally never thought I’d see. Midlist authors are being dropped. Sell threw on contracts have gone from 40% to close to 80%. Print runs are much smaller, longtime agents/editors are let go from large publishing agencies and houses. And it’s become harder for traditionally published authors, at least more stressful for them, to hang on.

E-publishing has made a impressive stand against the industry, and self-publishing is now being considered by authors who once turned their nose up at it, ‘as not really being published.’ Everything is changing, what hasn’t changed for me, is my little group of supporters, and the cheer leading squad that I hear in my head occasionally.

Have you ever been faced with quitting?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mona Risk interviews guest author, Stephanie Burkhart

The Crystal Palace home of the Great Exhibition, circa 1851

MONA: I'd like to welcome fellow author and friend, Stephanie Burkhart. Her latest release is a steampunk romance called "Victorian Scoundrel."

STEPH: Thanks for having me, Mona. I always enjoy visiting the ladies here on Voices from the Heart.

MONA: What's steampunk?

STEPH: Generally a steampunk novel is set between 1830-1901 when steam was king. More traditional steampunks are placed in Victorian England, but an author isn't limited to location, just the time frame. You can have the story take place during the American civil war, in Brazil, or even Africa. It's an alternative universe concept that usually contains paranormal elements. Time travel and shifters are the most popular. Steam is the major means of energy and lots of crazy gadgets from goggles to leather and transmogrifiers populate the novel. If you've seen "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, you can get a feel for what steampunk is like.

MONA: What's Victorian Scoundrel about?

STEPH: Edmund Windsor is a son of the Prince of Wales. He feels its his destiny to give Prince Albert a dirigible for the Great Exhibition. Big no-no. His cousin, Alice Windsor (of York) discovers what he's up to and follows him back in time to prevent him from striking up his unique brand of mischief. Once back in time, Alice meets Earl Swinton, Grayson Kentfield and strikes up some mischief of her own.

MONA: How long did it take you to write?

STEPH: 3 months including my research and since I never tackled a steampunk before, my research took a little longer than my usual projects.

MONA: Why write a steampunk now?

STEPH: It's a hot new genre that interests people. I liked it because it really stimulated my imagination and creativity. Not only that, I have a fond love of time travel.

MONA: What kind of gadgets can we find in Victorian Scoundrel?

STEPH: I've got steam run grandfather clocks, datamancers, (very early computers that focus on calculating odds and determining number values) dirigibles, dresses, and whuzzies. Did I mention there's a crazy guy named Ridgecroft who wears goggles and owns a transmogrifier? – wink-

MONA: Where did you draw inspiration for your characters?

STEPH: My inspiration comes from two different sources which I blend together to make my characters. For Alice, my inspiration is HRH Beatrice of York and Mena Survari. For Edmund, it's HRH Henry of Wales and Robert Pattinson. Alice and Beatrice have something in common. Anyone who can guess what it is I'll send you and autographed postcard of the cover and I'll pick a winner to receive a $5.00 GC to Amazon.

MONA: What do you want readers to take away after reading the novel?

STEPH: I hope they enjoyed the story and had fun. I want them to feel like they were on a fly on the wall in Alice's bedroom.

MONA: Can you share an excerpt and buy links?

STEPH: Sure. I'm also having a giveaway. Post a comment with a question for me about steampunk, or the story, and I'll choose a winner to receive a coffee mug with the cover filled with goodies. I'll announce the winner on 18 JULY.

It's 2011 and compressed natural gas has taken over form the coal producing steam machines of the Victorian Age. Alice Windsor, Princess of York, follows her mischief-making cousin, Prince Edmund of Wales back to the past and 1851 where Prince Albert is hosting Britain's Great Exhibition.

Alice soon discovers Edmund has struck up a friendship with their great-grandfather, Prince Albert, and his mischief making entails leaving a dinosaur-sized footprint in history. She also meets Grayson Kentfield, Earl Swinton, and the Prime Minister, Sir John Russell. The Prime Minster finds her odd, to say the least.

It's only when Alice falls for the handsome Earl Swinton does she realize the dangers of time travel. How can she give her heart to a man from the past while striving to stop Edmund from changing time with his forward thinking ideas?





REVIEWS: 5 Stars, Readers Favorites, Molly E: I have never read a Steam Punk novel before, but because of her fantastic writing, her engaging plot line, and fun loving characters, it will NOT be the last. I highly recommend this with highest of 5 stars, and I can't wait until the second Windsor Diaries installment releases!

5 Stars, Tami Dee, Author of the Mists of Time Series: Stephanie Burkhart has a fresh, quick, quirky, inventive imagination and she gives the readers of Victorian Scoundrel a delightful mixture of all of the above!


Grayson escorted her to a door on the right, threw it open, and put his hand on her waist, guiding her inside. A gas lamp burned on a nearby table, throwing stark, deep shadows into the room.

Her determined man shut the door and pinned her against it. He plucked her glasses from her face and threw them onto the table with the gas lamp. Then he pinned her against the door, placing his hands on the door next to her arms. His breathing was erratic. The light from the lamp cast dark shadows over his chiseled features.


He stepped closer and lowered his hands, placing one on her waist. Heat spiked within her and settled low in her abdomen. His hazel eyes burned with desire. He drew in a deep breath and raised his forefinger, tracing her lips. Alice closed her eyes, but only briefly, savoring the gentle touch of his finger.

"You do wild things to my heart, sweet Alice," he finally whispered. His finger traced her cheeks, then her jaw.

She grew hot, yearning for more. Her senses spun from his sensual touch. She could hardly breathe. "Me?"

"Yes, you."
"What do I do to your heart?"

"You make it beat hard -- fast." He ran his finger down the side of her neck and traced the 'v' in her throat.

Alice met the raging inferno in his eyes and nipped at her lower lip with her teeth. "Is that all I do?"

He issued a low, deep groan from his throat and leaned forward. Their lips searched for each other, teasing, until finally they meshed into a heat-searing kiss.

Alice completely lost her head. His lips were hard, firm, staking his claim. His hands went to her waist as his long, lean body pressed against her. She placed her hands on his shoulders and glided her fingertips around the nape of his neck. She wanted this man. Etiquette and propriety be damned. Victorian values wafted to the floor. She wanted to feel every inch of him that she could. His lips trailed over her jaw, kissing the side of her neck.

"Oh, Gray..." she moaned, her flesh now highly sensitized to his touch.

She had never been kissed like this.

He lifted his head; his mouth overtook hers once again. Her stomach fluttered. If it wasn't for him leaning into her, giving her support, her knees would have buckled. Need. Want. Desire. They pulsed through her.

His tongue teased her lips, coaxing her to receive him. She gave in.

Their tongues mingled, exploring, tempting, teasing. Raging flames consumed her body. There was only Grayson and her. Here. Now.

Grayson broke free, gasping for breath, as did Alice. His hands cupped her face. "I have to stop."

"All... all right."

His thumbs stroked her jaw. "You fascinate me, Alice."

A deep smile graced her lips. "Completely?"


"You kiss like a demon possessed, Grayson."

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. She previously served 11 years in the US Army from 1986-1997. She lives in California and has two children, 9 and 4.

Friday, July 15, 2011

THE HOLY PLACE by Rolynn Anderson

What is the ‘holy place’ on a boat, you ask?

My husband and I are on our first cruise to Alaska in our 42 foot trawler, INTEPID. As we explore the fabulous Inside Passage, we pay special attention to our boat’s ‘holy place.’

The helm, you think? That is certainly the place of power on a boat, where the turn of the wheel helps us take the next enormous wave at a 45 degree angle instead of straight on or sideways. Lots of praying goes on at the helm, for sure, when the seas climb higher than our boat and push us in directions we don’t want to go

Second guess for the holy place? Maybe the galley (kitchen), where the cook must magically make meals out of limited ingredients, none of which are fresh (stores in the Alaskan hinterlands are woefully understocked…if we don’t grow our own lettuce on board, we’re eating frozen vegetables every meal). Food is important on a boat, but the fare is pretty basic. No, the galley, a cramped space, is far from holy.

The head (toilet). Excellent choice. Seriously, if a boat’s head gets plugged the trip sours immediately. We have two heads (better than one…sorry, couldn’t resist) on INTREPID. One is a fancy flusher, but the other is an old-fashioned hand-pumper. Guess which one fails most often. Yup, the complicated one. No question, functioning heads are sacred, but it’s hard to call them holy.

The REAL holy place is the engine room. Our trawler comes with only one engine. Do the math. If our big red Ford Lehman 235 quits on us, we have no spare to call upon. We’re dead in the water, afloat, adrift…in deep trouble. If the seas are troubled and we’ve got wind to contend with, no engine means a May Day call.

Recently, when my husband and I cleaned the holy place, shining the engine, sopping up oil, scrubbing the bilge and neatening up the stored items, we did so with care. Our engine gets a full tank of gas with additives, oil, water and spanking new belts whenever it wants them.

Yes, all that is holy on a boat centers on the engine. No need to pray for us on this long, amazing cruise, but please, do bless our sainted Ford Lehman.

Order LAST RESORT, a suspense/romance:
The Wild Rose Press

and Amazon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Celebrating a win

This month my blog entry is a celebration. For the second time I've won the FF&P Prism award for best Erotic paranormal book. My book Bad Dog and the Babe, a take-off on Lady and the Tramp, where a lady shifter teams up with a "bad dog" werewolf in Los Angeles to investigate the disappearance of her young sister and her boyfriend.

This is a picture of the award which is an engraved crystal pyramid. Because it is transparent it takes some doing to get a good image of it, but my hubby managed to get this one.

Obviously I'm very proud of the win, but really I was just happy to final in this contest. It is always nice to have your work recognized by your peers.

Of course coming home with a shiny trophy is also pretty cool. 

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Self Promotion

Being a newbie to the world of publishing with my first book under contract scheduled to be released in January, 2012, many questions filter through my mind as to what needs to be done next.

Web site set up, check. Create a presence with social media, facebook, twitter, etc., check. Network with other writers, check. What else is there to be done?

As I start this process of self-promotion for my book it's overwhelming. Do people really throw book launching parties? Press releases? How do you set up book signings?

As I am writing this I receive an email regarding a blog at Romance University regarding the transition from unpublished to published author. What's the main thing a new writer needs? Patience. It's a waiting game and during that waiting period the best thing to do is, yes, keep up your social presence, but more importantly keep writing that next book, plot out the one after that. Keep ideas flowing.

So let's hear all the ideas out there on self-promoting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Researching Romantic Suspense

Today is my first blog post here at Voices From the Heart. I am very excited to be a part of such a great group. I look forward to exploring the world of writing, reading and life with all of you and expect to have a lot of fun along the way. Look for me on the 11th of every month. Now here goes:

Before writing paranormal romance, I wrote romantic suspense. My first novel with Samhain Publishing, Dark Waters, is a sensual romantic suspense set in Puerto Rico. My hero is an ICE agent.

A what agent? ICE? Does he track down ice cubes for a living? No, but you might need some after you read one of the love scenes. ;)

ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At the time I wrote the story most people hadn’t heard of ICE. Nowadays, you can flip on any TV station and hear about them protecting the border, stopping drug traffickers or rescuing illegal border crossers being smuggled into the U.S. in overcrowded, suffocatingly hot truck trailers.

As happens with many writers, I got an idea in my head and wanted to tell Frankie and Rico's story.

But even when I started to write the story I knew very little about ICE.

Research was the key to creating a credible hero and a story that was plausible.

So I had to do a lot of digging. It took time, energy, a lot of web surfing, making phone calls to ICE agents and calling up family members to track down an actual ICE agent.

I got FBI, ATF, TSA, and NYPD detectives, but no ICE agents. I finally had to call the main office in Washington D.C. I did get one special agent in charge but he could only give me the basics--his superior shut down talks for more details. :(

But that was okay. I was hooked and determined to do my homework.

I went to the ICE website. At that time it had limited information as it was so new.

Then I spoke to an FBI agent who was able to clarify small bits of information about the job and some of the things all agents share in common.

Once, I had all my facts, I was able to plug them in here and there into the story to make it more genuine. Now, I didn't use every fact because my story was a love story not an ICE handbook.

As I begin to ponder the next installment (way overdue) for the second in the ICE Files series, I am back to doing the research. This time I want to delve more into the Puerto Rican culture and the way law enforcement is viewed on the island.

I am lucky enough to have family and friends who either grew up in Puerto Rico or visit every year to help me write a more authentic book. I find firsthand information really adds to the flavor of a story and provides a more personal touch.

Also, I am gathering my information via the Internet and books from the library.

Research takes time but is well worth it and in the long run makes for a better book.

I would really love to know, what was the most interesting fact you learned from doing research? Anything shocking, cool or just plain weird?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dave Barry-- Sex and fruit flies

Hi everyone,
It's the 8th of the month,and it's time to share another hilarious Dave Barry excerpt--this one on sex and fruit flies. Hope you enjoy!

"Despite several million years of thinking virtually nonstop about sex, guys have made very little progress toward answering such basic questions about human sexuality as: How can you obtain more of it? How much talking is required? What is the role of jewelry? How important is the size of a guy's, um, car? For guys, these are uncharted waters. That's why I am so pleased by a recent Reuters article concerning research being done by scientists at Stanford University into the sex life of fruit flies. This research is significant because fruit flies have many biological similarities to humans. For example, both species eat fruit. The list goes on and on."

Me again: Are there any other similarities between males and fruit flies? :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Waiting—So Hard To Do

We've been in the market for a new home since leaving New Jersey three years ago. We lean toward the unique, which tends to narrow our options when realtors push house farms with clone homes. So when we recently found what for us is a truly special house and property, we placed a bid. Now we wait.


As an aspiring author, I do a lot of waiting.

Waiting to hear from my critique group. Did they like my posted excerpt?

Waiting to hear about a contest's results. If, per chance, I final…

Waiting to hear the placement given by the final round agent/editor judge. Will they like my writing? Will they request a submission?

Waiting to hear if a sent query letter results in a request for more. If the request comes…

Waiting to hear from an agent or editor after sending a requested partial submission. Will they want to read more?

Waiting after sending a requested full submission. Will they want to purchase my story?

I doubt the waiting ends once the story is published.

Waiting can drive a writer crazy. I try to funnel the accompanying antsy sensation into a positive and work on another project. I'm not always successful.

Anticipation. Does it boost your energy and productivity or does it drag you down and cause you to procrastinate?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jura Mountains in France

I would like to share with you some of the lovely places I visited recently when I vacationed in the Jura Mountains in France. The Jura is a department in the East of France that runs right up to the Swiss border. It is part of the Region of France known as Franche Comte and is renowned for its rivers, waterfalls, caves and the mountainous (or I would say hilly) landscape. There are also many sunny slopes covered in grape vines. (Immediately to the West of the region lies Burgundy.)

Historically the area is important for salt production from underground deposits and I visited the salt work at Salins Le Bains a few miles from where I stayed. Not the most fascinating subject you might think, but it was surprisingly interesting.

I also visited the Royal Salt Works 20 kilometers away. From Salins, they piped the salty water in pipes made of hollowed out trees to this impressive Victorian edifice.

The region has been dry recently, so the waterfalls were not at their best, but this one near where we stayed was pretty.

We also visited some the source of the River Loue and the River Lison. These rivers emerge fully formed from caves in the rock and are very impressive. This came as a surprise to me as the river sources I’ve seen near my home in England are springs that bubble up in boggy ground and start with a trickle of water, gathering strength as they flow toward the sea.

The Jura Mountains are not really mountains but big hills, and at the top are wonderful areas of high wild flower meadows full of butterflys and birds. Throughout the area are ancient picturesque villages. A truly beautiful part of the world!