Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene and the Writer

Living in New York City usually has people sighing and wishing they lived here.  I hear that a lot.  Me, I never cared for the city and more so now that Irene plans to whirl in for a visit. However this hurricane reminds me of writing a novel.


The first blow of an idea from the far recesses of our mind collides with another stream of ideas.  That's the first nugget of an idea that as it builds momentum forming characters and plot.  Scenes spiral up, building up the book.  As it nears land, the idea has turned into something bigger with a force all it's own. 
Then it strikes land (or our case a computer) and the actual planting your behind in a chair and writing.  Sometimes, you can blow right over, causing a frenzy and the words falling from your fingertips.  And other times, you're stuck in the same place and being destructive.  The words never come and you're dumping junk on the page. 

Then your path diverts, characters shift the plot or a new conflict pulls in a new direction. So now, the storm of an idea has rebuilt, streamed by these new factors.  Now your keyboard is burning from you slapping down the story. Your family is dealing with less than stellar dinners, the laundry has piled up and the dust bunnies are reproducing with their rabbit speed. So sad about the wake of destruction.

Then comes the end where the storm falls apart breaking into nothing. Now starts the clean up, editing.  You trash the debris, fix the damage and after some time and elbow grease, you have a novel.

So while Irene whips up a frenzy, I plan to be writing and causing some problems for my characters.  I hope everyone stays safe whether Irene is coming your way or not. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The D in my DH

Three dear friends are coming to stay next weekend. They're bringing along their writerly muses for an extended brainstorming session. It’s going to be so much fun. Naturally, good food is also on the agenda. I have a recipe for a fancy fruit pie that I wanted to refine and bake up my for gal pals.

Test-kitchen day arrives and I go looking for the recipe. There is only one hardcopy version, much revised and speckled with rejected ingredients. Now, my usual place for recipes under construction is tucked inside the front cover of my well-loved Baking with Julia.

My recipe wasn’t there.

Unflustered, I checked my desk where I might have laid it to be typed up, backed up, and stored forever. No such luck. I checked my briefcase where I might have tucked it to give to a friend. Still no luck. Panic nudged the corners of my mind. Unusual places were searched; my nightstand, my piano books, my sewing box. Nothing.

Desperate and panicky, I asked my dear husband (DH). He saw nothing, knew nothing. Of course.

Now, I began looking in absurd places; the recycling bin, the ashes in the woodstove, the bottom of the birdcage. Okay, I don’t have a pet canary, but you get the idea.

After three days of futile attempts, I find the Lost Recipe. Where?

Jammed into the manual for the motorboat, marking the page for the setting of sparkplug gaps. The manual which the DH had referenced the day the recipe disappeared. It’s a good thing he was in the room at the time of discovery or accusations would have been tossed about like confetti. Apparently he’d been doing his version of “tidying up.”

Sometimes the D in DH does not stand for dear.

© Joan Leacott 2011, x-posted at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where do you draw the line?

We've all been told, "If you want to do something, just do it." At least, I know I have, and I've said it to others quite a few times. So, after many years of scribbling away for my own pleasure, I took that plunge, but agent after agent, publisher after publisher, my rejection letters piled up.

Then, finally, I received a big fat yes. I took that yes, and saw my first book come to life and moved on from there. I could actually tell people I was a published author!

But, when I told people I was a published author, they ask “Where can I buy your book?” Proudly, I said “Amazon, All Romance eBooks, my publishers’ websites.” They often responded “Can I buy it in a bookstore?” Before my short story, My Son, was released in print, my answer to their last question would be no. Because all of my stories were available only in eBook format.

This, instantly, changed the tone of our whole conversation. At that moment, their body language and questions cued me that they see authors who are electronically published differently from authors who are published through New York houses.

Avon has Avon Impulse, Harlequin has Carina Press, and of course there is Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, my own publishers: Red Rose Publishing and Vanilla Heart Publishing, and so many others.

According to TechCrunch, Amazon Kindle sales have eclipsed both hardcover and paperback sales. The NY Times recently reported that 180 Kindle books were sold to every 100 hardcover copies. The author continues to quote Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, who predicts that fewer than 25 percent of all books sold will be in print in less than 10 years.

Due to devices like Kindle, Nook, Sony eReader, iPad, and more The Los Angeles Times writes that in 2011, total eBook sales are expected to reach $1 billion!

But, still, today people do draw an invisible line of distinction between authors published through the different venues. And I have to admit before I was published by an epublisher, I probably drew the same line. Asked the same questions. Do epublishers have good editors, cover art, who will buy it, how will they know it’s available? I quickly found out that the answer to all of these questions and more was, yes. And they'll know it's available because they're looking for it, and you and your publisher promote it.

Epubbed authors have led me to cyber conferences, which have taught me to pitch, and as a result, I’ve had two short stories, and two novellas published by epublishers.

Through groups like RWA’s Electronic and Small Press Authors’ Network, authors are able to network and educate others about epublished books. Hopefully, through authors networking and pressing forward, it will open up more opportunities for readers to be exposed to rich new stories told through voices that may not have otherwise been able to tell them because they were too “different” or just didn’t “fit.”

Do you draw a line between epublished, small press, and New York published authors? Why?

(This is an update of a previously written blog post.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Changing Book Covers & Selling Your Novel Idea

Mexia has already done much more than most school- trained mages when she and her companions had gone in search of the scepter of salvation. But now one of the apprentices of the evil wizard they had destroyed, has stolen his spell book and plans to take up where he had left off, and she has to try and stop him.

Mexia believes the only way for her to defeat the mage is to become school trained like he was with the eventual goal of becoming a high wizard--the first of her kind in Inherian. But the current headmaster denies her entrance because she's a woman. Though if she can get the former headmaster's recommendation, she may attend.

And that's the beginning of the trouble.

First, there's the wizard.
Then, the immovable headmaster.
And then, the circle of misfortunes.
It all goes downhill from there...

One of the fun things about Indie publishing is that we can change the cover if we want, and I've wanted to do this for a long time, so what do you all think? Top one is the new cover, the bottom is the old cover...

I've also reduced the price for a short time from $4.99 for an 85,000-word novel to $2.99!

Now I just need to come up with a new cover for Scepter of Salvation!

B & N

Cover for 'The Magic of Inherian: The Mage of Monrovia, Book 2'

And here is the other book, book 1 that I changed the cover for:

Princess Talamaya turned 18 in the human kingdom of Damar, just like her twin brother. Only when she comes of age, she must wed the king's choice. When her brother comes of age, he's allowed to sit on the council. But everything changes when a wizard pits beast and man against each other in Inherian--all because of the loss of the Scepter of Salvation and she must return it to their kingdom.

Princess Talamaya and her friends, Lady Kersta and Lady Mexia, must retrieve the Scepter of Salvation when her brother is poisoned.Visions plague Talamaya of a world beyond her own, of a destiny she has to fulfill.

But the barbarian king is also after the scepter, and the black-hearted wizard who is trying to gain control will do anything to keep them from retrieving it.

She must free a knight from his madness.
Help a female dwarf escape from the dwarven mines.
Aid an Amazon fighting the Dark Elves.
Rescue even the barbarian king.
Save a crusty old dwarf from the wolves of Elan Pass.
And outwit the dark wizard once more.
Above all else, she must always take the path of righteousness.
Which is much easier said than done.

Here is the old cover!
The Magic of Inherian: Scepter of Salvation, Book 1

Scepter of Salvation

What do you all think?

And here's the new movie trailer I made for The Dark Fae:

I haven't made a book trailer in quite a while, mainly because they take so long--this one took 7 hours! But they're lots of fun to make and I hope readers enjoy watching them!

I still need to make one for Heart of the Highland Wolf!

The Dark Fae

Alicia has planned a vacation at South Padre Island with her girlfriend Cassie in forever. But just as they're enjoying a day on the beach, here comes a dark fae to spoil their holiday, except only she can see what he truly is. Alicia has no idea how upside down her world can turn with a chance meeting with one of the dark fae from the royal house of the Denkar.

Alicia's always known she's different--that she can recognize the mischievous fae when they show up to "play" with the humans. Only now she's faced with one highly annoyed dark fae and she's certain he knows the truth about her. She can see him, which means her life is forfeit.

Add to that, his sister arrives, who wants to play, too. And their mother, the queen of the Denkar, will want Alicia's head, once she learns what Alicia can do.

And all because Alicia was attempting to rescue her friend, Cassie, on their beach excursion at South Padre Island, from the wicked fae. Now, Alicia has really gone and done it--and she's thinking she should have let the fae have his fun. Her friend's broken heart would be a lot easier to deal with, than Alicia losing her life.

But it is too late for regrets. As soon as she threw the soda at the dark fae's chest, she had declared war on the fae. And he is happy to take up the challenge.

So what do you all think? Was it worth all the time it took to make it, or should I have just spent the time writing???

I'm also working on the very final edits on A GHOST OF A CHANCE AT LOVE and the book is due out in September!

Terry Spear, Author of Scottish Medieval Romance & Urban Fantasy

Upcoming Releases

Home | Marriage in the Works | Heart of the Highland Wolf | Fantasy--Young Adult | Short Stories, Paranormal & Others | Romantic Suspense | Teen Books | All Things Scottish | Werewolf Series | Upcoming Releases | New Releases! | 2011 Online Writing Workshops | 2012 Online Writing Workshops | Vampire Romantic Suspense | Historical Romance | Lady Caroline and the Egotistical Earl | About Me | Favorite Links | Wolf Fever | Winning the Highlander's Heart


Email to send an SASE for book marks!

terry spear @ ymail. com

Just leave out the spaces before you email! :)


Wolf Books 11, 12, and 13!


And a New Jaguar Shifter Series:


and two other titles.

The Winged Fae (Book 3, World of Fae)
Coming September

Serena, a royal member of the Mabara winged fae, has one goal in mind. Stop an impending marriage with a dark fae. As the fae are known to do, she stirs up trouble that she hopes will make her point and get her off the hook. Only nothing goes as she plans.

Herlenkis, a royal member of the Denkar, aka the dark fae, is visiting South Padre Island when he catches a winged fae painting graffiti on a wall on the island claimed by his people. He is at once fascinated with the lovely girl and intrigued by her audacity, but as one of the Denkar, he must take her to task. Yet she's armed with a sleeping potion that makes his life intolerable. Between freeing her from his people's dungeon, her own tower, and fighting a knight in her honor, he wonders if he's lost his mind over one beautiful winged fae--when she's betrothed to his cousin!

Time travel western romance.

Vinspire Romance

Release date moved up from December to September!

The past clashes with the present, and one woman finds herself fighting for her own identity in the past so that she can have a future with the man she loves--but with her ancestor's hold over her--Lisa Welsh and Jack Stanton only have a ghost of a chance at love.

Lisa Welsh only wishes to leave a messy divorce behind for a couple of days stay in Salado, Texas, but wakes to nightmares and a cowboy in her bed, and she has no earthly idea how he got there. But the situation gets worse when she wakes in the morning and learns she’s living in 19th Century Salado. Even more worrisome is the tall dark stranger and everyone else in town believes she’s some woman named Josephine Rogers. Only she’s supposed to be dead.

Jack Stanton can’t believe the clerk gave him an occupied room at the Shady Villa Inn, but worse, he was ready to ravage the woman in that bed—until he realized his mistake. Now the woman he thinks is Josephine, claims to be some other woman—and though he could never abide by Josephine’s fickle ways, this Lisa Welsh intrigues him like no other. Still, everybody in town believes her to be Josephine, and he steps in to help her find her way back home.

Murder, mystery, ties to family roots in the past, embezzlement and murder in the present, and a man she can’t get off her mind no matter what century it is, Lisa has no choice. She must solve the mysteries and face the troubles in her world and Jack’s or they will never be free to share the love that binds them across the ages.

And, a mention about DREAMING OF THE WOLF and the cover of HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF will be in October's issue of WOMAN'S WORLD!!!

Also, I'm at Book of Secrets with more brilliant words of wisdom. Ahem. Yeah. So if you want to drop by and comment, chance at a free book giveaway!

Have a super Friday!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What moving has taught me

We just completed a move to a new state: new to my husband, but home to me since I grew up not far from our new house.

What did I learn during the move?

1. You can throw a LOT more than you think. I thought I had weeded out greatly before the move. Nope. We still took 3 carloads to the Goodwill AFTER we moved.

2. Something will be lost. I can't find my egg timer or my favorite measuring cup. They should have been in the Box of Miscellaneous Kitchen Stuff. I suspect they'll turn up in the Christmas decorations or something. They aren't truly Lost. They just haven't been found yet.

3. Hire it done. We had great movers (thanks, Allied Van Lines) who went the extra mile to make sure our move was done right. They did it all in disgustingly hot weather and they did it with a smile. Great company!

4. Once you move in: hire it done. How many "it'll just take 10 minutes" projects has my husband undertaken, only to find, 5 hours later, that he didn't have the right part or the right tool. We've decided: anything that has to get done NOW will be done by a pro, even though DH might be able to do it. That way, his precious free time isn't sucked up by cursing because the lighting kit didn't come with all parts needed.

5. Take time to have some fun. We took a break the week after our move and went to a play at the local theater. It was so nice to get away from boxes and disarray. It gave us some energy to tackle the rest of the unpacking.

6. Don't forget why you moved. We've had dinner with family and friends since we moved. That's why we did it -- to be closer to them and to have a more relaxed style of life. No commuting (I'm telecommuting now), a different, slower-paced place.

7. Hope for the best, but ... The buyer of our old house is now angry that she had a superficial home inspection and problems have cropped up --- problems we knew nothing about when we sold the house. We've had to hire a lawyer to make sure her buyer's remorse doesn't affect us badly. Sigh. We were so happy to have found a buyer who seemed to appreciate an older home (70 year old house). Turns out she had different expectations. So I guess the moral is: expect a bit of rain on your parade. Just hope it won't drown out the fun!

Now it's time for me to get a new schedule for my writing and get going on finishing that latest book. I'm looking forward to using my new office, my new home, and getting acquainted with my new town.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Full Dimension

I’m about to type ‘The End’ again. This is the third time I’ve reached this milestone on this story, my fourth manuscript. The first attempt was so close to being finished, I was glowing with anticipation of sending it out. My critique partners had been busy with life and hadn’t had time to read my chapters for a while, so I kept on writing. As I started that final chapter, my CP finally had the time to do a quick read to see how the plot was going. Not so good – she told me I needed to start over and put conflict into my work. I was devastated. “But, I have conflict,” I protested loudly. “Not enough,” she answered.

I was overwhelmed on how I could do this? The task seemed insurmountable. How could I go back and rewrite this story? Right from the beginning, I had known what would happen, when and how. I sat in front of my computer for days (well, maybe it was weeks) trying to figure out how to rewrite the plot with more conflict. Nothing happened. I couldn’t do it. I put the pages away and made quilts, repainted a room and avoided writing. Avoidance is an easy thing, but after a while it wasn’t working for me anymore. I pulled out my standby, my inspiration that never failed me. I put my Phantom of the Opera DVD into the player and watched it twice. My muse started taking interest in changing their habits, reworking their story and accepting that conflict would have to be faced if we were ever to get their story told.

The first thing I did was (shudder) delete. Some of the chapters in the beginning were fine, but as I edged toward the end, I started seeing the story in a different light. Yes, if I changed this here and made my hero or heroine miserable there, it might just work. It got so easy to toss problems and horrible situations in their paths that one of my friends told me the only thing I hadn’t put my hero through was tossing the kitchen sink at him. (Hmmm, no, I just couldn’t do that to the poor hero, too. He was, after all, quite a charmer and needed a break.)

The second time I was close to finishing, I didn’t like where the ending was going. Somewhere along my writing journey, my craft skills caught on. I finally figured out how deep POV could really add a lot (my online teacher will no doubt still question that I figured it out enough) but I went back a third time and added ‘why’ to my characters’ actions. I had spent enough time with them that I knew why they acted in certain ways and what would work to make them ‘perfect’ together. As I entered those final two scenes, my stomach clenched and tied in knots. I really cared about my hero and heroine. I not only wanted them happy, but I had to find a way to give the villain one redeeming quality. After all, he was the hero’s brother. I am happy now. I believe I have added that conflict and found the way to show my characters in full dimension, bringing them full circle and letting them step into that ‘happily ever after’ realm.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing goals and rewards

For the first time in my writing journey I listed my goals and shared them with my critique partner. In January 2011 they weren’t overly ambitious. Or so I thought. Now September is fast approaching, and I’ve finished only two of the five. One of the remaining three is critical to my success as an author.

Sometime during this past spring I derailed. I didn’t meet the most important goal on my list, my stated minimum of writing one hour every day. Final editing my first manuscript was much more time-consuming than I expected. Authors who complete two or even three novel-length stories every year amaze me.

I attached a reward to my write-an-hour-every-day goal. Each week I reached that goal I’d have a fun lunch out. Well, those have been few and far between.

In my desperation I’ve considered the opposite of a carrot (reward) and, instead, thought about the stick. Maybe I should try reverse psychology and punish myself if I don’t meet my daily writing goal. Shall I go to the gym and work out an additional hour, sweating and cursing myself? Would that motivate me? Perhaps my lack of discipline comes from a comfortable life style. Money needs are a sure motivator but I’m not ready to go broke to find out if that works for me.

My husband and I are retired, and I feel a little guilt if I don’t spend a few hours every day with him. After all, he’s the man who worked decades to make sure we’d be secure in our later years. I worked, too, but primarily part-time.

I did reward myself for diligently pursuing my query goal with manuscript #1. My husband and I went to Yosemite this past week. Our last visit was in 1996. You forget the majesty of this awe-inspiring valley until you set eyes upon it. Here is my best photograph, one I want to use on my desktop. This picture will be a daily reminder to focus on my number one task. No email or Yahoo loop checks until I write a minimum of one hour, filling pages with raw words.

I’d like to hear how you reward yourself when you reach a set goal. Does anyone use punishment or delaying a specific want as a motivator?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Theme, Plot and Conflict

A novel needs setting, characters, theme, and plot. From what I’ve seen, setting and characters come more easily to romance authors. Plot seems to be more work. Pantsers evolve their plots as they write. Plotters pre-plan their story arcs in a strict or fluid format. Either way, the goal is to end up with a sound and satisfying plot.

Plot is driven by conflict, whether the story is aliens versus humans (Independence Day), or a man changing because of a woman (Pretty Woman). Conflict has been defined as the simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires or tendencies.

A plot is a series of conflicts and failures that involve the main characters and escalate until she/he changes, triumphs, or fails completely.

Writing sage Donald Maas advises, “Get into your conflict as soon as you can. Milk it for all its worth—lots of parries, lots of thrusts. You can start out quietly, if that makes sense, and build into a more heated exchange. Or you can rise immediately to battle pitch and stay there. Have your viewpoint character try several tacks but get nowhere in terms of achieving his or her {immediate} goal. Finally, when you’ve played out the conflict long enough that you feel you’ve exploited its full dramatic potential, move to the failure….a splash of cold water in your viewpoint character’s face, a slap—wham!.

Outer forces can keep the hero and heroine apart, but romances often emphasize the inner conflicts that arise in the main characters’ lives as they deal with outer missteps and complications.

Story themes are easy to grab out of real life. Every day women deal with issues involving their spouses and lovers, their jobs, and their children. Their in-laws, neighbors, and elected officials, etc.

Finding and keeping love can be hard work. Partners can hold different values and strong opinions. Some of these can be patterned from childhood; some are acquired during early adulthood; others reside deep inside our cores and are unshakeable.

So is how your partner spends money, deals with children, allocates time for work and family. There can be subtle retributions or revenges. Loss of intimacy. Threats. Divorce. Conflict.

Open communication between people of all ages and persuasions is a challenge to achieve. Children can shout that they hate their parents, cry that they are misunderstood. They can play parents against each other. They have needs that command attention NOW, forcing a choice between laundry and sleep. If a husband expects an ironed shirt at 6 am, and sleep was the unintended choice, there will be a conflict.

People lose jobs. Lose hope. Die prematurely. Any of these potentially set up long-term conflict in the lives of the survivors. Especially if there is a lot of money in the will.

No conflict, no plot. No plot, no sellable story.

Where do you get your story themes?

What do you focus on? Inner or outer plot conflicts?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shape-shifters in Mythology

Today shape-shifters, werewolves, and others are a big hit in romances. While doing intensive research for my paranormal fantasy set in mythological Egypt, I discovered that the concept of shape shifters is as old as the world and often associated with Romance.

In Greek Mythology, the god of gods, Zeus seduced many pretty women, but he had to switch to bull or shift his lovers to swan, or heifer, or other animals to protect her from his jealous wife Hera.

In the Egyptian Mythology, the gods use their shape-shifting power to perform their duties, attack enemies or defend followers. Let me introduce to some of the shape-shifter gods who play a direct role in my paranormal fantasy: OSIRIS’ MISSING PART, based on the myth of Isis and Osiris.

Isis was the goddess of family and health, and the most beautiful goddess in the pantheon. Her crown was decorated with the horns of a cow, encasing a solar disk between the horns. Sometimes she was represented as a cow, or a woman with a cow's head. Isis, wanted a son and spent years hoping that the handsome Osiris would stop flirting and propose to her.

Osiris, the god of knowledge, work and agriculture, was probably the only Egyptian god who never shifted to another form. His subjects adored him because of his kindness. With his Atef cone over his hand, his scepter and a key of life in his hands, he was so handsome that women and goddesses alike fell in love with him.

Seth, Osiris’ hateful brother, threw iniquities on the Egyptian people who called him god of storm and darkness. Seth usually wore a red mantle to match his red hair and eyes. Because of him, Egyptians considered the bright red to be a color of evil. Osiris’ brother was often represented with a human body and jackal’s head. He could switch to a black pig or hippopotamus, or even to a crocodile or a shark, as when he tried to capture Isis underwater in the Red Sea.

Nephtys, Seth’s wife, is a protective goddess who symbolizes the death experience. In the funerary role, Nephthys often was depicted as a bird of prey called a kite, or as a woman with falcon wings, usually outstretched as a symbol of protection. Nephthys' association with the kite or the Egyptian hawk (and its piercing, mournful cries) evidently reminded the ancients of the lamentations usually offered for the dead by wailing women.

 Anubis, believed to be the son of Nephthys and Seth, was associated with the mummification and protection of the dead for their journey into the Afterlife. He was usually portrayed as a half human, half jackal, or in full jackal form wearing a ribbon and holding a flail in the crook of its arm.

Nut, mother of Isis, was the goddess of the sky. She spent hours bending over the earth or reading the star constellations to decipher the future and wisely explain the world plans.

Sobeck, the crocodile god, protected the justified dead in the netherworld, restoring their sight and reviving their senses, but he often ate their insides before mummifying their bodies. Because of his ferocity, he was considered to be the patron of the army.

Everyone hated the ferocious Kismet, also called Sekhmet. The goddess of destruction had a statuesque woman body and a lioness head adorned with the solar disc and a cobra. Her hatchet man, Nekhoret the vulture, helped her in her attacks.

Min, the gloating dwarf who loved to exhibit his long erect penis and instruct young men on improved performance, was the god of the desert. Osiris didn’t like him as he tried to court Isis. Min often claimed that his member beat all others in length.

Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis. His favorite shape is a human body with a falcon head bearing an orange sun disk wrapped with a golden cobra serpent. Ancient Egyptians believed that the Sun was his right eye and the Moon his left eye.

When the evil god, Seth, killed his brother, Osiris, cut him into fourteen pieces and spread them over Egypt, Isis, goddess of family, found and reassembled thirteen body parts. She used a human substitute to replace the fourteenth missing part, his male organ, where his godly power is stored.

Love blooms between the charming Osiris and Isis as they fight evil gods and search for the missing member, but can Isis forgive the sins of his past and their unexpected consequences?
This book is dedicated to the many friends, readers and fans who love Ancient Egypt, a fabulous civilization, shrouded in mystery, glamour and mysticism.

What readers and reviewers say about OSIRIS’ MISSING PART

1-By H. M. Taylor "silvarie" - 5 stars
If you are looking for something a little different you have found it! Full of adventure, romance and humor this is a great holiday read. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews.
Mona Risk draws upon Egypt and the mythology of the Egyptian gods. Join her for the adventure as she takes you on a trip into the past and into an enjoyable realm. I enjoyed this tale and look forward to more Mona Risk titles.
3-By Steph "Author of "The Giving Meadow, 5 stars
Risk crafts an exotic adventure filled with supernatural happenings, greed, betrayal, and love. The novel is sophisticated for romance readers with love scenes that are graphic, sensual, and tasteful. Risk's imagination shines against the lush backdrop of ancient Egypt. "Osiris' Missing Part" is a wonderful escape to another time and place that proves love does conquer all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer & Writing

Summer is coming into its final weeks. Kids are already anticipating the return to school, Mom’s are looking to sales for school clothes, and the relatives that visited earlier are on their way home. Vacations are now a memory headed for the scarp booking table, and you know the tanned shoulders will soon fade. The gardens that bloomed will be cleared, in preparation for the cold, and new stories start to pop up in our heads.

For writers it’s the beginning of another round of writing, creating and having more time to develop characters through the end of summer months, into fall, winter’s heavy rain and snow, and spring, until we start the cycle all over again. For me, I had my grandkids a lot this summer, visited children out of state, relatives used me as home pass to San Francisco and I hung on to precious moments with a grandson who said good-bye as he prepared for his second tour in Afghanistan.

When summer hits, my writing time is cut in half. I have to squeeze time in between my family, and just wanting to be outdoors in the hot aired sun of our area. I write most of the year mid-day, now I write late at night. There isn’t any other time. Early mornings are reserved for training for a marathon, so that’s out. In the evenings the kids are asleep, the relatives watching TV, the day of playing tour guide is over. Now with that behind me, I’m not sure I'll return to my mid-day writing habits. The phone never rings at night. The world on our street is quiet. No one rings the doorbell. My husband doesn’t want to suddenly go shopping for something, and have me along for an opinion that usually falls on deaf ears. At night I can write, a lot.

What’s the best time for you to write?

Monday, August 15, 2011

PERSISTENCE by Rolynn Anderson

Our trawler, INTREPID, has brought us safely from Alaska to Sullivan Bay, B.C., a most interesting floating community. Yes, every building in this town, bobs on the water, held together by more than a half mile of wide wooden docks. A restaurant, fully stocked store, fuel dock, laundromat and library, offer services to the homes in the town as well as to private boats who dock here. In a big blow, the whole city rocks and rolls! What should be an unsettling environment is clearly a thriving community.

Other oddities we’ve come upon on our Virgin Trip to Alaska.

Example #1: Human Interest. We met a couple with a boat like ours, who spend days on end searching for glass beads and glass balls on the wild shores of Alaska and British Columbia. One year they found twenty-five Japanese glass balls (the kind used to float fishing nets, back in the day). During the summer months they comb Pacific Northwest and Southeast Alaska beaches for the t-tiniest glass beads…called ‘trade beads.’ I’ve seen the jewelry…the beads are beautiful! But to find these little things on a beach among multicolored rocks and miles of sand…I mean you’d have to be a little crazy (and willing to live with a crick in your neck). Until a week ago, I’d never heard of the incredible prices people will pay for tiny glass trade beads, made in Europe, but used hundreds of years ago to barter with Native Americans. Who would have thought?

Example #2 Salmon in Peril. We anchored at the end of Lowe Inlet (Princess Royal Reach, B.C.), where a waterfall spills ten feet (at high tide) to the ocean. Black bears (see the story below) wait to catch any salmon that jump to paw or jaw height. For the first time, I saw the difficulty involved in a salmon’s impetus to spawn. The critters attempted to scale that giant wall of falling water, but the task seemed impossible, even at high tide. I saw scores of fish leap, smack their noses or bodies on the rock wall, and fall back, stunned, probably too weak for another try. Hundreds got caught and eaten by bears. In fact, in all the time I watched, I never saw one salmon succeed in scaling the waterfall. And I thought using the Internet as a marketing tool was tough .

Example #3: Bears. Evidently, bears have to eat lots of salmon to build up their fat reserves for hibernation, so they get mighty greedy when salmon run upstream. Turns out they’ve got as many challenges as the fish they’re trying to catch. I observed six black bears anchor themselves precariously on the rocky side of a small waterfall and wait patiently for salmon to jump within their grasp. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed by their hand-eye coordination…their misses were many. They’d try to stab the critters with their claws or snap them up with their jaws, but they failed ninety percent of the time. Plus the poor things got drenched by the waterfall as they fought for footing on the steep, mossy bank. When one was successful, he’d secure the fish in his mouth and carry the wriggling fellow to the woods. I’m told most black bears feast on salmon eggs to get the most protein out of their prey. Not to worry, the eagles were always on hand to carry away the leftovers.

Humans, salmon and bears. Persistence counts.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And now for something completely different...

First I must set the stage. It is a long time ago and I am a junior-high student in my physical education class. It is raining outside and so we are all in the gym waiting for our PE teachers to start whatever they have planned for a rainy day.

Indoor dodge-ball? Modern dance? Maybe some gymnastics? Hey, we could have fun today!

And then it begins... From the overhead speakers a brass band erupts, the sound of trumpets, trombones, and drums in an all-too-familiar refrain. My heart sinks and I close my eyes as from all around a massive groan erupts. “Oh, no. Not CHICKEN FAT!

But alas, it was, and for the next almost seven minutes we would exercise and listen to Robert Preston doing his best to encourage us to do push-ups, march in place, and sing along with the refrain “Go you chicken fat, go away. Go you, chicken fat, go!”

The Chicken Fat Song

For those unfamiliar with this epic song, this was part of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under President Kennedy. Meredith Wilson wrote the song and Robert Preston sang it, both of The Music Man fame and it sure sounds like they got the same marching band they used in the movie. According to one source I found, a copy was sent to every school in the USA in 1961. Maybe some schools didn’t use it (my husband doesn’t remember it) but mine sure did.

It was bouncy, energetic, and altogether too enthusiastic for a morning gym class. But listening to it just now made me smile, and giggle, remembering how I secretly enjoyed marching in place with Preston counting cadence for us.

So why has this come up now? Well, first of all, I saw a local production of The Music Man a couple weeks ago and remembered how much I enjoyed it. In researching what else Meredith Wilson had done I found that he'd also been responsible for the Chicken Fat song.

Also I’ve been on a health-kick recently and have lost almost 20 pounds through diet and exercise in the past five months. I know it was mostly “chicken fat”, meaning fat that had accumulated through inactivity and over-eating. The picture is me last summer at one of my weight highs (the Tigger shirt hides a multitude of extra pounds.)

So go you Chicken Fat, go away. Go you, Chicken Fat, go!