Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do You See the Light?

azaleas 001 (800x533)Sunrise in Central Texas

I’m a total pantser, seat of the pants writer, and I couldn’t plot  a book for the life of me. I never could write the outline before I did a paper when I was in school either. I would always write the paper and then write the obligatory outline. Why do teachers make us conform to some rule that doesn’t work for everyone??? For some, organizing their thoughts in an outline works. But others… I begin to research my subject and want to go in a totally different direction. So, too, sometimes, when I’ve pitched a book and sold based on two paragraphs. The story evolves in a different direction than I planned for it to go.

That sometimes happens because of research I’ve done. Even though my werewolf books are urban fantasy, in that you know that werewolves don’t live among us, as you shouldn’t–they’re not meant to be discovered, right?–but they do live within the parameters of our world and are based on real wolf behavior… As much as werewolves can be real wolf-shifting humans.  This means that sometimes I create a town for them to live in and other times I have them live in real places.

But other times, the characters–since my stories are character-based and for romance need to be–take over and run with the story. Well, oftentimes they do. I’ll be going along, happy as can be, throwing wonderful obstacles in their path, causing them all kinds of stress, and suddenly, they change the rules. Now, you might think that’s a bad thing. I know what I’m doing. They don’t.

On the other hand, it makes for some nice twists in the plot and so I allow them free rein as long as they assure me they can reach that happily ever after, which is what they want more than anything else in the world, too. :)

So yesterday, as I again spent another day of trying to force the direction of my plot, I took a moment out of my deadline packed schedule, had lunch with a friend, saw a movie, came home, did NOT want to write, since I’ve been at this for weeks, and watched another movie.

And something hit. I really, really was going to watch another movie. I just was having too much fun. But the light dawned, the problem I’d been seeking came to me, and I began to write again.

Sometimes, just stepping away from the problem can be the best thing we can do!! And then, that moment of clarity will come.

Other times, if the deadline is approaching and letting the muse find me is not a viable option, just pushing forward and brainstorming with others, listing 20 ideas of where this could go, etc, can sometimes give the direction I need to go.

So I’m off to write! Ever give up on something you’ve been hassling with and can’t seem to find a solution, and voila, there it is???

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why are Mondays so crazy?

I recently had a VERY stressful Monday. Work piled up at the Paycheck job, a crisis in my plot for my current WIP, errands to run, meals to cook, company coming...

Just 24 hours earlier I was unstressed and relaxed. What makes Mondays so insane?

I think it's because I manage to totally forget about Paycheck work from about 4 PM on Friday until 6 AM on Monday. Then it sort of hits me in the face: rats--I've got to do THAT again.

Add in the fact that weekends are often busy with events, so there's no time for errands, and Mondays often feel like Stuff is ganging up on me.

I'm turning over a new leaf (appropriate for the fall). From now on, I'm looking at that To Do list and deciding: does it have to be done today? If not, push it off and find another day. I'm going to try to make my Mondays a tad bit easier on myself.

But I'm still going to totally forget about that Paycheck from from Friday to Monday. That's a little bit of sanity for my weekend.

30 books and counting

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Paradise Pines Series: Forever After Released October 1st

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
At last all three of the Benjamin sisters have a book of their own. Released early, Forever After hits the ground at a full run. The youngest sister, Marinda, is left to clean up the mess her two sisters fled from. Life is tough, but she manages what fate tosses at her until she meets the magnetic doctor, Ethan Braddock. Is he the man she's been waiting for? Nothing but the forever-after kind of love will be good enough for her.
Abandoned by her sisters and with her father in jail, Marinda becomes responsible for the care of her ailing mother the best way possible -- working for an unscrupulous man with the power to crush her. Forced to spy on a decent man, Marinda's honesty saves her virtue and revenge restores her self-respect.
Miranda knew her life had sunk as low as it could go, when she'd become nothing more than a poker chip to the evilest man alive. Who knew becoming the prize in a losing poker hand would be just what her life needed.
When Ethan Braddock discovers his brother's poker pot cleaning his private office, he jumps to the right conclusion -- she's there to spy for his nemesis. Ethan can't help but find her irresistible. In spite of what his heart tells him, his brain reserves judgment on her character. Until he unravels the mystery of her connection to Danforth, trust is the one thing he can't allow himself. For that, she'll have to prove herself.
Desert Breeze

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trick or Treat?

Haunted Open House Giveaway Blog Hop

October 23-30, 2013


Halloween is almost here. Yay!

As an author of Scottish fantasy and paranormal romance, I love this time of year. To celebrate, I'm participating in the Haunted Open House Blog Hop: hosted by paranormal author Nancy Gideon. So join us for a week-long Halloween party!

I'll share a wee bit of flash fiction and gift a $10 Starbucks e-gift card to a lucky commenter who joins the fun at Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes!

~Dawn Marie

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Got a tip (or trick) on world building for a series?

We create a 'world' for each book we write. Stand alone stories end with a HEA, but a series needs continuity:

Setting details. Who lives where and how you get there.

 Character descriptions. Hair and eye color, build, choice of clothing and accessories.

Have you discovered a useful tip or trick to keep these details straight and organized? Easily accessible?   Modifiable?

What details are important to keep in a 'bible'?
A series could go on for years.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Things learned from watching the Atlanta Zoo Panda Cam

Recently I've discovered the Atlanta Zoo Panda Cam, which is a set of cameras in the enclosure of Lun Lun, their adult female panda. Lun Lun made headlines a few weeks ago on July 15 when she delivered twin male cubs, currently named Cub A and Cub B. Twins aren't all that uncommon in pandas but what is unusual is for both cubs to survive. But the panda team in Atlanta has done a fabulous job of taking care of both infants, swapping them in to a apparently oblivious Lun Lun so that both were fed and cared for by their mother. This has been so effective that neither cub has needed supplemental formula since the first day, and both are thriving on just their mother's milk.
Baby pandas are born tiny, hairless, pink, and are about the size and weight of a stick of butter. They grow very fast and at three months have fur, their eyes are open and they seem to be size of a large cat. Both cubs are learning how to get their legs under them so that they can learn to walk. In a lot of ways watching the infant cub on the panda cam is like watching a human baby scooting about a playpen.
But then mom will show up, pick up the baby and cradle it in her arms, licking him and directing him to nurse. When they were first born she'd hold whatever cub she had close to her body. Now that they are bigger she leaves them alone in her nest area for fairly long periods of time while she's eating or relieving herself. Since pandas eat a lot of bamboo which doesn't digest well, they defecate up to forty times a day. While mom is doing her business, the cub tends to sleep.
So what are the lessons I've learned?
1. Being a good mom means spending time with your offspring when they need it. Lun Lun is a great mom as her thriving cubs demonstrate, particularly since they are sharing her time.
2. Experience helps. These are cubs four and five for Lun Lun so she's had plenty of practice taking care of a cub. That shows in how comfortable she is when one of them is with her.
3. Even the best mom needs to take a break. Lun Lun will pick up her cub, cradle it, let it feed, then leave it alone to sleep while she eats. Sometimes she'll even take a nap elsewhere in her den while he's asleep, although you frequently see her napping curled around her baby.
4. Sleep is very important. Baby pandas sleep a lot. So do momma pandas, particularly after giving birth. Their days seem to consist of one nap after another.
5. Even superstar moms need help sometimes. There is a video on the website of Lun Lun giving birth to her twins. The first one came out and she immediately picked it up and began cuddling and licking it. 

But then less than a minute or so later, another baby popped out and was squirming all over the nest, crying, and you could almost see Lun Lun's face going "WTF? Where did YOU come from?" Shortly afterwards one of the zoo staff showed up in the doorway and the video ended so we can assume that they fetched the extra cub at that time and took it to the nursery. Since then only one cub has been with her at a time.
Most of the time both twins won't survive because the panda mom needs to spend so much energy in keeping just one alive she can't manage the second. But by having staff to take care of one baby, all Lun Lun had to do was deal with whatever cub she had at the moment. 

To me what this means is that we all can use extra help if it means the best outcome. And seeing those two cute little cubs surviving is one of the better outcomes I've seen in a long time.


Monday, October 14, 2013


I’ve always been fond of things made out of solid wood, so I began a tradition of buying every niece and nephew a carving of their name as a baby gift.

When I published my first book, LAST RESORT, friends of mine were tickled to find the words THE LAST RESORT, made out of wood, in a beach gift shop.   I loved their clever, thoughtful gift.  Later, my husband neatly sawed of the ‘The,’ and my title was ready to display.

Since then, I’ve had each of my titles made into standing wood carvings.  I choose unpainted balsa wood and let the carvers know what font was used for the title (our cover artists have that information).  I send them the cover of my book, as well.  If the company doesn’t have the font on file, I find a free download ‘ttf’ of it and send it to them.

My titles sit proudly above my desk, reminding me of what I’ve accomplished and what I still want to achieve.  Yup, it’s a gift I give to myself, a tangible reward for years of hard work and angst.

Though I'm sure many businesses, both on line and local could do the work, I’ve enjoyed working with Craft Cuts on line:

Add this idea to your Christmas list, or, like me, give the present to yourself.  You deserve it!

For your viewing pleasure, here are my two titles for the Boutique Funeral Planner Series.  The font happens to be Lutin Flibuste, and the carvings of the titles are perfect matches!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A matter of perspective

A friend of mine has a husband who was recently laid off. Not surprising given these tough times, but it caught him by surprise. He's near retirement age, but he was still panicking.

Do we have enough money for retirement?

That's a question that I think haunts a lot of people. How much is enough? When do you know that you have enough?

She's managed to calm his worries with a couple of trips to their financial planner, but it's a worry that's on everyone's mind: do I have enough?

Do I have enough money for retirement? Enough readers to sustain my career? Enough healthy days left in me? One person's 'enough' is another person's 'wealth' -- and that's important to keep in mind. Whenever I start to panic about *anything* I try to see it from another perspective.

And you know what? I almost always have enough....

30 books and counting

Monday, October 7, 2013

Virtual Blue Ridge Mountain Tour

Photo Taken from the Skyline Drive in VA

Sometimes I need a break, a getaway. Since the National parks are closed, how about taking a virtual trip to one of my favorite getaways--Shenandoah National Park?

Photo Taken from Discovery Hiking Trail

Nothing like a hike in the mountains to ease stress. Now, let's head south on Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drive to North Carolina where some of the characters from the Highland Gardens novels live.

Photo Taken From the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Did you know time-traveling Highlanders live in the Blue Ridge Mountains?

Available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo


Just Beyond the Garden Gate

A Highland Gardens Novel
Book 1

The Scottish Highlands—a place where faeries and brownies and other fae creatures dance through time. On occasion, so do mere mortals.

Determined to regain her royal status, a banished faerie princess accepts a challenge from the High-Queen of the Fae to unite an unlikely couple while the clan brownie attempts to thwart her.

Passion ignites when a faerie-shove propels burned-out business consultant Laurie Bernard through the garden gate, back through time, and into the embrace of Patrick MacLachlan. The arrogant clan chief doesn’t know what to make of the lass in his arms, especially when he recognizes the brooch she wears as the one his stepmother wore when she and his father disappeared.

With the fae interfering at every opportunity, the couple must learn to trust one another while they battle an enemy clan, expose a traitor within their midst and discover the true fate of the missing parents. Can they learn the most important truth—love transcends time?

Journey from the lush gardens of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the Scottish Highlands of 1509 with Just Beyond the Garden Gate.

~Dawn Marie

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Flirting the Old Fashion Way

Flirting, 1991

This is the place where I am supposed to talk about my work in progress. Truth is I need to do some work. Instead, I'll share something I found on Pinterest.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Top Ten Fears

Wonder What Book He's Reading?

What Scares People the most?

Apparently, it isn’t the Zombie Apocalypse. I went to the Internet to find out what the ten most common fears and phobias are.
According to Live Science, the top ten phobias are:
10. The Dentist- 20% of the population never visit the dentist because of anxiety.
9. Dogs-fear of dogs is a very real. Ironically, 70% of dog bites are from purse-sized dogs.
8. Flying-25 million people do not fly because of their fear of crashing or being confined for hours.
7. Thunderstorms- this fear last through adulthood.
6. The Dark-this is usually associated with the unexpected.
5. Heights- 5% of the population fears heights.
4. Other people-this fear usually shows up at age 13. It prevents the person from public speaking and even eating or drinking around strangers.
3. Scary Spaces- this includes elevators, trains, buses, subways, malls, sporting events, bridges and airplanes.
2. Spiders-girls showed an aversion to spiders as early as eighteen months, while boys didn’t.
1. Snakes-this is thought to be a holdover from primitive times when people encountered snakes daily.

List Verse gave the top ten fears as opposed to phobias.
10. Loss of freedom-this could be jail or a country takeover.
9. The Unknown-this explains the saying “Better the evil you know.”
8. Pain-we do a great deal to avoid pain.
7. Disappointment
6. Misery-this can be defined from poverty, sickness, even living in a bad marriage.
5. Loneliness- People fear dying alone.
4. Ridicule-no one likes it.
3. Rejection- this can be everything from a loss of friendship to a relationship breakup.
2. Death
1. Failure

Not a maniacal clown in either list. I will admit to not liking monkeys or needles. What scares you?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Time to Say Good-bye

Vonnie Davis
This will be my last post at Voices From the Heart. I didn't renew my membership with FTHRW this year for a variety of reasons. Life gets busy. Time gets stretched. Sad choices get made. Even so, I've enjoyed my time with this group of awesome writers. I'd begun my time here as a first-time published author, full of dreams. I leave with eight titles published and a contract for a paranormal series with Random House and a Christmas novella with HarperCollins. I'm busy with edits, writing installments on the series and the ever-annoying promotion.

I like to think my time here with you helped all that happen. For that, I'm grateful. People who help you achieve your dreams are to be cherished.

As writers, we know dreams have to go hand-in-hand with hard work. And so, we're about expanding our skill set. We read books on craft, take online writing workshops and study other writers. This is how it should be. After all, the learning curve of a good writer is continual. A good editor can help us grow, too. I've been very fortunate to have had some tough editors. Ones who didn't hesitate to point out my many weaknesses. As a serious writer, it was up to me to learn all I could from them. To email and ask why do you want this change made? Tell me, please, so I know not to do this again.

I've also learned when to stand my ground, to defend my characters or GMC.

Calvin and I have just returned from Paris and Berlin. We'd made the trip so I could research some places for future storylines pingponging around in my brain. While in Paris I experienced a dream come true. Famous bookstore Shakespeare and Company agreed to stock my romantic suspense, MONA LISA'S ROOM. Several scenes in the book had taken place at Shakespeare and Company and, for that, they wanted copies. I was thrilled.

Dreams do have a way of coming true when we don't give up. I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes...

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. ~ T. E. Lawrence.
Best of luck, success and happiness to you all. Hugs, my "writerly" friends.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Happens When Seals Frolic...

Seals in love...
Omaha Zoo, Thanksgiving 2012 185 (800x587)
This is what comes of two SEALS, well, seals frolicking.

Omaha Zoo, Thanksgiving 2012 139 (800x613)

And then we have a SEAL wolf and an undercover operative sparring...


And this is what comes of that frolicking business if they're not careful...

wolf pup (640x454) color blast copy when seal wolves spar

My thoughts on A SEAL Wolf Christmas

What I love most about Terry Spear’s book is that you don’t feel lost if you read the series books out of order. I also loved seeing all the cameos of characters in previous Heart of the Wolf books. And, of course I loved the HEA and was surprised that a second HEA was found in the supporting characters. 
This book is a rollercoaster ride of mystery, intrigue, and wolfy love set to the backdrop of an Oregon winter. There is so much action going on and so many different plot twists. Many interwoven mysteries blended with well-developed characters and super sexy wolves. Terry Spear is a masterful storyteller. I loved every page of it!
I received a Net Galley copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions are my own.

Rating: 5 Stars
**A quick note, if you would like to purchase A SEAL Wolf Christmas, Amazon has the paperback on sale for $4.79! Not sure how long the sale will last so get your copy today! Link below!**
~ Elizabeth ~

Thanks, Elizabeth!!! So what do you think? Are their more wolves on the way????

Happy Saturday!!!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality.”