Now don't forget to read the post below and comment!

We have a variety of writers and readers here. I always considered myself a writer of romance. Strangely enough, my last two stories have been women's fiction. Since my books aren't published yet, I feel odd calling my "books" books. Well, I'll call them books, anyway.

Women's Fiction books are about issues women face and journeys they experience. They may contain a love story or a mystery or suspense. They may be about younger women or those of us way over forty. Some include characters who span three or more generations. some include more than one subplot, but the main story is about a woman or women at a point of change.

Clear as mud? Let's hope we'll hear from folks with their own interpretations.

The next four books were in my huge to-be-read stacks. I found some real treasures.

Haywood Smith is one of my favorite women's fiction writers. She deals with infidelity, aging parents, problems with a woman and her adult children. Her Red Had Club books are about a Georgia woman and her friends. If you enjoy southern fiction, give her books a try. The latest is Wedding Belles (St Martin's Press, 2008).

Beverly Brandt also has a wonderful book called The Tiara Club, (St Martin's Press, 2005). Again there are friends, most of whom are local beauty queens. Corny? Nah. Shallow. Nope. This story deals with the complicated relationship Georgia has with her mama and her friends. There is a hunky guy, by the way. The story contains suspense and tons of fun.

Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia by Dolores J. Wilson (Medallion Press, 2006) kept me in stitches. The protagonist, Bertie Byrd owns Bertie's Garage and Towing. This book, part of a mystery series, has wonderfully emotional moments and characters so bizarre you'll laugh out loud.

Jill Marie Landis grabbed my heart with Lover's Lane (Ballantine Books, 2003) Carley Nolan has worked hard to build a life for herself and her young son, Christopher. Her life changes when a detective is determined to find her.

What are you reading and loving?

To celebrate the release of my new book BABIES IN THE BARGAIN,

on Julie 03, 2009, at The Wild Rose Press, I will be running contests on my blog during the month of June:

Several prizes will be offered every week to lucky contestants.

BABIES in the BARGAIN is a sweet and spicy medical romance in the genre of Grey's Anatomy and ER.

BABIES in the BARGAIN has won or finaled in more than ten contests.

Or the Making of an Author.

Five years ago I wrote my fist book in two months, typing eight hours a day. I read it carefully and pleased with my masterpiece entered the first three chapters in the FTHRW Golden Gateway contest, my first contest. At the time I never heard of critique partners, RWA chapters and didn’t even know what POV meant.

Of course, I didn’t final. One judge ripped my entry apart, calling my heroine a slut. I remembered I cried when I read these words. But the three other judges sent me positive suggestions that made my day. They said my writing was promising. I believed them because I wanted so much to believe my writing didn’t suck. I was so thrilled I wrote a delirious thank you note to the coordinator and naively asked her if she would like to be my critique partner. Kathleen Long (now HQ Intrigue author of the successful series The Body Hunters and about ten other books) suggested I join the chapter. Through FTHRW and a daily exchanges of e-mails I met wonderful women who, like me, were struggling with POV, GMC, showing vs telling, and a whole new vocabulary guaranteed to make them better writers and eventually published authors.

I carefully read the articles in the award-winning FTHRW newsletter, joined several groups and participated in every loop, BIAW, Workshops, mentorship and the wonderful FTH Critiquers’ loop. I finally chose serious Critique Partners (CPs) who helped me regularly. Later on, a couple of contest divas agreed to mentor me, making a huge difference in my writing. Another published author twisted my synopsis, teaching me the “how to” of playing with words to create a grabbing hook. Soon we formed smaller loops under the umbrella of FTHRW. We helped, supported and cheered each other.

In the FTH Critiquers loop, I critiqued an average of ten submissions per week. Critiquing did wonders to my writing. I was able to really see in others’ writing what was good and what didn’t sound right. The critique loop gave me great CPs who became good friends. Together with two of my CPs and best friends, we ran the Critique loop as wizards. As we improved, the Critique Loop became the place where we cheered each other’s finaling or winning in contests. Improving entailed helping others. For a year, I volunteered as Mentorship chair.

Following in the footsteps of brilliant authors, I entered contests, finaled in many and won several. My self-confidence grew and I trusted my writing as I heard judges and editors telling me they like my voice. I pitched to editors, submitted partial and full manuscripts, received rejections (neatly filed in two folders) and edited, and edited and edited…. When editors requested revisions, I revised and revised and revised…

Until one fine morning, the dream became reality.

I received the CALL. An e-mail from Cerridwen Press offering a contract for my Single Title set in a Russian country. I had the honor to wear a pink ribbon for First Sale at the Dallas Conference in July 2007. My books TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL (romantic suspense set in France) received great reviews and are on sale at Cerridwen Press/ Jasmine Jade.

The Wild Rose Press will soon released my two medical romances, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN on July 03, 2009 and PRESCRIPTION FOR TRUST on December 04, 2009.

But the job of an author starts after publication.

Promotion is one word that encompasses so many meanings: aka creating a website and a blog, blogging, posting comments on blogs, advertising, chatting, sending newsletters, joining mySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, (I stopped at these), creating video trailers, and finally participating in book signing.

Can you please watch my video trailer for BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, rate it (5* is better) and leave a comment?
I will draw a lucky winner from those who leave a comment on this blog AND my video. An autographed copy of THE MAGIC KNOT by Helen Scot-Taylor, winner of the American Title RT.

Writers: what do you do to promote your book?
Readers: what entices you to buy a book?

Well, it’s finally arrived! Summer's here and not a day too soon for all the teachers at my school. Where does the time go? It seems like barely a couple months ago we were starting a new school year and now, it’s finished, over, done!

Now, to the question that is of greatest importance: what to do with the free time afforded me by the end of the school year. I plan to do several things this summer. Three are really big ones, but the most import is to complete my current wip. For those who don’t know that's writer lingo for work in progress.

I’m setting goals, making plans and lists and hoping for the best. My goal is to have my current wip completed before RWA’s National Conference in July. My plan to accomplish this includes meeting regularly with my critique partner, going to Starbuck’s several times during the week to write, but most of all, applying butt to chair and working. My list looks something like this:
Fly to Spain, cruise the Mediterranean (for real, I leave early today. If I’m absent from the fuzzies for a few days, you’ll know why!)
Return home, upload pictures of trip to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers blog.
Apply butt to chair and write.
Go to Starbucks and write (It helps to stir my creativity to get away from the usual all by myself where I can wear my “writer’s persona” --family just doesn’t get this one.)
Set schedule to meet with Critique Partner. (I’m one of the luckiest people in the world when it comes to my partner. ( MM is the greatest.)
Apply butt to chair and write.
Attend National with completed manuscript to pitch.
Apply butt to chair and write.
Clean the deck and sit outside to write.
That's about it, I’ll hope for the best outcome. What about you? How do you plan to attack the lazy hazy crazy days of summer?

When Writers Read

Posted by Judy | 2:43 PM | 8 comments »

Reading has been a pleasure of mine since I was a small child, leafing through picture books . Later, my sister and I played “Librarian”, placing books in a cupboard in our basement, carefully lining them up in alphabetical order, and producing our own version of library cards so that friends could check out the books. And a few of them really did!
As I grew older, reading became a welcome escape for me on lazy summer days when I sat on the front porch with little else to do or cuddled up on the couch on cold, rainy days when, page by page, I could travel away to sunnier places.
As writers, we are told to read, read, read. How else are we to know “what’s out there” ? How else are we to see samples of good writing-and bad? How else are we to make our writing relevant?
I still read for pleasure—and always will—but now I’m mindful of words that fit perfectly, well-placed descriptions and the moments when the characters all but dance off the page. Yes, it does slow me down a bit as I linger over them, but it also enhances my reading pleasure.
How about you? Have your reading habits changed because you’re a writer?
PS One thing I now allow myself to do is to put down a book that is not enjoyable for me. If the writing, the premise, the plotting is just not connecting with me, I am able to tell myself that it’s okay to stop reading. Is that true for you?

I've had a few, but the one I'm thinking of knocked my socks off and I wanted to share it with you. I was about to attend my first RWA Convention and to top it off I was going with my "Big Sister" Marlene Urso. Many of you may know her.

Her eldest daughter, Kellie, had been fighting cancer; we were 3 days from leaving for Colorado when Kellie past away. Kellie was more than just an adopted niece, she was VERY special to everyone who knew her. One of the things Kellie said to her Mama before she left us, was to make her Mama promise to go to National, no matter what.

You tell your children what they need to hear...so she said sure. Kellie, knowing her mama the way she did, said "If you don't going I'm going to haunt you."

Now, knowing Marlene as I do, I can just see her face, smiling and nodding for her daughter's sake, knowing no way was she going anywhere as long as her daughter might need her. Needless to say, Marlene stayed home and took care of business. I went to Colorado. My heart so wanted to be home with Marlene, but she wanted me to go...it was the hardest trip I've ever made.

The following year, RWA convention was in New York City, how cool is that, and yes, Marlene and I were there, together, and so was Kellie. Marlene, Anna Stewart, and I were roommates. Anna had promised to give Marlene lessons in shopping; who knew a woman needed lessons on this topic! We checked in, and decided to look for food. Yes, we love to eat. We found a great sandwich shop across the street from our hotel and had a fabulous New York Pastrami "Sammich"...and then went shopping. Let's just say Anna taught Marlene very well, in fact, we had trouble keeping up with her.

While in New York, we planned to go to Ellis Island, Central Park and a few other places. We'd had a couple of great days when we made our plans for our trip to Ellis Island. It was a slightly overcast day which I was happy for. I wasn't looking forward to the outrageous heat I'd heard so much about. We had a terrific boat ride over, and being typical tourists I had to get a picture of both Marlene and Anna with the Statue of Liberty in the background. It just seemed the thing to do.

So I position Marlene and Anna, look through my viewfinder, when Marlene turns her head sharply and says, "Kellie's here." I can't tell you how that sentence affected us. I suddenly had goosebumps from the expression on Marlene's face alone...she'd turn her nose up into air and said, I smell her.

I thought Anna was going to pass out, right then and there. I was fighting back tears, but determined to keep them at bay for Marlene's sake. I got my picture, and yes, thanks to progress it was a digital picture so naturally I had to look at it. What I saw just about sent the three of us to the emergency ward. Here you decide for yourself.

We just looked at each other, looked around, looked back at each other and did a collective shiver. While we loved out trip to Ellis Island, I remember being silent after that and constantly looking over my shoulder. Marlene on the other hand, grinned like a proud Mama the rest of the day, glad Kellie came to visit.

That day, that picture, still does something to me every time I see it. Not only was that a fantastic trip, great sights, fabulous conference, endless new friends, hey, and I almost got us kicked out of Hooter's for taking pictures. Hey, I have sons. what can I say. And who'd of thought you'd ever find a sign like this?

Post by Deb Julienne

Hello, everyone!

I am very excited to announce that my third release is forthcoming on Wednesday, May 27th at The Wild Rose Press. This being my very first post here, I want to first thank all the ladies at Pink Fuzzy Slippers for inviting me to join you and the warm welcome you have all bestowed upon me.

Now because it's so hard to contain my excitement, allow me to tell you my news!

Bestial Cravings is a stand alone short companion story contained within my Roma Wolf Tales Series. It also serves to introduce some new characters into the mix with Pita, Niko, Sasha, Tomas, et al:)

I am currently working on Book II of the series, and for all of you who aren't familiar with my first book, Curse of the Marhime is the first in the series and is available at TWRP and other fine book retailers.

For more information on these and more of my antics please visit me at my website or blog. I'd love to have you drop in, and I welcome any authors out there who would like to do guest spots on my blog to promote yourselves as well your upcoming and existing releases. Please email me privately at gothscribe@aol.com any time and we can set up a date for your appearance/interview. I am more than happy to help promote my friends and peers at anytime.

Bestial Cravings Blurb:
Vesta Johns has everything going for her—except her health. Desperate to find the answers to her lethargy and her insatiable desire for raw meat and sex, she seeks out the help of her doctor, but Dr. Cohen can give her no answers.
Or can she?
Torrence Simiene is a medical consultant with a unique specialization. As an alpha werewolf, it’s been his job to aid Dr. Cohen’s distinctive patients through their transition from human to shifter, for years. This time, however, it’s different. Vesta arouses his primal lust, and he’s having a hard time keeping her at a distance.
Will the doctor’s plan of care offer the ultimate cure for Tor and Vesta’s bestial cravings , or further drive them apart?

He smiled and turned to her. “Do I make you uncomfortable?”
“No. It’s just…well…it’s more the opposite, really.” She gave him a sexy, little, side glance. “It’s like I belong with you. Like I’ve been waiting for you. But in the same token, the feeling makes me question it.” She stared into the empty hearth for a long minute.
Tor wondered if she would say anything else. His lust for her became increasingly more uncomfortable by the minute, and he needed to get away from her but he also needed to taste her lips just once before he left, though deep down he knew once wouldn’t be enough.

Please join me at Catherine Bybee's blog on Friday, May 29th. Catherine is always mighty successful at getting info you might not normally share, LOL

Dayana Knight
Paranormal and Erotic Romance

I am used to the Italian toss and taste way of cooking so here goes.
My grandfather would take at least ten nice flat pieces of top round or sirloin steak sliced very thin and pounded flat with his mallet.
In a bowl he would put about 2/3 cup of grated good romano cheesed
2/3 cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs (he made his own)
1/4 fresh chopped parsley
1/4 pound of good prosciotto, it will come in slices put it in your food processor and chop finely
the same goes for 1/4 cup of pine nuts (chop up fine)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of good raisins (chop up too)
mix up real good and it will make a stuffing, taste for S&P and this is when I add more of this or that to taste.
Place a generous amount on each slice of beef and press flat, roll and stick toothpicks in to keep together.
Brown on all sides in olive oil
set aside
In a large sauce pan place the following;
two cans of Italian plum tomatoes with puree in pan, parsley, one small onion chopped, 1/2 cup of Chianti or more if needed, to taste. squeeze tomatoes with your hands to crush well. Add lots of garlic and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir and simmer, after twenty minutes add browned braciole to sauce and simmer till tender, stir frequently.
Serve over your favorite pasta with lots of good romano cheese and garlic bread.

(A few weeks ago, I reviewed Alex Beecroft's novel False Colors (available at amazon.com); today, the author returns the favor with opinions on my novel, Jericho Road.) Take it away, Alex:

This is the first ever m/f romance I've read, and without that context to review it in, I'm not quite sure whether I'm interpreting it as it's meant to be read. My main feeling is of puzzlement because it doesn't read like a romance at all to me. I expect a romance to be about a central couple and their tribulations in love, ending up with a happy ending, and although there is a couple in here with that plot, there are several other equally important couples who follow quite different trajectories. To me, it reads more like a family saga, or a study of small town life in the South of America in the Seventies than it does like a romance.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, though! I enjoyed all the interweaving stories in the same way that I would have enjoyed a run of Dallas. There's a lot of glamour in the setting; the family at the centre of the book are similarly privileged old Southern money, and many are similarly lacking in morals. I found many of the characters very unsympathetic. Marci is bigoted, but she also appears to love her husband entirely because he provides her with sex. When he stops being able to get it up, she moves on to his younger brother. Wade Conyers the fourth (her husband) may well be suffering from PTSD from the incident in which his black best friend and (sort of ) lover died, but to my mind that doesn't mean that he's excused from responsibility for the appalling way he treats his wife. Heath Conyers, the younger brother, goes from 'shy boy' to 'slightly scary sexual dominant' to 'chivalric rescuer' in a character arc I couldn't wrap my head round at all. Wade Conyers the third, (Wade's father) is a controlling father, bullying husband and member of a white supremacist organisation that gets together to half kill the half-Mohawk Doctor Redhawk, who is going out with his daughter Lindsay Conyers.

Confused yet? Surprisingly, you won't be when you read the book, because all of these separate characters and plot lines are very skilfully woven together to make a tapestry that keeps you reading on, enthralled. I can't say I liked many of the characters in the book, though the 'romantic' couple - Logan Redhawk and Lindsay Conyers - came the closest. But that didn't matter to me because I was thoroughly engrossed in the goings on and wanted to find out what happened next. And that is a major achievement, I think, given that I normally don't like m/f relationships or soap opera.

I see that the Coffee Time Romance reviewer has said "this story has an overall storyline that is very similar to a Shakespearian tragedy," and I would agree. The ending very much reminded me of Hamlet, and I loved the way that all the storylines came together to produce it.

So, I'm in the strange position that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I'm not entirely sure why. I have to guess that it's sheer storytelling verve and ability on the part of the author. A very good result indeed for my first ever het romance.

(Jericho Road is available as an e-book from www.lyricalpress.com)

Warble me a song of soft pink roses and lush leafed out trees stirring gently in the morning breeze. This is what I see out my window.

My third release for this amazing month is THROUGH THE FIRE, fast-paced historical romance novel with a THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS flavor & a mystical weave, 2008 Golden Heart ® finalist. Out today at the Wild Rose Press. http://thewildrosepress.com Already out at Amazon, it will soon be widely available at online booksellers in both digital download and print. Local stores can order it in.

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:22 AM | 6 comments »

If you are reading this post this A.M., check out Chik-fil-A. They offer free breakfast in many areas on Thursday morning.

I am in the market for a new computer monitor, and this deal at Dell.com looks great:

It's a Samsung 23" wide flat panel LCD (Black)
Regularly $279.99-$100.00. Subtotal: $179.99
If you use coupon code: VBGH?K188CBWMC the total is $161.99 with free shipping.

This monitor has excellent reviews and Dell is very reputable.
Happy shopping!

Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."

Joanne- Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 10:07 AM | 8 comments »

Lots of deals today:

PF Chang's: Go to their website for a free lettuce wrap

Go to Oscar meyer or kraft.promotions for a free package of hot dogs

And the very best deal:
For today only, Radio Shack is offering the Magic Jack for $29.99 with free shipping. If you haven't heard of Magic Jack, it connects to your computer and eliminates your landline phones. It's a significant savings per month. Research first. Most comments are very positive.

I LOVE Chapter Four of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. The title is "Larger-Than-Life Character Qualities." Maass is all for giving your characters these qualities. The "why" is understood. It's because larger-than-life characters are more interesting! Just look at the Prodigal Son. The obedient son stays home and works alongside his father. The prodigal son takes his half of the inheritance, goes off to have adventures, loses all his money, then he comes home, not expecting anything -- and the father kills the fatted calf for him, to the resentment of the son who stayed by his father's side all these years. And why does the father do this? Because the prodigal son is more interesting.

One way to make your characters larger than life is zingers. We love characters who snap off zingers the way we wish we could. Maass gives an example from One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, in which Stepahnie Plum tells the reader how Joe Morelli "charmed the pants off me four minutes after closing, on the floor of Tasty Pastry, behind the case filled with chocolate eclairs."

She doesn't see him until three years later, in front of Giovichinni's Meat Market. He's on foot and she's driving to the mall in her father's Buick. She guns the engine and clips him from behind, then stops the car, gets out, and asks if anything is broken.

Evanovich writes:

He was sprawled on the pavement, looking up my skirt. "My leg."

"Good," I said. Then I turned on my heel, got into the Buick, and drove to the mall.
Now that's a larger-than-life character.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is filled with zingers by the heroine. Here's a passage after she catches the hero with two buxom trollops in his lap:

"When Bertie told me how how much you paid, I thought it was their services which were so horrifically expensive," she said. "Now, however, I comprehend my error. Obviously you pay by volume."

"Perhaps to you the price is exorbitant," he said, while his hands itched to shake her. "But then, I am not so shrewd as you. Perhaps, in future, you would like to conduct negotiations for me. In which case, I ought to describe my requirements. What I like --"

"You like them big, buxom, and stupid," she said.
Not every writer can do zingers like Evanovich and Chase, and Maass mentions other ways to make your protagonists larger than life. In my wip, I started with larger-than-life characters, especially the heroine. She's an alien who comes to earth with special abilities, which she exhibits in a unique way early on in the book.

One of the exercises at the end of the chapter is writing down one thing your protagonist would never do. Then find places in your story where the character would do just that.

In your wip, how are your characters larger than life?

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:15 AM | 5 comments »

Moo.com has a great deal on a free business card sampler pack. It's only for 10 business cards, but might come in handy if you're going to Nationals this year and have a new book to promote at your editor/agent appointment.

Also, wanted to remind everyone to check out Brenda Novak's ongoing online auction. Wonderful event for a good cause.

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 12:29 PM | 5 comments »

Actually, it's Deals of the day.

Here are three good deals that are free.

Free trial toothpaste: armandhammertrial.com

Free Coldplay (the group) live album for downloading. I love this group. In fact, I'm listening to the album as I type:
Go to Coldplay.com

Free pet food: Fill out a short survey for a $3.50 coupon for either cat or dog food from purina.com
Plus, they'll donate $1.00 to an animal shelter in your area.



Posted by Josie | 2:18 PM | 7 comments »

OK--I probably should be posting a strawberry recipe, because strawberries are in season and everywhere.

But, I'm not.

Try this recipe for fried fish:
1 lb. tilapia or catfish

Soak in buttermilk for a few minutes. Coat in Old Bay and bread crumbs. Fry on top of stove with a little oil.

Can be served in large toasted rolls with lettuce and tomato. Add chips.

Earthman's Bride started out as a short story, and then--like Topsy--it just grew. I wanted to write a story of a young woman given to a conqueror as part of a peace agreement, how she first feared and came to love him. Okay, so far so good, but what was to be the setting...medieval...paranormal...futuristic? And the conqueror, would he be a warrior...a beast...a supernatural entity?

There are too many science fiction stories of invaders from other planets coming to Earth a la War of the Worlds. Well, I decided, I'm not going that route. That theme has been run into the ground. What if my story told the other side of the coin? What would happen if Earthmen barged into another a galaxy attacking and conquering?

My Earthmen aren't very nice people, I'm afraid. Having depleted their own natural resources, they go searching for planets having the elements they lack, to make them a part of the United Terran Federation simply to lay claim to those assets. They "accept" these worlds into the Federation, place them under their "protection" and then haul their natural possessions back to Terra. Since most of the planets are less developed than theirs, it's easy to subdue them with superior firepower and take what they want.

The planet Tusteya is different. Though not as technologically advanced, the Tusteyans knew of space travel and traded with other planets and weren't about to allow themselves to be enslaved by aliens. A war resulted, one in which the Tusteyans put up steady resistance until, at the opening of the story, only one small tribe, the Elius, is still free, all others now slaves to the Federation's representative, the Governor of Tusteya. Philip Hamilcar, the Governor, was ordered to stay behind with his men ostensibly to keep the natives under control; in fact he was really stranded on the planet as punishment for voicing his disapproval of their treatment. As the story opens, thirty years have passed, the original Governor has died, and his son, another Philip, has taken his place. Alcin Spearman, leader of the Elius, asks for a truce, and to show the sincerity of his intentions, offers his 17-year-old daughter Rebeka to the new Governor to cement the peace. Alcin is certain the young Earthman will want Rebeka, not knowing that she has an agenda other than simply being a peace offering. Once Rebeka has gained his trust, she's to kill the Governor, and during the chaos of his death, her father and his men will storm the palace and end the Terran tyranny once and for all.

Rebeka agrees because she has no choice, and everything appears to be going just as her father wishes...the Governor is intrigued and eager to stop the bloodshed...he's fascinated by the young woman and lets it be known he wants her...eagerly, he agrees to the peace, and Rebeka is left alone in the palace her father used to rule, married to an alien whom she's expected to bed and then kill...

Earthman's Bride will be available as an e-book from Lyrical Press. Other books of mine published by Lyrical Press are Jericho Road, and When the Condor Returned, the sequel to Earthman's Bride.

Spring Fever

Posted by Mary Marvella | 9:02 AM | | 10 comments »

Do you have Spring Fever?

Some folks get the urge to do spring cleaning. Everything must be spic 'n span.(also the name of an old cleaner) For Mama it came about the time we could open windows and let the fresh air inside. The problem was, Ma would use strong cleaners and we couldn't close the durn windows without breathing in the chemical fumes. (In the dark ages cleaners were strong enough to burn the hairs in your nose, if you had any. (ammonia and Pine Sol!))

We aired out the mattresses and, of course, the longer they aired the better. Every curtain in the house had to be washed, starched, line dried outside and ironed. (Spring in middle Georgia brings cool mornings, warn and balmy afternoons, and blooming flowers and budding trees. (Can you say allergies?) All wash was line dried when weather permitted.

By evenin' the air cooled. The fumes remained. That was the excuse my parents gave us kids for leaving the windows open and fans blowing frigid air.

For me Spring Fever brings the lazies. No baseball games or soccer for me! Spring cleaning? Bite your tongue!

Do you have Spring Fever? Have you recovered for this year? How did it effect you?

Cougar in a small town!

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 4:23 PM | 10 comments »

When my son was sixteen he and a friend spent one Saturday evening circling all the favorite teen hangouts. In our small town, those consisted of McDonald's and Burger King. Cruising was the favorite pastime of teens their age. This particula Saturday evening, they pulled into a parking spot and went inside for a burger. When they came out there was a small group gathered around his car. He drove a 67 Nova painted Candy Apple red with a souped up motor he and his dad had built. In this group there was a woman, no not a girl, a woman who was checking out the boys and the cars. She approached my son and his friend and began a coversation. I'm not sure what exactly transpired during this little gathering, but I do know that my son took his friend home early and then came home. It was before ten and I wasn't expecting him home so early. When I inquired about the early evening, he said, "I'm going to my room. If anybody comes looking for me, I'm not here." I watched as he climbed the stairs to his room then close the door behind him. Puzzled I returned to watching my favorite television program. About two minutes later there was a knock at the door. I opened the door and a woman stood there.
"Is John home?" She asked.
"Yes," I answered.
She gave me a look.
"Can I see him," she said.
"No," I answered.
"Why not?" She asked giving me another "look."
"Because I said so," I answered.
"And just who do you think you are?" She asked.
This woman looked like she had at least ten years on me.
"I think I'm his mother," I answered. "And I think you'd better go."
This was my first encounter and last with a cougar! Never did find out exactly what had scared the boys so much that they'd come home early. He's grown now, guess I'll ask him about it!

How about y'all ever had a cougar tracking your son?

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass gets serious with Chapter 3, titled 'Inner Conflict.' This is where he guides you into digging deep and adding layers. The chapter starts with a paragraph that strikes lightning:

"A step beyond the technique of adding character dimensions is investing your protagonist with two goals, needs, wants, longings, yearnings, or desires that are in direct opposition to each other. Wanting two things that are mutually exclusive means having inner conflict, being torn in two directions, and that is what makes a character truly memorable."

Did you feel the same WOW! I felt reading that? These are the gems that make the book great. As Maass expands on this and gives several examples, you can see these aren't easy choices. Here's one I just thought of: Choosing between doing what makes you happy (tuba playing for the local opera, perhaps) or marrying your soul mate and living a life that you fear will stifle you. That would be a killer choice for me. Then throw another complication into the mix. You're pregnant! (Not you, of course. The character. But let's pretend.) I can think of complication after complication to go with this conflict.

One of Maass's examples is Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake. Blake is a court-sanctioned vampire killer whose love interest is a French master vampire. She's also still has feelings for her ex-fiance, an alpha werewolf of a local pack. (This was true when Maass's book was written. I don't know if any of this has changed.)

That's two conflicts: Enforcing the law vs. caring about vampires. Vampire vs. werewolf. There's a third. She's a committed Christian, yet she has sex with vampires and werewolves.

Awesome conflicts.

At the end of the third chapter is an exercise where you write down two things your character wants that are opposite of one another. In the example I used, if the hero gave up his life to live with the heroine, that wouldn't work because he'd be miserable. Yet if she left her tuba-playing life to be with him, she'd be miserable. So what if she doesn't tell him about the child? What if she stays where she is and finds a perfectly acceptable life being a single, tuna-playing mom, though not deliriously happy? What if he goes home and marries someone who can't have children? What if he has prostrate cancer and ...

What if I stop now before I get a plot that I don't want to write? LOL

In my wip, my heroine risked her life to find freedom. Now she's settled into a new, safe life -- and it's in danger. She wants to stay, almost more than anything, but if she stays, lives are at stake and they might lose their freedom, not just because they might be in danger. That's only one of several inner conflicts.

What dueling conflicts do you have in one of your books? Is it simple, or do you expand on it?

I hope you'll read Karen White's terrific guest blog below. I goofed and was supposed to post my blog next week, so now there are two blogs today. So next week I'm still up and will blog about larger-than-life characters.

Ladies, please help me welcome Karen White, a southern writer who makes me feel at home in her southern novels. (I'm Georgia bred and Georgia raised.) Karen is a past president of Georgia Romance Writers. Ask her about her tiara.

Karen, when did the writing bug bite you?

After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, I knew I wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara.

From her bio:

In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. This book was nominated for the prestigious RITA award in 2001 in two separate categories. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including another RITA, the Georgia Author of the Year Award and in 2008 won the National Readers’ Choice Award for Learning to Breathe.

Karen currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has recently expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston. Her tenth novel, The Lost Hours, was released in trade paperback by New American Library, a division of Penguin Publishing Group, in April 2009.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two teenaged children, and a spoiled Havanese dog (who appears in several of her books), Quincy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, playing piano, chauffeuring children and avoiding cooking.

In mid-December, 2003 I finally received the call from my agent that I’d pretty much given up hope ever getting. She left a message on my answering machine saying that she had a two-book offer on the table from my dream publisher, Penguin Publishing Group.

I stood listening to the message about a dozen times, holding heavy bags of groceries, wanting to believe in her sincerity while the whole time picturing my long-suffering husband standing behind her while she made the phone call with a weapon pointed at her head.

Let’s back up three years to explain how I got to that point. Granted, it wasn’t technically my ‘first sale’—but for me, it was the first sale that counted. Most people who know me know my story—how I entered the first book I ever wrote into a contest and it ended up not only winning, but also garnering the attention of a literary agent who offered to represent me. My first sales were to two small publishers. At the time, I would have worked for free (and I just about did!) for the privilege of being published. My advances were small, my print runs and distribution even smaller. Still I was grateful, and pumped out four award-winning books of which I’m still very proud.

I was at least climbing the ladder of success, although my paltry print-runs and publisher non-support kept me firmly planted on the bottom rung. I felt as if I were going to the prom. Sure, my date was the dorky boy with pimples, but at least I was going!

And then even my foothold on that bottom rung was shaken loose and I crashed to the floor. My publisher dropped me, stripping me of confidence and pride. I couldn't sell a book for 2 ½ years. Even the dorky boy didn't want to take me to the prom anymore. I was humiliated, devastated and heartbroken. It no longer mattered to me that I’d published four really great books (as friends and family kept reminding me). At the time, all I could do was point out Tom Petty's song, Even the Losers (Get Lucky Sometimes).

I was inconsolable. St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases, became my close companion and we'd talk every day. I even thought seriously about making voodoo dolls of certain New York publishing personnel and holding them over hot flames. I gave myself until December 31st of 2003. If I hadn’t sold another book by then, I was hanging up my word processor. I simply couldn’t bang my head against the wall any longer. On the day I received the call from my agent, my husband was on a business trip in New York. Before he’d left, he asked, “Is there anything I can get you while I’m there?” My despondent answer, “A contract.”

I supposed it was only natural, then, that when the call came from my agent later that day, I couldn’t help but picture my husband ‘influencing’ my agent into making an offer. We authors are a pessimistic bunch, after all. It was only after I’d calmed down enough to call her back that I learned the truth: my manuscript had earned the contract on its own merits and the publisher liked it enough to give me a contract for another book that wasn’t yet even a twinkle in my eye.

So, my advice for all of you writers who are waiting for ‘the call’ or have hit a bump? Have faith. Have faith in a higher authority that things are working out the way they should. Have faith in your abilities as a writer. Then go do. Keep writing. You can't sell that next book if it's not written. Read books out of your genre. Take a writing class to hone your skills. Help others. It takes the focus off of yourself for a while and makes you feel better. Hang out with your friends and people who love you. They are a marvelous buffer against the mean people out there.
I know that it's inevitable that I'll hit a rough spot in my career again. But I've found the survival basics I'll need to get through it the next time. Remember: have faith. And voodoo dolls couldn't hurt, either.

For more info check out


Karen will give away a copy of The Lost Hours to a lucky commenter. Comment and ask questions! The Comment button is at the top of this entry.

Yes, I mean real turkeys. Out in the wild. Which in my neighborhood means toddling across the road. In truth, one is more likely to see turkeys in Northern California when out hiking around the foothills, but it seems the foothills are so full of turkeys that they've spilled out into my neighborhood.

Here's my first impression: they're huge. Thigh-high on me and I'm not a small person. They're also incredibly handsome birds, all dark feathers interspaced with paler bits for contrast and interesting patterns like the intricate Shetland wool sweaters my mom used to knit back when the summer and winter Olympic games were packed all into one year.

Okay, they're incredibly handsome so long as you don't see a male face-on. That red pulpy thing trailing down their foreheads and over their beaks is, in a word, ugly.

Anyway, my point is not to try to explain -- badly -- what a turkey looks like when I know any idiot can look up a picture in an Audubon guide. My point is to clear up a few things about turkeys. Because I know, deep down inside, this is why readers come here, to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writer's blog. In the desperate hope someone will finally confirm or deny whether or not turkeys really make gobbling noises.

They do! And it's crazy cute. Imagine yourself on a walk along a dirt path in the woods—la la la- when you hear gobble gobble gobble! Exactly how you'd expect it to sound. And then you turn and see a male turkey with the full Thanksgiving fanned tail thing going on, wings so laden with gorgeous masculine plumage they fair trail upon the ground as he struts along.
And then you wonder: what the hell is he doing that for?

So you do a 360 and find after 180 discover that there's a female nearby. Maybe 15 feet away and… not showing the least bit of interest in the male. I mean none. Zip zot zero.

Because she has eight tiny fuzzy turkeys (turkeyettes? Turklings? Chicks?) bouncing about her ankles. And then, she notices you, makes a frantic clucking noise and all eight fuzzy things are suddenly in-flight balancing on a branch up in a tree.

Up in a tree!!

Turkey's fly! It's true! Granted it was a bit like lobbing wiffle balls. And maybe their tree branch of choice was only 6 feet off the ground. But given the angle of ascent, they probably flew 10 feet to get there, which was at least 20 times their body length. That's like flying up and over a house for a full grown turkey. Unfortunately, while I've seen an adult turkey "fly" through the underbrush, it's really more of a long-winded, 5 foot hop.

It seems somewhere along the path of growing up, they get too much ballast and become ground dwellers. Which, so far as I can tell, doesn't seem to bother the turkeys, because who needs to fly when the good food is a scratch away on the ground?

To me this is an important lesson about life: Like a turkey needs to be close to the ground to get to their proffered food source, writers need chocolate. Or they write long blogs about flying turkeys.

So this is all really a back-handed complaint that my local See's candy shop closed its doors, unannounced and without fanfare, a few weeks ago. I noticed when I and a friend walked by it one night recently. I stopped, confused, when all I passed was a strange white, unadorned storefront. It took me a moment to realize it wasn't there. But I am still, even as I write this several weeks later, sad it's gone.

Liz Jasper is the award-winning author of Underdead and Underdead in Denial. She is hard at work watching turkeys fly into trees.

Embarrassing Moments

Posted by debjulienne | 12:10 PM | 10 comments »

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment?

Said something that didn't come out quite right?

Maybe had a conversation overheard, that unless you were "in the know"...could be totally taken out of context?

Yeah, well that happened to me too! At work, no less.

One of my former bosses is also an aspiring writer. He's a man I have the utmost respect for. After a considerable amount of cajoling, I finally allowed him to read my work in progress. My biggest fear was that he'd totally hate it and this would ruin our great working relationship.

The only problem is which one? My romantic comedy, Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids or my romantic suspense "Guilty Until Proven Innocent"? Unable to decide, I printed the first three chapters of both. I knew he had an upcoming business trip to the east coast...I figured I could bore him coming and going.

When he returned, he called and said he wanted me in his office, pronto!

Thinking it was about work and I'd somehow screwed up, I raced to his office. Instead, he invited me in, sat me down and proceeded to ask why neither story was completed.

We talked for about thirty minutes, he offered suggestions on plot, conflict, and problems he could foresee happening. Then he had to head off to a meeting. We walked out together, me heading to the coffee station, happy I wasn't in trouble, him to his meeting. Before we parted, I asked the tough question..."Which did you like best?"

Now here's how this ended....you decide....his response, was so casual...I totally got it..."I love Guilt, but I definitely want more Sex.

That's when "HIS" boss walked by, raised an eyebrow, chuckled and walked away shaking his head.

FALSE COLORS: deceptive statements or actions. Running a particular flag specifically to lure another vessel close enough to be captured. [Late 1600s]

"Stop chasing love. Love is not for men like us. We share a deviancy we must pay for with lives of exemplary duty...You will get yourself hanged if you think otherwise."

This is the advice Charles Farrant, Captain Lord Lisburn of His Majesty's Navy, gives his young Lieutenant after he seduces him, but Aelstan Donwell wants true love--a secure little cottage, a person to come home to when his ship docks--he just wants that person to be a man, and in a time when even to consider such a thing was a capitol offense, is willing to risk career, reputation, and life to find him.

False Colors
begins in 1762, and covers the era when the sun refused to set on the British Empire. Straight-laced Quaker John Cavendish is given the captaincy of the HMS Meteor, and told in no uncertain terms to launch a suicide run against the pirates of the Barbary Coast. Before the battle, however, John, an aspiring naval officer, clashes with Lt. Donwell, whose attitude teeters on the edge of insubordination. Though the mission succeeds, Alfie is captured and consigned to the slave pens, and it is up to John and his men to rescue the beaten, wounded officer.

Later, when John is wounded in a battle against the French, Alfie becomes his commanding officer's nurse, and a friendship grows between the two men, born of their brushes with death as well as their love of music and literature, a friendship that has more importance at this point for one than the other. Only after John has recovered, does Alfie dare broach the way he feels, only to have the deeply-religious young Quaker violently reject him. Fearing recriminations, Alfie signs on to the HMS Britannia, and comes face-to-face with the only other man he might ever love, Charles Farrant, for whom he had a crush when he was an impressionable 13-year-old cabin boy. At that time, Farrant laughed at his hero worship, now he sees the adult Alfie in a different light and sweeps the young officer into an affair that could cost both their lives.

Due to the Admiralty's duplicity, John loses both ship and crew, so he has plenty of time to consider the implications of Alfie's friendship, and to realize with horror that his rigid religious convictions are beginning to give way to questions he once might never have considered.

When Farrant and his crew are ordered to rescue British sailors attacked by pirates off the coast of Venezuela, they arrive too late, finding only one survivor--Lieutenant Cavendish. Upon seeing Alfie again, John senses the relationship between him and Farrant and understands that with one word he can cause the death of the man who saved his life. When Farrant dies of wounds received in the rescue, Alfie is accused by someone else, and finds himself at a court martial with the outcome of death by hanging a foregone conclusion. Desperately, John goes behind the scenes to buy off witnesses, and beg the accuser to retract his statement, and eventually, because he won't abandon the man he continues to call friend, he loses an appointment to his own ship. Through John's machinations, Alfie is released, never learning the sacrifices his friend made or of the soul-searching he is going through concerning the emotions he now experiences. Alfie signs with the HMS Albion, sent to explore the Arctic. When the first officer dies of yellow fever, John is assigned to the same ship--and now the two find themselves landlocked off frozen Baffin Bay, confronting each other and their fears.

Being a total landlubber, I don't know a mainsail from a bosun but that didn't stop me from enjoying the vivid, frightening descriptions of the sea battles or the lifestyles of the British in Jamaica and Gibraltar. The bleak desolation of the Albion's being stranded in frozen waters after striking an iceberg made me wonder: How did these men manage to survive without computers and other modern equipment on their ships? Surely anyone signing on to such a vessel, whether officer or crew, had to have an inordinate amount of courage to even attempt such voyages! Another thing that surprised me was that there were generally women onboard (and not for the reasons you'd think)--laundresses and cooks, ship's-doctor's wife, sometimes even the captain's family. You have to admire anyone who'd dare choose such a life, much less make a career of it, no matter how long they survived--and survival appeared to be simply a matter of luck.

The main characters in this story are such men...Alfie, seeking permanent love, Farrant taking medications to help him stave off his vice and resenting the demands made on his personal life in spite of the fact that he's as brave as the next man when it comes to his loyalty to the Crown, and John, questioning whether his lifelong love of God, his sense of duty, and his chastity are a sham as he experiences an unexpected attraction to another man. They are brave men with honor and courage, duty-bound while flying their false colors in the face of public morality, not a limp wrist or a mincing step in the lot. More is made of their characters than anything else; there are only three truly sexual scenes in the book, and the first doesn't occur until a third of the way into the story. Each incident is very brief, concentrating more on the participants' emotions and thoughts than the physical elements.

After reading False Colors, I only questioned one aspect of the story. Would a chaste man who'd been raised a Quaker, when faced with another man declaring his love, begin to assume that he, too, was of the same cut? If Alfie had never come along, would John ever have set foot on the path from which his friend beckoned?

Come to think of it, didn't Wade Conyers pose that same question in my own novel, Jericho Road? He didn't find an answer, either!

Since this is a love story, there's a Happy Ending but one wonders how long it will last.

"Is it worth death?" Alfie asks. "What we've done so far only earns us the pillory. I could be satisfied with no more than that forever, couldn't you? Why run the risk?"

Alfie and John won't have the little cottage but they will have each other, remaining in their chosen service, flying their false colors, and continually running the risk of discovery...but they'll be together while they do it, and I guess, in the long run, that's all anyone can ask: to be with the one you love through it all, no matter how short that time is.

I don't generally read m/m romances but the cover for this book and Alex Beecroft's trailer made me decide to take a chance.

False Colors by Alex Beecroft is available in paperback from Running Press. It is also listed at www.amazon.com.

In the Old South, that land of white, Greek-columned houses and miles of cotton fields, there were hundreds of acres that didn't belong to cotton planters and slave owners, though they might be owned by one family. In the center of it all was the house--sometimes a many-roomed cottage, sometimes a large "shotgun house"--all the rooms attached to each other in a long row--where a generation of sons would grow up before moving away to purchase acreages of their own, build homes, marry their sweethearts and start their own families. No matter how far away they lived, however, they would always refer to that childhood home as the "Home Place", would return there during holidays, weddings, and funerals. It was their refuge, their anchor in the storm of Life.

My family had such a place. Silas Daniel Pinkney Scarborough was a yeoman-farmer, planter of cotton, corn, and millet. His farm stretched across two counties. He had a good life, a good wife, seven children. In 1864, Nimrod Ichabod, his 15-year-old enlisted in the Houston County Volunteers to fight in the "War of Secession." Shortly thereafter, he died at the battle of Cold Harbor, one of the bloodiest and unequal battles of the war, fighting against one of the assaults led by General Grant. When Silas brought his son's body home, his 12-year-old daughter, my great-great-grandmother, rode in the back of the wagon, sitting on the coffin. Silas and two of his other sons, Green and Troup, also fought in that war, leaving the farm in the hands of his wife, Laura Frances Marietta (Mittie). When his youngest daughter was born, Silas had written in his ledger, "Little Floy born today, has curly hair." While he was away fighting, Floy, still an infant, died of influenza, as did several other family members. Shortly afterward, Silas came home on leave, and never reported back to his unit. No one ever followed up on his defection; it was probably too close to the end of the war for anyone to care.

The Home Place is gone now (after the War, only 220 acres remained) but I know where it was located--across the road from my own grandfather's house, where "Cudd'n Rabun" (Scarborough) lived. Now, Rabun (my third cousin) is gone also, as is my grandfather, and the Home Place with its acres of buttercups--and the squeaky water pump which could be heard up and down Dunbar Road--have been replaced with the prefab walls of Colonial Acres, a housing development. Everything the Scarboroughs owned is gone...Gone with the wind of that terrible war...but they are still there for those who wish to remember them.

That is the world I used as the background for Jericho Road, a country cherishing its memories of brave men and boys who fought for what they believed in, even if it was contrary to what their government said they should believe, a state trying to bring itself out of those memories into the Present, and meeting those memories head-on.

Wade Conyers IV is returning from another war, this one halfway around the globe in Vietnam, bringing his bride, Marcella, to his own Home Place on Jericho Road, in Sardis Crossing, Georgia. When they get there, they are met by Lonnie Bright, the youngest son of Earl Bright whose family was once the Conyers' sharecroppers. Lonnie has a bad case of hero worship but Wade, impatient to get home, brushes aside his welcome, unknowingly hurting the child's feelings. Then, he and Marcella are again on their way.

The Excerpt:

Unconscious of the esteem he'd lost in Lonnie's eyes, Wade adjusted his sunglasses. Beside him, Marcella put on her own.

"You didn't tell me you associated with White Trash."

He didn't take his eyes off the road. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't call the Brights that, Marci!"

His voice was quiet but she had a sudden feeling she'd overstepped herself. She'd never seen Wade angry and realized abruptly how very little she knew about her new husband's opinions and dislikes.

"Of course, Honey!" she said quickly. "Whatever you say. It's just that I'm a little surprised, that child obviously being of a lower social class and all."

"The Brights were my Great-great-Granddaddy's sharecroppers," Wade said. "When that Yankee Sherman came through here--" To Wade, like a good many Southerners of an older generation, the War--and they didn't mean Vietnam or Korea or even World War Two--was still very real. "--and burned everything and the slaves ran off, Leonidus Bright stayed and helped Great-great-Granddaddy Silas rebuild."

He took his eyes off the road long enough to glance at her.

Immediately, she was repentant, leaning across the seat and putting one hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Sugah. I didn't understand. Of course, I can see how you might feel about them."

She smiled prettily and planted a kiss just under his ear, touching her tongue to his earlobe and nuzzling gently against it.

"Whoa!" He allowed the car to swerve slightly. "Better stop that, Lady, or you'll land us both in the ditch!"

Marcella giggled. "I wouldn't mind being in a ditch with you, Sugah."

His right hand left the wheel to rest against her thigh, almost totally exposed by the short hem of the dress. His fingers tightened slightly, then relaxed, brushing against her bared skin.

Marcella felt that startling, still unaccustomed rush of desire.

"How much farther is it?" Suddenly, she was eager to get to Wade's parents' home, and especially to Wade's old bedroom.

"We're practically there. We've been on Conyers' land since we left the bridge. We just about own Jericho Road."

One side of the road was bordered by a stand of pine trees, soon to be cut for pulpwood. The other held a field filled with rows of tall, green cornstalks whose ears would either be picked for the dinner table or left to dry on the stalk and harvested later for winter food for the cattle and horses.

Wade looked up, staring at the trees.

A crow startled out of one of the pines, cawing raucously, black wings beating heavily...

...becoming the swoop of the Huey's blades as it rode shotgun above the lurps as they started into the tree-cover. God, it's hot as Hell! Like being wrapped in plastic, a cellophane shroud, can't breathe, can't see--Number Ten, Man! and abruptly, all he can think about is Marcella and will he ever see her again and how can he ever feel healthy or clean or sane after this....

"Wade!" Marella's voice rose slightly. "Honey, watch where you're going!"

He swerved the Jag just before the right front tire hit the outer edge of the shoulder.

"Sorry. Guess I'm so glad to be home, I just got all wrapped up in looking at the scenery."

He couldn't tell her that he didn't remember anything for the few minutes before she'd called his name.

"Well, wait until we're out of the car before you decide to appreciate Nature any more." Somehow, she managed to rebuke him without making her voice angry. "I'd like to reach your Mama and Daddy's in one piece."

"Oh, you will," he assured her, giving her a loving leer to banish the strange disconnection he felt, "and a beautiful li’l piece it is, too!"

"Oh, you!" She struck his shoulder. He could say such awful but exciting things.

Wade's hand returned to her thigh. "You're pretty tired, aren't you?"

"No." She looked surprised, "As a matter of fact, I'm just bursting with energy," and wiggled slightly to illustrate.

"No." He shook his head and she was certain she saw the blue eyes laughing behind the shield of his sunglasses. "I think you're very tired from the plane flight and the drive. Almost exhausted, as a matter of fact."

"But, Wade--"

"So tired," he went on. "That when we get home, you're going to have to go right to bed."

Abruptly, she understood.

"Why, yes," she agreed, feigning a yawn. "I do believe you're right."

"And I think I'm just a little weary myself." Wade was grinning now. "And as soon as the door closes--"

"As soon as the door closes?" she echoed, returning his smile.

"Then, we'll see just how much energy you've really got!"

(Jericho Road was released as an ebook in April, 2009, by Lyrical Press.)

I had the pleasure of hosting Mary Buckham on the Writers at Play blog and learned so much from her. Mary is an award-winning romantic-suspense author and a sought-after speaker and writing craft teacher for both online and in live presentations throughout the United States and Canada . Her non-fiction plotting book, BREAK INTO FICTION® with author Dianna Love is currently available for pre-order and will hit the shelves June 18, 2009. For more on Mary go to www.MaryBuckham.com or www.BreakIntoFiction.com

Having worked with thousands of writers over the years, of all genres, Mary shares her talent with other writers through workshops for reader groups, conferences, and library visits. Workshops on How to plot a novel or How to plot a bigger and stronger novel. Openings that pack a punch! Translating Body Language to the Page. Body Language and Emotion. PACING: How To Create A Page Turner. SEX BETWEEN THE PAGES: UNDERSTANDING AND CRAFTING SEXUAL TENSION, and many more.

Mary explained that most people look at the book cover, read the back cover blurb, then open the book and read the first sentence. If they like that first sentence, they would read the whole first paragraph.

Let’s play a game that Mary Buckham taught us in one of her classes.

I will post here ten hooks from different books without mentioning the authors.

Notice I use only the first sentence, because the editors often don’t need more to judge a book.

These hooks are taken from historicals, paranormal, sweet romances, medical romances, romantic suspense, erotica, westerns, ebooks...

Choose those that you like.

1—The weight of her new engagement ring seemed to slow Celeste Bennet’s steps to a rhythmic thud as she crossed Fifth Avenue.

2-The worst part about killing someone was planning exactly how to do it.

3-As soon as he stripped naked, he’d be hers.

4-“Tomb robbers!” The words roared throughout the immense stone chamber.

5-I’ll stand before God before I lie under Maxwell Summner!

6- Jillian Burton had convinced herself she needed this assignment, needed it badly enough to brave the wintry chill and the icy wind, needed it even more than the sick children expecting her medical expertise.

7-Victoria Sorenson wasn’t about to let the fact that she was a married woman spoil this night’s celebration—not when she’d seen her husband of thirteen years for perhaps only ninety minutes in total.

8-We dare you to kiss the baddest boy at Western High,” Suzi said, wicked glee coating her words.

9-If I’d known running away would be this hot and this dirty, I’d have stayed home.

10-They say you don’t know when your life changes.

Now, tell us which you like and why? Would you buy the book? You can choose as many as you like.

If you have favorite hooks from different authors, please share.

Online class: May 10 - 23, 2009


by Mary Buckham
Registration $35
at www.MaryBuckham.com/


* The ingredients of a page-turner
* What hooks are and how to maximize them
* Great beginnings & endings that have your readers wanting more!
* How to rework YOUR openings

Fast-paced historical romance novel Enemy of the King is my version of
The Patriot with flavors of Daphne Dumaurier's Rebecca.

Coming to the Wild Rose Press Friday May 8th.

Already out at Amazon, it will be available at all major online booksellers
in both digital download and print soon after its initial release.
Local booksellers can order it in. Please help me spread the word.

Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King, is the culmination of years of work and my passion for this fascinating time period in American history. My version of The Patriot with a light paranormal element that lends the flavor of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Coming to The Wild Rose Press May 8th: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

My focus on the Southern face of the war was partly inspired by my great-great-great grandfather, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, who kept a journal of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, 1781, that’s used by historians.
As part of my research, my mom and I took a road trip to the Carolinas. We toured historic Charleston, SC to take in the wonderful old homes, live oaks, and plantations. Enemy of the King opens in the summer of 1780 on a plantation in Low Country SC outside the city of then 'Charles Town.' I fashioned my gracious home, Pleasant Grove, after Drayton Hall, the oldest preserved plantation in America that’s open to the public. http://www.draytonhall.org/

Nearby Middleton Place is a carefully preserved 18th century plantation with spectacular gardens. We had lunch in their charming restaurant: http://www.middletonplace.org/

Onto the magnificent Congaree Swamp in the Congaree National Park: “The largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent.” The trees are immense in this unique blend of woods and wetland.
We toured on the walkway that runs above the forest floor, enjoying the scenery and birds, until we paused to take a picture of an ancient cypress. Right where we would have been standing, an enormous branch crashed down from a rotted tree towering overhead. Feeling Providence had intervened in our behalf, we decided to visit the very interesting museum/gift shop. I featured the Congaree Swamp in Enemy of the King. Frances Marion, ‘the swamp fox,’ is said to have hidden out there at some point during the war. For more about this unique wetland visit: http://www.nps.gov/cosw

As we tromped up and down the lovely wooded knob in North Carolina called King’s Mountain, I envisioned the great battle that took place on Oct. 7, 1780. The gallant, ill-fated British Major Patrick Ferguson lost his life and Loyalist army atop that mountain and is buried there beneath a stone cairn, possibly along with his mistress who also fell that day. The hardy, sometimes downright mean, Overmountain men didn’t take kindly to Ferguson’s warning that they desist from rebellion or he’d bring fire and sword upon them and hang all their leaders—all these enemies of the King!

This mega conflict altered the course of a nation and plays a prominent role in Enemy of the King. King’s Mountain is said to be haunted and I wouldn’t be surprised, though ghosts weren’t in evidence that day. Thomas Jefferson called the battle of King’s Mountain, “The turn of the tide of success.” For more on this historic site and museum visit: http://www.nps.gov/kimo/

Blurb for Enemy of the King: 1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.
Enemy of the King is out at the Wild Rose Press May 8th.
Already out at Amazon, it will be available at online booksellers
in both digital download and print soon after its initial release.
Local booksellers can order it in.

For more on my work visit: http://www.bethtrissel.com/

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Posted by Judy | 10:01 AM | 16 comments »

I can’t think of any writers who’ve never submitted their work to a contest. The results of their doing it have been mixed, to say the least. Some readily admit they’ve become contest sluts. Others have entered contests once or twice and said, “Never again!”
One of the first things a writer learns is that when someone says I don’t think your writing is wonderful, she is not talking about you; she’s talking about your writing. It means you need to work on your writing skills.
Recently, I got my first perfect score – a big, round satisfying 100. It filled my soul with affirmation that will stay with me for a long time. The judge loved my story, my writing, everything!! It’s a story about five women who meet for lunch and she can’t wait to see it in print!
In that same contest, I got slammed by another judge for using too many tag lines, having one single dash instead of two (my computer automatically did that for some odd reason) and for slowing the pace with unnecessary words. She said it could have been more professional. That sentence stung, really stung. It was harsh, and I knew it.
Yet… that was the comment that ultimately meant the most to me. Full of determination to show myself how wrong that harsh judge was, I picked up a manuscript an agent said she’d look at and began to go through it page by page to make it better. I don’t know if this particular manuscript is the one that will be my breakthrough novel. If not, I feel better about its quality, thanks to the judge who dinged me.
Contests have a little bit of the above qualities--the good, the bad, the ugly--, but it’s what we do to make the bad and ugly disappear that makes them worthwhile.
What experiences have you had? Share the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

Please help me welcome Allison Brennan whose suspenseful books will grab you and not let you go until you finish them.

Allison, what color are you favorite pjs? Just kidding, what was your first published book and with whom?

THE PREY, Ballantine, January 2006

How many books did you write before selling one?

THE PREY was my fifth completed manuscript. The first three were completely not publishable. I had some interest in number four before I found an agent, but it was a different genre (a futuristic romantic suspense, a little heavier on the science fiction than most) and when we sold THE PREY we decided to focus on romantic suspense since it was what I loved most.

How many books have you published?

FATAL SECRETS, which will be released on May 19, is my 11th book. I also have a short story in a Lee Child anthology and a novella out; my 12th book CUTTING EDGE will be released on July 28 and a short story in an Elizabeth George anthology will also be released in July.

Your body of work amazes me!

What themes go through your books?

I don’t really think much about themes, but people tell me I have them! I think my underlying message in all my books is that heroic people make sacrifices for the good of others (such as a dedicated cop) and that no one is an island—that even when you are dedicated to a cause you believe in, you are a happier, more complete human being when you can share your joy and pain with someone who loves you unconditionally. I always tackle good vs. evil, obsession vs. commitment, and judgment vs. justice. Some of my books, such as the Kincaid books, also have family as an important theme, and that came up again in CUTTING EDGE when I didn’t expect it. Another common element is that people are more than the sum of their parts; i.e. that everyone we meet and everything we do or that is done to us is only a part of who we are today; equally important is who we are born and how that person we are meets the challenges in front of us. It’s one reason I explore my villains in depth—why do some abused children turn in to killers? (The Butcher in THE HUNT, Aaron Doherty in TEMPTING EVIL) and why do some abused children turn into heroes? (Rowan Smith in THE PREY, Sonia Knight in TEMPTING EVIL.) I find a character’s backstory is hugely compelling because it shines a light on their actions and thoughts, and you know that they will be successful if they can overcome their perceived limitations.

How would you best describe your books?

Romantic thrillers. My story promise is that the hero and heroine will live and be together at the end of the book, and justice will be served. My mom pointed out that my bad guys always die. I had to think about that—I think they all do. Justice is sometimes slow in the real world; I want to make sure that the victims in my books have it before the book is over.

How did you write with kids and deadlines?

Kids have to go to school. It is the law. (And if it’s not the law, don’t tell my kids that!)

As long as I stay focused, I’m fine. I have six hours a day to write without interruption. Sometimes, I procrastinate. Sometimes I get stuck or diverted in research (a major time suck for me!) Then I find myself writing into the wee hours of the night to catch up. I generally write from 9 am – 3 pm, then again from 9 pm until about midnight or 1 in the morning.

Which other jobs have you had?

I was a legislative consultant for thirteen years in the California State Legislature. Before that, a variety of jobs.

What do you love most about writing and do you not like?

I love the story; I love the characters; I love when I’m in the zone and the characters take over and the story flows as if I’m simply the conduit. I also love revisions because that’s taking the skeleton and adding flesh and color.

I do not like copyedits. They feel like work. I don’t want to dissect the story, I want to write it.

Then I get the page proofs, the final copy I read for minor errors, I love it again. I think wow, I actually wrote this? I’m usually in denial.

What are you writing now?

I just finished CUTTING EDGE which is in production (yeah!) and have started book one in my Seven Deadly Sins series which will come out in March of 2010. I’ve very excited about this book.

What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?

What I’m writing. I didn’t start writing to sell; I wrote because I loved to tell stories. So I sold what I love to write, and I still love it. I’m glad that I am now writing a supernatural romantic thriller series because it’s different than the romantic crime thrillers—while still being in the same basic tone and style. Only, there are supernatural elements.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not write. Writing makes me happy because I love to tell stories. I’ve always had ideas about stories—generally, the characters and I picture them in some odd situation and I need to figure out how they got there. There are times I get frustrated, times when I doubt, and times when I think I’ll never be able to write a book half as good as the previous book. But still, I write.

How do you write?

How? Like on a computer (I have a MacBook and an iMac) or how I come up with the story? I don’t plot. I usually have a premise (such as, “What if a girl is sold into human trafficking by her father but escapes?” –Sonia Knight, Fatal Secrets. “What if there’s an earthquake under San Quentin?” – Prison Break trilogy.) The story goes from there. Sometimes, especially when I’m close to deadline, I’ll try to bullet point out the chapters I think I need to write. Inevitably, by the time I get two chapters into the “outline” I toss it because the story has gone off in another direction.

I write linearly—I rarely, if ever, write a chapter or scene out of order. I used to write one “sloppy copy” then go back and do a heavy edit, then a clean-up edit. Now I edit as I go. I revise what I wrote the day before and get back into the story and write the next chapter. This has helped me write faster, cleaner copy. Then I do a set of revisions with my editor.

Do you write what you know?

Yes and no. I’ve never been a cop, an FBI agent, or a prosecutor, but I do love to research so I try to put myself in their shoes and learn what I’d need to know. But the information is in my head only as long as I’m writing that book. It tends to disappear about the time I start the next book.

What’s next for you?

I have two books in my supernatural thriller series based on the Seven Deadly Sins. An evil occult releases the Seven Deadly Sins from Hell and a group of seven, including a woman who had killed her lover while possessed by a demon after her mother sold her soul; a former seminarian who witnessed a brutal massacre and now has memories he can’t explain; and a skeptical true crime writer; band together to find a way to send the Deadly Sins back to hell. Problem? They are not traditional demons (souls), but fallen angels (spirits) and the rules of traditional exorcisms don’t apply because they don’t need a human body to survive.

The first book is based on the Demon Envy, and begins with a group of teen-age Wiccans who are unknowingly led by an occultist who sacrifices one of the group to release the Deadly Sins from hell. A girl is dead, another missing, and people in the small northern California town begin to act on their jealousy, with deadly results. It’s currently untitled and will be released in March of 2010. The second book is also untitled and based on the Demon Lust and will be released in June of 2010.

I’m also launching a second series, this one a romantic thriller series starring Lucy Kincaid, a character from my NO EVIL series. In the first book, Lucy is a senior in college and becomes the primary suspect in a murder investigation of prominent men suspected of child molestation. It’ll be out in October 2010.

For more information about Allison check her website

Ask her questions, she loves them. Commenting could win you a book.