The Space Coast Authors of Romance (STAR) is about to open their contest. The LAS (Launch a Star) contest is one of the best, providing each finalist with a chance to be seen by both an editor and an agent. The success rate of those writers selling is very high. Judges for the contest are trained and each year, judging rules are reviewed. As a member of the committee, I was asked to give a brief talk on judging the Setting of a submission and thought I’d let our readers take a look at what I’ve come up with, so they can add to it. A Fuzzie review, as it were…

One of the first tasks a writer needs to accomplish is to draw a reader into her story. A reader wants to know who, what, when, and last, but certainly not the least, where. A compelling setting enhances a story, and, in some novels, like those of Karen White, Patti Callahan Henry, Anne Siddons and other writers of the South, setting almost becomes a character in the book.

Each scene should begin by giving the reader a sense of time and place. In literary works, many paragraphs may describe the setting. In other genres, it may take just a sentence or two to give the reader the who, what, when, and where. In all cases, it is important that the five senses flow throughout.

“She sat in the classroom, where they were to meet after the last student had left for home.”
Those two sentences are pretty sterile. Compare them to this, where setting is introduced.
“The last student left her class room at Avondale Middle School, murmuring a hurried good bye as he raced to catch the four o’clock bus. Josie Kingman shuffled the spelling papers on her desk and rubbed her hands together in an attempt to heat her cold hands. Jake Whitcomb, the handsome new principal, was to meet her there in less than a minute. “
Obviously, those sentences were done in a hurry but you get the point. The setting adds tension to the scene and the reader has a better idea of who, what, when, where. If it were important to the story, the writer could go on and describe the sights inside the room or what she sees through the window, the smells, etc.

The setting should enhance the story, not slow it down. If the description doesn’t add anything meaningful, the words are wasted and the pacing is slowed.

Be aware of too much setting, as well as too little, and enjoy creating spaces that invite the reader in.

Have anything to add? How do you react to setting in the stories you read?

Baby Paul’s problem.

My name is Paul Carl Suarez. They call me Paulito. I come from a large extended family that lives in Puerto-Rico. My daddy and mommy had been married for five years and live in Washington. DC, not far from Uncle Marc, my daddy’s big brother. My mommy lost several babies and wanted me so badly, she stayed on bed rest for months.

My great-grandmother, Abuelita, is a true matriarch who rules her family and five granddaughters with an iron hand. She even manages to make my daddy do what she wants. But my Uncle Marc is another ballgame.

Abuelita wants to see him married, preferably with a nice Puerto Rican girl of her choice. The old lady has introduced him to more beauties than I can count on my little fingers and toes. Uncle Marc usually talks with the intended belle, dazzles her with his brain-muddling smiles, flirts a bit without even noticing—you see flirting comes instinctively to him. He can’t control it—same way I can’t control my pipi. It’s part of the sympathetic nervous system as I heard Uncle Marc explain to my daddy. Uncle Marc is a doctor. A bright one. But my daddy laughed and called him an incorrigible womanizer. And my uncle Marc laughed too and then sobered.

These two brothers are best friends. And my daddy knows Uncle Marc’s secret, that he loved a pretty doctor, called Holly, seven years ago, but he had to go back to San Juan because my aunt, Tia Gabriella, got into deep trouble with a boy and my own daddy was going to kill the SOB. My uncle Marc fixed all the problems but he was sad and often looked at the picture of a very pretty, very blonde girl. I bet it’s Dr. Holly. She has saved hundreds of babies at the hospital and takes good care of them. Uncle Marc went back to work in Washington, in the same hospital where Dr. Holly is finishing her medical training.

My parents often said that the day of my birth would be the happiest day in their lives. But it turned out to be the saddest day in my brand new life.

I can’t believe they are gone. They left me alone in this world. Dr. Holly saved me, but Uncle Marc couldn’t keep my mommy or daddy around. What would become of me?

Uncle Marc doesn’t know how to change a diaper or warm a bottle. If I have to rely on him, I will starve and soak the sheets. I want my mommy. I need a mommy and a daddy like all the babies… I need parents who love each other.

But Uncle Marc loves all women and Dr. Holly can’t stand any men, especially Uncle Marc.
Help. I’m scared.


Short Synopsis:
With only one year left to complete her medical training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the drop-dead gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago.

When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated but novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust Marc again and believe in true love?

My third book BABIES IN THE BARGAIN will be released in four days from the Wild Rose Press, on July 3rd, 2009. BABIES IN THE BARGAIN is a sweet and spicy story in the genre of Grey's Anatomy and ER.

I've already received a whole box of paperback copies and I held a book signing yesterday before the official release of my book. So why the stress? The anxiety that burns my stomach and dries my throat?

Break Into Fiction® Tips for Troubleshooting Plot Holes By New York Times best selling author Dianna Love

Dianna Love has joined us today to share Tips for Troubleshooting Plot Holes in stories. Dianna and award-winning author Mary Buckham wrote the Break Into Fiction®: 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells (Adams Media/June 2009) book based on the innovative Break Into Fiction® writing programs they teach nationally.

Dianna sold the first novel she wrote – WORTH EVERY RISK – to Harlequin that went on to win a RITA® award under the name Dianna Love Snell. Her next releases were by St. Martin’s Press and Pocket, all three books hitting the New York Times list. Prior to those publications the suggestion was made to shorten her name to Dianna Love, which she now uses. Dianna co-writes a romantic thriller series with #1 NYT best selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon based on a covert national security group known as the Bureau of American Defense…or BAD. Their current release is WHISPERED LIES (Pocket/May 2009). For more on Dianna visit and

A big thanks to Mary Barfield for inviting me today.

I get this question often: What mistakes do writers commonly make in plotting?

There’s no way to answer that thoroughly here, which is why Mary Buckham and I finally wrote a book so writers could find those answers while working on their own story. But to address some bullet point issues, let’s start with plot holes in general.

A plot hole is a point in your story where the reader stops reading to question why something did, or did not, happen. Or the reader is taken off the ride because the character made an illogical action or decision. Or it happens because the writer inserted an action because “the writer needed X to happen at a certain point,” not because the action was motivated properly or because there was any logical reason for that action/situation.

Plot holes stem from a lot of things, but the simplest answer is “lack of motivation.” Or lack of the ability to answer the question “Why?” If you find yourself explaining why something happens in your story – this is red flag for a plot hole. Your story has to stand on its on merits with you thousands of miles away from someone reading it when you can’t explain anything to the reader.

Even if an agent or editor would let you explain it – why would that be okay? You can’t stand in the aisle at the bookstore and explain to every person who buys your book, “When you get to ______ scene, this is why that happens…”

Key points to ask yourself when working on a story are –
• Would “I” do this in this person’s shoes? I can’t tell you how many times I work with a writer on a story where they have an implausible situation and I ask the writer if they would make the same decisions or act the same way as the character? Too many of those writers will start saying, “You don’t understand…” Then they go on to explain why their character has to do this, but they still have not answered the question of “would YOU do that?” You are selling books to real, everyday people who are going to judge your character based on what they feel is believable.
• Why would your character do this now? You may “need” your character to do something at that point to force an action or decision, but if you can’t answer that question from the character’s mind then you may have them acting “out of character” – again, not believable.
• What is this character risking at each twist point in the story? There are 3 twist points in the story that ups the stakes and risks, places where the character faces obstacles and have to have a good reason for continuing to move toward their external goal. Too often, I see where stories have one thing happening after another with no real change occurring and the character does not face increased stakes or have a good reason to keep trying to save the world or find the killer.
• Why should we cheer for this character at the end? If you are writing commercial fiction, we need a reason to do high-fives for the character at the end. If you don’t have an answer for that question, something has broken down midway in your story. If your twist points are weak or missing, your ending will have no punch. The story arc has to continue to rise with higher stakes and risks to the point where everything is on the line.

If after each time your character(s) makes a decision or takes an action, you have trouble answering “why?” that will indicate of a plot hole. Sagging middles come from lack of strong twist points. Weak or missing twist points undermine the power in your story and the ending.

As I said, I can’t address everything here because there is so much more to creating a powerful novel. In Break Into Fiction®, we give both Plotters and Pantsers (writes by the seat of their pants) the tools necessary to build a compelling story with strong characters. The worksheets in our book are intended to have you start at chapter one working on YOUR story.

A Plotter will be able to assure their story is going in the right direction from the beginning with significant actions that will force the character(s) to grow and change, and the story arc to rise in a logical and believable way to a powerful ending.
A Pantser (writes by the seat of their pants) will use the questions in the worksheets to locate plot holes and character issues during the revision process, and to brainstorm the changes needed to fix problem areas.

What better way to learn than to apply the information immediately with your story?

Mary and I created a program and book that we wished we’d had when we first started writing. We wanted a book that would work like a personal critique partner to ask you questions about your story. That’s how Break Into Fiction came to be written and published.

So, what stumps you when it comes to plotting?

I’m giving away BOOKS! Post a hello or a question today for a chance to win a copy of Break Into Fiction® and a copy of PHANTOM IN THE NIGHT (the first BAD Agency book Dianna co-wrote with Sherrilyn Kenyon).

For more about Break Into Fiction® visit where you can sign up for a chance to win critiques and books. You can attend one of our special upcoming workshops at the Moonlight & Magnolias conference this October 2-4, 2009.

Good morning, all!

Got my coffee and a brand new blog event to talk up this morning.

Let me tell you a bit about this event.

It will be a month-long guest blog event running from July 1st through the 31st. I will be offering all visitors a chance at a single grand price which will be a Liberty Gift Basket chock full of goodies.

To enter for the grand prize, visitors will have to have commented throughout the month and list sitings of the Liberty Bell graphic I've posted to the left. This graphic will be posted to random blog posts throughout the month. Also, each guest blogger will offer a prize each day within their post. So visitors have lots of chances at winning. How easy is that?

The drawing for the grand prize winner will be the first week of August. Visitors SHOULD NOT post their Liberty Bell lists to the blog comments but email them to me directly at with "Liberty Bell graphic Sitings" listed in the subject line of their email. Anyone who posts their list to the blog will be disqualified. Winners for daily prizes will be announced on each participant's blog post and the grand prize winner will be posted as well to the blog, albeit, in August.

If you are interested in guest blogging for this event, please contact me directly at the email address I have listed within this post and I will give you all the details.

Have I confused anyone? If you are interested and have questions you can contact me anytime at my email address: Be sure to put "Liberty Event" in the subject line so I know your email is not spam.

Looking forward to lots of fun next month. And I will be sending out my very first newsletter, as well, which I am very excited about. If you are interested in receiving a copy of my newsletter please hop on over to my blog and click the Yahoo Groups icon on the right side panel.

Hope to see you all there.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Bestial Cravings, 4.5 stars
Curse of the Marhime, 4.5 stars
Eternal Obesession, 5 stars

Today the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers salute one of our own. Mona Risk is an amazing author, and just as amazing as a person. I hope you sell a ton of books Mona!

Let’s see if we can learn a bit more about Mona.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I can read contemporary romances and romantic suspense all day and all night long. ~by Roxanne St. Claire, Gemma Halliday, Rachel Gibson, Christie Craig~ OR~ sweet romances ~ by Karen Kendal, Beth Andrews, Cynthia Thomason) and medical romances~ by Dianne Drake, Janice Lynn, Sarah Morgan. Since I write in those genres, I usually read with a pencil in hand, critique as I read and learn as much as I can from my favorite authors.

If I read to relax, I favor historicals, mostly Regency, but also any historical by Stephanie Laurens, Bonnie Vanak, Tracy Grant and our own PFS Beth Trissel, also the oldies by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey, Heather Graham…

With all you have going on in your life Mona, I am surprised you have time to read. Hence the next question. How do you find time to write with the busy life you have?

Seven years ago I quit my fulltime job as a chemist and director of a chemistry lab to indulge my long time dream of writing romances. For two to three years I wrote non stop, day and night, hardly moving from my chair. I finished two romantic suspense novels and four medical romances. But then heavy responsibilities slammed at me and became top priorities. I edited and polished my books while caring for my sick mother or babysitting my adorable grandchildren. Now I write whenever I can, stealing an hour here or there, or staying awake till dawn when the muse kicks me out of bed.

Most certainly, I look at you as successful. How do you define success?

Thank you, Mary. Because I am a sentimental person, I treasure a good word as much as a hard-earned penny. Success is hearing a friend telling me she loves my book; receiving an email from a fan saying she fell in love with my hero; finding that one my book received raving reviews.

I think that networking is a great way to get into the business. How did you first get published?

It started with an unexpected, unprepared query at the 2007 FRW Miami Heat Conference in Florida. Raelene Gorlinsky was sitting at a table waiting for the next writer. I hadn't planned to talk to her and I didn't have a pitch, but a minute later I sat in front of Ms. Gorlinsky trying to summarize the book of my heart, TO LOVE A HERO, a story set in a Russian country. Raelene smiled, asked questions, and I relaxed. A week later I sent my requested material to Cerridwen Press and a month later came an official contract.

I have read and escaped into books my whole life, books were my salvation. Have you always been an avid reader?

Before I had children I used to read two books a day or night. My uncle timed me once. Apparently, I was an amazingly fast reader. It helped me a lot in my studies.

I think that what we do as children reflects on how and what we do as adults.
What was your favorite thing to do as a child?

Read, daydream and write. I started writing small stories since I was ten.

Now me I was the wallflower, if you could even drag me out. Later on in life I got more confidence but as a young girl I was a nerd. Even though I didn’t want to be LOL. Were you a geek or popular girl?

More of a geek until I went to college, learned to straighten my frizzy hair and wore high heels to add a couple of inches to my petite frame.

Life is full of ups and downs. What's the best thing that ever happened to you?

Going back to school with two teenaged kids to prepare a PH.D. in chemistry. Becoming a student again was fascinating. It made feel like I was twenty and gave me tremendous self-confidence. My children said it was the best example I could have set for them about the importance of studies.

Sometimes when we can overcome an obstacle or survive something we grow as people. What's the hardest thing you have ever done?

The hardest thing? I am doing it right now. Seeing my mother deteriorating in front of my eyes. A brilliant beautiful woman becoming a ghost of what she was. I often can’t control my tears.

I am so sorry about your Mom, Mona, I do know what you are going through and I pray you have the strength to get through this hard time. We fill our lives with things that make us happy. Sometimes we spend so much time writing we forget to have fun.

What do you like to do, besides read, that is not involved with your craft?

Play with my grandchildren. Walk on the beach and swim.

Who are the people who have been the most helpful in our quest to publish?

My wonderful critique partners, Helene Scott-Taylor and Joan Leacott, some writers from the Writers at Play had been my mentors and taught me how to “show” rather than “tell”, the contest judges who honestly offered critiques and suggestions.

Who did you dedicate your first book to and why?

My first book, TO LOVE A HERO, is dedicated to my husband, my hero, best friend and the love of my life.
My second book, FRENCH PERIL, is dedicated to my son, who created my website and edited several scenes with fights and gunshots.
Third book, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, to my daughter whose struggle to become a neonatologist inspired my book.
Fourth book, Rx FOR TRUST, is dedicated to my mother, an example of courage and perseverance.

Mona’s fist medical romance. BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, will be released in a few days at The Wild Rose Press, on July 03, 2009.
BABIES IN THE BARGAIN is a sweet and spicy medical romance that garnered several wins in contests: Launching A Star, The Beacon, Great Expectations; Golden Gateway; Gotcha; Enchanted Words; The Suzannah; Winter Rose; Linda Howard Award of Excellence.

Short Synopsis:

With only one year left to complete her medical training in Neonatology, Dr. Holly Collier vows not to let anyone mess up her sacrosanct schedule. Especially not the drop-dead gorgeous Dr. Marc Suarez who broke her heart seven years ago.

When a tragic accident transforms the carefree playboy into a dedicated but novice father to his nephew, Holly gives in to her maternal instincts and turns her structured life upside down for the orphaned preemie. But can she learn to trust Marc again and believe in true love?

Thank you, Mary for taking the time to interview me.

Thank you, Mona, for blogging with us today.
My friend, Mona, has had a wonderfully interesting life and it amazes me all that she has accomplished. Now we have great insight into the sweet and talented woman I know and love as Mona Risk. Good luck and may all your dreams come true!

You can read more about Mona’s books at:

Our cruise was 7 nights and 8 days and we enjoyed it immensely. There are still a few tips I can share to save money on your dream vacation. When you look at the tours available at each port it is easy to see that they can add up to a big expense.

This year we opted for the organized tour to Pompeii and Sorrento. The costs for these were charged to our room, which was then charged to my credit card. That gives me a month before I have to pay the bill! The other ports we hired a taxi to take us around the city or opted to walk and explore on our own. Both were good options and we enjoyed them while saving about three quarters of the tour price. The price for the organized tours for 3 adults and 1 child was 300 Euro. The cost of a taxi tour for 4 was much more affordable.

So, Google your ports see what you want to do and then plan your excursions around them. In most ports you will find taxis readily available and most can be hired for about 40 to 50 Euros per hour. Or you can negotiate a day rate. Just don’t pay the driver up front, wait until the end. That way you can be sure he doesn’t drive away and leave you stranded. Not that he would, but it’s better safe than sorry.

Another option is something called the “Ho-Ho Bus.” This is a tourist bus that runs a set route around the city to all the important sights and allows you to hop on and off as you wish. You can buy tickets for the day for around 25 Euro. This beats even the taxi's prices. So when you Google your ports, be sure to check for the “Ho-Ho Bus.”

Most ports also offer bicycles, scooters and four-wheelers for rent near the port for those brave enough to give it a shot. Corfu is an excellent port for such an adventure. Can’t help you with the cost of these because I wasn’t that adventurous!

In Marseille, France we took the shuttle from the port to the old port where we wandered around on our own. It was nice, the city was clean and we felt safe. We visited a museum, and stopped for lunch in a French Café.

In Genoa, Italy we hired a taxi and the driver was wonderful! He didn’t speak a word of English, but we were able to pick up enough of his Italian to know what he was trying to tell us. He took us to all the must see spots pointed out the attractions, explained in Italian what they were and then waited while we wandered around and took pictures.

In Naples, we took the tour which encompassed the entire day and was great. Time in Sorrento was very limited because we lingered too long over our lunch in Pompeii, but hey, can’t have it all can you?

In Palermo we again hired a taxi. This particular driver was in to bargaining and we haggled over the price. Haggling finally got him down to 80 Euro for a two hour tour. He didn’t speak English, was not as personable as the driver in Genoa, but did take us to all the important spots and some not so important! He drove through allies that had no more than a hair’s width clearance at the side of his small taxi! Palermo was a disappointment. The city was dirty with garbage piled in the streets. We learned when we returned to the ship their Sanitation workers were on strike.

Our last port was Palma and it was beautiful, clean and delightful. We took the shuttle into the town centre and wandered around admiring all the architecture. We stopped in a McDonald’s to buy drinks. They do not have Mickey D’s sweet tea in Mallorca!

Hope this gives you some ideas for planning your own dream vacation!

Please help me welcome our guest for today, Melissa Beck!

What was y
our first published book and with whom? I first sold to HardShell Word Factory in 2000. That book is no longer available.

How many books did you write before selling one? Not sure. I would guess 7 or 8 full manuscripts. I wrote two young adults, and then several contemporaries.

How many books have you published? Two. My current release is The Daddy Issue, published by The Wild Rose Press.

What themes go through your books? Longing for family, a gaining of self-confidence, mutual trust in each other. I would say my books have a mainstream feel. They're centered around a couple who need to discover what is hurting them, holding them back from the full capacity to love. Their love helps them grow and evolve into the best they can be. But they've always had good core beliefs. Maybe some trauma in their lives has made them forget, or push aside their inner strengths, and love helps them find and use those great traits again.

Which other jobs have you had? Waitress, retail sales, bank management, needlework finisher, freelance editing/writing—nonfiction.

Which "bucket list" types of things have you done? Beauty pageant participant, judged shelties at my local club's dog show, took improv comedy classes, taught Vacation Bible School, facilitated Adult Disciple Bible Study classes, entered and was a finalist in a suburban newspaper's cooking contest, took quilting, rug hooking, rug braiding and beaded jewelry making classes, sold collectibles on Ebay and at antiques market, member of garden club. Oh, and blue and red ribbon winner at North Georgia Fair with my needlework projects. And my family and my cattle dog, Shadow, just auditioned to be on the national TV show, "It's Me or The Dog."

What do you love most about writing and do you not like? I love probing characters' minds and creating their lives for them! I enjoy the puppetry act of being a writer. What I dislike is that it involves a lot of sitting down. I like to be active. And I wish I wrote faster, so I could get up off the sofa in a more timely manner! I don't like the way it takes a few false starts and a lot of character analysis and synopsis work before I know my people well enough to write their story. And I don't like it that I write so much, I don't have a lot of time for pleasure reading.

What are you writing now? It's another twist on the secret baby theme. I'm a little shy about discussing the details of the next one until I'm further along with it. But suffice it to say, I'm happy with how I'm doing on the early chapters.

What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write? Exactly what I'm writing. Contemporaries with plenty of emotion.

Why do you write? Because I can! And because I can do it for hours, and then look up at the clock and time has just ticked away. That's a good feeling, to know that you've gotten yourself so occupied, you haven't noticed the time. Life coaches are always telling people that's the type of job they should have!

How do you write? Laboriously, and all the while wishing I could be faster!

If you're like me and love writing, you'll understand where is blog is coming from. I've submitted work to a number of editors at Harlequin/Silhouette. I've met several at conferences, and even become friendly with some. As an unpublished author, we all have this image of the "Editors" as God's or Goddesses. I'm no different, but today I decided to put my fear aside and try to show myself and other's these "Editors, God's, and Goddesses" are human just like you and me.

Here's the interview I just completed with Patience Smith. I met her at National, submitted to her, and have admired her. After this interview, seeing her personality coming out, I can see she's someone I could easily claim as a friend. She's playful, upfront, and honest. I love her responses, many of which had me laughing out loud.

About the Editor and Editing:

DJ: You are the acquisition editor for Silhouette Romantic Suspense. From your perspective, how does Silhouette Romantic Suspense differ from Harlequin Intrigue, so people who are interested in submitting will clearly know which division to send to?

PS: As with many lines there is minor overlap between SRS and Intrigue. But to most of our authors and readers, the differences are clear. SRS is character and romance focused with some suspense. Intrigue has more suspense than SRS. In Intrigue, the romance and the suspense work in tandem. In SRS, the romance and characters take precedence.

DJ: When you first started editing for H/S did you have any idea where you'd be today?

PS: I didn’t have the first clue, though I certainly enjoyed my work. Time has flown by.

DJ: That said, what was your training, and how did it prepare you for the job you do today? (This is for anyone who might want to consider becoming an editor some day.)

PS: Like many in my profession, I started out doing nothing related to publishing. I majored in French and Latin, taught high school French and got my master’s in French Literature. I came this close to going for a Ph.D in French but then realized I would die a slow death as an academic. Publishing seemed like more fun. Before I started temping, I read a lot of books on editing and interviewed editors in New York, who gave me great feedback and advice. I am indebted to Tracy Farrell who took a chance on someone with no practical experience.

DJ: What do you wish you'd done before taking this job?

PS: I would have loved to have been an actress but I can't take the rejection or the commitment to anorexia.

DJ: What experience do you wish you'd had before taking this job? After this much time, what do you wish you'd done to prepare for where your job is going?

PS: I wish I had taken a copyediting class. I guess it’s not too late! I’m lucky in that Harlequin encourages us to get training in certain areas, such as management skills, editing, critiquing. I feel as if I’m getting the preparation now for wherever my job may lead me.

DJ: Has any slush pile offering ever just knocked your socks off?

PS: Several have. I'd say at least a dozen where I was desperate to work on them. A few worked out and another few went to other houses.

DJ: What does a typical day entail for you?

PS: Morning: I sit and read, enjoying how the sun hits my neck. As the office becomes more populated, I’ll start doing administrative stuff such as writing endless memos, sending emails, checking my To Do list for the day. Then I’ll line-edit part of a book. My editorial assistant, the incomparable Shana, stops by around 10 am to get work.

I eat lunch at 11:30 and do the New York Times Crossword and New York Post Sudoku.

More work in the afternoon, some meetings, and I return phone calls. By 3pm, I start to get squirrelly from sitting all day. I’ll either go on a rampage to find chocolate or torture myself with mindless left-brain activities such as emptying my file folders. I’ll make myself a list of at least three things to accomplish for the next day. This list only serve one purpose: I enjoy crossing things out, which is how I get so much done.

By 5 pm, I’m out the door and off to the gym to perk myself up.

DJ: How much do you have to take home at the end of the day/week?

PS: These days, I take a lot home – at least three proposal to evaluate and sometimes a manuscript to edit. Whatever I can carry without breaking my back, I bring home. It’s been monsoon submission season. This is fine for me since I'm a workaholic.

DJ: What does networking mean to an editor?

PS: It means going to publishing events and talking to friends. Several former colleagues have gone elsewhere but I love seeing them at conferences. I'm not a gifted networker but I love meeting new people in the biz and hearing what they're excited about.

DJ: Where would you like to see yourself go from here? Is there any line you'd like to acquire for specifically?

PS: I'm happy with what I'm doing. I get lost in work to the point where I forgot to dream about world domination. It doesn't mean I'm not ambitious, just a huge nerd and bookworm. A side wish would be to work on a nonfiction book since I devour all sorts of How To's and celebrity memoirs.

Mechanics and Rules:

DJ: I'm sure you've heard many of the "Rules" we hear in RWA and do you feel about them...are any of them totally wrong?

PS: I haven’t heard these rules, but one rule would be not to follow an editor into the bathroom to pitch a book. The bathroom is sacred.

DJ: From an editor's point of view...which of the following is preferred and why, so we understand how/why to keep it straight, for the editor: Which is preferred: Underlining versus Italics to show internal thought?

PS: Either one is fine. I prefer underlining for no particular reason.

DJ: When changing POV's or scenes what is preferred: *** or double return?

PS: It really depends. I generally like the POV switch done without *** or double return.

DJ: Must you have the above *** or double return between POV's?

PS: No.

DJ: . # of POV changes per chapter...max?

PS: Depends on the chapter but I’d say two, otherwise, it’s a doubles tennis match (that reminds me, I’m missing Wimbledon right now!).

DJ: Is it okay to start out in the hero's point of view, even if it's "her" story?

PS: Yes.

DJ: At the end of a chapter, I've heard it's best to end the chapter with that character asking a question? Is this so your reader has to turn the page to get the answer? Or would you rather see action/reaction from the character?

PS: I tend to respond more to the character making some kind of supposition or realizing the problem was more complicated than she thought. Or you could go the Dan Brown route and have a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter (though this can be tiring and gimicky). Whatever feels natural. Last lines are harder than first lines, I think, since there are so many more cliches.

DJ: I've heard there are several words that should be used minimally or avoid completely: just, almost, tried, ever etc. Is this because it's an extraneous word or not descriptive enough?

PS: I'm a fan of being succinct, though the exceedingly long sentences of David Foster Wallace can be fun to read. Sometimes those extraneous words fit, sometimes they don't. If the sentence works without it, take it out. That can make the phrase more forceful. But, of course, everyone’s style is different.

DJ: I've heard starting a sentence with a word ending in "ing" is a no-no, yet at times it works...yes or no?

PS: I don't like sentences starting with an "ing" word. For me either it doesn't make sense or seems awkward: Giving him a smile, she opened the car door. Yuck! More like: Before she opened the car door, she gave him a smile...or whatever. It's just confusing to know what comes first. Then there's this sentence I see often: Setting down his keys, he opened his little black book. Does he open the book AS he's setting down the keys or after? I'm sure there are technical rules in favor of this usage but I don't like seeing it.

DJ: How do you feel at tags, after dialog? Are they always necessary?

PS: Not always necessary but considering my brain damage from excess reading, tags can be useful to avoid confusion. I don't like when a writer tries to find other ways to say "said" throughout a manuscript: avowed, asserted, extrapolated, supposed. That draws my attention to the tag, which is wrong.

DJ: Or would you rather see that character do an action following the dialog?

PS: That’s fine too.

About a submission:

DJ: When submitting, is it better to send to the senior most person or someone lower on the totem pole?

PS: It doesn’t really matter because if you send it to a senior person, it might still wind up with someone lower on the totem pole.

DJ: When reading a submission, and you're reading about the it his looks, strength of character, sense of humor or action that intrigues you first or perhaps the situation he's been put in?

PS: It’s usually the ‘tude that draws me. If the hero has a noteworthy attitude, it brings him to life for me. He could look like Shrek but if he’s charismatic, I’ll fall in love.

DJ: When reading a submission, and you're reading about the it her appearance, strength of character, sense of humor or action that intrigues you first or perhaps the situation she's been put in?

PS: I would say also that her attitude should set her apart. I tend to like bad girls, neurotics, or princesses more because they have distinct attitudes—as long as they are loveable. The do-gooder Cinderella types, who never do anything wrong, don’t engage my sympathies as much. Now if Cinderella is working hard to quit smoking and keeps smacking a patch on her arm, she’s more human and I like her.

DJ: In an opening chapter we want to get straight to the story, but how much back story is too much? Is a paragraph here an there in the first chapter too much...of should you try to avoid any back story until chapter two?

PS: I often see the Information Dump in the first chapter. One paragraph is fine but weaving backstory throughout is ideal. The reader wants to get to know the characters as people first.

DJ: Regarding the above question....does your answer change if they've met before and this is a reunion of sorts?

PS: No.

DJ: How imperfect can your heroine be and still be a heroine? Here's my heroine in my romantic comedy Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids (Innocent, sheltered heroine who stays innocent while falling in love only to find out it was all a lie. She could walk away and lick her wounds or go for payback...and her idea of payback is making the hero teach her to love; actions, physically and mentally?) Can she still be a heroine?

PS: A heroine can be imperfect as long as she's not a desperate, needy weenie. If the heroine is getting her payback by seducing the hero, it shows how needy and stuck on the hero she is. Using her powers of seduction to hurt the hero seems forced and makes her a bit of a stereotype. If she *really* wants payback, she could hit the hero where he lives--like destroy his company, reputation, ignore him or become more powerful than he is.

DJ: How imperfect can your hero be and still be a hero? Here's my hero from my romantic comedy Sex, Lies, and Beauty Aids (My hero did something not so heroically to the heroine when they were younger, and he never had a chance to apologize; he can't go back, but still feels compelled to find a way to make it up to her. Can't make it up to her while pretending to be his brother...but uses their time together to find a way to right the wrongs.) Can he still be a hero ?

PS: I enjoy imperfect heroes but I draw the line at violence against the heroine. That can't be redeemed. I always found the "Luke and Laura" romance totally outrageous and offensive. Romanticizing rape just can't happen. The hero can't cheat on the heroine while he's with her but maybe The Supposed Other Woman could make it look like he cheated. Other than that, I think the hero can lie, cheat non-sexually, and steal from her but always with the assurance that he'll make it up to her big-time in the end.

DJ: When you receive a submission and in their intro share that they have success in contests...does this weigh much with you?

PS: Sure. I like to see a writer's accomplishments, organizations, profession, and education. It shows me how committed she is to her work and that she takes the business seriously.

DJ: When submitting a partial/complete, what kind of time frame for a turnaround can one expect?

PS: Complete: I respond within three months. For a partial, a bit less than this. I would call if I've held onto a partial beyond two months.

DJ: Is there a topic or story line you're tired of?

PS: The second I give this answer, a writer will wow me with a new twist on the tired plot.

Patience the Person

DJ: What do you like reading about for a hero and heroine, but dislike in real life.

PS: In books, I love Alpha heroes, especially in a Harlequin Presents, but in real life, I want to smack them. In books, often a heroine needs a hero to swoop in and rescue her. In real life, this idea grates on me even though it’s supposed to be a fantasy.

DJ: What do you wish people in real life would learn/remember from reading and act on? By this I the news, you read such awful stories these days...I do people honesty believe doing these horrible things to others, in any way is okay? What happened to honor, self- control, responsibility.

PS: In romances, people tend to behave better toward each other. Even if the hero and heroine are not friendly at the beginning, they do wind up declaring their love and living happily ever after. Friends and family are mostly devoted to one another, see each other often, and express their feelings. In real life, this doesn’t happen so much and there’s an epidemic of neglect. Readers love to read about intimate communities because they don’t exist as much anymore beyond Facebook (though I admit to being an addict).

DJ: For your personal reading, what's your favorite genre? Romance, Suspense, Vampire, Historical, Time Travel....etc?

PS: Nonfiction! I read a lot of trashy celebrity biographies and self-help. I also love clever chick lit and the classics.

DJ: Can you name the hero of your favorite story, movie, book, television?

PS: Of course I love Mr. Darcy in theory…Right now I’m in love with heroes who run headlong into the most dangerous situations possible. I’ve been going through a Jack Bauer and Bruce Willis in Die Hard phase.

DJ: Why were you drawn to him?

PS: It’s not that I want to see them injured repeatedly, though I enjoy this—especially walking on glass and enduring two years of torture overseas. The cursing is a bonus. It inspires me when heroes run on fumes and will do anything to accomplish their missions. This kind of commitment helps me find the will to accomplish my own smaller scale missions.

DJ: Can you name the heroine of your favorite story, movie, book, television?

PS: I adore Clarissa (played by Meryl Streep) from The Hours.

DJ: What did you admire about her?

PS: At the beginning, she fills her life with meaningless gestures, helps everyone but neglects those who love her the most. I think we all do a little bit of this—flutter about and focus on appearances. At the end, Clarissa learns to care for and appreciate her loved ones. I admire how she faced difficult life events, tried to boost morale when it was impossible, but then fell apart and realized what was important in her own life.

DJ: In a fantasy, where would you like to be kidnapped and taken to while waiting for the ransom to be paid?

PS: Kidnapping is not a fantasy for me, but I could be someone’s slave in, say, a castle in France.

DJ: What bad boy, would be your ideal kidnapper?

PS: I’m in love with Gale Harold, who plays/played Jackson on Desperate Housewives this season. He’s better known as Brian Kinney on Queer As Folk. If he were on vacation the week of my slavery, I’d take Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Liev Schreiber, Gerard Butler, Javier Bardem, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig. But really, I want Gale!

DJ: What's your favorite television series character? Why?

PS: My favorite television series character of all time is Erica Kane from All My Children. That woman is just fabulous in every way. I’ve been obsessed with her since I’m ten.

DJ: Do you like all this reality television or would you rather see re-runs of the oldies?

PS: I try to avoid reality television, mostly because it’s like watching paint dry. I do enjoy The Real Housewives of New York, mostly to see people behaving badly. It perpetuates offensive stereotypes about how women interact, but I can’t help it. I also watch Tori & Dean.

Patience Smith is the Senior Editor for Silhouette Romantic Suspense. She has been with Harlequin/Silhouette Books since December 1997. Originally from the Northeast, she has lived in France, Connecticut, Ohio and New Mexico and now resides in New York City. She has her master’s degree in French literature, which hasn’t really helped with her work as an editor, and taught French at Sandia Preparatory School before moving into publishing.

Why I Wear Ugly Clothes

Posted by Liz Jasper | 12:30 AM | 12 comments »

Not all the time. I feel I should make that clear. I will don appropriate, professional clothes for work. I won't wear my favorite ratty sweats to see the symphony. If I'm going to a nice restaurant I will wear something figure-flattering (or figure-concealing, depending on how much of a pig I plan on being. I believe in being prepared.)

I am not colorblind.

It is important to make all this clear because if you ever saw me in what I wear around the house, you would never believe any of these statements.

Don't get me wrong, I like dressing up. It's fun. I enjoy putting on a tailored suit and heels on those days when I actually have to make an appearance in the office. I feel like a professional, striding around in my professional attire amid the other professionals. I also like dressing up to go out. I like the added bit of picking out just the right jewelry and walking through a spritzed cloud of perfume on my way out the door.

What I like even more is coming home, ripping off those pretty, matching, carefully selected items of clothing and puttin' on mah sweats. They are orange. Not a pretty pale orange that would complement my skin tone, orange orange. They are enormous. And they are thick and nubby and very warm. A gift from my sister, who understands the unremitting, bone-chilling cold that can afflict some abodes in northern California.

She made me promise I would never, ever, wear these orange sweats in public. I don't. (Except maaaybe out to get the newspaper or the mail.) And, frankly, as ugly as these sweats are -- and they are quite ugly (the neighbors to the south avert their eyes now, automatically, even when I'm wearing normal clothes)-- the problem isn't so much with the sweats. It is what I wear them with. Because, as I've discovered, layers are important in staying warm. So I layer. With abandon. My favorite ratty pink sweatshirt, over which, as it's grown thin with washing, I often wear a striped cardigan. Purple, with blue stripes. And really ugly snowflakes. (It's a Christmas reject that lives on the rest of the year.) I'm not sure I should horrify you all with my footwear choice, so I suppose I shouldn't admit to wearing Birkenstocks with wool socks. Not always of the same color. (Socks and shoes. I have lots of Birkenstocks.)

Now, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Oh, she's exaggerating," or "It can't be that bad. I mean, she's got to wash those sweats and she can't always wear them with the striped cardigan." The latter is true. For wash day, I swap out the orange sweats for a pair of red plaid flannel boxers-style pajama bottoms. Yeah, the ones with the butt that manages to be both giant and saggy. I like to wear them with my blue Patagonia pullover with the floral motif.

The big question here is, "Why?" Why would anyone who is capable of wearing…well, anything else…choose to wear outfits she knows are horrifically awful? Clashing color combinations that hurt even her own eyes?

I do it because I can. Because when I am dressing for the business world, or the symphony, or the fancy restaurant, I am dressing to fit in. To humor others. Sure, I like dressing the part to some degree. I like to fit in—or stand out in a good way—as much as anyone else.

But when I wear those orange sweats that no one but me could love? Pair them with horrible tops that make me giggle when I catch sight of myself in the mirror?

In those times, I'm not dressing to please another person. Or to fit in. Or to send a message. I am only dressing to please myself. (Though why those sweats are what pleases me, I admit, is a troublesome issue of its own.)

And the right to not have to please another person with what I am wearing is something I will defend with boxer shorts over the orange sweats with the floral Patagonia on top if need be. Don't make me got there. My neighbors beg it of you.

Liz Jasper is the award-winning author of Underdead and Underdead In Denial. You can read excerpts at her website (and find links to her various social pages, at which she is always appropriately dressed) at

The next 2 weeks will rock here!

Wednesday, June 24

Author Melissa Back will be out guest!

Thursday, June 25

Scarlet will post more photos of her latest cruise to Italy and Spain and give more hints for planning a vacation in a shoestring.

Friday, June 26

Mary Ricksen will interview out own Mona Risk about her latest Babes in the Bargain.

Saturday, July 27

Dayana Knight will launch her Guest Blog Event “Let Freedom Ring for the month of July.

Sunday, July 28
Diana Love Snell, yes the one and only, will be our guest and has wonderful prizes to offer! You’ll be swept up by her heroes!

Friday, July 3

Mona Risk Big Day, Babes in the Bargain release day! Go Mona!

Saturday, July 4

Come read about Independence Day from an immigrant’s point of view.

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

This is one of those sweet June mornings when the world seems fresh and new, too soft for words, but I’ll try. I’m looking out the two windows in my bedroom as I write into the most beautiful gold light, the sort of light photographers love. Roses glow like jewels, their red, yellow, pink blossoms heavy with rain from the night. White daises sparkle, lacy pinks, red clover, lavender candy tuft, angel wing poppies, nodding columbine bells, spires of blue salvia, crimson lupines…and all the plants with a rich promise of more to come.

Hues of green spread through my yard and garden, out over the meadow, and up into the hills beyond the fields. The sky is washed in pale blue at the edges, deeper blue as it arches upward. And the air is alive with birdsong. Cows impatiently bawl for more hay, greedily snatching at the bales tossed down to them from the mow. Plump gray and white barnyard geese fuss, as is their way––I never quite catch the argument––while the goslings make this funny whistling sound.

“Waddle-butts,” I call the infants, “busy little waddle-butts,” plopping down to rest when they tire and then darting off again to catch up with the group.
If a gosling falls too far behind, its shrill peeping can be heard over hill and vale, by all, including the baddies out there that eat silly babies. Given the absentmindedness of mama and papa geese and auntie and uncles, it’s amazing that as many goslings survive as they do. Somehow, they manage, usually.

Wood duck mamas loudly cry ‘whoo-eek’ from the pond to round up the ducklings darting over its calm surface like little bumble bees. Mallard babies quietly follow their mothers in a dutiful row or all huddled together. Not so the wood ducklings. They are far more independent. But fast. Bad old snapping turtles are hard pressed to catch them. Snappers are the pond’s version of sharks, but I shouldn’t end on that visual image.

Way up beyond the hills and the distant fields I see the Allegheny Mountains rising above all. Why weren’t they called the Blue Ridge? They are equally blue, and can be every bit as hazy as the Smokies. What’s in a name? Much? Little? Some are steeped in meaning, others not. I don’t even know what Allegheny means, only that the mountains are glorious. They seem to roll on and on forever like the swells of a sea. I tell my daughter, Elise, that as long as the mountains stand and there are green meadows, we are well.


This piece is an excerpt from my non-fiction collection entitled Shenandoah Watercolors that my mom and I are combining with her lovely pics. This photograph of larkspur and the rose was taken last week by my daughter Elise. Mom and I are thinking of self-publishing Shenandoah Watercolors digitally so as to include all of her pics. We doubt any traditional publisher would allow them all.

For more on my novels, please visit:
The beauty of the valley and surrounding mountains are my inspiration.

As promised last week, I’ve got more hints for you on how to enjoy the vacation of your dreams without breaking the bank.

The perfect way to see Europe is by cruise ship. Select the cruise that goes to the ports you want to visit. Then shop for the best deal among the many cruise lines. Working with a travel agent makes it easy. Once you’ve decided on the cruise you’d like to take, you simply “put it on layaway.” Well, that’s not what they call it, but that in essence is what it is.

You can reserve your cruise up to a year in advance, or longer, your TA could tell you. That’s where the layaway plan comes in. You can make payments on the cruise until it is paid. The entire cost must be paid by three months from the cruise date.

Another way to save is to double up with friends, then split the cost. The third or fourth persons in a stateroom pay a fraction of what the first two pay. Take the total cost and divide it equally among friends. That brings the cost down considerably.

If you have children under the age of 18, they sail free on MSC Cruise Line, when they stay in your stateroom. We used this benefit to include our nine year old granddaughter on our trip this year.

Now that you have your cruise on layaway, it’s time to start trolling for airfare. If you’re planning on Europe, you have to get there, right? Buying your tickets months in advance will bring you a really big savings, but you have to monitor the cost and purchase when they are lowest.

We zeroed in on the flights we wanted in December for our May cruise. When I first researched the flights the tickets were almost $1500. That was way over our budget. Again, my TA said to wait until after the first of the year, rumor had it the prices would come down. In February I checked the flights. They were on sale for less than $500. With the extra fees, they came to just over $500 each. Big savings and just what we needed. Another way to save is to opt for flights with one stop, the non-stop fights are always higher. If you don’t mind changing planes in a strange airport, it makes for a great savings.

Finally, use one of the online sites to book a hotel in the city of disembarkation and book a room either the night before the cruise, or the last day of the cruise. This will allow for you to enjoy the city either pre or post cruise. Be sure to check the schedule for boarding your ship and for docking on the last day to be sure your flight will allow ample time to reach the ship or airport. We found the only fight out of Barcelona this year left at 11:20, with the ship docking at 9am, we felt that was cutting it too close and opted to stay overnight in Barcelona. Using the internet, I got a great deal for the one night stay.

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 8:49 AM | 7 comments »

Hi everyone,
Two free deals today:

Check out the Borders website and print a coupon for a free Seattle's best 12 oz. beverage.

Check out the Orange Julius website and print a coupon for a free Orange Julius.

Both coupons are for today only, so fire up your printer and enjoy!

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

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:32 AM | 6 comments »

Happy Burtday!
Yes, you read that right. Check out the Burt's bees website for their $25.00 gift bag. It includes 3 regular sized lip products, 12 mini size products, and 4 gifts, a regular $50.00 value. Use code HIVEBDAY for free shipping and WELCOME to add a free lip balm.

Those lucky people heading to Disneyworld in Florida between August and October should check out the free Disney dining, an incredible value, which is included with some packages. Book by July 26th. And, to make the deal even better, check out the DIS boards, where members of Disney Vacation Club units rent their units at substantial savings.

Have fun!

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

In my blog last month I talked about Chapter Four from Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass, which was about creating larger-than-life characters. Chapter Five shows you how to heighten these qualities. Maass says, "Larger-than-life opportunities can crop up everywhere; it only takes being alert to the possibility of sending your protagonist or point-of-view character beyond what is usual."

He gives an example from Barbara Freethy's Summer Secrets. Her protagonist is being questioned by a reporter about his late wife. Instead of telling the reporter about her, he has the reporter close his eyes and feel the heat, the sunlight, smell the scent of summer, all his senses heightened. Then he tells the reporter that's what his wife did for him. "She made me feel everything more intensely than I'd ever felt it before."

Wow! That's larger than life!

Last month, as an example of a larger-than-life characters, I used an example from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, in which the heroine found the hero with two buxomy strumpets on his lap, and she scoured him with zingers.

That was larger-than-life, but the scene didn't stop there. That was just the beginning. This "sequel" in the heroine's POV sums up what happened during the scene:

Jessica Trent was a young woman who faced facts, and as she mounted,
dripping, the stairs to her brother's
appartement, she faced

First, she had leapt at the first excuse to hunt down Lord

Second, she had sunk into a profound depression, succeeded almost
instantly by jealous rage, because she'd found two women sitting in his

Third, she had very nearly wept when he'd spoken slightingly of her
attractions and called her "a ha'pennyworth of a chit."

Fourth, she had
goaded him into assaulting her.

Fifth, she had very nearly choked him to death, demanding the assault

Sixth, it had taken a bolt of lightning to knock her loose.

How is that list for enhancing larger-than-life characters?
Maass also advises writers to play with the volume. Where another writer would make a big deal out of a scene -- maybe one we've seen before -- your character gives it a fresh throwaway comment.

Maass says, "The protagonists in most manuscript that I read are too ordinary and predictable. It is hard to overdo larger-than-life qualities."

I just went through the third revision of my book and I turned up the volume in many scenes. It's what I usually do during my revisions. Between Margie Lawson and Donald Maass, I do more of that now than I did two or three years ago. I give my CPs credit, too. A lot of credit. I plan to turn up the volume louder in the next revision round. I'll watch for places to turn it softer, too.

In what way do you sharpen the larger-than-life qualities throughout your story? Can you name something specific?

Joanne--Deals of the day

Posted by Josie | 2:46 PM | 7 comments »

Hi Everyone,
I have 3 great deals to share with you today:

Suze Orman is offering her Will and Trust Kit free on her website, which normally sells for $13.50. When you go to her website, select the Will and Trust Kit and in the orange gift code section, type in People First.

This coming weekend, June 20th and 21st, 100 National parks throughout the U.S. are offering free admission per carload. With some admissions costing $10.00 and over, this is a great deal. Check and see if any parks in your area are participating.

And, the third deal does not start until tomorrow. However, this item may be sold out tomorrow by the time you read this, so I'm posting a day early. is offering their S2009W 20-inch HD Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor for $89 with free shipping, regularly $159.00.
This is a one-day sale, June 17th, only. The sale begins at 6:00 A.M. CST. I'm hoping to snag one myself.

Happy shopping!

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

Joanne---Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 2:44 PM | 6 comments »

Hi Everyone,
Today is the last day for 80% off restaurant certificates. Just go to their website and type in your zip code. At checkout the code is PRESENT.

Times may be tight, but everyone enjoys eating out once in a while. Hope this helps someone!

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

Joanne--Deal of the day

Posted by Josie | 10:30 AM | 8 comments »

Hello everyone. It's that time of the month--time for some great deals!

For today: Free 8 x 10 color photo through CVS, one of my favorite stores.

Good now through June 21st, log onto CVS photo and use coupon code FREE8x10

Great for a special photo for yourself or your favorite someone. Hope you enjoy!

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

I’m excited!

Both the trailer and the cover for Black Swan, my spicy vampire romance from The Wild Rose Press, are nominated for awards at The New Covey Trailer Awards and The New Covey Cover Awards! Think of the trailer awards as an academy awards for book trailers. Pam Roller produced and I wrote my trailer. Voting for the most intriguing trailer ends June 19. Voting for the covers ends June 14. I’d really appreciate your vote if you like the trailer and cover!

Cover, Entry #21, Black Swan:
Trailer, Entry #2, Black Swan:

Black Swan was number 1 on the publisher’s best seller list for 6 weeks, and I’m delighted that it is still on the list.


The fact that the man she loved was in bed with another woman ceased to be important when Holly saw the blood. Her heart, which had been running on empty until she met Tristan, stuttered and stalled. Horror freeze-framed time—the shutter snaps of images flooding her brain almost audible. She couldn’t breathe or move, knew she hadn’t made a sound, but Tristan's head snapped up. Wild red eyes honed in on her. Blood smeared his mouth, drizzled from two wounds on his partner's throat. The woman he'd been screwing appeared deathly pale and deadly still.

She should run before he shouted, "What the hell are you doing here?" but fear had turned her to ice. Holly hadn't blinked but Tristan stood on his feet. Her heart tripped over a beat. No one could move that fast. Burning eyes captured hers. He shook back his mane of black hair and holding her prisoner in his gaze, glided toward her. The last rays of the dying sun bronzed his body.

How incredibly beautiful he was. How she loved him. How dare he do this to her?

She wanted to scream, “You SOB! Saturday you said you loved me. Monday you're banging another woman!"

Humiliation, jealousy, and grief burned like fire beneath her skin. She tried but failed to tear her gaze from his. Tristan's eyes were luminous azure not scarlet. The blood on his mouth had somehow disappeared, or, please God, maybe she'd imagined it. His naked body blocked Holly's view of the bed though she knew the woman still lay there. Why hadn't she said something, jumped up or grabbed her clothes and slammed the door? Blood.

Her head gave a dizzy spin. Maybe the woman was dead. Fear broke Holly's paralysis.

"I’d no right.” She folded her arms tight across her chest, holding herself together as she backed away, babbling, “I did knock. The door was open a little bit.” But there’d been no welcoming light only shadows. “I’m sorry. So sorry. I'm going now.”

Before I start crying.

“Hols,” Tristan whispered his voice as lovely as the music he made. “Wait please. Allow me to explain.”

Hols. His pet name for me.

In one swift move that blurred her vision, he bent and the sheet materialized loosely knotted around his hips. Was he trying to be modest? They'd been sleeping together for a month. In that time, she’d lovingly memorized every contour of his slender, muscled physique. Holly's willful eyes traveled down him, catching on the long lump beneath the sheet. Memories teased her, desire pulsing above her pelvic bone.

Black Swan is available from The Wild Rose Press. visit my web site for a continuing story, Vampire Hunt.

Mary Ricksen has invited Paty Jager to tell us a a very special book. Welcome, Paty

First, I’d like to thank the ladies of the Fuzzy Pink Slippers for inviting me here today.

I guess I’ll start off with a question- If you are a woman with experience(sex,love), would finding yourself attracted to a man your age with limited sexual experience turn you off or on? In other words, do you like being the teacher or would you rather be the student?

Miner in Petticoats which released today is such a story.

The heroine, Aileen, had a loving marriage with her first husband who was killed. Her second husband, who was also killed, was abusive. But through her first marriage she experienced all the wonders of making love and when she begins to follow through on the attraction she has for the hero- she discovers she’s the teacher and he’s the student.

Ethan is two years younger than Aileen and has only experienced quick liaisons with prostitutes. When he decides to court and win this woman’s love, he finds himself, for the first time in a long time, having to swallow his pride and learn what most men his age already know- what a woman needs and wants.

Throw into the mix two younger brothers who know more than him and you have one frustrated hero who doesn’t know where to turn for help.

Miner in Petticoats is the third book in the Halsey brother series. You don’t have to read the first books to enjoy this book but you might like to know more about the family.

Blurb for Miner in Petticoats:
Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brother’s growing families.

However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.

She slid her arms around his neck and pressed her body against him. “That’s okay. You taught me numbers, I’ll teach you what a woman wants.” Her lips brushed his lightly, back and forth, teasing, tingling. Her wet, warm mouth opened and he surrendered to her instruction.

Aileen owed the man kissing her back passionately, yet, she wasn’t sure how much she was willing to give. She wanted him. Her body wanted him. He’d proven his gentleness and was now proving his desire as his hands roamed over her hips and back up over her bottom and around just brushing the sides of her breasts. The feel of his strong, yet, gentle hands brought back faded memories of being loved. A feeling she thought would never happen again.

She placed her hands on either side of his rugged face and pulled back enough to keep their lips separated as she looked into his eyes. “Ah’ve a hunger fur ye. But Ah’ve bairn to think aboot.” The desire in his eyes didn’t lessen as his lips curved into a smile that dazzled her senses.
“I’ll keep my hands to myself when the children and others are present as long as
you promise to slip into my arms when we’re alone.”

She studied his face. Was he willing to not bed her? Even though she knew he was rock hard and had to be hurting.

Today I was supposed to post a blog for Paty Jager's new release Murder In Petticoats.
Even though Paty sent it to me I never got it. AT&T just doesn't send me all my mail!
So, now because of my Partzeimers I forgot all about it. Yes, I have a calendar. No, I didn't look at it. Yes, I think that I have lost brain cells. Yes, I am sorry I didn't post the post I was supposed to have. But I have decided to reschedule it so that, Paty will get the most out of it.

When I go into the other room to get something. I forget what I went for. When I make plans to do something, even something good, I have to be reminded. I can be talking about something and in the middle of it, I might forget what I was talking about. Geez.
I am still looking for things I put in a safe place and never see again.
Like yesterday I found something I hadn't seen in years. And though I was pleased to find it. I wondered how I could be so forgetful.
Now I know that using my brain more will be helpful. So I guess writing is a wonderful thing for me to do to save my degenerating cerebral problem. I am forced to think. Reading helps too, especially if I occasionally read something to learn.

So here's my question to you all. And I am really looking forward to your answers.
Do you have a memory problem? How do you remember things? How do you cope with it?
Tell me, what do you do to keep your brain functioning.

Wait, what was I talking about?

"Are you hungry?"
"That's a dangerous question! I might get slapped if I tell the truth!"
"Come on!" She smiled at him and swam toward shore.
"You go ahead," he told her. "I think I'll just stand here a minute and compose myself!"
The current chose that moment to change to a chilling cold and that helped considerably.
By the time he got out of the water, everything was back to normal and she'd retrieved the picnic basket from the car and was waiting for him.
"Shall we eat out here or would you rather we went inside and sat at the table?"
"Let's go inside." He glanced at her face. "You're beginning to look just a little pink."
After changing into his clothes, he came out to find Lindsey in her little green shift and the table set with a small banquet.
"Go ahead, sit down!" As he did so, she spooned potato salad onto a paper plate already heaped with potato chips, two kinds of sandwiches, and a crisp-fried drumstick, and handed him a plastic fork and a paper napkin.
"What--no chit'lins?"
"Chit'lins?" She made a face. "Surely you jest!"
"Just what are chit'lins, anyway? This ignorant Yankee wants to know."
"No, believe me, you don't!"
"That bad, huh?"
"Worse!" She held out a styrofoam cup.
"Ice-water?" He took the cup from her as he sat down. "Southerners must be the only people in the world who keep pitchers of water in their refrigerators." He set down the cup. "Dad is always teasing Mom about that. It used to make her furious when he'd drink all the water and leave the empty pitcher in the fridge."
"We have a rule. Last one to drink fills the pitcher," Lindsey said.
"So do we," Logan took a long swallow, adding, "but no one ever follows it."
"I think maybe you're more of a Southerner than you realize, Logan Redhawk."
"With a Southern Mama, how can I help it, Lindsey Conyers?"
"Eat your dinner," she told him.
"Yes'm! Sho' 'nuff!"
Lindsey groaned and shook her head. One thing Logan hadn't inherited from his mother was her accent. His voice was totally Yankee, clipped, and precise.

Logan isn't the only one who wants to know about Southern food, and so... My blog today is about--ta-da!--some of those oft-ridiculed and most misunderstood of Southern delicacies.

Would anyone like to tell me what chit'lin's, cracklin's, and grits are? No volunteers? Is it because no one, outside of a genuine true-blue Southerner knows? They spoken of, laughed about, but hardly anyone North of the Mason-Dixon Line (and nowadays, few below it) know anything about them. So, here it is! The Awful Truth!

Let's take them in order of importance, shall we:

GRITS: Sometimes called "hominy grits" after the North American Indian words auh('u) minea (yes, really!) which was maize hulled and broken and boiled in water and first seen by the English around 1629. Grits is a coarsely ground hominy, boiled and sometimes fried, eaten as a breakfast dish or as a side dish with meats. The word comes from the Old English gryt (900 AD)

A word of warning: grits are never eaten with sugar and milk--only butter and sometimes gravy.

BRUNSWICK STEW: A gustatory delight! A stew that usually contains chicken, rabbit, or squirrel meat cooked with tomatoes, onions, early garden peas, and shoe-peg corn. It appeared around 1850 and is named after Brunswick County in Virginia. A traditional side dish to accompany barbequed pork, which is marinated in sauce rather than basted. Ahhh! (Stop drooling, Toni.)

CHITTERLINGS (CHIT'LIN'S): Something I have never eaten and never intend to! This is the smaller intestines of swine, etc., dredged in flour and deep-fried. It originated around 1200 and comes from a diminutive of Old English cieter, intestines. Wonder if it's anything like haggis?

CRACKLINGS (CRACKLIN'S): comes from a little higher up on the hog, and is the crisp residue left when fat is rendered, what we today would call pork rinds, but chewy. It derives from a 1540 obslete Dutch word kraeckelingh. Cracklin's are usually sprinkled into white cornmeal to make "cracklin' bread hoe cakes" which were originally cooked on the blade of a hoe held over an open blaze, then crumbled into buttermilk and eaten with a spoon.

So now, you know--the secrets are revealed. And, for the piece de resistance: Southern fried chicken:

It's simple: Dredge cut-up chicken pieces in flour, salt and pepper, and fry in a skillet full of liquid lard, preferably a cast-iron skillet. When crisp and cooked through, pile your plate high with grits and gravy, buttered cracklin' bread, and a couple of drumsticks, and ENJOY!

Man, that's finger-lickin' GOOD!

(Toni V. Sweeney is a true Daughter of the South, having been born in Georgia and lived there for thirty-two years of her life. She's always regretted leaving.)

1780 South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost, the battle of King’s Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.

A bearwalking Shawnee warrior, secrets from the past, a rugged frontiersman, gifted heroine, magical moonstone, love at first sight…DAUGHTER OF THE WIND.

The French and Indian War, a Shawnee warrior, an English lady, blood vengeance, deadly pursuit, primal, powerful, passionate...THROUGH THE FIRE.

*The pic of the old musket, powder horn and shot pouch is taken by my mom of family

Video trailers are the big thing these days. A friend of mine, Fran Lee, published at Ellora's Cave wrote that "a book trailer can sell more books than a $500 ad in a trade paper. There's just something about music and video combined in a catchy manner that makes folks pay attention." Fran Lee created a trailer for my FRENCH PERIL. She only used the book cover but in such an artistic way, she made it a great trailer.

You can watch it at you Tube:

I created two video trailers for TO LOVE A HERO and BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, using Windows Movie Maker. It took some practice but wasn't difficult.

Windows Movie Maker comes with Microsoft Window and you probably have it on your computer.

Just click on START and then ALL PROGRAMS and then Windows Movie Maker.

Here are a few steps: Capture Video, Edit Movie, Finish Movie, Movie Making Tips.

1. Capture Video:
1.1- Import the pictures you plan to use in Collections.
1.2- Drag them down, one by one, on the show time line.

2. Edit Movie
2.1- Click on picture
2.2- Click on Make Titles and Credits
2.3- Write your caption, either on the picture or in between pictures. It takes some practice to do it right.
2.4- Repeat for every picture.
2.5- Play with video effect and video transitions for special effect.
2.6-Go back to Capture Video to import the music. Be careful. You can't use copyrighted music.

3.Finish Movie
3.1 Save to computer
3.2- Upload on you Tube.

Okay, it's not difficult. It just needs practice. And believe me it's fun. Keep your trailer under two minutes. No one have the patience or the time to see a longer video. Here is my trailer for

TO LOVE A HERO: I use some pictures I bought from iStock, a picture site, and some pictures I took during my trips to Belarus.

And here is my trailer for BABIES IN THE BARGAIN: The babies are my own grandson (with blue eyes) and granddaughter (with brown eyes).

If you like the two trailers above, can you take a minute and rate them at youTube? Here are the links:

If you want to make your own trailer, I will be happy to walk you through the steps. Again, it takes time and patience, but it's worth the effort.