Slipping into oblivion...

Posted by Dayana | 8:23 AM | 14 comments »

This was going to be my year to shine as an author!  I planned more time for me. More ideas to grab attention and pull readers to me blog. More activities to involve peer authors... More, more, more... But somehow my real life keeps putting my penname on the back burner. At this point I feel that Dayana has slipped into a deep very dark void.

I wanted to talk about something of dire importance to anyone who depends on 'visibility' to survive in this cyber world we live in. We all know that money, for most of us, is tight and our only venue for promo and advertisement is the internet. So how to keep a consistent presence across the net is a big challenge. I have inadvertantly tested this and found that slipping into the oblivion is so very easy to do and unfortunately, you sink fast!
Over the last several months, I've noticed even my most dependable followers have moved on. It is not a good feeling being alone and unheard, especially for a writer. My views and comments on this blog have dropped drastically and are non-existent on my website. So what is the problem?

  • Updates. This is something that is a necessessity, and I make every update to religiously keep up with. Fresh conversation and topics draw your readers and show them you are out there. Show them a piece of you, who you really are. So, I know I'm okay in this department.
  • Topic/Content. Maybe my topics are uninteresting to others? Could be an issue but I wouldn't know that unless someone said "Hey, you're boring the bejeebers out of us, already!"
  • Visibility. Bingo! This one is a biggie. I have been so tied up with other responsibilities that my overall visibility had dropped excessively. What does that mean? Well, for instance, I have not spent the time needed to visit other blogs, give interviews, hold contests, author spotlights have slimmed out, and hold the occasional give-away to draw interest. I have attempted to visit my favorite blogs in the last couple of weeks and comment but I suppose because I cannot do this as a daily routine my visitations may be lost in the mire. I am only able to follow through on this on a weekly basis.
  • Loops and Blogs. Another major problem for me is finding the time needed to remain visible on the loops and blogs I belong to. Whew! this is a major challenge for me. I have attempted to incorporate one morning a week to do this. But again, it seems futile as I don't really see any gain from this. Not complaining. Will keep plugging and keep working at it. Solutions are hard won especially with life biting at your heels. Everyone has one and all the demands that come with it, so I'm not alone. Were there an easy solution, it would be a perfect world, would it not?
  • New Material/Releases. Another huge obstacle. I have been pulled from my personal works for sometime now. I haven't been able to write except in limited spurts of time, nor am I the type of writer that can force the muse, so much of those times may produce nothing, nada, blank pages... I will say that I have no less than five/six projects in different stages! I just need to sit down and get them going. More likely--get them finished! New releases regularly are the key. Each new project, its promo, etc. bring potential new readers and bring back your faithful followers. Without fresh material flooding the saturated market, you are guaranteed a nosedive into oblivion. Trust me, I know...
Well, that said, I am going to pull out one of those projects I mentioned and get to work. As Nike says: Just do it!
D~

Socked full of nutrients, dandelions should probably be eaten more often than zapped with herbicides.   We’ve been taught to look upon this humble wildflower/weed/herb as a plague in our lawns and flower beds, but perhaps we should have more respect for the much maligned dandelion.

To further that end, I’ve searched out an old Southern recipe for a tasty hot dressing to pour over the tender greens.  It’s essential to gather the leaves quite young or they will be entirely too bitter.  I’m sure you can also use this dressing for other greens too, like watercress and endive.   My mother in law used to make it for dandelion salad and then forgot her recipe.  But I found it~at least it sounds like what I remember more or less.   I’m looking forward to giving it a try.  Will report back.
















For The Salad itself:
4 cups chopped dandelion leaves
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 slices of bacon

For The Hot Dressing:
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups milk or water

To Make the Salad:
~Wash and chop dandelion leaves.
Cut bacon in pieces and fry.
Remove bacon from drippings

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, add egg, vinegar and water or milk.  Stir until well blended.
Cook this mixture  in the bacon drippings until thickened and cool slightly.  Pour over dandelions and mix lightly.  Garnish with sliced eggs and bacon.

*For those of you who, like me, are reluctant to use all that bacon fat in the dressing, I would suggest substituting butter which is actually better for you than margarine.   You could probably even leave the bacon out if you’re vegetarian.  If anyone has any better suggestions or recipes for dandelion salad, please share them. This recipe is taken from the Mennonite Country Cookbook which is about as country as you can get.




Margie Lawson —psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter— developed innovative editing systems and deep editing techniques for writers. She teaches writers how to edit for psychological power, how to hook the reader viscerally, how to create a page-turner.

Thousands of writers, from newbies to bestsellers, have learned Margie’s psychologically-based deep editing material. In the last five years, she presented over fifty full day Master Classes for writers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

For more information on Margie’s lecture packets, on-line courses, master classes, newsletter, and the 3-day Immersion Master Class sessions offered in her Colorado mountain-top home, visit: www.MargieLawson.com.

NOTE: I included a promo piece for Brenda Novak’s Diabetes Auction below the blog. You’ll see my diabetes auction donations – that include:
 A WRITE AT SEA CRUISE
 A FLYING GETAWAY
 An IMMERSION MASTER CLASS
Fun! Fun! Fun!
PLUS -- More fun!

Check out the cartoon Dare Devil Dachshund Contest on my web site. You could win one hour of my Deep Editing brain. www.MargieLawson.com
THANK YOU!

A big Colorado bear hug for Autumn Jordon for inviting me to have fun with Pink Fuzzy Slippers today. Thank you!

No Cookie Cutter Characters:
Use Your Multiple Personalities!
By Margie Lawson


We all know writers are quirky. I believe writers have multiple personalities too.

Not at a clinical level.

Not at a need-to-be-hospitalized-in-psych-ward level.

But definitely at a Ha!-I-can-use-this-part-of-me-I-didn’t-know-or-barely-knew-existed level.

Writers have multiple creative selves. They can dig deeper and deeper and deeper, and tap some amazing personalities to enrich their stories.

NOTE: I used the power of Deep Editing nine times in the fifty-one word opening of this blog:

1) Rhetorical Device: Epistrophe – ending three or more phrases or sentences in a row with the same word or phrase

2) Rhetorical Device: Polysyndeton—using the same conjunction multiple times in a list of three or more words without any punctuation

3) Two Hyphenated-Run-Ons -- easy to spot ;-)

4) Creative Paragraphing – Creating White Space – which picks up pace

5) Power Words: quirky, multiple personalities, psych ward, amazing, enrich

6) Backloaded: quirky

7) Specified what something was NOT

8) Sentence fragments

9) Cadence

Was that opening smooth?

Was it written in a compelling style?

Did it make you want to read more?

You may not be a fan of hyphenated-run-ons (my term). No worries. Don’t write them!

If you learn how to apply, tweak, and amplify my deep editing techniques, you’ll have hundreds of new tools in the deep editing drawer of your writer’s tool box.

Hmm . . . Let’s see a blah version of the opening.

Writers could use more of their personality to create more interesting characters. They may not know they have these other selves within them. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy, but they could learn to plumb the depths of their personality to add fodder to the character building process.

BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. CLICHÉ, CLICHÉ. BLAH. BLAH. BLAH.

Now – we’ll return to the hopefully-not-blah blog. I’ll rewind and rerun the opening.

If you want to tune your CADENCE EAR, you could read it out loud.

We all know writers are quirky. I believe writers have multiple personalities too.

Not at a clinical level.

Not at a need-to-be-hospitalized-in-psych-ward level.

But definitely at a Ha!-I-can-use-this-part-of-me-I-didn’t-know-or-barely-knew-existed level.

Writers have multiple creative selves. They can dig deeper and deeper and deeper, and tap some amazing personalities to enrich their stories.

Writers usually infuse their main characters with personality traits that are engaging or enraging.

Sometimes they stick a trait on a character like they are pinning the tail on the donkey.

Hee Haw!

The personality trait may be close to the right fit. But like George Clooney’s suit, it better be meticulously tailored.

How do you tailor a personality trait for your character?

You try on that character’s personality. You audition that trait.

You consider how that trait could have initiated, what needs it meets, how it developed, how it morphed, and always, how it impacts all facets of their personal and professional life, career choices, interests, relationships . . .

Writers can use METHOD ACTING to boost emotional authenticity.

Method Acting is a psychological approach to acting.

Gee – Those who know me won’t be surprised that I’m recommending an approach that is psychologically based.

Method Acting involves having a performer tap their memories and experiences and use them to access emotions. Use them to make the character’s speech and movements emotionally credible.

Method Acting includes relaxation, sense memory, concentration, affective memory, moment-to-moment, and the magical ‘What if?’

With Method Acting -- on stage, the actors are not portraying stereotyped roles.

With Method Acting -- on the page, characters are not portraying cookie cutter personalities.

Writers are motivated to put creative energy into developing their main characters. What about the others?

How could you make your support characters more authentic? More real on the page?

Think multiple personalities. Think Method Acting. Think missed opportunities.

What happens if you have a typical support character deliver typical dialogue lines, wear typical clothes, move in typical ways?

The typical reader will skim.

Beware that you don’t make a support character so fascinating that they are too prominent. Writers need to create the right balance to be sure the wrong character doesn’t steal the page or steal the scene.

Like actors, all characters can be vital cast members. There are no insignificant actors. If an actor has a role, he should own that role and be that role as directed.

There are no insignificant characters. For every character in a book, the writer has to own the character and own the directing role too.

I was impressed by an interview with award-winning actor William Hurt on National Public Radio. One comment stuck in my mind like the tail on that donkey.

William Hurt said that an actor in one of his scenes complimented Hurt on his acting. Hurt was disappointed. Disappointed.

Hurt said he was disappointed because actors should be so immersed in owning their roles, that they can’t separate themselves from that role to observe the scene.

No cookie cutter actors going through their lines in a scene with William Hurt. He expects full immersion. He expects them to live in the character’s skin.

Have you imagined living inside each of your characters?


Crush your cookie cutters. Dig into the cookie dough to sculpt your characters.

Access your multiple personalities. Give your characters a presence on the page that boosts your writing toward a bestseller list.

Copyright © 2010 by Margie Lawson. All Rights Reserved.


NOTE: I used several more Deep Editing techniques in the rest of the blog. Did you notice them? Feel free to post one or two!

WRAPPING UP:

It’s your turn! Chime in.

Post a comment –or tell me Hi!

YOU COULD WIN A LECTURE PACKET!

The winner may choose a Lecture Packet from one of my six on-line courses.

I’ll respond throughout the day as my job allows and be back on the blog again tonight.

I’ll draw the name of the WINNER at 9:00PM MountainTime. I’ll post their name on the blog about 9:30 Mountain Time.

PLEASE KEEP READING!

I am teaching Empowering Characters’ Emotions on-line in March.

With over 300 pages of lectures, it covers body language and dialogue cues—and teaches writers deep editing techniques.

The registration deadline for Empowering Characters’ Emotions is Feb. 27th.

You can access links to register for my on-line courses from the home page of my web site. www.MargieLawson.com

FYI: If an on-line course does not fit your schedule, Lecture Packets ($22) are available through Paypal from my web site. Thank you.

BRENDA NOVAK’S DIABETES AUCTION!



NYT Bestseller, Brenda Novak, donates an amazing chunk of her life to fundraising for diabetes research. She gives months of her energy, creativity, and what would have been writing time, family time, self-time to her DIABETES AUCTION.

For writers – it’s a warm-your-heart win-win. Bid on one of the hundreds of items, support diabetes research, and you may win an experience that changes your life.

If you're not familiar with this auction -- it's a gold mine for writers!

My husband and I love to support the Diabetes Auction. With over 1000 donations, if I don’t mention our donations . . . you might miss them.

Yikes – a Missed Opportunity!

Margie’s Donations:

1. A set of six Lecture Packets

2. A 50 page Triple Pass Deep Edit Critique

3. Registration for a Write At Sea Master Class
by Marge Lawson on Deep Editing Power, April, 2011.
Donation by Margie Lawson and Julia Hunter.


4. A FLYING GETAWAY FOR TWO

You select the destination – any place within 600 nautical miles from Denver.

A weekend, you and a friend, plus my pilot-husband flying our four-seater plane, me, a night in a hotel, and a two-hour deep editing consult. The consult is on the ground, not while we’re flying. ;-))

5. Registration for an IMMERSION MASTER CLASS session!

A $450 value . . .

The three-day Immersion Master Class sessions are designed as a personalized, hone-your-manuscript experience focusing on deep editing. The sessions are held in Margie’s log home at the top of a mountain west of Denver. Participants will concentrate on transforming their manuscript into a page-turner. The winner may attend a session in the fall of 2010 (depending on availability), or one of the four sessions offered in 2011.

THE DIABETES AUCTION runs from MAY 1ST to MAY 31ST. You can tour the
Diabetes Auction site now. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/

Brenda Novak is my hero. What a way to give back.

Thank you for joining us today. I appreciate your time.

All the Best…………….Margie
www.MargieLawson.com


It’s snowing in my area of the world today. A great day to keep my fingers on the keyboard, but where and how will I find inspiration?

IDEA! Brainstorming.

Let’s kick the muse kick out of bed.

How do we do that while stuck inside, you ask?

Simple. Pictures.

Look at each of the pics below and using the picture write the opening line or lines for a book. Do as many as you want. Make them as long as you want.

Come on. You can do it? Let’s have some fun.


#1






#2







#3



#4








#5








I’ll kick us off. Off the top of my head quick one liners as I need to get this posted. LOL.


#1 “She’s forming.”
#2 Ally Chase took the drop of Satan’s blood on her tongue like a good angel.
#3 She felt as old as the turtle in the tank.
#4 “Olives and spaghetti. Are you pregnant again?”
#5 “If only he had known, their kiss this morning would be their last.”



Autumn Jordon
2009 Golden Heart Finalist
www.autumnjordon.com
Obsessed By Wildfire voted best book of the week at http://www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/recentrev.htm

Oh Canada!

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 8:34 AM | 14 comments »

As a bonifide second generation Canadian, Vancouverite no less, it is time for me to speak up with pride. As everyone glued to the television watching the Olympics knows, Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world--a truly magical place nestled between the Rocky mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I did a little research on Canada so that I can pass on a few interesting facts.

Vancouver is tied with Zurich, Switzerland as having the highest quality of life of any city in the world! Wow - and I left it, 28 years ago. My ex's career took us to many wonderful countries, Australia, England, and the US where I currently live. I still have a sister in Vancouver and some good friends, but don't get out to visit as often as I should.

The border between Canada and the US is 5525 miles, the world's largest border. It's also an hour from Vancouver.

Ninety percent of the population live within a 100 miles of the US border.

Canada is the second largest country in the world - second only to Russia. But it is the 9th most sparsely populated nations in the world.

They have $1. and $2. coins, called loonies and toonies.

Ice hockey is their national sport.

And I love it dearly!













Please help me welcome Cathy Spangler as our guest blogger today.

GOT CREATIVITY?


Yes, that’s a rhetorical question (duh). Of course you have creativity. If you’re a writer, your work begins and ends with your creativity. It’s your lifeblood. But it applies to all humans. We’re all creative in one way or another. It’s a divine, inherent part of us, a magnificent gift from the Great Creator. We are co-creators with God. We create new life; we create amazing inventions and light-speed technology; we create civilizations, war, peace, art, music, literature, movies, cities, medicine, monuments, and places of beauty and wonder.

As a writer who’s between contracts right now (as are many writers in this economic downturn), I have struggled with whether or not to keep writing, or what I should be doing instead. This led me to an online course of The Artist’s Way, based on the book by Julia Cameron. I can’t recommend the book or this course highly enough. It helps all artists understand creativity, the process, and their own personal roadblocks. Based on what I learned from the course, I have compiled the following:

CATHERINE’S TOP-TEN FACTS ABOUT CREATIVITY

1) Creativity is a divine gift from the Creator. It is a spiritual endeavor. As such, it flows much more freely when you acknowledge the divine link and work with God/Goddess/The Universe/Supreme Being of your choice. The added bonus is that God/The Universe is ready and willing to aid you in your endeavors, if you will only ask. “The universe is prodigal in its support. We are miserly in what we accept.” – The Artist’s Way

2) Creativity is not a luxury; it’s crucial to your well being. We all need to be able to express our creativity. It’s a gift, just bubbling to be out, and we suffer if we don’t use it. Because it is essential your well being, it is NOT selfish or silly or a waste of time to express your creativity. Throw away your guilt!

3) You have no control over having creativity. It’s as intrinsic as the changing tides or the sun rising and setting. It never goes away—and isn’t that a good thing!

4) Creativity can be harnessed, however, just as we harness the power of the sun. So you can channel it, direct it, and use it in a multitude of ways. It is limitless and fluid.

5) When you honor your creativity, you honor both the Creator and yourself. This is the time to acknowledge that your needs are as just as important as those around you. As you would honor others, you should also honor yourself.

6) Your inner artist is a child and must be nurtured. Having fun is important to keep the artist child happy. The Artist’s Way recommends artist dates as a way of refilling the creative well and nurturing your artist child. The date can be anything fun and engaging for you. It is something you should do alone (although you can go where people are). Examples of artist dates that participants in the online course did: Going to a quilt shop to look for new fabrics, going out with your camera to take interesting photos, working on a vision board, going to a movie, window-shopping in a mall, visiting an art gallery, staying home alone and watching movies, a long walk, visit to a craft fair, etc. The list is endless. It just needs to be something you enjoy. Artist Way recommends at least one artist date per week, more often if you’re involved in an intense or demanding project.

7) The creative process—not the end result—should always be the main focus. Understanding this gave me a tremendous sense of freedom. It reminded me to have fun just writing, without worrying if the work is good or if anyone else will like it. Just go with the flow and know the Universe is behind you.

8) The creative process works best when no expectations are attached to it. As with number 7, this gives us immense freedom. Just write, without worrying if the book will get you an agent or if it will sell, or if your mother will like it. Writing freely and spontaneously and with joy will produce your most amazing work.

9) According to A.R.T.S. Anonymous http://www.artsanonymous.org, it only takes five (only five!) minutes a day to keep your creativity primed and active. You don’t have to worry if you don’t have a lot of time for your writing. Even a little keeps the flow going.

10) Solitude is essential to creativity. Healing time alone allows our inner artist to recharge. Basically, we all need down time. So take that bubble bath or that long walk or curl up with a book or take a nap. You’ll be nurturing both your artist child and your creativity and honoring yourself.
Now that you have the facts, go forth and be creative!

Feel free to ask Cathy about her books, her career or her first boyfriend.

Cathy has offered to give away two of her books,
Touched by Light, so comment for a chance to win one of them.















The Most Colourful River In The World

The river shown in the photographs is the Caño Cristales, which is located near the town of La Macarena in Columbia, South America. The river, world famous for its colourful display, has been called "the river that ran away to paradise", "the most beautiful river in the world" and "the river of five colours".

During Colombia's wet season, the water flows fast and deep, obscuring the bottom of the river and denying the mosses and algae that call the river home the sun that they need. And during the dry season there is not enough water to support the dazzling array of life in the river. But during a brief span between the wet and dry seasons, when the water level is just right, the many varieties of algae and moss bloom in a dazzling display of colors. Blotches of amarillo, blue, green, black, and red - and a thousand shades in between - coat the river.

The part of the river where the colourful blooms occur is quite isolated and is not accessible by road. Adventurous tourists can now fly into La Macarena and then make their way to to the river site on foot as part of guided tours. The site was effectively closed to tourists for several years because of guerrilla activity in the region along with concerns about the impact of unregulated tourist traffic. However, the site was reopened to visitors in 2009.

So far, some 1,000 people have visited Caño Cristales, including around 100 foreign tourists.


The tours will follow four clearly marked and authorized paths and one is no longer permitted to stay overnight or cook, as this was ruining the area previously.

Just wanted to share some amazing information about the world around us. There are things we just can't imagine, vistas we will never see, people we will never meet, and things we will never know. But now you know about this!!

So what do you think?



“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways.  The dry seasons in life do not last.  The spring rains will come again. ” 
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” ~ Anne Frank

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”~ Claude Monet
(Beauty inspires my own word paintings.)
  













“If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And of thy meager store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”
-   Sheikh Muslih-uddin Saadi Shirazi, The Gulistan of Saadi,   1270


“What you see depends on what you’re looking for.” ~ Anonymous 



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

‘The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.”
~George Bernard Shaw















“To see the world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.” ~ William Blake


“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never lonely or weary of life.” ~ Rachel Carson



“Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.”
~ Samuel Johnson
Easter eggs hidden among spring flowers is a most hopeful image, I think.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~ Winnie the Pooh~  And to that I add, or a good nap.  You’ll feel much better.

“Little ideas that tickle and nag and refuse to go away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.” ~Babe~

 

Out in the Fields of God~

“The little cares that fretted me
I lost them yesterday
Among the fields above the sea,
Among the winds at play,
Among the lowing of the herds,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.
The foolish fears of what might pass,
I cast them all away,
Among the clover-scented grass,
Among the new-mown hay,
Among the hushing of the corn,
Where drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born—
Out in the fields of God.”
~ Author Unknown 









*Many of these pics are from the Shenandoah Valley and taken by my mother~

This is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.  Enjoy and take hope. ~

It is July, 3012. A summer of 50-below temperatures and mile-high walls of snow and ice.

A summer exactly a thousand years after an asteroid crashes into the Earth, ironically in the same year the Mayan calendar ends…2012. Out of the ensuing chaos, there are two types of survivors: humans—not so many of them but enough—and the Undead—ejected from their coffins deep within the Earth to a world frozen and gray. A world where the sun never shines and vampires may walk during daylight hours.

The Undead reign, fighting among themselves for the continents, dividing them to the strongest. Now, only two remain, Alixandra, empress of North and South America, and Celadon, lord of Europe and Asia. Once lovers, these two are now bitter enemies, engaged in a struggle for ownership of the planet and its few surviving humans, their rapidly-dwindling food-source. Surprisingly more humane than Celadon, Alix takes her people to Mt. St. Helens, where the heat from the volcano will keep her little herd of mortals alive. With the aid of Michael, her virginal, mortal steward, she prepares for Celadon’s attack. Alix trusts Michael; she also lusts after him, but Michael ignores her enticements. He alone is immune to her mental slavery, because Michael is a Freeley, one of the rare human mutations born with Free Will.

From the seed of Michael’s freedom, rebellion has taken root. Yes, Michael is readying his people for the coming attack, but in a way neither Alix nor Celadon expects. Unfortunately for Michael, it won't end the way he expects, either.

"Blood will Freeze" is a short story by Tony-Paul de Vissage, appearing in the February, 2010, issue of Sounds of the Night Magazine. It is available at http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#soundsofthenight.

video

It’s a well-worn scenario. Brendan Fraser and Dudley Moore did it as a comic romp in Bedazzled, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor made it their romantic fling into the classics. Movies and soap operas have utilized it to the fullest in 86 film versions: A poverty-stricken young man is offered fame and wealth beyond his wildest dreams. He accepts. Now, he has everything he wants…except peace of mind. Thus begins his downward spiral into the degradation which only immense power can cause. He’s doomed. Forever. Or not. Just when everything appears lost, he wins the love of a pure woman. Will she be able to save him?

Thus is told the story of Faust, and also of Serpent’s Tooth, but Travis Brandt is no medieval scholar bargaining his soul to the devil for knowledge alone. He’s a naïve young Nebraskan, marrying early and orphaned earlier, talented and intelligent but having nothing to look forward to but a poorly-paid teaching position in an incorporated town on the Great Plains. And then his Big Break comes and he’s whisked away to Hollywood and its contingent dangers...swept into the maelstrom of sex, drugs, rock and roll…and demon worship. Too late seeing the danger, realizing the only escape is to die or disappear, he runs away and spends the next quarter century in oblivion…until he meets a former fan, Melissa Powers, a woman who loves him not for the man he was, but for the man he has become. In her he sees his salvation, but his past rears its deadly head…

In the midst of her happiness, Melissa feels Travis isn’t telling her the whole truth about why he left Hollywood, and after seeing how attentive he is to his neighbor’s son and daughter, his assertion he doesn’t want children also rings false. So what is he hiding and why is he lying?

Only too soon, she finds out.

What should have been a happy ending, with two people starting a new life together, is only the beginning, as the horror Travis left behind when he fled Hollywood is now awakened to once more reach out and threaten the former movie star and his new bride as a demon comes to claim what he’s owed.

It’s a horror story, but it’s also a love story. It’s a different type of story for me and the first written in a contemporary setting.

Serpent’s Tooth is available as ebook and in print from Class Act Books.

http://www.classactbooks.com/Serpents-Tooth-by-Toni-V-Sweeney_p_154.html


video

The First Kiss from my light paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love has been selected for a contest at: 
http://romanceinthebackseat.com/interviews/blog/
Please vote for it beginning Monday  Feb. 22nd.
****
~Will blew the layer of dust from an ornate wooden box inlaid with ivory and lifted the lid. Inside were brass workings like the mechanism of a clock. He wound a small gold key in the back until it would wind no more, and released it. The wheels and cogs turned and wonderful music flowed forth, the beautiful strains of a Viennese waltz, The Blue Danube.

Julia clapped her hands. “A music box.”

He bowed. “May I have this dance, sweet Julia?”

She gazed up into his velvet brown eyes, and he gazed back. She managed a nod and he drew her into his arms. Around the attic he waltzed with her secure in his lead. Everything fell away except this moment while the haunting melody played on, taking her back to that faintly remembered place. She didn’t even stumble, not once. It was as if some inner memory guided her in the steps, even though ballroom dancing hadn’t been a part of her lessons.


The music picked up and he swung her around and around. Her dress swirled as he circled. With each turn, he was Will—then Cole, Will—then Cole, both men in rapid succession, separate and yet the same. Her heart pounded from far more than the whirling dance.

The music faded and Will slowly stopped revolving. They stood, his arms circled at her back and waist, eyes locked on each other.

His brow furrowed. “Julia, you look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”

She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips. “You may be the ghost.”

He tightened his mouth in an impatient line. “Don’t try to make me into Cole again.”

“Will, listen to me. I know it sounds crazy, but I think somehow you already are.”

He dropped his hands, turning away. “Only because you insist I am.”

She grabbed his arm. “No. It’s what I saw while we danced. You must believe me.”

“Believing doesn’t make it any easier,” he said flatly.

“That’s because you think I’m misled.”

He swiveled his head at her. Exasperation flared in his eyes. “There’s a simple reason for my laboring under that assumption. You are.”

“Don’t be angry. I hate that I’ve spoiled such a lovely moment.”

“You’ve a talent for that.” He turned and strode across the floor. His footsteps echoed on the boards with a hollow sound, just as her heart would beat if he left.

She ran behind him and reached out, catching his plush shoulder. “Consider me balmy, if you must, but don’t walk away. Please Will.”

He stayed as he was. “What do you want me to do, Julia?”

“I don’t know.” She wasn’t strong enough to turn him and dashed in front instead, grasping his upper arms and twisting the fabric in her fingers. “Something—anything.”

He smiled faintly. “Never say those words to a man.”

Cupping her face between his hands, he bent his head and closed his lips over hers in an all consuming kiss…so swiftly she hardly knew what had happened. Even if he hadn’t cupped her cheeks, she wouldn’t have moved. The compelling press of his mouth bound her in place.

If possible, Julia’s heart thudded even faster than it had before. The surging pulse drummed through her entire being, reverberating in places she didn’t even know she had. From what she could remember of her dream with Cole, her feelings had been poignant but tender. The sensations coursing through her now weren’t entirely that. An exhilarating passion was sweeping her up in a shocking tide.

“Who am I now?” Will whispered against her mouth.

She loosened her grip on his jacket in speechless surprise, too breathless to tell him she didn’t care.~

****
Star-crossed lovers, flashbacks to early 18th century Virginia, ghostly, murder mystery, light paranormal romance, Gothic flavors…SOMEWHERE MY LOVE

“As I read Somewhere My Love, I recalled the feelings I experienced the first time I read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca long ago. Using deliciously eerie elements similar to that gothic romance, Beth Trissel has captured the haunting dangers, thrilling suspense and innocent passions that evoke the same tingly anticipation and heartfelt romance I so enjoyed then, and still do now.” ~ Joysann, Publishers Weekly













For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com

People often say that you are what you eat. In this case, perhaps you are what you drink. For years, I never liked coffee. I was a tea and Diet Pepsi girl. But with the advent of a Starbucks and Caribou Coffee on every street corner, I started to try it. Besides, I don’t get enough sleep, so I really need the caffeine. After trying a bunch of different types and flavors, I’ve learned this:

I love coffee. As long as it doesn’t taste like coffee. Give me your largest cup, a couple of shots of espresso, add a LOT of skim milk and throw in a flavor shot – cinnamon or gingerbread if you have it. Oh…and don’t forget the whipped cream. Yeah – I know the skim milk and whipped cream cancel each other out. I just can’t help it.

So what does that say about me? Well, I guess it says that I tend not to dismiss things because they fall into a category. Just because the drink has coffee in its name – which I will never like the taste of on its own – I don’t immediately assume I’m going to hate it. In fact, I took it as a challenge to find a coffee drink that I would like. I’d call that stubborn. Yep. That sounds about right. I like my coffee a bit frivolous and frothy. Check…totally me. My writing isn’t going to win the Nobel Peace Prize or put an end to world hunger. But, it might make you laugh. And the big glass – well, when I like something, I want to savor it. When I find a new author that I love, I go out and buy their entire backlist then read those that week. And heck, as a performer, I’ve learned never to do anything small – not even my mistakes.

This might not work for everyone, but I’m curious….what does your coffee choice – or lack or coffee choice, say about you?


At Con-Jour, I was on a panel called Sympathy for the Devil: The Byronic Hero. It was an interesting conversation moderated by a professor of literature at the University of Houston.


Byron's first introduction of this type of character was in his epic poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, published in 1812-1818. Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights, was influenced by Byron. Byron was the model for the title character of Glenarvon by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb, and for Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre by his physician Polidori.

The Byronic hero is an idealized but flawed character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by Lady Caroline Lamb as being "mad, bad and dangerous to know."

Characteristics of the Byronic hero:

Arrogant
Intelligent and perceptive
Cunning and able to adapt
A troubled past
Dark secret
Sophisticated and educated
Introspective
Seductive and sexually attractive
Social and sexual dominance
Emotional conflicts
Exile, outcast or outlaw
Jaded, world-weary (has seen the world)
Cynical
Good heart in the end

This describes the hero in all of my works. I write about vampires and fallen angels, both of whom already have a dark secret, are bad boys and can definitely be dangerous to know.

In Sinners Opera, the hero, Morgan D'Arcy, is a British lord, a concert pianist and a vamire. All of the above characterists apply to Morgan--in spades! He must learn to balance his nature against his love for a mortal woman.

In Black Swan, the Byronic hero is Tristan. He runs away from the woman who knows what he is and loves him anyway, trying to escape the killer that, as a vampire, he inherently is.

A few examples of the Byronic hero: Edward Cullen in Twilight; the vampire Lestat; Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights); Lucifer (Paradise Lost); and both Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara from Gone with the Wind.

Know any real-life Byronic heroes? Do you use the Byronic hero in your writing? I find them fascinating (obviously) but I'm not sure I'd want one in my life.

Free Clip Art Picture of a Chocolate Valentine Heart with Truffles . Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comToday we celebrate the emotion that has inspired songs, poems and novels through the ages. Love.

Out of all the days in the year, why was Febraury 14th chosen as the date to celebrate? And by whom?

The tale begins in the early days of the Roman Empire during the short rule of Claudius II(Marcus Aurelius Claudius.) Each February, a celebration called the Lupercian festival was held to honor the God of Fertility. During this festival young men could chose their brides.

Roman was expanding. Fearing his men, would not want to pick up their swords and go into battle for the Empire, Emperor Claudius outlawed the practice of marriage.
However, young couples continued to fall in love and wanted to marry. With the help of Catholic Bishop Valentine who understood the power of love they did, secretly.

When Bishop Valentine’s actions were revealed, he was jailed and Claudius gave the order to put the young man to death.

While waiting for his fate, Bishop Valentine started to write the jailer’s daughter, and they soon fell in love.

On the day of his death, the young man wrote his love a last letter and signed it From Your Valentine.



*****
If you'd like to read a few great free Valentine stories presented by several of my fellow Wayback authors, please stop by my blog. Here's the link.
http://www.autumnjordonsnotes.blogspot.com/

Writing through the blues

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 12:28 PM | 12 comments »

Hi everyone,
I'm not on the top of my game right now - Sicker than a dog last night, and until a moment ago I forgot that I was to blog. So here it is. Please bear with me.
I published two books from small press two years ago, and I've written three books since that haven't been picked up. I have not tried the e-publishers, because that is not what I'm writing for. I want New York. I want to see my book in a book store. One of our gals has been feeling down from a recent rejection, and I understand all too well. This is a miserable time in the publishing industry, and trying to get into the big houses, well, I don't know what it takes. I know about luck, I know about perserverence, I know that we never fail until the moment we give up, but after fifteen or more years of writing, I'm taking a break. I'm burned out for now. It's so hard to keep writing, believing, living the dream when all you get are lovely rejections. Mine are so wonderful I've kept them, just so when I feel really bad and wonder why they aren't buying, I can refresh my memory and know that they really did like my writing, my characters, my plot. They just didn't buy. I'm in a dark place right now, but one contract would make the world sunny and bright again. I did send one of my three books off to Carina Press, and if they buy it, it will give me something positive to hold on to. The only problem is that they are digital only. No book. No signings, no one will ever hold it, or see it. But at least, it will be put out in the world for people to read and to laugh, and to love, and I guess that is why we all write. It sure isn't for the money! LOL.
Your thoughts, please?

"Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day." Remember sing-songing those words as a child?

I've thought them many times in the past 6 months, at least. I realize Georgia could be snowed under, literally, but I'm looking for ark supplies and someone to help me build one. I know, we worried when we were experiencing a drought and our lakes and ponds were low. Well, I'm glad we are no longer in that fix, but I'd love to know who is still doing a rain dance! Find her and bring her to me!

I'm was humming last "Singin' in the Rain" last week, but I got so tired of hearing it I slapped my own face.

What do you call a day after two days of sunny weather? Don't know, it's been so long since we had one that I forgot.

I once enjoyed "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" -- not anymore.

I hope our ladies who live in cold climates will forgive my whining, but my brain is mildewed! Oh,well, this liquid sunshine should bring us a lovely green spring and summer. And don't forget, humid weather is good for our skin. I'm not kidding. Join me in a verse of "Showers of Blessings". Come on, "There shall be showers of blessings, showers of blessings we need.....

We're expecting a few inches of either snow or rain in Georgia tomorrow, Friday. We might have some by the time you read this.

10 inches of snow in Dallas?

OMIGOD! I am sooooo sorry I complained!


Have you ever been to a spa? A real destination Spa with soft music, soft lighting, organic juice, ice water with lemon and specialty teas for the choosing? If you’d asked me that question last week my answer would have been no, but ask me today and I can smile wistfully and say yes!

For Valentines Day my dear husband and daughter went in together and splurged to give me a day at the Lodge at Callaway Gardens' Five Star Spa Prunifolia.

My day began with our arrival at the spa around 11:30, I checked in at the reception desk and was whisked back to the spa area where I was given a pair of rubber clogs and fluffy, comfortable bath robe.

After undressing and donning my robe, I proceeded to the relaxation lounge to await my first service. The lighting was muted, a gentle fire flickered in the fireplace and fresh juice and ice water with lemon were available. My attendant filled my cup with water and mixed in organic cranberry juice, her favorite, she assured me. Settling into a soft cozy chair in front of the fire, I opened my copy of “Phantom of the Night” and began reading.

Before I’d gotten more than a couple pages into my novel the aesthetician came for me. The room was done in muted earth-tones with subdued lighting and soft music. The table, really a bed, was heated and cozy with very high thread count sheets and a down comforter. Lying there felt like sinking into the soft warm cotton of a summer cloud.

My daughter had arranged for the Sundria Anti-aging 80 minute facial. The service was awesome and I enjoyed every moment of it. I was surprised to learn my facial began with a foot treatment that included a sugar scrub, lotion, heated towels and warm booties.

Once my feet were encased in warm booties, the asthetician turned her attention to my face and began with Bendi touch massage, followed by deep cleansing, honey enzyme anti-aging treatment to refine, tighten and tone the skin and exfoliate. This was followed by another massage, which included my shoulders and décolleté. The products were natural, botanical based, smelled heavenly and felt good on my skin. While I experienced the firming mask, the asthetician continued with a hand and foot massage, the ultimate pampering. The final step of moisturizing left my skin feeling soft and refreshed.

My facial complete, I returned to the relaxation room where I enjoyed a special cup of Sundria Anti-oxidant tea while awaiting my next service.

The Evergreen Hot Towel Massage is not to be missed. The bed in this treatment room was just as comfortable as the one before. I quickly found myself floating on another warm cloud while the therapist massaged the sore muscles of my body, then applied warm towels to each area as she worked her way from limb to limb. I’m not a fan of deep tissue massage, it hurts, alright, I’m a wuss. But this therapist had the perfect touch and even with my sore muscles and bad knee, I found the massage quite lovely. When at last my massage was over I was given ice water to flush the toxins out and returned to the relaxation room where I enjoyed organic apple cider.

It was a day to remember and the perfect Valentines Day gift!

Setting Goals

Posted by Judy | 8:40 AM | 14 comments »

Debbie Macomber spoke to the STAR (SpacecoasT Authors of Romance) group here in Florida. For those of you who’ve never heard her, Debbie is a very inspirational speaker and a down-to-earth, fun but practical person. She chose Setting Goals as her topic.
Of the several goals she mentioned, only one referred directly to “writing” goals. Some of the other goals included: A new experience in 2010, one thing about yourself to improve, family goals, recreational goals, financial goals, physical goals, and spiritual goals.
Goal setting shouldn’t include large picture, nebulous things. Start small. Perhaps a physical goal should be to take time from writing to walk around or to do small exercises between writing stints. Making the goals achievable is important. Goals can be expanded on a regular basis. From small exercises at the computer, a new, expanded goal might be going to the gym for one hour a day, then two. You get the idea.
Sometimes we writers can be so focused on our writing--typing away in a room by ourselves, translating the stories in our heads to paper-- that we forget how important it is to be healthy and well-rounded. A recent article in our newspaper told of the dangers of people sitting in front of computers for long periods of time. It stated that those who spend their lives doing that run the risk of shortening their lifespan. EEEK! Time to set a few goals.

What personal or writing goals have you recently made for yourself?


*My garden in a sunbeam, picture by daughter Elise.
Ah gardening, so dear to my heart.  I come from a long line of plant lovers and inherited the gardening gene.  I've passed it on to my younger daughter, Elise, my right arm in the garden, but all of my children are fans to some degree.  And now, the little people, the grandbabies are our new crop of apprentices. My five yr old grandson is of some actual help.  The same cannot be said of the two yr olds. (*Pic of grandbaby by Elise)
My main recommendation when it comes to gardening is to use a lot of compost and natural mulch, like well rotted hay or straw, even leaves, in your vegetable and flower beds.  Healthy plants better resist insects and disease.  Earth worms are a gardener’s best friend and thrive in natural mulch, humus-enriched soil.  Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides or you’ll kill the worms and other beneficial insects.   I’ve even gone on worm finds and introduced more into the gardens, plus bought them from a reputable online source.  Yes, I’m nuts over worms as are my grandbabies now from my enthusiasm.
My primary focus in gardening is our vegetable, perennial & annual flower, and herb beds.  I’m particularly fond of heirloom and old fashioned cottage garden plants.  Some of these vintage varieties involve saving seed and ordering from specialty catalogues.  
Those herbs and flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds, and honey bees are of special interest. I strive to provide a wildlife sanctuary of sorts.  The American love of a chemically dependent green lawn is the opposite of what beneficial insects and wildlife require, and plants for that matter.  Think wildflowers and herbs.  Rejoice in the butterflies and hummers that will follow. 
(*Pic of nasturtiums by my mom)
We rotate annual our garden vegetables as well as practicing companion planting.  There are time honored combinations we’ve tried as well as making some of our own discoveries.  

Nasturtiums and radishes planted closely around the cucurbit family (also commonly referred to as the cucumber, gourd, melon, or pumpkin family) help to deter the squash vine borer and cucumber beetles which are deadly to the plants.   This family is our most trouble prone, so gets the greatest attention when it comes to companion planting.  Radishes are also a good companion for lettuce, spinach, and carrots.  If I were to choose one companion plant it would be radishes and the second, nasturtiums, but there are many excellent choices and we’re learning more all the time about effective combinations.



I plant garlic in with the roses and have observed beneficial effects in warding off some of the pests and diseases that attack them.  

*I prefer the old time roses and David Austen varieties that combine the best of the old with the repeat bloom of the new.  My favorite rose is Abraham Darby by David Austen. (*Pic of Abraham Darby Rose by Elise) 
Tomatoes grow more robustly when planted near basil.  Peppers also like it.  Sweet marjoram, which reseeds itself for us, is another beneficial herb to interplant with vegetables and flowers.  Mint helps deter cabbage worms.   Pumpkins and squash better survive when rotated from their usual spots.  This year we tucked a pumpkin in among the massive, native clematis vine growing along the backyard fence that we refer to as ‘the beast.’  The borers didn’t find it, plus ‘the beast’ helped cradle the orange globes.  
We’ve observed that old fashioned sunflowers with multiple heads (planted by birds from the birdseed variety) grow the most vigorously.  Sunflowers attract masses of goldfinches, a favorite songbird, and when planted in and around corn, reduce army worms in the ears.  Marigolds are an excellent companion plant for vegetable and flowers to help ward off Japanese beetles.  Borage enriches the soil, attracts honey bees, and is another good companion for squash.  Onions planted near carrots help repel the carrot fly.  Chamomile is another good companion plant but use it sparingly.
Encourage beneficial insects to make their home in your garden and experiment with companion planting.  Avoid monochromatic schemes and think variety. 
And Happy gardening!  (If spring ever returns to these snowy realms.)