2010 Tour of Southern Ghosts 25th Anniversary




Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia









If you like ghost stories and southern history, you'd love this tour of Stone Mountain.
Storytellers share stories they love and guides help guests find their places from story teller to story teller in the historic plantation.
Nancy Knight always has a great story to tell.

There is usually a story teller at one of the slave cabins below.

Follow the lady in yellow for a story!


The barns can be dark and scary.











Run here to find the doctor.


Congratulations to:


Mary Marvella -- t-shirt

Barbara Monajem -- coffee mug

Joanne -- download

Mona Risk -- coffee mug


Please contact me at BiancaSwan20@yahoo.com with your contact information for delivering your prize.


Thanks everyone for stopping by with all the encouragement.


A wall painting unearthed at Knossos in Crete, dating from about 2000 BC, shows male and female acrobats confronting a bull, grabbing its horns as it charges, and vaulting over its back.

The art of bullfighting on horseback, as currently practiced in Portugal, where it is called toureio equestre and in Spain and Mexico, where it is called rejoneo, claims a direct origin to the Iberian Peninsula, having developed from Middle Ages war exercises, particularly the cavalry.

Coridas mixtas are also popular, where a rejoneador and two matadores (or a rejoneador, matador and novillero - the last of which is an apprentice matador) perform.

Bullfighting in Spain traces its origins to 711 A.D. The first bullfight took place in celebration for the crowning of King Alfonso VIII. In Spain, an estimated one million people each year watch bullfights.

Until King Felipe V, who took exception to the sport) banned the aristocracy from participating, the sport belonged to the nobility. The King believed that aristocrats in bullfights set a bad example to the public. Commoners enthusiasticlly adopted the sport, but since few could afford horses, took the fight to the ground, confronting the bull on foot, and modern corrida began to take form.

Today’s bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight).

During a performance, rejoneadores often ride several horses:

• A parade horse - physically attractive and disciplined
• A horse for the first tercio (entrance of bull) - very fast and brave.
• A horse for the second tercio (banderillas) - fast, agile, and a natural instinct for fooling the bull
• A horse for the third tercio (death of bull) - very steady
Bullfighting horses are highly trained to swerve instantly, yet remain calm when charged by a fierce, angry bull. The must possess an extreme dose of bravura, agility, and obedience.

A rejoneador's usual costume consists of a dark waistcoat (usually brown or grey), brown leather chaps and a broad, straight-brimmed hat.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=8251327
Rejoneador and Palomino stallion (most likely Lusitano).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTYWw3f7kx8
Pablo Hermoso

Now we’ll pass the champagne, chocolate and baked brie! Join me in celebrating the release of my erotic novella, Hot Spanish Nights, from The Wild Rose Press, The Wilder Roses.

There will be random drawings. Among the prizes are t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens and refrigerator magnets.

Let the party begin!

Cheers! Bianca

Minasan ohayoo gozaimasu, (good morning everyone)

I’m in Okinawa, Japan, visiting my daughter Christina and her family. The island is located right in the middle of Typhoon Alley. It’s rained almost every day I’ve been here. As we prepare for Typhoon Chaba, I’m reminded of a nursery rhyme poem.

Rain, rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!

The typhoon is expected to hit the island on Thursday. Christina deals with tropical storms at least six times a year and she’s calm. But I’m terrified of all the howling wind and rain we’re already experiencing. She’s stationed on Kadena Air Force Base and most of it (schools, businesses, etc.) is closed to prepare for the storm. The patio furniture is still put away because of the weather that hammered the island two weeks ago, so we don’t have much to do outside. We’re just loading up on groceries and water.

My grandsons, Triston and Ivan, are more interested in the movie Star Wars Clone Wars than the swaying palms and slashing rain. Triston is serious and older than his seven years, while Ivan is playful and still carries his Blinkie (a worn Winnie-the-Pooh blanket) everywhere he goes. Here are a couple of pictures of them playing their favorite sports.





Aren't they two cuties? The top picture is of Ivan; the bottom is Triston and Christina.

Now back to the storm.  Preparing for severe weather on a military base is a group effort. A soldier doesn’t hesitate to help someone in need, so everyone is pitching in to help their neighbor. This outpouring of love and care reminds me of my military days. Even then nothing compared to the camaraderie soldiers show to each other.

Everyone tells me not to worry. That the worse of the storm will go in another direction like the one did two weeks ago, but I’m still leery. I grew up in Virginia and New Jersey and never worried about typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Oh, my!

Right now I feel like one of my heroines in danger. If nothing else, battling this storm gives me an authentic experience to write about. Hey, that’s the first ray of sunshine I’ve encountered all morning.

If you’ve went through a harrowing experience or endured something that gives a personal touch to your stories…please share it.

Until later,

Pamela Varnado, AKA: Pamela Vee
AFTER GLOW available now (http://www.thewilderroses.com/)
http://www.entertheveespot.blogspot.com/
www.pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com


Good Tuesday Morning all!


Please help me welcome author Susanna Fraser. After you read about her first sale to Carina Press and absorb her advice, ask her tons of questions! (Her weekly word counts amaze me!)

Thank you so much for having me at Pink Fuzzy Slippers today! My first book, The Sergeant’s Lady, has been out almost exactly two months, and I’m happy to have a chance to come talk about it and my new work, too!


How do you find time to write with family and job obligations?


It isn’t easy! I’m married with a 6-year-old daughter and a full-time job, so if I’m not careful writing can get squeezed to the margins of my life. I have a notebook computer I take to work with me, and on my lunch hour I try to eat quickly so I’ll have 20-30 minutes at the end to write. In that time I can write 400-500 words. Then, after my daughter goes to bed around 9:00 or 9:30, I shut my office door and keep writing till I’ve written 1000 words total on the day.


That’s a typical day. Some days if I’m tired, stressed, or sick it doesn’t happen at all, and when my husband was at a week-long conference recently, I was satisfied if I managed 500 words per day. And some days the words just flow and I can hit 1500 or 2000 words.


How do you get over writer’s block?


I once heard Bernard Cornwell at a conference say that there’s no such f***ing thing as writer’s block. We’re doing something we love, something that’s a lot easier than, say, a nurse’s or a teacher’s work. And a nurse can’t call up the hospital and say, “I just can’t come in today. I have nurse’s block.” That’s obviously ridiculous if nursing is your job. And if writing is my job, then I need to do it whether I feel like it or not.


So I just make myself sit down and write. Sometimes that’s all it takes. The first few hundred words are slow and painful, but then I hit my flow, the characters come back to life on the page, and I feel good.

When that doesn’t work, I’ve learned that sometimes the problem is me, and other times it’s the writing itself. In the latter case, I look at the scene and try to figure out what’s gone wrong. Do I need more conflict? Should I try a different POV character? Does this scene fit the story at all, and if it doesn’t, what else can I try?


But when the problem is me, usually I’m being too hard on myself. I love to write and I’m stubborn, so I’ll try to write through sickness, through exhaustion, through family crises, at my mother-in-law’s house on Christmas morning, and so on. And that’s when I have to remind myself that while nurses can’t call in with nurse’s block, they don’t work 24/7/365, either. They have days off, they take vacations, and they get sick leave, bereavement leave, and the like. I’m allowed to do that, too. I don’t have to write every day. Five or six days out of every seven is fine. I don’t need to write when I have the flu, and it probably wouldn’t be my best work anyway. And there’s no need to write on Christmas…unless of course my daughter and her cousin are so quiet and happy with their toys that I get a good moment to sneak off by myself with my characters.


How do you come up with your ideas?


On the broadest level, I became fascinated with two aspects of the early 19th century: Jane Austen’s novels and the Napoleonic Wars. When you’ve read your copy of Austen’s complete works to tatters and find yourself describing the Battle of Waterloo over dinner using your cutlery to represent troop movements, it’s only natural to write Regencies focusing on the military side of the era.

I often get the ideas for individual books through a sort of dialogue with existing stories. With The Sergeant’s Lady, I’d read three books in a row where a seemingly cross-class relationship was resolved when the lower-class character turned out to be the long-lost child of an aristocrat. I decided I wanted to write a book where the common character was exactly what he or she seemed to be, forcing the hero and heroine to face up to their class differences and find a way to move beyond them.


For my next Carina book, A Marriage of Inconvenience, I’d watched the 1999 movie version of Mansfield Park and thought, “Well, that’s one way of making that book more accessible to a modern audience. But how would I do it?” And so I took a very similar set-up, with a poor relation heroine who’d learned to be meek and mild to stay on her rich relatives’ good side, and built it from there.


What are you writing now?


A Marriage of Inconvenience comes out April 11, 2011, so I’ll be going through line and copy edits between now and the end of the year.


As for new writing, I’m working on a historical fantasy with strong romantic elements set, like The Sergeant’s Lady, with Wellington’s army during the Peninsular War. I love the setting, and I’m having fun with the fantasy elements—among other things, it’s given me a good excuse to write a heroine who, like me, is more than a bit of a tomboy, and who gets to have high-stakes adventures with handsome warrior-men.


More about The Sergeant’s Lady :

Highborn Anna Arrington has been "following the drum," obeying the wishes of her cold, controlling cavalry officer husband. When he dies, all she wants is to leave life with Wellington's army in Spain behind her and go home to her family's castle in Scotland.

Sergeant Will Atkins ran away from home to join the army in a fit of boyish enthusiasm. He is a natural born soldier, popular with officers and men alike, uncommonly brave and chivalrous, and educated and well-read despite his common birth.

As Anna journeys home with a convoy of wounded soldiers, she forms an unlikely friendship with Will. When the convoy is ambushed and their fellow soldiers captured, they become fugitives—together. The attraction between them is strong—but even if they can escape the threat of death at the hands of the French, is love strong enough to bridge the gap between a viscount's daughter and an innkeeper's son?

Please stop by Susanna’s website to learn more about her and to read excerpts from The Sergeant’s Lady and A Marriage of Inconvenience. Also, one commenter on this post will win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com.


Inspiration and quotes

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 7:51 AM | 17 comments »

Good morning everyone,
I wonder what you all do for inspiration? Take a walk, listen to music, watch movies? I've never had this problem before - I simply thought about the next book I was going to write, had a rough idea of who the characters were, and a vague idea of the plot, and within a week of finishing up the book I was working on, I'd sit back down at the computer, and be excited to start again on a new story, and watch it unfold in front of me.
I have written so many books, I have lost count, but only have two published, and three out there making the rounds. I finished a book in June, and I've taken the summer off and now it's time to get back to work. How many times does an average writer rewrite the beginning, I'd like to ask. I think I probably need to make a blind stab at it, get what I know down on paper, then as I research and come to know my characters better, I refine and hopefully get it right.
What is your process in starting a new book? Are you a plotter, and use a plotting board with sticky notes everywhere? I wish I were - I truly think it would be much easier to know where I'm going and have the entire outline before I start to write, but my brain doesn't work that way. I'm just not that organized, but see more the big picture.
Anyway, I know I'm rambling, because this afternoon I have to make another attempt at my beginning for my story, because I bored myself, and oh, that is such a bad thing!
Here is a couple of quotes to leave you with. They are pasted on my computer and I think they are quite wonderful. I'm a Pisces and here are two of my horoscopes. Read on.

Worthwile achievements don't happen by chance. Often there are many, many mistakes to pave the way for one remarkable accomplishment.

You weren't born with the attitude that makes you a success. You have to choose it and then get up the next day and choose it again.

Aren't they wonderful? I choose sucess. I have made lots and lots of mistakes and now I'm off to discover that one remarkable accomplishment. Good luck everyone in finding yours!~

Please welcome Lori Wilde, multi-published Harlequin author, and learn about her newest release. We have cookies!

Hey, Lori, when did you decide to become a writer?

From the time I realized real people wrote the books I loved so dearly, I wanted to be a writer.

Every time I spied a shooting star, every birthday I blew out my candles, every coin I tossed into a fountain, I made this same wish---Please let me be a writer. I was such a dreamer.

I understand you have a new release due? Tell us about it. What's with the cookies? I love cookies, but...








“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your one true love, he will be your destiny.”



So goes the legend of the kismet cookie prophesy and my heroine, Sara Collier, believes. Boy, does she believe. Until at age fifteen, when she makes a fool of herself, running down the aisle of a church on Christmas morning in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop her one true love from marrying the wrong woman.


Cookies, cookie, who doesn’t love cookies?


From the moment I conceived my idea about a crafting club in the small Texas town of Twilight, I knew one of the books would center on a cookie club. For one thing, I love cookies. For another thing, I love to cook. Let me tell you it was no hardship dreaming up cookie recipes for The First Love Cookie Club.



For more information about Lori and her backlist, check out www.loriwilde.com.




Moaning and groaning, I suffered 2 rejections on my favorite (they are all my favorites) book this week, and being totally comatose, I forgot to post today. Self-serving that I am, I shall post an excerpt from the manuscript I'm grooming for the Wilder Roses of The Wild Rose Press. Better late than never?

Cardinal Desires won the Georgia Romance Writer's Magnolia award and was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

If the beginning is slow, I'm game for comments!!!! Here goes.

The beauty and the horror of what he saw made him tremble. In a place where only darkness should have been, light glared, stinging his eyes. A surreal gabble of voices and dissonant music hurt his ears. The squawk of a horn startled him, but he remained motionless, drowning in strange sensations and images. When his vision cleared, he was too weak and shaken to leave the sanctuary of the archway. It was night. That was somehow important. Yet it wasn’t really dark. Pink wisps of cloud colored the indigo sky. He knew where he was. Yet this wilderness couldn't be the home he remembered.

Everywhere, disorder and decay surrounded him. Wild roses choked the coral archway above his head. The flagstone path lay like a crumpled ribbon flung down in the chaos of flowers and vines that had once been the formal garden. He felt like a sleepwalker, awakening in the wrong time and place. His heart wept for the lost years. His eyes burned, unable to cry.

It seemed like yesterday that the cream of society had poured through those wrought iron gates, rusted now, hanging haphazardly on sagging hinges. The rich and famous had come to lavish parties, swam in bathtub gin and sipped contraband rum. Tuxedoed valets had parked cars made by Bugatti and Studebaker.
Prohibition. Brave men could make a fortune.

He stumbled one step, then two, and the pale loop of the driveway drew him faster past rustling palms, the meticulous lawns a riot of tall grass, but now he was only vaguely aware, his mind reeling again. He rounded a curve and came up short near the rusted main gates. Fragile emotional equilibrium tipped back into disorientation. A concrete sidewalk slashed a premature end to the tree-lined drive. Strangers strode across his property. Didn’t they know they were trespassing? A spark of anger pierced the lethargy trying to claim him.

On the sidewalk, a child froze, his eyes wide, pointing at him. He folded his arms over his chest, glanced down, expecting to see his fingertips bloody. He’d clawed his way out of the mausoleum but there was no blood. The pale skin was whole. His long, translucent fingernails lined with dirt but not one was chipped or broken.
"Look, Momma, a ghost." The lilting cadence of the boy's voice teased memory. "Told you that old house is haunted."
Jamaican, that was the accent, and a wonderful memory of wind-tossed seas and ships ferrying forbidden cargo brought a smile to his lips. The mother narrowed her eyes to peer into the gloomy shadows of the palm fronds. When their eyes met, she gasped, grabbed her son’s hand and pulled him along, her high heels beating a rapid staccato of fear.

"I am a ghost," he whispered, his voice breaking.

A heady, intoxicating scent lingered in the humid air. He inhaled the dusky human fragrance, and a sweet longing trembled through him. Saliva flooded his mouth. This desperation of mind and body was hauntingly familiar--half passion, half hunger—an overwhelming crescendo in his veins. Memories knocked at the gates to his mind. He mustn’t open those gates or he’d go mad. Did ghosts go insane?
He raised a skeleton claw to study the blue chords shining through tight transparent skin. Dirt-matted hair draped the shoulders of his coat, the once fine fabric rotted. The reek of the grave clung to him but he was corporeal, not a ghost.
A breeze blew in from the ocean. He inhaled the cleansing salt air deep into his lungs. He’d go to the shore, strip and bathe in the waves. Oh, yes, he'd loved the sea!

More sure-footed, faster than he dared believe, he raced down the overgrown path. As he slid down on the bank to wriggle his toes in the warm water, a tide of memories swept the child-like smile from his lips. There'd been another whom he loved more than the sea.

Her name had been Jessica Starling and she was the essence of her age—the Roaring Twenties. Everyone called her Jesse. When they married, she hadn't taken his name. "It's too long and you don't need me to wear your brand to know I love you."
Tears clotted in his throat. He swallowed the silent river of grief. Jesse's death had sent him on a rampage. He'd gone quite literally mad. Yes, that's how it had been. The last night he’d dwelt amongst the living, he'd killed seven innocents who didn't know who Jessica was or why their lives were exacted to pay for another man's sin. He hadn't even taken their blood. He'd watched them slowly bleed to death. Death, in its arrogance, had snatched her away. Arrogant and lethal as Death, he’d demanded Old Testament justice--an eye for an eye. Yet seven times seven lives couldn't avenge his loss. And so he’d laid his living body down beside his wife’s corpse.

Behind him, down a dark path, the mausoleum doors yawned wide—a mouth to the other world. If he surrendered to memory, he’d return to her, but his Jesse wouldn’t know, hadn’t known any comfort from his cold embrace. The immortal ocean lapped sand from the mortal shore. A full moon cut a white circle from the black sky. Life rang in him clear as morning’s bells. He yearned to be free of the lethargy and the stench of death.

And the past that had driven him to the grave.

I'm leaving the DH home with a well stocked refrigerator, fresh baked apple pie and instructions to feed the dogs and cat too, and taking off.

I’m so excited. It’s been over a year since I’ve attended a conference or workshop. This weekend is the New Jersey Romance Writers conference and I’ll be there. Even
though, my novel, EVIL’S WITNESS, is up for the notable award, 'Golden Leaf Best First Book' that is not why I’m excited. I can’t wait to be surrounded by other writers and learning more about the craft and industry which I love.

I’m sure you understand how being surround by like minds is no matter where your interest lay. When you’re with others who understand your passion, it’s like walking among the stars. I’m eager to meet face to face friends I’ve made online and to see those I haven’t seen in months or since the national conference in DC. I actually feel like a sponge ready to soak up knowledge in the workshops I already have highlighted on my schedule. I’m also a little nervous about taking an agent appointment, telling her about my new wip and hearing her thoughts on the romantic suspense genre in today’s tight market.

So today, I’ll be tweaking my pitch and getting my books and promo material ready for the book signing which is another reason for me to be excited. This will be my very first RWA conference signing.

God, it’s going to be a blast! If you’re in attendance, please say hi or join me in having a Midnight In Paris Martini.

If you have any conference tips, throw them at me. I'm so excited, I know I'll forget something.

Fall Break

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 5:59 PM | 5 comments »







Being scheduled to blog today and not having anything to blog about I thought I'd tell you about my fall break. Isn't this a lovely picture? It's Mykonos, Greece and it is not where I spent my fall break.
The second picture is of Venice, Italy as seen from the water when approaching by water taxi. This also is not where I spent my fall break. Where then you ask did Scarlet spend fall break? At home, running errands and trying to write. My husband left me a long honey=do list, which I dutifully worked through all the while lugging my computer or alphasmart with me to snatch a few minutes here and there to write. On Saturday I attended the Hummingbird Festival in Hogansville with my cousin. I didn't write, but I did visit the Victorian Hotel and got lots of ideas for stories. Still, I didn't get any writing done so I rather counted it as a wasted day. Determined to carve some writing time out of what my family thought was their time to command. I closed my office door, shutting out the cat who wanted to sit on the keyboard and started to write. That's when I found them. My characters were there waiting patiently for me to come visit with them. I was delighted to find my muse there as well. With my characters talking to me and my muse urging me on I managed to write nearly twenty pages on my current wip! Time flew past, it was 4:30 Monday morning before I came up for air. What a thrill to be able to write, to immerse myself in my story, to discover my character and remember the joy of writing. The third picture? Oh, that's Mallorca off the coast of Spain, another place I didn't go during fall break, but the place I did go was so much more thrilling.


This blog was supposed to be about a piano recital I attended at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

HOWEVER, I forgot the flashdrive with the blog, and I’m at work, so, I’ll use the opportunity to invite everyone to participate in a Scavenger Hunt to celebrate my upcoming release (October 29th) of Hot Spanish Nights from The Wild Rose Press (http://www.thewildrosepress.com/) written under my pen name Bianca Swan.
Hot Spanish Nights is about a rejoneador (mounted bullfighter), so I included a photo of a beautiful Andalusian horse.

I’m offering some fun prizes for finding Halloween words hidden in Dana Frye’s posts. The link to the hunt is: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978609792

There is a grand prize and other prizes as well.

The Hunt is on! Join us for the fun.

Quantcast I don’t know how with all my posts on British films I missed doing one on The Scarlet Pimpernel.  More than one, actually, considering the various productions, and I’m the insatiable sort who’s hoping there will be yet another version out soon.  You can’t have too many Scarlet Pimpernels.  I’m sure you second that.
 
Of course, I’ve read and reread the book (s) by the incomparable Baroness Emmuska Orczy since I was a teenager.  So if you haven’t, do!

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the most romantic and intriguing tales ever told.  I rank it up there with the best! The world Ms. Orczy creates seems very real, as do Sir Percival Blakeney and Marjuerite St. Just, but they are fictional characters.  Or so we’re told.
Whether or not Ms. Orczy based the Pimpernel on a historical figure has been much debated.   She was certainly absorbed in that time period and highly knowledgeable.  Her work inspired me to research the French Revolution and set my latest story in 1789 England during the kick off of that bloody episode in history.  Not the height of the Great Terror as Ms. Orczy chose for the Pimpernel.  Rather, I opted for an earlier time in the Revolution.  My hero isn’t the Pimpernel–I wouldn’t even attempt to go there–but the explosion across the channel is a prominent story element.

As much as I enjoy the various takes on the Scarlet Pimpernel, I still haven’t seen one that I felt utterly captured Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite St. Just/ Lady Blakeney, although some actors have made a stellar effort. I’d like to see a film version that more closely follows the book, and maybe I’ll never be totally satisfied with anything  as it’s impossible to fully reproduce the story.
The 1982 version with Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Ian McKellen is my favorite, although the three part BBC series that came out in 1999 is a close second.  Of course, I own all of the above.  I didn’t like Elizabeth McGovern (1999) in the role of Marguerite as much as I did Jane Seymour, but Richard Grant made a scintillating Pimpernel.  I liked him a lot,  and Anthony Andrew (1982)–such an elegant, handsome  Pimpernel.  I’m hopeful that some day another actor will take on this supreme challenge.
I was fascinated with the 1999 production’s take on Paul Chauvelin in the form of Martin Shaw.  Shaw brought so much depth to that character, especially in the third production in that series.  I loved Chauvelin’s tender relationship with his errant daughter.  Very touching.  Who knew Chauvelin could have a heart?  I don’t think Ms. Orczy would approve, but it was a great spin.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included some clips of the above mentioned productions.


 





Please welcome my guest Dale Mayer

The social networking drain

Hi everyone.

I am uniquely suited to the lifestyle of a writer. At least I thought I was. For over a decade I’ve earned my living off sitting down at my computer and writing for clients. Some years were good and some not so good. Which given the economic situation we’ve all gone through for the last several years, is a common story.

Sitting alone, in an empty (yes, I’m dreaming!) or almost empty house and working alone for weeks on end at a computer is not an ideal setup for many people. Too many don’t have the necessary ‘get-to-it’ type of drive and many others don’t have the ‘stick-to-it-ness” required to work independently. Writing fiction is even harder to write on your own. Books require days, weeks and months if not years to write – and that’s just the first draft.

So for anyone who likes their own company, who is happy working alone, writing is a great type of career. But as you become more entrenched in this solitary existence, it can be hard to assimilate into the rest of the world. And when you get thrust into the limelight, it’s like being a deer caught up in the headlights of an oncoming truck!

When I heard that I was a finalist in Brava’s Writing for the Stars contest, I was overwhelmed with joy – quickly followed by confusion and panic and a mad scurrying to catch up with the outside world.

As the contest will be determined by votes, that meant I needed to work at getting my name out there. It means signing onto facebook on a regular basis, twittering everyday and blogging on many sites – just to inform people about the contest and to promote my entry – but it’s hard! I’m not that comfortable with social networking, never really sure of what to say, and am struggling with fitting it all in. I’m a prolific writer, work full time as a freelance writer, and I’m a single mom of four!

The challenge of the contest hasn’t been the writing, the comments, the voting, and the social networking – no, the challenge has been time management! I’m doing it, by focusing on one day at a time and staying steps ahead of my tomorrows, but it’s not easy. At least not yet. If I manage to go the distance through to round five and the finish line – it should be second nature – if I don’t collapse first!

How do you fit in the facebook, Twitter, Myspace or whatever sites you might be linked to, keep a family happy, do your job, if you work, and still find time to write? What tricks do use to keep everything from blowing up in your face?

Dale Mayer
www.dalemayer.com
Writing for the Stars Finalist – Voting starts October 11th at
http://www.rtbookreviews.com/content/writing-stars-vote-first-paragraph-and-last-line

Dale can be found on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/dalemayer or you can follow her on Facebook


I’ve been thinking about fairy tales lately, mostly because of my trip to Europe. First there was the stork and its incredible nest in France. (See yesterday’s blog for a pic. That nest is big enough to hold a slew of babies.) After that, again in France, a garden with scarecrows dressed up as Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (cleverly disguised as Grandma). 
Next, in Germany, a garden so magical that you can just tell it’s populated with all kinds of otherworldly beings.  I’d never considered writing fairy tales before, but in that very garden, I met the King of the Fairies, who pretty much ordered me to write his story. Here he is. Yeah, yeah, he's pretending to be a cat, but it's not such a great disguise. Look closely at the expression in his ice-blue eyes… Brrr.  He wasn’t helpful about the story itself; apparently that’s being left up to me. I haven’t figured out yet whether the story’s supposed to be for kids, adults, or somewhere in between.




I wanted to catch the cat’s reflection in a gorgeous decorative ball like this one, but he wouldn’t let me, because then I’d know what he really looks like – yet another aspect of his story left up to my imagination. I can make him really, really ugly if I want. If I dare. 

Anyway, this post isn’t just about what I’m supposedly going to write at the behest of the Fairy King, who fortunately is thousands of miles away from me at  the moment (I hope), but about a short story with many fairy tale elements written by my friend Linsey Lanier. Linsey blogs regularly at the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, and this month they’re doing their October Treasure Hunt. Early this year, Linsey wrote a story called “The Clever Detective,” and now she's written the sequel, “Clever is as Clever Does.” To read the story and participate in the Treasure Hunt, go here. And if you came here from a link in Linsey's story, you know what comes next.

One way to win a prize in the Treasure Hunt is to comment on this blog… So tell me, do you like fairy tales? Do you think they’re just for kids, or are they for adults, too? Should I obey the King's behest, or should I brush him off? If you were going to write about the King of the Fairies, what would he look like?


Here are a few pics from my recent trip to Europe. It wasn’t a regular tourist trip – some business, some pleasure, some vegging (and an annoying cold). 

First we went to London, where I didn’t take any pictures at all. I have plenty of mental images of editors, writers, friends, and the swans at Richmond. At a thousand words per pic, this would be a long blog, so I won’t even try.

Then on to Bordeaux, France, where I truly came down with the cold. We went for a long walk through a bird sanctuary called Le Teich. I saw a stork for the first time. Here’s a pic of a stork on its magnificently huge nest. I also saw some cute little water birds, which my hostess called poule d’eau (water hen) and which, in English, are (I think) coots...









This was special to me, because in my childhood I read all the Swallows and Amazons stories by Arthur Ransome over and over again. One of the recurring characters was a bird watcher, and in a book called Coot Club, a bunch of kids banded together to protect the coots’ nests on the Norfolk Broads. Now I know what a coot looks like. Sweet!

Next we went to Bavaria, Germany, where I had a great time visiting, vegging and revising a historical short story. We went into Munich and spent a while at Oktoberfest. I’m not a fan of crowds, but I’m glad we went anyway. There are vast restaurants with people swilling mugs of beer and whole cows being roasted. Here’s a pic of a bunch of beer barrels. The horses pulling the beer wagons were magnificent, but I didn’t get a good pic, alas. By the time we left I was longing for a horse of my own. No, not really. I was just so thirsty that I wanted my own barrel of beer.



Here’s a teeny little church near where we stayed. Isn't it cute? That’s me asking about the location of another (bigger) church.
I love visiting churches, but unfortunately, I didn’t get to go inside any of them. The Bavarian baroque churches have magnificent interiors. This one was closed due to woodworm repairs.  
I'm a huge fan of the lavishness of baroque art, so looking at photographs of the interior instead of seeing it for real was... not bad at all, actually. They were gorgeous photos, but I still want to go back and see the interior properly. Someday, I hope to write a historical that takes place in the late 1600s/early 1700s, just because I love baroque so much.
We also went to Fuerstenfeldbruck, where there’s another fabulous baroque church, part of an old monastery. The original monastery (built in the 13th century; the baroque buildings, obviously, came later) was founded by a duke who killed his wife because he suspected her of adultery. His penance was to build a monastery.






Didn’t go in there, either, although if I'd known more about the interior, I would have wanted to. Next time! We had a wonderful meal, and I had the beer I was longing for. It was the best non-alcoholic beer I’ve ever tasted. Wow.  













Here’s the firehouse in the town where were stayed. I love the picture on the front of the dude pouring a bucket of water on a burning house.


And here’s the enchanted garden where the Demon Wisteria is magically under control (or maybe it’s just the Bavarian winters).
Tomorrow – enchantment, fairy tales, and the October Treasure Hunt being held by the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales.







Please welcome Lilly Gale, author and cancer survivor.


She has a message she wants to share with us, so I’m going to skip the interview stuff and jump into her blog.


Blog-

At night and on weekends, I am a wife, a mother, and a writer. My first novel, Out of the Darkness, a paranormal vampire romance was released from The Wild Rose Press in May of this year. But my day job is in a hospital. I'm a radiologic technologist and mammographer. And I've always been an advocate of the FDA and the American Cancer Society's recommendations for women concerning their breast health.

  • Women 20-39 should have a physical examination of the breast (CBE or clinical breast exam) at least every three years, performed by health care professional such as a physician, physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner. CBE may often be received in the same appointment as a Pap smear. Women 20-39 should also perform monthly BSE.(Breast Self Exam)
  • Women age 35 should have their baseline mammogram.
  • Women 40 and older should have a physical examination of the breast (CBE or clinical breast exam) every year, performed by a health care professional, such as a physician, physician assistant, nurse or nurse practitioner. CBE can often be performed in the same visit as a mammogram. Monthly BSE should also be performed.
  • Women 40 years of age should receive a screening mammogram every year. The National Cancer Institute recommends mammography every one to two years for women between 40-50 years of age. Beginning at age 50, screening mammography should be performed every year.


But in June 2007, I was lax. It had been 18 months since my last mammogram (which was normal.) I had an appointment with my doctor to follow up on my migraine medicine and mentioned the gap. He immediately wrote an order for my annual screening. My clinical breast exam was normal and I had not found any breast lumps myself. In fact, I had no risk factors for breast cancer.


What are those factors?

Being female- Okay, I had one risk factor!

A first degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer: (mother, sister, daughter, maternal grandmother, maternal aunts)- my father's first cousin had just been diagnosed in April, but that's not a first degree relative and she was the only one.

Early menarche--younger than 12 I was 13. TMI?

Older age at menopause--over 55 I was only 47 in 2007.

Years of artificial hormones after a hysterectomy I had a hysterectomy in 2005 and never filled the hormone prescription. Ironically, I didn't want to increase my risk of breast cancer.

Nulliparity (Never having children)- I have two beautiful daughters.

Not breast feeding- I breast fed both my girls for at least the first six weeks.

Late first time pregnancy- I was 25 the first time I got pregnant.


On June 14, 2007, after I finished with my last patient, I got one of the other mammographers to take my mammogram. We didn't have digital mammography then and had to wait for the films to fall from the processor. And the moment I saw that spiculated lesion lying next to my chest wall in my right breast, I knew. I would have to wait for a diagnostic mammogram and then a biopsy, but I knew deep in my gut that it would prove to be cancer. I had seen too many cancers on film in my career not to know that I had just become the one in eight women diagnosed each year with breast cancer.


I underwent two excisional biopsies on my right breast and a lymph node biopsy to see if the disease had spread to my nodes. Thank God it hadn't. I was stage one. But the tumor was aggressive and would not respond to hormone treatments. So, I had a MUGA scan, which is a Nuclear Medicine test to assess the heart and then underwent eight weeks of chemotherapy.


Thankfully, I didn't throw up. I had constant indigestion and a lot of nausea but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I think the new meds they give cancer patients helped but I did lose all my hair and was completely bald for months. Then before I could start radiation treatments, I had to have an MRI to make sure the chemo destroyed all the cancer cells. If it hadn't I would have had a mastectomy. But again, I was lucky. The remaining breast looked clear, as did my left breast. So, I had three months of radiation and was declared "cured" in December of 2007.


I see my oncologist every three months and I still have blood work drawn. And until my last mammogram, I was getting mammograms every six months. I graduated to yearly screening mammograms this year. Yay me!


FYI. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) came up with new "guidelines" for woman. You can see these guidelines at:

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/mammogramguidelines.faces?siteId=2#USPSTF

They have decided that women don't need to screen for breast cancer until they are fifty.

My problem with this, besides the fact that I was a 47 year old breast cancer patient with no family history whose cancer was discovered on a screening mammogram, the statistics don't mention the fact that cancers found in women under 50 are more aggressive. If they are not caught while the patient is still asymptomatic (before they find a lump) the mortality rate risesThe American Cancer Society, the FDA (also a federal agency), and every mammographer I know recommend screening mammograms for all women over 40. And with the new health insurance laws that came into effect October 1 that prevents insurance companies from charging co-pays and deductibles for mammograms, there is no reason why women 40-80 shouldn't have a screening mammogram every year.


Since mammography screening reduces breast cancer death by 15% for women ages 39 to 49, I can't imagine why any agency would recommend waiting until age 50 or why any woman would hesitate to schedule her annual screening.


It is your body. Your breast. Your life. And your right.

You can find out more about breast cancer at www.cancer.org or www.breastcancer.org


OUT OF THE DARKNESS: Available now from The Wild Rose Press-- Her research could cure his dark hunger if a covert government agent doesn't get to her first.
www.lillygayle.com
www.lillygayleromance.blogspot.com



WELCOME, BARBARA!










PARTY
TIME
AGAIN!





Grab something wicked to drink and dig into the New Book Release Day cake. I've been saving it.

I’d like to thank Mary for asking me to guest blog here today to celebrate the release of FAMILY MATTERS. My third book from Harlequin American Romance officially hit bookstore shelves and online bookstores last week!


My Virtual Book Tour has been a blast so far, with a number of guest blog stops, some interviews, and even a Book Release Party.


For the Pink Fuzzies, Mary and I thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit and share a quick excerpt from FAMILY MATTERS.


First, a bit about the book:

FAMILY MATTERS is the story of a hardheaded attorney and an equally stubborn teacher who meet in a heated battle over a local amusement park.


Kerry MacBride comes from a large family of Irish eccentrics. She escaped her tiny hometown as soon as she could. Though she is now an art teacher in an inner-city Chicago high school, Kerry is still the family's answer to any emergency.


The latest fiasco: her outrageous Uncle Bren has persuaded everyone in her grandmother's retirement community to invest in restoring an abandoned amusement park.


Matt Lawrence, the lawyer son of one of the residents, is committed to fighting for the underdog in any situation. He’ll do whatever it takes to save everyone’s finances—even if he's forced to send Kerry's conniving uncle to jail.


In the middle of all this uproar, the last thing Kerry and Matt want is to find themselves attracted to each other.

But you know how these things go.... ;-)


Throw some daredevil siblings, an offbeat grandmother, a couple of determined matchmakers, and a runaway teenager into the mix, and things get downright crazy.


Now, the excerpt. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to leave comments and questions. I’ll be back later today to respond.

~~~~~~~

The room looked as if a twister had swept through it.


Twice.


Boxes and bags and unidentifiable objects balanced on the edges of the pool tables, leaned up against the walls, and littered almost every inch of floor space.


On the far side of the room, Uncle Bren stood behind one of the pool tables.


Taking hold of Kerry’s shoulders, Matt gently moved her aside. The warmth of his hands seeped through the fabric of her worn T-shirt. Distracted by the momentary pleasure, she didn’t realize he planned to cross the room until it was too late.


By the time she kicked into gear, he had his hands braced on the pool table, giving the impression of a hunter who had cornered his prey. From the look of wide-eyed panic on her uncle’s face, he agreed.


“What is all this, MacBride?” Matt asked, his voice gentle.


Gentle and Matt made a dangerous combination.


Kerry rushed to join them.


Uncle Bren frowned, as if seeing everything around him for the first time. “Supplies. For the park.”


“Do you have receipts for all this?” Matt asked. “Did you get the okay from your investors before you spent their money?”


Uncle Bren stepped back a half-pace. “They’re fine with whatever I do.”


“No matter how ineptly you do it?”


“Matt, really!” Kerry moved past him and focused on Uncle Bren. “Where are you planning to store all these packages?”


He shrugged.


“You haven’t even thought that far in advance, have you?” Matt demanded. Shaking his head, he turned to Kerry. “I rest my case. This guy couldn’t carry off a bake sale if they were giving the goods away.”


“Hold on, lad—“


“I’m not your lad,” Matt snarled.


Kerry winced but stood her ground. Maybe once they got the shouting over with, they’d have everything out of their systems.


False hope, and she knew it. If she didn’t keep them away from each other, Matt would be the one going to jail.


For murder.

~~~~~~~

About Barbara

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the dry heat and have taken up square dancing.


From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called "books." Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.


Barbara hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!


You can find Barbara online at her website: www.barbarawhitedaille.com and at her blog: www.barbarawhitedaile.com/blog. She’s also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille and Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille.

Stop by and visit her any time!