A couple of weeks ago, my daughter offered me some starter for Amish Friendship Bread. I’m a sucker when it comes to baking something new, so I said, “Why not?” and gave it a try.

The starter has to be kept in a non-metal container. I received mine in a Ziploc bag. There are two basic rules when making Amish Friendship Bread. No metal containers, bowls, or spoons maybe used. Also, don’t refrigerate the mixture, because it needs to ferment. I love the idea of fermentation, I guess because it means the batter is alive. 

The procedure is as follows:  
 
Day 1: Let it sit there on the counter. Leave it alone.

Days 2 through 5: Squeeze the bag several times (or stir the starter if it’s in another sort of container). If air gets in the bag, you can let it out. This is normal in the fermentation process.

Somewhere along about here, you start attracting friends. Mine were a cockroach (who bit a hole in the bag) and a procession of ants (who came for the feast). Fortunately, they didn’t get much before I realized what was going on and moved the bag to a location the bugs couldn’t reach. (Not that I want to deprive any living creatures of sustenance, mind you. I rather like bugs. But that's another story.)

Day 6: Add 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup dark brown sugar, and 1 cup milk. (I used whole milk because that’s what I had.)

Day 7 through 9: Squeeze or stir as above.

Day 10: Using a non-metal bowl, combine the batter from the bag, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup dark brown sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mix it with a wooden spoon. Pour four 1 cup starters into new containers. I made an awful mess pouring it into the Ziploc bags, and – gasp! – I forgot and used a metal measuring cup. Give three of the bags away and keep the last for yourself. (I decided not to alienate anyone by giving them one of my messy, pest-attracting bags, so I put them in the fridge, where I'm told they'll keep for a good while.)

To the remainder of the batter, add the following (mixing the dry ingredients together before adding them): 1 cup oil (I used Canola), ½ cup milk, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup dark brown sugar, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 2 cups white whole wheat flour.  I forgot and used a metal spoon for a short while with this, too… but I guess as long as the contact with metal is brief and minimal, it doesn’t matter. 

Grease 2 bread pans well and dust them with cinnamon sugar. (YUM. This is a really, really great idea.) Since I prefer fruit breads, I added diced peel (lemon and orange) and diced candied cherries (red and green) to the batter for one loaf (about 1 cup fruit in all) mostly because I had all that stuff left over from something I made for a Christmas party, so it really needed to be used up. To the other loaf, I added 1 cup of currants. Both worked well, but I liked the one with currants better.

Pour the batter into the pans and bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour. Voila! 

Then start all over, or refrigerate the starter for a while until you’re ready to go through this again. By the time I got the batter divided into bags and the pans in the oven, I was swearing I'd never, ever bother with it again. When I tasted the bread.... Wow. Amazing with a capital A. I took a picture, but it just doesn't do the bread justice, so I'm not posting it here. Suffice it to say I'm working on a new batch now.

(P.S. If you need some starter, I have a couple of those messy bags in my fridge. Better yet, try your cookbook or the Internet, find a recipe, and make it yourself -- it's easy.)

Preparing To Meet Your Destiny


Can you believe it? The national RWA conference is only thirty days away. It's almost time to kiss hubby goodbye, and to hug the kid's, and then run.

And don't forget about the pets. Pat them and promise to bring back a treat.


So you’re planning on attending this totally awesome event. Well, how do you prepare for it? I’m not talking about what do I pack or what type of clothing should I wear? That is a no-brainer. Business casual. I’m talking about how do you prepare to make the most of the experience?

Well, first, relax. There is no reason to become stressed. Everyone going to the conference is riding the same wave you are. The ones who prepare will land on the beach more gracefully, that’s all.

Second. Determine what is your goal in attending the conference? Is it to learn about the craft of writing? Are you interested in learning more about the publishing world? Do you have an agent and editor appointment in hopes of gaining interest in your work? Are you looking to network, and make connections with other writers or industry professionals? Whatever your reason, you do need to prepare.

Third, HOW?

Okay, First, this item is important for all the reasons listed above. Business cards. You must have plenty of business cards. You don’t have to special order cards. You can buy printable business cards at Walmart. The cards should have basic information; your name, pseudonym, address, email address and phone number. That’s it. If you want artwork, fine. Just don’t let the artwork over shadow your name and make your contact information so small it will take a magnifying glass to see the information. Remember you want people to remember your name not oh, how cute the kittens were.

You’ve identified your purpose of attending and that is...

a)To learn about the craft. Conferences schedules are filled with valuable workshops. It’s like going to a smorgasbord of knowledge and we tend to say oh, I want to see this and hear her, and my chapter mate is speaking. The thing is, we can’t be everywhere and hear all. So you need to decide ahead of time what your writing weaknesses are and attend specific workshops that will help you. Don’t worry what workshop your friend is going to. She might need help with POV. You’ve got that down pat.

Or if you’re craft savvy, attend the workshops which deal with the industry. It’s on spinning off in many directions right and you might want to hear what the BIG 6 and others are saying.

Don’t burn yourself out running from class to class, because there is one. Which leads to the next reason. Networking.

b)Networking. Most writers are introverts. We spend long hours by ourselves. We like being by ourselves. Suddenly we’re surrounded by people. Remember they’re introverts just like yourself. Be yourself. Smile. Say hi. Start a conversation. Exchange cards. It’s that simple.

Note of common sense: When approaching people who are having a conversation, study their body language. If they open the circle to you, then they too are looking to network, but if they turn away, however slight, move on. They’re most likely having a personal conversation which is not open to newcomers.

Ahead of time, practice reciting your book’s blurb. You’ll meet agents, editors, other writers and even readers—all who will ask you about your writing.

Practice conversations. What questions would you ask of an editor or agent or an author you adore? It’s easier to have a conversation with someone if you think about it ahead of time. If you don’t believe me, try it. Think of three topics to discuss with your spouse or a friend. Practice and then have it. You’ll see. The conversation will flow.

Over the years, I’ve made tons of friends. Each has brought joy to my life. So go get them.

c)Finally, the dreaded editor and agent appointments. Don’t sweat it. Practice your pitch. Know your book. Know your characters and relax. Editors and agents are just people. They’re there hoping someone will wow them. So do it.



Last bit of advice. Have fun.





In the novella I’m currently giving birth to, my challenge is to make a demon sympathetic enough for the heroine and the reader to fall in love with him. In fact, she must choose him over her guardian angel. Salseph isn’t your normal, run-of-the-mill demon. He was created by the fallen angel Paimon, General of Hell, to look like an angel with beautiful black-and-white wings.

Which makes him an outcast in Hell.

I found it difficult—and the going was slow—showing the character arc as Seph’s motives change from murder and revenge to love and the yearning to be accepted for what he is. But now it is finished and I have submitted it to the Scarlet Rose line at The Wild Rose Press.


I found it surprisingly easy to write Celestial Sin, an erotic novella published by The Wild Rose Press. The character arcs built themselves—Essie and Cam-ael came to life immediately in my mind. He is an angel of the Order of the Powers, and she is a woman disillusioned with love. Celestial Sin released May 20th.

Excerpt:

The demon emerged from the shadows, brandishing a sword. “I am Anamalech. Cam-ael of the Order of the Powers, we’ve got a score to settle. You killed my brother.”
The creature’s weapon smelled like hot metal—black iron. Cam’s stomach knotted. Unarmed, he faced the only substance that could destroy one of his kind. The monster was a viscous glob of dark blue with bulging red eyes. Rows of sharp teeth formed its lipless mouth. Its bulbous genitals swung at its ankles.


If I perish, Essie will be raped and devoured. He backed away, urging her down the trail. Guilt gnawed at him. He’d brought this horror into her world. And I shall remove it.
The celestial light hovering at his shoulder expanded, shining in the demon’s eyes. Anamalech winced but did not retreat.


“Your angel tricks won’t work, Cam-ael.”



Please visit Bianca Swan's blog at http://www.biancaswan.wordpress.com/ for the hot, hot cover of Celestial Sin and another excerpt.



Reader Loyalty

When should an author start to worry about reader loyalty? When they sell their first book? When the first book hits the book stores or e-store? After they sell their second or third book?

The answer, according to Barbara Vey and Dianna Love, is before any of the above happens. Writers should begin to build reader loyalty as soon as they decide upon becoming a published author.

On Saturday, May 25, 2011, Barbara Vey and Dianna Love presented a workshop for Georgia Romance Writers. Their chosen topic—Reader Loyalty. For those who don’t know her, Barbara Vey writes the blog--Beyond Her Book, for Publishers Weekly where she reviews romance novels. BarbaraVey, has become a household name for nearly all romance readers and writers. Joining Barbara was Georgia Romance Writers member and NYT best selling author, Dianna Love. The workshop was packed with information that every author should know and every aspiring author must learn. It’s a tough market and changing everyday. To be successful, we must learn to use social media to our advantage, Barbara and Dianna went a long way toward helping us learn to do just that. I can’t take credit for this information, it came straight from notes I made during the workshop.

According to Barbara and Dianna, you want to brand yourself. Reader Loyalty begins before you sell your book. You want the readers to know all about you, so that when your book comes out you will have a built in audience.

One way to build reader awareness is to hold virtual parties. You should network, go beyond the usual writer’s websites and reach out to the readers. Readers love it when you give away stuff. They will return to your blog if you give away freebies. Other authors may be enticed to give items for your virtual party. It will give them free advertising, introduce them to new readers and keep their name up for reader recognition.

BarbaraVey started the trend with her very popular blog, Beyond her Book, when she held the first virtual party that was so successful that it has become an international event. Barbara offers links to blogs that are giving away freebies. This is an excellent way to get your name out and build reader loyalty. Blogs like Seekerville, Pinkfuzzyslipperwriters and Petitfoursandhottamales are examples of using blogs to build reader loyalty.

Use your blog to connect to readers, allow them to get to know you before you sell. They will become loyal readers because of the connection made through blogging. Dianna suggests doing blog tours rather than having your own blog. She uses this method and has been very successful.

Go meet the readers and give them a reason to read your type of writing. If the reader doesn’t like your subgenre, suggest some they might like. Ask what they read. Then they might give yours a try. Meet people and talk around your book, don’t push it. When they go to get a book, they will remember that you were nice and will become a loyal reader for you.

On FaceBook and Twitter use your name. Buy your domain name, and then use it to build your brand. If you have a website, keep it updated. Always have your latest book up there! Barbara Vey branded her name-not her real name- she made it up-but it is now one that everyone knows. If you do that people will feel they know you and will recognize you and buy your book.

To keep your readers you’ve got to show that you like/love/respect your readers. You are only as great as they make you!

When you blog, be sure to go back and answer the questions, that builds readership. If people take time to read, comment and ask questions, then you owe it to them to respond!

Facebook is bringing together readers/writers. Readers want give aways! That’s what brings in traffic. Giving away the prizes brings in readers. You don’t want to say buy my book, buy my book, you say my book releases—ask what the readers want you to give away.

At signings, always talk to the readers first. Don’t talk to the people beside you instead. Be friendly and focus on the readers. Do not sit and talk with your writer friends and leave the readers standing ignored. They will find someone who will pay attention to them and that’s the book they will buy.

Remember Barbara Vey’s Beyond her book offers give away Mondays on her blog—if you are doing a give a way—free stuff—email it to her and she will post it, it drives traffic to your blog—you have to be giving away something free—

If you are doing a blog for readers let them know it’s for readers—make it what they want—talk to them like you talk in real life—make a connection to the reader –Barbara tweeted that she has her top on backward, tweeted that she was pretty sure she put her bra on right—got many, many comments. Find a common ground and connect with readers through that. Make it a party. Do a give away that is for the readers—use the comments.

Dianna’s rule, do not do any posting where there are any negative comments. It’s a difficult business, don’t need the negative. If someone gives a positive review—she always tries to post a thank you.

If you’re going to do something, do it at a site that has traffic.

If someone makes negative comments, do not engage.

Finally, if your book is featured on Barbara’s blog, be sure to respond-- It is so important to respond when Barbara puts your book on her blog, readers ask if the author has responded and if the author hasn’t, they say that they won’t read the author again if they can’t be bothered to respond.

This was a very informative workshop and both Barbara and Dianna are top notch! Thanks so much ladies for all the information, I've enjoyed sharing with these facts with the pink fuzzies. I hope it will help us all learn to builder Reader Loyalty regardless of the stage of our careers.

Even minor change is often a hard pill to swallow.

These days I don’t have a lot of time to watch television, but when I do find a show I love, I’d like it to stay on the air at least a couple of seasons. The networks and cable channels just released their lists of canceled programs for 2011.  And I’m in shock. Human Target made the list.  

The show is a full-throttle action drama, based on the popular DC comic book and graphic novel with the same name. It has everything I love in a show. Complex and well-developed characters, action layered with gripping drama, romance, and of course handsome hero Christopher Chance, played by actor Mark Valley.     

‘Not enough viewers” is listed as the reason for cancelation--as if 8.3 million viewers per week wasn’t enough. And what about those ratings?  They remind me of political poll results. In other words, no one asked my opinion before coming to a conclusion.  

Joining Human Target on the cutting board is The Chicago Code, The Event, The Defenders with John Belushi, No Ordinary Family, and Off the Map.  Lie to Me, staring the talented Tim Roth, survived three seasons, but has also fallen beneath the axe.  

Now canceled television shows aren’t the most critical events America faces at the moment.  Mother Nature is wrecking havoc and a failing economy, to name two. But in the midst of all the uncertainty, I’m comforted when I curl up with my husband, Joe, and watch my favorite television program.  We especially enjoyed watching Human Target, and it was the one show that made him smile as he recuperated from operations and staph infections.  Together, we were taken away, if only for thirty minutes, to a place where magic happens.

Do you have any shows that you’ll miss?
Until later,
Pamela Varnado


Well, ladies, the world didn’t come to an end.


The chosen were not taken to Heaven. Or maybe no one I know was one of the “chosen”. I’m glad, ‘cause I have books to write, books to finish, and books to publish! I also need to get my driver’s license renewed.


Besides I want to see what will happen on Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. Which teenager will become the next American Idol? Who’d have thought the last two standing would sing country music? Will viewers vote for the dancer the judges scored the lowest on Dancing with the Stars? Those stars worked hard for what they wanted!


The kid I'm tutoring to take the SAT again plans to take it in June and raise his score higher than any other student I tutored. I'd really like to see that and brag about it for a while. He wants the record of perfect scores in each area, and I want that for him, or at least almost perfect scores.


Different topic.


Saturday a multi-published author asked for my autograph! I’m not kidding. I started my promotion for my first published novella by handing out post cards with the book cover on one side and a blurb on the other. Diana Love was presenting the program with Barbara Vey. Both ladies are well-known in the world of romance writers. You should see more about them later this week. HINT.


Dianna stopped me and asked me to sign the card. Folks, I haven’t practiced signing my pen name. I didn’t even have a sharpie to sign the cover. Now begins the promoting thing. Some of you have been at it for a while and others have been preparing for a while. I felt like a star!


Tell us about the things you still have on your "to accomplish list".


Or tell us about the first time someone asked for your autograph.


Or tell us whatever you want to tell us.



FOREVER LOVE

A short excerpt.

The kid was smart and all boy. “Dr. Joe, will Nurse Sabrina be at the hospital when I have my operation?“

“Nurse Sabrina works at the hospital and I’ll let her know you’ll be there.” Joe grinned. “I’m sure she’ll want to look after you.”

“She makes me feel better when I break stuff.” He held up the tiny arm to show off his orange cast. “Or when I get sick and go to the ‘mergency.” He handed Joe a green marker.

Joe took the marker and signed the cast. “She makes me feel better, too.”

By the time the last patient left the clinic Joe felt drained. He removed the blue lab coat he wore when treating adults and tossed it aside. He sat at his desk and sipped cold, stale coffee.


He leaned back in his worn chair, rested his eyes and thought about the lovely Sabrina. He’d finally found the courage to ask her out, but she’d said no. He could tell she liked him. The attraction was still there with a vengeance after all those years.


Every night since he’d returned home he had dreamed about her. He had dreamed of doing things to her that were probably still illegal in most states. His dream Sabrina had lounged on his bed, covered by a rainbow of silk scarves that hid without really hiding in their sheerness.


FYI, here are the places you can purchase FOREVER LOVE.

|http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0050VITYS

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/57300

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Forever-Love/Mary-Marvella/e/2940012597311/?itm=7&USRI=forever+love

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Marvella-Author/121044561311561 PLEASE LIKE ME

The Gift of Sight.

Posted by Mona Risk | 8:37 PM | 10 comments »

By Judy Klein:

Autumn’s column last week about reducing stress got me thinking about my parents, who are both deceased.

I grew up in a typical middle-class home in the fifties. We lived in a small town in upstate New York, where my father had been born and raised. My parents both worked and my brother, my sister and I had a very happy home. I’m sure my parents felt stress in their lives, but looking back, it seems like an easy-going life compared to today’s rat race. That is not to say that they and we were not busy. But my parents were never too busy to point out things around us—to have us “stop and smell the roses,” to give us the gift of sight.

We might have been driving down the street and my mother would say, “Oh, look! There’s a cardinal!” Or my father might say, “The forsythia is out. Come and take a look!” And we’d all troop out to the back yard to the Forsythia bushes by the garage for that yellow-flowered glimpse of Spring. Being trained to look for these simple “sightings” has made a huge difference in my life.

When our boys were growing up, we tried to do for them what my parents had done for me. And with grandchildren, we now take the opportunity to show them some of the wonderful sights around them.

Do you have those special sightings in your life? Ones where the world stops for a moment while you simple look at something and enjoy its beauty?

Children




I used to be jealous of my sister. My parents sadly played the preference game with my sisters and brothers and I was at the bottom of the special child pile. Little did I know it was the best thing they could have done for me.
I have always been the type of person who is sensitive to others feelings. There are times in life when you have to be tough. I have a sister who is a hypochondriac. She has spent her whole life trying to get attention by being ill. I used to be jealous of how my parents always preferred her. She still to this day is my mother's nemesis. She will moan and groan about how she can't walk and she is in pain all the time. Then when she forgets to act you'll see her stride across the room just fine. Another sister and I just  stare flabbergasted by her nerve. When she realizes what she has done suddenly she will fall down.
Her pain pills were costing my parents$500.- a month. Now you can see how that would upset the rest of my other sisters and brothers. There are six of us. And many times I have watched one of the others need help and my parents just ignore it because they are married. So what your husband has lost his job, your bills are piling up. You need some help. Nope, you're on your own cause you are married.

Children

In my life I have tried to learn to take things in stride. But my sister's sickening behavior makes me angry. My mother wants to rent her camp in Vermont. But my sister says no one is staying in her camp. Huh?
How does one child turn out so able to take care of themselves and another not. Well I think it has to do with this. If you coddle your child they will never learn to cope. If you do everything for them how will they ever learn to do for themselves.
I pride myself in the fact that I have fixed my own problems. I wouldn't have minded help at times, but I always managed to muddle through. So my advise to parents out there today is stop!
If you never let them go, they never will. I say push them out into the world and be there to give moral support. That is what we all need.
Though I never got that from my parents I have filled the gaping hole with the love of my good friends.
How does a parent find the balance between the two? Common sense. We all have it, we just need to grasp it and use it.
Be there for your kids, but don't live for them. Or they will never live themselves. My sister is now 55 and will be a lonely, sad, person, as soon as my elderly mom passes. Then what will she do? Don't know.
But I do know that because I had to fight my own battles I have learned to develop the weapons we all need to survive.
And the best thing I can say is, "thanks mom and dad, for not loving me as much as my sister, your love has smothered her drive and now she is stuck in her childhood forever." How does one change that, I don't know. But, I am have something she doesn't have now, and that is very important to me. I have my self respect. I can be proud I have made it this far all on my own! With the help and the love of my friends I make my own happiness.
I pity my sister. She doesn't know what she is missing!!!

Friends



To introduce her new release today of Celestial Sin¸ Bianca Swan is interviewing the hero in her urban fantasy romance from The Wild Rose Press, Wilder Catalog.

Bianca: Cam, it’s good to see you. Introduce yourself to a fine audience.

Camael: My name is Cam-ael and I was an angel of the Order of the Powers. Sounds like an opening remark from an AA meeting, doesn’t it?

I was wounded in the Second War in Heaven, more about that later, and plummeted from the sky into Essie McBane’s life. I’m sure Essie didn’t expect to have an angel thump down in her chicken yard.

I’m open for questions, if they’re not too personal. (He gives Bianca a devastatingly beautiful smile to match his lyrical voice).

Bianca: Second War in Heaven?

Cam-ael: The First was when Lucifer was cast down into Hell. He caused the Second one as well but I’m not at liberty to say why. Suffice to say that many of the loyal angels were incensed to learn that our Creator still mourned his once favorite son.

The Second War raged until the airy corridors ran red with blood, then the conflict spilled from Heaven to Earth, and mortal forces joined the battle as the fallen angels met the loyal angels in one final, epic battle at Armaggeddon.

I was a warrior, but I was wounded. Essie gave me sanctuary to heal, and I was intrigued by her and by mortal life. I found the idea of the love between a man and woman and sex fascinating. I wanted to stay with her and experience life, but she was determined not to be the reason I fell from Grace.

Bianca: Describe yourself.

Cam-ael laughs (which might be what the harps in paradise sound like): Physically, I’m 6 feet tall with auburn hair, blue eyes and a white wingspan. As a person, I’m loyal, caring and affectionate. As a warrior, I was fierce and ruthless. The Powers are the first line of defense…..

Bianca: Do you think you will stay on Earth?

Cam-ael: If Essie will have me—and of course if I’m not summoned back to the war.

Bianca: Can angels die?

Cam-ael: Not in the human sense of dying. We can be destroyed or cease to exist. Swords of black iron will kill an angel.

Bianca: Any questions for an angel?


Buy Link: Celestial Sin can be purchased from The Wild Rose Pres, The Wilder Catalog.

Please visit Bianca at http://biancaswanblog.wordpress.com/ for an excerpt from Celestial Sin, the teasing trailer and the steamy cover. Also, there is a hot free read.

For those who comment, Bianca is hosting a random drawing for a Hot Spanish Nights coffee mug featuring the cover her of her hawt novella about a master horseman, his intriguing pupil, lust under the brilliant Spanish sun and featuring the magnificent Andalusian horse. One commenter will win a download of the newly released, Celestial Sin.

First review hot off the Press from Words that Sparkle:

The love story between Cam and Essie is very heartfelt. The way Bianca Swan spins a tale of two star-crossed lovers willing to kill (and in Cam's case, give up Heaven) for each other is beautiful. The idea that both angels and demons are among us at all times is a very interesting spin on the entire idea of Revelations. There are some very interesting action scenes thrown in as well, between the forces of good and evil, making this story about more than just sex with a Heavenly being (hot as he might be!). If you are like me and willing to disregard damnation for a bit of hedonistic pleasure, then Celestial Sin is exactly what you've been looking for!


Recently, my editor commented on my current novel she was reading, “It sounds more like a Victorian novel…” Attentive lady! I intended it that way. Whereas the first novel, Three Moon Station, was considered a “futuristic Western,” being set on a station (or ranch) on a pioneer planet where the people lived like mid-18th century Terrans, The Finer Gentleman is set on the planet Arcanis, where society is presently in a Regency-Victorian frame of mind though their technological advancements are miles ahead into the future.

I meant it that way. I like Regency stories, and I like Westerns, and I also like Sci-Fi, so…

Wanting to show the hero’s reaction to a place completely in opposition to where he’s lived all his life, I felt that time period was the right one. It’s been done before…look at Gulliver’s Travels or Visit to a Small Planet or that wonderful but short lived TV series, Hard Time on Planet Earth. Practically any SF story featuring an alien (Mr. Spock, anyway?) makes a commentary on life on Earth. And transporting someone from one culture to another has long been a satirist’s staple to point out the foibles and failings of society. And believe me, society has a lot of failings!

OK. So I was on my way…somewhat…

Taking a quote from Marcus Aurelius, “He would be the finer gentleman that should leave the world without having tasted of lying or pretence of any sort, or of wantonness or conceit,” I asked the question: What would happen if an 18th-century American cowboy was suddenly dumped into 18th-century English society? Chaos would probably ensue as he wore his boots and spurs to the dining room, broke down his wife’s bedroom door because he thought married couples having separate bedrooms was an idiot’s idea, elbowed the cook aside and prepared his own scrambled eggs and invited her to share them, and suggested to the king that they “mosey on down to the saloon and get a shot o’ red-eye.” Sar Trant isn’t quite that blatant, but he does end up in a drinking match with his new “kin,” the Margrave of Arcanis, smoking illegal cigars and guzzling Scotch whiskey until both men are so snockered they have to hold each other up in the receiving line, while the Margravine looks on with a disapproving eye.

Back to the main idea… If you’re doing a commentary on society, that society has to have problems. Right?

So what’s the matter with Arcanian society? Plain and simple, they’re now hypocrites. Once a barbaric people, guzzling mead and marauding about the countryside, they’re currently on the upswing of the pendulum. They’ve now so civilized they’ve become complete prudes, hypocritical in their public natures…hedonistic in their private ones. A pregnant woman is expected to stay at home, hidden away until she gives birth, that very condition so forbidden, a physician hesitates to even speak of it to the lady’s husband—and Sar certainly plies his own with pointed questions on the subject, while that learned gentleman turns red and stammers his answers. Yet this same gentleman may be found at the local tavern with a barmaid on his lap after he closes his offices for the way.

All very…dare we say it… Victorian?

Having read the Inspector Pitt and Thomas Monk series of mystery novels written by Anne Perry—and if reading them doesn’t raise your womens-liberation hackles, nothing will!—I was all too aware of the double-nature of that period of history, and I felt transposing it to the aristocratic society on another planet would do what I wished perfectly. Now I was really into the story, contrasting the life Sar had left—a friendly, down-to-earth pioneering community much like the mid-18th century Mid-West, with the hypocritical, repressed, and at the same time thoroughly sensual and libertinistic lives of the aristocrats with whom he’s now expected to live. They considered themselves “gentleman” by right of birth but laugh at Sar, who’s a gentleman because he was raised that way.

The continuing battle between mores and morals.

Sar ends up in big trouble, mainly because of his trusting nature, and…because he’s a gentleman…a gentle man. And it’s that very gentle nature which will earn him the title of “the Finer Gentleman” before he’s through with the Arcanians.

I think I did a pretty good blending of very different genres.

The Finer Gentleman is available from Class Act Books. http://www.classactbooks.com/The-Finer-Gentleman-by-Icy-Snow-Blackstone-Trade-_p_297.html


Networking for a faster sale

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 8:04 AM | 22 comments »

Good morning,
Everyone knows the importance of networking, and that's why we join local chapters, go to meetings, conferences, and make ourselves visible. If not, we'd probably hole up in our little cave and write all day.
I must admit that is my main reason for going to a conference. Conference's are expensive, and when I was a newbie I would go to all the workshops and take copious notes in the hope of learning the craft, and rubbing shoulders with more talented writers than me. Now, I have an ulterior motive for going. I want to have a personal relationship with the editors, at least have them know who I am, what I look like, remember meeting, etc.
One of our very special ladies from FRW has a wonderful story to tell. She has done all the right things, worked as President for our local chapter, gone to all the conferences, including the National and RT, and she is a delightful, outgoing person. She made a personal connection with a Harlequin editor on the FRW cruise last year which has resulted in a sale for Super Romance.
She believes it would never have happened without networking and establishing a connection with the editor. It included drinks in Mexico and balloon hats, so I've been told!
A NY editor told us once that editors look for a chance to say no. My goal, which should be yours, is to give an editor a reason to say yes. Make then want to sign you on. Give them a person to cheer for, to care for, to make it a personal experience when they first open your book. They only read the first two or three pages and make a decision based on that. Not only do those pages have to grab them, and entice them to read further, but if they are already rooting for you, it might be the difference between "I love your voice, your characters, your story, but ... blah, blah, blah."
We need to make them care. Balloon hats, anyone?

DO WHAT?

Posted by Autumn Jordon | 8:56 AM | , , | 19 comments »

This is a community blog written by women for women, so let’s talk about something we often don’t do for ourselves but really need to do for our mental health—pamper ourselves.

I don’t know about you but the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning until sometime in the evening I’m on the go, working, taking care of my family needs, preparing meals, doing laundry… The list is endless. And don’t forget the pets. They need attention too. Some days, I feel as if my feet will drop off at the ankles if I stop and propped them up. Let’s face it, women are caregivers and being a caregiver is stressful. Add extra duties (ie; taking care of aging parents or a love one, moving to a new house, remodeling) and you’re adding stress.

Recently, I read an article at Women’s Health (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/stress-help ) which stated that some women need to be busy in order to feel alive, and I wondered if I wasn’t one of them. I mean I always need to be doing something. Even now, as I write this article, I’m multi-tasking.

Stress can lead to mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, menstrual problems, and acne and other skin problems. So what can we do to relieve stress?

It's all about attitude

• There are some things you do not have control over. Don’t worry about them.
• You don’t always have to be right. Pick your fights. It’s not worth the stress to argue. Give in once in awhile or meet people halfway.
• Get organized. Write a to-do list. Figure out what’s most important to do and do those things first.
• Set limits. We only have so many hours in the day. Set limits for yourself and don’t be afraid to say NO to requests for your time and energy.
Relaxation doesn’t take a lot of time
• Take deep breaths. Taking a few deep breaths makes you breathe slower and helps your muscles relax.
• Stretching can also help relax your muscles and make you feel less tense.
• Having someone massage the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back can help you feel less tense.
• Take time to do something you want to do. We all have lots of things that we have to do. But often we don't take the time to do the things that we really want to do. You know that priority list above, but your want on that list too.


You have one body. Take care of it.

• Get enough sleep. Doing so helps you recover from the stresses of the day and helps you think better so that you can handle problems as they come up.
• Eat right. Try to fuel up with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Caffeine or high-sugar snack jolts, wear off quickly. That is why they’re called jolts. You’ll wind up feeling more tired than you did before.

• Get moving. Physical activity will not only help relax your tense muscles but improve your mood.
• Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, smoking, or overeating.




There is nothing better than a friend.

• Share your stress. Talking with friends or family members can help you feel better. They could help you see your problems •in a new way and suggest solutions that you hadn't thought of.

• Get help from a professional if you need it.

• Help others. Volunteering in your community can help you feel better.



Long list, right? Don’t stress. Pick one, do it, get good at it and then add another. Take time to enjoy the world God has provided, laugh with your friends and families and pamper for yourself for a few minutes each day.

Deep breaths.

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:04 AM | 16 comments »

Hi everyone,
Well, it's another savings day. The first sale is excellent, because it's free.

Head on over to hhgregg.com to print your $10.00 off of $10.00 or more coupon. It's good all this week, and you can purchase a DVD for FREE.
http://recp.rm04.net/servlet/MailView?m=3456347&r=MjAwNDgwOTE1MjYS1&j=MTA4ODg1MzgyS0&mt=1

Then head to Amazon.com (yes, again) and stock up on Special K cereal, red berries, 16.7 oz. size. Snag a pack of 4 for $10.34 with coupon code KELLOGG5. As always, a $25.00 order will get you free shipping.

OK, I'm a bit paranoid after the frequent power outages this week in SC. So, for peace of mind and $6.78, which includes free shipping, I've purchased a power surge protector from buy.com.
http://www.buy.com/prod/belkin-travel-surge-protector-with-hidden-swivel-plug-f9h220-tvl/q/loc/101/10389590.html

Rumor is to go to glidden.com and you can choose a free quart of paint on their website. Have fun!

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

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 8:45 AM | 14 comments »

Hi everyone,
On this lovely Sunday, May 15th,I have some great deals to share:

First, don't forget that today is the last day (sniff) to enjoy the Starbucks Frappuccino for half price during their happy hour from 3:00-5:00 PM today.

Tanga.com has 2 more subscription magazine deals for $3.99, which will last 24 hours. Bridal Guide with coupon code BRIDAL, and Woman's Day with coupon code WOMAN.

A special treat for yourself can be found at Amazon.com. Check out this beautiful sterling silver filigree wish box pendant for $9.85, and ships free with super saver shipping. I always have things in my cart at Amazon, so if it adds up to $25.00 so you can get your free receiving, go for it.
http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B004FG7788/ref=nosim/gottadeal-20

Enjoy!

Cam-ael from Celestial Sin

How do you write? Do you write start to finish or in scenes as they come to you? Do you write along confidently, knowing that you’ve got it right, or doubt that anyone will ever want to read each word?

When I started writing, I wrote in scenes and tied them together. I started my current WIP several years ago. It is written in scenes. I am now putting them together. One problem with this seems to be that I use too much narrative, probably telling the story to myself. But I am enjoying this process as it’s different that sitting down and writing a novel start to finish.

To answer my own question about writing confidently, I either zip along or plough along, but I always wonder if it’s good enough. I don’t have a full-time critique partner to ask. I swelter in doubt hell or ask another writer friend to confirm that the work isn’t as worthless as I sometimes think it when I switch on my computer.

I felt this way when I was writing Celestial Sin, the story of an angel who falls to Earth and falls in love, but I must have been wrong because it will be released May 20th by The Wild Rose Press. Buy link. Join me here at the Pink Fuzzies on May 20th for the Release Day Party—prizes involved! Also, visit Musings...Bianca Swan for a free erotic read and to see the cool trailer for Celestial Sin

Are submissions a scary business? While exciting, there is also the spectre of rejection lurking in the act. I’m trying to gear up to submit an urban fantasy with romantic elements to Samhain. Every night, I delay another day. But this Saturday, I vow, I am going to hit that send button.

Do you have any writing fears?

Good News, Bad News

Posted by Mary Marvella | 3:39 PM | , | 8 comments »


Read this, then the PS below.

Some of you might have noticed that Blogger was down for a large part of Thursday and part of today. The good news is that we can post and comment again, The bad news is that my blog for Friday is lost somewhere in cyber space. GRUMBLE! Can you hear me gnashing my teeth?


I think the cyber monsters ate it. Whoa, there's one now, and he's picking his nasty teeth! He belched at me and grinned. I hope he has indigestion, nasty critter!

I might add some news here later today. I will re-post that blog at a later date. (whine, groan, snarl!)

Mama Mary

PS
My post is back! YAY! The comments aren't, so I would love it if people would comment again.

Self-publishing, Trend or Fad.

Posted by Mary Marvella | 10:35 PM | 25 comments »

Good morning Pink Fuzzies and guests. Add your dishes anywhere you want to. Someone started on the hot dogs!











It's early for booze, but let's party anyway! Grab your coffee, tea, or juice. We could do mimosas, since I write about southern folks.

The publishing industry is changing again. Actually, it’s always changing. My dreams are changing or evolving, too.

When I started writing with the idea of publishing in 1991, there were more publishers. There were more independent bookstores.


Publishers merged and bought out the smaller companies. Bookstore chains bought out smaller stores.

Now only a few suppliers can put books into bookstores. Now you can buy your books online. I even read about the idea of a library with no paper books. I can't imagine not being able to wander through the stacks and look at book spines.


People started selling books from their websites. Yep, they would give away teaser chapters, then sell their books to readers they managed to hook. A few brave companies started selling e-books. (I won’t even get into books on tape or CDs.)


Twenty years ago I didn’t even consider that I might one day publish my own book or that my first publication would be published online. I heard about friends going through vanity presses and selling their books from their trunks. I’d never do that. Some published books as print-on-demand. I wanted an agent to represent me. I wanted to sell to New York publishers! A couple of years ago an editor for a small press suggested that I self-publish a book she didn’t feel would fit the needs of the New York folks. Who me? No way. Well, no one could read my books! Were there readers who would love them? Who knew?


Last year several writer friends “went indie” . The advent of the e-readers made reading e-books so much easier than reading them on computers. Reports from chain bookstores report sales of e-books edging out sales of paper books.


E-books aren’t going away and I don’t think Indie publishing will go away any time soon. Many Bestselling authors whose rights are being returned to them are self-publishing them as e-books.


I wrote stories I love and I want to share them. Finally folks can read one of my novellas.


What do you think? Will the self-publishing thing fade away?


I finally did it. I jumped into the self-publishing pool. Forever Love is a paranormal romance, available now at http://www.smashwords.com/upload/details/57300.

For the month of May it is on sale for $.99.
Nurse Sabrina Boyd’s life was just fine before Dr. Joe Walker, her cousin’s widower, returned home to South Georgia. Avoiding the handsome doctor who wants a romantic relationship with her isn’t her biggest problem. She has seen the Demon Cat, a harbinger of death for the Boyd family for centuries. Now she’s obsessed with finding and saving the person the cat wants, and she’s immersed in old journals about ill-fated lovers.

Joe wants to teach her about steamy sex. The cat ... what does the cat really want?
Enjoy love, lust, magic, and sweet tea.

mmarvellab@aol.com
MaryMarvella.com


Good morning, Candy. Welcome to our cozy corner. I heard that you could use a little rest and relaxation. You are one busy woman! When I asked Candy to visit with us, I let her choose her own topic. I should have known she make this choice.

Hot Guy Heroes

Every time I write a hero. I fall for him a little bit. I mean it. Every single time. I believe this happens because I'm trying my best to create the ideal man. Sure, they all have flaws. They wouldn't be so interesting if they didn't. I've written professors and cowboys, my last two books. Right now I'm revisiting one of my older series and writing about doctor and a sheik. But with me, these guys always have to be different. They can't be your typical cowboy or sheik

In Truth or Dare, my May release (how's that for a little book pimping?), Cade Randall is a billionaire business man who finds out his father was murdered 20 years ago. All this time Cade thought his dad had run out on the family. He's tortured about this. He has demons to deal with so he goes back to his hometown, Phosphor, to help forensic anthropologist Patience solve his father's murder. So he's this billionaire playboy, but he also comes from a small country town. He's still a cowboy at heart and enjoys working on his ranch. He's kind, but hard headed. Handsome, but sometimes controlling. It's these flaws and little quirks that keep characters interesting.

In the book before, She Who Dares, Wins, Mac is a professor. One who could save the world's hunger problems. He's also super hot. In the beginning, he's a little sneaky. But at the same time you can see why he's doing what he is. (I don't want to give too much away.) But it's a fine line. If I'd made him too manipulative, readers wouldn't have liked him. His motivation where his love interest is concerned, is what keeps the sexual tension flowing throughout the book. He's a surfer dude, but he lives and works in London. He's creative and sexy, but also a bit of nerd.


The book I just finished, Model Marine (November 2011), has my favorite hero of all time. He's a Marine. A tough guy but so incredibly kind-hearted with the woman he loves. But this guy is tortured. He believes his soul is so dark that he taints those around him. He's gorgeous, but he's also OCD. And he has an intense sense of duty. But what he doesn't realize, is that he has the capacity for great love.

These heroes all have one thing in common, at the core they are awesome beings. In many ways they are way too enlightened to be real men. (Smile) I joke. I know a lot of enlightened men, but none of them are perfect. My heroes are no exception. While I might be trying to create the perfect guy, he doesn't really exist. The great thing in fiction is we can sometimes get a lot closer than we can in real life. (Smile)

Check out this website and see how busy our guest is. http://candacehavens.com. If you haven't heard about her writing workshops, ask her. They rock.

I'll bet she'd love questions about her busy schedule. Inquiring minds want to know




Please help me welcome the incomparable Barbara White Daille. Rumor has it that she has written a book that will find it's place into your heart and never leave you! Now stop staring at her book cover and let's join her for her blog. We can't let her sit alone.
Good morning, Barbara!


A grand tour...and a humbling truth


Hello to the Pink Fuzzies, and a big shout out to Mary for inviting me to stop in at the blog today. I’m happy to grab my comfy slippers and a cup of tea and curl up in front of the fire. Maybe even to share a story or two. It’s nice to sit and chat with you all.


You may have heard people say writers feel their books are like their babies. Some people disagree with the comparison, but I can see the point. Having recently introduced a new book into the world, I feel just the way parents do when they send their child off to preschool or kindergarten:


They want the child to do well and be liked by everyone!


My latest book from Harlequin American Romance, A RANCHER’S PRIDE (May 2010), hit bookstore shelves last week. To celebrate, I’m out and about on an Internet blog tour.


Also, as I’m writing this blog post, I’m looking forward to a booksigning. At autographings, authors sometimes become the center of a crowd. In the past, I’ve had wonderful signings attended by friends and family, coworkers, and members of my writing groups.


Sometimes, though, the authors are attending a party for one. Let me tell you, that’s daunting--especially when you’re an introvert!


Here’s a quick story about one of my earliest booksignings:


As a brand-new author with my very first book, I was asked to schedule a signing in a store in an unfamiliar city where I hadn’t a hope of seeing a familiar face. I showed up early, bearing chocolate. (There must always be chocolate at my signings.) Well, I stood alone most of the night, knees shaking, and forced myself to greet customers coming in the door.


To keep this story short, let’s jump to the end. I’d packed up everything I’d brought with me. (Not the chocolate, though. Whoever heard of leftover chocolate? J) And I hadn’t sold one book.

Was I crushed? Devastated? You’d better believe it. Don’t forget, this was my firstborn child. And no one liked him. Awful, isn’t it?


But the story explains why I’m on this blog tour and why authors go on tours and attend signings and other events. It ties in to the truth I mentioned in the title of this post, a truth that many authors before me already knew: Not everyone will like our books.


So it’s wonderful to have the chance to reach the ones who do.


Thanks for listening!

~~~

Now, I’m curious to know something from you.


What’s your favorite way to keep up with the authors you like to read? Visit their websites? Meet up on Facebook and Twitter? Stop by when they’re at booksignings and conferences? Or drop them a note in the mail?

~~~

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!


Her newest title from Harlequin American Romance, A RANCHER’S PRIDE, was just released and has received a 4-1/2 star Top Pick review rating from RT Book Reviews.


You can find Barbara online at her web site and blog: www.barbarawhitedaille.com where you can check out her Virtual Book Tour schedule for A RANCHER’S PRIDE!


You can also reach her via Facebook and Twitter: http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille and https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille


As Barbara said early on in her post, she’s looking forward to chatting, so please feel free to take a look at her question to you and to leave comments or questions for her!

Someone will win one of her first two books - THE SHERIFF'S SON or COURT ME, COWBOY.


Mothers and daughters. Random thoughts.
The first two photos are of my daughter and my mama. (Yes, I still call her Mama and will forever.)

Since this is for Mother's day, I must say that my daughter is my biggest accomplishment and a true blessing. She has always worked hard and makes me proud every day.





The young woman with the flower in her hair is 17 and soon to become a mama for the first time. Yep, she was already expecting me. She and Daddy married at 17. Such children they were, but he was already in the army during a world war.

Mama cared for her three kids for as long we needed her, some of us needed more from her and more often than others of us did. She cared for Daddy long after she should have let us get her help. She made sure he could keep his dignity while Parkinsons and Alzheimers tried to rob him of it. I couldn't have asked for a better mama!

Who is the other very young woman below? That innocent girl is your own Mama Mary at 17. She was one fortunate person, and now she writes naughty love scenes.


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY


Forever Love
Nurse Sabrina Boyd’s life was fine before Dr. Joe Walker, her cousin’s widower, returned home to South Georgia. Avoiding the man who wants a romantic relationship with her isn’t her biggest problem. She has seen Demon Cat, harbinger of death for the Boyd family.Now she’s obsessed with finding and saving the person the cat wants, and she’s immersed in old journals about ill-fated lovers.