Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Back on Track

I apologize for forgetting to blog the last several times; however, I can say I am working on getting back on track. I'm also learning personal hardships may set us back, but it's how we choose to overcome the hardships that allows us to grow as individuals.

Looking back on the past ten months, I feel like I have been a walking disaster. I broke my foot. By the time the foot was healed and I was getting back to a normal lifestyle, I broke my leg. I am just starting to get back to a healthy lifestyle again, but I'm learning it is important to take things slow.

Having my life back, I feel great. My attitude is positive, health improving, exercising is good-- I am back to running a mile for now- but still no tennis, I enjoy work, I'm back to writing in the evenings, and am realizing how blessed I am to have a great family, friends, and job. And to top it off, I have a few small vacations coming up that I am looking forward to. Yeah!!! :)

Though this may be my story, I ask individuals to look to themselves. How do you feel? Are things going good for you? And if not, why are things not good? It is surprising when you actually take a few minutes to breathe, take a step back, and take a glance at your life. Even when you think things are difficult there is always positive in the midst of doom. The object is not to focus on the doom but focus on the positive. Even though we all have our personal struggles, the struggles make us stronger and usually bring strength and positive outcomes to our lives.

As of late, I have come across many people that are struggling with a problem. These people get so down on themselves. They think they are the only person with problems. Reality check, talk to other people. Volunteer to help out with whatever is personally found interesting. Turn the frown upside down and find a positive each and every day. And don't give up on personal dreams and goals. We must remember, if we want something bad enough we must be willing to work for the final goal.

To conclude this short topic, what made you smile today? What was something you enjoyed or you feel successful accomplishing? Or what was something wonderful that happened in your day? I guarantee there has to be something, even if it is something small. And by thinking about a positive don't you feel happier, blessed, and successful? Remember, anything is possible with the willingness to work and the right attitude.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Lesser of Two Evils

I write erotic romance. It's fun and it's a good way to make a living. Of course, I don't always come out and specifically say it's erotic romance to people who ask. Honestly, it depends on how well I know them. My friends are, of course, supportive. My family varies between supportive and slightly bewildered or downright horrified.

Recently, at my brother Andrew's wedding, I had a fantastic conversation with my cousin Sarah and my brother Tim that perfectly illustrates that there are always worse things that I could be doing and that apparently writing erotic romance is the lesser of two evils.

Sarah: I need to tell you something before you hear it from someone else.

Me: Holy shit - you're not pregnant again, are you???

Sarah: God, no!

Me: Whew. Okaaaay, what's up then?

Sarah: How do you feel about adult entertainment?

Me: What do you mean?

Sarah: Well, Jason (her younger brother) and I decided to open up a strip club next to the casino that just went in.

Me: (trying to close my mouth)

Sarah: Mom won't talk to us at all. We told her we're going to give ten percent to St. Mary's. She said, "Just don't let Father where it came from!" But I told her he'd probably figure it out since it would be covered in glitter.

Tim: (pats me on the shoulder) Hey! Check you out - you're not the biggest sinner in the family anymore!

Sarah: Yeah, I tried to think of a way we could market your books, but there aren't any pictures, and well, nobody in this county knows how to read.

I like to think these conversations take place in other peoples' families. But Chris informed me that she's pretty sure that they don't.

Can't wait to see what happens at the next family gathering

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beat The Heat

There is a heat warning for the rest of the week. Temperatures are sky-rocketing and people without Air-Conditioners are being warned to find cooler-locations. It's Michigan -- it can be hot, cold, snowing, raining and sunny at any given point in the year - or day. On the lake shore, our weather is determined more by Lake Michigan than anything else and it's generally really humid.

Hot and humid weather tends to make people cranky, which can interfere with how much writing that actually gets done.

The increase in temperatures can require a change in how we write. Because my house doesn't have air-conditioning I had gotten to the point where I slept through the hottest part of the day and worked through the night with the fan blowing on me. But recently, a friend of mine let us invade their house and soak up the air-conditioning, so now I'm back on a normal schedule. With school around the corner, it's needed. But even in the AC there can be changes, for me there are extra people around and it's not my house, so I'm not as comfortable, which translates to not as much writing getting done.

I still find it amazing at what creatures of habit most humans are. I like my chair and my desk, I don't like the easy chair at my friend's house as well. I want to play music whenever I want and watch the TV shows I want, not the ones they choose. My habits make my writing a bit easier. It's also harder to write since my friend's mother-in-law shows up every day. And lately she's been sticking around so I can help them work on their family trees. Fun and interesting, but doesn't allow for much me time or writing time. One affecting the other. I'll be happy when the heat wave breaks and I can go home.



Caley

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Hot Sultry Night

This blog was written by Temple Hogan.


Yeah! It’s one of those nights where nothing moves, not a leaf, not a blade of grass. The heavy air holds you prisoner in its insidious grip so you feel unable to move. You can’t breath. Your chest rises and falls rhythmically, but no air comes into your starved lungs. I look at him, a dark hulking shadows that shatters my tranquility, my sense of self. The dark, murky emotions are too much. I look at him and feel the sweat rolling between my breasts. The fan completes it arc and fans my flushed face. He has a question in his eyes, the eternal question between a man and woman on a hot summer night and you long to answer the call, but dammit, you have to write this blog so the girls in your writing group won’t think you’re a total loser.

So how to refocus your thoughts. You wipe the sweat from your upper lip, fan the back of your neck with a list of character names and pray for inspiration. In the dead of night, when there are no stars and no breeze, when you can hear yourself sweat, there is no answer, no easy out. You just have to slug along and pray whatever words you use to fill up your page will make sense to someone else.

You think about your characters, do they suffer nights like this? Do they ever feel turn off by the heat, the crying children, the bitch playing the radio too loudly next door? No, they have castles in dreamy locations, like an enchanted island in Ireland. There are no crying children and if there were, there would be a nanny, a wet nurse and various other servants to do your every bidding so when your king comes home at the end of a long hot day, you’ve just finished with a cooling, scented bath, your chores are all done, the meal is served, the children are put to their little beds. Peace reigns, so of course you have time to abandon yourself to his breathtaking lovemaking. You can think of fantastic things to do to him, but I deal with reality.

I need to finish this love scene. The dog just threw up on the floor, the temperature is rising, the barometer is doing the same. I carry a towel around with me to mop my face and between my breasts. My brain can’t come up with anything new and exciting. It’s been fried from the heat.

So what happened to those hot, sultry, summer nights when two people find each other and their mingled sweat is an aphrodisiac to their sensual longing. Reality. Excuse me while I wipe the back of my neck. I have a brilliant idea. I’ll use the weather, almost as another character, as part of the background, a motivator. Now let’s see----- It’s one of those nights where nothing moves, not a leaf, not a blade of --

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love is in the Details


I’m scheduling this post early, because on the 17th I’ll be “Up North” celebrating my wedding anniversary to DH.  Thinking about what keeps us together and makes every day fresh made me realize love is in the details.
And also the strengths you bring to the partnership.
Let me explain.
DH is a natural caretaker.  He takes care of people for a living and takes care of me the rest of the time.  He knows when I have a headache before I do and he makes sure I don’t order something stupid off the menu.  It’s details like these that strengthens our relationship.
I’m a learner.  I read everything, and I always look for a story to share with him.  I also love to make him laugh.  If I can tell him something new and make him laugh so hard he can’t breathe, it’s a good day.
What does this have to do with writing?  If you’re writing a love story, you need to show the details.  The story has to go beyond what happens between the sheets.
For example, in my book, Tall, Dark and Slayer (Champagne Books, January 2012), the heroine is plagued by feline visitors slipping in through her cat’s door and making themselves at home.  The hero notices and one day installs a new door controlled by a microchip embedded in her cat’s collar.  He probably doesn’t realize his feelings at the time, but the reader has that “aha” moment.  They know this detail is small but significant.  This guy is going to stick around in her life.
Partnerships should be give and take, with emphasis on the give.  An exchange of strengths, shown in details, ensures the health of a relationship.
Are you including details in your story?  Have you shown how your characters care for each other?  If not, go back and add a few details.  After all, love is in the details.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Satisfied, and it feels so good!

I feel full, spent, satisfied. Why? Well, I spent the day with the most fabulous and amazing group of colorful people the town has to offer. And it's been far too long since I've done that. In fact, it's why I waited until this evening to write this blog post because I knew this day would be a blast.

My brain may be melted (the heat and humidity were no fun), and my body may be a bit crispy and dried out, but it was all worth it. First I got to spend the day getting to know some of my fellow writers even better - wild, crazy, fun women writers. Thanks Andrea, Sidney and Jennifer for making the day even more colorful!

Not that color was lacking at this event. On the contrary, color was in abundance, from the rainbow flags to the pretty boys and girls walking about, and the sparkly nail polish on more than one Queen, it was a gorgeous and hot (in more ways than one!) day.

We saw an amazing young man perform scarf dances and belly dance with a troupe of amazingly talented belly dancing women. One of whom danced with a python and inspired a new story idea that Jen will hopefully run with. One of the dancers was a large Nubian goddess who puts my feeble attempts at undulations to shame. The following pictures show off the belly dancers and the scarfs...but don't stop there, there's a few more pictures yet.


I apologize for the quality of the pictures, I only had my Blackberry with me today.


We - as in GRRWG - were a sponsor at this year's Network Neighborhood Bash. It's the second year for this event and is put on by a local LGBTQ support group that is doing amazing work in the area. And I am most thankful that we were able to be there. We met a lot of new potential members, and were able to promote our upcoming conference to several people excited about the prospect of joining our group.

In addition to the dancers there was a fun Drag show complete with Queens and Kings. The King was absolutely adorable, with fun songs, great moves, and attitude. Isn't he just too cute?


The Queen's were all fierce, with amazing moves and were in full Diva mode. They were all fab-u-lous, but my vote for fierceness goes to April Evangelista. Not only can she rock this amazing leopard jumpsuit, but her short blond do that she wears with a mini-dress is the bomb!


If you're ever stuck with a bad case of writer's block, I suggest you take a trip to your local Drag show. Energy, color, and life is in abundance. The variety is bound to give your imagination a spark, and if nothing else, you may learn some new fashion tips.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feed Your Head

I haven’t heard the term “writer’s block” in a long time. Since I began writing regularly a couple years ago, I haven’t had anything occur in my writing process resembling what could be called “writer’s block.” In fact, my best ideas occur when I’m not at the keyboard at all. There are other tools I use to keep my words flowing.

1. I write. I have several writing outlets, from a daily journal, using an “old-fashioned” pen and notebook, to my personal blog at http://penandplow.wordpress.com, guest-blogging here at the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group, editing my final draft of Talking to Strangers and working on my new project, Thicker Than Water. If I’m stuck in one area, I go to the next. Since I made the commitment of daily blogs at penandplow, I find my words and ideas sprout overnight.

2. Walking opens my head. If I spend forty-five minutes to an hour walking my dog, I have the perfect opportunity to spend undistracted time thinking about plot lines and character development.

3. I attend a weekly critique group. With a variety of writers offering opinions and suggestions about my work, I end up with a collection of comments and ideas.

4. The Grand Rapids Region Writers Group meets monthly and there are presentations on a variety of topics, the most recent being How to Pitch to an Agent or Editor. Hanging out for a couple hours with other writers, finding out the latest news, challenges and issues, it’s only natural that I find the writing part of my brain reinvigorated.

If your ideas aren’t flowing in a particular area of writing, try something else. Write haiku. Begin a blog and make a commitment to post on a regular basis. Surprise an old friend by hand-writing a letter and mailing it – the old-fashioned way. Find five random words from the dictionary and combine them into a short story.

You’re a writer. Do whatever it takes. Write.

What Are Friends For?

My newest release coming out in a few weeks (Aug. 8) takes place on a cruise ship - Aboard Pleasure. This adults-only cruise gives straight-laced lawyer Violet a chance to leave her staid, earth-bound rules of behavior ashore as she celebrates her birthday with her two best friends, Carrie and Mirabelle. And her friends are more than willing to help her shed her uptight trappings. In fact, they have packed some extra special clothes just for that reason.

What woman doesn't like playing dress up and feeling a little sexier? But when Carrie pulls out this little bit of a swim suit for Violet, she balks until Carrie and Mirabelle convince her to put it on. For a woman who only wears one-piece bathing suits, this is a whole lot of nothing to wear in public!







But when you've got two men who look like this and want to buy you a drink at the poolside bar, you don't waste time arguing with your girlfriends in your cabin.










Aboard Pleasure

Sailing away from shore aboard Pleasure cuts Violet's ties with her staid, earth-bound rules of behaviour and frees her to explore her sexual fantasy of being with two men.

Violet would never have taken time off for this vacation if her best friends hadn't pushed her. Once she's aboard the adults-only cruise ship Pleasure, she sheds her inhibited lawyer persona, and her inner wild woman comes out to play with the two Greek men she meets by accident. When her heart gets involved after one night of intense pleasure, she slips away without saying goodbye, but Alec and Theo won't let her go.



Check out my Author Spotlight interview with Total-E-Bound, and for more information about all of my books, visit suzannegraham.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Celebrate the 4th, err 5th, with a good book!

By W.S. Gager
Happy Birthday to the great U.S. A.! I know I’m a day late but the sentiment bears repeating. I’m still recovering from the long weekend that was filled with great weather for the water and just enjoying the outdoors. For the Fourth we always go visit family at a lake. This year was no exception except it was a bit different. In the last two years I have had books that just came out and were able to parlay the party into book sales. This year I do have a book coming out, but not until later this month so I was able to relax. But was I?

The thing about being a writer is you are always in promotion mode. You need to pass out business cards everywhere. While the party was pretty much family who has to be a fan (not really but they don’t say they aren’t), no real talking about the new book.

So I thought I would fix that here. My third book in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series is called A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES. Mitch gets rooked into going to his hometown and sharing his reporting experience with the local paper. What he finds is his high school crush who was the homecoming queen who dated his cousin the bully. He renews old ties and almost comes to fisticuffs with his cousin over the still beautiful queen. When she comes up dead, Mitch is the prime suspect in a town where he doesn’t want to renew any ties and his high school years are haunting him making him remember secrets the could put him on a slab next to the woman of his dreams.

So while I celebrated with family at a reunion of sorts, why don’t you celebrate July with a great read. It can be a birthday present to yourself! http://www.amazon.com/W.-S.-Gager/e/B003U5OADU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1


www.wsgager.com

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

This country of ours may not be perfect, but it is the best country in the world where we are each given the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

Thank you to all the American soldiers past, present and future who keep our country free.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Even With All My Faults, I'm Still a Writer!

Posted for Peg Hanchar:

So it's the 2nd and the day is nearly gone and I am just now blogging. Thanks to Patty for reminding me. I decided this will be a good day to discuss memory and procrastination, both deadly foes to writers.

Even though some of you may be possessed of an excellent memory, I'll bet you have moments when you're writing along and you forget a character's name, okay, not your main protagonists, but an important secondary character. I've often wondered how other writers handle this dilemma. I've found if I have a book or tablet nearby to list my characters and main points of the plots, when I run into that brick wall of forgetfulness, I can just quickly check my notes and zip right along. It's always a stopper to have to go back and check. Okay, so that wasn't advice any one really needed because you already do that, but do you just use a piece of paper with the notes scribbled on it? Or do you actually have a working notebook? I used to jot it down on a piece of paper, usually a quarter of a typing paper that's been used on one side and recycled for its clean side, but after awhile, I have a zillion of those things floating around my desk and have to shuffle through them to find the right page, only to find that in a mad moment of tidiness, I've thrown it away. No, a book of some sort works best. A notebook, spiral maybe or one of those adorable bound books of blank pages that yell out to you from the bottom of the pile. Yeah! That works for me, quite well, at least for my work. The rest of my life, I still haven't found a solution.

We just put in an electrical fence for our wandering dog and everytime he runs through and he does, a shock of electricity reminds him he shouldn't have done that. He yips and barely pauses. By that time, he's on the other side of the fence and freedom. He takes off like a shot with his little fluffy tail waving triumphantly. Too bad I couldn't use something like for myself and every time I goof up and forget something, I'd get a little shock of electricity that would make me yip and remember again. Of course, there would be moments when that little yip might be off-putting like in the middle of church services or when I'm about to make love to my husband, well no, that would send him the wrong message!

Anyway, there's no solution for bad memory. If anyone knows one, then contact me immediately, but remind who you are first.

While I can still remember it, my second problem is procrastination. Here's where an electric prod might really work, although in my defense, I want to say that bad memory might come across as procrastination. Because I'm a born procrastinator, I try to overcome that fault. Usually, if I had something that needs doing I jump right on it. What a sense of accomplishment when I've completed an onerous task, what a sense of virtue! I think I'm awesome. I am, but even more so, when I do my tasks on time. It's a feel good moment. Blogging doesn't make me feel good. Blogging makes me feel like a procrastinator.

But enough of my writer's woes. In spite of my faults I do manage to meet deadlines and get my edits in on time. And sometimes for all my efforts, i get a terrific letter from my editor who says, OMG!!!! I freakin' love this book!!! Then I smile, raise up my chin and think again how awesome I am. I'm a woman and I'm a writer. How much better can I get?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tooting My Horn



I've belonged to writers' groups for at least ten years. I've been in a wonderful critique group for over a year. I’ve taken several online writing classes, and spent hours parked in front of my laptop. So I am so relieved to finally have some news to crow about! My short story, The Legacy, will be available at Astraea Press (www.astraeapress.com) sometime this month! It will be part of the Japan Relief Novella series. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to charity, which means I won't get any royalties. But that's okay! I am being treated as a regular author, complete with a book cover (I am so pleased with cover artist Elaina Lee's creation, above) and blurb, which was supplied by GRRWG's talented Stephanie Michels.

So now I'm having a great time ordering promotional materials to hand out to friends and family members who have promised to hand them out to their friends. I'm setting up e-mail addresses and a website, and lining up techies to help me with them. I'm notifying people via e-mail and facebook. Maybe I'll even work up the energy to tackle Twitter.

And I'm writing. "Success breeds success," they say. But in this case it's more like "Success motivates one to continue to succeed." I'm not going to go anywhere as a writer on the basis of one short story. I need to create more dialogue, more conflict, more interesting characters. So I sit here in front of my laptop, writing, polishing, and writing some more.

It's a lonely job. It's kind of like Woman's Work - it's never done.

But I love it.

Patty Kiyono