Monday, June 25, 2012

Life Got in the Way

I’ve fallen into a writing slump.  In the first 14 days of June I was on sort of a roll and was gaining on 8,000 words, I’d met a bunch of my June goals and was feeling great.  In the past 10 days, I’ve written 112 words.
It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write or that I haven’t tried.  I think about writing all the time and I have ideas constantly running through my head.  It’s just that life keeps getting in the way.  I know, I’m supposed to be vigilant about protecting my writing times and write no matter what.  But let’s be honest here… that’s not always practical.
I live with my mother and my 97 year old grandfather.  He has Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Congestive Heart Failure.  Although he’s pretty damn with it considering his age and everything going on, his care is a 24 hour a day job.  A job which my mother and I do alone while trying to still have lives of our own.
Last week alone saw a 9 hour ER visit, a fall, and talks with hospice on top of me working full time and trying to squeeze in self care.  Due to his age and the fact that he has a heart condition that isn’t going to get any better he qualified for hospice.  Technically to be involved with hospice someone is supposed to have less than six months to live, but with Gramps it’s more of a maintenance thing.  His symptoms will be managed and then each six months he’ll be recertified to continue hospice services.  He may be 97 but his big sister just turned 103 and his baby brother is 90. :)
The amount of support we’re getting from hospice is kind of mind blowing, actually.  Before hospice we had to pay out of pocket for all medications (last week’s ER visit resulted in seven pills of antibiotics that cost $57.00), all medical supplies (adult diapers, ointments, catheter supplies, etc.) and 24 hour oxygen ($40 a month).  With hospice, all of that’s covered.  Oxygen, medication, supplies, a new cane, a wheel chair are just a few things we’ve received this week that we no longer have to pay for.  If Gramps is sick and needs attention, we don’t go to the ER anymore, the doctor comes to us.  We have a nurse who visits a few times a week to monitor progress, a social worker who is helping with all sorts of things including applying for a grant to help with funeral costs when the time comes, an aide who visits three times a week to help with daily living and who provides my mother with 2 hour respite breaks… there’s even an option to have a visiting chaplain if it’s wanted.   
My mom still can’t work outside of the home and is pretty much tethered to Gramps’ care, but this extra support is pretty amazing and much appreciated.  Is it going to help me get my writing done?  Probably not, but then again the less I have to worry about my mom the more likely I’m able to concentrate on writing when I have the chance to squeeze it in to my schedule. :)
Wishes of high word counts to you all!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A conversation that must be shared.

So, I'm desperately packing to leave on my writers retreat vacation tomorrow and I was talking to my oldest son about packing up my computer so I could work while I'm up north.

We just had the following conversation:

Killian: Wait, wait, wait.

Me: What?

Killian: You're going on vacation.

Me: Right.

Killian: And you're going to be writing?

Me: Yeah-huh.

Killian: That's not a vacation! That's just working in a different location.

You know...he's right, but yet, not.

It's actually going to be a treat to work in a different place. I'll be on the shores of Lake Superior with no one asking me for supper, no one needing clean undies, no one wanting me to translate my questionable handwriting in the checkbook register. It's just going to be me, the story, the lake and a bunch of other writers who want to spend time with their stories, too.

Sounds like heaven to me. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Your Reader's Sake, Get an Editor!

Like most writers, I read a lot, more so since I bought a Kindle.  Instant gratification and inexpensive (or free) books have increased by digital library to over three hundred.  The drawback is, I often come across books that need editorial help.
I know the lure of self-publishing.  No slush piles and endless waiting for someone’s stamp of approval, plus the pride of having a “real” book published.
I won’t get into the revolution in the industry today.  Personally, I don’t look at who’s publishing a book when I buy it.  Winona Writer or the Big Six, it doesn’t make a difference.  What does is the quality of writing and whether it was edited or not. 
You may have a great novel on your hands, but sloppiness counts against my decision to buy another of your books.
Two recent examples come to mind.
1) Unnamed Western.  Despite missing commas, etc., this one hit the digital wall when the sweltering heat of July switched to August in the same scene.  Later, the hero and heroine and an Army captain were surrounded by hostile natives and considering their options of escape when the same captain charged toward them from the fort, breaking up the tense situation.
A good editor would have fixed these inconsistencies.
2) Unnamed Regency.  This one almost was thrown against the digital wall in the first two pages when sisters Millicent, Mildred, Maude and their mother Felicity were introduced.  In theory it might sound cute to alliterate their names, but to me, it was damned confusing.  Fortunately, I stuck it out.  Two of the sisters and the mother disappeared for most of the book, and I enjoyed a good story with an interesting twist.
A good editor would have suggested renaming the minor characters.
When you self-publish, you don’t have the benefit of a paid editor, but there are options.  A critique partner, a friend or two with eagle eyes, or freelancing the service.  Whatever you do, don’t risk the irritation of your future readers by neglecting this important step.
For your reader’s sake, get an editor!
What gaffes have you noticed in your reading?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rain, Thunder, and Draq Queens, oh my!

June 16th was Grand Rapids 23rd annual Pride Festival.  It's the first one I've been to that actually got rained out.  Who knew the park officials would close it down on account of rain?

Luckily, I got there before the storm hit and caught up with a dear friend of mine. We took time to wander around the booths (I'd already seen some before he caught up with me), said hello to my friend Teresa at G.I.F.T. (Gays in Faith Together), found The LGBTQ Network booth, and met a very nice lesbian couple who are also San Diego transplants. They very kindly shared their spray mister with me.

I regrettably did not take pictures and didn't realize that fact until I got home. I hope someone got pictures of the amazing Queens on display at this year's pride. One crafty Queen had taken a white silky raised rose fabric and, using only Sharpies, had transformed it into a beautiful rainbow of roses. She even used the Sharpies on her bling to make it match. The gorgeous redhead topped it off with a white straw hat, also adorned by lace roses colored by Sharpies. She was utterly divine!

We also ran into the first Miss Latina who flew up from Miami to attend, and had a nice chat with her about her, and her entourage's, ability to walk on stiletto heels in a park full of uneven ground and branches scattered about. Not once did I see any Queen turn her ankle as I would have so surely done. They all deserved to be wearing tiaras, they are that fierce!

I also took the opportunity to introduce a few folks to snippets from Mia Watts and Suzanne Graham's books that I had on my Kindle app on my phone.  I'm hoping it results in a few sales for them.

Lots of puppies of all sizes abounded, Carol's Ferals was there as well and my friend and I donated the last few dollars needed to free the human "kitty"  from  the live trap. The kittens there were adorable and I hope they all found new homes. And I may have found a pet sitter for our two very large and protective dogs. Not only is she a really nice person, but she works closely with our groomers so I'm pretty sure the dogs will get along fine.

There was so much color and life there! I need more of these in town, they inspire my writing and I have tons in my head to get down yet today. The languages and accents in use were warm, bold and reminded me of home. Lots of lovely people meandered about, many marveling at how many straight allies were present. And three young women where running about in brightly colored hair and outfits giving out free hugs to anyone who needed one.

Then the wind started up and we all stopped to hear the announcer say if it started to rain we would have to shut down, just at the exact time the wind was gearing up. The wind was fierce and we watched the rain sheets approaching as the gorgeous Queens were escorted to the dry safety of a very large tent. Most of them were herded to the center of the tent were they could stay dry.

My friend and I continued to walk around, there was no point in trying to leave right then as everyone else was trying to get out. Besides, neither one of is sweet enough to melt in a little bit of rain.

We were already thoroughly wet when we happened upon a booth staffed by three women who were trying to pack, protect their belongs and hang on to the tent all at the same time. Another tent not far from them had already blown over onto people and was laying broken on the ground. I grabbed one of the tent legs, my friend the other, and we hung on as the wind buffeted around and the ladies began to hurriedly pack. Another attendee had been holding on to the covering trying to help keep their tables dry. The three of us hung on and the ladies got everything wrapped up in record time.

Turns out the tent was for a Pure Romance consultant. They thanked us more than once for stepping up to help. It really was no bother, we were already wet and by helping out we avoided the traffic rush to get out of the parking lot. But that wasn't enough for the consultant in charge, who gave each of us free product in exchange for the help. We would have done it anyway, this was just a bonus.

On the way out I spied another Queen I had seen coming in. A gorgeous carmel-color, she was wearing a purple leotard that had a rainbow of fringe stitched about. i could just picture her go-go dancing on stage and it made me smile.

We wrapped up our visit at Tim Hortons were we chatted until nearly 10! Even after all that time catching up with each other, my jeans and t-shirt were still very damp. But it was all worth it. Can't imagine having a better day than one where I get to catch up with a dear friend, see Drag Queens, enjoy a warm rain and end it all with a chocolate-covered donut.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Detour at Every Turn

Last week, I went to visit my mom. It's normally two left turns, a right turn and two more lefts, taking about forty minutes depending on what cars you get stuck behind.

This time, because of the construction in town, I decided to go out of town the opposite way. By taking the back roads, I could connect with my normal route and be on my way without seeing a lot of orange cones.

Unfortunately, when I arrived at the turn, I saw two big construction signs closing the road, dirt instead of pavement and a variety of Caterpillar yellow machines. I skipped my turn and continued until I met my alternative route. This route would take me through the bottleneck areas of two towns (and another construction area) during rush hour. I didn't want to be stuck in traffic with three kids in the car. Sure, they were sleeping at the moment, but that wouldn't last, especially if the vehicle stopped.

Then I remembered another route I could take. I could switch highways an go to the exit right near my mom's house. Score!

After switching highways, I remembered that some of the exits in that area were closed due to construction, but I didn't think they all were. When I got a mile down the highway, a sign informed me that they were indeed all closed.

I took an earlier exit, figuring I could then take another road to cut over to the other side of one of the cities I wanted to avoid. It wouldn't be too bad. But when I turned the corner, you guessed it. Big orange signs, dirt and bulldozers. I turned around and took another route through the area of the missing exits and bridge, more orange signs and construction equipment. By this time, the kids were awake and excited about the loaders and dump trucks. Eventually, we got to my mom's and it really only took an hour.

This is how my writing career feels. I figure out a plan or a strategy and I hit a road block or the playing field changes. Sometimes, the way seems clear, but it doesn't work for me when I get there. I am hoping that my writing trip turns out like my day of detours and I finally get where I want to be or a place equally good.

(I did make it home without any detours, although there was a brush fire near an intersection shortly after I passed through. I didn't start it, I promise.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The “Why” Chromosome

Demystifying Guys by Brynn Paulin

Men claim they’ll never understand women, but can we really understand them? Today, I’ll attempt to breach some of the barriers that divide men and women and just have us asking “Why???”

But as Inigo Montoya said in Princess Bride, “There is too much. Let me sum up.”

When I asked my friends what they’d want to know if they could ask a man anything, the answers ranged from “Why doesn’t he talk?” to several versions of “What does it feel like?” and I wondered… what does it feel like? So I asked a few of my guy friends. Their answer: Good.

That is not helpful. So…

The Non-Talker

In my quest to demystify men, I set out to answer these questions. First on the list “Why doesn’t he talk?”

27% of men say that they fight with their significant other over the fact they don’t share their feelings and 65% of men don’t want their partners to ask more questions of them. Non-talkers? Ya think?

As women, we tend to assume if our guy isn’t talking, there must be a problem. That’s not always true. Actually, it’s usually not true. Quite often, if men aren’t talking, they’re happy. It’s a simple as that. Don’t rock the boat. Go with it. But if you don’t believe me, ask him. Be specific and be direct. Beating around the bush won’t get the job done. As several men I spoke with said, subtly doesn’t work. Whether that receptor isn’t working or our guy has turned it off doesn’t matter. It’s all in your method. Be blunt.

Of course, here’s something to consider. Say the word feelings to a man and its like clipping your toenails during a striptease, says David Zinczenko in his book Men, Love, and Sex: The Complete User’s Guide for Women. They don’t like it. Men often feel intimidated about expressing their feelings because they perceive women to have that language down while they’re still babbling like toddlers.

David goes on to say, “If you want us to answer questions about what we're feeling, then stop asking about how we're feeling.” Often men see it as weakness to express how their feeling. Despite my title, it’s not chromosomal. It’s socialized. Men are told to “suck it up” and “be a man”. As a boy, talking about how he felt would have been a good way to get picked on, or worse, beat up. By the time, they get to us, holding in their emotions is ingrained.

Keeping this in mind, don’t push the issue. This is the fastest way to shove your guy into a corner and get him to clam up. Instead, watch how he behaves. Continue to be open about your feelings. The more you show you’re comfortable expressing yourself, the more he'll do the same.

So if he doesn’t talk, sometimes we have to rely on…

Male Body Language

You can often get a clue to how your guy is feeling inside by his behavior. If he loves you, he may very well try to show you without actually saying it. Learning his non-verbal language will help you to know how open he is to conversations, especially if you plan to use the f-word— feelings not the other one. Once you can intuitively interpret the signs, you can use them to improve communication between the two of you. Of course, if you’re peckish like me, you might use them to purposely annoy him.

So here are a few of the “must know” signals found in The Complete Idiots Guide to Pleasing Your Man by Eve Salinger:

If he smoothes his hair or clothing, he wants you to notice he’s attractive. If he hooks his thumbs in his belt while facing you, he wants you to notice he’s virile. His hands on his hips are an indicator that he’s feeling big and strong, while fiddling with his jacket buttons indicates he’s nervous. Crossing his arms over his chest shows defensiveness. When  he leans toward you or points his feet in your direction, he’s interested in what you’re saying. However, if he sits with his face toward you, but his body facing away, he’s not comfortable. And if he leans away, you might want to wait until later to talk because he’s completely unreceptive.

If he holds your gaze, he’s definitely interested in you. This is important to take note of since, men tend to display less warmth and facial expression than woman. This doesn’t mean that a guy is uninterested in what you’re saying. Less warmth, not no warmth. If he’s scowling at you, beware.

So if a guy won’t talk and you have to rely on non-verbal communication, what does intimacy, particularly sexual intimacy mean to men?

What Sexual Intimacy Means to Men

Obviously, men have different ideas about sex and intimacy than woman do. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with the “why” chromosome knows that. There’s a stereotype that men are sex-crazed, ego-centric and completely horny—and there are those who fit the bill, but most men are far more complicated than that. You didn’t want to hear that, did you? According to Intimacy by Dr. Paul Coleman, sex and intimacy are closely related for men. Many woman fail to comprehend this. A guy’s deep need for sex is often just a need for closeness. Since men are not big talkers, this is often a way to communicate their love or caring to the important woman in their life. Sex is the easiest way for a man to feel closeness on an acute level. Another non-verbal communication. This intimacy leads to deeper intimacy.

To a man, sex is acceptance. ‘Not now’, even for the best reasons, is often construed as a rejection. The more he feels rejected, the more he may try to press for sex. Because he feels insecure. He needs reassurance that he’s desirable. He’s not a raving sex maniac.

What does it feel like?

Okay, I can’t leave out this most asked question. What does it feel like? Heads up ladies, it doesn’t matter what hundreds of romance novels (including mine) have said. According to the guy panel, the groin does not “tighten”. Apparently, there’s a lot of pressure. There’s a definite sensation of pooling, then thickening. It’s all good. But no one can really explain what it feels like. I didn’t think describing an erection would be so tough. It’s like describing the color red. It’s…well, it’s red. An erection, in the same way, feels like an erection. I resorted to The Penis Dialogues by Gabriel Constans. Here are a few descriptions:

“It’s almost painful. Pleasure is only a part of it. It’s painful pleasure. It’s a focusing and gathering, as though the rest of my body is draining. I need to bring attention to it. When it receives attention pleasure occurs. “

“It’s like water building up behind a dam, with pressure that needs to be released.”

“An erection takes my head to the head of my penis. All my thoughts are there. It’s a coalescing of everything in one spot.”

“An erection feels like a fifteen minute sneeze. It starts by feeling really warm and exciting throughout my whole body, with a focus on my groin. An orgasm feels the top blowing off of everything.”

Hmmm…just as I suspected. I figured explaining what sex feels like would be far easier. Since so many people asked, I was on a mission and unwilling to go with “it feels like hot apple pie”. It seems like that would burn.

Mission or not, I forgot for a moment that men don’t like to talk.

Warm and wet are the only clear answers. Not tight. Not like a glove. Not “like the passage to heaven”. Just hot and warm. I guess that’s where the pie description comes from. Come on … I have a pile of sex books, the whole world wide web, the guy panel and I couldn’t get better than that? The guys have some talking to do and I have an opportunity to ply them with alcohol this weekend. Ladies, I’ll get back to you on this one because it’s time for Brynn to leave the building, but before I go…what does it feel like for the “poisons” to leave the building. I’ll leave it to Greg to describe.

“Ejaculation creates this unbelievable sensation of something rushing from your body—you can actually feel liquid channeling down through your pipes. The best sex feels like mild electric shocks that begin at my groin then course through my body.”

Mmmm. Yummy.

See you next time ~ Brynn

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

News Gallore!

So lemme nut-shell it for you. I have a book coming out tomorrow and I just became an app!

If you want to know what I'm up to, my books, my links, where I can be found and whatever news there is to share, YOU CAN NOW FIND ME IN AN APP! Just go to the app store on you iPhone or Android and search either Katie Blu or Mia Watts and you'll see my little red "naughty" book. I just got it approved by the iTunes folks so I'm still updating it with titles and all, but please do download the app. It's FREE!

Also I have a book out tomorrow. It's called By the Balls. Here's the blurbage:
Detective Trick Montgomery is pissed. After three years of intensive undercover work within a mob syndicate, some chump-changed baby-Fed’s promotion requires that he break cover. Why? Because they need information, and the kid needs to prove his worth by bringing in a wise-guy, even if Trick isn’t actually a mobster. So it only makes sense that he’d do a little recon to find out what’s what. A clutch of Feds at a bar, a back-hall fuck for information, what harm would it cause, right?

Wrong, because Murphy’s law is twisted like that. His back-hall fuck, one Agent Nathan Rohn, turns out to be the one all his problems are pinned on. Except now Trick has a new one to add: he wants to go another round with the sexy suit, yet one look into those big brown eyes and Trick just might lose his heart. He knows what he wants, but the choices aren’t always his. So, fend for himself or fuck a Fed? Either choice has him by the balls.

Then, before my next round of blogging here at GRRWG, I have another release with this sexy-hot cover about some bad boy Navy SEALs. Here's that blurbage for Water Dogs:

What happens in the desert stays in the desert…
Or does it? On tour in Iraq with other SEALs teams, Lieutenenat John Tucker from the Skins holds a tenuous line of defense with Lieutenant Commander Alex Jackson of the Water Dogs. With four days wait until the Army shows up, and the pock-fire of insurgents ever-present, fight or flight urges are put to the extreme. So when Tucker shocks the LC by making a play for him, and he reluctantly gives in, it’s not like Ajax is going to have to face the fire when he returns home.

Except the mutual devastation of the SEALs teams prompts the military to combine them. Now Tucker is serving under Ajax in a brand new way, and the desert isn’t keeping the secret.

So basically, I got a lot going on and I'm thrilled to share! Check it out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gifts Just for Me

Goals are gifts I give myself. I usually set my goals around specific, measurable areas in my life I want to improve. I have daily and weekly goals, annual, three-to-five year goals and stretch goals. But I recently found an intriguing list entitled “546 Goals” that my mom gave me a few months ago. The list was in a folder I’d stashed in my paper box, unread, when I was organizing around the house. 

Just what I need are more goals. 

I glanced at the list and began reading. 

Improve the quality of my home life. Reduce what I am tolerating at work. Allow one day out of each month to do something I really want to do.

These are the kinds of ideas that would expand my life a little bit, not necessarily measurable, but if I implemented any of them, my life would be better. I kept reading. Grabbing a highlighter, I left a series of orange stripes representing inspiring ideas I wanted to implement. Out of 546, I chose 40. Too many.
Ten ways to improve my life over the next few months could be do-able but honestly I’d need a magic wand to implement 40. Some things will require thought, my journal and a pen, then awareness. Many of the ideas had never occurred to me, and that makes me happy. I’d like to expand my thinking and get out of my daily rut. My favorites are the ones that are just for me. 

Here goes:   
  1. Take more chances
  2. Spend more time in the garden
  3. Easily ask for what I want
  4. Let go of the people in my life who drain my energy
  5. Allow one day out of each month to do something I really want to do
  6. Keep the gas tank in my vehicle at least half full at all times
  7. Always arrive early and never feel rushed
  8. Define the top ten qualities I am looking for in a soul mate
  9. Become fearless
  10. Understand what drives and motivates me

Each night before I go to sleep, I spend time reading ten pages of a good book (something motivational and inspiring), I look at my day and identify what worked best for me and what can be changed, I plan for the following day and I journal. I’ll work these ideas into the mix. At the very least, I’d like to eliminate driving to the gas station with my tank running on fumes. My habit of adding “just one more thing”, whether it’s a phone call, email, errand or conversation, leaves me rushing to be on time. These ideas are gifts I’m giving myself. 

In the list of 546 goals, I’m secretly going for goal number 474. Enjoy Life More.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Cover Art

By Suzanne Graham

I love celebrating upcoming releases by getting new cover art, especially a cover with a great picture like this one.

BELLA'S THREE BODYGUARDS is Book Two in the Profortuna series, 
and will be available June 27
is currently the #6 Bestseller at All Romance Ebooks!

Bella's Blurb:

Due to Bella's exceptional intellectual capabilities in mathematics, the Council of Profortuna matched her with the three highest scoring IQs in her Quadrant to perpetuate her genes. The men were incredibly smart and equally dull. Bella had datapad apps that gave her more pleasure. In five years, she hadn't developed anything more than a general fondness for the men she privately referred to as Dweeb One, Two and Three.

When the Open Air Society attacks the scientific center of First Quadrant, killing Bella’s mates, three members of Fourth Quadrant’s special security forces take Bella into protective custody. As her bodyguards work a rotating schedule, she explores her physical attraction to each of them. Defying the Council’s ban against unauthorized relationships isn’t Bella’s only act of disobedience. When she learns the motives behind the Open Air Society’s rebellion, she resolves to join the freedom movement, with or without her three bodyguards.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lori Foster's Reader and Author Get Together Recap

Last weekend, I attended my second Reader and Author Get Together sponsored by Lori Foster and many other awesome writers. Some of the authors in attendance were Sherilyn Kenyon, Carly Phillips, Erin McCarty and many more. It is a great experience for anyone, whether you're a reader, an aspiring author, or published. There are so many fun activities and prizes.

The event started on Friday. The registration line was very long. Then again, there were close to five hundred people in attendance. I got to meet fellow F/F/P RWA member, Nickie Asher and several others while waiting. I'm not very good with names, but I hardly ever forget a face. After registration, I chilled in my room. I don't like traveling alone, so I brought my mom, sister and two nieces along. They weren't registered for the conference, so they did the sightseeing thing. I heard they kept the pool well circulated as well.

After I got changed, it was time for the pizza party where I met up with two awesome gals I met at last year's conference, Anne Lute and Lex Cade. Anne then let me know that I have the claim to fame of breaking her sex scene cherry. Isn't that cool? Soon we were joined by fellow Sourcebooks author and all together awesome gal, Leanna Renee Hieber.  After the Pizza Party, came the indie and small press signing. Arianna Skye didn't do too well selling print books, but the QR codes directing people to purchase Wings of Desire seemed to be a big hit. $2.99 for an eBook is a much better deal than $10.00 for a print copy, anyway.

After the signing, I headed over to the party put on by Carina Press. There was a fun round of Pictionary involving romance novels. If you participated, you got entered to win an iPad. Unfortunately I didn't win. Maybe next time. After the fun ended for the evening, I headed to the bar where I partook in an appletini and a cosmopolitan.  Best drinks ever!

Saturday then arrived. There were several workshops going on throughout the day. I spent most the day just wandering the hotel and  chatting up various people. I headed to the book store where I saw two huge stacks of Demons Prefer Blondes and Demons Like It Hot. Oh, and I bought a lot of raffle tickets. It was for charity. I can never resist being a charitable person. I pretty much stuffed most my tickets in the various eReader baskets. I already have a Kindle but that Nook Color really called to me. Sadly a new eReader was not in my future. I look at it this way, my money went to a worthy cause, One Way Farms.

INSERT: I forgot  to mention I got to meet Cheryl Brooks' traveling buddy, Willy. There's a picture on her blog. Be warned, it is definitely NSFW (Not Safe for Work)!

Then the Saturday book-signing rolled around. I never really expect much from these events. I'm a fairly unknown author. I was still in the process of setting up my "display." when my first autographee stopped by. My signing buddy, Robyn Bachar called me the Promo Queen, and that's a title I'll gladly accept. Then they kept rolling in, with either one or both books in tow. Near the end of the signing, a woman came and handed me Demons Like It Hot to sign. To my utter delight and fascination, she informed me she had bought the last copy. OMG! ONE OF MY BOOKS SOLD OUT! And there were only four copies of Demons Prefer Blondes left, too! What a freakin' rush!

I don't hardly remember much more of the conference that afternoon. I do remember dinner and winning a basket of YA titles from Leanna Renee Hieber. That evening, was the Author Island Texas/Cowboy party. They had a bunch of games for everyone, including Author Jeopardy where you had to answer various questions about the Author Island Authors. They had me at Jeopardy. I ended up winning the round, obtaining a cool prize from Sam Cheever--some books, a cowboy hat, a red feather boa, and a peacock hair clip and earrings. My cat ended up wrapping one of the feathers from the boa around a spool of thread and made his own cat toy. Gotta love those gifts that serve multiple purposes. The real reason I chose the basket was the three huge Ghirardelli chocolate bars in the prize. Yum! My sister made a request to bring back chocolate, so I was more than happy to oblige her.

After the party, I headed to the bar where I drank a few drinks with Renee Vincent, who just celebrated her 40th and cover model Billy Freda, along with a few others. Unfortunately, I was a little tipsy at this point, so names are a little foggy. I requested a shot of Patron, but the bartender brought Cuervo 1800 because they were out of Patron Silver. Umm... there is a big difference between the two, but I did manage to swill down the tequila, despite my stomach lurching. The bartender, a pretty friendly guy who they brought over from a different hotel, didn't charge me for it. I switched to Grey Goose and cranberry juice instead. Glad they weren't out of that, because Absolut and I don't get along. Thank goodness last call came at midnight, or I may have made a big sloshing fool of myself. LOL

There's my recap... a very paraphrased recap at that. I always find I get bogged down with all the fun that I forget to snap pictures. I do have a few this time though!

Friday's Indie/Small Press/ Self Published Book Signing:

Saturday's Book Signing:
Billy Freda and I after last call. LOL!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Line of Fire

My newest book came out in May, so I thought I would share it. Line of Fire_, from Resplendence Publishing, is part of the SEALs At The Ready Anthology with Katie Blu and Emma Hillman.


Christian Williams has lived with his secret his whole life and he’s not ready to give it up, he’s especially not ready to face the consequences.

Consequences be damned, Hayden Medema is tired of living a lie. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is dead and gays are serving openly in the rest of the military, the Navy SEALs should be no different.
After coming face to face at a gay bar in a different city and a whirlwind weekend of sex, Christian and Hayden along with fourteen other SEALs are sent on what appears to be another routine mission, until someone learns their secret and everything goes horribly wrong. 

You can read an excerpt here



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Group Anthology is Interesting Experiment

 Some of the strangest choices we make, take us on the best paths. I took a blog tour class last summer that has morphed into a group on marketing and craft that has been so helpful. Just recently they did a class on kindle formatting and that morphed into writing an anthology of short stories for the group as a hands on learning experience.

This has been a major undertaking for several in the group. I’m sad to say, I have been limited in my involvement because my back is up against a deadline for my next book. I’m ripping my book to pieces and trying to put it back together in a different order, but that is another post! However, I followed the progress with interest.

This anthology has been a learning experience. Not only did we all learn what will work for formatting for kindle and what won’t but things change without any rhyme or reason. Dani Greer, our editor and chief with help from Helen Ginger took the huge task of editing the stories. As problems occurred, they were discuss among us. The loop has been great for brainstorming information that we need like one-liner hooks: The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.

Our book descriptions: Sweet, dreamy, steamy, sometimes slightly seamy, a multi-genre short story collection for every taste. Prepared by the BBT Cafe authors: Marian Allen, Shonell Bacon, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, W.S. Gager, Helen Ginger, Dani Greer, S.B. Lerner, Audrey Lintner, Morgan Mandel, Maryann Miller, Bodie Parkhurst, Bob Sanchez, Mary Montague Sikes, Red Tash, Christine Verstraete.

Other brainstorming included how to get all the author names to be seen when only a max of ten authors are allowed by kindle and linking it to the Amazon Central page. While I’ve been only following the email trails of many of the discussions it has been interesting. The biggest surprise was the ramifications of publishing a book. Someone has to be on the hook to the IRS for any profits. We only wanted to create a book and give it away to showcase what we write and encourage readers to buy our novels.

Part of the original reason for the project was to determine if this is a feasible way to market our books for little or no cost, just our time. We will track our beginning numbers, daily downloads and watching the sales of each of our books during the blog tour which started Monday. It will be interesting to see what this does for our individual sales and compare them. I will report back if the data yields any interesting results. Part of why I decided to write about this was that it might be an interesting project for the Grand Rapids Writer’s Group if our results would be duplicated and positive. What do you think…

W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him, supposedly. Her award winning books in the Mitch Malone Mystery series are A Case of Infatution, A Case of Accidental Intersection, A Case of Hometown Blues and A Case of Volatile Deeds out this fall.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Can This Manuscript Be Saved?

By Andrea Dickinson

In addition to being an author, I am also a freelance editor. I've found through this experience that it is so much easier to identify the problems in another writer's manuscript than my own.

I am currently editing a first book from a writer who has been vigorously working on it for three years. It's been rewarding to watch this writer learn and grow over the years, as she revises and rewrites and rips apart and puts back together her story, as she learns new things about the writing craft. She has such determination to make this story work. She's not willing to let it go and move on to her next book until she feels this one is publishable. She impresses me with her staying power. But I wonder if her time might be better spent by moving on to a new project.

There are two trains of thought about a writer's first book.

Some experienced authors believe that a first book is a practice book. It's a place to learn and experiment and grow as a writer, but in most cases, it won't end up being publishable. It is better to put the book under the bed and move on to the next story, taking what you've learned and applying it to the next book. Personally, this is how I have always worked. I have been willing to give a book as much as two years of writing and revising, but then I come to the point where I feel I am better off moving on to a new project. I've got two complete books that will forever remain under my bed. It was my third book, Baltimore Heat, that I was pleased to have published.

A second group of writers believe that every story is publishable, as long as you can identify the issues and fix them. I attended a great workshop at Spring Fling in Chicago led by Susan Meier called "Can This Manuscript Be Saved?" She said that we write on three levels: Story, Scene and Word. We tell a story using scenes, and we create scenes with words. When diagnosing a problem manuscript, you can look at these three levels to find the issue.

1. Story
Your story is your premise, coupled with your characters' goals, motivations and conflicts. A story must be four things: interesting, compelling, credible, and consistent.

2. Scenes
The purpose of a scene is to illustrate a journey step. Poorly written scenes, scenes in the wrong order, and scenes without purpose can cause poor pacing.

3. Words
Your words create tone and character. Your characters are only as good as the words you put in their mouths and minds and use to describe them.

As I edit this current manuscript, I see the problem is at the Scene level. Hopefully, through my constructive critique, the writer will be able to work through the issues and fix her story. If she does, I may have to change my belief system. Maybe all first manuscripts can be saved...but only if the problems are diagnosed and solved. And that takes dedication and hard work on the part of the writer.

Writing is not for the weak of body, mind or heart! :D

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Elvis By Request: Or Research By Any Other Name...

When I was in junior high and high school, Elvis' movie career was thriving. Like most teenage girls, I had my fair share of daydreams that involved the dark-haired singer with that sexy, bad boy grin.  Over the years, I watched Elvis go from records to  movies to Vegas Shows and TV specials.  I sighed as he morphed from sexy movie idol to bloated Vegas performer, but still would have loved to see him live.  My sister attended a couple of his shows, but, much to my regret, I never saw him perform in person before his death in 1977.

In the years since, I've enjoyed listening to his music and I've watched a couple of his old movies on TV.  Although they brought back many happy memories, I've never wanted to chase my youth by attending an Elvis Movie Fest or by going to see some Elvis impersonator.  Personally, I've always thought those aging, overblown guys with mutton-chop sideburns and stretched-to-the-limit white jumpsuits that show off their Michelin physiques are farcical.  I prefer to remember Elvis as the handsome, lean, and slightly dangerous movie star of the 60's.

So, how did I get roped into a road trip to Canada to see an Elvis Tribute Artist?? Long story, but I did.  So, Friday, a friend and I drove  6 hours from mid-Michigan to Ontario, Canada to see a show called "Elvis by Request."  -- Trust me, it wasn't by MY request.

After checking into the hotel, we got to the theater early.  The show started late.  Of course, it would!

While my companion paced nervously, I just shrugged.  After all, I planned to simply daydream through the show and maybe plot the next chapter of my work in progress.  Finally, the theater doors opened and I found my friend had reserved us FRONT ROW seats!

Okay, change of plans, no closing my eyes for a snooze during the show.  I'd be on my best behavior and at least pretend to be entertained.

The house lights went down; the band filed in; and the announcer walked to center stage -- an announcer who looked old enough to have been one of EP's contemporaries.  I stifled a groan, sure he'd be followed by some aging old geezer in a Elvis costume.  Boy...was I wrong.

The band and back-up singers launched into the opening bars of "A Little Less Conversation," and The King came on stage.  

This is Stephen Kabakos, the ETA we went to see in his black leather "Elvis Come Back Special" costume.  You can see by comparing him to Elvis' actual picture at the top of this blog entry that Stephen really resembles the young and oh so sexy King of Rock.

Suffice it to say, there was definitely no snoozing with him singing and gyrating -- yes, there was gyrating -- just a few feet in front of me.

Seriously, this young man has an incredible voice and has all the nuances of Elvis' vocals down pat. When you close your eyes, you'd swear it Elvis himself singing, and when you open your eyes, Stephen looks enough like the early BDD (Before Donuts and Drugs) Elvis to make you smile and sigh.  And when he bent down and kissed my hand at the end of his 3-hour show, I really smiled.

After the show, Stephen signed autographs and posed for pictures. He has fans that follow him all over Canada and the USA, including my friend.  I met some of Stephen's entourage, including his very lovely Mom who attends most of his Canadian shows.  I learned he's been doing Elvis tributes for the last 16 years and has just returned from performing in the Far East and India.  He's that good.

I also learned a bit about the whole ETA business.  There are dozens of competitions around the world each year and are quite costly.  Besides the admission fee and the travel, the costumes are really expensive.  Most ETAs have their outfits custom tailored and a bejeweled replica jumpsuit can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.  But just as a costume and a pair of sideburns don't make an Elvis, not just anyone can throw an Elvis competition either.  Elvis Tribute Artist competitions have to be sanctioned by Presley's estate and the best competitions are by invitation only to competitors who have won at local then regional competitions over the years.  Some artists become friends over the years and help one another, sharing tips and trivia.  Others believe in "every Elvis for himself" and are not above upstaging a competitor.  

As I learned more about the ETA world, my mind starting spinning out possible titles for a new mystery set in this world.

Love Me Tender, Love Me Dead.
Heart Attack Hotel.
Dying in the Chapel.

Hmm, lots of intriguing possibilities.  I may have to make another trip to Canada.  Research is important for authenticity, you know.

Keep writing,
~ Stephanie

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Failure To Do And Be

It's late Saturday evening and I forgot, again, that I was supposed to blog today. I'm doing that a lot lately. So I sit here wondering why I couldn't have remembered such a simple thing. Did I not care enough, am I mentally lazy? Am I getting Alzheimer? What's wrong with me?

Then I think of how my day went, the pressure to finish my book and get it to my editor, the nagging need to get the church cookbook, of which I am somehow chairman again, finished and to the publisher by the end of the month so we can take advantage of discounts, the frantic call to catch my husband and tell him his affair has been cancelled. (He'd already left and I had to figure out a way to get a message to him, because God forbid that he should take a cell phone with him), the niggling irritation because my daughter and her husband want to come spend the afternoon, even though I told her I was up against a deadline, and not only that, but she wants to bring friends. I've been writing at a pretty tight pace, so guess what doesn't get done, the housework.

We have miles of flower beds and a small vegetable garden that takes more time than a twenty acre farm. Then there are my great grandchildren who come and need to run in and give me kisses. My heart turns over with love when they do that. Then they're out the door and on their way and I miss them already. When I look back over this day I realize how much I had planned and failed to accomplice, but what is failure? I got kisses from my wonderful great grandchildren, hugs and laughter from my daughter and her friends. A special breakfast out with my husband and an entertaining supper at a small country restaurant that makes excellent food and gives you plenty of it and provides entertainment in the form of local country singers.

I got 3,000 words done, typed in about 30 more recipes on that cookbook and even got my dishes in the dishwasher. I had a wonderful day. Where is there failure in any of that? Sometimes I think we set ourselves such large tasks, that we lose sight of when we're succeeding, when we take a moment to sit on the patio and chat, when we sit across the breakfast table in our favorite restaurant with the man we've shared so many years with, when we share laughter at a news show. (I won't say which one), when we get sweet kisses from grandchildren, listen to a local artist offering his songs for our enjoyment, sharing a recipe with the restaurant cook. How can there be failure in such a day? I think today I did not fail at all!

Friday, June 1, 2012


This week we in the United States observed Memorial Day. Most of relaxed with a day off from work, perhaps getting together with family. Many of us remembered loved ones, especially those who served our country by serving in various branches of the military.
I remembered two soldiers who fought for their country, even though the citizens of that country didn't always recognize their status as American citizens. My dad, Robert, and his brother, James, joined the US Army right out of high school and served in both World War II and Korea. Uncle Jim stayed in the army afterward, rising to the rank of Major, before retiring and working for Army Intelligence. Dad returned to Grand Rapids, MI and became an accountant, and later on founded and managed a local credit union.
I've always been proud to be related to these two men. Their courage and loyalty are traits we can all be thankful for. They've been my inspiration for more than one story I've written. And I miss them both fiercely.

Patty Kiyono