Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Helping Hands...A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out

This is used with permission from the blog of a fellow Wild Rose Press author, Alisha Paige, who is helping out a friend. If there's anything you can do to help, please contact Alisha at alishapaigewilson@yahoo.com.

Helping Hands....Single Mom in Need of Diapers/Milk

My friend, Portia is in need of Diapers and Milk. She has not been paid for over a month and has filed a Wage Dispute against her employer. How bad is that? I've been there. I worked for a plastic surgeon...yep, a doctor that didn't pay his employees on time. I went through the same thing and it's a long process. I eventually received my back pay but it took awhile. Portia's little girl is in need of small size PULL UPS and her little boy is in need of size 5/6 DIAPERS.

If you have any extras you didn't use with your kids or know of any place that would like to donate, please email me at alishapaigewilson@yahoo.com. I can email you my home address to mail them to and I'll deliver the items or her home address if you prefer. I'm going to just buy her some milk. Every kid deserves an endless supply of milk and it just breaks my heart. These are tough times for everyone right now but even little gestures can mean a lot. She's not asking for hand outs and does not want anyone to spend their own money but if you have leftovers from your kids or have friends that do, please gather them up and let me know. I know I always had leftovers when my kids grew like weeds.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for your love and support.

Here's to a better 2009!

Alisha Paige

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guest Author, Alisha Paige

Today's guest is New Concepts Author and fellow Rose Alisha Paige. Alisha is participating in the Christmas Ride Blog with me and a whole bunch of other Wild Rose authors. Her entry was December 15, and mine will be December 23rd. But to get the full benefit of the Christmas Ride Blog, and to enter a contest for a $75 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press, start at P.L. Parker's blogspot and guess the November 29 Christmas carol of the day, then follow the blog trail to today's entry at Ashley Ludwig's blog. Each author's blog will direct you to the next blog on the Ride, where different prizes are offered each day.

To win the $75 gift certificate, all you have to do is keep a running list of the Christmas carol clues in each blog, and make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. Don't forget to check the list twice! Send it to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!

And now, here's Alisha!

Who are you?

First and foremost, I’m a mommy. My world revolves around my kids. Nothing makes me happier. Dianna is 12, Annalisa is 4 and Benjamin turned 1 last week. And I’m a big home body. The older I get, the more I hate a crowd or even going out. I’d rather stay home, cook a home cooked meal, hang out with my kids and my husband, catch a good movie, read a good book, snuggle on cold days and drink lots of coffee.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I try to write escapism for my readers. The world is so full of misery, the realities of life, especially now in these tough economic times. I only hope I can sweep my readers away to another world, another time where love conquers all. Letters from readers are the best. Only then do I truly know I succeeded in my quest.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I read many genres but I prefer romance for the happy ending. I also read biographies, history and poetry.

When do you write?

I normally write in late afternoon when the sun is setting on these long winter nights, with my first glass of wine in hand. My baby is taking his long afternoon nap, my daughter is home from school doing her homework and dinner is cooking in the crock pot. This is my peaceful time, when everyone is home again and I have a few hours before dinner.

When do you read? Where?

I read late at night when I go to bed by the light of an antique lamp covered with a sheer red cloth. Not the best for the eyes but I don’t want to wake my DH or my sleeping baby who sleeps with us. I was one of those moms that checked on my babies so often, I decided to bring them to bed with me so I could actually get sleep and now I love the baby years, snuggling with the wee ones between us. Very cozy.

Where did you get the inspiration for your books?

I have no ideas where I get my ideas or inspiration. I’m a total pantster. I actually have what I think is an odd way of starting a book. I pick a place, a setting first, then go from there. I once took a wonderful ski trip to Colorado and wanted to write a book set there. Well, I’d also been to see The Grand Canyon so I combined the two and placed my characters in both settings in what became Canyon Wolf Bride, my first paranormal romance. I’m working on another shapeshifter tale set in Circle City, Alaska. I wanted to spin a tale set somewhere very remote and very cold. Circle City is the last bit of civilization left in the Yukon Flats.

Where do you go to think?

I find myself thinking about my characters while I clean house and often in the shower I come up with new ideas. I think mundane tasks help my mind wander, triggering my creativity.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

I normally don’t come up with a title until the book is finished. Something the characters says or the name of the character will sometimes become part of the title. Nocturnally Vexed is about Vex Savaker, leader of the Orgulocks, a hybrid clan of shapeshifting vamps. I’ve received many compliments on that particular title. I have a baby name book for character names or sometimes I just make up names like in my YA fantasy. I made up the names Tyrian and Orionna.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I wrote seriously for about a year before my first book was published. My second daughter was born and I had the opportunity to stay home for a couple of years before going back to work. My DH knew it was a dream of mine and I had written a full length romantic suspense 8 years before that still collects dust. He bought me my computer and told me to go for it. I wrote five manuscripts in three years and I’m still going strong. My first two books sold within a week of each other and my world was changed.

Why do you write?

Because I can. It’s what I do. When I was a little girl, I’d write stories and give them to my dad to read. He was so proud and would read them to everyone, friends and family. I also had a high school teacher tell me that I had a spark. That really set me to dreaming. I wanted to see where that spark could take me. I’ve never forgotten her words. She called me to her desk and whispered it to me. Such a sweet memory.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Guest Author, Patti Shenberger


Today's guest author is Patti Shenberger, fellow Wild Rose Press author and Trisha Yearwood fan :). Patti's paranormal novella, The Laird's Lady, which recently came out in print, is the perfect read for a snowy afternoon at home.
And now, here's Patti:
Who are you?

I am Patti Shenberger. Wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, niece, and writer. I have been writing the majority of my life and was first published it 1994 in non-fiction and in 1998 in romantic fiction. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I write both romantic fiction and non-fiction. Everything from magazine length articles to full length romance novels. My first sale was a non-fiction piece on how to make potato jewelry for kids. Since then I have published over 20 fiction and non-fiction magazine articles, romance novels, novellas and short stories.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I love to read romance, but I also enjoy biographies. Right now I am reading a riveting book by Chip St. Clair called The Butterfly Garden. It is the true story of how he learned his father was a serial killer of children and he turned him in to the police.

When do you write?

I do my best work in the morning. The kids are grown and gone, and once hubby goes to work I find myself heading to the computer. That said, I do my very best work when I am under deadline. When not on deadline, I write in chunks, and not always in any order. I may work on the end of the book when only chapters 1-5 have been written.

When do you read? Where?

I read at night mostly. In bed, usually from 9- 11 p.m. But I always have a book in my purse, in the car, anywhere I go. Even on vacation! This past vacation I read three novels :).

Where did you get the inspiration for The Laird’s Lady?

I literally got the idea while listening to Trisha Yearwood’s song, How Do I Live Without You. I envisioned a woman, a ghost and a castle and ran with the idea. Hence, The Laird’s Lady. A true book of my heart.

Where do you go to think?

I do my best thinking at night, after the lights are out when I am lying in bed getting ready to drift off. Problem is I really need to write those ideas down as when morning comes I don’t always remember them. And that’s a bad thing because they were brilliant when I first had the thoughts!

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

My last two books I ‘borrowed’ my third cousin’s first names :). They are Meg and Devin. I think they are wonderful names for heroes. For the hero – Laird Kyle MacLay – I used my great grandfathers name McLay and added an extra ‘a’. Titles are the first thing I come up with when I sit down to write.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I have been writing since grade school, won awards for my writing in high school, but didn’t get serious about it until after I married and had children. My first non-fiction sale was 1885, and first romantic fiction release was in 1998 with Womb For Rent. So a long time :).

Why do you write?

I write because it makes me feel good. And it also stops the voices in my head if I put their words on paper. Seriously though, I can’t imagine a better job than this. Writing what I love, and getting paid to do so. Who could ask for more?

Patti has been writing since she could put a pen to paper. She loves writing anything with a happy ending. Living in Michigan surrounded by family and friends gives her plenty of ideas for novels. When not writing, Patti can be found curled up with a good book, or off traveling to someplace warm with an ocean view. Currently she is hard at work on both a single title and a category romance. Please stop by www.pattishenberger.com and take a look around or email her at pattishenberger@comcast.net

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Guest Author, Hywela Lyn


Today we welcome Hywela Lyn, fellow Wild Rose Press Author and computer graphics guru (at least to this technically challenged soul) whose Science Fantasy novel Starquest has just garnered three stellar reviews (links provided below) and who is hard at work on an equally riveting sequel.




Here's what I had to say about Starquest:

"Starquest is a fantastical journey about one strong, brave, and independent woman's search for love that will take the reader to places they've never imagined and reveal insights we all know deep inside. I lost myself for hours in her action-packed adventures, and knew that when the book ended, she had indeed succeeded in her quest to find the one true home for her heart."

Can you tell I like this book? I'm hoping to get lucky enough to say something equally prophetic about Children of the Mist when the time comes (hint, hint). In the meantime, we'll visit with the lovely Hywela, who is Welsh, and (if you haven't guessed by now) writes "Romance Out of this World."

BTW, Hywela is her Welsh first name, and Lyn what she goes by, so she combined the two to create her pen name.

1. Who are you?

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed reading and writing Westerns, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Adventure stories - always with a strong romantic element. I have had several short stories published, including a Western romance about Wyatt Earp', which was short listed in the ‘Lady’ Short Story competition and subsequently published in that magazine last year, before I decided to submit my first full length novel Starquest, which was recently released by The Wild Rose Press, and is available both in e-book and print.

2. Why Westerns? Why Science Fiction?

First of all, Westerns. Apart from the fact that I love horses, and horses played a crucial part in the history of the old West, I am fascinated by the idea of a new world, and exploring land where no white man had been before, the camaraderie of men and women thrown together in a beautiful and often harsh and dangerous environment. I read everything from Zane Gray to Jack Schaeffer. Unfortunately the market for Westerns in the UK is very limited, so I decided to try my hand at Science Fantasy.

I’ve always loved Fantasy and Science Fiction for pretty much the same reasons I love Westerns. Just substitute starships for the horses and you have the same scenario. I suppose I could sum this up in one word ‘escapism.’ An escape from the modern world with its selfishness, greed and lack of morals, respect or courtesy. Yes I know the real West was probably full of all the afore mentioned faults but the lone horseman risking all for the beautiful woman he loves, although a cliché, is a common element in the romantic Western and an escape from the ‘real’ world. Women had to be strong because of the hardships they endured but they retained their femininity. The hero might be a gunman but he had an old world charm and courtesy when around the ladies and ultimately stood for what was right.

The same can be said for futuristic and fantasy fiction. As a writer, one can mould the strange exotic worlds and societies to ones own ideal. No-one can say a certain concept, custom or attitude in futuristic fiction is wrong, because it hasn’t happened yet and who knows what may happen in the future? The worlds I create are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. My characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. My heroes are strong and courageous, chivalrous and honourable - and of course, handsome and hunky. Don’t we all like to fantasize about a man like that?

3. When do you write?

I’m a night owl, so ideally I prefer to write late at night when I start to wake up. Unfortunately this does not go down too well with d.h. who has to get up in the early hours to go to work so I now tend to write first thing in the morning before ‘life’ takes over. I like to write in large chunks if I can, but if something occurs to me when I’m busy doing something else I’ll jot the idea down or steal a few minutes to type it out on the pc.

4. When do you read? Where?

I don’t get as much time to read as I would like, so I try to carry a book with me wherever I go. Waiting in the dentist or doctor, or on one of my rare visits to the hairdressers. I also read on the bus or train. I hate having to wait around anywhere and at least if I have something to read I don’t feel I’m wasting time. My very favorite place to read on a nice day is at the yard where I keep my horses. When I’ve finished cleaning out the paddocks, grooming and riding, it’s nice to just sit in the sun for half an hour and read a chapter or two.

5. Where did you get the inspiration for Starquest?

It began with my main character. She arrived unannounced in my mind, but complete with her name and favorite color! She would be the ideal mate for the dark, lonely hero I had in mind, modelled on my favorite actor at the time. She loved the stars and the wonders of space as much as I did. What started out as a short story grew as I became fonder and fonder of my characters.
6. Where do you go to think?

I’ve done a lot of thinking about stories in bed, as a means of getting to sleep (there are of course disadvantages to this since it can have the opposite effect.) I also ‘think’ a lot when I’m out riding by myself, or taking my dog for a walk. I find the outdoors a great source of inspiration and the peace and tranquility of the countryside is very conducive to working out a problem.

7. How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I suppose it depends on ones idea of ‘seriously’. I started believing that I might be published as a teenager. (Before then I had written purely for pleasure and because the stories were in my head wanting to be told. I had several short stories published and wrote a novel (a not-very-good Western) before I got so involved with life, work and my horses that writing took a back seat. I still wrote on and off though and a few years ago decided to write the novel I’d had in the back of my mind for a long time, Starquest.

In closing, I live with my long suffering husband, Dave, in a small village in England although I hope eventually to return to my native rural Wales. A keen animal lover, I have two horses, two feral cats and a rescued Jack Russell terrier.

My first novel, Starquest is available from The Wild Rose Press. The sequel, Children of the Mist, is currently in edits with the same publisher, and my novella about the Greek Muse, Terpsichore is available at TWRP now.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Guest Author, Adelle Laudan


Today's special guest is Adelle Laudan, fellow Sweeter Romantic Notions author and the busy lady who coordinates all our SRN chats on the yahoo loops and keeps us in line when we get there :). Adelle probably lives within driving distance of me, and so is no doubt sharing this cold, snowy day with me...a perfect day to snuggle up with a good book. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Adelle's Smiling Eyes during a chat recently, and spent a blissful evening doing just that, reading and smiling.

Be sure to take a moment to vote for Adelle's Iron Horse Rider 2 by clicking on the link below. Thank you for coming today, Adelle (good thing you didn't have to drive!), and thank you for all you do for us at SRN.

And now, here's Adelle:

1. Who are you?

First, thank you Liana for having me here today. My name is Adelle Laudan, and I live with two of my four children still under my wing in Southern Ontario. There are three things in life I am most passionate about; Family, Writing, and Motorcycles. I’ve been known to write with emotion that sometimes surprises even me. It is my belief, if I can evoke any feelings from my readers, whether it be through laughter or tears, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Feel free to join me on the many twists and turns my stories will take you.

2. What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I like to write stories with many unexpected surprises. I also like to write stories that make you feel something. My favorite genre to write is biker fiction, since it is the lifestyle I’ve chosen for most of my adult life.

3. What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I have a diverse taste in the books I read. I love a good mystery or suspense, but you will also find me reading a heart wrenching inspirational. I love any story where I can lose myself—a story where I learn something new, or touches my heart.

4. When do you write?

Since I find myself being a single Mom once again, I can pretty much write when I like. I prefer complete silence, so do the bulk of my writing when my two teen girls are at school, or now that I am wireless, in my room at night.

5. When do you read? Where?

I usually allow myself a period of time between stories when I read. It’s like putting gas in the car for my next writing journey.

6. Where did you get the inspiration for your books?

I have three books on the go right now, lol. It is the Christmas themed one that is pulling me the most, probably because Christmas is fast approaching. I am inspired by Christmas music and movies.

7. Where do you go to think?

I always enjoyed sitting outside to think, but have recently moved into an apartment building for the first time in my life. I have now resorted to the solitude of my room to think things out.

8. How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

I usually have my names picked out before I start a story. Sometimes I will use a name of someone I know, or if my character comes from a specific ethnic background I will search the internet.

9. How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I was relatively lucky with my first submission, as Juliana was accepted within days. Most of my life, I have written my thoughts down on paper. A few years ago I started writing stories for my own enjoyment, only sharing them with a few select people.

10. Why do you write?

I write for a multitude of reasons. When I was younger, it was an escape from the harsh realities of my world. Later on in life, it became a way to feel like I was contributing something to society, since I am disabled and cannot go outside the home to work. Being hard of hearing plays a big part in why I write. When writing I have none of the frustrations that go hand in hand with functioning in a hearing society. Today, I write because it is a big part of what makes me, me. I can’t imagine not writing.

In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing a little about me with you all. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I invite you to visit my website and check out all of my published work as well as what I have coming out next. Sign my guestbook, or join my Newsletter while you’re there.

The second book in my Iron Horse Rider series is up for Best Contemporary Romance at Night Owl Reviews. Vote for Coming Home- Iron Horse Rider 2.

I’ve created my own forum where I am posting an ongoing winter story for your reading pleasure. I also post a new jigsaw puzzle every day to pass time during the long winter months that are coming soon.

And you can Visit my blog every Thursday where I am an active participant in the Meme, Thursday Thirteen.

I am participating in many Christmas contests this year, so please visit my website as I update each one as they begin.

Wishing you Miles of Smiles.
Adelle ‘Legs’ Laudan

You can purchase Iron Horse Rider at Wild Child Publishing in eBook or Print.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Guest Author, Ellen Dye


Today's Guest Author is fellow Washington Romance Writer and Wild Rose Press author, Ellen Dye, who just got back from a lovely Thanksgiving trip to...Paris! (I got the most wonderful post card of the Eiffel Tower and it gives me something to aspire to--one day I'll send YOU a post card, Ellen!) But for now, we're glad you're back home safely and able to spend the day chatting with us, telling us a little about yourself and your book. So welcome home and here goes:
Who are you?

I’m Ellen Dye and my first novel is called Three’s The Charm. It was released electronically by The Wild Rose Press in August. It was released in print on November 28. Believe me this is a dream that was a long time in coming.

I was first bitten by the writing bug when I was nine years old and stumbled onto my Aunt Nettie’s strictly contraband trunk of True Confession magazines. Naturally, being that they were strictly contraband, I was compelled to read the lot, breaking only to refresh my supply of Munchos potato chips and RC Cola. Somewhere near the bottom of the pile I decided I wanted to be a writer and create stories just as great as these.

Then, being nine, I promptly forgot all about it.

Fast forward a goodly number of years, having gotten the pesky business of growing up out of the way, to a local grocery store. My year old son was screaming with enough force to shake products from shelves while I was attempting to stem the noise by stuffing his mouth with animal crackers---and in that instant I saw Them. Each and every one of Sterling MacFadden’s True magazines were there on the shelf just waiting for me.

Long story made short---I bought the lot, devoured them and remembered I wanted to be a writer. Then my husband installed Word on my computer which prevented me from forgetting my decision to be a writer this time.

I began tapping away and submitting faithfully, thinking of all the publishing experience I was getting and preparing myself for a flood of rejections. But to my very great surprise about a month later I got The Call from an editor at True Love saying they wanted to buy one of my stories.

When do you write?

Literally all the time. I’m sort of a quirky little scribbler who can’t ever seem to keep a schedule. In fact it’s lucky that I can, through writing, claim status as an “Artistic Type”---otherwise I’d be widely known as a complete airhead. So, back to my “all the time” answer and how that works---I keep a spiral notebook with me always and when I get a free moment (even if it’s in the school parking lot waiting for my son) I jot down as much as I can.

When do you read?

Well, interestingly enough the answer is just the same as the above---all the time. I always have a book with me when I leave the house, literally, for any reason. I read everywhere from grocery store checkout lines to hair salons when I zip in for a trim. And hey, no good night’s sleep can ever begin without a good book to start if off, right?

Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?


I love this question because for me it’s a real stumper. To be one hundred percent honest the truth is I have no idea where my ideas, or the inspiration behind them comes from. I do vaguely remember wondering, as I took my desperate to get home cat out of the vet’s office, what sort of life a country vet would lead. And pretty much from that point on Three’s The Charm took on a life of it’s own, complete with characters.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

The plainest answer to this question is ten years, but it’s not exactly accurate. I started off writing with no desire to write books. I wanted to write confession stories, short fiction for magazines and general freelance articles. And I did. I was also exceptionally lucky in that I mailed my first batch of confessions off and received The Call from the editor at True Love about a month later. And I was really happy with this sort of writing.

So it was about five years or so before I decided to write a book in addition to the freelance stuff. Three’s The Charm was about two years in the writing and polishing and then another year and a half or so to sell. And I have to say I’ve never had so much fun writing anything as I did writing Three’s The Charm.

Why do I write?


Because I love it---it’s as simple as that!

Ellen’s first novel, Three’s The Charm is available now from The Wild Rose Press, http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ fictionwise ebooks and Amazon Kindle.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Well Do You Know Your Christmas Songs?

Here's a little challenge for you...

I'm participating in a Christmas Ride Blog with a lot of other Wild Rose Press authors this month: Here's the deal. Each day a different author posts to her blog. On that day's blog is a clue to the Christmas Song of the Day. Some are carols, some are songs, some are well known, others not so well known. Contemporary and traditional, we cover the gamut.

Guess the song of the day from the clue or lyrics provided, and each blog author will direct you to the next blog. But I'll also post the list here of who is blogging when.

CHRISTMAS RIDE SCHEDULE

Nov 28 Elaine Cantrell http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/
Nov 29 PL Parker http://plparker.blogspot.com/
Nov 30 Lynn Reynolds http://lynnreynolds.blogspot.com/
Dec 1 WRP blog http://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com/
Dec 2 Michele Hart http://michelehart.blogspot.com/
Dec 3 Teri Wilson http://www.freewebs.com/teriwilson/terisblog.htm
Dec 4 Roni Adams http://wwwroniadams.blogspot.com/
Dec 5 Stacy Dawn http://www.stacydawn.blogspot.com/
Dec 6 Susanne Saville http://myblog.susannesaville.com/
Dec 7 Beth Caudill http://bethcaudill.blogspot.com/
Dec 8 Kyann Waters http://www.kyannwaters.blogspot.com/
Dec 9 Meagan Hatfield http://www.meaganhatfield.blogspot.com/
Dec 10 Donna Micheals http://donnamichaelsauthor.blogspot.com/
Dec 11 C.H. Admirand http://www.chadmirand.net/blog/
Dec 12 Amber Polo http://amberpolo.blogspot.com/
Dec 13 Bess McBride http://willtravelforromance.blogspot.com/
Dec 14 Sky Purington http://www.skypuringtonwrites.blogspot.com/
Dec 15 Alisha Paige http://alishapaige.blogspot.com/
Dec 16 Wilder Roses blog http://www.wilderroses.blogspot.com/
Dec 17 Ashley Ludwig http://ashleyelizabethludwig.blogspot.com/
Dec 18 Anna K Lanier http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/
Dec 19 Hywela Lyn http://hywelalyn.blogspot.com/
Dec 20 Debra St. John
Dec 21 Jane Richardson http://janerichardsonhomethoughts.blogspot.com/
Dec 22 Dayana Knight http://dayanaknight.blogspot.com/
Dec 23 Liana Laverentz http://lianalaverentz.blogspot.com/
Dec 24 Skhye Moncrief http://blog.skhyemoncrief.com/

Each author will have her own contest/drawing going for her particular day, so there are prizes to be won every day. Plus, to spread even more Christmas cheer, we're giving one lucky Grand Prize Winner a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate!

All you need to do to enter the Grand Prize Drawing is attend each day's blog post, identify the carol/song of the day, and make a complete song/carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. Don't forget to check the list twice!

Send your entry to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day for Giving Thanks

I have been ruminating all morning on what to say about Thanksgiving. It’s now after noon and I still don’t know where to start, because I have so much to be thankful for…

So I’ll just start at the beginning and see how far I get.

Last week I went to Mass (I don’t always go, so I was relieved to hear in the homily, that it’s not going to church that gets you into heaven, but how you live your life the whole week long) and the gospel reading (in part) was from Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'

I took the message to heart, and after Mass, my son and I joined a friend who is having some financial troubles in this economic climate for a bite to eat. We listened and shared, and offered support.

The next morning I decided to visit my friend Marc, who is in prison, and has been for the past ten years. I hadn’t made the hour-and-15-minute drive in almost three months, and would have gotten there eventually, but Father’s homily moved Marc to the top of my list. It was a surprise visit--usually he knows to expect me--but I put it in God’s hands and it turned out perfectly. Marc had just showered and shaved his head and was having a cup of coffee when they called him, so I didn’t interrupt any of his classes or anything. He’s taking an office software course, to keep up with computers as best as he can, learning word processing and power point and excel.

I treated him to a vending machine lunch—which I always have fun doing—I don’t usually eat out of a vending machine, so I am like a kid in a candy store, picking out things he wouldn’t ordinarily get to eat—to give to him. (He’s not allowed near the vending machine at that particular facility.) I tend to choose things on the healthier side—like fresh fruit and yogurt--but he doesn’t seem to mind. It’s all a treat for him, and he says he has no preference, as long as it has beef in it, which he doesn’t often get. (It’s mostly turkey, turkey, turkey.)

After three hours of conversation, I headed back home in the rain.

That night, my faith sharing group met, and we had what I felt was a rather intense meeting. I am somewhat empathic, and so I tend to pick up on the pain of others as I go through my day, especially if I don’t have my shields up. For the most part, I prefer to be open to what others are feeling and experiencing, so I keep my shields down. Health problems, family discord, financial uncertainties….turns out we all face them to varying degrees—and Monday night was our opportunity to share and support each other in our efforts to keep the faith and prevail.

Which left me feeling pretty wiped out the next day. It seems everyone we know has something going on in their lives, and it’s not something fun.

But still, there are those who are so much less fortunate…Tuesday night my sisters in faith and I met for two hours of standing outside a grocery store to collect donations for the homeless. I was feeling pretty beat up already, and—quite honestly--not looking forward to standing out in the cold, begging, but I thought the least I can do is stand there for two hours to support someone who has no where else to go but into the cold.

Just before I left, I collected a few boxes and bags of clothing, books, and stuffed animals my son has outgrown, including two three-foot tall versions of Rabbit and Tigger. As it turned out, that was a good move, as there are currently 27 children living in this particular shelter. Once I heard that, I wished I’d collected more. I’ll be making a trip to the shelter with the rest in a few days.

The collection experience itself was a blast. My sisters in faith knew what they were doing, and came prepared with gloves and coffee and creamer and Styrofoam cups. We also had lawn chairs and blankets. And a tambourine, of all things. I took over the tambourine, just shaking it lightly, and it sounded like sleigh bells. I think that helped to let shoppers know there was someone waiting to waylay them at the door, because many of them came prepared, with money in hand.

There were six of us…three inside and three outside, and we switched off to keep warm. We chatted, caught up with each other’s lives, and collected what our group coordinator reported in an email today was an impressive amount of money.

Here’s what she said: “The Executive Director reported that she heard my group really had fun with the experience and she felt that helps greatly with bringing in donations - she said that donors know when the volunteers are sincere about and committed to the mission and are also attracted to those that are obviously willingly participating and felt it was one reason we had such good results (they had not counted the donations yet but said the cans were fuller than any other attempt to date this year).”

Afterward, my friends and I went to one woman’s house for hot chocolate and birthday cake, which we felt very blessed to be able to share, along with our fellowship and her warm home.

Wednesday, I guess I had an off day. I didn’t do anything special but pray for the needs of others. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday made me really aware of how much pain and suffering there is in the world, right here in my own little community, and how blessed I am to have a warm house, a full refrigerator, a healthy child, my own health, work I love, a car that runs, and money to put gas into it.

So today I drove to Mass to say Thank You. The purpose of going to Mass is to give thanks to start with, for all the blessings we have been given during the week, but this was a special Thank You I wanted to say. Thank you for opening my eyes so clearly to the needs of others, and thank you for guiding me to make a difference, if only for this one week. Because of my friend’s nudge, 27 children now have nearly new stuffed animals to play with and books to read over the holidays. Because of Father’s homily, my friend Marc got to see me a lot sooner than he would have otherwise. Because of my new awareness of the suffering going on in my own community, my son and I will shift our holiday donation (in lieu of Christmas gifts) to a local organization this year.

As I was procrastinating, trying to figure out how to start this blog entry, I came across Dear Abby’s prayer of Thanksgiving, written by her mother, Pauline Phillips:

Oh, Heavenly Father,
We thank thee for food and
remember the hungry.
We thank thee for health and
remember the sick.
We thank thee for freedom and
remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir
us to service,
That thy gifts to us may beused for others.
Amen.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Love, ABBY

That said, I want to offer my own list of thanks for this week:

That it was raining instead of snowing when I went to see Marc.
That Marc doesn’t care what he eats, and thinks it’s all good.
That it was closer to 40 degrees than thirty, or even twenty, when we were collecting for the homeless.
That someone thought to bring a tambourine.
That I was able to pass on my son’s books and toys to someone who can use them.
That I have friends who share my beliefs and values and who provide me with opportunities to live them.

God bless you all, and thank you for being in my life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guest Author, Molly Stark


Today's Guest Author is Molly Stark, whose book Midsummer Magic came out in print on November 21. Molly is a fellow Rose at The Wild Rose Press, and after the rave reviews she's received from Simply Romance Reviews and Long and Short Reviews, we look forward to seeing more books in her Sisters of the Heart series soon!

Who are you?

My name is Molly Stark. I’m a writer and a reader, a teacher, a quilter, a baker (mmmm - eating homeade shortbread right now), a wife and a friend.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I love to write about the Regency period. I find the paradox of rigid manners and raw romanticism utterly fascinating. My heroines always dance to their own inner music, and during the Regency period the consequences of challenging social conventions were particularly dire.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I have eclectic tastes, but I love real romance -- the knee-melting, sigh-inducing kind. Sex is fine, but romance is essential.

When do you write?

I do my best writing in the morning at a lovely (quiet!) little coffee shop near my house. I can also write at night, but I need time and quiet to actually create pages.

When do you read? Where?

I confess I like to read in bed, on weekend mornings and as I fall asleep. And in the winter, there’s nothing better than curling up in front of the fireplace on a blustery afternoon, a cup of cocoa in one hand and a new read in the other.

Where did you get the inspiration for Midsummer Magic?

Funny, I remember this so clearly. I was sitting through a boring lecture, and I had this sudden image of a single scene: a young woman pinning up her hair as she talked to an older woman. The young woman warns that the man waiting downstairs will know she’s an imposter and will shame the whole family by telling the world that they tried to pass her off as his bride. The older woman argues that it doesn’t matter -- even if the man knows he is being tricked, he will be too polite to say anything. That was the seed. At that point, I had to come up with a reason the family would be trying to pull a switcheroo, and that became Midsummer Magic.

Where do you go to think?

I do my best thinking on long walks. Also, I have a very long commute, and I find that I can do some good thinking while I drive. Unfortuneately, that means other drivers sometimes catch me talking to myself. (I prefer “eccentric” to “crazy,” thank you very much.)

How did you come up with your title?

I went through several titles until, in consultation with my editor, I settled on Midsummer Magic. The climax of the book is at a Midsummer revel in Cornwall, and I loved the symbolism of Midsummer being a threshold, when the seasons change, when the veil between this world and the next is lifted, when the usual rules simply don’t apply. The magic isn’t “woo woo” magic, but the magic of things we cannot understand. Like love. Nicholas spends much of the book convincing Mira to let go of logic and believe in that kind of magic. It’s something I struggle with myself.

Why do you write?

Of course I love to tell stories, to dig into what makes people tick and build characters from the bones out. But I really write because I love words. Always have. There’s nothing better than sifting through words, weighing the nuances of their meanings, and choosing exactly the right one. I love stringing together words, not only for their meaning but for their sound. I always read my writing out loud, and pay as much attention to the cadence of the language as I do to the sense of the story.

At the tender age of twelve, Molly Stark began pilfering her mother’s historical romances, staying awake until the wee hours, lost in the lives and loves of women from distant times and foreign lands. She knew from page one that she wanted to create and share her own stories of humor, passion, and mystery . . . stories that would transport readers and keep them turning the pages long into the night. Molly lives in Texas with the love of her life and a brood of temperamental felines.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday's Inspirational Quote

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it - Mary Little

I have this one up in my kitchen, to remind me to take time out and "just be" for a while. I couldn't think of a better quote for this week, when so many of us are preparing to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family and all that entails: the shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the traveling, the snow shoveling....

Remember to take time out and appreciate why we are all getting together.

In the meantime, we're still clicking over at the Breast Cancer site, and are 52% on our way to our goal.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guest Author, Carol Ann Erhardt


Today we have as our guest author, Carol Ann Erhardt, who has seven stories published with The Wild Rose Press, both full-length books and short stories. I was blessed to meet Carol Ann this summer in Cincinatti at the Lori Foster Readers and Writers Get Together, which was a wonderful experience all around. (I need to blog about it sometime, because it really was a great time.)
Carol Ann and I kept each other company during the booksigning. So, without further ado, here's Carol Ann...
Who are you?

I am a wife to my soul mate after surviving an abusive marriage; I am a mother to my four children and four step-children; I am a proud grandma; I am a full-time Executive Assistant; I am a caretaker of thirteen feral cats;I am owned by three cats named Charlotte, Wilbur, and Templeton; I am a woman who loves God, ice cream, chocolate, people, animals, sunshine, snow and good books; I am afraid of heights, the dark, and spiders (eek!); I am a woman who dislikes mean-spirited people, death, and destruction; I am a child who worries about her elderly mother and misses her deceased father--I am Carol Ann Erhardt, romance novelist.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?

I love to write suspenseful stories set in small communities. Being raised in an area where everyone knew their neighbors makes it easy for me to develop characters my readers can associate with and care about. I especially writing suspense because I enjoy creating the “page-turners” that keep readers awake at night.

What type of stories do you like to read and why?

I love anything with well-developed characters. That’s so much more important than a clever plot, although plots are important, too. I’m a multi-genre reader, but my favorites books are romance and romantic suspense.

When do you write?

It’s hard to cram in writing time. I work full-time and in the warmer months, I sit in my car and write during my lunch hour. At night, it’s difficult because my husband is more demanding of attention than any of my kids ever were. Sometimes, I cram in a few pages over the weekend. I’m luck to have a job that gets slow sometimes, and I have an office with a door…so I’ve been known to crank out a few pages at work and save them to my flash drive. Shhhh.

When do you read? Where?

I read in bed every night. Sometimes it’s only a paragraph, sometimes an entire chapter. It helps me relax and get my mind off the day-to-day stresses.

Where did you get the inspiration for your books?

To be honest, I don’t know where I get the inspiration for any book! Sometimes a scene pops into my head, or a character. Since I’m a pantster, the story develops from those glimpses.

Where do you go to think?

In the bathtub or shower. It’s the only place I have peace, though sometimes my cats wander in.

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Since this was an inspirational, I wanted to reflect that in the title. I loved the name Joshua for my little boy and decided to use his name. From there it was easy to come up with Hope for my heroine. Thus, Joshua’s Hope was born.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

Five very long years!

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not.

Carol Ann Erhardt resides in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three curious cats. Her bookshelves overflow with over five hundred novels written by her favorite authors. Carol Ann writes romantic suspense and sweet romantic short stories. She has three novels and four short stories published with The Wild Rose Press. Additionally she has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort books. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, RWA Kiss of Death Chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, American Christian Writers, and Pop Fiction Writers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Author, Kimberlee Mendoza

Today we feature guest author Kimberlee Mendoza, who writes young adult stories and inspirational romances, among others, for The Wild Rose Press, and is also a cover artist at The Wild Rose Press. Kim did my wonderful covers for Jake's Return and Ashton's Secret. Kim has a new Christmas release out TODAY, and is the author of the five-star (well, angels, actually) Russell Family series of Young Adult books.

1. Who are you?

I am Kimberlee R. Mendoza…Who is she? … A mom and a fulltime graphic artist who moonlights as a YA romance novelist and playwright. For the first time in 33 years, I’m not a student, having just graduated with my master’s degree this spring. I am also an Army veteran, but I’m more Private Benjamin than G.I. Jane. And when I’m not creating novels or going to school, I am directing a youth drama team of 25+ students.

2.What type of stories do you like to write and why?

YA romance. Even my adult romances tend to have a younger heroine. Why??? Hmm…good question. I suppose because the time in my life when I was an advocate reader was when I was 15 years old. Or maybe it’s because I refuse to grow up. Some of my best friends are the kids on my drama team. And why romance? I’m a sucker for male/female tension and that first kiss.
3.What type of stories do you like to read and why?

Funny thing. I don’t read a ton of romance. I prefer to read psychological thrillers, like Dekker. However, I do read some YA novels, such as Janette Rallison’s book, “Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My to Do List.”

4.When do you write (daytime, nighttime, on your lunch hour, before the kids get up, after everyone is asleep? In large chunks of time or stolen snippets?)

I usually write after my kids are in bed, during my lunch break, and on the weekends. I have a rule. At least one page a day. With that goal, I know I can at the very least, write a novel a year. But I usually do much more than that.

5.When do you read? Where?

In my car. Waiting for the dentist. Between projects. Basically, I have about four books stashed in different places (work, car, home, etc.) and read them when I have a free moment.

6.Where did you get the inspiration for Seek Ye First My Heart?.

“Seek Ye First My Heart” is part of a series. It is the third book and it deals with the one character that you love to hate. So, I had to find a way to make the reader like her. The idea came from watching way too many 80’s movies, I guess. It kind of has that tone. Nerd likes girl, girl wants popularity. Who wins?

7.Where do you go to think?

On my couch after everyone has gone to sleep.

8.How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?

Titles are huge to me. I spend hours going through Amazon and my thesaurus, making sure no one else has it, etc. The first two books in the series were, “Love thy Sister, Guard thy Man” and “Oh Brother, You’re Not My Keeper.” They both had that biblical sound to them. I liked that. So, I needed that for the third. The third book is so much about the heroine, Cassi wanting someone to love the real her, not her appearance. So, “Seek Ye First My Heart” just seemed to fit.

9.How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?

I wrote my first novel when I was 13 (Love thy Sister, Guard thy Man). My first published novel was called, “On the Couch.” It was published just a few years ago, and I’m 37. So, it took a long while. However, I did publish plays and poetry long before.

10. Why do you write?

Someone once told me that if you’re not happy doing anything else, then that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. That is writing for me. It is my warm, fuzzy blanket. It makes me happy :).

Kimberlee resides in La Mesa with her husband and two boys. She is a graphic designer and a cover artist. She is the author of ten novels, three e-books, one non-fiction book, six plays and several poems. She is also a drama director and a part-time acting teacher. She has a BA in Human Development and her MA in Humanities with an emphasis in literature. She is also the winner of the Sherwood Eliot Wirt Writer of the Year Award for 2006. For more information, go to http://www.kmendoza.com/.

Liana's note: What Kimberlee didn't mention is her Russell Family Series has been awarded Five Angel reviews across the board at Fallen Angel Reviews, and she has a Christmas story released TODAY at The Wild Rose Press, titled Wanted: Boyfriend for Christmas. I would have posted a picture, but after twenty minutes of trying, I gave up. (Can someone tell me how to post pictures at the bottom of a blog? Or even in the middle of one??) At any rate, do check it out by clicking on the link. Thanks!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday's Inspirational Quote

The ulitmate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I got this quote from the front page of the The Rainforest Site. I blogged about this site a while back, Click to Give Hope. I now get a daily email reminder to click for the rainforest, hunger, literacy, breast cancer, animal rescue and children's health. This morning when I clicked, this quote was on The Rainforest Site, but by the time I got my act together, it was gone, replaced by another. Thankfully, it came around again, so I could copy it :) .

It only takes a minute to click on all six sites, and I want to note that the Breast Cancer Site is having a special click-fest, where they're trying to reach 300 mammograms, so they can help fund a cure with $20,000 through their charitable partner, GreaterGood.org. As of today, they have reached 18% of their goal. Yesterday it was 17%. So every click counts.

Last, but not least, it's time to start thinking of Christmas again. My son and I have decided that instead of giving gifts to each other this year, as we have for the past two years, we will donate what we would have spent to Heifer International, to help fight world hunger.

It's not just about leaving a good world to our children, it's about teaching them how they can help while they are still children, so that lesson carries on to their adulthood and to their children.

Please consider Heifer International in your gift-giving this holiday season. In the meantime, sign up for a daily reminder to click for other worthy causes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Interview With Author Jenny Gilliam

Today we have an interview with Author Jenny Gilliam, who has two books coming out this month, The Truth About Roxy, from The Wild Rose Press (this week!! Friday!!) and Under My Skin from Amira Press at the end of the month. Welcome, Jenny, and thank you for being here today. Let's get right to the questions :)
Who are you?
Hmmm. Who is Jenny Gilliam? I suppose I’m a lot of different things, the most important of which is a wife and mother. A writer, of course. And a smart-ass, most definitely. I’m pretty sure I was born with what scientists are calling “the Wise-Acre” gene. So, it’s in my blood.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?
I love to write stories about unrequited love. Probably because nobody wanted to date a 5’11 “big-boned” (big-boned, my patootee, I was a little overweight) Amazon with braces and freckles. Call it therapy, call it cathartic—it works for me. Also, I love reunion stories, or more commonly known as “the one that got away.” Something about re-falling in love with your childhood sweetheart tugs on my heartstrings (Ouch).

What type of stories do you like to read and why?
When do you write (daytime, nighttime, on your lunch hour, before the kids get up, after everyone is asleep? In large chunks of time or stolen snippets?)
I usually write in the morning after I’ve put my daughter on the bus, and my son is playing “let’s destroy the house.” I sit on the couch with my laptop (to ensure the safety of said son and said house) and write to my heart’s content for about 2-3 hours. Then, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I bring my laptop to work and write when it’s dead. Oh, crap. I’m gonna get fired now. Thanks, Liana. (YVW. Anytime. ~L)

Where did you get the inspiration for your current book.
The book I’m working on right now is Book One in the Moonlight Bay Witches series. There will be six total. As a witch myself, and having read books where Wicca is grossly misrepresented, I feel it’s my duty to inform the public. Plus, I just like writing about magick. And writing.

Where do you go to think?
I sit out on my back porch and smoke, staring at the mountainous range that is our backyard. I used to read, but I get a lot of good ideas. Like where to bury my father-in-law when he makes me mad. Just kidding. (Not really)

How did you come up with your title and main characters’ names?
My creative writing teacher in college gave me this one. The phone book! There’s TONS of given and surnames in there! Have you checked it out? It’s big, yellow and has lots of numbers. As for my titles, I get the inspiration for those when I’m about halfway through the manuscript.

How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?
Writing is always serious for me. I wrote when I was ten, twelve, twenty—you get the picture. But I really started writing towards publication about 3 years ago. I was lucky enough to be published two years later, and voila! Here I am.

Why do you write?
Because I have to. Plain and simple. I’m pretty sure my head would explode if I didn’t. I have all these characters and story ideas, my head is literally floating five feet from my neck. My husband has to check my pulse regularly.

Jenny began writing at the age of twelve, when she realized the voices talking in her head were characters, not a result of pre-teen induced psychosis. She’s been writing on and off for almost twenty years, but actively pursuing publication for the last three. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. She is the author of four novels.

Jenny loves to hear from her readers. You can visit her at http://www.jennygilliam.com/

The Wedding War (Available Now)
Letting Luce (Available Now)
The Truth About Roxy
(Available November 7, 2008)
Under My Skin (Available November 28, 2008)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jake's Return Wins the Golden Leaf Award!


Hi, everybody! Sorry I've been MIA for so long. I've been trying to get Ashton's Secret and a few freelance projects out the door. Still busy, busy, busy. Now I have even more to do! Over the weekend, I got a call from Rhonda, the owner of The Wild Rose Press. She was calling to congratulate me. It seems on Friday night Jake's Return (blurb and excerpt below) won the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Award, the same award my contemporary romance Thin Ice won last year.

Wow. This is amazing. Two wins in a row. I am thrilled and stunned at the same time.

Thanks for letting me share. And remember, if you buy a copy of Jake's Return or Thin Ice between now and December 15, it enters you in the drawing for a Sony E-reader.

Blurb:
The last person small town bad boy Jacob Donovan expects to find when
he returns home in disgrace after serving time is Rebecca Reed, head
librarian. Rebecca had always had much bigger ambitions. Jake
hadn't wanted to stand in her way, so after one night of passion with
his former best friend, he'd hit the open road.
Rebecca refuses to believe Jake is guilty of murder. The boy
who'd been her friend and protector when they were town outcasts
together could never have killed a woman. Not to mention the tender,
loving man who'd given her their daughter, Katie.
But who is Jake now? That's what everyone wants to know,
including the town council chairman, who is determined to send Jake
back to prison, by any means available.
Jake's been running from love for all of his life. Will he
find the courage to defeat his demons and stay this time?

Excerpt:

Rebecca Reed would never forget the sound of Jacob Donovan walking back into her life. The sharp hiss of startled gasps that suddenly swept across the town library’s main reading room was enough to grab anyone’s attention. She frowned and straightened from where she was shelving books in the children’s section, looked to see what had happened, and felt her heart stop.
Omigod, she thought. He’s here. He’s really here. In Warner.
Her heart jerked to a start again, and she was sure every soul in the building could hear its wild, erratic beat in the shocked silence that had settled over the room.
Jake stood at the front desk, his left profile turned toward her and the rest of the main reading room. He looked tall, dark and rangy in faded denims and a black T-shirt that matched his windswept hair. The clerk behind the desk finished checking out a patron with two small children. A short, stout, no-nonsense woman who had never married, Eunice Lee Larmer had been with the library for as long as most of the town could remember. She looked up at Jake and froze, her eyes rounding with recognition. Her face two shades paler, she stepped back carefully.
The sight of Eunice’s fear sparked a surge of protective anger in Rebecca, taking her by surprise. Damn. She’d thought she was prepared for this.
Obviously not. Telling herself she was rescuing the situation—not Jake—Rebecca started forward just as Jake turned her way. His expression stopped Rebecca in her tracks. He looked completely out of place. Completely unapproachable. A lone wolf barely tolerating the trappings of civilization.
An eternity passed as she bore the weight of his sharp scrutiny from across the now suffocatingly silent room. Rebecca would have sworn she actually felt his cold, dark gaze move from the top of her French twist to the tips of her navy pumps.
She shivered.
Sounding as if it were right next door instead of three blocks away, the daily noon wail of the firehouse siren pierced the unnatural silence. The familiar sound seemed to nudge everyone back to life. Rebecca swallowed hard and braced herself to meet Jake again, to speak with him for the first time in eight years.
The first time since the night he’d given her Katie.
Amid a rising tide of rustles and scandalized whispers, Jake seemed to recall why he’d come to the library. As he slowly wended his way across the crowded reading room to where Rebecca stood, neither of them smiling, a paralyzing thought struck her.
What if he still doesn’t want anything to do with us?
She beat back her own wave of fear, and focused on Jake. He was leaner now, harder and tougher-looking than she remembered. True, he’d always looked tough, but his toughness as a teenager had been a façade. One she’d seen through from the start. But this was different. This was no small town bad boy trying to make the best of his messed-up life alone. This was a grown man who’d spend most of his adult life in hell.
With a sinking sense of dread Rebecca realized she’d made a mistake. She was staring into the face of a stranger.
“Hello, Rebecca.”
His voice was rougher, deeper than she remembered. Deep enough to send a shot of awareness down her spine. “Jake.”
“Been a long time.”
Rebecca knew exactly how long it had been. Counting Jake’s four-year stint in the army, with the exception of those few unforgettable hours they’d shared in Pittsburgh eight years ago, they’d been apart for almost twelve years.
Before that, they’d been the town outcasts together.
“You’re looking good,” he said quietly.
“Thank you. You look...fit.”
He arched a dark brow. “Considering I spent the last eight years locked up, you mean?”
Rebecca flushed. A nearby cough reminded her everyone within earshot would shamelessly repeat anything she or Jake said, first chance they got. A town like Warner had precious few secrets, and Jake obviously didn’t intend to play down his recent parole from prison.
She squared her shoulders and offered Jake her most professional smile. “Would you like a cup of coffee? My office is right behind the desk.”
“Your office?” He looked blank, then over his shoulder at the checkout desk, the open door that led to the tiny office behind it. The eavesdroppers’ expressions ranged from indignant to shocked. Frowning, Jake turned back to Rebecca. “You’re head librarian?”
She understood his confusion. She wasn’t even supposed to be in Warner, much less working at the library. The last time he’d seen her, she’d had much bigger plans. “For three years now.”
Jake stared at her a moment longer, then ran a slow, speculative gaze over her short-skirted navy summer suit and heels. Just as slowly, he smiled. “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Rebecca’s knees nearly buckled. His smile was vintage Jake. Reckless, unrepentant, and sexier than black satin sheets. Her heartbeat soared, her palms broke into a sweat. With what she considered an amazing amount of grace, given the state of her nerves, she managed to smile back neutrally and avoid tripping over anything as she led Jake past their astonished audience, and into her office.
Once inside, she made a beeline for the coffee pot, then forced herself to take a deep breath before she handed Jake a steaming mug of coffee. “Black still okay?” Her hand only trembled a little.
His slow half-smile hovered between some private amusement and pleasant surprise. “You remembered.”

Liana Laverentz
Thin Ice (NJRW Golden Leaf and EPPIE Award Winner)
Jake's Return (NJRW Golden Leaf Award Winner)
Now through December 15...
Purchasing one or the other enters you
In a drawing for Sony E-Reader
check it out at
www.thewildrosepress.com
www.lianalaverentz.com


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Guest Contributor, Ellen Dye


Selling When You’re Without A System
By Ellen Dye


Back in the fall of 2007 it seemed that absolutely everybody I knew had one. Literally.

Some were works of art, color-coded with bright sticky note tabs and highlighted with a rainbow of markers. Others were utilitarian tables sectioned off with clean black-lined blocks. All were amazing---and what’s more, all were working.

Of course, I’m talking about a system. A real, honest-to-goodness Writing System. And not wanting to be left out I promptly decided I just had to get one of my very own.

Why just the other morning I’d been hit with a Great Idea, and now that I’d been privy to the “Can’t Lose By Having A System” approach it seemed like unbelievable serendipity. Clearly the cosmos wanted me to succeed as a book length published author.

I arose at 4 a.m. the next morning to put my plan in motion. After a mere four shot cup of black espresso I managed to peck out a few lines. Well, progress can be slow; I bolstered my spirits as I switched off the computer an hour later and made my way upstairs, still blinking sleepy grit from my eyes, to wake my son for school.

A few hours later I drop Cubby with his Special Education Aide at school and prepare to sprint to my car and get back to work with my system blowing full bore.

Unfortunately, before I clear the front door I’m stopped by several school personnel.

One reminds me that the PTO play is in two days and asks if I have Cubby’s dinosaur costume ready. I nod, trying not to think about the many pieces of green fur cut out and waiting to be assembled that are currently scattered across my office and sewing machine. Two more people remind me of Cubby’s upcoming scholastic goals, which he’s not meeting. “Isn’t somebody helping with that?” I ask, and then duck my head as they solemnly say, “Yes, Mrs. Dye, that would be you.”

But still, I am determined, as I dash home, toss a stuffed mostly complete dino tail from my keyboard and fire up my computer.

Fifteen minutes later I’m staring at a blank screen after realizing what I’d written at 4 a.m. made no sense at all and deleting the lot. Eighteen minutes later I really have no idea why I thought my Great Idea was any good at all.

But that’s okay, because the phone is ringing. It’s Cubby’s therapy coordinator reminding me of the upcoming home visit she’s scheduled and also saying she needs to pick up his monthly paperwork. “Great,” I respond. “And when is this?” There was no amusement in her voice when she reminds me the meeting was scheduled for today, at four sharp.

Crap. Must clean house before she arrives and discovers we trudge daily through massive quantities of cat fur---very unhealthy for children. Oh, and must find paperwork---nope, I shortly discover, it’s must do paperwork.

It’s now time to run back to the school to pick up Cubby. I nod politely to various school officials who tell me of his day’s transgressions and also promise that he will not eat tonight’s homework. Finally I extract Cubby from beneath the cafeteria table with a bribe of ice cream at DQ.

As I’m driving, slurping away on a chocolate shake, I think that maybe my Great Idea did have some merit after all. Maybe it just needs a little tweaking...

Bolstered on four more ounces of black espresso I make it through the home meeting, get Cubby settled and take a step toward my computer. Cubby screams, “Mommy, I’m hungry!” Naturally I reverse direction and head toward the kitchen.

Suddenly I realize I have no idea what we’re having for dinner. This is bad. I’m a Mom, Moms are supposed to know this stuff. I frantically tear through the cabinets hoping a nutritious, fully prepared meal will appear. Unfortunately it doesn’t. Crap. Why do kids have to eat every day anyway?

I hastily pull together a much less than nutritious dinner, deeply thankful Cubby thinks tater tots are vegetables. Then follows the after dinner blitz of dishes, bath, homework, speech, reading and story. I’ve downed another four ounces of black espresso by the time I’ve tucked Cubby in and crawled back to my computer.

A scream echoes through the house before my fingers make contact with the mouse. I dash to my son’s room and throw open the door. “Dino costume!” he screams.

My espresso-addled mind vaguely remembers hearing this somewhere before...

And so it went for the remainder of the week with my Writing System. Cubby gained a delightfully fuzzy, bright green dinosaur costume which he wore while giving a stellar performance as a Trick or Treater. And I lost the ability to fasten the top button of my jeans---those shakes do add up. But I hadn’t managed to write a single coherent line of prose.

So, with the loss of my lovely system I decided to return to my old system. Namely, “Carry A Notebook And Scribble Like Mad Whenever You Can”. I wrote while waiting in grocery store lines. I scrawled notes in the car on the off days where I arrived five minutes early for after school pickup. And, little by little, I eventually scribbled out and typed up my novel.

And, interestingly enough, an emailed query lead to a reply from an editor which eventually led to a contract for that very novel in my mailbox.

So, if like me, you have troubles getting a Writing System in place in the midst of your crazy life, don’t despair. You’ll get that contract, even if it comes just a few jotted sentences at a time.

Three’s The Charm, Ellen Dye’s first novel from The Wild Rose Press was released electronically August 22, 2008 and will be in print November 28, 2008. Visit anytime http://www.ellendye.com/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Success, Character, Reviews and Criticism

With thanks to Wendy, who sent most of the gems below along.

I finished the final edits for Ashton's Secret yesterday, sent the manuscript off to be turned into a book. Next time I see it will be in galley form. All I have to do is proof read it, approve the galley and the next step is...a release date!

So this first quote has particular meaning to me, today, although I like them all.

"Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world." --Tom Clancy

"It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." -- William Faulkner

“From my close observation of writers...they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.” --Isaac Asimov

"Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger." --Franklin Jones

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." --Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Beginning Your Book With a Bang

Okay, so I decided to publish it here, after all. The article I wrote last Wednesday got accepted by two newsletters and a website, and nobody wanted to retain rights, so I'm posting it here, as well.

Today I want to talk about beginnings. Opening lines. And since only I know what the meaning is behind my opening lines, I’m going to have to use the opening lines from my own books to explain.

When you’re writing a book, you want to draw the reader in immediately. You can’t take a whole bunch of pages to get to where your story really begins, because in doing so, you run the very real risk of losing your reader, or losing a sale. You know who I’m talking about. Those readers who stand in the book aisle and pick up books and start reading the first page, then either put the book in their cart or back on the shelf. I figure you have about 30 seconds tops to capture their attention, a page or two at most.

So your opening has to be a grabber. One that gets the reader wondering what is going on here immediately. In a mystery or suspense, we say, start with a body on the floor.

So here goes:

In Thin Ice, my original opening line was: If there was such a place as hockey player hell, Eric Cameron was in it.

Unfortunately, that was in the prologue, and the prologue got cut during edits. But the rest of the paragraph went on to explain how his team was losing, time was running out, and it was up to him to pull off a win. His reputation was on the line, his having been named Captain of the team earlier that day by the owner with a public challenge to turn the team around.

Unfortunately, the other team knew this and were gunning for him. He knew it, they knew it, and in short order, the fight was on.

Instead, I opened with: It was no way to spend a birthday, drinking alone in some hole in the wall dive, but it beat sitting at home alone, staring at the contents of his rented apartment.

Not quite as engaging, but it still draws you in. Why is this guy sitting alone in a bar on his birthday with no one to go home to? No home to go to, really, if the stuff in his apartment is rented.

Obviously he lost the game he was supposed to win, and was on everyone’s s*** list from the owner to his teammates to the fans.

Why? How did this come about? I’m hoping the reader will want to know and read on.

In Jake’s Return, the opening line is: Rebecca Reed would never forget the sound of Jacob Donovan walking back into her life.

Sort of sums the book up, doesn’t it? You have the heroine on the first page, reacting to---what’s the book about???—Jake’s return.

Return to where? Why did he walk away? Why did he come back? What happened between them? How will his return affect Rebecca?

I’m hoping the reader wants to know.

Next, Ashton’s Secret: It was a hell of a homecoming.

Okay, so that alone won’t do it. I could have done better. I’ll add the next line and see if that helps:

It was a hell of a homecoming. No sooner had he rented the slip at the Ashton Marina than people had gathered on the doc. People he’d known most of his life, people whose expressions ranged from surprise to wariness to outright hostility.

Now we know that somebody has just come home and it’s not going well. Why? Why did he leave? Why is it not going well? What happened to make the people of Ashton hate/mistrust/dislike this man so? And why would he come back if he knew they would feel that way?

Justice is a Lady: “What do you mean, the gun isn’t there?”

This is from my current WIP. Samantha Dallas is an assistant district attorney, on her way into the courtroom for a trial against a gang member, and she’s just found out, in the corridor outside the courtroom, that a key piece of evidence has gone missing from the evidence property room. Suddenly she’s looking at a case that’s going down the tubes.

First, the gun gets your attention. Then the fact that it is missing. Missing guns make everybody nervous. Where is this gun, who is missing it, why do they need it, and why are they so upset that it is gone? (as indicated by the italics on the word “mean.”)

I’m hoping the reader will want to find out.

Letters to Laura, written in epistolary format:

June 15, 2002
8:15 a.m.

Dear Laura,
In an hour and 45 minutes I will begin my 25th year in prison.

Okay, you know it is a letter, you know it is about a real person, you know someone is in prison and has been for 25 years, and you know they know and remember the exact moment they entered prison.

I’d want to find out who Laura was, who’s writing the letter, why this person has been in jail for 25 years, and how it could be that they would remember the exact date and time their life changed forever.

But that’s just me :).

Personally, my favorite way to open a book is with a line of dialogue. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in all cases. You have to go with what fits the story. A lot of people like to open up their stories with describing the scenery, or the weather. This only works if you use the setting or the weather as a character in your story. In Eileen Dreyer’s Sinners and Saints, the weather is as much a character in the story as the characters themselves.

The story is set in New Orleans as a hurricane looms on the horizon, and she describes its imminent arrival as if it were an ominous character coming to town. Here is the opening to chapter one:

Omens come in all sizes. Hair standing up at the back of the neck. Crows on a telephone wire. Shapes in a cloud or a chill in the wind.

In, say a story that takes place in a haunted house, or haunted village, or a different planet, you would want to set the scene right from the beginning.

But in a contemporary or even historical work of fiction, unless the weather or setting is to be used as a character element in the story, I’d highly recommend a snappy line of dialogue, a short one-liner that grabs the reader’s attention and implies something big is about to happen, or something philosophical (profound or whimsical, depending on the mood of the story) from the main character’s point of view. Here’s one I just made up:

If she’d known this was to be her last day in Jamaica, she might have chosen to call her mother before she disappeared.

Who is she? Why is she in Jamaica? Why does she disappear? How does she disappear? What will her mother think when she doesn’t hear from her daughter?

Try it. Just play around with opening lines. You never know. You might even come up with an idea for a book :).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Mouse in the House

I got up Friday morning and captured a mouse in the house. My son and I were watching the vice presidential debates Thursday night, and afterward I was just sitting there, thinking about the debates (my vote is solidified, that’s for sure), and this mouse runs across the floor.

I start eeeking. Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! My son comes out of his room and says, “What’s wrong?”’

The mouse has run behind the entertainment center. My first inclination is to put our best hunter of our three cats, cat number one, on the job, but she soon gets bored and walks away, since it won’t move. My son shoos it out from behind the entertainment center with a broom, and I am supposed to direct it out the back door with another broom. It shoots out from behind the entertainment center, hits my broom, bounces off it and heads not outside (the door is open) but across the room and under the china cabinet. I squeak some more and walk around wondering what to do. Finally I go to sleep. There is nothing I can do and it is 11:30 and I am exhausted.

I wake up at 4:30 and go to the bathroom. I close the door and sit down. I notice cat number two is in the bathroom, and I closed the door behind me. I look at the door again to make sure she didn’t follow me in. It is closed. I look up. The mouse is on top of the shower curtain, looking down at me. It is so cute, like the kind you see in children's books. I get my rubber gloves and a bucket and a hand broom, and gently tip it into the bucket. Then I put the bucket outside and tip it over, so the mouse can escape.

Here I thought I was safe, going to bed. For some reason I didn’t think mice could crawl up the sides of things, like bed legs. Fooled me. On top of the shower curtain, indeed. It must have come into the house while I was unloading groceries that day. I had the door to the garage open for a while, while I was bringing stuff in. It must have been in the garage. Otherwise, I have a hole in my house and will be getting little visitors all winter.

I feel good that I’ve saved a little life. Then, yesterday, I’m working on my manuscript, all is quiet in the house, and I hear thumping against the wall beside me. I look up and cat number three is looking in the window, with a mouse in her mouth.

Can it be? Did the little mouse really not run away?

I open the door and it startles the cat so much she drops the mouse. It starts running in circles. So it’s alive. I scoop up the cat and bring her in, so the mouse can escape. The cat is adamant about wanting to go outside again. Now, this particular cat is slower than the other two, so I figure I’ll give the mouse five minutes to scramble to safety. I let the cat out again, and within seconds, she’s dancing with the mouse again.

But it doesn’t run away. It sits there and glares up at her, nose to nose, like “You’re not going to get the best of me!”

She bats at it and it goes flying. The mouse pulls itself together and runs not away, but directly between the cat’s paws and under her, not once but three times—kamikaze diving the cat. Meanwhile the cat is jumping in the air and twisting around like it’s being zapped by an unseen zapper, before I take pity on the both of them and scoop the cat up again. The mouse runs under a plant, right next to the back door. Death awaits it for certain if it stays there.

My son comes home and I say, “It’s that mouse again. We need to save it from the cats." He gets a bucket and manages to scoop the mouse into it, and shows it to me. It sure looks like the same mouse. He takes it to the edge of the yard and lets it go.

I hope it stays out of trouble this time.