Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Author, Sandy Lender

Today's guest is Sandy Lender (gorgeous website, by the way), fellow Polka Dot Banner author and part of the Goddess Fish Blog Tour, who could be my twin lost at birth except for the turtles, the parrots, reading horror, living in Florida, and writing and editing for magazines. Welcome, Sandy!

Who are you?

Sandy Lender: I think this answer varies depending on which personality has come to the keyboard. To be mildly philosophical and as sane as I can possibly sound, I’m a fairly nice chick with an environmentalist bent who writes about characters who have probably driven me “over the edge” without me realizing it. I have four parrots in my home who boss me around, and I anticipate they’ll share my room with me at the asylum because no one else is going to be able to do anything with them. Oh! And I like sharp pointy weapons.
What type of stories do you like to write and why?

Sandy Lender: I love building fantasy stories the best. The characters who visit me typically have elements in their past that belong in a fantasy setting so I have no choice but to work in that genre. Luckily, I love it!

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

Sandy Lender: Ooo. I’ll read just about anything. I love classics such as Jane Eyre (my favorite book of all time), but I enjoy sampling new fantasy and science fiction. Sometimes I’ll pick up a mystery or a romance if I know the author or I’ve been asked to review it. I’m keen on horror (if it’s not just gore for the sake of gore, you know?) and thrillers and suspense. I’ll read young adult fantasy and paranormal stories that have been recommended to me. I’m not into reading memoirs, but I’ve made some exceptions.

When do you write?

Sandy Lender: Anytime, anywhere that I can get the time. I’ll prop a notebook up on the steering wheel and write when I’m in traffic. I keep notebooks next to the bed in case I wake up with an idea that needs to be scribbled down or, you know, written out and fleshed out and worked on until an hour or so later when I’m ready to fall back to sleep. Some weekends I’ll schedule a block of time for just writing like mad; some evenings that happens deep into the night. Typically, I steal bits of time during the week after work and before bed in between all the tasks a person has to do to keep the body alive. It’s good that I can drop into a fantasy world at the drop of a hat.

Where did you get the inspiration for your Choices books?

Sandy Lender: My inspiration for the Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings novels came from the characters themselves at first. Any time the going got tough for them, inspiration came from all around. Just about anything can give me a spark for writing and believe me, I use that. I live near some lovely beaches; I see beautiful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. I work with sea turtles, which are majestic yet endangered creatures. I have pet birds that do adorable tricks when you least expect it of them. Just the strangest things happen around me and these things get the creative juices flowing in my brain. So whether I’m noticing something bizarre alongside the road while I’m driving in the Everglades or whether I’ve set up an elaborate medieval setting in my writing den, something’s got me thinking about my writing and my characters and how they’re thinking.
Where do you go to think?
Sandy Lender: Literally? This might sound crazy, but I just go inside my brain. If I’ve got something I’ve got to concentrate on for a fiction story, it helps to put on some writing music—not too loudly—and just look inward. I have to go into the world where the problem is and look at what the characters have as tools for the solution. When I have a real-life problem, I do a bit of the same. I go “inside my brain” and go into this real world we live in where the problem is and look at what I have as tools for the solution.

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

Sandy Lender: The names for the characters have evolved slightly over the years that I was developing the backstories and histories and legends and building the world that Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings take place in. For instance, I used to call Amanda Chariss by the name Sharlee. There’s a notebook in my closet with scenes where her name changes to Charlee. Still wrong. She eventually got me straightened out. Her wizard guardian had to tell me that I was spelling his name incorrectly. For years, I referred to the servant woman Loetha as Leeta. As for the name of the first novel, it comes from the beginning of Chariss’s character arc. She originally didn’t think she could be as important as everyone said she was. She didn’t believe she should have the responsibilities people (and gods) were handing her. She thought the decisions she was being asked to make were choices meant for gods.

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

Sandy Lender: This is kinda difficult to answer. I wrote stories for my great grandmother when I was a child, and I was serious about those then. I wrote stories for assignments and contests in school, and I was serious about those at the time. I won a first-place award for writing a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird in junior high. I took creative writing classes (for grades that counted toward the GPA) in high school and college. After graduating college in 1992, I wrote and edited for magazines, and I (still am) was serious about that because it became my career. ArcheBooks published Choices Meant for Gods in 2007.
Why do you write?

Sandy Lender: It’s like breathing. I have no choice.


Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.

When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?

A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…

As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.

He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.

“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”

“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”

“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”

Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.

“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”

Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guest Author, Nicole McCaffrey

Today's guest is fellow Rose Nicole McCaffrey, busy wife, mother, and ebullient author of funny, compassionate, heart wrenching and downright sexy historical and contemporary romances. Her zest for life and laughter jumps off the page, both in her interview here and in her books. Her latest release, The Model Man--how can you not admire that cover?--is currently on sale at The Wild Rose Press as part of the Last Rose of Summer promotion. Only a few more days to go, so be sure to check it out and take advantage of the savings on all our Last Rose titles this month, where we prove over and over again that falling in love over forty is just as wonderful as the first time around. Welcome, Nicole!

Who are you?

I wear many hats. Mom. Wife. Suzy Homemaker. Dog walker. Chauffeur. Short-order cook. Basically, I’m just a SAH mom who likes to write—and has sold a book or two. *G*

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

I’m an historical writer first and foremost and those are the stories that really call to me. But whether I’m writing contemporary or historical I really like to explore the sensual with my characters, so my stories tend toward the hot.

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

I love the escape of reading historical—simpler times, simpler struggles. That’s like a vacation to me. I prefer American-set, but I will read regencies now and again. For the most part, I prefer lighter fare—life is depressing enough, I don’t want to read a story that upsets or depresses me or makes me cry--unless I’m crying with joy! Johanna Lindsey and Linda Lael Miller are two of my favorite authors for this reason—they give me the historical escape without hitting me over the head with history, and there’s always laughter. I also have all of Pamela Morsi’s old historicals on my keeper shelf and re-read them now and then for much the same reason.

When do you write?

My youngest just started first grade and is in school a full day now. I’m still getting used to the routine, it’s only been a few weeks, but have really been trying to focus on writing for at least half the day. Occasionally, once homework is done, dinner is cooking and SpongeBob is on, or the Playstation is going, I’ll sneak back to the computer and write a little more.
When do you read? Where?

I read a lot at night before going to sleep. There’s something comforting about the routine of climbing into bed and reading, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Of course, if it turns out to be one of those books I can’t put down, then I catch myself carrying it with me throughout the day and reading every chance I can, LOL.

Where did you get the inspiration for your books?

Wow. Anywhere and everywhere. I have a couple of things going on right now, another western historical, and the inspiration for that came directly from the character, who was a secondary character in my last western historical. I’m also working on a short Civil War-era story and the inspiration for that came from an old, abandoned Greek-Revival style house I drive by on a regular basis. (Sadly it was recently sold, so my fantasy of living in it will have to be put on hold, LOL). And both my contemporary releases began as dreams. My first historical—now gathering dust in a drawer—came from a line in a song. I guess you just never know when or where inspiration will hit!

Where do you go to think?

With two young, busy boys, thinking is not often allowed! Driving alone gives me a lot of thinking time, but it’s rare that I’m alone in the car or driving for any distance, mostly just to school and back. The shower is another place –and one of the few places I’m actually alone! LOL. Other than that, I love to think about my characters and story ideas as I’m waiting to fall asleep, or just waking up in the morning.

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

Sometimes the characters bring their name with them, other times I have an idea of what I’m looking for and go browsing baby name lists, usually by nationality, until I find one that feels right. Quite often, the name itself will bring an image of a character to mind. In my western historical Wild Texas Wind (currently on an editor’s desk somewhere in New York), it began that way. I was working in a local hospital and kept hearing them page a security guard named Raz. I had no idea who he was, but each time I heard that name, the image of a man on a horse dressed all in black with long black hair, jumped into my mind. I couldn’t see his face, just these piercing pale blue eyes. I didn’t know who he was but I knew his name was Raz and that I had to write his story!

If I don’t know the title when I sit down to write the story, it will usually come to me from a line in the story itself. With The Model Man, that was just my working title since the hero is a male model. But my CP’s loved it and as the story unfolded, my hero really began to live up to that, so I kept it.

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

Well I started around age six, LOL. But I joined RWA in 1989 and sold to TWRP in 2006. I got really serious about writing after my oldest son was born in 2000. He was a good baby who slept a lot so I took advantage of the extra time I had—I also met my wonderful critique partners around that time and everything sort of clicked into place as if it were meant to be.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not write. As long as characters keep pulling up a chair and telling me their stories, I’ll keep writing them.

For as long as I can remember, I have heard voices in my head. Fortunately for me, they’re all characters—begging me to tell their stories. My first sale was a holiday novella, published by The Wild Rose Press in November, 2006. The Model Man, my first full length contemporary, was released in March, 2008.

I’ve been married to Peter, my best friend, for eleven years, and am a work-at-home mom with two busy boys ages six and nine. When I’m not working, writing, or buried nose-deep in a research book, chances are I’m baking, gardening, or just kicking back and hanging with my guys. Visit me at

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Little Laughter in Your Day

Still keeping it's entry is regarding typos in church bulletins. I got this as an email years ago. It came around again this week, and I laughed just as hard. Enjoy!

These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa.
2. Announcement in a church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING Conference: "The cost for attending the Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
3. The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
4. Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall - Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
5. Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.
6. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
7. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
8. Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
9. Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
10. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
11. Next Thursday there will be try outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
12. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.
13. The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: " Break Forth Into Joy."
14. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
15. A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
16. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
17. Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
18. Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
19. Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
20. Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.
21. The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
22. Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
23. The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
24. This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
25. Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
26. The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
27. Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
28. The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
29. Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
30. The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge! - Up Yours!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Author, Celia Yeary

Today's guest is Celia Yeary, friend, fellow Wild Rose Press author, and moderator at The Bookspa, where readers and writers alike can find an oasis of calm in a world of words. Speaking of words, Celia has a blog you don't want to miss, full of heartwarming stories about growing up in Texas and other fun things. Celia is here today to celebrate the release of Showdown in Southfork, part of The Wild Rose Press's wildly popular Wayback Texas series, where a cowboy falls in love every 8 seconds. Congratulations and welcome, Celia!

Who are you?
I am…free to be me, a dreamer and thinker, the anchor for my family, a loyal friend, a faithful wife, a lucky woman who has it all. I haven’t always “had it all”—I had to fight for it, wait for it, work hard and live for the day when I could say, “I have it all.” I wish I could assist every helpless creature in the world, but I can’t, I’m not God. So, I try to do my best, don’t always succeed, though, so I tend to my own little corner of the world.

What type of stories do you like to write and why?
Love stories, for sure, but I also like to write stories about women, I suppose labeled “women’s fiction.” Sometimes, I think there’s more humor, more tragedy, more heartfelt caring, and yes, even more real love in women’s relationships. I’m re-editing a ms right now titled Making the Turn that involves a young woman, her daughter, her mother, a man, and a young boy not her own. During the course of the novel, the college-age daughter brings all them out of their shells and ruts, connects them, and she does it with the blithe spirit of youth.
What type of stories do you like to read and why?

The same that I write. Except those I read are much better than mine—that’s why those authors are with the NY publishers and I’m not! I remember The Shell Seekers as the first women’s fiction I read, and the story was very touching—very different emotions from romance novels. Belva Plain’s novels are angst-filled family sagas. I enjoy Beverly Lewis’s Amish/Mennonite series, because again, they’re family based sagas, always with real people finding and losing love and acceptance .Needless to say, my favorite type of romance are series—usually Western—but I love Susan Wiggs’ contemporary series, too.
Where do you go to think?

I move away from the computer, lie down, close my eyes, and daydream. Or I go for a walk down the road, the county road we live on where the houses are a few acres apart. I’ve straightened out many scenes and pages of dialogue in this manner. And sometimes—I go to a movie. Yes, to think. I have nothing else in my head except the movie—and in one corner of my brain, a WIP or a new novel. You see, I don’t have to talk to anyone or respond to a phone.
How long did you write seriously before your first book was published?
I wrote for about three years before The Wild Rose Press accepted All My Hopes and Dreams. I had about eight novels written, all badly, all needing much work, so I looked at all of them, narrowed them to three, and asked my critique partner to look at the first chapters of these three. Which is best, I asked? She chose the two others over All My Hopes and Dreams! Really! But I knew, deep in my heart, that “Hopes” was my best….hope.
Why do you write?
To stay sane, I guess. I’m rarely bored, because I always have something to do. In my earlier years, my marriage, my children, my household, my college years, my teaching years, and a retirement filled with international travel and a lot of golf kept me fully occupied. But all that either slowed or came to a halt, and I found emptiness and boredom begin to creep in. I began to write, when I never had in my entire life, but my brain was full of stories. If someone wanted to torture me, he could just put me someplace where I had nothing to do, and I’d quickly go insane.

Celia Yeary is a life-long Texan, proud of her roots, happy living among live oaks and deer, and grateful for her entire family. She appreciates and nurtures good friendships, and tries to help someone else when the need arises. Her passions are her husband and grandsons and books—in that order. Her successful grown children are a source of pure joy. Celia and her husband have traveled widely, but in the end prefer their home.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Birthday Blessings

After writing my post yesterday, I made up my mind to go to church to give thanks. I learned a long time ago that we don't go to church for "what we get out of it," or to bargain with God in any way about whatever situation may be going on in our lives, but to give thanks for what we have been given. I've been given more than I can possibly list in one blog post, but chief among the gifts I have been given are those of friendship, love and laughter. So off I went to consciously give thanks.

I don't go to church every Sunday, but when I am there, I am there 100%, fully present in the moment. I'm not sitting in the pew writing out checks, or talking to the people beside me, or making mental lists of what needs to be done when I get out of church or, God forbid, answering my email or phone. When I go to church, I am there to sing and pray and listen and give thanks, and that's all that matters to me in that hour. It's very freeing, to have that hour of simply being in the presence of God, and can bring me peace, clarity, determination, euphoria, or tears, depending on how the Holy Spirit chooses to move me. I choose to be God's vessel in that time and moment, open to whatever comes.

So imagine my surprise when my friends, whom I was supposed to go out to dinner with on Friday night, both turned toward me at the same time after Mass, and gave me big, loud birthday smooches on my cheeks, then invited me out to lunch. Half an hour later, we, along with my son, were seated at one of our two usual restaurants, and they were urging me to order my usual meal, pot roast. I do love a good pot roast and can't seem to make one to save myself.

Afterward, we shared a piece of peach pie.

Then we drove out to their house in the country and spent the afternoon just hanging out, going for a walk in the warm summer breeze, talking, laughing, sharing new finds--they are beachcombers--meeting new friends (their neighbors, who invited my son and I to return again with his guitar for a jam session) and reconnecting with one another.
I didn't get home until well after dinner, and when I did, I was still full from lunch. So they fed me, and in more ways than one. They fed my spirit, which had had a rough week, as well as my body.

It was a lovely day, leaving me feeling truly blessed. And it wouldn't have happened had I not gone to church to give thanks for what I already have.