Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Thankful For...

A friend's granddaughter's preschool class shares what they are thankful for this year...

"I am thankful for..."

" and hot dogs." -Nicholas
" sister Gracie and candy." - Tucker
" family" - Wesley
"...friends." - Jed
" and Thanksgiving." - Isaac
"" -Veronica
"...butterflies, animals and family." -Lilliana
" mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, and food." - Daniel
"...horses and flowers." -Adrianna
" cream, mommy, daddy, and my doggie." - Trevor
"...playing outside." -Michael
"...fruit." - Rory
"...for my family." - Liam

Still limping along with the crud, here, but thankful to be getting better :).

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On Hiatus

Still sick with the crud, but a friend sent me a wonderful quote to share. Thank you, Angela!

"Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~ Christopher Robin to Pooh

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Confessions of a Multi-Genre Author

Today's guest is Cindy K. Greene, fellow Bookspa friend and Wild Rose Press author. With a talent for writing that can't be contained by any one publisher, Cindy has books, novellas, and short stories available from four publishing houses, and across at least as many genres, with more planned. Please welcome Cindy today as she tells us how she keeps it all straight!

Confessions of a Multi-Genre Author

I spent a good deal of time contemplating what I should say to Liana’s readers ever since we scheduled my blog date. And it never fails that my greatest inspirations hit me in the shower. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to invent something for writers to record those bits of inspiration before the steam settles? Hopefully I’ll remember everything that went through my mind.

This of course leads me to my topic at hand—my role as a multi-genre author. When you start in this life we call the writing game, one of the first things you learn (after how to utilize proper POV, of course) is that as a published author you must brand yourself. No not like cattle—more like Frito Lay, Nestle, or Ford. That means you sell your name more than any particular book. When you pick up a Stephen King or Nora Roberts novel, you know what you’re getting before even reading the blurb. Readers need to get to know you—how you write and what you write. In the large New York publishing houses, their authors typically have to BRAND themselves and only write in but one genre. But…what about those of us who love to skip around and experiment in the genres?


There are some big names who jump around in the genres. James Patterson is known for his mystery/suspense/thrillers. But wait a minute, he’s also penned some award-winning young adult titles and even a series of romances. Hmm. Meg Cabot also comes to mind. She writes for the young adult, the middle grade kids and contemporary romance for adults. She even has a couple historicals under her belt. And let’s not forget her new vampire novel; although, I hear some people would like to forget it.

When I’m asked: ‘What do you write? What’s your genre?’ I seriously have to make out a list. And I make no excuses for it. I love skipping from genre to genre, stretching my writer’s legs or fingers—or to be more precise my imagination and my writer’s niche. It keeps the writing fresh and exciting. I finally branded myself in a general sense with ‘Bringing Sweet Romance to the Heart.’ My subgenres include: Inspirational, Young Adult, American Victorian Historical, Western Historical, Mainstream Contemporary, and Romantic Suspense. I’ve even written a high fantasy. I told you it was a lot.

So, I’ve been asked, ‘how do you write in all those genres? I feel like I’d get confused.’ Well, here’s my confession—it’s very easy to get confused. If you write in several genres you have to go through steps to bring it all together. Let me take you through an example.

I recently started working on my latest YA story, Sold My Soul to a Frog. In doing so, I had to purge from my mind the voice and tone of my just finished mystery. I was now an almost eighteen-year-old girl full of insecurities while watching my life spin upside down. So, first step, I have to read some YA books. Meg Cabot is my favorite (yes, I know I already mentioned her). I also enjoy Polly Shulman although she’s only written two books for the YA. I listen to music that’s for the young or young at heart. And then I watch lots of teen movies. Basically, I get into the mindset of the American teen. I do the same thing for whatever genre I’m writing. It’s like I am priming myself to write. You see there is a tone, a set a verbiage that is necessary to each sub-genre. I have to get myself into that place before I start writing. Now if you only write one genre that isn’t really a problem. No matter what you are reading or watching it won’t affect your writing. You’ve trained yourself how to write your genre. But when you write several genres, you have to equip yourself to write many different ways and your muse needs a reminder as to what hat to put on today.

Okay, now I’ve confessed. Now let me offer you readers a prize. First I’m running a great Christmas contest on my blog. All you have to do is watch the book trailer for my holiday romance, All I Want for Christmas, and send me an email. And if anyone is interested in getting a free read today, send me an email at Put FREE READ in the subject and let me know if you want the humorous contemporary, My Grand Epiphany or the historical western, Second Chances.

Here is a little piece from my best friend’s romance, All I Want for Christmas. Read another excerpt on my website.

Blurb: Best Friends or True Love? Only Santa Knows.

Kathryn Graham hates Christmas. She hates the snow, the decorations, the whole nine yards. Nick Pringle on the other hand can’t get enough of the season. He may be her best friend and fellow writer at Redburn Weekly Magazine, but sometimes his exuberance gets on her very last nerve. Now they’ve been assigned to cover the orphan toy drive story. It’s just a puff piece not the serious journalism Kathryn hopes for, but maybe—as Nick says—there are no old stories just new angles. Nick Pringle has been in love with Kathryn practically since the day they met. When he realizes that she’s lost her Christmas spirit, he figures he’s just the guy to help her find it again. He enacts a plan to send her anonymous gifts from Secret Santa, but will any of this really make a difference in her? Will she ever see him as anything more than her smart-aleck partner even after their passionate kisses? Then again maybe he’ll get what he wants for Christmas after all.

Excerpt: (Kat and Nick having a platonic afternoon at the movies.)

Halfway through the film, Nick’s fingers brushed over Kathryn’s wrist and a surge whipped through her like an electrical charge. His hand ended up on her knee, and he leaned over close to her ear. “You have any more of those Milkduds?”

“Huh?” Oh, candy. He just wanted more snacks. Well, of course, what other reason would he have for touching her like that?

“Here,” she whispered and held out the container to him. His face remained close to hers, his warm hand still molded to the shape of her knee. She accidentally moved in too close and her forehead bumped his cheek. Looking up at him, Kathryn saw he wasn’t smiling. His eyes had grown serious and all thoughts of candy dissipated. His attention dropped to her mouth and suddenly Kathryn couldn’t swallow. Could he possibly be considering kissing her? Just then, he turned his attention back to the movie and lifted his hand from her knee.

An unexplainable inclination took over as Kathryn pushed his hand back to her knee. His face whipped back to her. Questions filled his features. His chest moved up and then down. He smoothed his hand over her pants from her knee to her thigh and back again. Her skin pebbled under the material at his touch. This was soon followed by heat tingling from her stomach to the tips of her toes.

She leaned in towards him and he met her halfway. And just like that their lips met. Giddiness spun through Kathryn’s head with sparks tingling her skin. The kiss was light and sweet yet searing all at once. Lucidity began to return to her the next moment. What was she doing? Oh, right, she was kissing Nick Pringle. She was kissing a co-worker. Worse yet, she was making out with her best friend. What was she thinking? She had to stop and yet it was the last thing she wanted to do. The whole idea was ludicrous. An outrageous act and yet somehow her body’s sole response was that it wanted more. Whoa! Had it been that long since she’d had a date? Time to reign in those annoying hormones which threatened to take over her sanity.

She broke off the kiss and rested her hand against his chest. She could feel his heart speeding at the rate of a train. A train wreck is more like it. Ay-yi-yi! How was she going to get herself out of this one?

Available at Champagne Books, All Romance e-books and Amazon.

Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, YA, Suspense and Historical romance. Find out more about Cindy and her books at

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Maggie Toussaint Talks About Muddy Waters

Today's guest is mystery and romance author Maggie Toussaint, inveterate kayaker and author of the recently released romantic suspense novel, Muddy Waters. I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie on the Cruise with Your Muse conference cruise last year, and we had a delightful visit at a conference cocktail party in a dark, dungeon-like bar, one of many themed bars on the ship, with lots of black lights and gothic sculptures lurking in the corners. I apologize in advance for not being tech savvy enough to post all the wonderful pictures Maggie provided, so I'll post them over on the sidebar for today--complete with captions :). But here in the post proper, we have the book cover for Muddy Waters, and the photo that inspired the story, and then Maggie herself. Welcome, Maggie!

Predators lurk in the moss-edged shadows of the deep South. Hungry gator eyes rise above the muddy water’s surface, biding their time, watching for hapless prey. Water moccasins and rattlesnakes favor the wooded shoreline, lush with thick vegetation and hiding places.

And yet the natural beauty of the same setting fairly takes your breath away. Centuries old cypress trees guard the shore, wildflowers grow in unfettered abundance, exotic birds call out, sometimes mournfully, sometimes in a shrill cry like a wounded person. In the pregnant stillness will suddenly break forth the sharp rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker pounding into a tree for bugs.

Threaded through the plants and animals is life-giving water, from the mighty Altamaha which flows ever eastward to the Atlantic Ocean to the salty seawater which pushes inland twice a day in the diurnal tide cycle. With such changeable currents, the water bottom stirs, adding silt and sand to the water column. This opaque mirror of this water perfectly reflects the sky, the light, and the shadows, but it also conceals everything below the water’s surface.

In such a beautiful and yet dangerous place, a writer with an overactive imagination might easily embrace the “what if” line of thinking. What if a two-legged predator lurked in those dark places? What if that person had a gun? What if their target was approaching in a slow boat?
This precise what-if moment lent itself to a turning point in my latest romantic suspense release, MUDDY WATERS. In the book, the wetland setting adds to the suspense by providing that brooding sense of danger in the thick shadows, adding to that sense of someone watching you.
My heroine Roxie Whitaker traveled the world with her missionary parents but put down roots in her grandmother’s coastal town of Mossy Bog. Her passion for preserving the town’s history ignites simmering resentment. Helping out an absentee neighbor leads to an awkward situation when he finds out. Putting her stamp on the real estate business she inherits upsets Gran’s friends. And that’s where the story starts.

Sloan Harding left Mossy Bog as soon as he was able. He never wanted to return to the town where his father had been the town drunk, where he’d been one quick step ahead of the law in his bad boy days. If not for a kindly neighbor who’d encouraged him to join the Army, he would most likely be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

But a hole in the roof of his ancestral home draws him back to Mossy Bog. Awash in memories, he decides to put to rest the ghosts of his past by searching for his alleged lost inheritance. What he hadn’t counted on was a strong physical attraction to the girl next door. What he hadn’t counted on was the townspeople still seeing him through the same accusing eyes all these years later.

Here’s an abridged excerpt from MUDDY WATERS:
Sloan dipped the paddle into the shallow water of the man-made canal. The kayak glided across the smooth surface like a dream. The vaulted tree branches lent the historic canal a cathedral-like feeling.

Though the water they traversed was less than three feet deep, the ever present mud obscured the water’s clarity. Roxie rested her paddle across her lap and glanced at him over her shoulder. “When I traveled with my parents, I felt so off-balance. I would start to feel the rhythms of a place, and we’d be off to a new town. Living with Gran in Mossy Bog saved me. I missed my parents, but I found myself.”

He considered her words, testing them, trying them on for size. “Sounds like Lavinia was home, not the town.”

“That could be. But it’s more than that. Not having to move every six to twelve months gave me the chance to be me. Gran provided the stability I craved, but this place by the sea, it healed my heart. Gran’s gone now, and I could pick up stakes and move anywhere in the world, but why would I? This is my home.”

Her truth resonated deep within him.

Muddy waters. He wasn’t just crossing them, he lived in them. Gators trolled beneath the murky surface, waiting for him to display weakness.

His everyday life was far from this place, this woman. But he could adapt. A glance at his watch confirmed what he knew. As much as he wanted this idyllic moment to never end, both of them had places to be. “I hate to mention this, because I would be happy to stay here all day, but we need to head back.”

Roxie sighed. “I wish it was Monday already.”

They paddled the tandem kayak steadily through the lush setting, a gentle breeze stirring the tree leaves and airy swags of Spanish moss overhead.

Suddenly Roxie stopped paddling, glancing around.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you feel it?” she whispered. “I’m sure someone’s out here watching us.”

Adrenaline shot through him. He hurled forward in his seat, giving her a hard shove. “Get down!”

A split second later, a gunshot rang out. A bullet thwacked into the trees about head high. “Stay down,” Sloan ordered, reaching for the pistol strapped to his ankle.

“Hey! There are people over here!” Roxie yelled. “Stop shooting.”

“Roxie,” he hissed. “Stay down!”

Sloan cursed himself for letting his guard down. He quickly appraised the wooded canal. No shooter visible on the banks, but they didn’t have to be close with a rifle. His mission crystallized.
Protect Roxie.

Neutralize the shooter.

She glanced over her shoulder at his handgun, disbelief marring her face. “You’ve brought a gun? Here? Are you nuts?”

Heart hammering, he beached the craft on the soft bank and tugged her out, tucking her behind a cypress tree. “Don’t move.”

Review from Mary Gramlich, The Reading Reviewer: Great book, wonderful mystery and a red hot love story underlying it. Roxie and Sloan really mix it up in and out of the bedroom and that is what makes for a great romance. You can’t ask for more than that now can you?
Buy Muddy Waters in digital format: Kindle and Wild Rose Press
Buy Muddy waters in print: Wild Rose Press and Amazon

Maggie Toussaint

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Women Died for the Right to Vote -- Exercise Yours!

Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity. ~Quoted by a male doctor who examined Alice Paul when the government wanted her to be seen as suicidal for her hunger strike in an effort to gain women the right to vote.

This comes from an article by Jone Johnson Lewis, at If you don't do anything else today, make sure you GET OUT AND VOTE!

There's an email circulating that tells of the brutal treatment in 1917 at Occoquan, Virginia, prison, of women who had picketed the White House as part of the campaign to win the vote for women. The point of the email: it took a lot of sacrifice to win the vote for women, and so women today should honor their sacrifice by taking our right to vote seriously, and actually getting to the polls. The author of the article in the email, though the emails usually omit the credit, is Connie Schultz of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland.

Is the email true? a reader asks -- or is it an urban legend? It sure sounds exaggerated -- but it's not.

Alice Paul led the more radical wing of those who were working for women's suffrage in 1917. Paul had taken part in more militant suffrage activity in England, including hunger strikes that were met with imprisonment and brutal force-feeding methods. She believed that by bringing such militant tactics to America, the public's sympathy would be turned towards those who protested for woman suffrage, and the vote for women would be won, finally, after seven decades of activism.

And so, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others separated in America from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, and formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) which in 1917 transformed itself into the National Woman's Party (NWP).

While many of the activists in the NAWSA turned during World War I either to pacifism or to support of America's war effort, the National Woman's Party continued to focus on winning the vote for women. During wartime, they planned and carried out a campaign to picket the White House in Washington, DC. The reaction was, as in Britain, strong and swift: arrest of the picketers and their imprisonment. Some were transferred to an abandoned workhouse located at Occoquan, Virginia. There, the women staged hunger strikes, and, as in Britain, were force-fed brutally and otherwise treated violently.

I've referred to this part of woman suffrage history in other articles, notably when describing the history of the suffragist split over strategy in the last decade of activism before the vote was finally won.

Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes documents this history in her article on Alice Paul. She includes this re-telling of the story of Occoquan Workhouse's "Night of Terror," November 15, 1917:Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked. (source: Barbara Leaming, Katherine Hepburn (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), 182.)

Related Resources:A firsthand account of this is in Doris Stevens' Jailed for Freedom (New York: Liveright Publishing, 1920. (Gutenberg text)

William and Mary Lavender told the story of the treatment of the pickets in American History magazine in 2003.

The movie Iron Jawed Angels focuses on this period of the woman suffrage movement.

An image of Emmeline Pankhurst, who led the militant British woman suffragists, including hunger strike tactics, which inspired Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party.

Sewall-Belmont House, home of the National Woman's Party, is now a museum which includes many archives of these events.

The Library of Congress presents some photos of women suffrage prisoners: Suffrage Prisoners
Suggested Reading

Suggested Reading

For more information on women's history, go to Jone Johnson Lewis, at