Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guest Blogger Today: Elise Warner

Hello Patricia-it’s a pleasure being here today and having the chance to talk about the background for my cozy mystery Scene Stealer. My novel takes place in New York City, the home town of a born and bred New Yorker-me.

Taking the subway to Lincoln Center to buy tickets for their theatre subscription series, I couldn’t help noticing a well-dressed little boy and a scruffy looking man seated across from me. Something was wrong-the two didn’t seem to belong together. The unlikely pair stayed in my mind and developed into the characters I used in my cozy.

The little boy became little Kevin Corcoran, the spokes-child for the Cowboy Bob’s Big Bad Burger commercial. The scruffy-looking man turned out to be his kidnapper, a character actor named Larry Dunn. An actress I had once toured with developed the traits of a retired school-teacher, Augusta Weidenmaier, a strong and caring woman who becomes an amateur detective in her quest to find the child.

No matter how long you may live in my city, you can easily stumble across something you’ve never seen before and I used New York as the backdrop for my story. Parks, Off-Off Broadway theatres, dark streets that hide the few cold-water flats that remain and buildings so tall they hide the sun. Buildings you’re sure weren’t there a month before. You can visit a talk show; study acting or dancing, voice or acrobatics, wander around Greenwich Village, find a place to dine on Restaurant Row, see a celebrity at Sardi’s and, if you stumble across the right street, watch a motion picture or television show being filmed.

I became more aware of New York’s sounds and smells and tastes as I wrote Scene Stealer; the taste of fast food, the smell of garbage and the clean scent of rain, the fragrance of a fresh cup of coffee. The screech of a taxi, the blast of construction, the music issuing from car radios and elevators and shops and most of all, the many different languages and accents you can hear from one end of the city to another. I tried to use this experience in my mystery and I’d like to include a page from the first chapter.

SCENE STEALER Excerpt – Chapter 1


After a chance encounter on the subway, Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired schoolteacher living in New York City, is determined to help the police in the search for missing 9-year-old child actor Kevin Corcoran.

I must have been staring at the child. They were such an unlikely pair: the boy clean and neatly dressed, the man unkempt. For a moment our eyes met; his were frightened, seeking help. Or was it my old lady’s imagination gone wild? No, I understood children. All those years of teaching elementary school, I knew this child was afraid. The man seated next to the boy nudged him and the child lowered his eyes.

As usual, the Broadway/Seventh Avenue local at Sheridan Square was crowded; I stood to one side to allow passengers to exit but the man pushed his way on, dragging the child behind him. A new rush of passengers hid them from my sight when the subway stopped at 14th Street.

Such a darling boy; why did he seem familiar? Of course! The child was the spitting image of that little tyke in the Cowboy Bob’s Big, Bad Burger commercial. The commercial where the boy, dressed in chaps and a ten-gallon hat, twirls a rope and dances a hoedown with animated French-fried potatoes. Big blue eyes and a warm smile people returned. But this adorable child wasn’t smiling.

The train stopped at several more stations. Where were we? I couldn’t see a thing with that portly gentleman standing directly in front of me. I craned my neck to see around him but garish sprays of graffiti obscured the sign indicating the station; I could barely decipher the lettering. This stop was Columbus Circle; the next would be Lincoln Center. Folding my unread magazine, I clutched my purse and umbrella and murmured, “Excuse me. Pardon me,” over and over again as I tried to make my way through the throng. I managed to reach the door just as the train announced its arrival at the 66th Street station with a nerve-jangling screech.

Two extremely rude teenagers blocked the door. One was lost in the cacophony of sound that leaked from his oversized earphones. The other was engrossed in paring his fingernails. A gentle thrust with the tip of my umbrella and I was able to make my exit.

The child and his companion were about fifteen feet ahead of me. When the boy looked back, I thought I could see his lower lip tremble. Impossible, he was too far away and my vision, though I hate to admit it, is not what it used to be. The man placed his hand on the child’s shoulder; they picked up their pace, reached the stairway and melted into the crowd.

Was it the young actor who performed in the commercial or was it someone who looked very much like him? And why wasn’t he attending class this morning? Today was Tuesday, a school day. A very special Tuesday for a retired gentlewoman like me; at 9:45, Alan Gilbert was scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic in an open rehearsal of Strauss “tunes” at Lincoln Center. The public was invited to attend. I eagerly awaited a morning spent with Mr. Gilbert and was pleased to have obtained a $10 ticket. It wasn’t often I could afford such a treat. My concern for the boy abated as I thought about the music, Maestro Gilbert and what was reputed to be the maestro’s “blazing heat and power.”

The traffic light turned yellow, then green. Car horns blasted the air with impatience. I checked to see if the vehicles flowing past would obey the signal, since at my age the body slows a bit, and was about to step off the curb, when the little boy tugged at the sleeve of my jacket.

“Ma’am.” The child gasped, then took a deep breath. “Help me.”

“What is wrong, child?”

I never heard his answer. There was a sharp poke in the small of my back and the next thing I knew I lay sprawled flat in the gutter.

For more about Elise-please log on to www.elisewarner.com, www.wordpress.com/elisewarner Scene Stealer is available through www.barnesandnoble.com, www.amazon.com, www.borders.com, www.carinapress.com and wherever eBooks are sold. Scene Stealer is also produced by www.audible.com in an audio version.

The First Christmas Card

Who doesn't love to get Christmas cards? Many times it is the only time you hear from certain relatives and faraway friends. I love the ones that come with notes about what has been going on in their lives and photos as well. Of course, with the Internet and E-cards, there may be a time in the future when the pretty cards that adorn my house now will be a thing of the past.

So, I thought writing about the first Christmas card would be a great way to start off December. I'm calling the first Christmas card as one that was designed for sale. Prior to 1843, many people sent handwritten Christmas greetings to their families and friends. A London businessman, Sir Henry Cole, decided he just didn't have time to hand-write notes to all his customers and loved ones. He turned to a friend, John C. Horsley, an artist with England's Royal Academy to design a card that required only his signature. He could tuck it in an envelope and mail it.

Horsley designed a three panel card featuring a cheerful Victorian family in the center and on each side was an illustration of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor. You can see a copy of the card at The Victoria Files

A thousand copies were made for Cole to send out. The greeting used: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You has remained one of the favorite holiday card greetings.

Cole's Christmas card idea caught on in England rapidly. Within a few years, everyone was buying and sending cards. The mass production of art and text on a postcard was made possible by lithography. And, it was affordable to mail a card due to the Penny Postage Act.

A card cost a penny to mail. Can you imagine that?

Thanks for stopping by and tomorrow I will have guest blogger, Elise Warner, discussing her new book, Scene Stealer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: Paty Jager, Author of Spirit of the Mountain

Patricia, Thanks for having me here today.

My August release was Spirit of the Mountain, a paranormal historical set among the Nez Perce of NE Oregon. I grew up in their beloved Wallowa Valley and have always had an interest in their culture. When the idea came to me to write about Native American spirits I knew exactly which tribe and band to use in my story- The Wallowa Lake band of Nimiipuu. This is also the band of the infamous Chief Joseph. While this story starts before Chief Joseph's time, the second book in the trilogy deals with the coming of the White man to the valley, and the third book is set during the Chief Joseph's race for the Canadian border.

I use the Nimiipuu coming of age ritual of the vision quest as the catalyst for this book. The heroine is visited by a white wolf while on her quest and the wolf tells her she will save her people. This gift bestowed upon her by the spirit or weykin is said to be the greatest ever given a female. Wren, the chief's daughter doesn’t feel the weight of the gift until an enemy Blackleg warrior asks to marry her to bring peace between the bands. Marrying the Blackleg will take her from the mountain people she holds most dear in her heart, but it would also fulfill the gift her weykin bestowed upon her.

While walking the mountain and contemplating her fate, she stumbles upon a wounded white wolf who resembles her weykin. She feels no fear and helps him, believing he is her weykin. The white wolf is the hero, Himiin, who has just battled a dark spirit wolf on his mountain. He is fearful of the maiden for multiple reasons but when she speaks of her marriage to the enemy he is compelled to help her and ultimately falls in love with a mortal.

I wove the factual with the fictional to make a story I hope will enlighten the reader about the Nimiipuu and entertain them with the paranormal aspects.

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

When an evil spirit threatens Wren’s life, Himiin must leave the mountain to save her. But to leave the mountain means he’ll turn to smoke…

Excerpt
Wren’s eyes glistened with unshed tears. “My gift is to save The People. The weyekin who came to me in my vision quest said this.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if staving off a cold breeze.

Himiin hated that they argued when they should relish their time together. He moved to her, drawing her against his chest, embracing her. The shape of her body molded to his. Her curves pressed against him. Holding her this way flamed the need he’d tried to suppress.

He placed a hand under her chin, raising her face to his. The sorrow in her eyes tugged at his conscience. To make her leaving any harder was wrong. But having experienced her in his arms, he was grieved to let her go. Even for the sake of their people.

Her eyelids fluttered closed. Her pulse quickened under his fingers. Shrugging off the consequences, he lowered his lips to hers. They were softer than he imagined. Her breath hitched as he touched her intimately. Parting his lips, he touched her with his tongue, wanting to see if she tasted as sweet as she smelled.

If you'd like to read more about me and my books or enter my website contest go to: Paty Jager

Patricia, Thanks for having me!

Paty
History Hoydens

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writer's Journal Book Giveaway

This month you can win a copy of The Creative Life by Julia Cameron at Writer's Journal website. Click Here. I have the audio version of Cameron's The Artist Way and I can't say enough good things about it. You can read more about The Creative Way and Cameron on Amazon. Click Here.
This contest ends on Nov 30th.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday

Saturday brought about the close of a busy week for me. I bought a new computer and I have spent most of the day installing programs and all that good stuff that you have to do when you change computers. It hasn't been something I've enjoyed doing. I've had a few cussing fits. But, the computer does work fast and that make things easier.

However, I still prefer my old computer for writing. It is strange how certain things actually send signals to your brain. I only use my old computer for writing only and I can say without hesitation that I certainly prefer my old monitor to this new HD one. The resolution on the old one is so much easier on the eye. Back to the signals, any time I sit down in front of the old computer, I know that means it is time to write. It is like my brain knows this is where we write and it is time to write. I really don't have much luck writing other places with the exception of revisions which I have down on other computers in my house.

I did take a break today and I went to see The Next Three Days, a new suspense movie with Russell Crowe. It was a well-acted drama, although sometimes Crowe seemed to be going overboard with his character's long stares at his wife. I think this was supposed to show his love for her but sometimes it came across as a bit strange. Overall, this movie is okay but not really that entertaining. I wish I'd went to see Harry Potter instead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

"The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist."

From The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles is written by the author of Bagger Vance, Steven Pressfield. It is a small book with simple one paragraph to one page chapters on the creative process and how to overcome "Resistance", which is the force inside us that prevents us from accomplishing our "work". Pressfield compares the amateur to the professional by their reaction to Resistance.

It is a wonderful little book that is very inspirational. With its stand-alone chapters, you can open it up on any page and read. It offers great insight on how we resist doing our work and how easily we find excuses for doing so. I've used many of the ones he mentions. I keep this book handy, much like a devotional. Many times I pick it up and read a couple of pages for encouragement, especially if Resistance has me in its grip.

I must say this little book has never failed me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Featured E-Book: Lying Eyes by Amy Atwell

Her jewels were real, but her life was fake. No-nonsense jewelry designer, Iris Fortune, yearns for a normal life. But life as Vegas magician Cosmo Fortune's daughter is anything but normal, especially since dear old Dad is also a scam artist. When Cosmo's latest scheme goes awry and he pulls a real-life disappearing act, Iris is left holding the bag.

Now Iris must be a master of illusion. Play the poised partner to her politician fiance while trying to save her father and stay out of reach of Mickey Kincaid, the sexy thief who claims he's only after her jewels.

Detective Kincaid is deep undercover and seeks Iris out because of her connections to Cosmo. He never expected to be so drawn to her. While working with Iris to find the elusive conman, Mickey learns a killer has Iris in his sights and he must do everything he can to save her without blowing his cover.

Mickey's put his life on the line before but never his heart and now he's not sure which is most dangerous....

Lying Eyes is Amy's first book for Carina Press and you can buy Iris and Mickey's story now.

Just click here and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Young Adult Writers Conference

If you are interested in writing for the YA market, the Writers League of Texas is having a writer's conference in the spring targeted toward the young adult market. Find more info here: http://http//www.writersleague.org/events/YA-conf-2011.htm

The Magic Box

Roku is a small box, only a few inches wide, that allows you to stream in a variety of programming from the internet. The box costs about $60 and allows you to stream in Netflix. I didn't have the game boxes you can use for this, so I decided to try out Roku. I definitely recommend it! It actually works great. It is wireless but I decided to use a network cable to attach the box to my wireless router. Not only can you stream in Netflix, but a number of other sites as well. Pandora is great for music, plus there many more music sites to choose from as well as other programming.

Roku comes with an easy-to-use remote control. I was amazed that you can fast-forward, reverse or pause the movies. If you stop a movie and later on decide to watch the rest, when you load it, it is ready to play where you left off. Hulu is coming soon to Roku, which will be terrific. And, there are lots of documentaries that are often helpful when it comes to writing.

And, the best thing about streaming in programming like this rather than watching television:

There are no drug commercials. YAY!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Halloween Costume for M & M

Clouds Over Texas


During my flight to Houston, I decided to photograph the clouds. They were beautiful that day. The trip went well and I had a great visit with my son and his family. Mason and Madeline are three months old and as cute as can be. I enjoyed getting to spend a little time with them.

I have been updating my blog and changed the title to reflect my pen name. I almost decided to go with a new URL but I decided I would keep this one. I also finally relented and I'm working on a Facebook page as well. I actually think I'll like the Facebook page really well because you can make brief notations on it.
I wish I did have more time to be online but with working full-time, plus writing which I love to do leaves me with little time to devote to online posts.

Tomorrow is Friday! Yay!