Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest Blogger: Author Susan Hatler

It’s so fun to be here on Patricia’s blog—waving hello, Patricia and everyone!

As the New Year approaches, it’s natural to reflect on life, and it feels great to know that I’m doing what I love. Spending time with friends and family and, of course, being a writer….

10 Things I love about being a writer:
• 1. Thinking is working.
• 2. Watching movies is working.
• 3. Reading is working.
• 4. Making things up is working.
• 5. Hanging w/writers is working.
• 6. Commuting is two feet.
• 7. People-watching is research.
• 8. The dress code rocks (mainly sweats & slippers).
• 9. I can write anywhere (laptops travel).
• 10. The subjects to write about are endless.

I just got back from a mini Writing Retreat with two of my awesome writing buddies, Virna DePaul and Rochelle French. We typed, we bounced ideas off each other, and spent most of the two days in our sweatpants. Complete and total heaven. There’s just something about spending time with other writers. It’s like we’re all in tune and we just get each other. For example, when we met another writing friend, Poppy Reiffin, for dinner, at that lovely Italian restaurant in Walnut Creek? I zoned out in the middle of conversation.

Do they wave a hand in front of my face? Sprinkle some parmesan to get my attention? Oh, no. Rochelle just says to me, quietly, “You’re thinking about your story aren’t you?” Me? My characters chatting in my head in the middle of our pasta party? Uh, yes, actually. It’s so great to be understood.

In addition to getting a ton of writing done, Virna managed to whip together a trailer for my new contemporary romance short story that will be published in TMP’s Valentine’s Anthology next month. Here's the trailer:

Hope you have as much fun watching it as we did making it.

Patricia, thanks for having me here and letting me share some thoughts on writing. I’d love to come visit again. Until then….
Happy reading, happy writing, and an early HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cracker Barrel Rocks

Here's a tribute to my favorite on-the-road-again place to eat!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

The Healer's Apprentice is Melanie Dickerson's debut YA novel. It is a retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Although I have not read it, I have heard only good things about this book. I am huge fan of the trailer. Everyone who has read the book says it is a terrific story, so if you are looking for a last-minute gift for a girl, this might be a great choice. Melanie is a member of Heart Of Dixie and a such a sweet person. You can learn more about her and her books on her blog

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Week

Christmas is only 5 days away! Hope everyone has their shopping done! I'm blogging today about the life of Cole Younger at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Interview with Kim Smith

Thank you for this interview, Kim. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I have been writing since the early nineties, but not seriously until the last five or so years. I love to craft stories of all kinds, and I am a photographer/videographer as well. I think creative people find a lot of ways of expressing themselves.

Do you write full-time?

A: I don’t write full-time, and really wish that I could. I hope maybe when my children are all out of college, then my writing full-time desire will be fulfilled.

You’ve met an old friend from high school and you want to pitch the romance, A WILL TO LOVE to him/her in five minutes or less. What would you say?

A: It’s about a man who lost his wife to cancer and now has to run their bed and breakfast all alone. He thinks he will never love again until a fiery Irish woman who is a famous writer comes to stay at The Inn.

Who was your intended audience for this book? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?

A: My intended audience would be mostly women although men have read it and loved it as well. Of course, crossing over would be awesome too!

Why did you choose your particular genre?

A: I have loved reading romances since I was a young teenager reading Harlequins and I guess I have never stopped thinking that I could write one as well.

Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?

A: Oh yes. I have self-doubt about every four pages. It’s irritating, too! But when the doubt monster comes out, I beat him into shape by writing free-style for a few minutes. Sometimes self-doubt is nothing more than lack of a handle on the story and where it is going.

Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?

A: I usually am sitting in my living room with the television on, and with all the lights on.

What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?

A: It’s funny but this time around I did very little research. I knew of the bed and breakfast I wanted to pattern the story after, and I knew its history. I love it when I have all the tools with which to write a story!

Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?

A: I am published by Red Rose Publishing and Moongypsy Press. The way I got published is a long story, but in a word, it’s good to know people. You never know when your online contacts will turn into an opportunity.

How are you promoting your books thus far?

A: I post everywhere all manner of things about the book, but the biggest bit of promotion I have done is a blog tour through Pump Up Your Book Promotions with Dorothy Thompson. DT is the nicest lady and the best promoter in the industry.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

A: Don’t be afraid to open your mouth and tell people about your work!

What’s next for you?

A: I will soon have another YA and the next book in the mystery series.

Thank you for this interview, Kim. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

A: Yes, my website is: and my blog is and I hang out on Facebook and Twitter

Kim Smith is a forty something author of mysteries and romance. She lives in the Mid South region of the US with her hubby and Chia Pom Tinkerbell. She is currently working on the next in her mystery series and a fantasy YA.

The Gift of Time

Time and life go hand-in-hand because there is only so much time allotted to a life. That truth is often overlooked by humans. True time slips by us, quietly and unnoticed, even though we glance at our watches or wall clocks constantly. We have our schedules and appointment books, all based on time. Yet, few of us really think about what time is.

Time doesn't discriminate between rich or poor. We all get 24 hours each day we live. Once an hour has passed, it is gone forever. No amount of money can buy it back or create more of it. You can't amass time to use later. You can't reclaim time that has passed. Time is the gift that comes with life.

Yet, we usually take time for granted. We waste time. We make excuses, thinking there will be plenty of time. However, our gift of time has come with no expectancy guaranteed. The very luckiest among us will live past 80 and time will end while they sleep. Will that time be well-spent?

If you knew you'd die in your sleep tonight, could you say your gift of time had been well-spent?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Writer's Christmas Wreath

What writer would not love this wreath? Sabra Agee made it for the Heart of Dixie Christmas party and I think it was the most creative gift at the party. The picture doesn't do justice to all the work and detail she put into making it. My favorite dessert was Cathy Stewart's Better Than Sex cake. It lived up to its name. The cake was delicious!! I have posted more photos of our RWA chapter party on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guest Blogger: Anna Kathryn Lanier on GMC

Goal, Motivation and Conflict

Yesterday, my newest story was released. A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE is a sequel to my short story THE PRICELESS GIFT and it was a long time in coming. As soon as I finished The Priceless Gift, I knew I wanted to write Jacob's story. He's the brother of the heroine in The Priceless Gift. However, it wasn't an easy story to write. I had trouble with the plot, but finally, I did come up with a heroine for Jacob and a story line and I wrote the story. Then I sent it off to my editor.

She sent it back saying she loved it, but that it needed work. The characters were “two-dimensional.” I needed to improve the story and then I could resubmit it. I re-read the story. Wow! I thought I'd nailed it, but I hadn't. The hero, the beloved Jacob, had no GMC--Goal, Motivation or Conflict. He was just there.

Oh, I had given him backstory and he went through angst, but he didn't have anything that he 'needed' or 'wanted.' He didn't have a GOAL. He didn't have MOTIVATION. He didn't have CONFLICT. Aside from the fact the story took place in his house and he seduced the heroine, Tessa, there was no reason for him to be in the story.

Not exactly hero material after all.

To help me fix this major problem in my story, I pulled Deb Dixon's book Goal, Motivation, Conflict off the shelf and flipped through. For those who are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. Deb writes an easy to read and understand explanation of GMC.

So, what is GMC? In a nutshell--the hero needs a goal, something he wants or needs. Then he needs a reason, or motivation, for his goal. Then, and this is important, he needs a conflict that is stopping him from getting his goal. The more conflict stopping him from getting what he wants, the better.

It should also be mentioned that there is an internal goal and an external goal. Deb says, “If you can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it, or smell it…that's external….If the character has to feel it (experience emotion) then you're dealing with the internal side of your character.”

While I had given Jacob a wishy-washy external goal (buying a ranch), I had not given him an internal goal, or made the external goal worthy enough. I had to mold Jacob's backstory to form an emotional reason for his goals.

From the beginning I had it that he'd grown up on a ranch in Hawaii, but as an adult, had become a lawyer instead of a rancher. Now, he wanted to be a rancher. I realized in re-reading the story that I had to add layers of emotions and memories to feed into his goal. I was able to make the goal of a ranch both an external goal, and to an extent, an internal goal. He wanted what he missed the most--the family life he'd grown up with and missed greatly.

Cue the heroine.

Tessa jumped into the picture to give him part of his internal goal. As a cook for the ranch, she filled his home with scrumptious, home-cooked meals, just like his mother made. Enticing aromas filled the air and an enticing cook roamed about his house, bombarding him with emotions he didn't quite know how to deal with. He had to come to terms with his conflict of not involving himself with someone “more screwed up than he was.”

Once I added this layer to the story, my editor loved it even more and offered a contract on it, for which I'm really grateful.

A Gift Beyond All Measure is now available at


Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he's not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson--when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure

To help celebrate the release of A Gift Beyond All Measure, I am giving away a free cookbook, full of many of the recipes Tessa cooks in the story, along with a handful of recipes from 'family and friends.' You can obtain a free pdf copy of A Gift Beyond All Measure Cookbook at my website,

And, I am also hosting Holiday Cheer on my blog--a different recipe for holiday cheer every day through now and December 31, 2010.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hot Cocoa: Fun Facts and Recipe

Hot cocoa or hot chocolate as we say in the South dates back the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. It was nothing like the hot cocoa we have today. Milk was not used and it was served cold with a blend of wine and chili peppers. EWWW!

Chocolate was brought to Europe in the 1500's and in the 1600's chocolate houses, much like coffee houses, were found throughout England. The most fashionable chocolate house was White's, which opened in 1693. Later, like many chocolate houses, White's became a gentlemens' club and still exists today.

Besides being enjoyed as a drink by the aristocracy (cocoa was very expensive), it was used to treat various stomach disorders, liver disease and fevers. In France, chocolate was used to "fight fits of anger and bad moods". I think it is still used for that by women everywhere!

Cocoa progressed through the decades and some of the historic names associated with hot cocoa are present today. In 1842, John Cadbury is selling 16 types of drinking cocoa. 1879 milk chocolate is invented in Switzerland using powdered milk invented by Nestle. In 1926, Hershey introduces Hershey syrup, 1935 Carnation comes up with instant hot cocoa and in the 1950's Swiss Miss produces packets of hot cocoa for airline passengers.

Hot cocoa has become a well-loved comfort food. What is better on a cold winter night than a cup of hot cocoa? And, this is definitely the week to enjoy it as the deep freeze continues. Here are my recommendations:

Instant chocolate mix:

I give Land of Lakes five stars! It is the best instant hot cocoa mix that I have used. Great rich chocolate taste. It is an expensive brand, compared to Nestle or Swiss Miss. But the flavor, which doesn't taste instant at all, is worth it.

A simple delicious recipe for making hot cocoa yourself and cheaply, too:

1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp sugar
Add 1 cup of hot water. Stir and enjoy!
you can also mix with cold water and heat in microwave)
This hot cocoa will have a creamy milk taste, more chocolaty and less sweet than the store-bought mixes.

Regardless of how you prepare it, I hope you enjoy a hot cup tonight!

Tuesday's Quote

The only thing that I have done that is not mitigated by luck, diminished by good fortune, is that I persisted. And other people gave up."

- Harrison Ford

Thursday, December 2, 2010