Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample: The Yard Sale

This Saturday I'm featuring the beginning paragraphs from a short story I wrote called The Yard Sale. I always wanted to do a story on a yard sale, since I'd had several myself and I thought a yard sale would make a great background. Using the premise 'an act of kindness leads to a great reward', I wrote Jennifer's story about getting past a divorce and making a new future for herself with the help of an unlikely shopper. However, my favorite character is Gail, who is a lot like me and has nicknames for the shoppers. Early birds, Tightwads, Pack rats, etc.
The Yard Sale made the finals in the William Faulkner Short Fiction Contest, the Pacific Writers' Assn Fiction Contest and the Panama City Writers' Fiction Contest. Also it was selected by PCW to be included in their literary review, The Sea Oats Review.     

      "Jennifer! Get a move on.  The Early birds are here." 
     Already?  I crammed the last bite of my sausage and biscuit in my mouth.  When Gail said they would be here at dawn, she wasn't kidding.  The sun had barely lit the sky.
     I stepped out the garage door to find Gail, my mom's youngest sister and noted yard sale pro, uncovering the tables of merchandise.  Two female Early birds hovered over each table like vultures, scanning over the glassware, knickknacks and kitchen utensils.  I smiled as they gathered up items.  This was my first yard sale and maybe it'd be the success Gail had promised.
More Early birds arrived.  Money, money, money.  That's what I needed, what I wanted, and why I welcomed my customers with an inviting smile. "Look around all you want."
An hour later, I sat in the lawn chair beside a small table with the moneybox and notebook handy.  I took in money, gave back change.  Looked happy.  However, to be honest, this yard sale was the culmination of my shattered life. 
The belongings I had for sale were wedding gifts, things I had bought for my new house, clothes Chad had liked and presents we'd exchanged.  The past seven years of my life surrounded me.  Round orange price stickers proclaimed it's worth.  My beloved things had become a corpse, and the yard sale its funeral. . .

Visit other writers and read their samples at Sweet Saturday SamplesThanks for stopping by!  Do come back for Monday's Meet the Author. My guest will be historical romance author, Alice Gaines, and if you leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing for Alice's book, Always A Princess.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thought for Today

Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing,
you will be successful.
~Albert Schweitzer

And The Winner Is

Norah Wilson won the iTunes gift card! Thanks to all who stopped by and left comments. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Everyone have a good Wednesday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monday's Meet the Author: Dr. Debra Holland (Plus Enter to Win a Gift Card)

This Monday's guest is Dr. Debra Holland.  Debra is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. For twenty-five years, she’s counseled individuals, couples, and groups. She specializes in communication and relationship issues. We all need to talk to her!!  Besides helping people to live happily-ever-after, she also writes romances and we all know they end happily-ever-after.  

Debra is a three-time Golden Heart finalist and one time winner.  Like so many other writers, Debra decided to take the plunge this year and go Indie as the e-book revolution continues to bless writers with a place to market their books and become successful without an agent and (gasp!) a publisher.  And, Debra has become one successful writer.

In April, she published her Golden Heart winner, Wild Montana Sky, a sweet Western historical. She followed up with its sequel, Starry Montana Sky. Four months later, the books have sold 22,000 copies and continue to sell. An e-book is forever. She has also published her first two books in a fantasy romance trilogy, Sower of Dreams and Reaper of Dreams. Debra has a wonderful blog and she does share her sales figures on her blog which is a great help to those who are thinking about becoming an Indie. Debra's nonfiction book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, from Alpha Books (a subsidiary of Penguin) will be out in November. She has a free ebooklet available on her website,  58 Tips for Getting What You Want From A Difficult Conversation. You can also buy her books and follow her on Twitter and Facebook from her webpage.
And, here's her answers to our probing questions:     

1.What movie best describes your life?

I really had to think about this because my life’s been pretty good. I’ll choose Chariots of Fire because I love the movie and it’s about striving for a huge goal and succeeding. I’ve accomplished several big goals in my life that aren’t ordinary--obtaining my Ph.D, becoming a black belt (I’m 2nd, almost 3rd degree) and writing a book (then 8 more.) Now my big goal is having a successful self-publishing career.  

2. What is the one thing you need to do but hate doing it?

Writing. I’m not good at forcing myself to sit down and actually write. I’d rather read, and do so far too often. At least she is honest. She also had a smiley face here but something happened to it??? Sorry, Debra

3. If you were about to be served your last meal, what would be on your plate?

Yum. Bad for me food. Mexican Food and chocolate glazed donuts for desert.  

 4. If you could be any fictional character (books, movies) who would you be?

I never thought of who I’d want to be. I have thought of which hero I’d want. 1. Adam Sinclair in The Adept, by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris. 2. Roarke in the J.D. Robb series.

5. What is your favorite kind of chocolate? 

Lindt Dark Chocolate truffles. I also love chocolate covered pretzels.

6. If you knew you were going to be sent back to high school tomorrow, how would you react? 

It depends on if I could go back with my knowledge and personality intact. If I could, that would be great. If not… actually high school was mostly a good experience for me. I still wouldn’t want to return.

7. What do you love most about being a writer?

Receiving fan mail from people who love my books and can’t wait for the next one to come out.

The Giveaway!  You want to win a $10 iTunes giftcard?  Leave a comment and if you'd like, answer one of the above questions.  A winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday!  

Hidden Courtyard in New Orleans

hidden courtyard by pink_fish13
hidden courtyard, a photo by pink_fish13 on Flickr.
I loved this wonderful photograph.  All morning, I have been in New Orleans. Not physically!  The New Orleans where my characters are in 1814 no longer exists except for flagstone carriageways and courtyards.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday! The Big Day Is Here!

My favorite day has arrived and best of all, it is premiere night for Season 7 of Supernatural. This series is the only TV series that I make time to watch. I love the characters, Sam and Dean, and all their conflicts and disasters. The actors do a great job bringing them to life.

Tonight I'm have a Supernatural pizza party. A couple of Supernatural fans and friend of mine, Lee Ann and Keith are coming over. I'm making pizza and we are going to watch the last episode of Season 6 while we eat. Then pick up with the new show. Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No More Hot Fudge Cake

After 20-plus years, Shoney's went out of business. The restaurant is boarded up and I have to say I will miss the place and most of all, the hot fudge cake. No one made hot fudge cake like Shoney's and it was my favorite. I guess it is a sign of the times. Shoneys, Movie Gallery, Spice of Life Bookstore, Goodys, Big Lots, Trees and Trends have all closed their doors and I do miss them!  Has your town lost a lot of stores?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monday's Meet the Author: Cynthia Woolf

Today, I invited Cynthia Woolf over to my blog. First, I'm going to tell you a little bit about her and her writing. Then, for the real treat, Cynthia has answered my Seven Snoopy Questions and she has some great answers.

Cynthia was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden.  She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend.  That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006. Cynthia was and is an avid reader.  Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week.  This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug.  She wrote her first story at the age of ten.  A romance about a little boy she liked at the time. So you can see that Cynthia is a born romantic.

In 2000, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she'd attend.  One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker.  Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter's table at the luncheon. Have you ever known anyone luckier than Cynthia?  After talking with Ms. Coulter, she  decided she needed to get back to her writing.  She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn't looked back.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

So, now, let's learn some fun facts about Cynthia and what kind of chocolate she likes

1. What movie best describes your life? Romancing the Stone because my life is just one accident after another, but I got my husband and my happily ever after. (See, I told you she was a born romantic!)

2. What is the one thing you need to do but hate doing it? Exercise! Isn’t this everyone’s answer?

3. If you were about to be served your last meal, what would be on your plate? Pot roast with lots and lots of carrots and my mother’s carrot cake. Can you see a pattern here?

4. If you could be any fictional character (books, movies) who would you be? Dumbledore. I want his magic to clean my house.

5. What is your favorite kind of chocolate? We have to pick a favorite??? I would pick a Mounds bar…sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don’t.

6. If you knew you were going to sent back to high school tomorrow, how would you react? First I’d want to lose more weight. Second, I’d put the moves on that cute guy I was afraid to talk to way back when. (Way to go!)

7. What do you love most about being a writer? Being a writer is such a joy. There isn’t just one thing I love about it. I love it all. One of the best things is being able to have my stories end the way I want. Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that you loved till the end? Then you hated the whole thing because the end sucked the big green one. I feel that way about the movie Seven. It was a good movie till the end, then it just sucked. I haven’t been able to watch it since. Now I make the end what I want it to be and since I write romance, there is always a happily ever after.

So, now, we know Cynthia loves carrots, chocolate, books and boys! She is also the author of two romances. A western historical set in 1880's Colorado,  Tame A Wild Heart.  Click on the title to go to its Amazon page for more info and reviews. She also has a sci-fi romance called Centauri Dawn available at Amazon.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample: Almost An Outlaw

This is my first Saturday joining Sweet Saturday Sample and I'm posting a short sample from the 1st chapter of Almost An Outlaw published by Carina Press. I have always referred to it as my Jesse James book because the heroine is Jesse's cousin. It's a historical romance novella set during the week of Jesse's wedding in April 1874.

         “If you're looking for something besides clothing, I do have a number of lovely gift items that any lady would love."  She reached for the display of perfume on the counter and dabbed a bit of fragrance on her wrist.  “This cologne is a very light orange blossom and lilac combination.  It is one of my favorites.  Do you like it?"
            He sniffed her wrist.  "I'd buy it for a special lady but I don't have one."
            Much to her horror, his words thrilled her. 
            "I see you got married."  He gave her wedding band a pointed look.
            She pulled her hand back and closed the bottle of perfume."Yes, I was married.  I'm widowed now."
"You're awfully young to be widowed."
            "Young men die, too,"  she said.  Sometimes, their wives get them killed.  He offered the standard condolences while she returned the perfume bottle to the display tray.  "What about a silk hankie or a beaded reticule?"
            "I'm not here as a customer,"  he remarked and she lifted her brows in surprise.  He spoke quietly,  "I talked to Thad Adams at the Croft Hotel."
She had known the hotel manager, Thad Adams, all her life.  They had gone to school together and Thad was now married to her aunt's sister-in-law. 
            "He said you could help me."
"With what?"  she asked.
            "I need to see the Boys,"  he said, using the local nickname for James-Younger gang.
            In that one second, when he mentioned the Boys, a chill swept over her. She couldn’t keep smiling, not when she sensed trouble. Warily, she slid a glance to his waist where he wore his guns tied down and heels forward, gunfighter-style.

 If you are interested in knowing more about the story, click on the Book tab. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Book Shelf: The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

I have decided to feature some of my favorite reads from my book shelf.  This is not a review but some short answers to questions we all have about a book before we buy.

Why did I choose to buy this book?
The premise sold me on it. It is a suspense novel that runs 2 story threads. One in the present and one in 1830. I loved the movie, Dead Again, which did the same thing. So I when I read the blurb, I was sold on it.

What is the basic storyline?
Newly-divorced Julia Hamill has bought an old house in rural Massachusetts and while digging a garden in the backyard, she finds a skeleton, that turns out to be from 1830. The story of that long-forgotten murder victim is revealed as Julia is determined to find out who she was and what happened to her.

What did I like most? What stood out?
I loved the historical part of the book that featured a group of young medical students, one of them being Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, working in the maternity ward of a hospital where so many new mothers die from infections. It is in the course of the story that Holmes and the hero, Norris Marshall, begin to consider the possibility that infection is being spread by doctors, who treat a sick patient and then a healthy one. Later on in his career, Dr. Holmes was the first physician to come up with the concept of hand-washing between patients.

As far as characters, I loved Norris. He is the son of a poor farmer and to support himself while going to school, he works for a local "resurrectionist". He helps steal dead bodies from graveyards to sell to medical schools. Norris is a wonderful, likable character who ends up the prime suspect in a series of grisly murders.

And, Rose Connolly, a down-on-her-luck young woman whose sister dies in the maternity ward. She and Norris fall in love. This is not a romance but there is a scene toward the conclusion of the book where they make love. There is no graphic description. Just one paragraph that is so poignant. I was impressed.

What should readers expect?
It is well-constructed and it has enough plot twists to keep you turning pages. You will learn a lot about early medicine and be thankful there's been a lot of progress in the medical field. You'll root for Norris and Rose.  You'll like Julia and Rose's eccentric descendant, Henry Page, who with old letters from the 1800's, helps Julia unravel the mystery and identity of the woman buried in her yard.  Plus there's Tom, Julia's neighbor and love interest, who has a wonderful role to play especially in the end.

If you are not accustomed to reading mainstream fiction, you should know this book is gritty and realistic. It is not a historical romance where the reality is glossed over and turned into a Jane Austen movie. The historical characters have a rough, sometimes unforgiving life.  You may do some crying toward the end. Again, this is a novel, not a romance.  But, it does have an unforeseen romantic twist at the very end for Julia, which I loved.

How would Hollywood rate this book?  PG-13. Some violence. Mild language. No explicit sex.

I think it would make a great movie!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

You know you are in Texas when the entrance to a cafe looks like this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Five Star Products

I recently tried two new products and they passed the taste test! I was at Kroger, looking at the low-fat ice cream counter, when a guy who was buying some recommended Skinny Cow. He said the ice cream sandwiches are delicious.  So, due to word-of-mouth, that magical sales tool, I decided to try SC. No regrets! The guy was right. They are yummy! Of course, they are more expensive than regular ice cream so that is the trade-off for few calories. But you don't trade off taste.

Also I needed peanut butter and decided to try out Natural Jif because it was on sale and had the same ingredients as Smart Choice. This peanut butter has a great taste and texture. It has a rich flavor like the pure peanut butter you have to keep refrigerated but I like it better. One thing I like is that it doesn't have the overly-sweet taste of cheaper peanut butter that is loaded down with high fructose corn syrup.

Have a great Monday if possible.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

September 11, 2001 is one of those days you can always recall what you were doing when you heard the news. For me, I was off work that day and I was working on a story outline. I had not turned on the TV as I rarely turn on the television unless it is a program I intend to watch.  My son called me, wanting to know if I had heard the news. At that point in time, nothing was really known except that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. So, I went into the den and turned on the TV. I was plastered there for the rest of the day.

All that was being shown was an upper view of the twin towers smoking and the newscasters commenting in turmoil. I can't remember if the second plane had hit or not by the time I turned on the TV. What I do remember most vividly is the shock of seeing the first tower collapse on live TV. That image has remained with me throughout the years.

To the survivors and loved ones of all the victims and heroes lost on September 11th, may you blessed with memories of better times and know their light shines on.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taking Time to Blog

I have let my poor blog fall by the wayside. Of course, this wasn't intentional but a matter of not having enough spare time to keep it up plus work on a book as well. As you can see from the photo, I have been busy on the book. Often times, this is how it looks in my writing room. It is clutter with reference books, notes, outlines, etc.. All kinds of stuff I drag out while I'm writing and, of course, I don't put them back. I do the same thing all over my house until the moment comes that it has to be straightened up. Then, woe be to me.

I do love writing and my current project, Lady Silver, has been great fun and a great headache. It was a short novella that I'm expanding. For me, when I start adding scenes, those changes ripple through the entire book. Plus I made some character changes. It has taken me longer than I thought it would, but I have taken my time and put a lot of effort into the polishing process.  It is already twice as long as it was originally.

Besides writing and working at the day job, I have been doing my fall cleaning. I called the Salvation Army last week and said "Bring your truck!". I'm not a hoarder. I am trying to downsize and get rid of junk I don't use any more, clothes I don't wear.  I took another load to Goodwill today including some books and VHS movies that I have on DVD now.  I have weeded through four rooms so far and I'm pleased with the result. Organization and de-cluttering always has a positive effect on me.  I will have to wait until I am finished with this book before I tackle the writing room. Cleaning out files and drawers will be a major job.  However, because I couldn't find anything yesterday, I had to stop and get everything cleaned up. I even got a roll of cork board at Lowe's that came in handy for posting notes.

It'll stay like that for a couple of days until I get going.  Also, I am hoping to get back to blogging regularly and I'm going to make my blog my homepage for motivation. More like a reminder. Of course, there's also Twitter, Facebook and other time sucks that simply have to wait if you are writing. What do you have to give up to write?