Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On Technology and Convenience...

I had a weird weekend. Not as bizarre as those in the path of Irene, but strange enough that it gave me pause to think how dependant we are on technology and the convenience it brings.

The plan Saturday was to drive up to Clarksville to see our daughter, Nicole. She’s one of three drum majors this year in the Austin Peay State University Governor’s Own Marching Band. No small feat considering she’s the only one of the three who didn’t have this position in high school marching band. The band does a premier show each year at the conclusion of band camp. My husband I planned to stay overnight in Clarksville so we could spend some time with Nicole after the show, and wouldn’t have to make the ninety-mile drive back home at night.

Late Saturday morning, about an hour before we were due to leave for Clarksville, we noticed the upstairs AC was frozen. Again. Turn off AC, put fan on to keep running (and hopefully thaw the ice), and call AC dude for an appointment Sunday morning. We've been through this before with the upstairs AC unit.

My car was packed with our overnight bags and a few things Nicole wanted, including her bicycle. We get in, hubby turns the key, and CLICK! CLICK! Car won’t start. Yes, it’s in "park." CLICK! CLICK! Battery? Alternator? Something else? Who knows? He gets out the jumper cables, tries to jump it with his car, nothing. Not even a spark of life.

We decide to make the trip anyway. We haven’t seen Nicole since she left for pre-band camp nearly two weeks earlier, she’s having a rough time with the whole drum major thing, she hates her new dorm, and we both know she needs to see us as much as we need to see her.

Hubby’s car is a twelve-year-old Saturn that all three of us have now driven. It’s running on borrowed time, but it’s come through for us in a pinch before. We make the trip, get checked in at the hotel after asking for another, non-connecting room, and make it over to the stadium in plenty of time to see the show.

The band sounds great, Nicole looks exhausted but happy to see us. After the show we take her Zaxby’s (her choice), and deliver her bike in the new dorm room. It’s a quad – two girls to a bedroom, one bath, one kitchen, and one living room/dining room combo. Not terrible, but Nicole already misses having her own room. Three of them (all in band) have been there for two weeks. The fourth roommate isn’t in band so she’s just moved in, and seems very nice. The other three don't know her, so there was some trepidation.

After a million hugs from Nicole we return to the hotel room. On the second floor, above the bar, where they’re having a class reunion. Undaunted that I’ve already asked once to switch rooms, we ask again for a higher floor, or at least one away from the THUMP! THUMP of disco music. Disco music??? Really??? No empty rooms - not one. And, they inform us in a cheery voice that makes me want to punch something, they’re booked for fun events like this every Saturday for the rest of the year except Christmas Eve! Oh joy!

So we leave. Screw it. It’s only a ninety-mile drive and we’re both so damn exhausted and frustrated by then we don’t even care. They were kind enough not to charge us for the room and apologized all over the place. Whatever.

It’s close to midnight when we get home, still hot and sticky from the near-100 degree day. The upstairs is, of course, an oven, but luckily our bedroom is on the first floor. Neither one of us sleeps well because we still have the whole car-won’t-start and AC things on our minds, not to mention Nicole just looked miserable when we left her, so we’re up at six thirty in the morning.

Internet, phone and cable are out. NO!!! I call Comcast and am informed via automated message that they’re having technical difficulties and our service should be restored by 9:54 AM. 9:54 AM? How can they be so precise?

Hubby takes the battery out of my car, runs it up to Auto Zone, buys a new one for a lot of money, drives home, puts it in, drives to Auto Zone to see if it’s drawing a charge. It is. Hooray! Not the alternator or some other pain-in-the-ass electrical issue!

AC dude comes and recharges the upstairs AC. Good news! Uh-oh... the bad news? It has a coil leak and will cost more money than I care to spend in order to fix it. *SIGH*

Three hours after the Internet, phone and cable return to life, they go out AGAIN. Call Comcast. As usual, they know nothing. Oh and it seems I was the first one to report the outage. Right... An hour later I call again, and this time the automated message says my service will be restored by 2:23 PM. At 2:35 PM I call, again, and now there is no specific time at which my service will be restored, but they do apologize for any inconvenience. Approximately two hours after that Comcast tells me my service will be restored by 8:23 PM. At 4:00 PM they CALL me on my land line (their line) to tell me the service is restored. I laughed. The Internet was slow but it was on. By that time I don't even care anymore, so hubby and I sat down to watch The Weather Channel coverage of Irene for the first time all weekend.

WOW. That's all I can say is WOW. What a storm. Over thirty people dead, per TWC. Flooding in several states. Millions without power. And here I am bitching about an AC unit that's probably had a leak for close to two years, and the freaking Internet being out one day out of 365. Oh, and let's not forget a dead six year old car battery (which is pretty good for a battery) and a noisy hotel room that we didn't really need in the first place. Would I care for a little cheese with my whine???

The trouble with having everything at your fingertips is that you come to expect everything at your fingertips 24/7. I mean let's get real... even with the cable, phone and Internet out, I was still able to post to Facebook and tweet on my iPhone. I was able to check and respond to emails. I was still able to write. Hubby and I watched movies. We have a perfectly fine downstairs AC unit. Minor inconveniences, at most. Granted they all came during the same weekend, but they were MINOR compared to say... a hurricane, flooding and power outages that might last up to a week. Oh and let's not forget a tree coming down on your house or car and killing you or a loved one. Last night I slept in a cool room, in a house with electricity. Millions did not.

Humbled and ashamed, I sit here to tell you I'm amazed at how much I take for granted in my life. I'm old enough to remember our house without AC. Okay, I lived in Cleveland Ohio where 90 degree days were quite rare, but a home still gets plenty hot inside when it's 70 or 80 degrees outside. Yet we survived. Without Internet, without cable even, and without cell phones. Car trouble? Call a neighbor or family member - on that rotary dial phone - and they come to assist. Cars were easier to fix back then. No computers running everything in them.

So the next time Comcast is... well... Comcast, or one of the AC units decides to act like a machine and break, or my car acts like a car and something goes haywire on it, I'll try to remember this weekend and those images on The Weather Channel, and I'll be thankful for all I have.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Keep Your Writing Dream Alive and Active

Want to cling to your writing dream? To keep on writing, no matter what? Debut author Patricia C. Lee, who could be dubbed The Queen of Persistence, offers advice that’ll help you keep plugging.

Pat, who lives in Ontario, Canada, has polished her prose for 20 years -- even though rejections were a harsh reality in her life. Again and again. She received more than 120 rejections on DESTINY’S PAST alone, but she pressed on and her hard work, at long last, has been rewarded. DESTINY’S PAST was published in June by Crescent Moon Press.

(That's not a typo -- 120 "no thanks" responses, not just a mere 12.)
When I asked Pat about her arduous journey as a writer, here's what she shared.

"The hardest part about being a writer is the Self-Doubt. The constant bite of this emotion can wear away even the staunchest of hearts. The reason I kept at it was because I enjoyed it so much but I also knew, deep down, that I could write. It is a gift, just like being adept with numbers, singing, acting, having a knack with children. I also believe each of us has a gift. It may not be anything flashy, but the key is to define it and then hone it. That’s why I kept writing for so long, to hone what I was given. And I will continue to do so – always."

That’s quite a statement of faith. If you’re not as sure of yourself and your writing as Pat, here are 13 tips to help along:

Header by Samulli

  1. Persevere. This also can be another word for stubbornness. We all know what perseverance means but you have to practice it, too. I think the publishing business is harder to get into than the acting business. You have to be "The Little Engine That Could.’ Never, ever give up. There is nothing worse than looking back later and saying “I wonder if. ...”

  2. Communicate. Yes, writing is a solitary craft but that doesn’t mean you have to hole up. Join a writer’s group, or create your own. Or, if you’re not into groups, find another person who writes and see if you can make a friend. You don’t have to stay local – go virtual. Thank goodness for the Internet. There are so many writing groups online that you don’t have to worry about getting to a meeting or even getting dressed up. Stay in your PJs and chat online. Most importantly is to ‘get out there and talk.’ I met a fellow writer a few years back and besides becoming friends, we also give each other a ‘shot-in-the-arm’ when needed. She’s been a Godsend.

  3. Mutate. No, I don’t mean get blasted with radiation and morph into another X-Men character. You need to grow a thick skin. Rejections hurt, no doubt about it -- whether in writing or personal life. In writing you cannot take it personally. It will cripple you. Doesn’t matter if it’s from judges in a contest, an agent, or a publisher, the rejection is just ONE PERSON’S OPINION. Once I began looking at it that way it helped me a lot. These people don’t know you from Adam. To them it’s strictly business.

  4. Gamble. Now, don’t be spending your last dollar on the slots. Enter writing contests. As many as you can. Some are free, but a lot you have to pay a small entrance fee. It doesn’t matter if the first prize is money or not (though, that sure helps). It’s the recognition that counts, and it looks good on your writing resume. When you query agents or publishers, it grabs their attention. When entering contests, remember the ‘front-line’ judges are volunteers from local writing chapters. They may not necessarily read the specific genre you write and their comments may not be the most encouraging. Keep it in perspective – it’s just one person’s opinion.

  5. Read. All agents and publishers say the same thing. Read, read, read, and then write. Meaning, if you’re writing horror but truthfully you’re a closet romance junkie, then that’s what you should write. Anything else will come across as false. Publishers can spot it right away. And you never know – you might have a knack for writing inspirational, intrigue or western.

  6. Sacrifice. What are you willing to let go to get published? Time with friends? Family? Because that’s what it takes. You have to write every day (well, maybe take a day off once in a while.) It needs to become part of your daily routine. Schedule it. Even if it’s only a half-hour, slip it in somewhere. For me, I gave up sleeping an extra hour and a half. I get up at 5 a.m. and head into work an hour early so I can write without interruptions.

  7. Perspective. How do you look at the concept of writing? Is it a hobby, something you enjoy to pass the time? Or is it the end-all to be-all? There's absolutely nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, but if you want to get a book published it may not be enough. It has to be almost an OBSESSION – the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you fall asleep.

  8. Support. There's nothing better than having the support of friends and especially family. Are they willing to step up to the plate to help you realize your dream? There's no way I could have gotten published without the love, encouragement and faith from my husband. It’s why Destiny’s Past is dedicated to him. But if you can’t find the support close to you, then join a writer’s group, either locally or online.

  9. Learn. Go to workshops. If there isn’t one nearby, make one. I lived in one place where the closest city was a two-hour drive away, and it didn’t have workshops every year. So, with the help of another writing friend (see the tip about communicate), we created our own workshop. We were fortunate that an award-winning author was willing to come and all we had to pay was her gas and accommodations. Was it a lot of work? Definitely, yes. Did it pay off – you bet. I learned a lot from her. And I made more writing contacts to boot.

  10. Proliferate. It may have taken you years to write your first book, but you can’t rest on that laurel. Once your first book is the best it can be and you’re sending out query letters, start the next one. And make sure you mention in any subsequent query letters how many novels you have completed. It shows the publisher or agent you’re not a one-hit-wonder -- that you're in it for the long haul. I’ll never know for sure, but I like to think one of the reasons Crescent Moon Press selected Destiny’s Past was because I told Crescent Moon it was part one of a trilogy and I had almost finished the first draft of part two.

  11. Abstain. It’s not what you’re thinking. Once you’ve finished your book and have done at least the first and/or second edit, step away. For at least a few weeks. Take a breather. Go out with friends. Then, go back to the book. You’d be amazed that the book you thought was perfect has a big gaping hole in the story you didn’t see before. It’s like reading it with fresh eyes.

  12. Luck. There is no getting around this one and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Getting published has a lot to do with luck. Don’t get me wrong -- you have to have a good story and be able to put sentences together, but it can boil down to how the person reading your submission feels that day. Your hero’s name could be the jerk who just dumped her. Or your heroine could remind the reader of a best friend or sister. Yes, the front-line readers are told to be objective but you can’t deny feelings – they're human nature.

  13. Dream. I’m not sure if this is the most important or not, but it’s the one thing that kept me going. Getting published was a lifelong dream, one that I wasn’t willing to let go. Having a dream gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It gives us hope because you never know what tomorrow may bring.
    Pat and I hope these words encourage you. If you’d like to know more about Pat, you can find her several ways:
    Website: http://www.patriciaclee.com/
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorpatriciaclee
    Blog: http://www.authorpatriciaclee.wordpress.com/
    Footnote: Pat is willing to offer a free e-book copy of Destiny’s Past if people leave a comment and an e-mail address. We’re both betting you’ll enjoy her book.
    Destiny’s Past blurb:

    No-nonsense medical examiner, Kelly Richards, relies on the familiar comforts of science and scalpels to get her through the day. So when a not-so-dead guy who claims he's from the past lands on her autopsy table, she considers calling the men in white coats to escort him to a padded room. But Jarek's old-world ways and hot gaze trick her heart into falling for him—a mistake she swore she'd never make again.
    When Jarek, Prince of Leisos, discovers someone he trusts has been slowly poisoning him, he travels to the future in search of a cure. Driven by vengeance, he enlists the help of an impudent scientist to return him to his time. Caught between his growing desire for Kelly and the need to expose his would-be assassin before he strikes again, Jarek must either forfeit his ticket home or lose the only woman he's ever loved

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Horizons

I know ya’ll have come to expect my usual ‘IT’ Factor book reviews on my blog days. Instead, today I’m either running from a hungry grizzly or trying my best not to be trampled by an angry bison. You heard right. The hubster, kids and myself are at this very moment traipsing somewhere through Yellowstone National Forest by RV. Actually in two RVs, since my folks are with us in another one. I love my parents and I can vacation with them no problem, but 6 people in one little RV wasn’t going to happen. This trip was my daughter’s idea. She wanted to see Yellowstone before the super volcano blows in 2012. She’s sure that’s when it’s going to happen because of that darn Mayan calendar. Wonder where she gets her vivid imagination? Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll come back with any brilliant ideas for new books but I’m sure it will be the experience of a lifetime.

This blog post is also two-fold. I’ve decided to change things up a bit. Instead of posting every other week on a new debut author’s book, I’m going to be doing the ‘IT’ Factor posts once a month and on my other day I’m going to blog about the exciting new journey I’m embarking on. You see, I have decided to try my hand at indie-publishing. Yep, I’ve finally given up on the idea of ever fitting into the NY mold so I’m going to try it on my own.

I’ll be honest. A year ago I never would have contemplated it. But thanks to some visionary women at IndieRomanceInk, they’ve shown me that self-publishing is not the red-headed stepchild it once was and can be downright profitable. One romance author is making $4000-$6000 a month in her first year of sales with 5 e-books out. That ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Will I be as successful as she is? Probably not. Most indie-published authors aren't, at least not in the beginning. But I'll never know if don’t try. Afterall, these quirky paranormals of mine aren’t doing me any good sitting under the bed keeping the dust bunnies company. And so, if you don't mind, I’m going to take you all on the journey with me. Here’s what’s happened so far…

August 3
Decision day! After e-mailing an indie author back and forth about the pros and cons, plus reading traditionally published author Courtney Milan’s very interesting blog posts on her reasons for venturing into self-publishing, I decided it was time for me to take the plunge.

August 4-15
Being the art geek that I am, I jumped right into looking for stock photography for my cover. I was having so much fun with this that I forgot I needed to get someone else besides my critique partners and friends to read over my manuscript.

August 16
I hired a professional editor to fine tune my manuscript. She’s very busy, so she won’t be getting to mine until December unless one of her other clients drops out before my turn. Evidently everyone is trying to get books out around the holidays in the hopes that there will be another e-reader boom in the market when people find all those shiny new Nooks and Kindles under the Christmas tree. That was my hope too, but I’m alright with waiting. February 14th sounds like a very symbolic date for the release of my first paranormal romance, don’t you think? At least that's what I'm planning on now. If things fall into place faster than I think, I may put it up sooner.

That’s it for now. I won’t be doing a thing while I’m in Yellowstone (other than avoiding being eaten or trampled) but once I get back, I’ve got a lot of learning to do. There's formating for the Kindle, Nook and Smashwords, cover design (yipee!), advance reviews, figuring out Twitter, and the list goes on. Wish me luck and I hope you enjoy traveling on this exciting new journey with me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Invite A Squirrel for Dinner

We here at the diner serve some strange folks from time to time, but I just learned about Bad Manors Squirrel Diner out in Santa Monica, California. I do think they might just have upped even our strangeness level. Watch this video and see what you think.

They end of this video  gives a link to see Bad Manors Squirrel Diner live. When I went here, the bad manors live video wasn't live, but the site gives plenty of options for entertainment. For instance, pets and animals. On this page you can choose from live feeds of animals. If critters aren't your deal, you can pic something else from the menu bar.

Stranger, Otherworld Diner or Bad Manors Squirrel Diner? Do you like squirrels? Do you like to play with little plastic toys? Do you think I'll ever get any writing done or spend my day watching live feeds?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Granny Panties And Tighty-Whities?

Recently in our Evernight Authors Facebook group we were discussing underwear in romance novels, and wondering why no one writes their heroine wearing plain cotton undies. No loose elastic waistbands or dingy briefs for heroines allowed! It matters not if she's on the run from bad guys or vampires, as long as she's wearing sexy underwear.

Hey... it's fiction. We want to suspend our disbelief and escape with that story. Real women don't walk around in hot pink thongs, black lace, or go commando every day. I'm as guilty of dressing my heroines in red lace bras and panties in my stories as anyone, but now that's it's been pointed out to me I do find it interesting that most romance writers never dress their heroines in everyday undies.

What would happen if we came across a heroine proudly dropping her jeans to show the hero some comfy cotton briefs or at least panties in a lovely pastel color? Would the world end if she told him her bra was from Target? Is everyone's underwear black or red? What if she's wearing a white t-shirt? Surely she doesn't want that bra to show underneath. Didn't her mother ever tell her not to dress that way? Would it pull you out of the story to read about a heroine who's caught with her panties full of holes, or one who keeps adjusting a loose bra strap?

And how about the men? What's wrong with tighty-whities? The heroes I've read lately go commando, every single day. Do you know how uncomfortable that is? Not to mention the chaffing...

What say you, romance readers? Would you be turned off by a heroine who wore underwear from Walmart, or a hero who sported plaid boxers that looked like something he snatched from Grandpa's underwear drawer? If the hero described his lady love's undies as granny panties would you assume he wasn't as turned on as if she were wearing black lace?

Talk to me about the underwear your heroines and heroes wear... 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom to Keep You Writing

Ever wonder what it takes to be a successful writer? Wish someone would share that knowledge with you?

I did. Then Mary Jo Scheibl, whose self-professed goal is to be a wise woman, spoke to the Milwaukee Chapter of Wisconsin Romance Writers. Her words inspired me and I think they’ll encourage you too. She’s my guest today.

I’ll admit it. I’m one of those writers “who’s been writing forever.”

If I look at the fact that I’m now published, I must admit it’s taken me 50 some years. :-) But who wants to admit to that? Once I put serious effort into marketing what I was writing along with writing, I’ll admit I’m an “almost instant” success with getting a contract after 6 years. During those years, I had many times when I was “almost there.” Then something would change the outcome. Always that outcome was beyond my control. Sound familiar?

As my hubby would often tell me in those years, one way to be a sure-fire failure was to quit writing. I didn’t give up and I kept writing my stories always looking to improve my craft and skills with each finished manuscript. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things that I know helped me finally get that contract, hold the book in my hand, experience the book win awards.

Since Brenda asked so nicely to share any wisdom I’ve picked up in my journey, and because Brenda loves the number 13, here are some wise bits of mine.

Header by Samulli

Feel free to ask questions or make comments since I’ll keep the explanations brief as Brenda asked.

1. Use your time wisely.
· Know your priorities and what you value.
· Set up a schedule and follow it.
· Keep track of each day and what you accomplish.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
· If you can’t sit more than an hour, plan writing time accordingly.
· If you’re more alert in the morning, get up even earlier to write.
· Know you’re limits so you don’t overcommit.

3. Realize talent is NOT the only one skill you need.
· Perseverance keeps you going when your talent isn’t recognized.
· Organization keeps your story, your life, you environment on track.
· Prioritizing tasks keeps you focused when too many must-do’s arrive.

4. Write what you love.
· Do I need to explain?
· Writing is hard work and easier when you’re in love with it.
· Don’t be afraid to try something new—if it intrigues you, compels you.

5. Expect/plan to learn something new with each ms.
· A technique, a problem you have, new software, new knowledge.
· Example: I decide my next book will be done in1st person POV.

6. Train yourself to write in certain places.
· When you’re there, body/mind quickly settle in to work.
· Also can be related to time: body expects to be writing during certain times.

7. Never let your creative side be idle too long—always do something.
· Between projects, blog, write a short story, work on a scrapbook, garden.
· Think about new project. Read authors to see how they do what you like.
· Understand what is a break that’s useful vs one that wastes your time.

8. Understand writers’ block. (Really no such thing-just not enough data or desire)
· Think more about your characters/plot/setting/scene.
· Do more research.
· Write a different scene.
· Walk away. Do something else.
· Sleep on the problem.

9. Introductions can be ignored—just get started.
· Hard to introduce “something” when you don’t know it well.
· Write it later, maybe in the second draft.
· Discover the best introduction is the second chapter or 2nd scene of first intro.

10. Revision is important but set limits.
· Recognize a piece of writing can always be improved.
· Establish guidelines for yourself if not imposed by external deadlines.
· Revise to look for different items: Structure, plot holes, character contradictions, etc.

11. What to do when something isn’t working.
· Walk away from it for a bit.
· Do something else creative, for me that’s photography.
· Do a mindless task. Laundry, anyone?
· Sleep on it. Let your unconscious/dream time help you solve your writing issues, plot problems, character points.

12. Trust your instincts. Listen to your gut.
· Not every “sure-fire” writing technique works for everyone.
· Listen to your characters, especially if you see the sense of what they say.
· If you hate what you’re writing, sometimes it’s best to walk away—until a later time.

13. Critique groups or partners & beta readers.
· Don’t always work for every writer. Must fit well and be constructive.
· Can be used in different ways or not at all by different writers.
· Weigh the pros/cons based on your needs, strengths, weaknesses.

If you find useful one of these points, I will have gotten my message across. I write because of the stories in my heart and the ideas in my head. I also hope to reach out to readers and help them on their paths in life, whether it be in my stories, in my blog posts, in speaking programs, as a guest blogger. Thank you, Brenda, for inviting me.

Mary Jo is the author of Black Ribbon Affair. Here is Black Ribbon Affair’s Blurb

Caitlin Donnelly's life is exactly how she wants it—except for the threatening notes. Deciphering who's after her, and why, isn't easy when the suspects include all her co-workers, along with a man from her past. Caitlin isn't sure who she can trust and danger escalates at a pace equaling her attraction to Mike.

Mike Rafferty's life is in a mess. When his personal life disintegrates, he grasps an opportunity: a challenging new job and relocation to a different state. Finally, he has something to look forward to. He discovers an unexpected benefit in his new co-worker, a woman who turned him down years ago. Mike welcomes this unexpected chance to pick up a relationship worth waiting for.

When Caitlin is kidnapped, Mike struggles to save the woman he loves while she learns to trust in his love to keep her alive.

Black Ribbon Affair is available in print and e-book formats at the following:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/pCRWKE

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/r5j0cg

The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/qgg2hM

Black Ribbon Affair finaled in several contests. However, Mary Jo is most proud of its winning The Write Touch Readers’ Award for Best Romantic Suspense because readers determined it was the best. After all, most writers want readers to love what they write.

She’s also extremely proud that Black Ribbon Affair won the HOLT Medallion for Literary Achievement as Best First Book. This contest is very well-respected and many different genres of books get entered. So this award also has very special meaning for her, especially since she will never be eligible for it again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Lexi George

Demon Hunting in Dixie
Kensington Brava
May 2011

Book Blurb:

A warrior, a demon, and the girl next door…

Looking For Trouble

Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude. A bad attitude, or so her mama says, ‘cause she’s not looking for a man. Mama’s wrong. Addy has looked. There’s just not much to choose from in Hannah, her small Alabama hometown. Until Brand Dalvahni shows up, a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built hunk of a warrior from—well, not from around here, that’s for sure. Mama thinks he might be European or maybe even a Yankee. Brand says he’s from another dimension.

Addy couldn’t care less where he’s from. He’s gorgeous. Serious muscles. Disturbing green eyes. Brand really gets her going. Too bad he’s a whack job. Says he’s come to rescue her from a demon. Puh-lease. But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen. Dogs talk and reanimated corpses stalk the quite streets of Hannah. Her mortal enemy Meredith, otherwise known as the Death Starr, breaks out in a severe and inexplicable case of butt boils. Addy might not know what’s going on, but she definitely wants a certain sexy demon hunter by her side when it all goes down…

The Humor:
This book is, in four words, He Larr E Us! I laughed the whole way through. I’m a southern gal born and raised, and some of the characters in this book could be long lost relatives of mine. George has a voice for humor and it shines through on every page. There may have been a few instances where it appeared she was trying too hard but they were few and far between. Prepare yourselves for the knock down, drag out fight between Shirley and Bessie Mae at Shirley’s husband’s funeral. It’s a laugh out loud riot. And Dooley the talking dog is a hoot.

The Romantic Relationship:
The attraction between Addy and Brand is intense and immediate. The physical comes first and the emotions follow, surprising them both. It’s very natural and well paced. The sex scenes are steamy without being overly graphic. There are several secondary romances going on and seeing Addy’s best friend Evie blossom when the studly Ansgar (Brand’s fellow warrior) turns his attentions on her is both sweet and a perfect set up for the next book.

The Demons:
If I can find fault anywhere with this book, it’s that the demons show up in the beginning to terrorize Addy and the townsfolk and then pretty much disappear only to reappear at the end. I wish there had been a little more conflict/interaction between the demon hunters and the demons. Instead, Addy and Brand are mostly bidding their time (the fun way), waiting until the demons show themselves again. But this was a very minor complaint compared to the rest of this awesome book.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
No doubt about it, the humor sold this book. I bet George had a blast writing it. DEMON HUNTING is light and fun. If you’re looking for a LOL read with some steam mixed in, this book is it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Moon Magick

When you look to the skies at night and see diamond points of sparkling light and an iridescent disk of moonshine, you might feel the magick riding the night wind. The phases of the moon are in tune with the natural world and vice versa, and each phase has its own magickal power.

Many of the things around us have special attachments to the moon. The flowers/plants listed below are specific examples:

Acanthus: The acanthus plant is said to have grown around a pot placed on the grave of a young girl in the ancient Greek city of Corinth, and was so beautiful an architect who saw it was inspired to create the Corinthian column.

Daisy: Represents innocence and is the plant of St. Mary Magdalene. Spring is said to have arrived when you can step on twelve daisies with one foot.

Honeysuckle: Represents devotion, generosity, sweetness, fidelity.

Hyssop: Represents cleanliness and used for fending off evil spirits and energies.

Iris: Represents wisdom, valour, inspiration, ardour, faith and hope. Named after the Goddess of the Rainbow, Iris, who was a messenger on Mount Olympus.

Moonwort: A fern thought to be useful in raising the dead, opening locks and unshoe-ing horses that tread on it. If gathered by the light of the Moon, magical properties will abound.

Myrtle: Represents love and marriage. It's said that if a myrtle bush is planted either side of the door, love and peace will forever be in the household.

Poppy: Represents consolation, moderation.

Speedwell: The name is derived from the story concerning young St. Veronica, who wiped Jesus Christ’s face with Speedwell flowers on his journey to Calvary. This act is said to have given healing properties to the plant.

Wallflower: Represents constancy, sweetness, delicacy.

Water Lily: Represents purity of heart, charm.

White Lily: Represents innocence and modesty and is the Chinese symbol of abundance.

Willow: An aid to dreams, enchantment, wisdom and healing. Particularly associated with Moon Magic, especially willow wands.

The moon is a powerful symbol for otherworlders - witches, vampires, wereanimals and other magickal beings. Keep the power of the moon in your writing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ilona Fridl'sThirteen Hints on Researching a Historical Novel

It’s my pleasure to welcome multi-published author, Ilona Fridl to the Otherworld Diner. Her historical romances pass along tidbits from the past as they captive readers. Want to add flair to your period pieces or construct a scene so vividly readers imagine they’re caught in history? Ilona’s advice will help.

Header by Samulli

1.Don't rely on Wikpedia for your facts. They're very good at writing fiction themselves.
2.Make sure when you include a famous structure in your novel, make sure it existed in that time. If your 1500's warriors are trying to escape London by going over the Tower Bridge, they're going to get wet. It wasn't built until the 1800's.
3.If in the 1910's, your hero hears a phone ring, make sure they had service there. Many places didn't have phone service yet.
4.Look at a map from the time you're writing about. Know where the streets are. Anyone from that area could tell if you goof on an intersection.
5.Check your facts from at least two sources.
6.See what different pieces of clothing was called in the period you're working in. Were pants called trousers, bloomers, pantaloons, slacks, etc.?
7.Women's makeup has gone through many different fazes. Some eras there was hardly any and others were elaborate. Did you know that in the 1700's women used beeswax for a beautiful complexion? They couldn't sit near a fire, unless they wanted to “lose face.”
8.Research etiquette books from the era you're writing about. Manners have changed drastically through the years. As late as the 1900's, when a women went out to dinner with a man, she couldn't talk directly to the waiter. The man had to order for her.
9.See what foods were available in that time frame. For example, bananas were introduced to America in 1876. No banana pies for the Civil War.
10.On the other hand, some foods have been around for quite a while. You could make S'mors in 1900 with graham crackers, Hersey bars, and Sta-Puff marshmallows. Or you could dunk your Oreo in milk in 1912.
11.If you mention a famous person, make sure you don't stray from the facts of his life. You could say Attila the Hun conquered Australia, but unless you're writing a fantasy, You'll look like you threw that in without checking.
12.With transportation, make sure the people you write about had access to what you think they need. Do you realize that in the Americas before the Europeans came over, no one ever invented a wheel?
13.Watch for slang words in your dialog. Also, before the middle of the 1800's using contractions was considered “lazy speech.”

Here's an example from my new book, Bronze Skies, of some of the historical research:

Pam pounded on the table in frustration. “I can’t believe Japan would hesitate to surrender after two of those horrible bombs were dropped on their cities. You’d think they’d give up just to save their people.”

Shaking her head, Jenny said, “There have been so many false reports, it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t.”

“Everyone got so excited at that news story two days ago saying Japan had surrendered, and then a few minutes later it was, ‘Nope, they didn’t.’”

Glancing at her watch, Jenny remarked, “It’s ten to three. May as well finish setting up for the movie crowd.” She got up and disappeared into the kitchen, while Pam headed to the bar, where she set up the clean glasses and turned on the radio. Music would take her mind off things while she swayed her hips to “Take the A Train” and the glasses thunked down in a straight row.

Suddenly, the microphone crackled to life and the announcer came on. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have news coming in from Washington, D.C.”

Pam quickly called everyone in, and they stared, breathless, at the radio. “Ladies and gentlemen, President Harry Truman has stated to the press that he received a message of surrender from the Japanese government...” The rest of the statement was lost in the roar of excitement in the room. Pam, caught up in the rolling sea of hugs and kisses all around, could easily have flown to the moon with her arms outstretched. The waitresses were in a massive hug and jumping up and down, while Addy and Zeke did an impromptu tango around the dance floor. Josh whirled Muriel off her feet as Ivan and Kata shouted out their joy. Jenny found Pam and Amelia, and the three cried on each other’s shoulders while laughing out loud.
I want to thank Brenda for inviting me to guest today. Come see my web site at http://www.ilonafridl.com I'm also on Facebook and Goodreads. You can purchase my books at http://www.thewildrosepress.com