Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Independent Publishing...What Do You Think?

These days there are so many options for writers. Many, I know, see major print publishers as the only way go. New authors are rejected time after time for years on end (despite the fact their work is stellar) and just keep at it, refusing to try alternative means of becoming published. Others of us saw the benefits of e-publishing years ago and are now on the fast track of a burgeoning industry that has given rise to some of the best authors to be found anywhere.

I remember how it all went down many years ago. Computers weren't in every household despite interest being very high. Readers back then would never have imagined they'd one day read books on small electronic devices that were lighter than a paperback book. It all seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie and folks had a hard time visualizing such a thing. But with the passage of time, e-book readers, tablets and smart phones have become commonplace while the cost of paper books have exploded. For the price of a big bag of paperback books, you can now pick up an e-book reader and store over a thousand books that cost much less than their paper brothers. Portable, efficient and fun. What a world!

With the e-publishing explosion, more and more authors are looking at self (or indie) publishing rather than going the more traditional routes. My friends and I have been looking at this too. Yes, we all are with reputable publishers who provide content editing, covers, distribution, etc but there's nothing wrong with looking at other avenues. From what I gather in my research, authors must find a good editor to make sure the work sparkles and shines and they must find someone to do their cover work and then they are responsible for promotion (which we all do, as a rule, anyway). I believe there is money to be made out there and a little investigation and careful study is in order to see if this might be worthwhile. Hey, I don't know why not! I have no intention of leaving my current publisher but throwing out a book or two on my own might be a pretty cool venture. Still studying the in's and out's of this whole thing. What do you think and what have you heard? There are plenty of 'boards' out there where writers are discussing this and I believe there's a wealth of information for someone who is prepared to do some checking.

If you are indi-pubbed or considering it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

With A Side Of Southern, Please!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Lots of cookouts going on today I’m sure. Here at my house we’ll be doing BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, grilled tomatoes and eggplant, and sweet iced tea! We’re all waiting for the gardens to come in so we can have our faves fresh from the vine. I can’t wait to have myself a tomato sandwich slathered with Duke’s mayonnaise and sprinkled with salt and pepper. YUM! And I am sooooooo having a fit for watermelon. I LOVE watermelon. Peaches too. I’ve already had fresh picked strawberries.

Everybody knows I’m Southern and damn proud of it, too. I love my Southern accent. Love that slow Southern style in general. Although lately you wouldn’t know anything in the South moved slower than the rest of the world. I blame it on air conditioning. Think about that. Yes, air conditioning changed everything in the South—all over the world, actually.

We used to sleep with our windows and doors open—just the screens in place to keep the bugs out. We would sit on the front porch and fan ourselves and make homemade ice cream to cool off. You don’t see much of that anymore.

With air conditioning big business came. Factories run 24/7 here. No more lazy Southern days. So now we have big cities and big business, big crime rates and big headaches. But I’m not complaining. Well, just a little, maybe. LOL I’ve been looking for bits and pieces of the old South. Wondering if it’s still here. It is, and I want to share a little of it with you.

I live out in the country not too far from town. Wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I just read the other day where the town is trying to zone me in. Oh well, looks like I’ve got to go and yell at people. LOL (If they do? Another good reason to move.) It’s a bit easier to find the old South out in the country.

The first thing that came to mind was my neighbor who lives about a mile or so away. Every year he plants a big garden. And every year he harvests his garden and puts tomatoes and cucumbers, beans and cantaloupes, etc. out on this homemade push cart next to the road in front of his house. He leaves a list of prices and has a little box there for people—on their honor—to put in their money. He says he’s had no noticeable problems with theft. Nice! (Then again…hee hee hee…I know this man. He’s probably got his shot gun hanging out a window and if he doesn’t see the money go into the box? Well…LOL…there have been no reports of missing persons around here.)

A couple of months ago I was on my way to an appointment three counties over and turned down a road I wasn’t familiar with in search of a gas station and a rest room. Yeah, I had to go BAAAAD! LOL  It was one of those winding country roads and my sense of direction told me that it would take me to the old road that the new bypass had cut off. I knew there was a store there. But on the way, I saw two white commodes—yeah, toilets—with artificial flowers in them flanking each side of a driveway, heralding the entrance to the home. Uh huh. Sure did. On another out of town excursion, car shopping, I saw a meat packing plant with pig statues out front. Uh huh. Now that’s what I call Southern. Yep, toilets and pigs, and displayed in such a unique way, too! That’s the South---quaint, quirky, qwazy! Lol

I have to tell you, though, where I live is a resort area. Now I’m not part of the resort. LOL But we’ve been invaded by retirees here and they all pretty much speak Yankee. I have nothing against Yankees—truly, I don’t. But I can’t seem to even get a checker at the grocery store to converse with me in Southern speak! Where is the language of the South? Where is my “Ya’ll” and “Honey Child”? Seriously. Well, I found it. LOL Yes, I did. And of all places, at the local Biscuitville. You see, I swapped from Bojangles and my morning sweet iced tea stop to Biscuitville when Bojangles went up on price and down on size. Someone told me just last week that Biscuitville’s sweet tea was pretty good. So I hit the drive-thru Monday morning and stared down the menu, perusing prices, placed my order for a large sweet tea with plenty of lemon.

The voice on the speaker came back at me: “Sure thing, honey. Can I get ya anything else to go with that?”

I blinked a couple of times. “No, that’s all thank you.”

“Drive on around to the second window for your total, sweetie!”

Lawd Lawd. Southern. And the tea was pretty damn good, too!

I don’t have a book trailer to showcase this week. If anyone out there has one they are right
proud of, send it to me, please, ya hear? LOL  teasyone@hotmail.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer blockbusters!

Since it's Memorial Day weekend and a lot of people are out of town - and I'm about to slump on my couch from post-edits fatigue - I figured I'd give away Undercover Lovers, my newly released contemporary erotic romance anthology with Chloe Cole, Dee Tenorio and Dee Carney (check out the blurb/buy info HERE) to two random winners who answer this question…

We hear all about summer blockbuster movies. But what about summer blockbuster BOOKS? Which ones do you just have to read this summer? They can be upcoming releases or already released, totally up to you!

Contest runs until Monday, May 30th. Winner will be announced next Friday!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's a fine line, Smart Phone

Dear Smart Phone,

I love you. This morning before I rolled out of bed, I turned off my tribal music wake up call. I watched Josh Groban sing something in a language I couldn't place about a woman he can't live without. I played four rounds of Words with Friends, scoring more than 30 points on each play—at the END of the game (and with sucky letters, but yay me.) I checked the weather, because lifting my eyes to look out the window and see rain was more effort than I was willing to give. I friended eight new people on facebook, answered a message from one of them about erotic writing and the market, and smiled at Wasin Boontham who thanked me for adding her to my page.

I sent a text to my mother who wanted to know if I'd like her free copies of Better Homes & Gardens (Sure, Mom, because killing everything green is my super talent, and I must learn new and diverse ways of plant extermination. *this causes me great anxiety, for I love greeny things.*). I checked all the new tweets that I follow, that mention me, that are directed at me and scowled at the spambot that sent me a generic link to something I won't click on.

I didn't, however, take calls because my friends are wise enough to know that callling me at 6:30a will get them an earful of surly brainfog.

I also hate you, Smart Phone.

You don't make awesome coffee, or heat my teapot. You failed miserably at doing my laundry like I asked you to. I was so sweet about my request, and even bought you new laundry detergent last night. You didn't do the two pots and one sheet pan in my sink, though I did my part of loading and emptying the dishwasher. You didn't tell the toaster that I wanted sourdough toast this morning, and that, Smart Phone, was the smallest favor you could have done for me.

You didn't take out the cat litter or feed her. She's really pissed off at you now. I know, because she picked up one dry nugget, put it by my chair while I was working on this letter, and looked up at me balefully. Do you see that? Look what you've done!

Smart Phone, we've had several good months together, but you're going to have to change your attitude and pick up the slack. You tell me what the weather is, but don't provide an umbrella. All the really cool phones give their owners an umbrella in the future, so I think you need to be more cutting edge. And speaking of cutting edge—the lawn? Please? Must I do everything, Smart Phone? I told the neighborhood association that you hadn't seen to it and they scowled. Smart Phone, that scowl was at you. It was all you.

There are going to be some changes around here. Because I'm generous and kind, I'll let you start making it up to me with something easy. I want to have roast for dinner tonight. I already bought the ingredients. I'll even let you use the crockpot so that you don't have to think about it too much. I'll expect dinner around 6p.

Baby steps, Smart Phone. Don't fail me.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Art of Writing

Someone recently told me how lucky I was to be a writer. After all, what could be easier than working in my jammies and not really working. HA, if this person hadn't been a VIP to someone important to me I would have stood up and walked away at the very least.
Here's a hint for those not in the know. Writing is hard work, very hard work. It takes dedication, perseverance and commitment. Not to mention talent and very thick skin. Bad reviews, scalding rejections all take their tolls, but a writer keeps true to themselves and their characters.
It's not so much the need to get published though there is that, but it's almost a compulsion to write out the stories in their heads. The twists and turns of each plot take over our minds and lives until we have no choice, but to commit the tale to paper. To give it life and watch it grow.
Working from home isn't easy. There are tons of distractions with family, friends and strangers all dropping by, calling or making their presence known one way or another. Most don't understand or don't want to understand that work is really work and you can't just walk away to go shopping or out to lunch. 'You can do it later'. Yeah, because free time just falls from trees in a writer's world.
With so many other things going on in our lives, sitting down at the computer takes a concentrated effort. Yes, there are many other things I'd rather do on a sunny Spring day, but I make myself sit there and write about whatever storyline is going on in my head.
It all boils down to this if I don't write I don't get paid. The end. Like everyone else on the planet I have bills. In order to pay these bills I need income. My income just happens to come from one of the greatest jobs in the world, writing. So I write to give life to my characters and to pay those pesky bills.
Next time you think the writer's life is simple and easy try this. Go to your computer, sit down and write something. Not anything big, maybe just a thousand words. How long did it take? Does the story flow? Do your characters have dimension? Will readers be able to identify with them? Will they love the hero and cheer for the heroine?
If you answered no to any of these questions, tough luck, you need to start over. Now doesn't that suck?
Welcome to the easy world of being a writer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trimming the Fat

When my college-aged daughter got home for the summer, I watched her healthy eating habits and listened to her talk about various exercise programs and, what can I say? She inspired me. Love when that happens. Now let me start by saying I've been on a gazillion diets and lost a gazillion pounds over the years only to gain them all back. A real yo yo kinda thing. This time I'm doing something different and so far it has been really easy.

I started this whole thing about a week ago and imagine my surprise to find upon weighing yesterday that I'd lost ten pounds. WHOOP. HOLLER. JUMP UP AND DOWN.  The whole process didn't kill me either. Yeah, I had a few moments late at night when I was ready to chew on the walls but it was relatively easy now that I think about it.

Mainly, I'm sticking with no processed foods, little to no sugar, lots of fresh veggies and water. Lots and lots of water. On the water...I think I'm drinking about a gallon a day and although I get the sensation of floating away it is providing some added benefits. As a woman of 'a certain age' I'm finding that hot flashes are somewhat dimished, I stay less hungry and feel an overall sense of fitness. Yeah, I'm still a coffee hound but I'm replacing that (for the most part) with water. I've found that adding those metabolism booster Crystal Light deals to my bottles helps too. Gives me that sweetness I want, too. A win win.

Ohhhh and listen to this....a new frozen yogurt place opened up down the street and I think I'm in heaven. Ice cream is my one true weakness and this place has a dozen different flavors (which are changed out weekly). I'm avoiding the wonderful toppings and since most of the choices are sugar and fat free, I can indulge without feeling guilty. Ain't it great? We looked up the calorie content of this stuff on line and found that most flavors were roughly eight calories to thirty calories per ounce. So if you fill up an eight ounce container, it's really not bad at all. Lately we've been heading over there every afternoon to try out something new. It has become a nice little 'get out of the house' thing to do.

I still haven't started an exercise program but that's next. Siiiigh.Think it's time to do something with my exercize equipment rather than simply dust it. Anyway, I'm on a journey. Figure I won't see results overnight but I'm looking at all of this as a lifestyle change. So now I'm wondering how you 'trim the fat'?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Looking for Love Online

“One out of five relationships now begins online.” That’s the claim of one online dating service. Do you believe it? I do.

And I also think some of these online meet-and-greet services are a hot bed for scam artists on both sides of the gender fence and for people just looking to get laid. Now there is nothing wrong with simply wanting sex. But—if you’re looking for love on one of these sites, you need to keep in mind all of the pitfalls. One being that the person you “meet” might be only after sex. Like I said—that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that—as long as both parties know that up front, that is.

Basically, meeting someone online is no different than in real life. You’re still going to run into jerks and freaks and kiss a whole lot of frogs. LOL And then you have the extra added worry of…”is that really a pic of him?” OR “is he really a millionaire?” LOL For the purpose of this post, I’ll be considering the female POV mostly. So boys? Don’t get your tightie whities in a wad if a little man-bashing happens to go on. I still LOVE men. Lol

Personally, I haven’t tried one of these dating sites, but I know a whole lot of women who have. Sometimes their stories make my hair stand on end, too. One lady “met” this man and was talking to him right much through instant messaging and thoroughly enjoying herself. He was handsome, smart, complimented her to the point of just making her melt---and then after a couple of weeks? He lowered the boom!

He needed investors to get his new business off the ground. Uh huh. So my friend comes to me with this story and tells me that on the one hand it sounded like a good investment for her---but on the other hand---what if he’s lying and out to scam her?

HUH? WTF? “RUN!” I screamed. “Get the hell out of Dodge now. He is a liar, a con man. Please don’t give him any money.” Her reply? “You know he could just be a really nice guy and trying to cut me in on a good deal, too!”

Okay. I’d like to tell you that she finally saw the light and did actually quit talking to this dude, but I can’t. Our conversation sort of went downhill from there. lol She finally decided I was jealous of all the wonderful things that were happening to her and we have not talked since. That’s been about a year ago now. Well, I survived. I prefer my friends have a little common sense anyway. HA!

I also had a friend who became involved with a major jerk. She met him through MYSPACE. He led her to believe he had money. All he ended up being was some middle-aged guy who was still swilling down a case of beer every day, smoking pot, and living off of some woman---a woman he forgot to tell my friend about. So a word to the wise where this whole money issue is concerned. If a man talks to you about how much money he has? Well, he probably doesn’t have any. But sometimes you just get hold of a bragging asshole, too! Been there, done that. Either way, that kind of man—the one who has money and brags about it or does not have money and brags about it is NOT someone you want in your life. Period. 

Besides, if YOU are the real deal--not looking to take advantage of a man--but simply looking for Mr. Right. Someone to share your mind, body, and soul with--then you don't care about the money aspect of it, do you? Well, at least not in such a way that money is the focus. Of course, you don't want to end up with someone YOU'D have to take care of, but happiness isn't about the bucks, is it? 

I could tell you story after story about online romances gone bad. There’s the one about the dude who sent the gal a pic and it was of his nephew. LOL Damn. Didn’t he know that when they met she’d wonder why he’d lost all those muscles and all of his HAIR?!!! Plus!!! He’d shrunk about half a foot, too. LOL And then there is the one about the woman who left her kids for a man she’d met on MySpace. Yep, she did. Left her hubby and kids and moved all the way across the country for a J-E-R-K. He turned out to be an alcoholic and very abusive.

I seem to be the go-to person when these online relationships heat up, and then blow up. LOL Like I know what to tell them other than RUN! And you know what? It doesn’t make any difference what I’ve said to any of them. In every single instance, all of my “friends” chose to continue in the bad relationship/situation.

Trust comes hard to me. It really does. I’ve had guys pop up on Facebook and MySpace—even email me directly. But as soon as I find out they are NOT contacting me for the purpose of what I write—as in they like reading it—I hit delete. Oh now there was this one dude whose head I played with for about half an hour before hitting delete. Meh…I was bored. LOL I guess I’m just old-fashioned. But that has nothing to do with “meeting” someone online. Real life meet ups are too fast for me. LOL

What happened to taking it slow? Savoring the little things? Does everyone really have to lay all their cards on the table about their finances and reveal all the skeletons in their closet on a first date? AND…get naked, too? Okay okay. I write erotic romance. Yeah, I know. I should be the poster girl for SEX! Well, I’m not. LOL I write fantasy. I’ve often said: I WRITE IT. I DON’T LIVE IT.

If the miracle of love hasn’t happened to me at this point, it’s pretty much a done deal that it’s not going to happen. Know what I mean? So I don’t have any faith in dating sites. Don’t have any faith in the real life version either. Now where does that leave me?

The only way I think I could “date” again—online or off—is if I was introduced to someone first by someone I trusted. And the person who makes the introductions should really KNOW the man they are introducing me to as well. It couldn’t be just a casual acquaintance for sure. Yeah, I know. I’m picky. But shouldn’t we be picky when choosing an individual to share ourselves with?

My advice to those who are trying the online thing is this:

1.   Lead with your head, not your heart.
2.   Never disclose financial information.
3.   Read between the lines.
4.   If anything sounds off? Well, it probably is off.
5.   Ask lots of questions.
6.   Take your time. Don’t agree to meet someone two weeks after you “meet”. Patience is indeed a virtue and the right guy will wait until you are completely comfortable with him.

So how long do you wait before the actual physical meeting? Beats me. LOL But I think it would be in the four to six month range, really. It’s my understanding that online you graduate from email or messaging on social networking sites to Instant messaging/chatting. Later on you talk on the phone. But I would think it would be a gradual process for those who feel the need to play it safe, and well, keep their sanity, too! LOL

I do hope there are some commenters today who have gone through the whole online dating process and can share some good advice for those who want to try it. And hells bells, if you’ve got a great story, I’d love to hear it!

Today’s featured book trailer was created by Tina at Topaz Promos http://topazpromos.com She made this for Elenna Taylor for her book Win By Default from XOXO Publishing. 


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Alyssa Fox

I’ve come to talk about heartache today. We’ve all been there at one time or another. All of us girls have helped each other through it. No two women handle it the same way; some have a girl’s night out, watch a movie, eat ice cream or chocolate. It’s never a fun thing to go through, but it’s a part of life. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of hurt to find the right man for you. This is one of my favorite quotes about men when you’re still searching for Mr. Right: "Men are like roses, watch out for the pricks!" It’s true you have to weed through all the wrong ones before getting to Mr. Right.

One reason I love writing is I can torment my characters as much as needed to break them down, which of course is something you have to do to get them to their happily ever after. As an author, you can’t make their journey an easy one. For one, that would make for a crappy read. And for number two, that’s not how it happens in real life. That’s what both Erin and Kyle are learning in my debut book, Road to Recovery. Erin has given up on finding that one person until her five year plan is in place. She was burned in a bad way. Kyle has lost his wife and daughter; he’s not looking to fall in love ever again. Short flings will do him just fine…better than getting his heart into the mix. Things get complicated when a mentorship with the Chief Pediatric Surgeon becomes available.

Dr. Erin Miller and Dr. Kyle Reynolds are competing for a coveted mentoring position at Maple Forge Memorial Hospital; they plan on pulling out all the stops. But their careers and their desires collide, tangling their past with their future and giving them a chance for love.
So, tell me, what you do when someone breaks your heart? If you’ve already found that one person for you, then tell me what you used to do, or how you help friends get through that hard time?
I can be found at my website http://www.alyssa-fox.com/. Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AlyssaFox99 Faceboook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Alyssa-Fox/149547855112826

Dr. Erin Miller’s life was going great; for the most part, anyway. She was single, had a career she loved, and a cherished circle of friends, but something was missing. When a mentorship with the Chief Pediatric Surgeon becomes available, she couldn’t be more thrilled. Maybe this is just what the doctor ordered! That is, until the handsome and charismatic Dr. Kyle Reynolds decides he wants the mentorship as well.
Kyle Reynolds has lost everything including his wife and daughter. With nothing left in his life except for his job, he sets his sights on the new mentorship position with single-minded determination. The only obstacle he faces is the sexy Dr. Erin Miller.


"Can I cut in?"
She jerked her head in his direction and shot him a dirty look. Kyle’s pulse raced as he glanced over her body. She wore a short skirt and halter-top. Her clothes flattered all the right places on her. She'd finished the look off with some sexy heels.
The other man’s hands slid to her hips, pulling her closer. Kyle couldn’t miss the surprised expression that appeared on her face. Or how he wanted to rip the man’s hands from her hips at that moment.
“I believe it’s her choice who she dances with.”
“Listen, you had your chance before I asked her,” Dave barked back.
“Hello, I’m right here and can speak for myself. I’m not some toy.”
The other guy walked off in a huff, spitting something about jealous boyfriends. Kyle pulled her close. She flattened her palms against his chest. The heat from her hands seared him, as if there wasn’t a shirt as a barrier between her touch and his bare flesh.
"I never said I wanted to dance with you."
"Too bad. You’re going to."
"The hell I will." She took her hands off him and turned to leave, but he grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
Kyle placed her arms around his neck and molded her body to his. Like a switch, the arousal he’d seen in her eyes earlier flared to life. A sensual voice echoed around them as it blared from the speakers. She took a ragged breath before she moved with him.
She rolled her hips into him, and he pulled her closer, allowing no space between them.
His right hand trailed a slow path down her arm; goose bumps rose on her satiny skin. Kyle looked at Erin as his hand trailed down to her hips, her gaze on his mouth. He could tell what had happened earlier had affected her as much as it had him. He planned to kiss her before the night ended, but for now, he'd enjoy having her in his arms, keeping her wondering when it would happen.
She drew her focus to his eyes. “You're arrogant."
"Yes, and now we have that out of the way, let's move on, because it's not going to change."He bent closer to her and inhaled the cinnamon-orange scent that was only her. "Je tu vous embrasserai, donc à fond que vous oublierez votre nom, votre sucre.”
"Stop, doing that! I haven't a clue what you said."
He moved closer to where only she could hear him. “I said I'm going to kiss you, so thoroughly you'll forget your name, Sugar.” Kyle moved back and watched her cheeks flush pink as she contemplated what he'd said.

Friday, May 20, 2011

To Wrap or not to Wrap

Nope, I'm not talking about sandwiches, dresses or gifts. I'm talking about something much more elemental AKA the male sex organ (although there are female condoms, dams, barriers, etc. as well, I'm using the male condom/safe sex interchangeably in this post.) Yep, this is another one of those posts about how much realism is too much. Tess's great post on Monday about where each individual reader/writer draws the line sort of provided a nice springboard for my thoughts on safe sex.

Fiction is fantasy but at least in contemporary situations, we still usually stick to some of the tried and true. For example, most characters still have to abide by the regular laws we all do (not driving above the speed limit, not robbing thy neighbor, etc.) Yet sometimes readers and authors don't feel safe sex applies because they don't want to ruin the fantasy or appear to be preaching.

Other authors/readers are militant about the need for safe sex every time in the stories they read. Still others are like me, who sort of straddle both lines between "yes, always" and "most of the time, except." Just last night my Ellora's Cave editor told me that safe sex is one of the things she really watches for, so editors are definitely paying attention to this aspect.

So where do I fall? I believe safe sex must always come up. The characters can decide not to have it - or if they forget, the discussion can come afterward - but it's never a "non-issue" especially between people who don't know each other.

In my EC novella, Personal Research, the h/h are intimate with a condom, then engage in more intimate contact without one. Because of the impromptu nature of their first sex scene, it didn't seem realistic to have the hero carrying around a boatload of condoms. My heroine definitely wasn't expecting sex then so she didn't come prepared either. I struggled with that followup scene, wondering if someone would call me out for it, but I did make sure that the characters had the "I'm clean" conversation. To me, that's necessary.

In my next EC release, Provoke Me, the h/h use condoms for the first few sex scenes until the hero gets swept up and "forgets." That shows a major character change - Spencer is not a guy who forgets anything. To compound matters, this scene occurs in a sex club where condoms are everywhere and yet he doesn't grab one. I wanted to show the trust growing between them - even though he can't verbally acknowledge it yet - but they still discussed STDs and ensured Kelly was on the Pill. Pregnancy and disease are always factors so I felt they needed to be addressed. In this case, the h/h have known each other for 3 years so it's not as if they're strangers, but intimate contact is a whole new way to "know" someone.

An an author or reader, how do you feel about safe sex in fiction? Do you want to preserve the fantasy or do you feel the fantasy is tainted without that bit of realism? And writers, do you ever use safe sex to depict character growth in some way?

Looking forward to your thoughts and joining in on the discussion tonight when I get home from work.

And also, without further ado...the WINNER of my Condom Interruptus contest of your choice of any ebook in my backlist (including Provoke Me, which hasn't been released yet) is...yadkny, who has already been contacted. Thanks so much for participating and look for more contests coming soon!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I have a secret

I think I mentioned once that I have really smart friends. Because if you missed it, I totally do. I can be a little clueless, but it does seem to me that someone up there is looking out for me. Call it what you want to, God, the universe, whatever. But do you ever get "sign-posts"?

Think of the movie Final Destination. Got it? Like once you figured out Death's pattern, and hack it, you don't die (okay, so in the movies, Death changes its pattern to kill you anyway, but for the sake of argument think of the first movie and let's proceed with this blog post).

For example, deja vu. I get that a lot. I've figured out how to fast forward to see what will happen next. Then, because I like to be contrary, I change what I'm supposed to say and watch people fumble. It's hilarious. Also, dreams. Like the time I dreamed about my death when I was in a car full of people. I told the driver, who believed me, and we avoided the speeding red car that wound up hitting the vehicle in front of us instead. No deaths, fortunately. Or, the time I wanted to buy a Jeep. The whole way there, to the test drive, the radio played reports on how dangerous Jeeps were, the flip rates. There were also to ditched Jeeps on the highway. I finally figured it out after the second Jeep flipping, turned around and went home. No Jeep for me!

Sign posts are incredibly important to pay attention to. I'm not always so good at it. I joke sometimes that I need a two-by-four from God in order to truly get it right. Fortunately, He agrees and smacks me regularly.

A year ago someone told me I had to, had to, had to read The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. I have a major aversion to self-help books. They feel formulated and I believe we are all so very individual that formulated books are next to useless. Anyway, so my friend and co-worker said, "This you must do. You must, for it is of good things and goodly information that thou must absorb into thy verrrrrry soul." She may not have sounded quite like that, but you get the gravity with which she spoke, yes? Good.

I said, "Pah! Self-help. Fffftttt!"... in my head. In person I blinked widely and nodded my head at her sage advice, knowing I'd never pick it up. About a month later, a guy I worked with put his fatherly hand upon my shoulder and said, "Mia, if you've never read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you have to. And while you're picking that book up, also get The Secret. You won't believe how mind altering it is." Again with the blinking and nodding, while in my head I said, "When the f*ck do these people think I have time to read???"

So I went about my merry way. I got divorced, had a hellish move, my house was falling apart, and I was broke. Then one of my best friends, Bronwyn Green called me. I was having probably the best day I'd had in months, which wasn't saying much, but the sun was shining, I'd taken myself out of the house and was donating stuff to Good Will. Pretty much feeling hopeful but wounded. I had no money and was commenting on that when she busted out a lecture.

Now anyone who knows Bron knows she's one of the nicest people on the planet. She's a caretaker by personality and genuinely cares for people. So when Bron busts out a lecture, it's because she's a) really worried, b) tired of hearing your shit, c) thinks you're about to screw up big, or d) all of the above. Circle "d".

She told me there was this thing called the Law of Attraction. I won't give you the whole lecture because it makes her feel bad to know that I started bawling. It was a good bawl though. The kind where you realize your friend was right and you need to suck it up and figure out how to change your attitude. Amidst her words of wisdom, was "Hey, you really need to read this book. It's called The Secret. I think I have a copy you can borrow."

I didn't want to read The Secret. I'm stubborn. I don't like being told what to do. You aren't surprised, are you? I verbally agreed that one day I'd read it, people had told me of this book of wonder. Secretly, I didn't want to. I was rolling my eyes.

I talked to a lady Bron and I both know. We were talking about ghosts because I have them in spades, and because I've suddenly developed this ability to find missing people. Don't ask, because I really don't understand it either. Guess what book she told me to read. Yup. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. This is the point where any other rationally thinking human being would be like, "Gee, Mia, don't you think you ought to pick up that book already? Seems like you need to know stuff."

Yet I didn't. In fact, it wasn't until I was on the phone with ... can you believe, I don't remember?! That's insane. Okay, anyway, I was talking to someone. I think it was my friend Roxy, who doesn't write, but I could be wrong about the who. Anyway, it was mentioned again. I happened to have my laptop up and running (for, when do I not?) and discovered that it was on Netflix Watch Now. So I bit the bullet, finally recognizing the damn sign posts.

It's an hour and twenty minutes long and it's going to change my life. People. If you have not read or seen The Secret, you must. You MUST see it. I don't care what you believe, or what you call the driving force in our world, but I feel like God just reached down and said, "You see? I have this plan. It's why you pray and it's why I tell you that life is meant to be lived abundantly. Remember that verse: think on these things? Yeah, I had a reason for that Mia. It's how I do things. Now go forth and do as you're told."

Wow. Just Wow. If you don't want to read, then watch. It's amazing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happily Ever After

I'll do my best to keep the whining at a minimum. I'm starting to annoy myself. Moving on...my sister's divorce became final this past few months. Not to be catty, but his family looked like the Clampets come to town. The judge had to order dear old fart dad to remove his baseball hat. Don't get me wrong I really liked my former brother-in-law. He's funny, hard-working and down to earth, nothing like his family. However, these things happen and sometimes it's no one's fault. Though I like to blame it on his rude and catty step-mother and father....that's a whole 'nother story. It involves the middle of nowhere, bugs in gumbo and father-in-law stealing all the reception food.
Why mention any of this you ask? Well, because it proves my point. We all need happily ever afters. If we can't get them from real life then books prove to be the next best thing. Life may not have all the drama of a romance novel, but at the end of the book at least you know you'll have that happy ending.
Through all bumps, ups and downs in my life I've kept my books near. Most of the time I read for pleasure, but sometimes as an escape from my troubles. Imagine my surprise when happily immersed in a book I get to the end and there's no happily ever after. I mean really? I read all this, connect with the characters and join the journey with them only to end up bitch-slapped in the end with one of the main characters dying. ACK!!!! Makes me want to smack the author.
Ummm, yeah, I think I'm done with the ranting and the arm is getting cramped from typing. I hope all of you enjoy your Wednesday, stay cool!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Thoughts

I’m often asked why I write and lately I have to say, I’ve been in a quandary about that. We write for many and varied reasons. Some are quick to say they simply love writing. Not a thing wrong with that. You love something, you do it. Right? That’s a no-brainer. Others write for a bit of extra income and some pen stories to be a part of ‘the writing world’ of authors, readers, publishers etc. These are all valid and sound reasons for wanting the life of an author.

Lately though I’ve been wondering exactly why I do what I do and each time I’ve asked myself that question I can’t think of an answer. Sad isn't it? Once upon a time I loved to write and craft a story that ate away at me until I could do nothing else but get it down. I was passionate about learning my craft. Driven. Ambitious. Dying to ‘get there’. When I became published and had reached that ultimate goal, I loved the world…meeting other authors and developing friendships with women who were like me yet, each very different from me, too. They are women who have enriched my life and I simply can’t imagine a day not talking with them.
So why the funk? Maybe I needed to have a little chat in the mirror with Jack Handey from the old Saturday Night Live sketch “Deep Thoughts” but in the end, a simple conversation with my daughter started me thinking and suddenly I KNEW why I wrote and why I’ve chosen to live this life.

Last night I had an epiphany.

My twenty-year old picked up a beautiful notebook I’d been given as a gift from an author friend. You know the kind…lovely and filled with blank pages just waiting to be filled. She said…Mom, I need one of these. Did you keep a journal? Yes, I told her, I wrote my deepest thoughts for years. Even when I was your age. She said…can we go tomorrow and get one for me? Sure, I said, not a problem. It’s good to write out your feelings. Sometimes it makes things more clear, ya know?

So as she sat near me while I worked at my desk, I noticed the intense look of concentration on her face as she typed into her own laptop. Of course, I knew what she was doing and in a moment of clarity I remembered again why I actually DO love to write. Even though a fictional story is, well…fictional…there is always a grain of truth to be found, isn’t there? I realized in that rare moment that I am constantly searching for answers to why people (even fictional ones) behave the way they do, say the things they say, and how they learn to accept and love. Yeah, it might sound kind of goofy to say that I am a truth seeker but I really believe that’s what motivates me to write a story.

What a relief to finally know.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ten Signs Of Meltdown

Now I know you can all identify. Things go undone. You feel overwhelmed. And you can’t seem to fix anything. Nothing goes right. I’m feeling a lot of all of that right now. The pressures of family and writing and promotions just have me twisted like a pretzel.
But that’s how life goes. We are constantly inundated with the unexpected. Constantly pummeled with this or that to the point that we don’t know which way to turn. And what happens?

We have a melt-down.

Personally, my melt-down seems to be an ongoing thing. And I’ve learned to recognize all of the signs too. I can honestly visualize myself like the witch in the Wizard Of Oz, and I’ll turn to the nearest family member and say: “I’m melting…I’m melting…” They tend to back away when I do that. LOL

I thought it would be kind of fun to work up a list for everyone so you, too, could recognize all the trigger signs of melt-down. Oh, and I’ve posted this list before on another blog but since I have some torn cartilage that is giving me fits and the Tylenol isn’t touching the pain---I thought I could post it here as well as I’m sure most of you haven’t seen this list yet. So here it is:

1.    Your house possesses a permanent scorched scent from all the food you’ve burned.
2.    The cupboards contain a lot of green beans. A lot.
3.    You look at your bubble-headed eighteen-year old and actually say: “It’s your life, honey. You have to live it as you see fit.” All of this just before she gets into a car with a guy who looks like he is a throwback from Hell.
4.    The bank teller looks at your ID and swears it isn’t you.
5.    You email your best friend with a rant about your boss just to discover you emailed your boss.
6.    You get up in the morning and pick up the hairbrush, squint, and decide that bed-head suits you.
7.    You tell the cop that the redlight was only red for a few seconds before you went through it.
8.    So what if the flashing light says you’re low on gas? You’ve got enough fumes to make it home.
9.    When someone asks you what time it is, you ask them why they want to know.
10.  You think the mailman is coming on to you. After all, he’s at your door almost every day.

So if you recognize any of these symptoms, you’re having a melt-down. What do I recommend you do about it? Just go with the flow. Sometimes it can be kind of fun to see people look at you like you’re crazy. LOL And I’d love it if all of you would share your own personal melt-down symptoms.

Now for today’s book trailer showcase: Created by Tina with Topaz Promos http://topazpromos.com the video was made for Stormy Glenn’s Love Sexy from Siren Publishing.