Friday, February 25, 2011

Winner Announced & Book Cover for Jennifer Jakes' Debut Novel

I hope I get the link in here and that the cover shows because Jennifer Jakes' book cover is GORGEOUS!!! And the winner of the book is commentator, Barb!! Woohoo!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Break out the Bubbly and the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Jennifer Jake's Debut Novel Rafe's Redemption

I'm very happy to have another one of my Goal In A Month (GIAM) friends on the veranda for a celebration of her debut novel, RAFE'S REDEMPTION. The book releases TOMORROW!! Popping the champagne and opening up my favorite box of chocolates. Fizz. Pour. Sip. Welcome to the veranda, Jennifer. 

Thank you for having me. Sip. 

First of all, tell me where we can go buy or pre-order your wonderful new story, RAFE'S REDEMPTION. 

Here's the link: Here's my website and blog links: and Stop by and visit me. I love readers! 

What is your favorite genre to write? 

Western Historical -- and it has to be smoking' hot ;)
I love a smokin' hot western in any era!  When you sit down to write do you consider yourself a plotter or do you follow the muse? 
When an idea hits me, it's definitely my first inclination to just start writing. But I've learned that doesn't work out so well. LOL So I'm forcing myself to plot, to really figure out goals, motivations and lots of conflict.
I had to teach myself how to plot, too, but it does help to have the bones of the story down. After all your hard work, how do you relax after a writing day? 
Watching TV - either re-runs on TVLand or something on the Food Network. (Love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)
I love Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives! Fun show. What is your current project? 
I'm working on two stories right now, one novella and one full length. The full length takes place in Alaska, 1898, during the gold rush. The novella takes place at the end of the Civil War, but believe me it has nothing to do with battlefields or armies. The setting is the twist;)  That's all I'm going to say right now.
Oh, I can't wait to read your new stories when they are released. They sound so interesting. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?” 
About 4 years.
What advice would you give aspiring writers? 
Study the craft!
Voice without craft is a voice that echoes alone. Now after all the hard work, the ups and downs, what encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
First, it's OK to feel mad, sad, disappointed, discouraged.....all of the above...but after you work through those emotions, take a look at the comments the agent/editor made. There could be some really helpful hints for revision in what they said. Second, remember that it really is not personal. It's like tasting ice cream. Maybe your manuscript was just not the flavor for them. But you have to keep passing out the samples because your manuscript will be some agent's/editor's favorite flavor!
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Gosh, I really like to weave both the H/h conflicts tightly together and to make what the other wants in direct opposition to what the other wants, so trying to get all that to "feel" right in my mind almost drives me crazy. LOL
What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call? 
That instead of the hard work being over, it's really just started. LOL

Jennifer Jakes is a 2010 Golden Heart finalist with a fabulous future in the publishing world. We'll be looking for her new releases in the future. After trying several careers—everything from a beautician to a dump truck driver—Jennifer finally returned to her first love, writing. Maybe it was all those Clint Eastwood movies she watched growing up, but in her opinion there is no better read than a steamy western historical. Married to her very own hero, she lives on fifteen acres along with two beautiful daughters, two elderly horses, two spoiled cats and two hyper dogs. During the summer she does Civil War re-enacting and has found it a great research tool, not to mention she has continued appreciation for her microwave and hot water heater.

One lucky commentator will win a copy of her book. Celebrating good news and giving away great books! Love that combination!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Curbing My Enthusiasm

I've been a travel and hostess bunny for almost ten days. I've enjoyed seeing my best friend in White Rock, British Columbia. The second day that I was there I learned I had a major project to complete. However, I couldn't get started on it while I was out of the country. 

I curbed my enthusiasm to dive right in. Instead I mulled, I wrote more words in my current WIP, and I didn't stress too much about it all. The time I spent "playing" was actually just what my brain needed to get ready.

When I returned from Canada, I had to get ready for a visit with more friends who were traveling to see my  family. On Friday I took time away from the task to meet with a writing friend who walked me through how to approach my next big task. I learned a lot, I was ready to roll, but I had to curb enthusiasm again. I've spent three wonderful days with my friends, read a lot, made tons of notes when inspired, and continued to mull. 

I've learned something about myself this week. 

I tend to be a "dive in and do it" kind of gal. This time I was forced by circumstances to sit at  the edge of the pool and dip my toes into the water. I had to swirl it quietly. I had to watch how other people were swimming and handling the deep end. I had to think about how I would go into the water. I had to consider the strokes I would use to cut through the deep end and reach the other side. I had to review my earlier efforts at learning how to swim. 

Oh, I wanted to dive in. The urge was still there. The desire to get the job done was pulling at me. But I'm so glad I had my visits with my friends. They helped me generate new ideas and thoughts about how to approach the next heat of my race. 

When I dive into the water this week, I'll be ready. I know I will be fast. I know I will work hard to get to the other side of the pool. And I know I have lots of people who believe I can do it well.

How do you wait when you want to go forward and can't get started?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We Interrupt this Life with a Brief Message

I love to watch certain TV shows when I’m decompressing from my day of writing. We often record our favorite shows via a special cable box similar to a TIVO. It’s called a DVR, or Digital Video Recorder. I love it because I can zoom through commercials and get straight to the next segment of the show. This is a time saving, annoyance busting device.

Interruptions can still occur during my television viewing time.  Top on the list? The phone rings. Oh, the phone. The phone rings during my writing time, my socializing time, my time with my family, my cleaning time (okay I don’t mind that interruption), and my shower time (usually I get good news when the phone rings during my shower time—don’t know why—but I do).

Does the phone own me, or do I have power over the interruption? Well, I think we have declared a truce of sorts. How? Well, I have a very handy voice that tells me who is calling when the phone rings. It isn’t perfect, but if certain phone numbers or names crop up, I immediately answer the summons. If I don’t recognize the phone number, or name, I often don’t answer if I am busy.

But what if the call is important and I just don’t recognize the number due to my darling teen borrowing a friend’s phone? Or what if that call is from someone calling to offer me a writing contract? Or a contest win/final call is trying to come through? Well, I’ve given it some thought. I guess I split the difference if I am not in full-on writing mode. Then I might answer, or I’ll let the voice mail pick it up and I’ll check my messages on the voicemail during a writing break or a television viewing break.

If the person really wants to talk to me, he or she will leave a message and I have the number stored on my phone.

This is easy compared the rotary dial phone days. This is a snap during the days before cell phones, voice mail, texting, emailing, and Skyping. The modern world has improved our ability to connect with each other and to stay connected.

But in a way, by being so connected and plugged in we might lose sight of being “in the moment” with others. We might lose sight of being “in the moment with ourselves,” too. I remember when I used to just get in my car and go somewhere. No phone. No texting. No anything. I didn’t worry about not staying connected. I just enjoyed the journey.

Now? I get into my car and start driving. The first thing I check for is my cell phone. Goodness me, if I don’t have it then I head straight back home to get my little bit of cyber crack. I can’t risk missing that all important call or being interrupted by a person who absolutely has to get a hold of me.
What are your go-to devices for connectivity? Do you feel they keep you closer to people or that they are distracting?

Blog A--needs title

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Holiday--White Rock, British Columbia--Friendship Revisited

I'm traveling. This time I returned to Canada to visit one of my dearest friends. I have known her since I was 11 years old. We met when I was in 4-H. We still know the song. We aren't 4-Hers anymore. We are still friends.

We've watched each others' children grow up and become adults (again, we are extremely young mothers). We've been on vacations together. She to our neck of the world--to Dollywood, to Knoxville, to Washington, D.C., to Williamsburg, VA, to Busch Gardens (where I rode my first coaster--it was her first ride as well), to mountains, to Georgia, to Alabama, and more. I've visited her in Canada with my daughter. We've been to Vancouver Island, ridden ferries, played on the beach, gone to the Aquarium, Stanley Park, White Rock, and more. We've shopped together, rearranged furniture together, cried together, shared secrets together, laughed together, made meals together, and played together.

We've got a lifetime of memories. All stored. All wonderful. And we continue to build on those memories. We plot and plan our next visit together. We hope to see each other more often than less. We dream of shrinking the continent. We can keep our lives intertwined because of the joys of modern travel and communication.

During this trip, I received the best news ever. It affirmed all my hard work as a writer. And she was here to share it with me. I was so glad. She was one of my first readers. She was the person to call me up and say, "You know I wasn't sure I'd like your story. What if it was bad? What would I say to you? But I liked it. You did it. You're a writer." Now she is here with me when I get letters from editors which say "Hey, we like your story, but it needs work. If you work on it and send it again, we will look at it again. You have potential. We want to see if you are up to the task of meeting our requirements." Wow. I am over the moon. But as important as that letter is to me. And as eager as I am to work on this task and fulfill the editor's requirements, I am ever mindful of the fact that my first reader was my best friend. And she liked my first story.

She saw the potential in my writing and encouraged it. She was there in the beginning. When I had no critique partners, when I wasn't a member of RWA, and when I had no clue about the publishing business I wasn't really alone.

I had a friend who believed in me.

And she still does.

Never, ever lose sight of who is there for you now, regardless of where you are in your journey as a writer. Be mindful of the people who believe in you no matter what. Hold them close. Hold them dear. Hold them in your heart. Hold them because you know they will never let go of you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe Dance Queen at Petit Fours & Hot Tamales

Hi Everyone: I blogged about my youthful ambitions and how I revisit them every time I go to my YMCA's Zumba class. Come visit me at the Petit Fours & Hot Tamales Blog and tell me how you relive the past.

And while you're there, get up and dance!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life is a Roller Coaster, I Want to Ride It!

I rode my first roller coaster when I was 38 years old. I was forced into this crazy behavior by my darling daughter. She desperately wanted to ride THE BIG BAD WOLF at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I had to ride with her. And I was sooooooooooooooo scared! My only experience with roller coasters were the tiny ones for little children, we're talking toddlers and grade schoolers, and that was fine with me. Why on earth would I want to hurl myself through loops and drops and corkscrews? Why? Because I loved my daughter and I wanted to give her the experience.

So on the coaster I went.

And I fell in love with the thrill of the ride.

Oh, it was scary when we clickety clacked up the track. I was so worried one or both of us would fall out of the cart. I think I checked darling daughter's seatbelt a thousand and twenty times as we ascended. But oh, the ride. The ride was so worth the fear! I was transported out of my worries, my problems, the every day life events that can overwhelm a soul.

I was flying! I was so exhilarated by the experience, I quickly made my way through the list of the other rides at the theme park. Then I rode all the rides in Disney World, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. One of my favorites is THE HULK. Awesome ride.

And then I returned to the scene of my first coaster to ride THE GRIFFON. Fear struck into my heart as I saw the people dangling face down, at a 90 degree angle, looking at the ground from high above the people gaping at them from below. Oh my goodness. I stood in the line, with  my daughter and a family friend. My heart raced, my ears pounded with the thrumming belts of sheer terror. I didn't think I could ride this one. I wouldn't ride it. But onward ho. I walked all the way into the ride's entry. I sat down. My daughter held my hand. Our family friend held my other hand.

I didn't want to die. And I was quite sure I would die on this ride. This was taking it too far.

We clacked up the track. I couldn't think. My brain squeezed with panic and I desperately wanted to get of the ride. I couldn't believe I'd done this ridiculous, stupid thing to myself. And I let my daughter onto this beast. We were both going to die. I knew it.

Then we dangled, face first, suspended for mere seconds before we'd plummet to our death. The bird released and flew down the 90 degree drop. It was beyond anything I'd ever done. I wasn't just flying in a machine. I was the machine. I was a bird.

I loved it.

I endured the terror again 3 more times. Front, side on tip of wing, and back on other tip of wing.

The terror was worth the thrill of the ride.

The next time you're afraid to try something new, feel the fear and do it anyway. Do it for the thrill of the ride.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Real Men Don't Act Like Book Heroes

I was watching a television show a few weeks ago when my darling husband sat down in his Archie Bunker chair and whipped out his TOENAIL CLIPPERS. I sat, dumbfounded, as he proceeded to carefully clip his toenails and place them in a nice little pile on the table next to his red chair.

Note to future guests: I do clean on a regular basis so all toenail clippings have been removed.

My reaction was sheer and utter amazed grossed out disgust. I believe I screamed. I was horrified. To which my darling husband said, "You are overreacting and ridiculous. This is not a big deal." Now he might have meant to say, "I'm sorry for grossing you out. Thank you for pointing out to me that this habit is horrifying. I will never do it again." However, I was so freaked out I just googled disgusting habits of husbands on my laptop and sent him link after link of other wives who were equally freaked out by their husbands' sheer gross behavior in front of them.

Here are a few of the common nasty habits:

*leaving wet towels on the floor (could be a teenager's bad habit as well)
*using a fork as a back scratcher
*passing gas
*refusing to replace an empty toilet paper roll
*putting feet on furniture
*taking forever to get to the point of the conversation
*inability to read a map correctly & refusing to ask for directions
*blowing nose at the table
*flossing teeth in the living room

One consolation in discovering the myriad of complaints on the Internet was that I wasn't alone. But as a romance writer, I got to thinking about my heroes. My heroes NEVER do these things. In fact, I don't think my darling hubby did these things till after we got married. My heroes may act like Alpha men who always get their way, but I have never read about a hero in any romance book doing the things on the list I posted or in the Internet sites I found online. 

And these wives, for the most part, continue to remain married to their husbands despite their nasty habits. Another consolation, right? After all, this is real life. I'm not writing about real life. I'm writing fiction. And what woman with a husband who clips his toenails in the living room while she's trying to watch Toddlers and Tiaras wants to read a romance novel about a hero who is equally as disgusting? Can't think of one example. She wants the fantasy as much as I do. 

And that's why I write romance novels about sexy heroes with magically perfect feet that require no toenail clipping at all. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Laurie London's Debut Novel BONDED BY BLOOD

Thanks for joining me on the veranda, Laurie. I can't wait to learn all about your debut novel, BONDED BY BLOOD
Thanks for having me on today, Christine!!! I love the view.
You're welcome. Pop! Gurgle and pouring bubbly into a glass. Now I'm ready to sit down and talk with one of my favorite people, writer Laurie London about her debut novel, BONDED BY BLOOD, and her writing journey. 
How did you end up becoming a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but my stories had been for my eyes only. It wasn’t until my sister became a Golden Heart finalist that I thought maybe I could take my own writing to the next step as well.
Wow, two writers in the family! How cool. What is your favorite genre to write?
I’ve tried other genres but found my writer’s voice when I started writing what I love to read--paranormal romance.
Being true to the books of your heart is how a person discovers the writer within. When you write are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
Before I sold, I would loosely plot a story by knowing some of the main turning points and doing character sketches, but that’s about it. Now that I’ve sold, I submit a synopsis to my editor for approval before I’ve written much. Unfortunately, “some bad stuff happens here” doesn’t quite cut it. ;-)
Oh oh, I use those words a lot. And "insert X scene here" *grin*. Now that you're writing lifehas more demands, how do you relax after a writing day?
Because I’ve got teenagers, live on a small farm, and have horses, there’s not a lot of relaxing going on around here. But when my mom visits, we play Bananagrams a lot. Does that count?
Yes. Bananagrams counts! I've considered getting that game for my household, too. It looks like fun. If you're not playing Bananagrams, or writing, what do you like to read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
While I read mainly paranormal romance, I do enjoy urban fantasy, young adult, and literary fiction. Some favorites are Nalini Singh, JR Ward, Gena Showalter, Alexis Morgan, Cherry Adair, Neal Schusterman, Deb Caletti, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Ooh, there are some good authors on your reading list. What is your current project?
I just finished the revisions on Embraced By Blood, book 2 in the Sweetblood series and am working on a few projects that I hope to be able to tell you about soon.
I can't wait to hear about them. Maybe we'll even get to celebrate in person this year. Any new releases for later this year?
Bonded By Blood just came out and Embraced By Blood is being released June 21.
I love your titles. Where did you get your ideas for your stories?
I’m influenced a lot by my environment. The twist in my vampire mythology came from living in the Pacific Northwest and suffering from mild Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter. What if my being tired isn’t because of a lack of UV light, but because I’ve been visited by a vampire? And then I got to thinking, what if instead of burning up, vampires are weakened by sunlight—the opposite of humans—and need our blood and energies to survive?
See? It’s very logical where I get my ideas. ;-)
I love the way your mind works! And I'm so glad you were able to sell your novel so the rest of us can read your works. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
I know it usually takes longer than this, but it took me about eighteen months after I decided to get serious about my writing. I’m fortunate to be writing in a popular genre and that my publisher was on the lookout for a new vampire romance. My manuscript landed on her desk at just the right time. Good thing I didn’t listen to the people who told me that vampires were out. I just wanted to write the kind of books I liked to read.
Wow! I am so impressed. And you're right about focusing on what you can control. Everything else will fall into place. How did you celebrate the new book contract?
I happened to be having dinner with a friend when my agent, Emmanuelle Morgen, texted me that she’d closed the deal. We toasted my sale over Thai food and cocktails.
I never heard about the "text" as a new way for receiving the "call." Did you eventually speak to someone about the work or was it all electronic? 
After “the text,” my editor called me on the phone the next day and we spoke for quite awhile.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Read a lot and analyze why you like certain genres, writer styles, plots and character archetypes. Take note of the themes that resonate with you (I love stories of redemption and forgiveness). Then, write the kinds of stories you like to read and populate it with characters that interest you.
What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?
Don’t assume that just because you’ve gotten a rejection that your writing sucks. It could just be a matter of timing, the marketplace, and a little luck. A thin margin may be all that separates you from someone who is published. Keep taking classes and reading the kinds of books you want to write, and by all means, keep writing!
I like your faith in the fact that a "thin margin may be all that separates an unpublished writer from a published writer. I'm going to write that down for my inspiration wall. Now that you are published, what is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Translating my thoughts to a Word document. LOL
LOL! Nothing changes and the work still has to happen. Good to know. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call?
That people would want me to be on their blogs. Seriously.
You deserve the attention. Thanks so much for visiting my veranda today and sharing your story, Laurie. I can't wait to read my copy of BONDED BY BLOOD. And today one of my commentators will win a copy just for stopping by and saying hello.