Thursday, August 30, 2012

M.V. Freeman's Incandescent Launch Party & Debut Book Winner

M.V. Freeman & I celebrating a huge milestone!!
This has been an exciting week for my dear writing friend M.V. Freeman. She launched her debut book INCANDESCENT on Monday. Already the rankings are going up and up and up!! Way to go M.V.!! We celebrated her writing journey on the Veranda on Tuesday. You can read about her journey here. One lucky commentator won the debut book.

Drum roll please!!!!!

Congratulations to Heather Leonard. 

M.V. and Angela Blount man the command booth.

Kellie M. gets the party started!
Cathy S. & Dani W. join the festivities.
Monday night the Physicist and I went to M.V.'s book launch party. Many of my Heart of Dixie writing sisters were there along with several of M.V.'s friends. We had a great time celebrating the book's release, conversing with friends, laughing and celebrating the sweet taste of publication.

Crimson Romance author Kathy Bone and Lesia.
M.V. Freeman and friends.

Here's what it looks like to finally release a debut novel!! As you can see, we had quite a wonderful time. Much happiness and positivity surrounded us. We were all happy for M.V. because she's worked so hard to make her dream become a reality. 

And because when one of us succeeds, we all believe we can attain the dream as well. 
The Physicist and M.V.'s hero. 

I was thrilled to be a part of the celebration. In a few short months, we'll be celebrating more releases. Next up is Katherine Bone with her Pirate romance. And I can't wait to share her writing journey with all my readers.

Now that I've had all this fun celebrating my friend's book release, I must get back to my own writing. After all, I need another reason to bring my friends and family together!! And celebrating my own debut release in the future--when that call finally happens--will be sweet!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating M.V. Freeman's Debut Novel INCANDESCENT

Debut Author M.V. Freeman
Hi Everyone! I'm very happy to interview my friend and fellow writer M.V. Freeman about her writing journey and her debut novel INCANDESCENT. I have had the privilege of reading this paranormal/urban fantasy romance in its infancy. And now it's a published book. Welcome to the Veranda, Mary. *Pop*Sizzle*Pour*Sipping champagne now!
Hello Christine, I am excited to be here! It is always a pleasure to spend time with you and I’m glad to say hey to everyone.
I've read this book in many different formats. Tell my readers a little about your debut novel. 
My book INCANDESCENT  is published by Crimson Romance and is available at all digital supported outlets (like Amazon and Barnes and Noble). Here's the blurb:
A gorgeous cover!
Some gifts are unwanted, and Laurie’s Hudson’s affinity for fire is one she hates. It has destroyed her relationship with her family and she has few friends. She’s fought hard to keep the fire inside suppressed, living a low key life as a bartender, until a brutal and charming man blows into her life.

Around Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Her options are taken away when he kidnaps her, forcing her into a fight she wants nothing to do with.

As she learns to survive, Laurie faces the hardest choice of all, her freedom or the destruction of the frustrating man she’s come to care for.

You know I love this story. I hope your new readers will, too. And that you get lots and lots of people clamoring for more of your stories. What is your favorite genre to write?  
I adore Urban Fantasy. That is my true love, and I like Romance. I tend to try to blend the two.  Although technically my current story could be considered a Paranormal, I bend the rules. This has gotten me into trouble, because either someone hates my story or loves it. There is no in-between. The bottom line is at the end of the story—I want a happy/satisfactory ending.
It's important to be true to your muse and your writing heart. The people who love your stories will want more. What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors? 
Oh, I read Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA, Historical and some contemporary. Of course, my favorite genres will always be Fantasy/Urban Fantasy.  I am not an author that avoids my genre because it inspires me. I wish I could read more than I do. Some of my favorite authors include but are not limited to—Anne Stuart, Ilona Andrews, Garth Nix, Stacia Kane and Moriah Densley. (I could go on and on).
I love Anne Stuart. She's a Goddess of Writing. And I also like reading my favorite genre to write as the books definitely inspire and uplift my own writing. What is your current project?
I am currently working on a sequel for my book INCANDESCENT.  I am tentatively titling it ILLUMINATION. It continues the story from book one, using two different main characters. Here is the current blurb:
In an effort to stop a war, Mina Tepes started one. Fleeing those among her own kind who want her dead, she turns to the one man who defended her as a child. She’ll risk it all to be with him, but she will have to learn to face her fears and mistakes but it may cost her the man she loves.
Mage Xander Fjordson is sworn to destroy Mina. Demoted for failure to contain a renegade Elemental, Xander is determined to regain his position and power. But he doesn't anticipate dealing with the Darkling, Mina. Now he faces a choice: help her and lose everything, or betray her and regain it all.

Sounds like a great continuation of the series. I can't wait to read it! Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I get my stories from everywhere. I am constantly daydreaming, asking what if’s. Some of my ideas actually are based from dreams. My current book came from watching the movie “Eastern Promises”.  I also have friends that inspire me, just by talking to them (looks at Christine).  
We do a lot of bouncing around of ideas, don't we? And that's the fun part of building the stories. Now that you're published, what encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?  
This is hard. Rejection sucks no matter what, when, where, or why. It’s never easy. We ALL get rejections no matter what we do in our lives (writing, day job, school, relationships). I wish I could tell you great things. I’d say have a moment of despair, eat some chocolate, call your closest friend, and then get back up. Keep going. You will get there.
One of my favorite quotes:   “No means not yet.” by Candice Accola.  Remember that. 
 I will remember that quote. A keeper and so true. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 
Writing wise—specifically--dialogue tags, and dialogue. But, I think there is nothing that doesn’t make me have to work for it. Sometimes I *love* writing and sometimes I want to bang my head against the wall. I have to fight for it—and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
It's a challenging enterprise to tackle a story and wrestle it into shape. *grin* What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call? 
That it seems so surrealistic. Then the business side of it kicks in. I knew it was coming, BUT the reality of it is quite sobering. The trick is balance. (Visualize me on a balance beam with one foot—I’m waving my arms.) I’ll get a hang of it. J
Hmmm. M.V. Freeman on a balance beam? I think you've got the hang of it for sure! Now it's time to go out there and walk the beam again. Write great books and market them, too. I'm so glad that I was part of this amazing journey with you. Best of luck in all that you do and in the future of the books. 

Thanks again, for letting me stop by.  I have one ebook that I would like to give away to one commentator.
You're very welcome, Mary! I hope that this is the beginning of a long and successful writing career. :-)
Author Bio: M.V. Freeman is a native of Minnesota, but calls North Alabama her home. She is a member of RWA, and the following romance chapters: Georgia Romance Writers, Southern Magic, and Heart of Dixie. By day her mind is filled with medical jargon at the local health clinic, but at night she finds herself exploring alternate worlds within our own. Heavily influenced by Slavic languages and culture, you will find she weaves these elements into her stories. Her award winning current story INCANDESCENT is the first in a series. She is currently working on the second book in the series while plotting another series. When she is not writing, she's reading, cooking, throwing around kettle bells, or making coffee. You can find her at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Write All About It

I am cooking with oil, burning through the first draft. I'm on fire with the story and I can't wait to bang it out. There will be lots of revising to do, but I have learned through various ups and downs of writing that my process is my process. I can't fight it. I have to write the story to know the characters. Already they are revealing little nuances and thoughts that have surprised me. I am so excited. I feel like they are getting to know each other and that is how I am getting to know them. This draft isn't perfection. It's got a lot that will be edited out, but I have to write all about it because that's how I will know all about it.

For instance, my reserved engineer? She has a toe ring. Ha. It's a small fact. But I didn't find that out until I wrote 20,000 words!! And my Argentine hero? He's born of the sea and finds refuge in the waters he sails. He's master of his world most when he is there. I love him. He's wounded, lost, angry, bitter and yet through all this I'm already learning that my heroine will be the only woman who has the strength to guide him back to earth, to healing, to being a man capable of not just passion, but great love.

I am happily discovering my story by writing 4,000 words a day. That's my target except on travel days when I pump out 1000. Today is a 4K day. As is tomorrow. I will finish this first draft by the end of next week. Then I will set it aside for a short break, read through it quickly and begin the long process of revising the story. Shaping and molding the words to make them stronger. Carving the words that won't work for the story's flow. Shoring up the motivations and characterizations. This will take time. But it'll be worth it when I'm done. 

How do you write? What's your process?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exercise Etiquette

I have debated about posting this, but what the heck? I'm on a roll. Any rate, as many of you know, I work out at my local gym in two different workout classes: Zumba and Pilates. I love both the classes and the instructors are fantastic. I love most of the people. And the front desk people are fabulous. I love my gym and the social outlet the brief getaway gives me while I'm getting healthy at the same time. It is a win-win situation.

That being said, there are a few basic things that have been driving me crazy because someone is not behaving nicely in the playground. And that just annoys me. So rather than point out that person's behavior, I thought I'd share some of my basic observations and people can draw their own conclusions. No harm. No foul. And no apologies.

Rules for Exercise Etiquette in Group Classes

1. If you are going to leave half way through the class, be gone for ten or so minutes, then return again to workout, please remain at the back of the room so the other class members don't lose their focus.

2. The cell phone is a tool, not a third hand. Please don't look at it and check for messages while you are doing the downward facing dog during Pilates. Really. It's not a pretty view.

3. If you take a number for the very busy spin class to reserve a spot, plan on remaining in that classroom the ENTIRE time. Someone else could have used that time for the full duration of the class.

4. If you arrive late for a class, please enter quietly and go discretely to the back of the class to find your spot.

5. If you are taking a class prior to another class that you want to participate in this is not a license to squat a spot with your water bottle and house keys.

6. If you are taking a class in another classroom AFTER a class, this is not a license to squat a spot with your workout mat an hour before that class starts. Really. This is unfair to those of us who come on time to find a decent spot only to have the front row already marked by an empty mat.

7. If you are in a fast paced dance class like Zumba and you aren't able to count to 8 or keep the rhythm, then please please please go to the back of the class.

8. Personal space and body awareness is key in a fast workout class. Please adjust your position accordingly when the room is filled to over capacity. The mirror is a guide, not a must have. And move your feet. No one wants to break an ankle because they ran into you.

9. Having fancy dance shoes doesn't mean you can dance. Or count.

10. Please don't stare endlessly at other people when you are working out. It's creepy. Really creepy. Especially during Pilates class. Then we know you are watching us.

I would say more but then you might be reading this and if you see yourself in any or all of these suggestions for exercise etiquette, I'll deny it was you I was talking about LOL.

What can I say? I am over it. If I were the ONLY one who had these feelings, I'd park them. But I've discovered that I'm part of an army of fed up women, and a few good men, who are tired of dealing with these particular antics.

You got any exercise etiquette issues you'd like to share with me?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Debut Novel Winner & On the Newsfront

On August 7th, I hosted the fantabulous Pamela Hearon who is celebrating the release of her debut novel OUT OF THE DEPTHS with Super Romance. If you haven't had a chance to read about her journey to publication, I encourage to visit her interview here. Many comments were made and one lucky commentator won a copy of Pamela's book.

Drum roll please....

Melissa Outhaka Wins!!!

Congratulations Melissa! 

In other news, I've got some fun stuff happening on the Veranda. Later this month I'm interviewing my friend and fellow writer M.V. Freeman about her debut novel's release INCANDESCENT. It's a wonderful paranormal romance that you can already pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and through Crimson Romance. This is a digital book, so prepare your e-reader for a fantastic journey with M.V. Freeman's cast of characters who have special powers.

I'm also hosting my book club this month. We're reading THE RIVER WITCH by Kimberly Brock. If you want to read about her writing journey toward publication click here.

On the home front I've finally launched my chick into Auburn. War Eagle!!! Now I have no excuses and must sit down to write the next story. Although TYCOON was rejected, this writer was not rejected and must come up with a new set of amazing characters and three chapters to send to the editor. The story has finally germinated after much mulling and analyzing and cheapo writer's juice consumption. I begin building this new story TODAY!! So guess where I'll be for a while? Yup. In my writing cave and loving it!!

And there's nothing better than a shiny new story to build. Cassie and Marco's journey toward their happily ever after has changed, but the core of the story remains the same. Two lost souls find each other and discover home. 

That's my news. What's yours?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spider Solitaire and My Writing World

I have a confession. I like Spider Solitaire. I love the hardest version on my Nook. I play endless games of 4 deck Spider Solitaire. Sometimes I can tell pretty quickly whether I will win or not. I end the game early and start again. Other times it looks like I might have a chance, but alas, no. So I deal again. Every once in a while I win.

I win one game out of every gazillion tries. So why play? Well, it's addictive. It empties my brain and for some reason that helps me with my writing. And finally, I LOVE it when I win. It's a wonderful, heady feeling to beat the game. To win and to have the little screen tell me I've won is awesome.

I play to win.

This Spider Solitaire is a lot like my writing world. It's been 7 plus years. I've written 8 books (some should never see the light of day). I've come CLOSE. Oh so close it hurts. But I haven't won yet. I can either give up altogether, or I can deal again.

I choose to deal again.

I had a great opportunity. I almost made it to the other side of the publishing world. Instead, I got a very nice letter about my book and my writing and why it wouldn't fly with this line. Sadly, I agree with all the reasons the book won't fly. Won't lie. I was a bit down afterward.

But I got over it.

Why? Because I am addicted to writing. I am addicted to solving the puzzle. I am addicted to the elusive idea of WINNING. I am so close to winning it hurts to come in second. And I don't like hurting. I like winning. So guess what I'm doing?

I'm taking that letter's advice and suggestions to heart. They are the blueprint for the kind of books I want to write. They gave me encouraging words like "promisingly high standards as a writer" and "lots of things to love about your writing like..." And "I'd be happy to read your next book's first three chapters."

That's like getting a stacked deck, folks.  That's a "you're so close that if you're willing to sit down and do all the work to understand and incorporate what we've suggested, then I will give you another chance because I LOVE MUCH ABOUT YOUR WRITING" kind of deck.

I like those odds. I like those words. I like this opportunity to break through.

Some people would give up. Some people would cave in under the weight of the pressure. Some people would go elsewhere. Why don't I go somewhere else? Try some other publisher? Take a chance on me on my own? Why? Because I want my first published book to break out of the gate as a thoroughbred. I want my first published book to rush out of the gate and get to the front of the pack and be amazing and awesome and a "wow" book. I want my first book that gets published to land me readers who will say "where has this author been my whole life because I want to read more of her books."

So that is why I am taking a break, reading a lot of books, making notes, taking time to think think think and analyze the elements of these books. I am figuring out the final braiding of the pieces of the puzzle. I have everything I need in my toolbox to write a good book. Now I have the final puzzle piece. The elusive blueprint that will lead to my books becoming great.

Yah, I'm that cocky. I'm that "on fire." I'm that determined. I have to be this way or I will turn around and crawl back into my hole and hide. I will quit if I don't play to win.

I don't want to quit on myself. I want to take this opportunity and turn it into a winning hand of 4 Deck Spider Solitaire. I want to see that little screen pop up and say "You Win!!"

Do you play to win?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Break Out the Bubbly and the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Debut Novel OUT OF THE DEPTHS by Pamela Hearon

 Hi everyone. I am so excited to introduce you to debut author Pamela Hearon. I met Pamela at the Heart of Dixie RWA Readers Luncheon four years ago. She was so kind and gracious to me, a newbie in the area. In the years that have followed that first meeting, we've been fortunate to attend three RWA National Conferences together and have had many great conversations. I am thrilled to share Pamela's debut novel and writing journey with you all. *Pop*Sizzle*Pour* Ah, a lovely glass of champagne and wee bit of dark chocolate in hand. Now we can begin chatting.

Welcome to the Veranda, Pamela. How did you end up becoming a writer? 
Debut Author Pamela Hearon
I’ve always been a writer.  My dad still talks about a story I wrote in grade school about Daniel Boone and a smiling raccoon.  I majored in English and psychology, fascinated by interesting characters in both fiction and real life.  And I have a passion for language and words. Writing was the only thing I could do that brought all my obsessions together.
I totally understand that passion and the obsessions. And that Daniel Boone story sounds like a great start. What is your favorite genre to write?
Romance!  Figuring out how to give a happy ending to couples who don’t stand a chance takes an exciting process that sucks me in.  I also enjoy writing fantasy although I haven’t done that in a while.  Being able to create the world any way I want is freeing and stimulating and a lot of fun.
Romance is my favorite genre as well. Happily Ever Afters are what it's all about. When you write are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
I start out with a general plot idea; sometimes I even write a synopsis.  But the day-to-day writing is free rein.  I love it when the characters surprise me and take me in a direction I never expected.  Often a new character will pop up, and I won’t know why.  A few days later, his/her reason for being there becomes clear.  I think my subconscious works way out ahead of me.
Sounds like you are a bit of a hybrid writer and love to listen to your characters. How do you relax after spending the day with your characters? 
I head outdoors, usually with a glass of wine.  We have an outdoor kitchen (complete with a wood-fired pizza oven), a large perennial flower garden, and a hot tub, so we live outside as much as possible.
I think I need to come visit your place and join you for wine and the great outdoors. Your backyard is calling me. What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I read fiction almost exclusively, but within that realm, I read across the board.  Of course, I love romance, but I also enjoy historical fiction, women’s fiction, and psychological thrillers.  I still read the classics—they’ve been around this long for a reason.  My favorite authors are Ayn Rand, Thomas Hardy, and Diana Gabaldon.  
Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite writers, too. What is your current project?  
My current project is my second Harlequin Superromance. My second Superromance is scheduled for release in April 2013.  The working title is The Summer Place.  Of course, that’s always subject to change.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Can't wait to read this book!!
Great cover and looks packed with action.
Inspiration hits me at the oddest moments.  I was with my husband in his bass boat on Kentucky Lake (he was fishing, I was readingJ), and as we neared a section of bank, I could hear children laughing at a summer camp.  I immediately began thinking about using a summer camp as a setting.  The result is my second Harlequin release.  Just about anything can get my thought processes going.
A summer camp and romance in the air. How exciting!! How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
My first book was contracted 6 years after I started writing toward publication.  That “call” was from a small publisher.  It was another 4 years after that before I got the call from Harlequin.
A dream come true after many years of hard work. How did you celebrate the new book contract?  
My husband and I went out for dinner with our best friends, and, of course, we ordered champagne.  The restaurant is a small one we frequent, so the champagne ended up being on the house!
Champagne is my favorite way to celebrate. And sharing it with friends and loved ones makes it even more special. How did you celebrate the “call?” 
My call came the day before Thanksgiving, but I kept it a secret from my extended family until the next day.  I got to make my announcement at Thanksgiving dinner.  What an exciting dinner that was!
Wow!! A major way to share the news. Was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail?  
I actually got two real calls.  My agent called first with the news, and then I got a follow-up call from the editor. The call from the agent I remember almost verbatim; the call from the editor is just a blur.  I think I was in shock.
I think I'd be numb and unable to articulate a single word if it were me. Who is your agent?
I am agented by the amazing Jennifer Weltz of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write what you love and then try to find it a home.  Just as in the case of the house you live in, the house you publish with should be a place that is comfortable for you, a place where the stories come easily and not forced.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be hard work.  Writing is hard, but it should be a challenge you enjoy.  I love gardening and Zumba.  Both of those things are difficult, but the rewards are totally worth it because of the way they make me feel.  Your writing should be the same way.  What you produce should make you feel good about you whether or not it gets picked up by a publisher.
Fabulous advice. I couldn't agree more. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?
Remind yourself that everyone gets rejected.  They’re not making a personal assessment of you.  They’re deciding whether or not the two of you would be a good fit—and that’s what you want.  Think of it as looking for a spouse; the right one is worth waiting for.  In the meantime, keep looking and keep writing.  You may find a genre or a story that you’ve never considered before.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Conflict is the bane of my writing existence.  I have a terrible time coming up with conflict.  One of the  basic guidelines of romance is if the hero and heroine can talk it out in a heart-to-heart conversation, it is not a conflict strong enough to sustain a book.  Now, I have a Master’s in counseling, so I think almost everything can be talked out if two people love each other and want to work it out.  I have to come up with valid reasons why they can’t talk it out (I mean, they can’t just avoid each other for chapters on endJ).
What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call?
I discovered they’re not going to immediately snatch up everything else I submit.  Did I mention I got a rejection between the first acceptance and the second one? ::sigh::  The learning curve goes on and on and on…
I think that learning is important and that as you grow as a writer with Harlequin Super Romance you'll become even stronger. Thanks so much for sharing your debut novel and writing journey on the Veranda, Pamela. Wishing you all the best in your writing career!!
One lucky commentator will win a free copy of OUT OF THE DEPTHS. Pamela Hearon's books can be found at the following websites:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Oh Where Oh Where Have I Been and What am I Going to Do?

I've been slightly out of pocket during the month of July, but I'm back for a brief interlude after a lot of writing, revising, critiquing, gearing up for college move in mania, and temporary single parentdom.

The news: I have sent my full manuscript with revisions as suggested to the editor. She has emailed me and promises to read it as soon as possible. This is the period of time during which I obsess over getting yet another revision email so my heart jumps every time I see that I've got "mail" in my in-box. I also fantasize about getting a call that says you're in. But that's a fool's fantasy at this point. I have no illusions about that call. This brings me to the other part of the "wait" which is driving me bonkers: the self doubt and anxiety and apprehension. Have I fulfilled the promise of the story? Have I created a reaction in the mind of the editor that screams "She's done it!" and will she be pleased with how I've handled the revision suggestions? Or have I missed the boat completely. I wait. I wait. I wait.

And y'all know how patient I am NOT. But herein lies the rub. I'm learning patience in this writing world.

The future: I'm catching up on my blogs. I have a great interview lined up with Pamela Hearon on August 7th which celebrates her debut novel OUT OF THE DEPTHS. I've got another debut author waiting in the wings for her release day on August 27th. That will be fun to celebrate as she's a dear friend as well as a fellow writer.

The writing: I am using my time to brainstorm a new story. One set in Argentina with a gorgeous latin man who'll sweep my reserved heroine off her feet and give her the happily ever after she truly deserves. She's smart and strong and surrenders her life for her family as a good girl trying to be the perfect daughter for a father who hurts her immeasurably. When she goes to Argentina to save her family business and, hopefully, prove to her father that she's worthy of love, she discovers someone who teaches her that she doesn't need a parent's approval to find herself and get her happily ever after. Along the way, this man will be brought to his knees by the woman he falls in love with despite his inability to trust. I can't wait to write the story. But right now I'm in the "getting to know you" phase of my writing. I enjoy interviewing them and getting to learn their quirks and the secrets they're hiding from each other and from themselves. What's making this more fun and exciting is that I finally feel comfortable with my writing voice because it really does suit the line I'm targeting. So if all else fails, at least I know where I belong. A big win for this writer.

The family: The Physicist is overseas and his entire business trip is over 21 days. I miss him a lot. I especially miss him now that I am getting ready to take the Teen to her university in one week. Yes. In one week I'll be driving down to Auburn, Alabama with my smart, talented, funny, and beautiful daughter and then the next day I'll move her into her dorm. Then I'll drive home alone. I'm praying for no tears and no rain. Well, no tears in front of the Teen. Tears will most likely flow once I drive away. I know they flowed when I took her to Kindergarten. As soon as I dropped her off at the school, I cried. I cried all the way home. That was only a 15 minute drive. I figure my eyeballs will be soaked through after 4 hours of crying. But it's a good cry. It's a cry of change and a cry of hope and a cry of all good things done and left to do.

She is ready. I am, too. But still I will miss her. I will miss all the parts of her that fill this house and bring so much life to this home. And what will I do while I wait for the Physicist to return from his overseas trip and while I rattle around this house with only Tonks and Mischief?

I will take all my tears and I will turn them into words.