Category Archives: Uncategorized

TOP 5 REASONS TO USE GOODREADS…


My blog entries have been fewer as my writing schedule has geared up, but I adore having this special place to talk about different topics and connect with all my friends out there in cyberspace. I will be posting about some great sales and upcoming books but thought it would be nice to talk about some writing stuff.

Like writing karma.

I believe in karma. Have noticed there are a lot of tags for it recently, for liking other facebook pages or blog links or the giving of special awards. But I’ve noticed a powerful tool for writers and readers lately from my own personal experience.

Goodreads.

If you love reading, you should be on this site. If you are an author, you must be on this site. Besides being a free tool for publicity, this is where the readers are. And this tool, my friends, is a fantastic way to discover new authors and read great books.

Without further ado…here are the top five reasons you should be using Goodreads.

1. Goodreads helps you find great books.

The site allows you to make a free account and list all the books you have read or desire to read. You get to rate them, review them, share them, twitter about them. You get to label them as TO READ, READ, or CURRENTLY READING.

2. Goodreads will connect you with readers and writers.

You have the option to join many chat groups, which specifically list topic discussions to get involved with. You can invite people to become your friends, and then share you reviews and book reading lists with them. That way, you are able to find what other people are reading, and get wonderful suggestions for new authors and books.

3. Goodreads will help promote your author name.

The site allows you to make your own author page, hook up your blog, twitter, and  bookshelf. That way, if anyone wants to add you as a fan, your blog and twitter will be automatically sent to them. It’s a great way to keep your social network working for you . Pretty much a no brainer.

4. Goodreads sells books. 

How do I know? It’s worked for me. Goodreads sends me a list in my email like a daily digest with updates from all my friends who have reviewed books, added books to their shelf, etc. I scroll down the list, check out what everyone’s reading, and browse their comments.

Recently, my writing friend rated a book by another author as five stars and left a review. Curious, I clicked on the link, read the excerpt, the other reviews, and became hooked. Right there on the page is the link straight to the stores – Amazon, B& N, etc. I own a Kindle, so I clicked on Amazon, and was brought directly to the page. I was already warned the price was a bit steep but promised it was worth it. Since I trust her judgment, I was willing to pay. I clicked buy and it was downloaded on my Kindle. Sale. In one minute.

That’s pretty powerful.

5. Goodreads helps spread your reviews.

In my stream of friends, I also have reviewers. When the Long and Short of It Reviews rated an author as a must read with five stars, I immediately clicked to check it out. Same thing happened. Read the blurb, liked the reviews, clicked it and bought.

Bingo.

As for my own books, reviews have been priceless. Literally, priceless. The wonderful reviewers who took the time to read it and rate it and post on Goodreads have given me sales. I have seen the comments from readers stating they saw the review and now have The Tantric Principle on their to read list. All of my site information is there for any reader to click on my blog, twitter, website, or buy my books.

So, my advice is to join in the fun. Take advantage of the opportunity. Discover new authors.

My plea? In our very busy, busy lives, it is priceless to leave a good review. If you love a book, take a few minutes and post a review. A few sentences is fine. Word of mouth is the best way to sell books, and the karma will come back time and time again. Writers treasure their readers and work extra hard to try and make each book better and better. For them. By leaving a review, you are thanking writers for doing their job.

Happy Reading!

FALL FROLIC AND A MAMA LLAMA


I’m a summer girl all the way. Sun, sandals, shorts. But there’s something magical about Fall that entrances me. The light is golden and bathes the world with sparkles. The delicious scent of leaves, and earth, and spices fill the air. Farms throw open their doors with festivals and hayrides and pumpkin picking, and everyone seems pumped and excited.

I had a perfect family weekend. We visited one of those farms with the boys and sampled it all. When we snuck into the haunted house and picked our way through the fog and flashing skeleton heads, my boys clung to me with fear (including my father for some reason) and screamed in terror. We boarded the tractor for a bumpy ride up the hill to the pumpkin patch, to pick the perfect size pumpkin and take pictures with the scarecrows. We sipped apple cider, munched on popcorn, and watched the kids bounce like crazy in the bouncy houses. We got lost in the corn maze and cheated when we got tired. The kids got their faces painted with bats and vampire fangs, and we breathed in the crisp fall air, feeling perfectly content for those few precious hours.

My favorite part was meeting the animals. There was a whole batch of baby pigs. Their fat little bodies, and funny snouts and tiny grunts converted me. Already a vegetarian, I was so glad I didn’t eat bacon! They were precious, and I got to hold them and learn a whole new side about animals.

But I fell in love with a llama named Trish. Holding herself high with dignity, she walked over to greet me, her beautiful, heavily lashed dark eyes staring into mine. The owner of the petting zoo explained Trish had been very depressed because she lost her mate two years ago, and the baby llama she had adopted in her care had just died. The owner said Trish was extremely loyal, loving, and now spent hours laying down, staring into space. She didn’t want to eat, or socialize. Her heart was broken.

And mine broke for her. I crooned to Trish and she did the most amazing thing. Mother to mother, we stared into one another’s eyes. And then she lowered her head and kissed me.

The owner said she was very careful of who she bestowed her kisses on. I had passed muster. I stroked her neck and said good-bye, and I have been thinking of her ever since. One mama to another.

Those are the moments I live for in motherhood. When we are all together, enjoying the moment, happy and carefree. I can look at my kids and their silliness and joy for life and feel my heart crack open to the world around me.

And I remind myself again, to take what is given, enjoy the gift, and hold it close to the heart. There are bad days and good days in parenthood, but oh, for those few joyous hours, everything is so worth it.

I wish everyone more of those moments as we move forward.

Happy Fall everyone!

HIDDEN TREASURE: TURNING SOMETHING OLD INTO NEW


Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you a story.

There was once a young girl who knew she was meant to write romance novels. She penned her first young adult book at 12. Graduated to adult stories in her early twenties. Completed a proper business degree in college but still wrote in her free time because she never gave up the dream. Penned her first “real” adult novel and sent it out to Harlequin to await the great news.

One year later, she got a “good” rejection.  Really good.

She was confused so she sent it to an agent. Waited six months. Got another “great” rejection letter.

Then sent it to a third place. Then fourth. Then fifth. Over the next year, she was rejected again and again. But she kept writing and just kept believing. She did smart things like join RWA, and get into a critique group, and learn the business.

Finally, she made her first sale to a mid level publisher who loved her voice. She waited two years for publication but finally was able to clutch her first book in her hand and gaze at her first cover.  Heart of Steel. My powerful alpha male, Logan Grant. My free flowing yoga arts teacher, Chandler Santell. Most editors had problems with my hero because he was so dominant. I love my alpha males and he wouldn’t be tamed, though I tried.

The first published book for an author is unbelievable. Nothing can describe it. I felt like I had joined a secret club. Then I learned it didn’t mean things would get easy. The happiness of the first time is wonderful, but you still have to write another book. Then another. And another…

And they have to be good. No, they have to be better.

As I grew into a writer, I took many different turns. I hit dry spells and hot spells and spells in between. When I finally began to sell more consistently, I received a letter that my publisher had closed and my rights had reverted back to me for Heart of Steel. I then got the opportunity to re-publish with another company in digital format. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to edit, polish and see my very first book in electronic form on Kindle, Nook and Sony.

When I read back over the book, I realized I had grown so much as a writer and wanted to make a lot of changes. But something happened as I began to edit. My voice had changed and grown. This was my younger self – raw, passionate, and a bit unpolished. If I edited to the way I wanted, I would have changed the entire feel of the book.

And I didn’t want to do that.

Heart of Steel needs to be read as is. So, I went back and added some technology for Logan to do his job properly. I also gave them a cell phone. (Insert laugh out loud right here).

My new updated version comes out in early October. I will be hopping around doing some guest blogs and leaving some excerpts, excited for a new audience.

What have  I learned? There is hidden treasure in everything. Old books, ideas, stories, memories. Some need to be honored and cherished exactly the way they were. Others can be tweaked or polished a bit. And still others need to be re-gutted in order to make a whole new memory.

Hidden treasure can be both exciting and overwhelming. I remember this as I go through my life as a mother, as a writer, as a person. There are no wrong choices. Just the individual choices of our heart.

Heart of Steel was one of my treasures. I will always remember that girl behind the desk, before marriage or children or the drudge of reality affected her. She was fresh and hopeful and oh, so very passionate about her dreams.

And that is one treasure I will always cherish.

A LITTLE BIT OF ROMANCE…


My birthday was last week.

Now, as I move into the older brackets,  I’ve heard major grumblings around me about wanting to ignore birthdays. Pretend they don’t exist. Just move on with the day like it’s any other day and forget.

Not me.

You see, I’m like a kid. I adore birthdays. My motto most years revolves around the concept of a birthday “month.” One day is just not enough. If I spread out the fun over a few weekends, then the month of September is one long party.

My poor husband knows how important my birthday is. I think secretly he dreads it each year. On his birthday, I spend months planning the perfect gift or outing. He starts planning mine the week before. Now, since last year I had the party of the century, I felt much more mellow, so I told him just dinner and a movie would be nice, and not to worry about any surprises. He was quite relieved, but smart enough to ask me MANY times if I meant it or if it was a test. Poor guy.

My mom took the kids, and we decided to visit a steak house where we also scored a restaurant.com gift certificate. Smart planning. We lined up the movie and actually agreed.

A few days before my birthday, we needed to bring both dogs to the vet. My older one seemed tired and I was a bit concerned since we’ve been saying he’s 12 years old for the last 4 years.  Both dogs got the work up, including blood tests, meds, etc. I had my husband’s debit card on hand, and let’s say when I swiped it bells went off because of the expense. When I returned home, he casually asked me how much the bill was.

So, I told him.

My husband never gets mad. I can count on one hand how many times he loses his temper. So, imagine my horror when he starts screaming at me about how much money I spent. I calmly informed him I had no choice because of the tests, and after a while he calmed down, but seemed really, really stressed out.

Fast forward to my birthday night.

The movie was wonderful. The dinner was superb. We had a few cocktails, and feasted on appetizers. My grilled tuna was perfectly rare, with buttery mashed potatoes that sang in my mouth. His filet mignon gleamed a perfect pink, and if I ate meat I would have salivated. The dessert was tiny creme puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge. Cappacino with rock candy. The perfect meal.

The restaurant coupon was a joke and barely put a dent in the bill. I happily scraped the plate clean as the waiter laid the bill discreetly by my husband. “Thank you, honey,” I said sweetly to my adored husband.

He smiled back. “You’re welcome. Happy birthday, babe.”

Then slid the bill next to me.

I blinked. Then slid the bill back.

My husband squirmed uncomfortably. My relaxed body suddenly stiffened. “Why are you giving me the bill, darling?” I asked.

He pushed it back toward me and sighed. “I have no money, babe.”

“What!”

“That’s why I got so upset when you told me how much you spent for the dogs. You used up all my money.”

I leaned in and hissed. “You’ve known it was my birthday and you didn’t plan? You didn’t put the money away?”

“I thought I’d have enough. But it was a great dinner, wasn’t it babe?”

I stewed and paid the bill.

In the car, he completed the birthday assault. “You said you didn’t want any presents, right? Cause I was thinking of getting you a massage, but I’d have to wait to my next paycheck.”

“Forget it,” I grumbled.

He brightened. “Thanks, babe.”

Yep. Happy Birthday to Me.

Fast forward to the next week. A typical crazy day, with a sick child, and the older one needing to go to religion class. I was working on a new story and was obsessed with it, so I grabbed every opportunity throughout the day between chicken soup and tv to work. When my husband got home, we both groaned about who needed to go to religion class since it was a drive and they make the parents stay to lecture us on being a good parent. I tried to sneak my Kindle in last time but the priest glared at me.

“I guess I’ll go,” I said. “You worked all day.”

He stood in the kitchen and stared at me. “Weren’t you working on your story today?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, then you worked just as hard as me,” he said.

The casual words flew through the air and pierced my heart with joy. For those few moments, I realized he SAW me. Appreciated me. And loved me for who I was.

I almost teared up. “Thanks, babe. But I’ll go.”

“Ok.”

Welcome to marriage. A little bit of this…and a little bit of that.

And sometimes when you least expect it…a little bit of romance.

 

 

 

MUSINGS OF A SOCCER MOM…AGAIN?


Odd that my very first entry as Writing Mama revolved around my son’s disastrous soccer experiences. Along the way, I’ve blogged about my children, my writing, my life, and anything else that seems important at the time. My son enrolled in soccer for the third session, even though I kept asking him over and over if he REALLY wanted to play. Hoping he’d say, Nah. But he smiled and nodded with enthusiasm, so I paid the fee and trudged back to the field of hell.

This season, we got hit pretty hard with Hurricane Irene and other weather disasters. We missed practice for three weeks in a row and his first game was cancelled. Last night was our first practice and the first I even met his team and coach. When I picked the kids up from school, yet another dark, stormy night brewed. I happily assumed practice was cancelled and emailed the coach.

Then received an email stating practice was on, minutes before we were due on the field.

I cursed, threw my son’s cleats on, glared at my husband for getting to stay home, and raced out the door. When I arrived, there was a bunch of groups playing and I realized I had no idea who I was looking for. The field was thick with mud. Rain and wind whipped at my face. I trudged from group to group to look for my coach, hoping to recognize someone, and finally found my son’s team.

And thus, another season of soccer began.

Has my son grown since my first entry? Hell yes. Has he gotten better?

I plead the fifth.

The session was a disaster in every way possible. Besides shivering in the cold with no umbrella, I watched the new version of the Bad News Bears play soccer. As my son played defense, he decided to walk like a chicken to make the other kids laugh. Through gritted teeth, I called his name and shot him THE LOOK.  He grinned back and waved.

He played tag with the other defense player and distracted them. He chatted with the assistant coach in the field as if it was social hour. He pretended to be a vampire and told this poor little boy he would “Suck his blood.” With complete horror, I called his full name (middle included) and made a cut it out gesture.  He looked up at the rain and stuck his tongue out for some water, since I hadn’t brought any. When the ball came close, I screamed for him to pay attention and he looked around like awakening from a long sleep, then watched the ball roll past into the goal.

I have no idea how the coaches kept their patience. Probably because of the ridiculousness of the situation. I heard them yell different children’s names over and over, instructing them what to do while they gazed up with confused expressions. I watched balls get kicked into wrong goals, children sharing hugs instead of watching the game, and my son running after the group with no intention of getting even close to the soccer ball.

At one point, when he was told to kick the ball from out of bounds, he backed up a whole football field so he could get a running start. The expression on the coach’s face was priceless. He actually looked at me with a questioning look, but I only shrugged. Hell with it. I paid my $80 – this should no longer be my problem.

He had to pee and there was no bathroom, so we stood in the mud in the woods while he relieved himself against the frikkin snack bar.

The hell ended after an hour and a half. As we left the field, the rain stopped, the sun burst over the horizon, and a full fledged rainbow lit the skies. We ooghed and aghghed, and as I looked down at my son’s face, I laughed out loud.

I realized in that moment how much my child had grown. When we first started, he was so painfully shy, he refused to make friends or even play. He used to avoid other children at all costs – pointing to them on the playground with a stressful whine, “But there are kids there!” My shy little boy was now the class clown, with a dry wit and confidence in himself that blew me away. I held his hand, looked at the rainbow, and savored the moment.

On the way home, I gave him a list of other activities he had the chance to be involved in. Finally, his face lit up and he said, “Tennis, mommy. I like tennis.”

No way. Money galore, limited options of gyms, and another disaster just waiting to happen. 

“Karate?” I suggested hopefully.

After a pause, he agreed to try.

I’m sure I’ll blog about that later.

 

CHARACTER ALERT! FINDING CHARACTERS IN DAY TO DAY LIFE


I brought my kids to McDonalds last week to play. It was a rainy day, we had been vacationing like crazy, and I just wanted to sip my coffee in peace and read my Kindle while they trashed another place other than my house.

So, I sat in my booth with my feet propped up on the other end and dived into my reading. There was only one other girl there playing with my boys, and her grandfather sat in the opposite booth, watching her. I remember smiling at him, touched at the loving way he glanced at her, then went back to my book.

As a mom, sometimes I crave conversation in social areas when my children play. Sometimes I want to be left alone. That day, I wanted no words, no forced niceties, and a lot of silence other than my children’s screams. Screams of good, not bad.

But Fate had other plans for me.

The gentleman eased his way toward my booth, and commented casually on my boys and how nice they all played together. This forced me to be polite, and before I knew it, we were having a conversation. He confirmed he was the girl’s grandfather and had nine grandchildren. Curious, I gazed at his scruffy gray beard, beaten up ballcap, and denim overalls. He looked as if he belonged on a farm and had hard times. His manner was pleasant, his words well spoken, and I began to enjoy his easy talk and sense of humor. Before I realized what had happened, I was asking him general questions and to my amazement, found myself face to face with Forrest Gump.

Yes. Forrest Gump.

With an off the cuff manner, he related he’d been married for 50 years and his wife had been on the game show Jeopardy. Fascinated, I learned his wife was quite shy but brilliant with trivia. He arranged for her to go on the game show and she was a three time champion. His wife was in a convent  when he met her, yet he knew immediately she was his true love. They eloped secretly so she wouldn’t be kicked out of the convent before she finished her studies, and they had six children together.  He told me she was pretty much the best thing in his life.

Forrest worked at a blue collar company to support his family, and worked two other jobs on the side. He decided he had a great plan to institute courses at the company to help employees go further in their career with social skills and social psychology. He developed a business plan, approached the top guy, and began teaching. The program is now worldwide.

Now, as he began sharing the most amazing stories, my children would run over to me. I’d pretty much ignore them, kick them back to the playground, and ask Gump more questions. His life fascinated me because he took what he got and he made it great.

Isn’t that the best sort of character in life and in books?

We spent an hour chatting and I believe I was changed for the better after meeting this stranger. I hope I will run into him again.

The morale of the story? Characters are everywhere, ready to be used for our creative journey and to teach us every day lessons. They are unexpected and much more than what we see on the surface. Make sure the character you are working on in your book surprises your reader.  Make sure in your daily activity to take some time to be surprised by people. Dig a bit deeper – it’s usually worth it. Even when I run into a grumpy person, I’m amazed at how an understanding smile and a listening ear can evoke the true reason for the behavior. Life is definitely not easy. But it can be extraordinary if we are looking in the right way.

Take some time to listen and the entire world may crack open to reveal its pearl.

Thank you, Forrest Gump. This one’s for you.

 

 

 

SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY


Another six sentence sunday snippet for your pleasure.

This is from my new novella, Sex, Lies and Contracts releasing early 2012 from Red Sage.  Take a peek:

“When are you going to let yourself go?” He lowered his voice to a hypnotic demand. “You teach poetry, for God’s sakes. Too much control and the writing lies flat and lifeless. Look at you – you’re practically shaking with need. I can make you shatter just by slipping my hand down your pants.”

That’s it! Check out the other particpants at the link below.

New blog post coming up this week so stay tuned!

http://www.sixsunday.com/2011/08/28/official-six-sentence-sunday-828

Happy Sunday!