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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy Friday All,

My counter in the margins says it's 12 hours and less than 30 minutes until the new year. Wow, hard to believe 2011 is already just hours away.

It seems like once I hit adulthood time started going faster, when in reality it was the same amount of time, just felt differently.

I can remember approaching the 2000 finding it totally mind blowing that we were entering the 21st century. Now I'm sitting her going "I never even contemplated 2011." (Anyone else feel this way?)

I hope all of you have a blessed, safe, and wonderful New Year's.

Every year has brought different good  (and sometimes not-so-good) things. Here's to finding out what 2011 brings (hopefully more good than bad).

What's your plans for the new year?

Happy New Year one and all :-)

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

To Resolve Or Not To Resolve--Do You?

Happy Thursday All,

I didn't post on Wednesday. We had stormy weather and I had other things to do, so I had to skip Wednesday.

New Year's is just around the corner and a lot of people make Resolutions. I don't. However, I do know there are a few things I can keep doing in the new year. Keep writing and growing as an author. Keep working on my manuscripts and story ideas. Keep working at putting myself out there.

So, what about you? Do you make New Year's Resolutions? If so, do you mind sharing them?

Have A Thoughtful Thursday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry And Bright

Happy Monday All,

Traditionally speaking, Christmas goes on for 8-12 days (depending on which tradition you're looking at). As a Catholic, I get to enjoy the Christmas Season for more than one day...although, most things have gone back to normal on my end.

I hope you all had a great Christmas Day. Mine was very relaxing. We had gone to Mass the night before and so we enjoyed the morning opening family gifts and just hanging out. My husband and offspring got me a Barnes & Noble Nook and I'm looking forward to getting a couple of books on it. I also got the entire series by Shanna Swendson (Enchanted, Inc.; Once Upon Stilettos; Damsel Under Stress; Don't Hex With Texas) so I've been reading those and enjoying them all over again. My sister (I come from a large family and we get assigned names of a sibling or spouse --not our own spouse--to get Christmas gifts for) she got me one of the Shanna Swendson books and my mother and father got the other 2 for me. My sister also got me two books my Lynne Hinton (I haven't read her work before) called Friendship Cake and Christmas Cake. So I have a lot of reading to do!

I worked a little on one of my manuscripts that's in the process of being written, so that's good. Got some other ideas playing around in my head for it.

2011 is right around the corner and I can hardly believe it. Life seems to go faster when you're an adult. I remember when it seemed to take forever to get to Christmas, now it whizzes by.

So, how was your Christmas Eve/Day? Do you celebrate the Christmas Season for more than one day? Are you looking forward to 2011? What did you get for Christmas? Feel free to share in the comment section!

Hope you have a great week :-)

Have A Marvelously Merry Monday!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, All!

I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas and a wonderful weekend!

I'll be back posting next week...enjoy your Holiday!

Have A Festive Friday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Final Countdown...

Happy Wednesday All,

It's 3 days until Christmas! What are you doing to get ready for the big day?

Most of my Christmas things are done. (As I talked about in my special Holiday Wishes post entitled The Week Before Christmas).

Here's some Christmassy posts I've found among my fellow blogger/writer friends:

Anna Kathryn Lanier had a Christmas story come out on December 8th called A Gift Beyond All Measure and she's posted candy recipes on her blog.  She also had author, Robin Badillo post about it being "The Season Of Romance".

Fellow blogger and friend, Marsha, over at Marsha's Musings, posted a fun post about Christmas Movies.

What am I doing? Spending time with my family, working on a couple of stories I have going, and looking forward to all the wonderful fun and blessings of Christmas.

So, tell me what's up on your end?

Blessed Christmas to you and enjoy your 3 days before Christmas
:-)

Have A Whimsical Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Week Before Christmas

Happy Tuesday All,

The week before Christmas and all through the house, there isn't any stirring, fortunately not even a mouse. The stockings aren't hung because we have no hooks, but it doesn't matter, Santa is not one for whom we look (we celebrate St. Nicholas Day instead), the presents are bought and almost all ready, the days are progressing at a rate that is steady. The writing keeps going, it's something that must. I'm taking this time to wish you a Christmas with the fun kind of fuss.

The New Year will come on the week after, filled with joy, prayers, and lots of laughter.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday, and may God bring you blessings, books, and happily-ever-afters.

(Disclaimer:  Even if you don't believe in God, I still wish you blessings, books and happily-ever-afters).

Have A Tinsel-Filled Tuesday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Right Around The Corner

Happy Monday All,

Just 5 more days until Christmas. Can you believe it? If you're in denial about how close it is, I'd recommend not looking at the countdown in the margin of this blog. LOL

This time of year, with New Year's the week after Christmas, it's been a "look back on the year" season for a lot of things--everything from the Internet to television.

 For me, the previous year had it's bright spots, but it also had its rough spots.

 Two of my uncles died, as well as two friends. One of the friends that died was someone I graduated high school with and I'm still in shock about it. It's hard to imagine such a thing happening.

 On the bright side, I managed to finish editing (and start the query process on) a manuscript. As well as go into a pitch session for the first time, which is even more further along than I was a year ago. I like the idea of progressing forward--learning and growing and improving.

 There was also a birth of a new nephew, and a wedding and seeing family. Many wonderful things to be happy about.

So, what about you? What memories of 2010 come back to you amid the bustle of the season?

Have A Merry Monday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cross Your Fingers,Toes & Pray (Or, Time For Distractions...)

Happy Friday All,

While y'all are celebrating the end of another week, you can join me in celebrating me putting out a query letter for the first time. Thursday afternoon was when it happened, and I'll keep you updated on what's next. (In the meantime, please cross your fingers, toes, hair, whatever and if you're a prayer type person, send some up for me, please as I go through this process).

There's mixed feelings involved here. For instance:

On one hand I was nervous after pushing that "send" button, on the other hand, a sense of relief fell over me that my manuscript was finally ready and I had everything prepared.

Once the initial nerves are gone there's the whole "Okay, onto the other manuscripts." and "What other responsibilities do I have?"

Yesterday (late, around 8:30 or so p.m.) I made fudge. I had planned to, but the fact that I had gotten done what I had planned to in terms of getting that query out made me feel like I had more "room" in my head to do that.

Also, I started thinking about other manuscripts I have waiting on the sidelines. One that's outlined and just needs to move forward and another that's gotten started and needs to be completed. Plus I have one that I really like the idea, but I haven't gotten it to work, yet...so that's been hanging on the fringes of my mind, as well.

The main thing is (which others have also said) don't sit around thinking about the query you sent. Keep working on your other projects and things you have going on. Also, work in time for your family and friends. Read, read, read. We authors are supposed to keep up with the industry, right?

The good thing about this time of year is that there are things to keep one's mind off of one's sent query. Things like food, decorations, music, family, friends, books and other projects.

We authors are writers, but we're also people with lives outside of our writing.

So, what do you do while waiting for a reply on a query?

Have A Fantastical Friday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Reads

Happy Wednesday All,

Can you believe it? Just a little over a week until Christmas. (If you look in the margin of this blog you'll see I have a countdown for Christmas and one for New Year's).

Once in awhile I come across Christmas stories I really love. Here's a few:

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber. (Really funny, and also a fun read).

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere (based off the hit song. If you cry easily make sure you have a tissue box nearby!)

The Christmas Box Collection by Richard Paul Evans. (This series is what got me reading Richard Paul Evans books).

Of course, The Night Before Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Jr. is always a great read and the Nativity stories in the Gospels in the Bible--but I do realize not everyone is Christian--but I don't really know stories dealing with Hanukkah and other holidays.

In any case, whatever you choose to read this season (or any season) hope it takes you away on a wonderful journey :-)

Have A Wonderland Wednesday!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heads Up, Minneapolis!

Hey All of you in Minneapolis:

This in from mystery author, Laura Childs:

Saturday, December 18, from 11:00 to 1:00, I'll be signing books at Once Upon A Crime in Minneapolis. It's a cozy little bookshop that specializes in mysteries and thrillers. Come one, come all if you're in the neighborhood. We'll also be serving chai tea, brownie bites, lemon bars, and tea sandwiches.

I won't be able to be there, so any of you in that area or near there, maybe you all can go and then tell us all about it.

Hey It's On It's Way!

Happy Monday All,

I just looked my calendar and realized counting this week, 3 weeks left of 2010. Weird, huh? I think this year went by faster than I expected.

I'm plotting some of the things for the blog for next year. Already have one author in mind to ask for an email interview, and 3 others I'd love to ask. (One I already have asked, but I think either my email got lost or she was very busy and didn't get to it). (By the way, don't hesitate to comment or email me if there's some author you're really hoping I'd look into asking for an interview!)

I'm also planning to get query letters for a manuscript started out very soon (hopefully THIS week--gotta do a couple of things first). So positive thoughts/prayers/crossing fingers all of that is much appreciated.

I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions for 2011, but I think some of them are a lot of the same of what I'd say for this year. Work on writing, work on improving the craft and all of that. What are yours?

As we continue counting down to Christmas and New Year's, tell me what's up in your life!

Happy Writing :-)

Have A Merry Monday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sore Throats And Stories

Happy Friday All,

It's that time of year...time for Holidays, Christmas cheer, shopping, lights...

And sore throats.

Yep, those heaters will dry out every part of you inside and out and I'm no exception. This week I've fought restless nights, sore throats, and feeling dry all over. The good news is I'm getting better and I LOVE colder weather. The bad news is? The weather is a little warmer today and will probably change again, which means my poor system will freak out in the following style: "What's going on? What do we do?!" And I could get another cold or something like that. Thank goodness I got my flu shot--that usually keeps the cold/flu feelings to a minimum.

I've been working on some other story ideas that were developing while working on some edits, but now, the edits are done pretty much--working on the next step on that manuscript and I'm able to work on the other stories bouncing around in my head.

And, I'm noticing it's 15 Days until Christmas. The only thing I'm concerned about on about that is getting out some of the Christmas cards I have left, sending off a package, and finishing up putting together presents for 2 people.

So, what's going on with you for this Season?

I wish you Happy writing and a fabulous weekend!

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

Happy Wednesday All,

There's some new releases coming out...

Anna Kathryn Lanier talked about her release in yesterday's interview. It's called A Gift Beyond All Measure.

Robin Badillo's second book in her Journey Of The Damned series hit the e-book shelves earlier this month. It's called Forbidden. (By the way, you can find Robin's first book, Retribution at Amazon!)

Laura Childs' 3rd book in her Cackleberry Club Mysteries hit shelves yesterday. (I reviewed this one on here). It's called Bedeviled Eggs.

Lesley Livingston's 2nd sequel to Wondrous Strange is due to come out December 21, 2010. It's called Tempestuous.

Ciara Gold also had a new release earlier this month. The Keeper Of Moon Haven made its debut on Dec. 1st.

If you all know of any other new releases this month, feel free to share :-)

Have A Whimsical Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spotlight On Author: Anna Kathryn Lanier

Happy Tuesday Everyone,

Today I'm delighted to have an author interview with Anna Kathryn Lanier. She's not only a good writer, but definitely has become someone I consider a good friend. She supportive, encouraging and fun.

She's got a release coming up (a story that looks really good and funny).

So it is my privilege to introduce you to Anna Kathryn Lanier...

Me:  What attracted you to writing Westerns and Historicals?



Anna:  I’ve read historicals for 30 years. I enjoy them more than contemporaries, for the most part. Honestly, I sort of fell into writing Westerns, I didn’t plan to write them. I wanted to write Regency. See below for more info on how I fell into it.


Me:  How did you end up with your publisher, The Wild Rose Press?


Anna: A friend of mine, Skhye Moncrief, had sold to them. She told me they were looking for holiday stories and could I quick-like write up my wagon train story (historical). We brainstormed that idea for a while, then I decided to go look up information on the line looking for stories. It turns out that Yellow Rose line is for contemporary stories, not historical. LOL. So, I brainstormed an idea I’d started on a year or so before, thought about how I could use the plot in the West. I picked Montana as the location and was able to write it as a holiday story. It took me four days to write it (okay, it’s only 17 pages long) and my editor basically got the first draft, but she accepted it and The Priceless Gift was sold in time for a Christmas 2007 release.


Me:  You have a cookbook coming out associated with your upcoming story, A Gift Beyond All Measure, can you talk about what sparked that idea?

Anna:  Well, since my first story with TWRP, I’ve incorporated food and tried to include a recipe with each story. In A Gift Beyond All Measure Tessa Jones is the cook for the Triple H Ranch. A fire in the cookhouse forces her to stay in Jacob Scott’s house, where she also cooks for the hands. There’s a lot of food mentioned in this story, which works for his GMC as well. The smells of the home-cooked food reminds Jacob of his childhood. It reminds him what he’s been missing in his life and is a good connection between him and Tessa. Anyway, I wanted a different way to promote my story and I thought of doing a cookbook with recipes for the food Tessa cooks. I also opened it up for a contest and invited other writers to submit recipes. Those chosen are in the book, along with a bio on the author…a great promotion for them, too. "A Gift Beyond All Measure Cookbook" will be available on my website December 8-31, 2010 and will be free to anyone who wants to download it.

Me:  For Fun:  What's a favorite Christmas treat of yours?



Anna:  Fudge. I can remember my daddy making it when I was young. Oddly enough, I don’t mention fudge in the story, lol. Another favorite is potato soup. We have that on Christmas Eve. We used to have oyster stew, but my mother got tired of us grumbling about having to eat it, so she stopped serving it. Of course, I like oyster stew now.


Me:  What advice do you have for aspiring authors?


Anna:  Join a writer’s group. Being around other writers is a great deal of help. You learn you’re not the only one with voices in their head. Take classes, too. You learn stuff you didn’t even know you needed to learn.  And, be careful what you name secondary characters. One day, you may want to write their story and then you are stuck with a name you may not be wild about.


Me:  What can you tell us about your upcoming release, A Gift Beyond All Measure?


Anna:   I had a hard time writing this story. I just couldn’t plot out Jacob’s story, and I wanted to. As the brother of the heroine in The Priceless Gift, I really wanted to write his story. Finally, I hit upon a good combination of plot and character.


Here’s the blurb:

Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?


Me:  Are all your books e-books or do you have some in print?


Anna:  I have some short stories in print in anthologies, but they are also available electronically. Everything with The Wild Rose Press is electronic only. Information on all my stories is available on my website, www.aklanier.com.


Me:  For Fun:  Out of the stories you've written, do you have a favorite character and why?

Anna:   I have a couple that’s my favorite – Meagan and Peter in my short story "Tempt Me Twice". It’s a historical set in Victorian England. Meagan and Peter bugged me for a couple of years to write their story. They’d wake me up in the middle of night with ideas, which I’d have to get up and write or they wouldn’t let me go back to sleep. So, I’m not sure if they are my favorite, but they sure stand out!


Me:  Can you describe a bit of what the writing process is like for you?


Anna:  LOL. I am a panster. I’m lucky if I have my character’s name before I start to write. I will have some idea of a story, but usually, I just start writing. I’ve tried plotting out, but it doesn’t work for me.

I’ll give one example of writing for me:

In "Salvation Bride", the hero and heroine have had a fight over an abused woman, Mrs. Peterson. As sheriff, David wanted to do more, but in 1873, there was little he could do about a man abusing his wife, much to Laura’s chagrin. So, the scene is him returning home and her putting food on the table, very little talking. I didn’t want them to have time to talk things out; I wanted him called away from the house before they could settle things. I thought someone would come call him back to town over some gunfight or something.


So, I’m sitting at the computer, I’m writing the scene. They are sitting at the table, ready to eat, ready to talk, when there’s a knock at the door. David crosses the room and opens the door…bam! Right then, right there it hits me who’s on the other side of the door and why.

“Sheriff, you gotta come quick, Mrs. Peterson has done killed her husband.”

Before David opened the door, I had no idea that’s where the story would go, but it worked out well for the plot.


Me:  On your homepage, you have a picture of yourself at a ranch riding a horse. Do you ride horses or was that a rare opportunity?

Anna:   That’s the first time I rode a horse in years. I did ride once a year when my daughters went to a Girl Scout Camp in Louisiana, because they had horses. But I did not grow up riding horses. I don’t mind riding them, I just haven’t been around them much.



That picture was taken at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera, TX. My husband and I went there in May when The Wild Rose Press hosted an authors’ weekend. It was great fun! Aside from the horseback riding, we had workshops, played poker, shot guns (a first for me), went to a rodeo and just relaxed. It was a good time.


Me:  Anything else you'd like to add?


Thanks for having me today. You can find out more about me and my stories at www.aklanier.com. "A Gift Beyond All Measure" will be released tomorrow, December 8th at The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com). I have three other stories with them that are also available for sale. "A Gift Beyond All Measure Cookbook" will be available for free on my website from December 8-31, 2010 to anyone who wants to download it. The cookbook contains 27 mouth-watering recipes, including Son-of-a Gun Stew, Cheesy Biscuits, Venison Strips, and Peach Cobbler.



You all be sure to get Anna's new book on Dec. 8th :-)


Have A Tip-Top Tuesday!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Eggs, Headless Horsewoman, And Mystery

Happy Monday All,

Laura Childs is one busy author. With 3 mystery series out, she keeps herself well immersed in a myriad of characters.

Her newest series, Cackleberry Club Mystery, is joining the ranks of her other two.

So...in light of all this, I have a questiong: What do eggs, pumpkins, and murder have in common?

Give up?

They're all happening around Suzanne Dietz, one of the owners of The Cackleberry Club--a diner, named for it's main dish: eggs.

In the small Midwestern town of Kindred, Suzanne and her friends, Petra and Toni are serving up eggs (in every way imaginable), desserts, coffee and a side dish of mystery.

Only this time the mystery is in their backyard. Literally.

Mayor hopeful, Chuck Peebler, finds his campaign trail sadly curtailed the moment an arrow shoots him right through the forehead--in front of a frightened Suzanne.

The sheriff suspects Jane Buckley, Petra's friend, and it makes sense. After all, Peebler accused Jane of stealing his dearly departed relative's antiques, which Jane hotly denies doing and it all took place inside the diner for everyone to see.

Desperate, Jane and Petra beg Suzanne to help solve the case and clear Jane's name. Reluctantly, Suzanne agrees...and finds herself immersed in far more than the plans for the Cackleberry Club's Halloween party.

Another dead body--this time the nice, young deputy--a case of illegal dog fighting, and a wounded stray canine lead Suzanne on a merry chase to find the murderer and figure out just what "Tortuga" meant to Peebler.

Can Suzanne figure it all out before she becomes the next victim?

On December 7th (tomorrow) be sure to pick up your copy of Bedeviled Eggs so you can enjoy a dose of diner food, spootacular fun, and mystery.

Have A Mysteriously Marvelous Monday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Hey Everybody,

Because I have a book review to do for Monday, Dec. 6th, but still wanted to mention this particular day (since it has special meaning for me) I thought I'd double-post. This post will cover St. Nicholas and then I can put up the book review.

St. Nicholas has all kinds of legends connected to him. However, there are a couple of things I know:

1. He was a Catholic Bishop

2.  He helped people

The other thing is, it seems (based on what I see and hear) that the legends of Santa Claus sprung in part from legends surrounding St. Nicholas.

Growing up I've met a few people who celebrate this day. One lady I know said, when I mentioned St. Nicholas Day, "Oh yes, Little Christmas."  I don't remember if I ever heard it referred to as "Little Christmas" but it fits.

Here's how it works. The night before Dec. 6th children put out one of their shoes. The next day (Dec. 6th) there's candy and small gifts in (and sometimes gifts under) the shoes.

I've also heard that Dutch put out wooden shoes. And I also heard of kids putting hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas's horse.

On my father's side we're part Flemish--which is lowland Dutch (Beligum) and we grew up celebrating St. Nicholas Day. I'm also part German on my mother's side, and they also celebrate the day. We'd put out our shoes and the next morning find candy and gifts. One year I even got a St. Nicholas pin that I still have (and proudly wore to the NWHRWA Christmas Party on Saturday).

I still celebrate St. Nicholas Day, even as an adult--but a little differently. Instead of putting out my shoe, I give a gift to my offspring.

Here's some more about St. Nicholas:

St. Nicholas Center

This one has some interesting things about St. Nicholas in the German culture:

A St. Nicholas Day In Germany

Oh and be sure to check out Anna Kathryn Lanier's blog post, Holday Cheer - Little Christmas & Speculaas to see what she says about St. Nicholas--you might even win a prize (check her post for details).

Anyway, hope you enjoy your Dec. 6th whether it's St. Nicholas Day, plain old Monday or Little Christmas for you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Falling In Love With Your Characters

Happy Wednesday All,

How often when we're writing and editing do we get to a point where we need a break because we've stopped caring about our characters?

We get to a point sometimes where we'd just as soon see them all fall into a pit and stay there.

Not good!

If we don't care about characters and stories then how can we expect readers to care?

What happened to me was, I worked on a manuscript and got annoyed, and started thinking my hero and heroine could fall off a cliff.

Yikes and painful!

I ended up taking a bit of a break from said manuscript and when I came back to the editing and working on it, I found out that I was falling back in love with the characters and the story.

Ahh, how lovely!

It's like what Nathan Bransford wrote in his blog post called The Nine Circles of Writing Hell we think our story is nifty and wonderful until something happens, then we get distracted by another story idea or whatever comes up.

Sometimes we need a little break. Then when we come back, we can look for some reason to love our stories and characters again.

Because, really, don't we want our readers to care about our characters and why should they if we don't?

I wish you all happy writing and much falling in love with your stories and characters :-)

Have A Winsome Wednesday!