Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

David Bowie knew best. Change is part of life, and how we move forward. Including blogs!

You may have noticed I've been tidying up and rearranging a bit. One big change is the Author Spotlight, which now appears as a separate page. If you click on the link above, you'll see the schedule of 2011 authors so far. Each will be featured for a full week rather than a day. Because I'd already committed to having a few authors in January and February, the change won't take full effect until the end of February. Meanwhile, those authors already scheduled will have two to three days rather than one.

Another big change is that I won't be posting everyday. This last year was wonderful, but sometimes it felt as if the posts were pushed down too fast and fell out of view before anyone could fully appreciate them. In this manic day and age, I feel the need to slooooow dooowwwwnn. Breathe. Ommmm. Namaste. So I'll post a few times a week, but not every day.

More importantly, this will allow me to focus on writing. I'm embarrassed to say how many stories I've begun and not finished. Dozens, really. Time to get those puppies weaned, fat and happy, and put 'em in the window.

I'm mulling over some other changes as well. Stay tuned.



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hurry and enter the NOR Web Hunt before it's too late!

Night Owl Reviews' Winter Wonderland Web Hunt runs the entire month of December. But as the song goes, now the calendar's just one page. And there are only a few dates left!

There are plenty of tempting goodies. If you enter, you'll be eligible for lots of great prizes, including one of three print copies of one of my books (I signed up for three months of hunts at once, and now I can't remember which is December's! But it's either Surfacing or Follow the Stars Home - either one will leave you feeling warm and cozy.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Here and there today


I've cloned myself virtually today, and can be found in two places: Anne Patrick invited me to her wonderful blog, and I'm also at Susan Gourley's lovely blog. I hope you'll pop over for a warm chat on a cold winter's day.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

This lovely present arrived in my email, so I'm hoping it's all right to share.






Peace, joy and a cool Yule.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

Reposting this from last year. Maybe I'll make it a Christmas Eve tradition. :)
The story of Rudolph's circulating as an email forward, so I thought I'd look into it. I should probably work for Snopes, lol.
While some of the email is true, it doesn't give the entire background. But I will. :)
Btw, I think my mom had dog-eared sheet music with this same image - supposedly the original 1939 cover. Though it's a little before my time, I remember it distinctly.
The Montgomery Ward department store's holiday tradition was to hand out specially printed coloring books to kids who came to visit Santa. In 1939, the store execs decided to try something different, and more economical because the Depression still gripped the nation. Rather than hire an outside firm to create a giveaway, they asked their advertising department to come up with a giveaway.
In turn, the ad department turned to their copywriter, Robert L. May. May worked on the story in his office, then took it home to read to his four-year-old daughter, Barbara. The little girl's feedback helped shape the story line, and she may have even named Rudolph.
Using rhyming verse, May's wrote the story of a little reindeer with a bright red nose who was born to ordinary parents in the woods. Like May as a child, Rudolph was lonely and had few friends. But, rather than dwelling on his problems, Rudolph had a positive outlook and did not let his unique nose hold him back.
In the original story, Santa discovered Rudolph on Christmas Eve while delivering gifts to the woodland animals. A fog rolled in and grew dense so Santa couldn't take off safely. Santa noticed Rudolph with his shiny red nose and asked him to lead his sleigh (I know, without any training. The reindeer union probably filed complaints.)
Well, you know the rest. All the other reindeer loved him after Rudolph saved the day.
Montgomery Ward certainly loved the results. Kids all over the country fell in love with Rudolph too, and the store handed out 2.4 million copies of the book. Because of the war, paper supplies were limited, and Montgomery Ward was limited to printing 6 million copies by 1945.
Though the hopeful story may have inspired his small daughter in a difficult time, the story's success didn't help Robert L. May's personal life. His wife died of cancer, and the medical expenses ruined him financially. He made no profits from the popularity of Rudolph, deemed a "work for hire" production, owned solely by Montgomery Ward.
By 1947, May decided to seek the rights to Rudolph. Surprisingly, Montgomery Ward sold them to him. May then published the story, which of course became a bestseller. He authorized a cartoon version for showing in theaters before the advertised movie. May teamed up with his brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, who changed the story slightly from May's original to the story we know today in the song. In 1949, Western singer/actor Gene Autry agreed to record the song, which became an instant hit.
Finally, May was able to enjoy the benefits of his labor. And kids - and grownups - everywhere still love the little reindeer.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

National Short Story Day

On December 21, the U.K. recognizes "prose’s short-yet-perfectly-crafted form," the short story, with National Short Story Day. Events throughout the country celebrate this art form, a followup to their National Short Story Week in November.

I call it an art form because of all the styles of writing, short stories challenge authors like no other. Ian Rankin said it best: "The best short stories pack the heft of any novel, yet resonate like poetry.”

I love Naomi Alderman's quote too: "The short story is the most astonishing form: more supple than the novel, because of its length it’s possible to be more experimental, to do away, sometimes, with plot or character or logic. Instead of having to fill in details, to explain itself, to come to a conclusion, a short story can simply throw a thought at the reader, hurl a moment. It’s gemlike. There are no perfect novels, but there are perfect stories, I think.’

I would have loved to have been across the pond to join in the celebration. Better yet, I wish the U.S. would plan something similar. But if you're like me and didn't attend any of the planned events, don't fret - you can still read or listen to specially commissioned short stories.

The mark of any great story is the way it resonates with readers. How long it will stick with you after you've finished reading it.

Of the authors I consider masterful at crafting short stories, T.C. Boyle (shown in photo - *hey T.C.! Come to visit anytime!*) and Charles D'Ambrosio top the list. If you've never read these authors, you're missing out. I highly recommend D'Ambrosio's Dead Fish Museum.

T.C. Boyle's latest collection, Wild Child and Other Stories, comes out in January. It's on my wish list! If it's anything like his other collections, it's amazing. The ending to the title story of Tooth and Claw still gives me shivers!

Other favorites include Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore. Stacey Richter and Aimee Bender are nothing short of dazzling. There are too many others to mention.

After writing poetry for years, I moved on to short stories to challenge myself. Yes, finely crafted novels will keep you reading, but short stories have to pack a wallop in limited space. I had some success with web zines and journals. You can find links to many of them here - click on Web Zine Stories.

This year, I was lucky to have won first place in the Pearl S. Buck inaugural writing contest for a short story I'd written years ago. Will I keep writing short stories? Absolutely. Authors need to exercise their writing muscles to keep them in shape, and short stories provide a great workout.

Many epublishers are open to short stories. This year, Eternal Press released Winning, a short speculative.

Wild Child Publishing released Liberation via Pen, a short chick lit story about a girl who frees herself through writing.

Freya's Bower released The Lure of the Vine.

The Wild Rose Press published my shorts, Going with Gravity (a 2011 EPIC finalist!), Design for Life, The Duende and the Muse, Seventh Heaven and my free read, Cinderella Dreams (are tough to shake).

Click on the links to read excerpts, reviews, or view the trailers for each.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday giveaway!

Leave a comment by midnight tonight at the Desert Island Keepers Ladies Rule blog for the chance to win a PDF copy of Design for Life!



Did someone say pfeffernuesse?

Or can you even say it? I have trouble too. No matter, it's the cookie that counts!

Join me at Margaret West's today for some holiday silliness.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pauline Holyoak in the Author Spotlight

Cate: Please welcome Pauline Holyoak. Pauline, will you please share a short bio with us?
Pauline: Thank you for inviting me Cate. I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village my husband calls, “The place that time forgot.” It is nested between the notorious city of Canterbury and the medieval town of Dover. I came to Canada (as a nanny) when I was 21, in search of adventure and a new life. I live in Spruce Grove, Alberta with my sports crazy husband, adorable sheltie dog and cantankerous ginger cat. We have two grown children. They are the gems in my treasure chest.

Cate: Tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Pauline: Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge is the first of a trilogy. When Emily Fletcher meets the gorgeous Jonathan McArthur she is infatuated and consumed with lust. Will he go with her to the dreaded wood-lot, to remove the bloody ancient curse, before it’s too late? In the first half of my story my protagonist is fourteen years old. In the second half she is forced to return to the cottage, at the age of twenty. My novel contains elements of horror, humor, fantasy, romance and sex. I have created a world into which my readers can escape and an atmosphere that will evoke their imagination, stir their emotions and engage their senses. This book was inspired by my own experiences in a remote little cottage near Stonehenge. Available at www.whiskeycreekpress.com and www.amazon.com

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Pauline: Here is an excerpt...
”Let’s go somewhere privet.” She said, grabbing my arm. She guided me to the passage and plunked me down on the bottom step of the attic stairs. My back straightened. Panic rose within me as an icy shiver ran down my spine. It was as if I had been lead to an old cemetery, sat on a grave and left among the tomb stones.
“That was her room you know.” She said as she pointed up the stairs.
“Who’s?”
“Mary Eliss.”
I turned my head ever so slowly and drew eyes up to the portal at the top of the stairs. I shivered and quickly looked way. “I know it was.”
In a low voice she whispered. “Do you suppose she’s still up there?” Then she grinned mischievously.
I looked into her strange glassy eyes. “She was, the last time I was here and I have a feeling she hasn’t left.”

Cate: Chilling! Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Pauline: Jonathan McArthur is strikingly handsome, strong yet sensitive; charismatic, with a luscious English accent that will make your mouth water. He’s intelligent, witty and very creative. He has a soft spot for animals, the less fortunate and forgotten people. Jonathan struggles to stay in his safe world of logic and predictability but the world he is forced to live in is neither logical nor predictable. He’s in my book trailer, on my website. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Cate: He sounds wonderful. Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Pauline: My fictional world holds traces of reality. Some of the elements and events in my spine-chilling novel are true.

Cate: What's next for you?
Pauline: I’m in the process of writing the second book of my trilogy... Merryweather Lodge – The Malevolent Spirit.

Cate: Cool. What inspired you to draft your first story?
Pauline: Every summer, when I was a child, we would visit my aunt and uncle at their quaint little cottage on Salisbury Plain. It was called Scotland Lodge and was situated not far from the historical Stonehenge. My uncle worked as a farm hand for the local squire. My aunt tended the manor house. It was there as I roamed free, deep within the English countryside, that I experienced joy, enchantment and some very strange and frightening occurrences. It was like a fairytale kingdom with a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland (the old place still emanates a strange and eerie essence) and was lead by some mysterious force into concocting this story and writing this book. It is from my mystifying experiences at Scotland Lodge that this book has emerged.

Cate: You make me want to visit there! Do you have a writing routine?
Pauline: I write long hand in my purple room, at my antique desk, under a large picture window and then I type it into the cold inanimate piece of equipment I call my computer and edit as I go. Young people think this is weird but the blank screen does not inspire me. The view outside my picture window does.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Pauline: www.paulineholyoak.com Please come visit me, view my book trailer and meet my characters.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Pauline: What attracts them to a book? The cover, the blurb, author’s bio, genre, recognition of the authors name or something else?
Cate, it was wonderful to meet you and your readers like this. I really enjoyed it.
A Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, to all of you!

Cate: The same to you, Pauline! Readers, Pauline is giving away an ebook book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Wednesday, Dec 29th and post the winner’s name here.
Thanks so much for being my guest Pauline! All the best to you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

History of A Christmas Carol

On Dec. 19, 1843, Charles Dickens first published one of the most widely known holiday stories, A Christmas Carol. I dug around a bit to find the origins of this tale, and although widely diverging versions exist, one of the most reliable seems to be from PBS’s A Writer’s Almanac.

According to them, Dickens was inspired to write A Christmas Carol after reading a disturbing news story about child labor in England. He went to Cornwall to see for himself the horrible conditions of child workers in the mines there. He then visited the free schools set up for poor children. Seeing the terrible situation of children in poverty made him so angry, he decided to write a book exposing it, and publish it at his own expense. The original title was A Christmas Carol in Prose. Shown is a first edition.

The plot is as familiar as Christmas cookies. Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean old miser, goes through a life transformation during Christmas, a holiday he scorned: "Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." But after three visits from spirits, he sheds his hardened exterior and throws open his arms to embrace others at the end: "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody!"

Timing was ripe for Dickens to publish A Christmas Carol. In the 17th century, the Puritans declared the holiday illegal, citing the fact that the Bible never gave the date of Christ’s birth. Thus, they deemed it a pagan celebration.
But Christmas enjoyed a resurgence in England in 1840, when Queen Victoria married a German prince, Albert. German traditions like Christmas trees became popular again in England.

A Christmas Carol showed Christmas as a time for family and for sharing simple pleasures. Some still viewed celebrates such as parties, dancing and drinking and playing games, dangerously close to Pagan rituals. But Dickens' vision of Christmas still inspires many to keep the Christmas spirit alive.

One of my favorite versions stars Patrick Stewart.



This Christmas, I bought the Disney DVD with Jim Carrey, which seems a nice halfway version between The Muppets Christmas Carol and the stern old black and white version.

Of all the remakes, which is your favorite?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stephanie Taylor in the Author Spotlight

Cate: Please welcome Stephanie Taylor. Stephanie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Stephanie: I wrote and illustrated my first novel at the young age of six. It was called The Bear Who Ate Christmas. I still have it in the attic somewhere. I’ve written two novels, Doubting Thomas and Tinseltown. I also have a Valentine’s Day short coming out next month with Decadent Publishing. I’ve been married for almost 10 years, and am a mother of a 4, 3 and 2 year old. I recently opened up my own epublisher for non-erotic work, called Astraea Press.

Cate: Wow, what an exciting venture. I hope to hear good things about Astraea Press in the future. Best of luck.
Tell us about Tinseltown and where it's available.
Stephanie: A-list actress Deb Atkins hasn’t allowed her glamorous lifestyle to go to her head. She owes this to her wonderful family, who keeps her grounded. So, for Deb, not just any man will do, especially if he’s part of the Hollywood elite. Most actors have one thing on their mind, and happily ever after isn’t it.
Until she meets Zach Sparks, her new co-star.
Zach Sparks is famous not just for his acting skills, but his quick wit and good looks. One glance at Deb, and he's smitten. After a drunken night at a Vegas premiere after-party, one thing leads to another. The result: marriage.
Deb is appalled by her actions. So much so, she and Zach can't get along on the set. Their director demands they spend Christmas holidays together to work out their differences or they're both fired. Driven by selfish motivations, they don't expect to fall in love over Christmas or for their marriage to turn into a real one. But can their tenuous relationship withstand a bigger test than either of them ever imagined?
It can be purchased at Lyrical’s website here
Or on Amazon here

Cate: Sounds great! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Stephanie: Here’s an excerpt:
“You first,” Zach said with a grin. Seeing the engagement ring on her finger, even now, sent a surge of protectiveness through him. He couldn’t wait until she sported it proudly in public. Would they ever get there?
Delicately, Deb opened the gift. She bit her lip as everyone watched in anticipation. “You really shouldn’t have done this,” she muttered.
“I could say the same for you.” He lifted his gift slightly. She shot him a wry look and opened the velvet box.
Deb gasped and tears shone in her eyes as she revealed a matching wedding band made of diamonds and emeralds.
“I didn’t mean to make you cry,” he whispered so the others wouldn’t hear.
“No, this is just so beautiful!” She fingered the band gently and looked up at him. “But what does this mean, Zach?”
“It doesn’t come without strings, Deb.” His serious gaze caused her expression to sober.
She pulled him closer so they stood face to face. Wrapping her arms around his shoulders, she rested her cheek next to his. He pulled her against him and inhaled deeply. This was exactly how he wanted to feel the rest of his life.
Deb pulled back and looked up at him. “I don’t need fancy diamonds to be happy.”
Zach watched her, wanting so badly for her to love him. “This just makes it official.”
She grinned, but only a small one. “I’m confused.”
The room was so quiet, a pin could ping off the carpet and sound like a bell toll. It dawned on him with everyone standing around it felt like an intimate wedding. Zach never even thought to ask Deb if she regretted not having her family there.
But he would give it to her now on Christmas, at four in the morning.
He settled his gaze on her neck and toyed with a strand of hair, afraid he might tear up and cry himself. “What do you say, Deb? Will you wear these rings to remind you of how much I love you?” Zach glanced back into her eyes only long enough to make sure she knew he meant it. “Will you be my wife?”
Deb’s gaze settled on his lips. He touched her cheek, the skin velvet underneath his fingertip.
Looking out to her family, she seemed to realize his intentions.
Her eyes returned to his. “I will,” she murmured.
Zach looked around for the ring and Eric wheeled it over to him. They watched as he slid the band on her finger, pushing it to rest against the diamond he had given her the previous night.
He shrugged. “We’ve kind of done things backward, so I guess the fact your rings are on backward is fitting, huh?”
She closed her eyes, a soft smile curving her lips and entwined their fingers.
“Kiss the bride!” Deb’s father called out.
Deb slowly looked up and saw they stood underneath the mistletoe. She cocked her eyebrow. “I told you watch out for the mistletoe.”
Zach laughed. “Not a chance.”
In a dramatic gesture, he dipped Deb and met her lips halfway. When he was done, he settled her on her feet as they laughed.
“Now open your gift,” she said when she pulled away.
Only he didn’t have to open it to know the greatest gift was right there in his arms.

Cate: Loved it. Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Stephanie: Ooooh, Zach was so fun to write. I love a good alpha male that hides his doubt with a sense of humor. In all my other previous works, I just hadn’t put enough humor into my characters and Zach took me by surprise. I kept trying to straighten him up but he’d give me a witty retort every time. Zach is the kind of man every woman would want: sexy, funny, romantic and it doesn’t hurt that every woman in America wants him. He’s an actor after all!

Cate: He does sound delicious! Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Stephanie: I might get a solicitation for someone to be my shrink after this but I talk to myself when I’m writing. It’s pathetic, but I like to think it makes my dialogue more believable. ;o)

Cate: What's next for you?
Stephanie: I mentioned above I have a Valentine’s Day story (still untitled) out with Decadent Publishing next month. Jason and Liz are also two characters who can’t stop fighting and barking at each other long enough to realize they’re in love. But they have a history, so it was fun to write them. My next novel, Lucky for Her will be out sometime next year.

Cate: Congrats! What inspired you to draft your first story?
Stephanie: I don’t even remember my first story! I’ve literally written all my life. But the first novel I actually completed was inspired from the TV show ER. I was in love with Noah Wylie and wanted to create his twin on paper. But FYI, that story will NEVER see the light of day!

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Stephanie: Put on pjs, plug in netbook, type until I can’t stay awake anymore.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Stephanie: www.stephanietaylorauthor.com; www.facebook.com/stephanietaylorauthor and www.facebook.com/stephanietaylorastraeapress; www.astraeapress.com, www.facebook.com/astraeapress. LOL, I’m everywhere!

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Stephanie: With the holidays upon us, I’d love to hear what you like to read this time of year!

Cate: Readers, Stephanie is giving away a .pdf book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Thursday, December 23rd around noon EST.
Thanks for being my guest Stephanie! Best of luck with all your projects, and happy holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter Wonderland Web Hunt in full swing

Night Owl Reviews' Winter Wonderland Web Hunt runs the entire month of December.

Santa's not the only one with goodies! If you enter, you'll be eligible for lots of great prizes, including one of three print copies of one of my books (I signed up for three months of hunts at once, and now I can't remember! But it's either Surfacing or Follow the Stars Home - either one will leave you feeling warm and cozy.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

So you want to write a romance novel

I recently found this series of videos on YouTube and found them hilarious.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Like the new look?

Whew. Yesterday was a productive day, but not for writing. I gave the blog an overhaul. How do you like it? I think it’s a cleaner look, don’t you? Easier to read, and I packed lots more info from my web site, mostly about my books.

Mimicking my web site, each book has its own offshoot page from the main Books page to showcase it individually with the blurb, reviews, trailer and excerpt. For an example, take a look at the page for Seventh Heaven.

Additional changes are in the works. In 2011, I'll have frequent posts, but not every day. I feel a real need to slow things down. Likewise, Author Spotlights will appear on a page rather than a post, probably beginning in March, as I already have some authors scheduled. They'll also be on a set weekly schedule to give authors a full week rather than a day in the Spotlight. It will also allow my blog to function more like a web site.

Which brings up an issue I’ve been wondering about. After doing a wonderful job redesigning her blog, Susan Gourley began the discussion about whether an author really needs a web site if a blog can handle all their info.

What do you think? If an author only has a blog, but it’s put together well and you can find what you need, would a web site be redundant?

Mine now feels as if it is. I actually like my blog better than my web site since the revamp.

Thoughts? Input? Feedback? I’d love any or all.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Mimi Barbour

Please welcome Mimi Barbour, who's sharing some wonderful thoughts this Yuletide season.

Mimi lives on the beautiful west coast on Vancouver Island and writes her paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. Asked why she prefers paranormal, she answers - chuckling.
“Because it’s fun! Imagination can be a lot more interesting than what happens in real life to so-called normal people. I love my characters, and my goal is to make the readers love them also. To care about what happens to them while the story unfolds. If I can steal my booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”


Special Moments...

This is the time of the year when we all become so busy that we sometimes forget what this season is about. About this time last year, I received an e-mail that clutched at me, and made me take notice. It was about a violinist playing his instrument in the Washington, DC Metro Station in January of 2007.

During the time he played, approximately 2,000 people went through the area, most of them on their way to work. One or two stopped to listen for a short while, an older man the longest. A few people threw money, but the ones who acknowledged him the most were the little ones with busy parents who forced them along so they couldn’t stay and listen.

After 45 minutes he finished playing and silence took over, no applause, no recognition, and only $32 for his trouble. No one knew that this man called Joshua Bell was one of the greatest violinists in the world, who played some of the most intricate pieces ever written for a violin. His instrument, handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713, was worth $3.5 million dollars.

The Washington Post had organized this experiment to answer this question. In a commonplace environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty and stop to appreciate it? It raised the uncertainty - if we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the world’s best musicians, playing some of the finest music ever written, on one of the most beautiful instruments ever made - how many other things are we missing?

The thought scares me a little. I get so caught up in my writing, editing, promoting, workshops, and deadlines, in fact all the many time consuming tasks most authors have, that I must admit, it’s easy to let the world float on by.

But should we? And at this time of the year especially? So my request to all you wonderful readers is to stop for a while, enjoy the special moments the season of Yuletide brings us and spoil yourself with pleasures and joy.

I wish you and your families all - a warm, wonderful, happy Christmas. And lots and lots of chocolate!

I love to hear from readers anytime so write me at mimi@mimibarbour.com and stop by my website to visit and check out some free reads: www.mimibarbour.com.

I do have a new book for The Vicarage Bench Series (Halleluiah!!) called “Together Again” and it will be released on May 12th, 2011.

It seems so far away doesn’t it? Sigh!!!

In the Author Spotlight: Diane Craver

Cate: Please welcome Diane. Diane, will you please share a short bio with us?
Diane: I live about 26 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. My husband and I met while teaching at an orphanage. We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last August. We were blessed with six children - five daughters and one son. Writing is my passion but I also enjoy scoring tests for various states several months out of the year. The weird thing is I’m great at scoring high school science tests and science was my weakest subject and least favorite in school.

Cate: What a great love story! Tell us about your latest release and where it's available.
Diane: I have two new releases – A Christmas Collection Anthology: Sensual and A Christmas Gift. My story’s title in the anthology is “The Proposal” and is a contemporary romance. A Christmas Gift is historical fiction but based on some true childhood experiences. Both releases are available in paperback and electronic downloads. The anthology is published by Victory Tales Press and A Christmas Gift is with Whimsical Publications. For the rest of the questions, I’ll focus on A Christmas Collection Anthology release.
Here are the buying links for it:
Amazon: Kindle
Print
Ebook, Smashwords
Create Space, Print book
Victory Tales Press

Cate: Double congrats! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Diane: Jacqueline Andrews hopes her boyfriend Brad’s surprise is an engagement ring for her twenty-sixth birthday. Her best friend, Tyler Jordan, wants Jacqueline to be happy, but not with Brad. Tyler regrets blowing off Jacqueline’s confession of love for him before he left for college. When he returns to their small town as a physician’s assistant, he falls in love with her. He needs to win her love back. Will his hot kisses sway her? Or is she going to marry Brad?

Cate: Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Diane: Tyler Jordan is hot, funny, sensitive, caring, adorable and persistent in getting his woman. He’s a guy who realizes he made a mistake in rejecting Jacqueline at their high school Prom.

Cate: I love reunion stories. Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Diane: I’ve had readers tell me that they find it refreshing to read a contemporary romance without the usual coy flirtatiousness and manipulative scheming that seems to be in a lot of romances. My heroes and heroines are open and honest.

Cate: Great traits. What's next for you?
Diane: I’m working on a story about a father and daughter, both teach at the same college in Virginia. The father is anxious for his daughter, Lexi, to get married and give him a grandchild. Lexi thinks her father needs to move on with his life. Her mother died three years ago on the way to the bridal shop to pick up Lexi’s wedding dress.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Diane: I haven’t lately because I’ve been busy promoting my two releases plus had to take a break from writing to take care of my family. We were blessed with two daughters with special needs. I plan to get back to a writing routine after Christmas.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Diane: I have a website, www.dianecraver.com and a blog, http://www.dianecraver.com/blog. I'm also on Facebook. Another place is to visit Jewels of the Quill group. I happen to be in the Author Spotlight this month and this month’s winner will receive a signed copy of A Christmas Gift. To see my page there, here is the link.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Diane: I would love to send a gorgeous 5 x 7 postcard with some of my book covers to anyone who would like one. Email me at DianeCraver AT cinci.rr.com and give me your snail mail address.
Thanks so much, Cate, for having me here to visit.

Cate: Always a pleasure, Diane. Thanks for being my guest, and best of luck with your releases!
Readers, Diane is giving away a signed print copy of A Christmas Collection Anthology: Sensual to a random commenter. If outside the United States, an ebook download will be substituted... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on the evening of Saturday, December 18 and post the winner's name here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the season...

...for all things sweet and festive. To help you plan your holiday festivities, The Wild Rose Press is offering a free download of its 2010 cookbook, Holiday Sweets and Treats. Comprised of recipes contributed by TWRP authors, the PDF also contains a cookie recipe from me, handed down from my father's sister to my mom.

Mom made a wicked good cookie. Unfortunately, most of the cooking genes in our family passed to my sister, but this recipe's as near to foolproof as they come.

Download yours today, and make lots of great dishes for your holiday guests!

Monday, December 13, 2010

At Liz Arnold's blog today

I hope you'll pop over and say hello to Liz and me. Nothing more warming on a blustery winter day than hearing from friends!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Sara Thacker

Cate: Please welcome Sara Thacker. Sara, will you please share a short bio with us?
Sara: In my writing life I have multiple personalities. I’m Sara York and Sara Thacker. As Sara Thacker I write paranormal and suspense. As Sara York I write erotic romance.

Cate: Tell us about your latest releases and where they’re available.
Sara: My latest Sara Thacker book just came out. You can pick it up at New Concepts Publishing. This is my latest in my Protectors series. Vampiric Assignations is the story of Amber Black, a smart young scientist who is turned into a vampire for her mind. Maverick, a by the book protector, is assigned to bring her in or kill her. The only problem is he falls in love and abandons the rules.

As Sara York my latest is Speedtracer available at Torrid. Speedtracer is a tale about an assassin, Olivia, who is being hunted down. Keenan catches up to her and gets the jump on her. While transporting her back to civilization they crash land on an uninhabited planet. Alone, they develop an attraction as they are forced to overcome the elements and make a life together.

Cate: Wow, you’re busy! Congrats on both. Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Sara: This is from Speedtracer
The landing alarm beeped, cutting off whatever Keenan was going to say. Any second they’d hit the ground. The decent parachute had deployed earlier. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. She could feel every muscle in his chest, every bulge of his arms. A shiver of lust from her overactive libido couldn’t be squelched.
“I won’t let you die. I need to prove that I had a hand in your demise.”
“Revenge is never the answer,” she said tartly.
“In this case, it is. Now hold on tight. We’re going for a ride.”
Olivia’s head bounced against the seat before Keenan grabbed her, plastering her face against his chest. He held tight, grunting each time the craft bumped along the ground. The ship rocked and bucked as it slid over the rough terrain. Never before had she been in such a rough landing. Of course, she’d never landed in an escape hatch while being pressed against her captor’s body.
“It’s almost done,” Keenan said as they rolled again.
Olivia’s knee slammed into a metal plate. “Good, this is very uncomfortable.”
“I could let go of your head.” His grip loosened.
“Not that, I keep banging my legs against the control panel.”
“Almost finished.” The soothing quality of his voice struck her as odd. He was trying to make her feel better. His hand moved to stroke her hair as his other hand pulled her tighter.
The escape pod stopped moving. Olivia breathed a sigh of relief then turned to look at her captor. Damn her body for wanting him. Feelings of pity started to take root in her stomach, then she remembered all he’d done—well not him, but his people.
She shook off the feeling and pushed away from his hold. The magic of the moment passed and whatever trance Keenan had fallen into lay dormant. Fire and anger returned to his eyes. He reached for the hatch handle on the escape pod and pushed it open.
Cool air rushed in, bringing focus and clarity. Keenan let go of her arms then pushed her forward. The hatch opening was small and tilting the wrong way for an easy exit. She crawled up, sitting on the edge of the opening before swinging her legs over and hopping to the ground.
The incongruity of the land left her wondering if she was seeing everything right. Bright flowers dotted the landscape and huge green trees draped with thick vines covered the area, but the temperature was much cooler than jungle plants could survive at.
The ride in the escape pod had left her feeling used and abused. She bent at the waist checking her ribs for possible fractures. An animal shrieked beyond the curtain of green surrounding them, its call dimmed by distance. Her senses went on high alert. This planet was different, strange, fascinating. The hair on the back of her neck rose. Someone or something was watching them.
Keenan plopped down on the ground beside her.
“We have a tent pack, one bedroll—” He cocked one eyebrow, studying her.
“Something wrong?”
“We’re being watched.”
Keenan looked out into the dense foliage as he moved around the escape pod.
“I’m not seeing or hearing anything.”
“Probably just an animal.” Another shriek cut through the forest. “Interesting sound.”
“Yeah, like I was saying, we have a tent pack, one bedroll, and a weeks worth of food.”
“Interesting, you’re willingness to share food with me.”
“We have one week to find civilization, after that, I’ll buy another cryo chamber and freeze you.”
Olivia snorted. “Glad to see you’re sentimental.”

Cate: Wonderful. Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Sara: Keenan is tough but caring. He wants something more from his life but doesn’t know what. No one has cared for him and now he’s found someone who does. He changes from a cool customer to a caring lover as he learns to survive alongside Olivia.

Cate: I love flawed characters who find redemption (sigh). Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Sara: The Speedtracer world is a world where governments have raped the land, ruining entire planets and Keenan and Olivia find a planet that is beautiful. The planet is representative of a beautiful relationship that is nurtured.

Cate: What's next for you?
Sara: I’m writing a love story that's erotic. There’s no scifi in it, just straight love. As Sara Thacker, I’m working on a thriller. I’ll also do another installment in my Princess series that is offered through The Wilder Rose Press.

Cate: What inspired you to draft your first story?
Sara: I’ve wanted to be a writer for years and then my sister was going to quit her job and sail around the Bahamas for a year. In her goodbye letter she said she was going to write a book. I couldn’t let her beat me to finishing a novel. I went to work, pounding out a dreadful tale. I’m glad I started on that first novel because it gave me the courage to write another and another.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Sara: No. I used to have one but a lot has changed in my personal life and with those changes my writing habits needed to change. Eventually I’ll get back to having a routine, hopefully.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Sara: At http://sarathacker.com or http://sarayork.com

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Sara: What is your favorite month of the year. In the Speedtracer world, the planet is wild with luscious plants and foliage. It snows there, but only in the highest mountains. Could you live in a world like that or would the balmy warm weather drive you crazy?

Cate: Readers, Sara York is giving away an ebook copy of Speedtracer to a random commenter... so start commenting and be sure to leave your email address. She'll pick a winner and post the winner’s name here. Good luck!
And thanks for being my guest Sara! Best of luck in all your guises.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Ross Eddy Osborn

Please welcome Ross Eddy Osborn!

Cate: Ross, what is your most recent book?
Ross: Forever Found, Forever Lost (paranormal shape-changing)
Local doctor is bitten by a werewolf (a satanic demon really) and flees his home in Wicca Scotland, by makeshift sailboat, to where Viking legend lends the blessed sun does never sit. Hey, you don’t want to kill or infect anymore innocent souls during your lunar madness, do you?
Well, months later the good doctor is found frozen to said sailboat’s wooden tiller, is accidently thawed out by Alaskan natives, and ravages two famished polar bears that were set to feed on his Eskimo saviors —who are sure enough superstitious now, having thought the strange sailor from the land of drift wood igloos was truly dead….if frozen wide-eyed stiff with the sad frown of a beached whale.
And now, 553 love starved years later, the Eskimo’s demon sawbones will take a commercial jet flight south—unknowingly under the rising, demon moon— to seek out a large medical study grant, as well as (as the Inyaka Eskimo legend goes) the favors of a lasting moon mate. Of course his traveling companion, one James Jesse Dowell (a most cynical African American) doesn’t believe one word of the cook hermit’s secretive, 500 year b.s. story. For if James learned one truth, while growing up tough in the Chicago streets and the no nonsense Alaskan pipe fitter trade, “Ain’t nothin real till it bloody real, doc, so don’t play this child the backwoods fool!”
Talk about a wild ride to hell and back, when the beast comes alive at forty thousand feet in the arctic sky during a jet hijacking. “When the moon is fool and the soul is damned, the beast must prey on the innocent lamb,” or so the age-old legend, used to go. For you’ll see what I mean when Charles Patrick MacHenery falls to his suspect death, only to sink his demon fangs into one Cajun Beauty, Miss Amada De’la’ray, who’s already scared victim and moonshine giggly of a local, fanged tooth monster that still hopes to, own her pleasures. And James Jesse Dowell is not quite his wise-cracking self either, anymore, as he sets after the devil beast with his late father’s pistol and two silver bullets carved out of his great, great, great grandmother’s African tribal ring. “You’ll think ‘you can only die by a lovin hand,’ Scotsman—James Dowell the devil on your back now!”

Cate: Wow, that sounds like an epic tale. Tell us something about yourself.
Ross: Grew up blue collar in Oklahoma City, snuck through high school, did an eye opening tour of combat duty in Vietnam (1968) were I learned first trembling hand that we all laugh, cry, and scream in the same language. Been writing 20 plus years now, and getting solid notice.

Cate: What inspired me to write Forever Found Forever Lost?
Ross: Being in a strange land where I, right or wrong was the alien beast, I truly wished to be proven otherwise. Wishes failed…a lot. Prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears, too—yet I’m alive and safely home?

Cate: How did you publish this book?
Ross: Forever Found Forever Lost isn’t published yet, it’s in the editing mix. Should be published this December. Whisky Creek Press found worth in this particular scratching and welcomed me to join their strong list of talented writers. Quite proud to be mentioned among said, creative lot.

Cate: How did you know you wanted to write?
Ross: Didn’t, just got the itch seemingly forever ago. Was blessed, or cursed, with an ever creating mind and found myself hacking out trite stories on a word-processor. I truly don’t remember wanting to write, no guiding light, no demonic bell from hell past, no whisper from an angle, just found myself writing. Now, I don’t quite know how to strop. LOL. But I have advanced with the computer age.

Cate: What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Ross: Finding my work in the critical hands of those more read than lived. But I’ve learned to deal with said…if I so choose to progress. For as many times that I’ve been stone right about people, I’ve often been unjustly wrong.

Cate: How do you do research for your books?
Ross: My not so thought out life experiences mostly, for fiction. For none fiction, the library, history books, being often shot at during the war, National Geographic, the nightly news, and what history books I find worthy of definitive truth. And yeah, from the movies and television….even heart felt rock and roll music.

Cate: Did you learn anything from writing this book?
Ross: To rewrite! Rewrite! Rewrite! and that ‘character conflict and resolution’ is the page turning must!!!

Cate: Hear, hear. What are you reading now?
Ross: Working on a creative none fiction book right now, not reading.

Cate: What types of books do you like to read.
Ross: Well, I’m under the ‘lazy’ impression that I may be unduly influenced by other writers, might unwittingly steal their compelling voice as mine. But I do like Stephen King. Not his scary stuff, but works like ‘The Green Mile, Shaw Shank Redemption, Delorious Clayborn’, and that one about the writer getting shanghaied by the crazy fan. Like Jack London, too, yet his most descriptive ‘ Sea Wolf’ story fell flat at the end; or was I just unduly influenced by a hardened critic? Naw, it fell flat. I’m also quite inspired by other Whiskey Creek Author’s compelling writes.

Cate: Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Ross: I’m working on ‘Don’t Stand On Greasy Grass’( creative none fiction about an immigrant Irish lad (Dan Kelly ) who comes eye to conflicting eye with one of histories most debatable, if not arguable figures, George Armstrong Custer, 1876). Yet private Kelly, and the once boy general, will often saddle talk fondly of the true loves in their lives, Elisabeth ‘Libby’ Custer and Kelly’s hopefully waiting Helen, Helen of Troy New York, right up to the war whooping end.
I served with a ‘thought fearless’ officer in my foolish war, and I may know what those terrified enlisted pony solder’s truly thought of Custer, when ‘unwittingly?’ overwhelmed by original Native Americans with vengeful tomahawks, if not axes to grind over stolen lands and broken treaties. But again, they found an ax on the Little Big Horn River battlefield; aka The Greasy Grass, to the Crow and Ree Indian scouts that rode with Long Hair, Yellow Hair, Son of the Morning Star, Lt, Colonel ( not general) George ‘Auti to his loving kin’ Armstrong Custer. Well, I’m enjoying the first few, bloodless chapters, defining characters, wants, goals, fears, dislikes, while all the plotting while nearing the last ‘non treaty Indian’ trail that many the adventure minded pony soldiers will ever follow. For ample, among the ethnic mix of German, Irish, English, and some hardened Civil War vets, have never before corralled a true hostile native. And more than a disgruntled few liken the hero of the buffalo plains, Colonel George Armstrong Custer to ‘Hard Ass,’ Iron Butt’ but to mention a whispered two. Yet the near whole of the Seventh Calvary will get their horrid fill of the plains Natives, too, the vengeful Sioux and Cheyenne, to name but two determined tribes among the ever massing, hostile thousands.
Have another finished book, being hawked about by me, ‘Thorns of a Tainted Rose, 1881’. Southern Riverboat gambler falls smitten prey to an oddly beautiful, would-be novelists from New York City. “We were divided, North and South, because we hated each other so.” Mary Boyken Chestnut (Civil War’s leading diarist). If you dig a bawdy, slight of tricky hand work filled with crafty characters, pearl black and porcelain white, you might find Thorns a compelling, freed slave read. My father was a professional gambler, or bottom dealer, which truthful ever.

Cate: What is the best advice you can give other writers about writing and publishing?
Ross: I’m still too the new guy with Whiskey Creek Press to offer sound advice about writing, much less publishing. Yet I do find solace in the ‘published authors’ writers group provided by my literary sponsor, WCP.

Cate: What are you doing to promote your latest book?
Ross: My latest book ‘Forever Found Forever Lost’ is also my fist book to be published, so I’m learning from seasoned WCP authors how to advance my knowledge about ‘web pages’, ‘blogs’, ‘book signings’, ‘book shows’ etc. It’s a slow go, to one like me, but I’m climbing the right literary latter.

Cate: Where can readers learn more about your work?
Ross: In a few, arduous months, interested readers will find a book blurb about Forever Found Forever Lost on the Whiskey Creek Press sight. I’ve said all need be said about me.

Cate: Any last remarks?
Ross: I strive to entertain with flesh and bone characters drawn from the devilish well of eternal life, too.

Cate: Wonderfully put. Best of luck to you, Ross, and thanks for being my guest.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Visiting Marva Dasef today

Grab a hot brew and pull up a seat at Marva Dasef's blog to hang out with us a bit today, won't you? Learn how my Native American historical romance, Follow the Stars Home, came together, and maybe a few other surprises. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First-round edits for Rock Bottom done!

I recently finished up first-round edits on Rock Bottom, my contemporary coming in June 2011 from Lyrical Press. Lyrical has great covers, so I can't wait to see the Rock Bottom cover!

I’m so excited! I love this story. The hero, Jet Trently, is a rocker. It’s what he knows and loves.

When I imagined Jet, the image resembles Tommy Conwell, whose song, I’m Not Your Man, is how my hero acted at the height of his fame. If you watch this video, Tommy’s love of creating music shines through.



Here's the unofficial blurb:
Can journalist Billie Prescott trust her heart to distinguish real love from reality television? A reporter for Philly rock magazine Strung Out, Billie’s assigned to cover the second season of Rock Bottom, a reality dating show starring has-been rocker Jet Trently. On site in Malibu. And just when things had begun heating up with her editor. Life went from blissful to bleak in a blink.
Jet Trently’s bored with Rock Bottom, but the show is key to reviving his sagging career. So says his manager, Stu. When Jet meets Billie, her cool wit and intelligence intrigue him, her natural beauty makes the contestants pale in comparison, and her passion for music excites him. Her relentless questions about making new music, however, hit a sore spot. He’d love to release new songs, but Stu cautions he’ll alienate fans.
Jet’s life has hit Rock Bottom—or so Billie thinks until she hears his latest songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was 15. When he touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

Last but not least, this story's dear to my heart because I dedicated it to my friend Jerry Trently, and named the hero for him. You can read more about that here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Liz Arnold

Cate: Please welcome Liz Arnold. Liz, will you please share a short bio with us?
Liz: I am a wife, mom, editor, writer, and teacher. I live in the mid-east with my husband and the assorted cats and dogs my daughters have left behind while they are in college ordering pizza at 11:00 at night. I love books, journaling, and yoga. I started writing in grade school, wrote for the school newspaper, and got a degree in journalism which I use to write freelance and edit.

Cate: Tell us about Message To Love and where it's available.
Liz: Message is my first historical romance novel. I dream a lot and Message grew from a dream I had one night about a man on horseback racing through the darkness to deliver a message he had in a leather pouch tied around his chest. A woman had helped him be “free” to deliver his message but I didn’t know much more than that. The dream would not go away even during my waking hours and I told someone about it. She said it reminded her of “The Message To Garcia,” a story she had read about in history. I knew the story and did some research and ended up writing my novel around the events leading up to the Spanish American War in 1898. Then President William McKinley send a secret message via Lt. Andrew Rowan of the U.S. Army to General Calixto Garcia of the Cuban army pledging U.S. support to the Cuban insurgency fighting for freedom from Spain.

Cate: How cool! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Liz: Audra Wakely’s father has been seized by Spanish authorities and imprisoned for sympathizing with Cuban rebels. Raising the money to bribe officials if necessary, she sets off for Cuba to rescue her father. She doesn’t bargain on the interference of any U.S. officials—that is until she meets Rollins McBride.
Lt. Rollins McBride of the newly designated U.S. Naval Intelligence service is assigned to track Audra on her journey. He’s to arrest Greg Wakely, a U.S. citizen, for treason and gun smuggling. His mission and his heart are taken by surprise by the feisty beauty who sets a stubborn path toward finding her father and proving he isn’t a traitor—no matter what or who gets in her way.

Cate: Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Liz: Lt. Rollins McBride is career Navy. He is motivated by the untimely deaths of his father and brother who served in the merchant marines and the U.S. Navy. Rollins joins the Navy with the hopes of avenging the deaths of his loved ones by killing two Spaniards on the island of Cuba. He is competent, sexy, and loyal to the Navy, but when he is thrust into situations with young Audra Wakely he has trouble separating his dedication to revenge and the feelings in his heart. He falls head over heels for her and wants to protect her but she wants nothing to do with him. She’s afraid of marriage and child birth because her mother died giving birth to her. She is an only child and feels obligated to save her father and the family tobacco business no matter what. Also, they are on opposite sides of the political question of whether Cuba should govern itself or become a colony of the United States. Sparks fly continually as they banter back and forth over just about everything.

Cate: Sounds wonderful. What's next for you?
Liz: I’m working on another historical romance set in pioneer Ohio after the Revolutionary war. A female doctor arrives in Marietta, Ohio in the spring of 1790 to a smallpox epidemic and Indian raids. The bravery and fortitude of the people who settled our country fascinates me. Falling in love amidst the challenges of pioneer American is amazing in my opinion.

Cate: What inspired you to draft your first story?
Liz: The dream I talked about earlier compelled me to write Message To Love.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Liz: I’m an editor and a freelance writer and a passionate journal keeper. I write something seven days a week. I treat my writing like any other muscle in my body. I write regularly to keep in shape. I work on the current novel, blog, edit, and journal almost daily on no particular time schedule except to get it all done every day.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Liz: My blog is the best place to connect with me online. Please stop by and leave comments! www.lizarnoldbooks.wordpress.com

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Liz: I would love to send everyone a free bookmark! Send a SASE to P.O. Box 1322, Parkersburg, WV 26102
I’m giving away a free digital copy of MESSAGE TO LOVE to a random commenter from this blog. I will pick a winner Dec. 11. Good luck!
Thanks so much, Cate, for having me over to visit.

Cate: Thanks so much for being my guest Liz! Best of luck to you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Sandy Lender

Cate: Please welcome Fantasy Author Sandy Lender. Sandy, will you please share a short bio with us?
Sandy: Here’s one of the official ones: Readers will recognize Sandy Lender as the Choices series author and a leader of world-building, characterization, and revision workshops. Her degree in English and career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations, including troll extermination on spaceships. Sandy is also a sea turtle conservationist and obsessive music fan.

Cate: Tell us about What Choices We Made, Vol II and where it's available.
Sandy: What Choices We Made, Vol II is the second chapbook to support the fantasy series of novels ArcheBooks Publishing is releasing for me. There were some legends and backstory that didn’t really belong “in” the pages of the novels, so I broke those out into short stories and spiced ‘em up with some recipes and character poetry and a couple deleted scenes from the books and came up with these anthologies, if you will, that augment the series for fans and give some entertaining stand-alone shorts for non-fans. The volumes are nice for people who have never heard of me because they give an introduction to me, some new characters, and this fantasy world I’ve built without forcing the reader to already know a world. I mean, how many fiction chapbooks have you read that include a map of a continent in the beginning?
For availability, I made sure both volumes I and II are available on Amazon to make life easy for potential readers. Then I also schlep them around to conventions with me…

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Sandy: I know I’ve got at least a couple excerpts on my website on the “Books” page, but I don’t know if we’ve got the full back cover blurb listed there. (We should... but details are so difficult to keep track of these days.) So let me hand you the cover blurb here.
Dive into the legends that make up the history of the Choices series from established fantasy author Sandy Lender. Both new and familiar characters will enchant you. From families in peril to youth in scrapes, the men and monsters who shaped Onweald politics left epic tales in their wake for you…
As a special treat for Choices readers, this volume includes the love story of Ella and Rohne. She’s a general’s daughter with modern ideas about growing old at her father’s side. He’s a moody old god who’s used to getting His way. When they clash, she elects to run away with one of His guards. Catching the fugitives would be easier if the evil Julette’s minions weren’t crashing the party with her poisonous plans.
A stand-alone novella that newcomers to the series can enjoy, The Influential Love Story of Ella and Rohne offers suspense, horror, action, fantasy, and a sweet romance when an opinionated young lady faces her future—and a feisty god.

Cate: Sounds great. Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Sandy: Can I pick more than one? Because this is a chapbook of short stories, there are several heroes. Hrazon is a wizard who is the guardian and mentor for young (she’s young in the two stories they’re in in this book) Amanda Chariss. He’s this patient, dear, old-as-dirt, wise, kind, calm wizard; not one of those comic-relief wizards that some authors give bizarre quirks to. He has his comic moments because, well, he’s dealing with a child prodigy basically when it comes to Chariss, and he has to keep her out of the limelight—keep her hidden from the sorcerer who would rather kill a whole town than let her live another day. So Hrazon is this grandfatherly hero that we love because he’s the kind of soft-spoken, wise grandfather who can kick someone’s butt for you in the blink of an eye.
The hero of the novella in What Choices We Made, Vol II, is The Master Rothahn. (Sort of.) It’s complex for a 20,000+ word novella. Even though He’s the highest active god in the society, the other gods have a nickname for Him—Rohne. That might seem irreverent, but, let’s face it, these are gods who have limitations to their power and who walk among mortals. They give each other nicknames and bicker from time to time. (There’s your comic relief.) I think you’re going to love Rohne for the same reasons my publisher does. (Rohne is his favorite character in the novels.) The god is a touch on the whiny side when it serves His purpose, yet able to slide into His role as a “supreme being” when it’s necessary. He can make a decision, make people act, and get the job done. He has feelings and emotions; He loves. He knows what His responsibilities are and He doesn’t shirk them, but He’s not going to pass up an opportunity for love, personal happiness, and godly protection when He sees it.

Cate: Multiple heroes are definitely allowed, lol. Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others.
Sandy: Duran Duran... and to keep me from getting sued, that’s all I’m going to say. Duranies will figure it out when they read it. No one else will catch it.

Cate: What's next for you?
Sandy: Hopefully someone from TOR will notice me and say, “OMG! Why didn’t one of our editors notice this Sandy Lender before now!? Get her into our family!”

Cate: What inspired you to draft your first story?
Sandy: I don’t even remember. I started writing stories when I was a child. I used to write little stories for my great grandmother about mice and spiders and such, and then she’d read them to people who lived in her apartment building. I recently learned that I wrote a story for one of my uncles when he was in the hospital. I have no memory of that...

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Sandy: None at all anymore. I basically am attached to one of two laptops or one of many many notepads in my home or car. I carry writing utensils with me at all times. True story: I was in the car last night without my phone or laptop and almost had a meltdown. How would I communicate with the world? Luckily, for notes, I had a notepad in the car and one in my purse.

Cate: I can relate! And nothing beats a good old notepad in a pinch.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Sandy: I’ve got my trusty blogs, the main one has moved to http://TodayTheDragonWins.wordpress.com. Then there’s my website, which has this cool opening page, but I’m concerned about it. It forces the visitor to make an extra click to get into the site. Do you visitors think it’s worth it? I mean... it’s a pretty cool opening page... it sets a mood... but you have to click to go in and read my letter to visitors or my bio or the Books page, etc. It’s at http://www.AuthorSandyLender.com. See what you think...
From there, I dare you to google “Sandy Lender” and see what you get. It’s INSANE how much marketing I’ve done online. At one point, I found a real estate agent named Sandy with one of my book reviews smack in the middle of her home page... just to get her site to come up higher in the listings because I had flooded the search engines with the name Sandy Lender. I sent her a note applauding her marketing effort and thanking her for re-posting the review.

Cate: Too funny! Any exposure is good exposure.
Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Sandy: Do you think $8.95 is too much to spend for a book from an author you’ve not read before? See... I used to read like a sponge (when I had more time for it). Nowadays I’m working a couple of jobs and planning a writers’ conference and dealing with other items, so reading one book a month is a treat. But I’m from the school of thought: If it’s a book you want to read, who cares if you’ve heard of the author or not? I don’t care about the price, either. Pick it up, read the cover, buy it, read the book. If you can’t afford it right now, put it on your wish list and get it when you can because you WANT to read it. But there are people on the internet/Amazon discussion boards who freak out over whether or not they’ve heard of the author, whether or not it costs 99 cents, whether or not they can trade it in after they read it, etc. That mentality had started before the economy collapsed. Why? It’s a book you’re supposed to read and cherish... right? When did we stop loving books and start treating them like thrift items?

Cate: Great question. I'm way behind in my reading too, unfortunately.
Readers, Sandy and Goddess Fish Promotions are giving away a copy of What Choices We Made, Vol I to a random commenter from her short tour... so start commenting. Be sure to leave your email address, because they’ll pick a winner at the end of the tour Dec. 10 and send a note to your e-mail.
Thanks for being my guest, Sandy! Best of luck to you.



The second short story chapbook supporting Sandy Lender's Choices series includes the troubled love story novella: The Influential Love Story of Ella and Rohne. Rated PG for some violence.
Welcome to a world of dragons, magic, sword and sorcery. Dive into the legends tha tmake up the history of the Choices series from established fantasy author Sandy Lender. Both new and familiar characters will enchant you. From families in peril to youth in scrapes, the men and monsters who shaped Onweald politics left epic tales in their wake for you...
As a special treat for Choices readers, this volume includes the love story of Ella and Rohne. She's a general's daughter with quite modern ideas about growing old at her father's side. He's a moody old god who's used to getting His way. When they clash, she elects to run away with one of His guards. Catching the fugitives would be easier if the evil Julette's minions weren't crashing the party with her poisonous plans.
A stand-alone novella that newcomers to the series can enjoy, The Influential Love Story of Ella and Rohne offers suspense, horror, action, fantasy, and a sweet romance when an opinionated young lady faces her future--and a feisty god.


Monday, December 6, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Angie Skelhorn

Angie Skelhorn, author of a heart-stopping novel of attraction and self discovery is here to tell us about her new release, No Reins.

Tell us about the story.
No Reins is available online at http://clublighthousepublishing.com and has a serious coming of age theme.
Love at first sight shakes Angel to her core. No doubt her love is real she up and leaves her security for life at a harness-racing track. Tensions begin to rise in her new environment.

Even though she is devoted to Stephen her insecurities creep in. She finds herself going in a new direction. A direction that wasn't her. She experiences a lot of dips and dives as she tries to sustain her sanity.
The times she feels pain, fear, frustration and anger Stephen comes through for her in a very big way.

What author would you consider your story is similar to?
I like to think my story is similar to Author Judy Blume who writes for all ages. She is able to get straight into the emotional world of the character.

Where can you be found on the web?
You can reach me online directly via the comments section of my blog http://Witchskel.com or http://Witchskel.blogspot.com Also you can visit my writing life at http://AngieSkelhorn.com
I also can be found on Good Reads, Author Nation, Fiction Factor Form, The Witches Voice and Facebook.

Thanks so much for being my guest Angie! Best of luck to you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Margay Leah Justice in the Author Spotlight


Cate: Please welcome Margay Leah Justice. Margay, will you please share a short bio with us?
Margay:  Certainly. I am the author of two published books, writer for a few blogs, mother and mad knitter. And of course I love to read!

Cate: Tell us about Sloane Wolf and where it's available.
Margay: Sloane Wolf is my newest release and it tells the story of Shiloh Beck, an empath on the run from a mysterious agency,  and Micach Sloane, a wolf shifter bound by the legends of his people to protect their secret. It is available here: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=242&category_id=107&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Margay:
Shiloh nearly leapt off the sill as his hand touched her knee. It took every ounce of willpower she possessed to remain seated and appear undaunted by the gesture. “I am…much better now…thank you,” she said, becoming more unnerved by the presence of his hand by the minute.
Oh, this was not good, not good at all. The longer it remained there, the stronger her impulse to bolt became. Oh, no…
What was it about this man that rattled her so and with so little effort on his part? Sharing the same air with him was enough to send her pulses to the moon—and her mind somewhere else, something new for her. Being this attracted to a man was beyond her realm of experience.
She didn’t know what to do with it—or about it. Should she do anything? Should she pretend indifference? And why wasn’t he so deeply affected? It wasn’t fair.
Still confused, she gave him a weak smile, intent on backing up her previous claim with the gesture. She feared it failed miserably.
When Micah returned her smile and lifted his hand from her knee, she felt precisely onesecond of relief before he shook her world again by caressing her face in parting. She stumbled back against the frame of the window, her lips parting on a startled breath as a lightning bolt shot through her at his touch. Something flickered in his eyes at her reaction—pain, perhaps—and he retracted his hand, balling it into a fist as he turned away from her, preparing to depart.
In an instant, she realized her mistake. Along with it came the knowledge she couldn’t let him go away angry or upset. After everything he and his family had done for her, she owed him that much. She grabbed him by the shirtfront to stop him, and a shock of awareness shot from her hand directly into his heart, just beneath it. She could see it in the gaze he leveled on her then, could hear it in his breath trapped within his lungs, feel it in the missed beat of his heart.
But then, all sense abandoned her, and her heart skipped a beat as he held her hand firmly to his chest with one of his own and lifted the other to her head, anchoring it against the window frame. Slowly, his eyes never straying from hers, he leaned across the space separating them. His lips brushed hers, like a whisper, before he withdrew, tilted his head to the side, and advanced again. This time the kiss was fuller, penetrating her every defense, both physical and emotional, but still not long enough for her. He retreated once again after a fraction of time and hovered before her, scarcely an inch away. Watching her. Waiting.
Her heart beating a frantic tempo now, Shiloh abandoned all of her reservations and her good sense to swoop in for a more vigorous kiss. So vigorous, in fact, she knocked him off his perch through the open window. Only quick reflexes honed to perfection at the Institute prevented her from tumbling after him.
Bracing herself against the sill, she leaned out the window as far as she was able and watched his descent from the slanted roof to the ground below. She lost sight of him the moment he slid beyond the reach of the light from her window. But then she heard him land with a thud—and a howl—on the ground in front of the back porch when he failed to catch himself on the roof edge. She clasped a hand over her mouth to silence her reaction and waited. When he didn’t rouse right away, panic shot through her and she leaned out another few inches. “Micah? Are you okay?”
“Fine,” he answered after a few moments, appearing beyond the overhang of the roof as if to prove it to her. “Nothing hurt but what’s left of my pride.”
Relief coursed through her at his statement, and she allowed herself the laugh she’d literally held back before. Her mirth was cut short, however, by his next words.
“Hey, Shiloh! We’ve got to stop falling for each other like this.”
His laughter followed her as she ducked back into the room. She could still hear it even after she closed the window, though not as well. Oh, Lord. She rested against the cool pane of glass and touched her still-tingling lips with shaky fingers. Was she? Falling for him? Was that what this crazy-mad feeling inside of her was?
The question plagued her long into the night.

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Margay: It was actually originally intended for a writing contest with the theme of wolves. And I had been batting this idea around in my head for a bit before that, inspired by a story/movie I’d recently seen. So it all sort of fell into place after that.

Cate: How do you develop your plots and characters?
Margay: Sometimes, the characters come fully loaded and the plot just develops from there. Sometimes I plot it all out, sometimes it just flows from the fingertips on its own. Each story is different.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Margay: Oh, yes! In fact, some of my best ideas come from actual dreams I’ve had.

Cate: What's next for you?
Margay: I will be writing a sequel to Sloane Wolf and I have another series planned about angels, a story about ghosts and psychics…lots of good stuff!

Cate: Any other published works?
Author:  One book, called Nora’s Soul, which I am revamping with the intention of self-pubbing it.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Margay: Intriguing, complicated and multi-layered.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Margay: Most challenging – the first page, definitely. The first sentence is the worst – it’s the hardest and most important line an author will write, so of course it takes the most effort to complete! The most rewarding? Everything! But especially when I get positive feedback from readers. They’re the ones you want to impress, after all, so when they praise your work, it’s the best feeling.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Margay: Hmm, that’s a good question, but I’m drawing a blank!

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Margay: I absolutely adore Julia Quinn, Sabrina Jeffries, Lauren Willig, to name three. I’m really into the Regencies! And Marilyn Brant is one of my favorite contemporary authors – her debut book, According to Jane, is still one of my favorite books. Currently, I am reading her book called A Summer in Europe.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Margay: 

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Margay: I am always curious about what attracts them to a certain theme and what will make them come back to the same author.

Cate: Readers, Margay is giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. Margay will draw the winner’s name, notify the winner and post the winner’s name here.
Thanks so much for being my guest, Margay! Best of luck to you.