Monday, July 30, 2012

A local Olympic hero

I love watching the Olympics, don't you? The feats of these athletes amaze me.

I wish they had some video clips of older games. I'd especially love to see Jim Thorpe in action. One sportswriter said, "He moved like a breeze." As one of the Native Americans who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, you'd think our local newspapers would have mentioned his incredible accomplishments in their recent highlight of past Olympics, but Thorpe is often overlooked.

An article in the July-August issue of Smithsonian Magazine called "The All American" reflects on his unparalleled achievements.

His athletic prowess was discovered accidentally when he broke the school record for the high jump on a whim, while wearing overalls and a work shirt.

He played football, baseball, track and lacrosse, and also competed in hockey, handball, tennis, boxing and ballroom dancing. His coach signed him up for multiple events at competitions, and he once won a dual meet against Lafayette, taking first in the high hurdles, low hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and discus throw.

Before the Eastern Olympic trials in 1912, he'd never thrown a javelin and didn't know he could take a running start, throwing from a standstill. He still took second place.

At the Stockholm games in 1912, his 11.2-second record in the 100 meter dash remained unbroken until 1948.

In the now-defunct pentathlon, Thorpe placed first in four of the five events, which took place in a single day.

After two days of competing in nine other events, Thorpe blew away his competition in the last event, the 1500 meter run - wearing mismatched shoes. His 4 minute, 40.1 second record remained broken until 1972.

His overall Olympic score remained unbroken for four more Olympic games. Yet in 1912 the IOC stripped him of his medals "for violating the elitist Victorian codes of amateurism." The IOC sent two replica medals in 1982 to his family but failed to reinstate his incredible record at the 1912 games.

Following the Olympics, Thorpe returned to Carlisle to lead the school football team to Ivy League-level victories. The Smithsonian article explains it all, and asks why it took a letter-writing campaign for Thorpe's image to finally appear on the Wheaties box in 2001.
He went on to play football professionally, and is recognized by the Football Hall of Fame.
Though not a native of Pennsylvania, Jim Thorpe was buried in the town named after him.

Thorpe is one of the most famous Native Americans who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. I hadn't researched him while writing Follow the Stars Home because I focused on the school's opening decades earlier. While my characters are fictional, the events were all too real. Thorpe's story is just one of many dealing with triumph over brutal conditions.

I only hope the IOC will recognize their error in not giving this amazing athlete his Olympic due.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Living in a digital world

Much as I love writing ebooks, I have to admit – the digital world’s hard to navigate through at times. I get overwhelmed by the deluge of email, the dizzying number of sites to visit, and yes, even the avalanche of ebooks. My kindle now holds more than 320 ebooks, and the simple act of scrolling through the pages of titles takes more time than I care to spend.

Illegal downloads depress me, especially now that a company has decided to sell “used” digital products,including ebooks sometime in the future.  Really? Seriously? These people have no clue what it means to labor over something for months, sometimes years. Their brazenness astounds me.

The vehemence of Kindle boards against hard-working authors keeps me away entirely. It’s entirely too easy for anyone these days to spew hurtful words, and Facebook is becoming a real turn-off for not only this reason, but now that it’s limiting other people’s views of your posts and offering to sell you a deal for all the people who used to be able to see your posts to be able to see one – once only, unless you’re willing to shell out the $5.00 fee on an unlimited basis.

The tools that sites put up for readers to use have been made meaningless, sometimes by other authors attempting to demean works I suppose in order to make theirs more attractive (kind of a crazy notion, don’t you think? but it happens) and recently, an author said pirates have been leaving one-star, terrible reviews for her work. Why? If they want unscrupulous people to download from their sites, why make that book less than desirable? I can’t fathom much of the thinking behind these practices.

I suppose I’m old-fashioned sometimes. I don’t like being digitally connected 24/7, and I have a hard enough time without the Internet rewiring my brain, as this article claims. And this Newsweek article is even scarier, with evidence some people are actually suffering new forms of mental illness as a result.

If I ever leaned toward obsessive compulsiveness, it’s with checking email. And Facebook. And blogs. And about a dozen other sites. I get caught in a loop of circling from one to the other. It’s a frustrating cycle.

Not to mention that I could probably construct a web page faster than my computer can load them these days. Blogger has updated again, but this version doesn't "like" Firefox (the browser I use, of course) so error messages abound. Gotta love technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I love convenience of the Internet. Doing research is so easy using Google, but it’s not the same as, say, visiting a foreign place to absorb all its newness through your senses. But I honestly believe my brain’s already deficient, because I can’t use Twitter. Yes, I know how it works in theory, but when I try to actually use it, it’s instant overload and my brain shuts down.

It makes me sad to think, too, that future readers won’t know the joy of buying old books. I don’t mean used books, I mean old as in 50 or 100 years old. I suppose I’m a dweeb, but when I found a copy of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad from 1906, I had to have it, and still get excited when I open it and think he might have actually touched it, too (it’s from a Connecticut library).

Several other antique books sit on my top shelf, out of reach of little hands. In large boxes I’ve never unpacked since we moved six years ago, all the LPs of my youth are crammed together, probably too warped to ever play again, but I can’t get rid of them. I love them. Some are rare, including The Beatles Rarities, and a white vinyl White Album. I have yet to switch to digital music, though I suppose it’s inevitable at some point.

Maybe I’m just upset I couldn’t write this weekend. As many times as I sat down at the laptop, I got up again. I had “monkey mind,” as Natalie Goldberg (and Buddhists) call it, and my thoughts were swinging from neuron to neuron, screeching with laughter at my attempts to lure them down.

Maybe it was just one of those weekends. Sometimes, I can tear up the keyboard from Friday night through Sunday night and rack up a word count of 12k or so. This wasn’t one of those weekends. But there will be others. That monkey's going down.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Halloween in July!

Hey, why not? Others have Christmas in July. So I'm making the next three days Halloween in July. And I'm giving out a treat! You can download my dark paranormal ghost story, In the Midnight Hour, today through July 29. Go grab a copy!

And after you read it, I'd really love a review!

You can find out more about In the Midnight Hour here.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good news!

I knew if I took a break, it would set things in motion. :)

Death Is A Bitch has a release date! Get ready for her, because Death is coming on Aug. 3 - with gold stilettos on. Woot! I can't wait.

Here's the updated blurb:
Eternity can suck when it’s all work, work, work. Death harvests souls even when they stack up faster than pancakes in an all-you-can-eat-buffet. No wonder she can’t shed the Grim Reaper rep.

As the patron angel of death and dying, Azrael works closely with Death but is dying for true intimacy. She’s the only immortal who’s ever aroused such powerful emotions in him. One taste of her leaves him needing her like humans need air and food, but will a demon’s lies leave a bad taste?
No one escapes Death – except King Sisyphus. Twice. With the help of Damien the demon, Sisyphus tries again, and she’s determined to have justice. Some say Death’s a bitch, but only when she has to be. But will the price of justice be a broken heart?
And an excerpt:
Death stepped from the shadowy curtain of night along a deserted stretch of road toward the mangled hunk of cherry-red metal that used to be a sweet Z240 sports car. Stardust glinted in the black hair that dipped to her waist.
She kept a safe distance from the wreck. Inside, a thirtyish man slumped behind the wheel, the air bag deflating away from his near-lifeless body. Blood oozed from a nasty gash to his head. Should have worn his seat belt. Too late for life lessons, though. Those weren’t her expertise anyway. Just the opposite.
Leaves crackled in the underbrush beyond the nearby trees. Death gripped the silver charm bracelet on her wrist, her senses on high alert. Her finger poised near the hidden latch, ready to release a stream of lightning.
A deer. It stilled, its wide eyes fixed on her.
Seeing nothing else, she continued with a modicum of caution. Taking souls didn’t exactly make her popular, and after so many millennia, she should’ve been used to it. The bad jokes. The Halloween parodies. A scythe? Please. She’d never used cheap props. Only the finest weaponry. No mortal ever suspected the intricately designed baubles adorning her bracelet were anything more than ornamental.
Moonlight gleamed off the curves of the sports car, and she ran a gilded nail along its hood. She wouldn’t mind taking one of these babies for a spin. In its former condition, of course, before this guy took the curve too fast and wrapped it around a tree. Humans always rushed everywhere, sometimes straight into her arms.
The man’s moan signaled she had no need for weapons. This one would give her no trouble. She fingered his blond hair, matted with blood. What a shame. So young, and so handsome. He’d leave at least one lover grieving, no doubt.
His eyes fluttered open. When he looked up, recognition intensified the flicker of life in his eyes.
She needed no introduction. They always knew her, unmistakable in the glimmering black filament gown, its folds revealing a glimpse into infinity.
The stilettos usually earned a second glance, the four-inch heels glistening like fool’s gold. The butterfly tattoo spanning her upper arm likewise drew curious looks, which inevitably changed to horror when the souls recognized the face imprinted within that colorful ink: their own.

But wait, there's more news :)

I'm also featured at The Romance Studio, sharing some goodies about Dancing With the Devil. TRS posted the interview awhile ago but a storm took out their servers, but it's here if you care to pop over.

Hope to see you back here next Friday for the kickoff of Halloween in July!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Crime Fiction Blurb Fest at TBR

TBR's having two blurb fests again this month - first up this weekend is the Crime Fiction blurb fest for any stories involving - you guessed it - crime. :)

July 28-29 will be the Military/Espionage Fiction blurb fest.

If you know authors who write in these genres, please encourage them to share their blurbs, gain a little extra exposure, and hopefully some new fans.
Blog vacation 

Not much is going on right now. Unless I receive a release date for my dark paranormal, Death is a Bitch, I likely will be taking a two-week blog vacation. I'm hoping to catch up on some writing, and some reading! Look for the next post on Saturday, July 28. Mark your calendar - it will be Halloween in July! Mwahahaha. :)

Do you have any getaway plans for the summer? Whatever you do, I hope you have a great time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Contest today at TRR's Sizzling Summer Reads!

If you'd like a chance to win an ebook of Just the Right Amount of Wrong, today's the day to enter at The Romance Reviews' Sizzling Summer Reads contest. 

TRR is giving away tons of prizes all month long, so be sure to check back every day for new giveaways!

 Here's the story blurb:

All wrong? That’s what Sara Mullaney’s parents always said about Ravelo Pena. She’s starting to believe it. After dumping her years ago, he’s back in town. And threatening to ruin her business plan designed to help local farmers. When he’s fired for trying to help her, she realizes he’s still the same old Rav. And she’s finding it hard to keep her hands off him. Can the right amount of wrong make the perfect combination?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Changing covers again

Next month, I'll re-release my historical set in 1850s Key West, Florida, called Angels, Sinners and Madmen. I've revised it, and hopefully improved it.

I spent a lot of time searching for the right cover images, and found two that contained the images I wanted and, I thought, would have the right feel. I then spent a lot of time trying to combine them, which turned out like this:

It had the right theme - the ship in a stormy sea, and the couple seeming to be overwhelmed by the waters. But even though I'd invested time and money in the cover, it didn't feel right to me.

So, back to Dreamstime I went. And I decided to change the cover to this:

This image conveys such yearning. I love it. It's much simpler, and cleaner. I thought about adding a tall ship on the horizon to indicate it's a historical, but I like that he's looking out at an empty sea. Though wreckers in 1850s Key West often searched the horizon for ships in distress, this image suggests he's not sure what -- or who -- he's looking for, but is determined to find it (or her?).

And yes, there's the beefcake aspect. :) But while that might (hopefully) attract a reader's eye, it's secondary to me.

What do you think? Any preference?

I'm shooting for August 31 as the re-release date.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Casting Call: In the Midnight Hour

If you're not familiar with Casting Call, it's my blog series where I show you who I imagined in the major roles while I wrote each story. You can find more under the Blog Series tab, beneath the Casting Call heading.

Normally, I imagine my stories as movies in my head. As usual, the characters of In the Midnight Hour played their parts very vividly.

Josie's my flawed heroine - the daughter of divorced parents, who themselves are flawed. As a teen, Josie strikes out on her own because she has a better chance away from her mother.

Since she was young, Josie's seen ghosts, a fact she learns to keep to herself after alienating friends and coworkers. She sees some of the ghosts so often, she considers some as friends, but it makes for a lonely existence. She doesn't quite know where she fits in the world until she signs up as a ghost tour guide in Gettysburg. After that, things begin to click into place, though some things, not for the better.

Before I began a first draft, Pauley Perrette was Josie, from her Goth look to her scratchy voice to her tattoos.

Eddie is Josie's roommate - with benefits. In the beginning, she felt sorry for him, so took him in. But he hasn't gone job hunting in months, and while Josie's working two jobs, he does nothing but play video games. Josie's ready to move on, and out, without Eddie. He's not so ready.

Matt Dillon's played down-and-out characters convincingly before, and would be perfect as Eddie.

Nicholas Whitby tags along during Josie's ghost tours. He's adorable but a bit odd, something Josie can relate to. At first, because he wears a Union soldier's uniform, she thinks he's a Civil War reenactor. Later, she finds out he's no actor.

James McAvoy was always Nick in my movie version.

Garrett signed on as a ghost tour guide after Josie. Somewhat of a mystery, he doesn't give much away about himself, but Josie senses his attraction to her. She keeps him at arm's length until she realizes he, too, can see ghosts. It's not often she runs into someone to whom she can speak openly about spirits, but Garrett's easy to talk to. Until he says Nick's a threat to Josie. Garrett has secrets of his own.

Christian Kane was always Garrett in my head.

Bonus! Turns out Garrett's one of triplets.

His brother Theo is more business-like, so this pic fits him.

Zane is much more easy-going, with shorter hair.

I'll take three of Christian Kane anyday. :)

Sue is another ghost tour guide, and another good friend who takes Josie in when she abandons Eddie.

Mena Suvari would be perfect as Sue.

You can view the book video, read the blurb, excerpt and more here.

Or purchase In The Midnight Hour here. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

1NS Blog Hop!

Wow, what a great blog hop! You guys were fantastic, so fantastic that I've decided since I have two 1NS ebooks, I'll give away two instead of one. :)

Congrats to:

Shadow Kohler

Jenn JLK Mass

I'll email you today - just let me know which book you'd like, and in which format. Happy reading!

Best of luck to everyone in the grand prize drawing!

And thanks again to Jessica Subject for all her hard work on this blog hop. It wouldn't have happened otherwise!

(original post)
Thanks to Jessica E. Subject for organizing this fantastic blog hop! The grand prize is a Kindle Touch, and a second-place giveaway of a gift certificate. Coffee Time Romance is contributing a third prize for U.S. visitors - books, swag and other goodies!

I'm holding my own giveaway too. Winner's choice of either my fantasy 1NS, A Hard Day's Knight, or my contemporary, Tonight You Belong to Me.

Both are very fun, fast reads, but you can watch the book videos below to decide which catches your fancy more. :)

 To enter my giveaway, just "like" my Facebook page and comment below - easy peasey!

If the code below doesn't show (it didn't in preview), then visit the 1NS Blog Hop site to hop to all the 30 blogs of participating authors. The more you comment, the better your chances at winning some great prizes!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Insecure Writers: When to type "The End"

I should start another support group for writers like me, who can't stop revising. I go through multiple revisions before sending work to crit partners, and afterward, at least another two or three rounds. But I never feel like a story's completely finished. Even after subbing it, I can't help revising again.

I have so many other projects I want to work on, but constant revisions slow me down.

I actually just pulled a sub - one I was invited to submit - because the story didn't feel complete, and the sub call limited the word count to 15k. In the end, I don't think I'll regret it, though I had the feeling it was a slam dunk. *sigh*

Does anyone else have this problem? Or am I taking perfectionism too far?

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for launching the Insecure Writers Support Group! Hop on over to the other authors' posts. It's wonderful to lend support to fellow authors.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New release - In the Midnight Hour, dark paranormal ghost story

Available for Amazon Kindle

Buried things have a bad habit of resurfacing, often when Josie least wants to deal with them. Nothing like a dead person to lend perspective to her miserable life.

When she signs on as a ghost tour guide in Gettysburg, Josie gets a fresh glimpse at the spirit world. Civil War soldier Nicholas Whitby is more real, and more attentive, than any living guy she knows.

Until Garrett joins the tour company. He warns her against Nick, who plans to destroy The Gate between worlds on Halloween.

Josie’s torn between the sweet Nick she knows, and the fear growing with each nasty encounter with Gettysburg’s ghosts. Just when she’s finally learned to feel comfortable in her tattooed skin, she must divine the truth. Will trusting a dead man unleash a legion of vicious spirits upon the earth?

Trick or treat never held such deadly consequences. Will Gettysburg become a ghost town for real?

Reviews (coming soon)

Sue poked her head from behind the changing screen. “You look like you could use a drink.”

Josie joined her there and peeled away her wet outfit. “Yeah, definitely.”

Sue wriggled into her jeans. “A few of us are going out. Come with us.”

“Sounds good.”

It had until they sat elbow to elbow in the booth at the bar at The Farnsworth Inn and talk turned to ghost sightings.

Josie gulped her beer. “Come on. You don’t really buy into all this, do you?  I mean, it’s just a gimmick.” No point sharing too much too soon. She’d learned that lesson the hard way.

Sue shrugged. “In a certain house, I sometimes hear footsteps behind me. Or children laughing.”

Or crying – like now.  Shush, a woman whispered. It’s probably Hattie with our papers. Josie knew exactly where it came from. The plaque by the tiny attic door in the center of the stairs explained to patrons that the Underground Railroad used to hide slaves in that cramped space. From the sound of it, a mother and daughter still waited. Still in terror of being discovered, poor things.

“Doors slam in one of my houses,” Terry said. “Or jam for no reason, then open without warning.”

Brett shifted in his seat. “I’ve seen a soldier in uniform, always near the same tree.”

In uniform? Josie sat straight. “Don’t you think it’s probably a reenactor playing a gag?”

“Reenactors don’t play gags,” Terry said. “They’re too serious about everything being accurate and getting the facts straight. I used to date one. He yelled at me for sewing on a button that looked too modern.”

Josie winced. “I met a guy like that. He keeps correcting my spiel, as if anyone else would know the difference.”

“What’d he look like?” Brett asked.

“Brown hair, wavy, to his collar. Brown eyes, thin and wiry. He must work out though, because he’s all muscle. And hot.” Josie couldn’t help but smile, thinking of him.

“Did you get his name?” Terry asked.

Josie snorted. “Said his name was Nicholas Whitby. Like the headstone on my cemetery stop.”

The other guides exchanged surprised glances.

“What?” she asked. “He’s nice, I know I should report him, but I kind of like having him follow my group. I want to ask him out one of these nights.”

Terry glanced at Brett. “Isn’t that—”

Brett jabbed an elbow into hers. “You talked to him?”

“Course,” Josie said. “That’s our gig, talking to people.”

They fell silent. Too serious.

A chill swept over her, then she laughed. “Very funny. I see what you’re doing, but forget it. You can’t spook me. He kissed me.”

Terry’s mouth gaped. “He actually kissed you?”

“The best kiss of my life. Believe me, he is absolutely flesh and blood.” After shelling out her share of cash for the pitcher of beer, Josie said good night. She headed toward the women’s rest room, but veered to the stairs instead. Halfway up, she stopped at the small attic door and knocked. Cold blasted her face.

“It’s Hattie,” she whispered. “It’s all right, you can go.”

“It’s finally time?” the woman asked. “Oh did you hear, baby girl? I told you.”

“Yes,” Josie slid the bar receipt under the door. “Here’s your paper. You’re safe now. Goodbye.”

The paper jerked from her grasp, tugged from the other side.

She waited until the cold dissipated, and couldn’t stop grinning as she left the bar and walked down the street to her car. Sometimes weirdness had its rewards.

And its downside. An inky shadow formed into the shape of a tall man with a flat, wide-brimmed hat. She gulped hard when a second Shadow Man coalesced behind it. Both moved toward her.

“Stay away from me.” Why had she parked so far from the bar? Her Jeep looked so far away.

Someone grabbed her arm and pulled her into a dark alley.

She yelped, her heart pounded until she saw it was him. She clutched his coat. “Where did you go? You left me.” And how did he dry his clothes so fast? Logic screamed at her it wasn’t possible, and her ghost-sensing hackles bristled. But how could he be a spirit, when solid flesh filled the sleeves she held? And his mouth…

He looked pleased at her distress. “I’m back now.”

No mistaking the oo baby tone, rapper-slick. So casual. Usually what she preferred – no strings. No questions. Somehow it felt wrong with him. “I’m beginning to feel like a hit and run victim.”

Except the Shadow People had disappeared. The second time they’d vanished when Nick appeared.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sizzling Summer Reads - all month!

The Romance Reviews is heating up July with its Sizzling Summer Reads giveaways. More than 400 prizes are up for grabs, including a grand prize of  a $100 gift card!

Check out all the offerings, and on July 13th, look for mine - an ebook of Just the Right Amount of Wrong, my interracial erotic romance.

Here's a little something to wet your whistle. :)