Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Look: Castaway Hearts Excerpt

“Why did you stop?” Her words were breathless, like a child with her playmate, as she rode up beside him on the horse.

“I wanted to give Gypsy a breather and have a smoke.”

Dawson eyed Catherine and consciously laid one arm across his lap to hide his arousal though it was too dark for her to see. He watched her circle him with Willow, her eyes burning into him.

“Oh, come on, old man. That mare has more energy than you do. She’s prancing. She wants to run wild and free, too.” Catherine chided him and threw her hair back off her shoulder. Indeed Gypsy pranced, antsy for motion, to barrel down the beach and let loose.

“That’s quite all right. She can stand still for a moment. It won’t kill her.” Dawson cleared his throat and drew on his pipe before he continued. “As for me being an old man, you would be wise to watch your tongue, young Miss. I could turn you over my knee without difficulty and spank you for that sassy mouth of yours.”

He wasn’t sure where the threat came from. Catherine’s reaction equaled his surprise at the reprimand.

“Turn me over your knee?” Catherine laughed aloud, the sound like tinkling bells. “You would have to catch me first, old man.”

He could not resist the challenge.

He tapped the embers from his pipe onto the ground and nudged Gypsy. Catherine regarded his every move as she took note of his intention and prodded Willow’s sides to gallop off.

Dawson gave way to the chase and followed her down the shoreline and out of the alcove. He came up on her left with lightning speed and grabbed her reins, pulling both horses to a sudden jolting halt.

Sliding off his horse with one smooth fluid motion, he snatched Catherine down from Willow as he did. Her laughter peeled away into the night.

His arms stole around her waist as his lips came down upon hers. Though the most fleeting of kisses, it was enough to make his blood boil when she didn’t fight him. Instead, she kissed him back with sweet yielding lips that tasted of honey.

When her arms encircled his neck and her delicate fingertips moved up into his hair, it was all he could do not to lay her down on the sand and have his way with her right there.

Dawson backed away with haste and shoved her backward in the process, almost knocking her to the ground.

Oh boy, you’ve done it now.

“Dammit, Catherine…” Dawson drew a ragged breath and walked a few steps away from her. He ran his fingers through his hair. The sensation of her fingers lingering where she had massaged the nape of his neck.

“Did I do something wrong?”

Even with his back turned he heard the quiver in her voice, the beginnings of tears.

You want the wrong brother. Dawson wanted to scream, but he would be damned if he would ever speak those words aloud.

What kind of fool am I?

He swore he wouldn’t, not after what happened to Lucinda.

“Get on the damned horse. You’re going home.”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Memory Lane Monday- Birthdays

My birthday will arrive before I do another Memory Lane Monday, so I think today I'll reminisce a bit about the birthdays I had growing up. I never had birthday parties with friends- well, not the kind my parents planned, though in my teens I did things with friends, but when I was much younger I do remember my grandmother (my mom's mom) always made sure to get me a store bought cake from the grocery. The ones with the shortening frosting and rose buds and fancy piping and the little plastic "Happy Birthday" sign in cursive.

She always tried to make sure she got a "black & blue" cake. For some reason, I deemed chocolate worthy of that distinction, even with the mixed vanilla and chocolate creme sandwich cookies that were always in the cookie jar at my grandparents' house- you know the ones, the grocery store versions that were sort of like Oreos.
I honestly don't know where I got the idea, but it would seem that "Black & Blue" have been following me for the better part of my life and ironically, I realize now that the majority of my color scheme for this blog, my website, my Twitter profile, my tattoos, are in shades of black and blue as well. Perhaps that is significant in a way I cannot comprehend, but I digress...

What do I remember about birthdays, most vividly? Whether my parents bought me a cake or my mom baked one- almost always chocolate, if my birthday were on a school morning, my mom would get me up and make me blow out the candles and make a wish before I got on the bus. And I got to eat CAKE for breakfast. (*Flash* to Bill Cosby's "Dad is great, he let us have chocolate cake!)

I remember sharing my "birthday" with my sister, and vice versa—being it was just us two girls, she would get a small gift on my birthday and I would get one on hers in July.

At my grandparents, someone generally gave me birthday spankings, with "one to grow on." I remember the year my parents got me Olivia Newton-John's Greatest Hits Volume 2- I WORE that record out. It skips so bad, especially on the last song- Xanadu. I so wanted to be Olivia when I grew up. LOL I remember my grandparents on my dad's side getting me Sleeping Beauty on Disney VHS and we watched it together and I was SHOCKED beyond measure when Maleficent cursed.

When I was 14 or 15 my grandma on my dad's side presented me with a beautifully bound collection of classic novels, Alice in Wonderland, Little Men, Robinson Crusoe, to name a few, but I believe it was a 10-12 book collection (and perhaps I'll touch back on this set of books in a later blog). I believe that was also the same year she presented me with these two beautiful iridescent cat figures.

Also for my 15th birthday, my parents got me a book of poems called To My Daughter with Love on the Important Things in Life by Susan Polis Schutz. My parents wrote a little something inside the book to me and I intend to follow below them, with a note to my daughter and give her that same book on her 15th birthday.

That was also the same year that my father gave me an autographed copy of In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason as a late Christmas present when the construction company he works for built her house. (More on that in a later blog as well.)

I'm sure every birthday has some significance- something more than just aging another year. Each are special in their own way and each either teach us something new about ourselves as we grow, or they gift us with treasures of the heart.

What do you remember about birthdays you've had?
Are there any that stick out more than others, or that hold a special place in your heart?
Please share!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Man, I Feel Like a Woman!

This will be the first of many SCENTsational Saturdays.

And what are SCENTsational Saturdays?

What makes you feel like a woman? That makes you feel sexy and confident? What are the must-have personal beauty and body essentials that make you feel like the heroine in your own novel? That's what I'll be covering here every Saturday, from my own personal beauty needs- the things that make me feel good and therefore put me in the ranks with the heroines I write.

Once a month I will share my own personal favorite fragrances and the rest of the time I'll share tidbits about little items and habits I have that make me feel great like I ought to. Feel free to join in and share your favorite things as well.

This Saturday, since it's the LAST day of January and intending to include at least 1 of my all-time signature fragrances each month this year, I'll start with my #1 favorite perfume-

With subtle tones of flowers like freesia, water lily, Bulgarian rose, blended with vanilla and musk, it's a wonderfully casual, yet romantic scent that lends itself toward the Oriental/Spicy classification of perfumes and colognes.

It has been a mainstay in my fragrance collection since I was in my mid-teens, as it is soft and subtle enough to wear anytime of day and I still love it after all these years.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fun Feature Friday- The Most Intimate Wish by F.L. Bicknell

(Click above image- $1.99 on Amazon Kindle)

Warning: Graphic language and adult situations; intended for age 18 and over.

All she wants is a husband and family. All they need is for her to believe.

When Dinah and Jeff move in to be the Wheillercarts’ companions, their lives change for the better and the worse. Dinah loves Jeff, but after five years together, he still refuses to marry her, and Dinah’s dreams of starting a family begin to crumble. Regardless of their hot lovemaking sessions, she fears Jeff is cheating on her. Dinah will do anything to keep Jeff, even if it means sharing him with another woman.

However, strange occurrences and a seemingly psychic landlady keep Dinah guessing about her life and relationship with Jeff. And what about the bizarre statue in their landlady’s atrium? Little does Dinah know it holds the key to her most intimate wish.

Author Bio: Faith Bicknell’s work (also known as F.L. Bicknell) has appeared in a wide range of genres such as Would That It Were, Touch Magazine, GC Magazine, Ohio Writer Magazine, Waxing and Waning (Canada), and The Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey) just to name a few. Faith was a regular contributor to Gent under her pseudonym, Molly Diamond (www.MollyDiamond.com), which she has resurrected and now writes as Molly for her SFR/fantasy titles.

She has also had fiction published in Hustler’s Busty Beauties, Penthouse Variations, Twenty 1 Lashes, and was a regular contributor to Ruthie’s Club for three years. In addition, Faith has many e-books and some print titles published under various pen names with a host of different publishers.

For two years, Faith served as the co-editor of The Tenacity Times and she served as the managing editor for two e-book publishers for thirteen years combined until she resigned in 2009 to focus on her writing career. http://faithbicknell.com/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sooner or Later (Favorite Book Spotlight)

It all started with years ago, with a little known TV-movie from 1979 starring Rex Smith and Denise Miller called—It also starred some, I would assume, pretty big names at the time- Judd Hirsch, Barbara Feldon, Morey Amsterdam, Lynn Redgrave.

I didn't discover this movie until I was probably 15 or 16, well into the late 80s, early 90s. I had a weakness for old B-movies and used to stay up and watch them on USA's Up All Night with Rhonda Shear or Gilbert Gottfried on Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes I could even find a hidden gems on WGN at that time of night, as well. There were so many cheesy movies I discovered, like Getting Lucky, The Girl I Want, and Summer Job to name a few. The one that stuck out- Sooner or Later.

Thirteen-year-old Jessie falls for seventeen-year-old Michael after she sees him and his band performing at the mall in Lodi, New Jersey, the same day she had a beauty make-over while out with her best friend Caroline. She never expects to see him again, but when she decides to take guitar lessons---he turns out to be the instructor assigned to her. When Michael doesn't recognize her, she realizes it must have something to do with the fact that she wasn't wearing make-up to her guitar lessons like she was the day they made eye contact while he was performing, so she starts sneaking around and wearing it and Michael starts noticing.

Of course, Jessie loves the attention, but when Michael's interest grows, she lies and tells him she's 16 and soon the lies pile high as she creates more convoluted explanations for why he's never seen her at school, etc. Of course, things become more & more complicated and her best friend advises her that "Older boys aren't like younger boys, they're like men, only younger."

In the process of guitar lessons, she also goes with Michael to band practice one afternoon and discovers he's written a song called "Simply Jessie" just for her, and it's made up partly of the chords he's been teaching her.

Afterward, she agrees to a date at the drive-in on a night she knows her parents are going out of town to a wedding and will be gone late. The heartache erupts when Michael tries to put the moves on her and she bursts into tears, the truth comes out and he takes her home. Of course, the matter remained, could Michael forgive her for lying to him? Does love conquer all, even age?

As cheesy as it is, I bawled and bawled through that movie every time I watch it, so glad that there was a happy ending but then, I wanted to own the movie. It was one of those rare wonderful guilty-pleasure films that made me want to come back over and over again. It didn't hurt that I thought Rex Smith was just a dream and the fact that the majority of the soundtrack was sung by HIM, just made me love it even more.

We had a VCR, but I didn't record it that night and it wasn't like we had a home computer where I could go look it up and find out more, but I kept thinking about it a LOT though and then it happened~

It wasn't but a few days after I watched that movie on WGN that I went to Rite-Aid to look at magazines and they had one of those swivel wire book rack, so I thought I'd just check out what kind of books they had to offer. Usually they had very little, other than when a new V.C. Andrews book came out and I would purchase it there. I consider it Kismet, fate, what-have-you— but this is what I found-

On that rack I noticed first one- Sooner or Later and then I realized, wait, the same/similar girl on the cover of these other two books, so I pick them up and read the blurbs and already my heart was pounding and I was nearly ready to squeal right there in the middle of aisle. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks- I didn't have enough money to buy all three, and those were the ONLY copies.

Old as I was, I went home and begged my dad to advance me my allowance so I could purchase them before they were gone. And so I did. I cried when I opened the first book, content that I could not only read the story, almost just like it played out in the movie, but Waiting Games and Now or Never chronicled MORE of Jessie and Michael's story. Still, I longed for the movie.

My parents tried to get it at a video store, but when asked, it turned out they had one copy, but the owner wouldn't take less than $75 for it because it was such a rare movie. (I've had that kind of bad luck a lot over favorite old movies.) He offered to order my dad a brand new copy for upwards of $90, but that wasn't happening. My mom found out when it was on and recorded it for me one year and gave it to me as a Christmas present. Several years later, I was dating this guy and we went to that same video store and they still had that copy of it. I ask the girl at the counter about it and she called the owner, who agreed over the phone to sell it to me for $10. I was utterly blown away.

Of course, a couple of years ago, when all the VCRs in our house started to eat tapes and die of magnetic poisoning, I ordered a copy on DVD for just under $20. I haven't watched it in a while, but, just like my copies of the books are there to read, it's there to watch whenever I want to.

*a side note- Bruce Hart, along with his wife Carole, wrote these books together. Bruce is also most famous for having composed the lyrics to Sesame Street.

So, what are some of your favorite books that came to you in an unusual way?
Have you ever discovered a great book simply by accident?
Or is it possible that all the pieces fell in place at just the right time for you to stumble upon it?

Please come share your favorites!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Does Action Speak Louder Than Words?

There's always that question lingering in the back of my mind when I see that a book is going to be made into a movie. How will it fare when the written word is translated into actions, mannerisms, behaviors? Can actors and actresses pull off the characters? Will the depth of the story be conveyed as well on the silver screen as it is between the pages? Or vice versa? Would the movie better serve the story ran the written word?

Here are a few that I have both read the book and seen the movie-
Dolores Claiborne
I don't remember whether I read the book first or saw the movie, but what I do know is that I feel this was handled well. The touchy subject matter of the story plays out onscreen with real raw emotion and Kathy Bates just happens to be one of those actresses who I seldom thing about, but then I watch a movie with her in it and remember all over again how wonderful she is and how well she adapts to the roles she takes on. Her portrayal of Dolores made the story believable just as easily as reading Stephen's words on the page. Either way, my heart ached for her and her daughter and for the pain that the past caused them both. My favorite line in that movie? Probably every woman's favorite line-

"Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to."
Dances with WolvesI do remember reading this book before I saw the movie. A friend loaned me a copy they had borrowed from a friend of theirs and I read it within just a few days, completely mesmerized by the western frontier, the strange bond between Dunbar and Two Socks and the Sioux, the romance with Stands with a Fist. Before I ever saw the movie, I shed tears too many to count for the struggles in the story. I love the movie just as much now as I did the first time I saw it and thought that Kevin Costner did the author proud in representing what the story was about.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Persuasion, I read after I saw the movie staring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, but I found that they too are quite companionable. I will always love Captain Wentworth and his letter to Anne Elliot and the idea that true love really does live on, even when we are apart from the one we love the most.

"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant."
For me- the worst offender-

Flowers in the Attic

I loved V.C. Andrews novels when I was growing up. I discovered them when I was around 13 or so and I loved the wonderful detail. She was a very talented author, who wove words in a way that put you right in that moment, right there with the characters and made you feel every joy and pain they endured. The book, by all means was more graphic in detail in these "children in jeopardy" sagas, so really, it wasn't any wonder when I accidentally came across the movie, staring pre-Buffy Kristy Swanson as Cathy. I had been devouring every V.C. Andrews novel I could get my hands on for a while and I was excited about the fact that there was a movie, but when I finally watched it, I was devastated that so much had been left out, but also that the movie was not made to be a continuing story, as the books were. I understand why so much was removed, as this story does carry a very weighted storyline, but what saddened me more was that V.C. Andrews herself had say in the production and she had a small cameo as a window washing maid of Foxworth Hall. It fell far short of my hopes for it as no other book-to-movie ever has.What's your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Do you have a pick for YOUR worst? Have you ever seen a movie that was actually BETTER than its book? I would love to hear about it.

Happy Hump Day!
I can see the weekend from here!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family Stories, Family Recipes

Family Stories, Family Recipes by Maddie James is a cookbook that combines a love of food, stories, and family in one package. Throughout time, families have brought a rich culture of stories and favorite foods to the table. Part cookbook, part real-life family anecdotes, Family Stories, Family Recipes is a book to warm both your tummy and your heart.

Order Print Version on Amazon HERE
Get it on Kindle HERE

I contributed a recipe to this cookbook because I knew that a portion of the proceeds from this book will go to—

The National Center for Family Literacy

The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) is a leading national nonprofit organization with an incredible mission: building a more literate and prosperous nation by helping parents and children learn together. For more than 20 years, NCFL has seen the power of family literacy in action. Since 1989, more than 1 million families have made education and economic progress as a result of NCFL’s work.

NCFL is credited with pioneering—and continuously improving—various family literacy models and approaches that improve the lives of our nation’s most at-risk children and families. The organization’s work is frequently cited by mainstream media and academic audiences for its innovation, attention to quality and groundbreaking results.

With the help of more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of other volunteers, NCFL has evolved its techniques to reach out to and maximize the effectiveness of local programs and organizations. In our work with these groups, we’ve seen how important it is to build community relationships that support and improve learning: from teacher to student, and, most importantly, from parent to child.

NCFL uses the strength of families and the flexibility of the family literacy approach to respond to the changing needs and demographics of underserved populations. Literacy initiatives and programs developed by NCFL yield great results on the local, state, and national levels.

Family by family, community by community, NCFL continues to touch lives and provide endless educational opportunities through family literacy.

To support readers and cooks everywhere, the author will donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this cookbook to the National Center for Family Literacy.

Visit NCFL at www.famlit.org

Monday, January 23, 2012

Memory Lane Monday

You musta been a beautiful baby
(I honestly don't know what happened. LOL)
As an exercise in futility, I'm making a blogging schedule and tentatively, Mondays are now going to be "Memory Lane Monday." Each week, I'll post either, pictures from my childhood along with stories of things I remember fondly from my past, or perhaps favorite toys, foods, experiences, places, etc. Some things will probably be fairly obscure, possibly non-existent anymore. Most the toys I grew up with have faded like the old Polaroid photos and book pages, but I want to share things about my life with my readers, fellow writers, family and friends. Sometimes things from childhood disappear for a while, when they get stuffed into the files that represent "non-essential" memories once you're grown. I believe though, that even those memories are part of what shapes us and makes us who we are.

The 70's were good to me I suppose and I used to get compared to Shirley Temple a lot as a child because I had a lot of curls in that red hair. My mom repeated the "There was a little girl, who had a little curl" often. I remember being asked to sing "On the Good Ship Lollipop" a lot, as well. Of course, I remember standing on my grandparents couch and my grandmother smiling at me as I sung my version of "Here Comes Petter Hoppingtail." Somehow cotton and hopping were equivalent back then to me. ;)

At this very young age, we lived not that far from my grandparents, just down the road really, though from my perspective, it felt like we lived miles and miles away. We had to cross a bridge for goodness sake! It was a small bridge over a creek, but hey, that seemed huge at the time. Even when I was a baby/toddler, we went to my grandparents every Saturday. When I was big enough to run around and talk and my grandma would take us home, I'd run out to my swing set and beg my grandma to "Watch me slide, Grandma! Watch me!" as she got in her car and left.

The place we lived was called "The Ripy Place" to us, as it had belonged to the Ripy family. My mom loved her moon flowers and I remember my dad mowing the yard in a circle once. Meanwhile, my cousin Bubba (who was a grown up) and I gathered the grass clippings and built rooms and walls so I could play with Little People or something, pretending it was a house with lots of rooms. Maybe we used our fingers to "walk" through like the legs of the people. I can't remember it that clearly, but I do remember it. I remember my cousin Ray(also a grown up) falling off my swing set (though I have seen the home video my dad recorded from that day, though you don't actually see him fall), while I was splashing around in my pool and my mom was nearly due with my baby sister. I had a bunch of little wind up toys that "swam" through the water- fish, dolphins or something- you wound them up and their flippers paddled them through the water. My mom says we got those that day at the Dish Barn. I also had a fat plastic fish and what I remember most about it was that it was bright yellowish orange and red with big puckered up lips and fancy flashy eyelashes.

I have a lot of memories from The Ripy Place, even though I only lived there until I was 3 or 4 years old, including the night my mom sat on her bed, which was covered by a chenille bedspread and explained that I had to go stay with my grandparents because she was going to have my sister. I wasn't even 3 1/2 yet, but I remember sitting in one of my little red chairs- it was either the red swivel plastic one or the small red wooden rocker, when she told me the baby was coming soon. That night it stormed that night. Because it was the end of July, my grandparents didn't have any of their winter stoves out, so they simply had a tin pie pan covering the chimney hole. One of my uncles got drenched in rainwater and black soot when it flushed through the chimney and spewed out the hole because of the downpour.

I picked wildflowers out by the road near my grandparents mailbox with my aunt, and even all these years later my mom still teases me about the fact my dad took them to her but they were filled with fleas! The brightest memory from that time? Going with my dad and my grandma to the hospital the day my mom and my sister were coming home. I was too young to be allowed in the maternity ward, so my grandma and I went to the snack machine and got a Hershey's candy bar and a Coca~Cola while we waited and then once we were in the car, I held my sister all the way home in the front seat.

It was 1978 after all- children's car seats were available but the laws were not strict at all.

Till next Monday~ Have a great week!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty...

Yeah, you know where I'm going with that.

♫...little ball of fur...Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr...♫

What can I say, I'm a fan of The Big Bang Theory, of Sheldon Cooper's strange antics and his bizarre "mother figure" fascination with Penny, the girl across the hallway, who, when paired with his roommate Leonard Hofstadter, make a strange little mother/father/child family dynamic that's cute in its own obscure little way.

But I digress...the soft kitty I'm speaking of today is not the one of Sheldon's-sick-so-Penny-must-sing-Soft-Kitty song fame. Nope, it is my own soft kitty, Miscellaneous, aka Mizzy, Moo-Moo, or The Miz.

Mizzy is 9 years old, will be 10 later this year. I got her while I was pregnant with my daughter, who will also be 10 this year. My husband was working a lot of really long shifts of overtime and our schedule with my stepson was 4 days on 4 days off, so I spent a majority of my time alone. It was a very lonely time in my life, if I'm truly honest, because I had moved hundreds of miles away from my hometown, I didn't really know anyone here except for my husband and his son and a few of his relatives, but at best, they were still simply acquaintances, but not friends.

I missed my own family and all my friends and we live in the boonies, so that just added to the melancholy. I hadn't yet given much thought to picking up my writing again and pursuing it because I still didn't believe in myself enough and so I found myself isolated and more lonely for companionship than I'd ever been in my entire life. So I asked my husband what he thought of me getting a cat.

So, we went looking for kittens. I was about 7 months pregnant and we went to a pet store. They had expensive Himalayan kittens and Siamese, but the ones we could afford were all yellow striped or solid, but they had smooshed faces. You know the kind of cats I'm talking about, it looks like someone punched their noses into their face. An overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety came over me and I told my husband I didn't want one of them. We left the building and before I could open my door and get in our, at the time, Safari van, I burst into tears, squalling. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him,

"If I don't want ones of those kittens because they're ugly, what's going to happen if our baby's ugly? I'M GOING TO BE A HORRIBLE MOTHER!"

He tried to soothe my worries, but I still felt so guilty for leaving behind one of those kittens. A few days later, a guy my husband worked with called and said his neighbors had some kittens that were about 7-8 weeks old and weaned and asked if we'd want to come out and see them. So we went, way out in the country, further out past where we live.

The family's children had tentatively named her Jelly because at the time the cartoon PB & J Otter was very popular. I took one look at her and I KNEW she was MY cat. She had the same marble markings as a cat my family had when I was growing up-

We had named him Marblehead because of his markings, but somehow he became known as Poo Poo Kitty.
(see image below)
He was a good tom cat who showed up one day after Thanksgiving, got treated to leftover turkey and was with our family for about 7-9 years after that, I've honestly lost track. He went outside to take care of his business, but he loved staying in the house and he even had a favorite chair, the yellow floral wingback chair my mom has in the living room. He was smart too, would come looking for you and meow when he needed to go outside. Sometimes he'd disappear for a while, off tomcatting, but he'd come home, until one day he just didn't. We figure he either found a new home or he died.

So, when I laid eyes on "Jelly" I knew she was my cat. I held her in my lap the entire way home and named her Miscellaneous—Mizzy for short. I got the idea for the name from a favorite writer, Bonnie McCafferty. She had a book out in the early 1990s called Smiling through the Apocalypse, which was a compilation of articles she wrote for newspapers, I believe. It's a hard to find book, even used copies on Amazon don't have a single image of the cover, though I do have the book. She had a cat named Miscellaneous who passed away, but her articles about her cats, being single, life, her guru, etc, were poignant and moved me and so I was moved to name my cat that.

Mizzy is a puzzle at times. She still loves to play on occasion, loves the laser pointer we got her. She scoops her cat food from her bowl onto the floor as though her paw is a ladle. In fact, her food and water bowls are divided by my photo shelf in the kitchen for that very reason. When she was little, she would scoop it over into her water bowl, just to leave soggy cat food floating in it and then she wouldn't drink her water at all.

She tries to meow the word "water" when she needs more and also pulls her bowl out into the kitchen floor in my path so I will see it. She loves scrambled eggs and chicken and gets VERY talkative if she smells it. She stretches out on the couch in front of me, belly-to-belly when I'm relaxing watching TV and touches my face with her paw. I swear her purr has gotten louder as she's aged and there are many Saturday mornings after my husband has left for work that the cat nudges open the bedroom door and gets up on the bed to lay with me, purring loudly, pawing and kneading my arm like a kitten at the momma cat's teat. Sometimes I swear she's more like a baby than a cat. She sometimes acts as though she knows what I say to her and I love her for that unspoken sense of understanding that passes between us when she makes eye contact with me.

She's not a great mouser by any means, but I have to admit- she surprised me today. We've had mice issues in the past couple of weeks and I've caught 4 on sticky traps. I hate mice. They're just so nasty. Blech! The thing that got me? I was talking to my mom yesterday and told her that I caught 4 and that Mizzy tried to meow and take wide-eyed credit for the first one, though she had nothing to do with it. I then said, she's not been doing her job as cat of the house.

This morning she proved me wrong- in the living room beside the recliner was a dead mouse- right next to MY socks I kicked off yesterday evening. If that's not telling, I don't know what is. She had a point to prove either way- Yes, I take back what I said about her not being a good mouser and, it's my understanding that when a cat brings you a present, it's not so much a gift as a "note" about the fact that you, as the human, don't know how to hunt properly.

Yeah, well, I still caught 4 to her 1.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun Friday Feature- Secrets by Jan Scarbrough

Today's Fun Friday Feature

(Click image above to go to Amazon)

Revised and Updated Edition (formerly titled, A Father At Last)

How was she going to keep her secret? It had been with her like a living thing for twenty-one years.

With her daughter all grown up and married, single mom Kelly Baron can start her new life, responsible only for herself. But first she must help her mother by returning to the small Indiana town she’d fled years ago.

Newly divorced lawyer, Rob Scott, seeks solace in his small-town roots. The last thing he’s looking for is a relationship—until he runs into Kelly, and the secret she’s been keeping.

I have read this one and loved it. Jan is one of my fellow TMP authors, but also a Chaptermate in the Kentucky Romance Writers (KYRW)


Ms. Scarbrough has a way of involving sensuality without going in-depth so that younger readers cannot enjoy the book. --theromancestudio.com

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and felt that I was watching it unfold in front of me as if I was another character in the story. --nightowlreviews.com

With a story that rings so true, the reader will feel like they had heard it at the local beauty parlor. The craft of this author keeps this story novel. --theromancereviews.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Have The Touch

Kindle Touch, that is....
pictured below
with cover of Suzanne's Late Harvest,
which is the first book I read on my Kindle.

I received some money for Christmas, so I did the unthinkable- well, at least for me- I bought a Kindle Touch, along with a few new eBooks. I had already been using the Kindle for PC app on my laptop, so this was just a natural progression that I knew I would eventually succumb to.

As a writer who has always valued the weight of a real book in my hand, the crisp rustle of the pages, the smell of the ink, or better yet, the aged aroma, of a book, I find that print books fill me with this mystical sense that "all's right with the world." The idea of reading books on the computer or an eReader was a foreign idea that, for a long time, I refused to surrender to. I'm not a huge fan of change, so it took a while for me to warm to the idea.

I grew up in the 80's & 90's, when eBooks were not commonplace, or least, not on my radar at all. Heck, my parents didn't even have a HOME computer until I moved out when I was 20. The very idea of reading a BOOK on the computer was as foreign to me as going to Russia or China or Japan. I did NOT speak the language and some ways I just didn't want to. I wanted to cling to the traditional mindset of what constitutes becoming a published author.

See, what I understood was my Smith Corona word processor and my 3 1/2 inch floppy disks that housed my stories and which I took for granted, not always saving backup of what I typed. At some point, ol' Smithy gave up on me and started acting wonky, corrupting my disks to the point that printing out saved files looked like alien transcripts from Planet ShouldaPrintedThatOutToBeginWith.

Meanwhile, all a young writer like myself dreamed of was seeing my stories in print, of grasping it in my hands in the middle of Joseph Beth Booksellers or Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble or Borders... or even my beloved Little Professor in Frankfort, Kentucky, which no longer exists. In fact quite a few of those brick & mortars are disappearing now and it still saddens me.

I eagerly looked forward to being able to say,

"Whoa! This is utterly fantastic! It's real! LOOK! This is MY book!"

I grew up longing for that moment. Whether the book succeeded was another story, but that first taste of personal success was borne of my love for reading and the sense of satisfaction of holding my creation in my hands, of whisking through the pages for a favorite passage and feeling that, once in print my words and a story of my heart that I loved so much would be immortalized- captured for eternity and solidified in those pages of that binding. And others might read it and glean some joy and happiness from something that came from ME and my heart.

I knew of Amazon and I remember when it was just about "books" but of course, in this quickly changing landscape of technology, eBooks were just becoming more the "norm" at the same time I started to come into my own as a writer and that hit on a very personal level. I had put my writing on the back burner for a decade after Smithy's demise. I think in some ways, I wondered, what's the point if all my hard work is wasted on computer technology that I can't trust? My word processor wasn't much more than a baby version of computers and I'd be damned if I'd trust saving my writing on anything like that, not without printing out huge stacks of cumbersome pages, just to be sure nothing was lost if my computer got sick on me or files were deleted by accident.

Of course, I've warmed to the idea of eBooks more as time has gone on. I've been growing as a writer and a reader, just as eBooks are growing in the publishing industry by leaps and bounds. I'm excited that my first novel will be available in both eBook and print versions. I feel the meshing of the two worlds as they have collided with each other. I don't think print books are the dinosaurs who will become extinct, but I do believe they have to make room for their modern day descendents because change happens and much as we might not like it, it's usually a good thing.

I want to believe that they can walk hand-in-hand in the business though and for me, buying my Kindle Touch didn't change my views about reading books completely in eBook format. There are still some authors I will always read in print, so long as their books are printed. One being Yasmine Galenorn, though I did buy her novella Etched in Silver for my Kindle, even though I already have it in the print anthology it was originally released in, but that's because I LOVE that story so much I wanted access to it no matter where I am.

So yeah, there are certain book series I will buy in print vs eBook, but I did discover that Kindle has amassed a great collection of "free" books- a lot of them classics, some I've read and some I've always wanted to read, so I downloaded a bunch of those (Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, etc) as well as books by my fellow authors or authors I've recently discovered.

All in all, I can't believe how much I'm enjoying the freedom my Kindle Touch gives me, to read books away from the computer in a way that doesn't feel like I'm reading on a techie device at all. Much as my former "print books only" self would disagree, I have to say that my purchase was well worth it already and I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy it for a LONG time to come- especially knowing I can tote my "eLibrary" with me anywhere without lugging a dufflebag full of books and yet I'll never be at a loss for some good adventure, mystery or romance. Yeah, that's what I call having the touch.

Fun Friday Feature- Late Harvest by Suzanne Barrett

My current read today is- ~Click the image above to go to Amazon~

Kurt von Daniken wants only one thing from Glenna Ryan: The key to making Eiswein - Ice Wine. Five years ago, while working at his family's California winery, she'd begun developing the method to simulate wine made from grapes gathered after a freeze. Now, when the winery desperately needs it, the only person who might be able to duplicate Glenna's process, Kurt's tyrannical Uncle Otto, lies paralyzed by a stroke and near death.

Glenna wants only one thing from the von Danikens: To be left in peace to raise her son, Robbie, who suffers from a birth defect and needs an expensive surgery to repair it. When Kurt suddenly appears at her home, demanding she return to Cresthaven and complete the process, Glenna knows the money she'll earn by doing so will provide Robbie the treatment he needs. She also knows she'll risk having her heart broken, again, by Kurt, the only man she's ever loved.

But, what if he discovers the real reason she left Cresthaven?

What reviewers are saying about Late Harvest-

"Rich chemistry and sensual tension between H and h. Plenty of emotional conflict with misunderstandings and secrets from the past to be uncovered. Clear writing, good pacing, and engaging plot." - msreads

"Suzanne Barrett crams a wealth of emotion, hard work, and social interaction into this short novel. The descriptions, introspections, and humor (ex. the claws of the kitten making a prick that lets out "pompous hot air") grabs the attention and keeps one reading. Best of all is getting to vicariously experience long-suffering love being rewarded with a magnificent acknowledgement and a promised happy-ever-after."

--Long and Short Reviews

"Really fine writing, attractive (honest!) characters, even the secondary characters feel like "real" people.... Also great sexual tension and, sigh, a setting to die for and fantasize about. And, well, um, there's the hero, too."
--Amazon reader

"Romance, tears, arguments, tension - both sexual and as a result of conflict, and a happy ending to boot. The story flowed effortlessly.... I truly enjoyed this story and look forward to reading other books by Suzanne Barrett."
--Romancing the Book

"LATE HARVEST is a bountiful feast for an avid reader, a feast to be savored." --Under the Covers Reviews

"...a poignant love story of two people who must come to terms with their past if they have any chance of recapturing the love they once shared. ...a book which will definitely tug at your heart strings.." --The Romance Reviews

To check out more about Suzanne Barrett go to her website-
Suzanne Barrett- Romance Author

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fun Friday Feature- Rescue Me by Jennifer Johnson

Here's another book for your reading pleasure. I'm reading this one ATM.

(click above image to go to Amazon)

Sitting in front of her parents’ house in a U-Haul truck at midnight, Amy Mann decides it’s time to break it to them that she’s divorced from her husband and moving back home with her seven-year-old son, Toby. As Amy settles into her hometown, she has a plan to get out of debt, get her college degree, and put her life together.

Enter Captain Riley Pennimon, local firefighter and superhero to Amy’s son. Riley is kind, brave, and civic-minded. The captain does not fit into Amy’s putting-her-life-together plan, and yet he is way too good looking without a shirt. Much to Amy’s chagrin, Toby decides that Riley is just what they need for a happily-ever-after.

But, can Amy make peace with the demons of her mistakes and let the captain rescue her? And…can Riley let go of the pain of his past and grab onto the family he’s always wanted?

From reviews:

Chock-full of Southern wit and wisdom, quirky characters who tell it like it is.

Dialogue and quirky humor make Rescue Me a highly entertaining read!

Dialogue is fun and the story entertaining with conflict and a warm romance.

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @BooksByJennifer or check out her blog This is the Life!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gorgeous Novel Cover Helps Ring in 2012!

Happy New Year!

This year started off GREAT, even before it began. Saturday afternoon, New Year's Eve, I finally got around to checking email and there in my inbox was a message I had been eagerly anticipating. My novel cover for Castaway Hearts from my publisher.

Excitement and giggles bubbled to the surface as I opened the email, my husband and daughter eager to see as well. And there it was- BAM!

Beauty in blue that brought tears to my eyes.

My publisher designed the cover and I probably haven't, and can't, possibly express to her just how much I love it and what a wonderful job I think she did on it. Even now, I'm tearing up again- it comes in waves, laughter and tears of joy at just what a beautiful 1st cover I have and how much more REAL this is all getting for me. I dreamed and hoped and imagined this moment for more than 1/2 my life, and to see it and feel it coming to life before my eyes fills me with so many emotions I have a hard time expressing the joy without blathering on and on, gushing over the cover, squeeing with giddiness and tearing up when the dream crashes into reality all over again, the momentum of happiness swelling in my heart until it overflows.

I've been this wishy-washy mess since Saturday, but it's all good. Monday I took the image file to Wal-Mart and printed an 8X10 and bought a pretty frame, so I can have it where I can see it all the time. It's just SO purty!

Now, I have shared the cover on Facebook and Twitter already on Saturday, and it is on my website, along with the book blurb, if you'd like to check it out. I can also proudly say that I have Jimmy Thomas and Teresa Noreen on my cover. Absolutely LOVE it and I'm so proud!

As to this new year- I gave up "resolutions" a long time ago because much as I like to have goals, resolutions feel like goals with little to no wiggle room for Life's ever changing journey and my path might veer off the beaten from time to time and away from the original goal, but I believe that's Life's way anyhow. I do plan to strive toward getting more writing done this year, more editing and hopefully have news on that front more often as Castaway Hearts' release gets closer. I plan to be BLOGGING more, too.

I think one of the reasons I don't blog as much as I used to is because I got it in my head that I can only write about writing on here and I do tend to keep a lot of what's going on in my life more private than I used to, but I think I'm going to change that pattern and try to get back to posting a few times a week. My biggest following and my most active blogging was back when I just wrote to be writing about what was going on in my life, with my writing, and whatever was on my mind.

Being I'm part of the Fiction Witches I will still continue to post my Fun Friday Feature books each week, but I'm hoping to think of other things to write about a few other times a week and I'd be thrilled to have visitors to chat with, etc. It's always wonderful to know I'm talking to real people and not just myself. LOL I also need to figure out how to go about doing blog hops, interviews and guest blogging too, for promo. All in due time.

I do need to find some organization for my writing time versus daily life, as things have been skewed for weeks now since the holidays and I'm eager to find my way back to some sense of normalcy, though I've been doing a lot of thinking about what is "normal" after seeing a fellow author post this little piece of food for thought~

Why do we strive to be normal? Isn't that setting our standards a bit low?

(thank you Shanon Grey)

I think this year, I'm going to strive for EXtra- I'm going to expect excellence from myself. I'm going to make it extraordinary and shoot for being exceptional! In all the things I do, I want to go that extra mile, give that extra push and know I gave it beyond my all.

How can I fail if I expect more from myself?
If I keep a positive attitude and most of all, stop being the roadblock in my own life, what CAN'T I do?