Monday, April 30, 2012

SIFWIW - The Creep Factor

Notice: I had a human user malfunction (i.e. I deleted all my pictures off of Google and I think that it's really stupid that they all got deleted from here because now they're totally GONE) so this is more like stuff you're just reading me blab about rather than looking at anything.


Yesterday PeeWee and I braved the humid air to take a walk. He's been extremely disappointed in my exercise regime and threatened to poop in my shoes if I didn't pick up the pace. We only have a month to fit into a our skinny dress pants, after all. Okay, I only have a month to fit into my skinny dress pants. He doesn't wear pants. I'm pretty sure that Kit Kat I just ate was counter productive to fitting into the dress pants. @#$%&*!

We started down the trail, which was same old trail. No new flowers to take photos of and I was starting to worry that maybe we wouldn't find anything to take pics of. Then I saw it. A terrapin and I knew that was just the thing.

PeeWee had apparently never crossed paths with one of our little three-toed friends before. He approached with caution. His eyesight is lousy (he had a really bad eye infection in December and is a little bit blind from it). So he relies on smell to help him figure out what a lot of things are. And because he has short bronchial tubes, that requires him to be right on top of whatever he's sniffing. He made several circles around the terrapin, trying to first figure out if it was going to bite him, if it could be eaten, and then if it would play. It was good for none of these things. I got an awesome video if him trying to play with it, but I can't upload it from my phone because I don't have that kind of technology/magic.

When we walked away, he didn't really want to leave it, but I could tell it was in a hurry and didn't like our company. How rude.

We made it to the creek, mostly managed to keep my feet dry and I had just put PW down on the ground and started walking on the path when we found a snake.

The first words to leave my mouth were less than lady-like. It was: "Oh #$%& me!" But almost as soon as I saw it I recognized it for what it was. A harmless speckled kingsnake. PeeWee walked right by it without even realizing it was there (see above), but I knew it was no ordinary stick snake. I decided since I was at least 92.3234411111% sure it wasn't going to rear up and bite the crap out of me that I could get a photo. You know, a nice close one.

Yargh! Oh, I hate the way they kink their bodies up like that. It's soooooooooooooo gross. Icky, yuck, oh blarg! Okay, I briefly considered picking it up, although I've never picked up a snake willingly in my life. I got done issuing its photo shoot and moved on. Then it realized we were there and freaked out, making no bones about the fact that it was as scared of us as we (fine, I) was of it. PW never realized it was there. It practically sprang into the grass to get away from us.

I turned the PW monster loose by the spring, well aware now that there are snakes on the loose as well. He did two long runs between me and the big pine tree and it started to rain. So I figured we'd better hit it because I didn't really want to get wet. We headed back for the creek. And found this:

I've been walking at Hayes Spring CA for a year. I have never once come across a snake. So to see two in one day--CREEPY! I saw this one and though, nuh-uh, that can't be a snake. Because it was in almost exactly the same spot as the kingsnake. I prefer my ringneck snakes a little smaller than this one.

Only this morning do I learn that ringneck snakes are slightly venomous. So ignorant past me leans in to get a closer picture.

You know, so you can see the ring on his neck. I never knew they were venomous because they're actually pretty docile. We had one at my old work under a floor mat once. Boss picked it up, handled it and it never had a problem with it. I saw one on a bridge when it flooed in Galena a couple of years ago, no worries. Also, they're nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. That makes you wonder what the hell was going on when PW and I were walking! Two snakes, one day, one nocturnal. Something's not right with that picture (although I've always seen ringnecks in the daytime).

Well there you are, friends. Are you as creeped as I am? Because I've got the heebee jeebies big time.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh, My Hero! Blog Hop Featuring Abel Courte

Hey, y'all. We have a lot going on on the blog today. We have my blog hop (go on over, enter to win prizes, it'll be fantastic) and a special interview with one of my favorite heroes (oh, who am I kidding, I love all my heroes), Abel Courte. I'm going to turn the blog over to him and let him answer a few questions. Have at it, Abel.

Abel: *Stares at the keyboard, inspects the monitor, pushing the mouse around, mumbles* So, this Intersnare thing is like a 'gram machine, right? How hard can it be?

Me: Um, that's Internet. It's way different than a telegram machine. Instead of just sending and receiving messages, you can see pictures and update your Face--never mind.

Abel: *Looks up and grins* I was just testin' you, darlin'.

Me: Riiiight. Well, go to it then.

Abel: No problem. Watch this. *Black screen of death. Awkward shuffling in the background:* Ah, maybe you can type, Allison, and I'll just dictate.

Me *restarts computer* Good idea. You just stand there and look pretty. Save the heroics for the novel.

Abel: Let's don't mention this to Romy, okay?

Me: No problem. Well go on, tell everyone something about yourself.

Abel: Well, I'm the hero from The Treasure Hunter's Lady, a steampunk romance novel set in 1884. It's funny, because I'm not a treasure hunter, although denying it seems to make me look guiltier for some reason. It's life or death, I had to go looking for what everyone else calls treasure. Me, I call it a pain in the posterior. I'm a Texas boy, born and raised in San Antonio by my uncle. I hate airships, snakes, and rich people who think money makes them better than the rest of us. I love sharing the pages of the novel with my heroine, Romy Farrington, dancing with her, even if it is one of those silly waltzes society is so fond of, and my family is the most important thing in the world to me.


1. How would you describe yourself in one word?
Tenacious.

2. How would you describe your heroine?
Aha! No one specified that one word rule. Romy's a firecracker. She was born in England, but traveled all over the world with her daddy, my uncle's old friend. It's probably a good thing we didn't meet up until we did because we'd have caused all sorts of trouble. Then again, it might have prevented a misunderstanding or two . . . .


3. Do you believe in love at first sight?
Absolutely. I knew the minute I saw her red curls I was a goner. I kissed her within the first five minutes of making her acquaintance.




4. Are you a morning or a night person and why?
A night person. There's something to be said for sunrises, but when that big old moon is shining and the stars are dotting the blackness and there's a summer breeze blowing, it's just right for sitting out on the porch with your loved one and sneaking a kiss or two.


5. If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
World peace.

Me *hisses*: Abel, answer the question seriously!

Abel: What? Those beauty pageants ladies always say world peace. I saw it on your magic talking picture box. The . . . what do you call it . . . TP?


Me: TV. T-V. But these are your wishes, not Miss America's wishes.


Abel: Right. Okay, then. *mutters* But they kind of have a point about world peace. First, to always have my feet planted firmly on the ground--with the exception of if I'm riding or in bed. I hate airships, I hate air travel. Hate. It. Number two, a nice normal life where nothing strange happens. Ever. *Eyeballs his writer* And last, it would be really nice to have a happily-ever-after instead of that happily-for-now stuff you pulled, lady. Is that too much to ask? A wedding band and a nice little house with Romy at my side. Maybe you can write us into the third book in  your series and mention that little bit of glitter on her finger, huh?


Me: Um, we'll see. Thanks for coming by Abel, sorry about the discomfort I caused you and Romy during The Treasure Hunter's Lady. Just bear in mind that you're not getting it any worse than the other characters in the series. Say good-bye now.


Abel *charming smile*: You're right, I've left Romy alone too long. There's no telling what sort of mischief, uh, adventures she'll get into without me.


Happy Friday, everyone!



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Be There or Be Left Out

I wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow is TELL A STORY DAY! Yes, I just shouted at you. Shame on me. But we're going to have 19 authors telling a story of some sort or the other and you'll have the chance to win prizes and we're cumulatively giving away a $30 gift card to Amazon (or I supposed B&N can be arranged).

So make sure you come back sometime tomorrow, drop in on the authors and get your win on!

I'll also be participating in the Oh, My Hero! Blog Hop, so in this spot, you'll get to read an interview with The Treasure Hunter's Lady hero, Abel Courte. My other post will be on that tab above that says Tell A Story Blog Hop, 'kay? There is no The Friday Five tomorrow. Repeat, no The Friday Five. Tune in anyway, it'll be worth it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author Interview - Bonnie Trachtenberg

Hey all, author Bonnie Tachtenberg's release day for her book Neurotically Yours. Give her a big hand!

What’s your book about?

Neurotically Yours is the humorous story of Dara Harrison, an attractive, single, thirty-seven-year-old advice columnist in Los Angeles, who decides to open up a revolutionary dating service geared for the romantically challenged. It becomes a huge success, but when a publicity stunt backfires, it forces her to join the ranks of her lonely heart clientele, setting her simplified, under-control life on its ear.

What’s your next project?

I’ve been mulling over a story about a woman who has a near death experience that completely disrupts her life.

Describe your writing in a sentence.

I write romantic comedies that entertain readers while making them feel and think.

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?

It’s different every time. Many of the characters in Neurotically Yours named themselves, but I’ve had experiences where I run through the gamut of names to find the one that feels just right.

Plotter or panster?

I’m a plotter. I need to have at least a skeleton of my story to refer to or I feel too overwhelmed. However, once my story takes on a life of its own, I never know for sure where each scene is going to end up, and this makes writing a fun process for me.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?

When I’m procrastinating and cannot seem to get myself to sit down to write, I find that leaving the television on helps me ease into writing. I can begin by pretending I’m watching television while I “fix up” my recent work, and, inevitably, I soon get into the flow of writing. When that happens, I either mute or turn off the TV altogether. Then, I like quiet!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Moonlight on the Nantahala by Micheal Rivers and enjoying it very much.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer
it?

I’ve always wanted to be asked if I have other talents besides writing. I do. I used to act (unprofessionally) on stage and I can sing, too! But I don’t take requests. ;-)

People think I'm weird because...
I believe in spirits and the afterlife. But I just tell them “One day, up there, you’ll see I’m right, and I’ll try not to say ‘I told ya so!’”

Blurb:

Smart, attractive, and ambitious, thirty-seven-year-old Dara Harrison is, nonetheless, still single—and on sabbatical from dating. Ironically Los Angeles’ most renowned relationship advice columnist, Dara has become a Southland sensation with her “tell-it-like-it-is” approach to the mating game.

Parlaying her success into a new business, Dara launches a revolutionary dating service geared for the perennially single and romantically challenged. Its no-holds barred theme soon makes the company a roaring success, even catapulting Dara onto the national talk show scene—until, of course, it all backfires.

With her company under threat and a publicity stunt gone haywire, Dara is forced to join the ranks of her lonely heart clientele, and suddenly realizes that saving the business she cherishes, means facing her lifelong fears—and maybe even falling in love again.

Witty, poignant, and immensely engaging, this romantic comedy from the bestselling author of Wedlocked: A Novel features sparkling dialogue, colorful characters, and a story that pulls you in and never lets you go.


Buy at Amazon: http://amzn.to/HY4PyF

Buy at Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/IcWr0M


Visit Bonnie on her website and read her blog:
http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

Read her relationship advice column:
http://loveahappyending.com/editor-bonnie-trachtenberg/

Find her on Facebook:
http://www.Facebook.com/BonnieTrachtenberg
http://www.Facebook.com/Wedlocked

Follow her on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/writebrainedny

Congratulations on your release Bonnie and may it be a big success!

Monday, April 23, 2012

SIFWIW -

Great weather for walking last week. This weekend has been kind of cold, so I'm glad I got when I did. I don't feel like being real social this Monday morning. Hit me up later for some talk. But here are some things I photographed for you last week.

Red-spotted purple butterfly

Deer track

Prairie blue-eyed grass
Ugh, that Monday thing again. *headdesk*

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Friday Five - Symbolism


I had to put a lot of thought into The Friday Five this week. I hope you enjoy symbolism. When I was in high school, my English teacher made us figure out the symbolism in everything we read. Even and especially Tommy. But I'm not here to tell you about movies from the '70's (not today anyway), instead I'm going to carry on about symbolism in The Treasure Hunter's Lady.

#1) Colors - In the opening scene of The Treasure Hunter's Lady, Abel is admiring the black sky and the white stars. Black is prevalent color throughout. When Abel meets with Dr. Farrington, it's night time and they use a candle as their only source of light. The curse fang and the tattoo on Abel's arm are both black, as well as the Serpent (although its skin also reflects light of every color). Black, in most cultures symbolizes death. Romy's eyes are blue, which symbolizes confidence, loyalty, and intelligence. I often refer to Abel's eyes as 'whiskey-colored', which to my mind are a light golden brown. On his wanted poster, they're referred to as brown (he was insulted by that, just you know, but he had bigger problems to worry about than Dr. Farrington not being poetic about his eye color. Yeah, he's a little vain.). Brown, however, isn't such a bad thing. It shows a connection with the earth, stability and a wholesomeness. I'm attracted to men with brown eyes, so I agree whole-heartedly with that.

I didn't really put a lot of thought into Abel's hair. It was blondish, he was tan from being outdoors a lot, it just sort of fell into place and I think blond-haired, brown-eyed people look interesting. Romy's hair, of course, is red-gold and it was meant to convey her temper.

And the whole thing with the pink room? It just seemed like the kind of frilly nonsense that would drive Romy crazy. There was nothing special behind it.

#2) Serpents - Oh, the biggy. You've been living under a rock if you don't know about serpent symbolism. Personally, I'm not a snake fan. As long as there's a layer of glass between me and the snake, we're good. The Serpent in THL is one evil critter (somehow that word belongs on something cute and fluffy, not scaley and vindictive). It wants revenge for being humiliated and banished. You know, because it kind of screwed the tribe of people it was working for, but it felt that it wasn't given an even chance on the task they set it to. Interestingly enough, in the first version of THL, the Serpent was a deity that could be merciful if it chose to. This one is nothing but bad news and curses. The legends about the Horned Serpent say a lot of different things. Sometimes it didn't hurt people, sometimes it did. I especially like the story where the Thunderbirds destroy all the giant snake monsters.

#3) Water - One of my favorite scenes in THL is when Romy figures out what a line means from the poem she read about finding the Serpent. The line is: where silence falls. Because the waterfall was so loud, she couldn't hear anything over it. The Cherokee people believed that water was magical and had the ability to transport people to other worlds. In keeping with my Native American myths, I wanted to use that. Going back to the first version of THL again, there was a river where the Serpent supposedly lived and I just wanted to keep them traveling on a river. It all worked out.

#4)  Diamond - The item which practically everyone (with the exception of Van Buren, bless his heart) was after. Said (and proven) to be in the Serpent's forehead, this massive jewel could bring power and riches to whoever possessed it. More importantly, it could cure illnesses. It didn't really have a diamond shape, it was more a big round blob, sort of like an egg. In mythology, diamonds are believed to have healing properties, ward off evil or protect against danger.

#5) Caves - Well, come on, what do you think of when you think about caves? It makes me think of being trapped, right off the bat, but I've also been in guided cave tours (for the love of all things shiny, no, I would never go in a cave by myself!) where I saw some amazing and beautiful sights. So on one hand, yes, Romy and Abel were in a situation that there was no easy way out of, but on the other, they discovered something beautiful. By, um, being naked together.

So there you are, five bits of symbolism that I either drove in with hopes that people would recognize them for what they are or that I did unconsciously. I'll let you decide which is which. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Author Interview - Marianne Spitzer


Today we have author Marianne Spitzer sharing with us her interview and celebrating her debut release. Congratulations, Marianne!


What's your book/current WIP about?
Recently released as an e-book, Gypsy Spirits is a supernatural mystery:
Spirits? Madness? Which haunts Daniel? His teenage bride, Annamarie, must answer the question while she deals with her husband’s controlling behavior and horrific fear of spirits he believes exist in the surrounding woods near their home. During an argument, her anger erupts and she yells a few odd words at her husband, which she explains is her Gypsy curse. A bad day at work convinces him the curse is real, but after the brutal death of his best friend, his belief in the curse and his terror of the spirits escalate. Frightening events spiral out of control and Annamarie must fight for her husband’s safety, his sanity and her own.

Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?
Grief is an extraordinarily strange state of mind. At that moment, Annamarie believed grief was a thin line somewhere between insanity and hell.

What's your next project?
Finishing the sequel to “Gypsy Spirits” and editing my 2011 NaNo novel, “The Letter.”

Describe your writing in a sentence.
Mystery is my genre of choice and no matter what I start to write ends up turning into some sort of mystery either apparent or added in a subtle sub plot.

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?
Both. My main character names are always chosen and researched, but sub-characters that need a name seem to come to me from a quiet place in my mind.

Plotter or pantster?
I am most definitely a plotter. I use a rough outline, a timeline, character studies, and do research about places, events and names that would be popular in whatever time period I am lost in at the moment.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?
Quiet music always, but it changes depending on the piece I am working on. During Gypsy Spirits I had a long play list of rock and roll tunes. While I enjoy the music, I do prefer a quiet place which is why I usually write late at night.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Toby Neal’s “Blood Orchids” and the “Hunger Games” trilogy and am taking a bit of a break from reading and spending more time writing. Anyone who hasn’t read them should. The next book on my list to read is “Family Secrets” by Ruth Barrett.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
Who would I most like to collaborate with on a novel? That would be Wendy Corsi Staub, she is my favorite mystery writer. However, after reading “Blood Orchids,” adding Toby Neal to the collaboration would be exciting.

People think I'm weird because... I tend to see a story everywhere. If someone asks me to make up a story about our waitress or a person waiting in line at the store I’ll do it. My imagination tends to run wild and free which makes my friends and family wonder about me. I also have a hand held recorder that I use whenever an idea strikes me. It doesn’t matter where I am except church or the movie theater, then I leave it in my purse.

Bio:
My passion is writing. I have been writing short stories since I was in grade school. Most were in the form of essays relating real life events. Many were purely imaginary trips to magical places and times. I have self-published a book of essays, Dad and the Roses, and a book of children’s stories, Princess Brittney Stories, for my granddaughter, Brittney. Gypsy Spirits is my debut novel and the first in the series of three “spirit” books.

Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/Jg9AmA
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/INVvxS
Blog: http://mariannespitzer.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MarianneSpitzer
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marianne-Spitzer-Writer/267448986610015

Thanks for being here today and good luck with your release, Marianne!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Feature - Skater Boy by Mari Mancusi

And a very good day to y'all! Today I've got something special up my sleeve. It's a book feature from YA author, Mari Mancusi. She's making her rounds on the CBLS book tour. You all know that I love some good YA, so let's see what Skater Boy is all about:

Title: Skater Boy
Author: Mari Mancusi
Publisher: NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC
Length: 50,000 words
Sub-Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult (YA)

BLURB:
Dawn Miller is sick of being good. Her parents have scheduled her to within an inch of her life and her popular friends can only think of hooking up and shopping. She's ready for a serious boyfriend, and it's definitely not the obnoxious rich boy everyone wants her to date.

Then she meets Starr, the headmaster's punk rock daughter who refuses to play by the rules. The differences between them are night and day but Dawn is fascinated. Starr introduces her to a world she didn't even know existed: hip indy record stores, all night raves, and cute skateboarders who hang out underneath a parking deck downtown.

Skateboarders like the gorgeous Sean, who's sweet, smart, and curiously serious --everything Dawn's always wanted in a boyfriend. Soon she finds herself head over heels and doing the unthinkable, lying to her parents and friends. Deep down she knows her parents will never approve of this boy from the wrong side of town...and her secret life is finally catching up to her. Will Dawn be forced to choose between the girl she was and the girl she is meant to be? And if she chooses, will she lose her skater boy forever?

"Mancusi has scored a hit. Dawn is likeable, and any teen girl--wealthy or not--should identify with her typical problems. From boys to friends to parents, the author covers it all. She even manages to include one or two deeper messages in the form of "straight edge" teens and a "perfect" wealthy boy who turns out to be a real jerk."-- Alexandra Kay, RT Book Reviews

Excerpt:
“Hey, that’s pretty good!”

I look up with a start. I’ve been so wrapped up in my world that I hadn’t realized the new girl, the supposed Satan-worshipper who drinks snake blood, has sat down at the desk beside me and is eyeing my paper.

Up close, I realize she has several piercings to go along with her already punk-rock look—a diamond stud in her nose and a silver hoop embedded in her eyebrow. Her face is pale white, almost as if she’s powdered it, and her eyes, a striking blue, are rimmed with a ton of black.

“You read my poem?” I ask, feeling my cheeks flush. I mean, sure, I realize that if I win the poetry contest lots of people will end up reading it, but still, her peeking over my shoulder without permission seems a grave invasion of privacy. And what if she goes and tells everyone that I, Dawn Miller, friend of the Ashleys, was seen writing poetry in detention? I might as well put in my application for the loserville lunch table right now.

Then again, she said it was good. Since I’ve never shown my scribblings to anyone before, I’ve never gotten an unbiased opinion on them. I mean, sure, I like them, but obviously I’m a bit prejudiced.

“Are you just saying that?” I ask. “ ’Cause you so don’t have to.”

She shakes her head, causing her straight black hair to flip from side to side. “No way,” she says. “I never say things I don’t mean. Life’s too short.” She pauses, then adds, “I was assuming it’d be bad, actually. But I guess you can’t judge a Barbie by its cover.”

I frown. “I’m not a Barbie.” I just hang out with them. She shrugs. “Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. Honestly, I don’t care either way. But you are a good writer.”

A good writer. She thinks I’m a good writer. No one’s ever told me that before. I feel a warm pride settle over me and I decide to ignore the Barbie comment. Or at least prove her wrong.

“Thanks,” I say. “There’s this poetry contest I want to enter it in and—”

“Oh, the one in Faces?”

I stare at her in shock. “How do you—?”

“I read Faces all the time. It’s a great mag.”

Wow. She actually reads literary magazines. My friends wouldn’t be caught dead reading literary magazines. In fact, we have a saying: If it’s not Cosmo, it’s crap.

“I’m Dawn,” I say, extending a hand.

“Starr.” She shakes my hand. I notice she has on black fingernail polish that’s half flaked off.

Starr. What a cool name.

“You’re the headmaster’s daughter, right?” I ask, assuming at least that part of the Satan-worshipping, snake-eating rumor is true.

“Yeah. Got kicked out of my European boarding school and so I’m stuck in this hellhole now.”

Wow. I wonder what she did to get kicked out. It had to be something pretty bad, I’d think. What would it be like to be a bad girl? Not to care what people think of you? To break the rules and buck authority? I bet her parents don’t dare schedule her life. And if they try, she probably laughs in their faces and then goes out and gets a new tattoo, just to spite them.

“. . . and first day here, Sister Wart Nose catches me smoking in the bathroom and sentences me to detention,” Starr is explaining. “I mean, for smoking! In Europe, everyone our age smokes. Massachusetts is so puritanical. It drives me absolutely insane.”

I nod sympathetically, not sure how to respond. Of course I’m not a smoker, so I can’t relate. But suddenly, I have the undying urge to impress her somehow. Make her see I’m more than just an airhead who happens to be able to write. Which is odd, since most people at Sacred Mary’s do everything in their power to try to impress me and my crowd, not the other way around. But Starr doesn’t seem to care that I’m one of the Populars. On the contrary, that status seems a negative in her book. Which makes her seem even cooler, somehow.

“That ring rocks,” I say at last, noting the silver spider on her index finger. One thing I’ve learned from the Ashleys—when stuck for something to say, compliment their wardrobe. Works every time.

She smiles and waves her hand in the air, allowing the ring to catch the light and sparkle. Evidently even punk rock chicks aren’t immune to flattery. “Thanks. I got it at this really cool thrift store in Boston.” She pauses for a moment, as if deciding something. Then she says, “You know, I’m planning on heading there after detention, if you want to come.”

I raise my eyebrows. “You’re going to Boston? How are you going to get there? Do you have a car?”

“Nah.” She shakes her head. “I’m only fifteen. No license. But there’s a train about a block away.”

She planned to hop a train? I try to imagine what The Evil Ones would do to me if they found out I’d hopped a train to the big city. Would they kill me quickly or devise a slow, torturous death to make sure I’m really, really sorry I disobeyed?

“Come with me!” Starr says eagerly. “I know some killer used record stores.”

I shake my head. “I’m already missing gymnastics ’cause of detention. My parents will totally kick my butt if I miss my Japanese tutoring as well.”

Starr raises a pierced eyebrow. “Oh,” she says, her tone a bit colder than before. “I understand.” But she doesn’t sound like she understands. In fact, she sounds more like she thinks I’m the lamest girl on the planet.

Boring Barbie, that’s me.

It’s so not fair. I never get to do anything fun. Run off to the big city on a whim. I suddenly envy Starr and her laissez-faire attitude on life.

Envy her and want to be her.

Maybe I could call my tutor and tell him I’m sick. And then call The Evil Ones and tell them I’m going over to one of the Ashleys’ houses to work on a class project after my lesson. That should buy me at least ’til nine o’clock. Plenty of time to hit Boston and get back before they realize I’m gone.

I feel a strange thrill well up deep inside. You know what? I’m going to do it.

For once, I’m going to be a bad girl.

“Maybe I will go to Boston with you,” I say, trying to keep my voice casual as my excitement takes hold. “Sounds like fun.”

BUY LINKS:
Also available on iBooks

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Two time Emmy award winner Mari Mancusi used to wish she could be a vampire back in high school. But she ended up in another bloodsucking profession--journalism--instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens, including the award winning Blood Coven Vampire series published by Penguin Books. When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching cheesy horror movie and her favorite guilty pleasure--videogames. A graduate of Boston University, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob, daughter Avalon and dog Mesquite. You can find her online at www.marimancusi.com.


And don't forget to check out Mari's other blog stops! You can find them here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Friday Five - I'm Such A Slacker

Five reasons I forgot to write The Friday Five this week until about half an hour ago.

#1) The. Stupid. Print. Book - First and foremost in my mind, this print edition of The Treasure Hunter's Lady. Most of my spare time goes into making it look presentable. Today, I'm looking at the .pdf proof version and I think, holy cow, that thing looks awesome! Then the fine proofing people at Createspace tell me: Hey, dummy, your even page numbers are one THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BOOK. Insert lots of swearing here. Great. Something else to correct.

#2) Organizing the ORA writing contest - Trying to make sure I get all the questions answered, figure out how many entries I have for each category. If you haven't entered, what are you waiting for? The deadline is May 1st, but you'd better get a move on. Go here to enter. We want entries for each category, but we really need more in YA and para/sci-fi.

#3) I was busy reading The Hunger Games - We went and saw the movie last weekend. It was good. I was motion sick within the first two minutes, but I enjoyed the story. So I started reading the series. At first I was a little bored, but as soon as the games started, I was riveted. Having once been a teenager, I understand all the turmoil Katniss feels when she thinks about the way she handled things at the end of the first book.

#4) Working on a new WIP - Yes, that's right, I have gotten some writing in this week. About 2,000 words, which is kind of low. I'm working on The Turncoat's Temptress, which is just to distract me from all the editing on The Sky Pirate's Wife. I'm not really in the mood to edit. Publication is looking farther into the future every day. Hmmm....

#5) Editing The Sky Pirate's Wife - In spite of the distraction of working on TcT (I call it that because I have another, older WIP that I called TT so as not to confuse the pair, I slapped a little c in there for the new one), I have done a little editing on SPW. It takes me forever to read while I'm editing, so it takes about a week, or if I'm really distracted, two weeks to get through the whole thing. Yeah, uh, I kind of have a lot of my plate with working on the print version of THL.

That's why I forgot to do TFF. Please forgive me. Now I owe you two TFFs that are super awesome. I'll work on that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Author Interview - Janice Grove

Hey y'all! Welcome Janice Grove to the blog on this lovely Wednesday morning!

What's your book/current WIP about? 
Oh, well I actually have a couple of WIP. One is the 3rd book in my Zeppelin series where we see the Remington family finally back home and getting settled, only to find that not everything that targets their newly formed family is supernatural. I have started a werewolf story that honestly even I have no actual idea where it’s going, although it seems to want to be a romance of sorts. And I have a futuristic steampunk genre story that has a bit of paranormal/mad scientist/militaristic/family dynamic stuff going on. Why yes, it is a bit crowded in my head, thank you!

Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story? 
One that really stands out is when David hits a boy for calling Micah retarded, and a girl tells him that he did the right thing. David looks at her and says, “I know, he’s my brother.” It just shows that family bonds don’t have to be long in the making to be strong ones.

What's your next project? 
Well, I’m so very thrilled with the creation of my own publishing company, Imzadi Publishing! Although I’m still putting everything together, I can’t wait to bring on new authors who want more of a one-on-one experience, instead of worrying about getting lost in the shuffle of some of the other publishing houses. 

Describe your writing in a sentence. 
Oh that’s easy… fly by the seat of my pants! Seriously, I’m usually just as surprised as anyone else about how the stories go. I’m just the vessel, the characters are the ones who write what they want said. 

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears? 
Well, you know I think it’s a mixture of both. I can name some, but if a character is adamant about what their name actually is, then I have to listen. In fact I had to wrestle with one recently because I could have sworn he said his name was Dorian and I just could not figure out how that fit who he is. It took a bit of coaxing, begging and pleading, but he finally made it clear what his name really is.

Plotter or panster? 
LOL definitely pantser! If I write out a whole plot, then I get tangled up. However, when I have a general idea of what I want in the story, it usually flows easily.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write? 
Music is a huge plus! I’ve found that I haven’t done as much writing since my computer ate my tunes.

What are you currently reading? 
Well, currently I have Trinity Bound by Carrie Ann Ryan half read, I’ve also started on John Grisham’s latest one, Calico Joe. However, I’m really looking forward to reading The Sail Weaver by Muffy Morrigan (it’s already loaded and ready to go on my tablet).

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it? You know, I can’t think of anything. It’s always a thrill for me to be interviewed, so I wouldn’t presume to answer something that wasn’t asked!

People think I'm weird because... well, because I’m weird! I seem to always have a scene or dialogue running through my head so I’m often either mumbling, talking, laughing or crying to myself. I’ve even had hand gestures going on, to help me work out a scene, while driving (that’s enough to freak out the kids, let me tell you!).

Author bio:
Janice Grove lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, children and grandchildren. Her first book, The Rain Song, was published in 2010 and was quickly followed by Going to California in 2011, both released by Comfort Publishing. She likes to unwind from the family’s small business by immersing herself in her own creations, reading anything that crosses her path and listening to different arrays of music from Alice in Chains to Led Zeppelin and Mozart to U2.

You can find her online at:

Thanks for coming by, Janice!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Newest Giant PIA Project

"Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was." - Richard L. Evans

If you read my posts or follow me on Facebook (my personal one, not my fanpage--although I don't typically tell people about the personal one, you can still friend me if you want), you're aware that I'm converting The Treasure Hunter's Lady from e-book to print.

I accused formatting for epublication of being the biggest pain in my butt of all time. Until I met the template for print at Createspace. It's maddening, the trying to figure out how to make the text span the pages evenly, getting the gutters right, working with the headers. None of that is important in epublication. Only getting page breaks and well, tons of things that have been booted out of my brain due to print formatting. I've no recollection of how I formatted THL, so now when I go to do SPW, I'll have to relearn everything. Actually, a quick run through of the presentation I did for ORA will probably suffice.

On top of trying to work all those problems out, I kept getting an error message on the CS interior reviewer when I uploaded a 6" X 9" copy. Come to find out, there's some issue with the interior reviewer and all my margins are set specifically where the recommendations are. Nice. So while this has numerous red marks and symbols, there's actually nothing wrong with it. Way to make my blood pressure spike for the fun of it, Createspace creators. 

I think it's quite nice. I even copied and pasted the unedited draft of The Sky Pirate's Wife into a template of this and it came out good as well. So now I feel really clever, although twice as crazy as before. The past week has had me asking why I insist on torturing myself over and over. Because this isn't a one-off deal. It's THL, it's SPW, it's The Turncoat's Temptress and everything after that. On and on and on. Not only am I doing it now, I'll be doing it again sometime in the nearish future. 

Someday I'll be rich enough to make some peon do this for me. Or I'll end up like the Mad Hatter, mumbling about ravens and writing desks, talking weird languages to goggle-eyed rabbits and cramming people into tea pots for the hell of it while staging some kind of uprising.

I know a kindred soul when I see one. Mad Hatter was affected by the mercury in the glue and I share a similar plight, only with the placement of headers in a book. I have half a mind to write to Word 2010 and tell them that making headers for print format is ridiculously difficult, shame on them! Of course, they tend to ignore my letters.

While I'm weeping with relief over getting the formatting finished, I'm stuck with the horror of redesigning my cover to include a spine and a back. 

I need a drink.

Monday, April 9, 2012

SIFWIW - The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is one of my favorite children's books. I remember my aunt giving me a copy when I was young. She told me I could only read a chapter a day so I could extend it over my vacation. I hated that chapter a day rule. My mom pulled that with me on the book Bingo too.

There's something about walking out in the conservation areas during this time of year, when there are wild flowers, budding trees and carpets of green grass that go on and on. I've been spending time at Hayes Spring because it's a shorter walk and I'm building up to those longer ones after a long winter off. I've started walking earlier this year than last because now I understand the benefits of it.

As a refresher, the trail is a linear half mile, so you pull a whole mile if you go back to the parking lot. Which is probably a good idea if you want to go home and since they don't allow camping. Part of it is wooded, the other part open field that looks like a place where Predator might jump out of the tall grass and eat you. The grass isn't that tall right now, but give it a couple of weeks.

So imagine my surprise and delight when at the end of the trail, I stumbled into this magical garden full of flowers and blossoming trees. It's well hidden, tucked away from the real world just enough for me to wonder if I'd been sucked into another time and place. There's no sign dedicating the hard work to anyone, nothing saying who spent the time to plant a beautiful pink dogwood, the creeping phlox or brilliant magenta azaleas.

I couldn't resist crossing the rock dam in front of the bat cave to investigate further although I was terrified I'd stumble into a snake den, but when summer comes, the weeds will be so high there won't be a chance to cross the dam. There are viney plants that bear orange flowers in late summer.

This is a set of wooden stairs someone built, presumably to get to the levels that separate the dogwoods from the other rows of rows. I climbed up them a little way, mindful of the debris layering them.


The stairs don't really lead anywhere, so I forced PeeWee up on one of the rock walls with a backdrop of phlox.
The place itself is something magical when it's just a spring running out of bluff in a hillside, but when it comes to life with unexpected flowers, it's breath-taking. A place where man-made beauty and natural wilderness collide. There are ferns growing on the side of rocks and burr bushes growing out of black landscape tubs. It's wild, care-free and set back from the world, but it was once a place where maybe people picnicked and came for a cool, shady spot on a warm summer day.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Party Like It's Your Birthday

A great big Happy Birthday to paranormal romance author Carrie Ann Ryan! We're here today and tomorrow celebrating in her honor. And I'm also going to tell you about my favorite birthday memory. Plus, I'm giving away this cool pair of earrings and when you comment, you get a entered for a chance to win either a Kindle Touch or a $60 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Sweet!

Cue wavy lines and piano music: Way back in the summer of 1996 I was a horse-crazy teenager. Funny, because when I was little I was afraid of horses. But I always liked animals and somehow the magic wheel of love landed on horses. I wanted one so bad. Maybe because we leased property from our neighbor and his daughter had this ancient nag they called Frisbee and we called Old Gray. A gentler horse has never graced the earth. I wallered all over that mare with a saddle and without. But she was ancient and it took way too much energy to get her to trot. So I begged for a horse of my own. And I just knew for 8th grade graduation I was getting horse because my paternal grandma had given me enough money to buy a saddle.

Yes, I was supposed to have gotten one. But the guy apparently got a better offer. The summer started with me horseless. No matter, because we always spent two weeks at the lake in May and I wouldn't have been home to ride anyway. June rolled around, I was still horseless, but my trusty cowboy hat and lace-up boots went everywhere with me. Enter my birthday. No horse in sight. As a special treat my mom and maternal grandma were taking me on the Showboat Branson Belle, a paddle wheeler that cruises along scenic Table Rock Lake. At the time, they had a Vaudeville-style show and lunch or dinner. We got up early to go down to my grandma's house (she used to live right down the hill from us). My dad was already up and down there, mowing her lawn. My mom is the type of person who is always late, but that day it seemed like everyone was taking forever (you know how teenagers are) to get ready.

Along comes a guy on a pinto horse. Lucky, I thought. It was a beautiful morning for a ride. I was sitting on the deck, waiting for Mom and my grandma to hurry up when the horse pulled into the driveway. I mean, technically they don't pull in like a car, but you get what I mean. My dad was off the lawn mower by then. The guy, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, asked if he could have a drink of water. Bizarre, right? My dad instructed me to go inside and get it. Inside, Mom and Grandma were asking what I was doing. I explained. We all headed back outside. The guy asked if we knew anyone looking to buy a horse. I looked to my dad. He had his wallet in hand. "I don't know how much I have in my wallet."

Me, dumb as a box of rocks, immediately doubted there was enough money in his wallet to cover the price of a horse. Imagine my surprise when he started handing me $100 bills. Especially when there were enough hundreds to pay for the horse. Like a little girl, I started blubbering. We have this on video. It's another one of those I'd like to burn because it's not flattering in any way, shape, or form. And my dad asked why I was crying. Well, it's really because I am a cry baby, but it was a total surprise.

Her name was Jill and she was a bay and white foxtrotter who was 100% left-handed and couldn't turn a sharp right to save her life, but she was a great trail horse. Although she did kind of have an attitude. By the way, we did go to the Branson Belle after that. That wasn't just a ploy to get me down to my grandma's. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day. I rode Jill for about two years before Mom and Dad bought me a quarter horse named Tuff, but that's a whole other story.

So, now that you're bored out of your mind by my rambling story, I'm offering you a chance to win a pair of very summery earrings. Think of how stunningly spectacular these dangle earrings will look, swaying in a summer breeze as you toss your head like a model at a photo shoot. Leave a comment and preferably a way to get a hold of you when the hop is over. Be sure to comment if you want to win a chance at that Kindle Touch and the gift card too.

Oh! Also, I'm host a blog hop on April 27-29th, so if you're an author or blog host and you wan to participate, you can find out more here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tomorrow We're Hopping

I don't have an author interview today. But I do want to tell you about the blog hop I'm participating in starting tomorrow. Because there are fantastic prizes to be won. Here we go:


April 6th is Carrie Ann Ryan's birthday. To celebrate, around 60 of authors and bloggers are hosting a hop for two days!

Each author is going to talk about their favorite birthdays or why they love (or hate) them.
What does that mean for you as a reader?

Each participant is giving away a prize at their blog. And we're giving away TWO grand prizes.
1) A Kindle Touch

2) A $60 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card

You can comment on each blog and enter to win! So on April 5th the hop begins and you have until 11:59PM on the 6th to participate!



So what am I giving away? Oh, it's nothing lame like one of my books. I found these awesome earrings online and I want to give you a pair. Ta-da! They're made out of red shells and are perfect for summer. So don't forget to drop by tomorrow and/or Friday, leave a comment and enter to win because you might end up with something even more spectacular than earrings.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tharn

I don't have any Stuff I Find While I'm Walking photos today. It isn't that I didn't walk. Oh, I walked a lot. On Saturday I went shopping with my mom. She bought me adorable new tan snub-nosed flats. I'm wearing them for the first time today. I didn't put mole skin in the backs, so I may end up miserable by the end of the day.

Then yesterday my husband and I went to the Branson Landing and I bought this really cute headband with feathers on it. Only to discover that *ahem* my roots are showing quite badly (I already knew that) but the feathers on the headband are dark brown and not easy to see against my roots. Then I went and forgot to buy hair color and makeup. So for the first time in over a year, I'm wearing liquid foundation today. Weird.

Sorry, this blog is not about fashion or what I slather on my face to get rid of dark circles (which failed, btw) and my hair color (which is not really blonde).

It is, however, a blog about making like a kitty cat and covering stuff up so you don't have to deal with it. There are many choices in the road we take through life. Which sounds cliche and trite, but it's true. And it's easy to get lost when you're not paying attention. Or maybe it's easier to get lost when you think everything is suddenly going your way. You ignore all the signs that would point you in the right direction.

Oh dear. This can't possibly end well.
I don't know if the entire world is aware of the meaning of the word "tharn". It's a made up word used in the novel Watership Down. When the rabbits are caught in the road in the glare of headlights, they freeze and they called it being tharn or unable to move. Most days I feel like one of those terror-stricken, tunnel-burrowing rodents. I'm sort of fumbling my way through life with no real plan because the ones I make tend to back fire and generally just screw me over. So when I think about doing anything other than what I've already been doing or what I'd planned to do, I tend to put myself in that place where I really get stressed out and then I feel like the whole world is coming down around me and there's too much on my plate and I'm ready to throw the whole thing in the trash because I'm the kind of person who never follows through with anything and when I get in over my head it's easier to just cut and run. Allow me to complain further. 

I never intended to see The Treasure Hunter's Lady in print. But I'm at a point where I'm wondering whether to use Createspace to publish it. I've been playing with the template for it and it's crazy-long in that format. It's also not terribly well done because there are some weird formatting issues that I have no idea how to fix. At this juncture, I have no clue about the formatting and even less clue about the cover. If I hired someone to fix these things, I'm sure I could have print on demand copies of the book ready to go in a matter of weeks. Better still, I could have copies to sell the day of the conference in June. You know, instead of floundering around like a dumbass, trying to figure out how to get people to buy the ebook.

I found my comfort zone in the ebook niche. I like it there. I understand it. The eHow article I read about how to format a print book for Createspace was vague and unhelpful, as eHow articles often are. So I had a few pages in my semi-formatted document that were vile and wicked and looked utterly ridiculous. I figured out how to change that. Then I'm all, gee, I hate that font. So I changed it and I don't even know if you're allowed to do that. The instructions over there are nonspecific as to what I can and can't do. Gee, thanks. If I wanted to bumble around in the dark like I always do, I'd just . . . keep doing what I'm doing. Like, I don't need a table of contents, okay? It's a romance book. I mean it just isn't done like that in the world I know.

On top of that, the manufacturing cost is bothering me. Okay, I want to make money selling books, yes. I won't lie. I want your hard-earned cash and I'm not ashamed to take it because, dammit, I worked hard to put everything I've learned together. But I also don't want to break the bank. Your bank. You deserve a fair price, but if the manufacturing cost is going to be ridiculously high, then it's not worth it to me to even offer it as a print book.

Another thing is: If I'm involved in this, then it's going to cut into the time I have to edit/revise and format The Sky Pirate's Wife. I feel like I really slacked off in writing it during NaNoWriMo, didn't give it the attention it deserved then and I'm sort of doing the same thing now. If only I didn't need to sleep. Maybe if I could take a couple of weeks off and work on this stuff non-stop. You know, the funny thing is, I always wanted to become a workaholic, just never at any of the jobs I did. I also know about being burnt out and I'm deathly terrified of doing that to myself.

I've been thinking about this stuff for a couple of weeks now, rolling it around in my head, weighing my options because once something is done, it can never be undone and I don't want to make a bad decisions. Therein, my troubles amount to: When am I going to make a decision? Damned if I know.

Oh, no. There can never be one easy path to take. They have to have twists and turns and confuse the pathtaker because easy paths--pfft, where's the fun in that? Life: guaranteed to make you wonder what would happen if you went one way instead of another.