Friday, November 29, 2013

You Can Pop That Champagne Now

The Friday Five has been usurped by good news. Get your champagne glasses ready. Actually, I have a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider because I don't like champagne, although I dream of the day I become wealthy and can shake the bottle, spewing frothy golden alcohol everywhere just because. Probably this can be done with Martinelli's, but I'm not going to try, because there's no one to clean it up but me. Like my husband would do it. Ha. Anyway, drink up. We have lots to celebrate.

I finished NaNoWriMo at 50,035. I realize I posted on FB that it was 50,010, but the word counter and the validater on the NaNo site disagreed. Who cares, that's most of the book done. Editing is going to be painful, but I have to get through another 10-15k first.

 I found out Wednesday morning that I've been selected to sign at the Kimberling Area Library in Kimberling City, Mo on February 1, 2014. I had to fill out an application to see if they would pick me because they had a lot of authors interested and little space. I was nervous because application! How exciting, because The Convict and the Cattleman will have been out just about a month by that time. I said I'd speak if they wanted, but I just cleared that fence; they have other writers with more interesting topics than me. Whew!

This is the big one:
If you follow along on Facebook, you might remember that I shared a graphic from Breathless Press about their NaNo critique. I'd chugged along on Wildwood Spring for a while with mondo help from my good buddy, D'Ann Lindun (I heart D'Ann) encouraging me along on it. I was pretty dead set to self-pub Wildwood after it didn't go anywhere in SYTYCW because I only have plans to do one so far next year (yeah, I'm behind. Sue me.) I thought, well, I'll send it BP's way, see what their editor thinks and maybe something good will happen.

Something good happened.

I was asked for the full and fast-tracked to an editor. Yay! So I re-read it the week after and on Brave Thursday (I reserve submissions for Thursdays, I don't know why, but I've always liked Thursdays--maybe it's because Thor is hot?) I sent the MS.

I'm waiting for a couple of things in my e-mail. Galleys for The Wrong Brother's Bride, a cover too, and word on The Heckmasters: Wystan. Waiting has become my pastime. That's cool, because when I get things I'm waiting for, usually they're good. So I decide not to concern myself with the submission to BP because on their website it says 6-8 weeks. Time's gonna pass and I'm trying to wrangle Eban and Beryl into place.

Tuesday, I get an unexpected email. It says: Subject: Wildwood Spring

My heart figuratively falls to the floor. My first thought was oh, no. A mere five days had passed since I sent the MS. In the world of publishing, many of us know that short response times can often be not so fun. I stared at the subject, flipped to a different internet tab. Flipped back. It's not like I couldn't open it, I mean it was there, looking at me! I drew in a deep breath and clicked the email.

Out of habit, I never read the first line, because I assume it's not going to be good. Lots of agent rejections have taught me this. So starting in the middle of the paragraph can be confusing, but I'm pretty sure I made this face:

I think I'm getting
better at drawing,
don't you? I had
to add teeth because
it looked like my
mouth was a
mustache. :{
 It wasn't a rejection, it was an acceptance! I still get that crazy giddy feeling when I get one. Like the world is looking at me through a telescope and this is the only thing happening right now and it's amazing! The editor liked it. My weird gothic romance! I mean, it has a serious dollop of weird in it, but that's what makes it special and unique, right?

I immediately fumbled for my phone and tried to type a text message to my mom, but I don't text often and my brain was rapidly pinging around and couldn't remember how to do it. When I did figure it out, my hands were shaking so hard, I could barely hit the buttons. She texted me back, telling me that she told me it was good!

Then I looked like this:
Hmm, no. Turns out I'm NOT getting better.
Murderous was not look I was going for here.
And I have no idea why this image is darker.
I didn't suddenly develop a tan and a skin tag.
I give up.

Maybe this is better:
Yeah, that's...uh, no.
I think it's pretty obvious that I can barely contain my excitement. Even though I'm digging through the pre-edit guide and it's totally the opposite of everything I do now, so my MS looks way messed up based on Breathess's guidelines. Ah, well. As they say, keeps you out of the bars and gutters...or something.

Happy Black Friday (I'm not here today, but I'll see you kids Monday)! Go eat some pie!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peaks and Plateaus

Today's post is brought to you by the letter D for get it Done!

So Monday night I was valiantly typing away and it hits me that I'm so close to my NaNoWriMo goal. The first time in two years like I mentioned in the last post. I didn't play ball last year, instead choosing to save the book I'd been working on for Jano after stupidly deleting 70k, but it's okay, because I kind of hated it. The year before, I was working on The Sky Pirate's Wife, which was also a second draft after the first one just didn't fly. I didn't meet the 50k goal, coming up short in the 40ks, I think. 2011 was kind of a rough year, so it didn't hit the priority beacon.

Remember, I lost my flash drive containing the opening of The Heckmasters: Eban, back in early October. I was only 1200 words in at the time. The beginning came to me as I was finishing Wystan, although I knew I didn't want to start it immediately after Wystan was done. I needed a little space (sure, because I started Wildwood Spring a couple weeks after that). Even when I pitched Wystan, I had to mention I only had the first thousand or so words done on the second book. At the time, it felt like another 60k+ was a dream.

It always starts that way. I'll sit there, looking at maybe the first 1,000 or 5,000 or even 10,000 words and think, how will I ever get a complete novel out of this? I usually strive for 1,000 words a day if I'm not doing a book-in-a-month event. Sometimes those words are painstaking and sometimes they flow really well, but I feel good once they're down.

To be honest, I didn't think Eban was going to go very well. I was excited about starting it, even at 4 and 5k in, but then I lost interest around day 6 and I was pretty sure I was going to fail. I did two or three days of no writing (they sucked) and then I couldn't take it anymore, so I crawled back to my MS and started in again. I've been up and then way down in word count this month. There are lots of peaks and plateaus, friends.
Like this. With stairs and everything. Photo by: Eva Schuster

Word by sometimes terrible word filled blank pages with zero help from the magic writing fairies. Usually at the halfway point, I go back and reread everything to make sure it's flowing. Nope. Not this time. I only have the vaguest idea what Eban is about, but it'll have to do until the end comes. My subconscious is amazing at pulling scenes together, although sometimes it gets dates messed up. I hope there's something salvageable in this MS. I have the feeling the first three or four chapters are eaten up with back story.

God willing and the electricity doesn't fail, I'll be able to put this one to bed in the next couple of weeks. The black moments are kind of sneaking up on me and I'm a little surprised to find myself so close to the end.

Also, tomorrow is Turkey Day here in the US. Have a good one, even if it's just a regular Thursday.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't Pop the Champagne Yet, But...

There are five days left in the month and I think it's fair to say I'm going to win NaNoWriMo for the first time in two years. I'm sitting pretty at 45k this morning, ahead of schedule by two days. I think I've got this mother. Assuming the characters don't give up, of course.

I wrote devilishly (it's a pun, because the hero is a half-demon and there are lots of other demons in the book, see?) fast over the weekend to get ahead. I successfully navigated the waters of 50k for the entire manuscript, which I started in October. I might have gone farther, but I was watching football yesterday and it was very distracting. And disappointing, because the stupid team with a good record lost. They lost to a team that's not even that great. I hope they're all being flogged this morning. There's a reason I'm not a football coach. I mean, it's mostly because I'm not athletic and I don't even know the reasons for most of the plays in football, but also it's because I'd yell at the players a lot and make them feel bad about themselves, because that's how my generation grew up, goldarnit. You got yelled at instead of getting a ribbon of participation.

Um, anyway. Got line edits for The Wrong Brother's Bride. I had them done in about five minutes because they were nice and light. We'll be going to the galley next, which means I can start thinking about excerpts. On FB, I said, "Damn, I'm good" because they were so light, but I obviously have to thank my content editor and Anna the Talking Robot for catching my dumb human errors. Damn, we're good as a team.

Okay, off to do other things and complain about football. Stupid football. They're not getting any of the imaginary champagne I'm opening for NaNo.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Friday Five - Things Going On Right This Second

I gotta make this quick, kids, because I'm up to my eyebrows in work. Five things going on now:

1) This:
 Available at Amazon for your reading pleasure! The ebook is available for pre-order at Kobo and iTunes right now, but will become availble at all your favorite e-book stores January 6, 2013.

2) This:




Ahh, crap. I'm still behind. Keeping up with the word count is not as easy as I would have hoped. This book is killing me.

3) This:













It's higher than than now, thanks to last night's massive addition of slightly over 3500 words to almost catch up to NaNo. God, my elbow is sore.

4) This:









5) And finally, this:
With his empty, souless eyes. Um, that was
unintentionally creepy. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11/19/2013

“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are evil.”
-J. R.R. Tolkien

You should know that I wrote a different letter to you this year. It was dark and angry. I couldn't figure out what I wanted to say and a bunch of bad stuff came out. It didn't seem fitting for a birthday letter, so I'm trying again.

Over the weekend, I read a paper I wrote for college about my first job, which reminded me of the time you took me on the roller coaster ride, Fire in the Hole. I was disappointed because me and my cousin always wanted to ride together, but we were too short to ride without an adult sitting beside us. I had you.

If I'd ever ridden it before, I couldn't remember then and can't now. I was scared. It was indoors, dark inside, and someone said there were men wearing masks. You know how scared I was of masks (I still am a little bit). You held my hand and told me there wasn't anything to be afraid of, it was all fake and you were right there. So when it was our turn to get on the ride, I just got into the seat and waited.

It was dark and there were creepy coyote calls and owls hooting, but I just sat as close to you as I could get and watched as the train carried us deeper into the ride. I can now tell you that Area 2 is where I have my strongest memory. Red Flanders is hanging out of a burning building in his red flannel underwear, telling his wife he can't put his pants on because:

Sadie: Red Flanders, you get back in here and put on some pants!
Red: Sadie, I ain't got no pants no more, the dang Baldknobbers stole 'em!
Sadie: Stole 'em? What in the  Sam Hill would they want with your pants?
Red: Probably for the gold in the pockets.

We laughed at what was practically a man's butt hanging out of a window, because butt jokes are awesome when you're a little kid. Okay, maybe they're still awesome when you're an adult.

The gunfire and darkness and the flaming bridge that looks like it's falling in on you worried me, but you held on and by the time we reached the big splash of water at the end, I wasn't scared anymore.

That's why I liked the idea of working on that ride when I applied there. It reminded me of you. Every walk-through I did in the early mornings, every ride-through reminded me of us laughing at Red.

You always did that. Somehow you took the fear out of things and figured out how to make me laugh. God, even before your viewing, when we watched the video they made using pictures of you, there was the one of you as a little kid with your cowlick standing straight up as usual, and I couldn't help it. It was a wet laugh, that's true, kind of like how this letter would be pretty soggy right now if it wasn't on a computer, but you did it again.

I'm left to my imagination about whether that cowlick would still exist, because you had a pretty good bald spot going on. Sadly, my imagination is lacking a lot and my jaw hurts from clenching it when I try to imagine your hair turning completely silver. It's hard to believe it's been over 10 years since I said 'Happy birthday' to you. Still hard to believe time keeps rushing forward and all I have left are photographs, memories and tears that never seem to dry up completely.

Happy birthday, Daddy. I miss you.
Robert L. Cox
11/19/53-11/15/03

Great-grandma Becky and Dad when he was a baby.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Please, Laugh at My Expense

I want to share something awful with you guys today. Don't worry, it's not a disease. It's a really awful novella I wrote when I was a teenager. You see how much I love you? I give you bad teenager writing I scrounged out of closet. It's a little long, but totally worth it, I promise.

Here's the run-down. It's the second in a trilogy I planned about three brothers (gee, I must have a thing for brothers). The first novella is missing, so I'm grasping at straws here, but apparently there was a war and the brothers were heroes. Their names are Stylus (I guarantee I did not know what a stylus was in, let's say 1996), Thyne, and Tristan (shut up, those don't sound anything like Wystan, Eban, and Tell...okay, maybe a little). Sty's wife either died before the war, or during it, or...something. One of them had a horse, I remember there being a painting of it on the wall. They all live together because their houses were destroyed in the war, or something. They're from Texas because I was a little bit obsessed with that state when I was in HS after my parents talked about vacationing there and then it never happened. Here's the crap-tastic blurb. Please enjoy Death Trap II: Invasion at my expense. My current thoughts are in red and parentheses.

The 23rd century, the year is 2225, two years since the death of Drake Night (insert groan here) and the army, Dark Knights ('kay, I was really into the Dark Knight show on Sy-Fy. Shut up). Things had been pretty normal for the Hope brothers (another groan. Really? Hope? C'mon). Until a week after the two year anniversary of Drake Night's death (repetitive much?). Then, a superior race of superhumans, who called themselves the Droins (rhymes with groins, teehee—actually, I think I tried to pass that off as Droy-ans), wants to take over the earth. Thyne, Sty, and Tristan know they must stop the Droins (wait for their reaction in the story...it's brilliant!). But perhaps the Droins will be unstoppable...

Part 1: The Invasion
Thyne Hope groaned. The sun poured into his eyes. He put the sheet over his head, but it was useless. He sighed and got up from his bed. He dug out a clean t-shirt (good to know they're still wearing t-shirts in the future) and a pair of jeans. His socks were dirty, but he left them on. He picked up his boots. I need a new pair of boots, he thought as he looked at the worn soles. He'd had them for three or four years (presumably when the war started. IDK). He put them on anyway. He went to the bathroom (realism, people! Sometimes you gotta pee) that was next to his room. He looked at himself in the mirror. He ran his comb through his hair. His blue eyes shined (*headdesk*). Up the hall he heard Sty going outside to get the morning paper. He didn't hear Tristan yet. He knew Tristan wouldn't be up for a while yet. Not until nine at least. He looked a this watch and saw it was 8:30. He'd slept late. In reality, he hated his job. He worked on computers (doing what?). Sty was a TV anchorman (why is he home at 8:30 in the morning?). Tristan, who very rarely ever left the house, was a journalist. (Apparently he does a lot of phone interviews?)

Thyne worked his way into the kitchen where Sty sat at the table reading the paper like he did every morning.
“You're up late,” Sty said. He didn't look up from the paper.
“Yeah, I know. I had to stay up late last night fixing another stupid computer.” (My own hatred of electronics comes through in this story, doesn't it?)
“Hmm. Well, perhaps you'd like to read this article in the newspaper about Drake Night,” Sty said.
Thyne looked up with interest. “Oh yeah, let me see.”
Sty handed him the article. Thyne read through it and began to laugh.
“'Thanks to our beloved, yet unknown heroes, and may they reveal themselves soon.'” (Must be an opinion piece.)
“Yeah, that's sappy, isn't it?” Sty asked.
“You bet. Not once did I ever consider myself a hero. Reckon if Cole's (IDK who Cole is. Sorry) paper says anything like this in it?” Thyne said. He shook his head at the article. He didn't mentionto Sty that last night he'd had another nightmare about Drake Night. Or, maybe Sty already knew, because Thyne vaguely remembered someone talking to him. But he hadn't been listening. Or not very closely anyway.
“What's for breakfast?” Thyne asked.
“Whatever you want to fix,” Sty said. (Ha! Classic Sty!) Then they heard familiar footsteps in the hallway.
“There's Tristan,” Sty said. (How's that for originality?)
“Yup (shut up, Tell says yep, not yup). Say, what were your plans for today?”
“Not a whole lot. Actually, we need some groceries and I'd like to go into town. Why? What are your plans?”
“I need new boots. I thought I would go find a new pair, if I can find some I like” Thyne said.
(Bear with me, it gets better. Um...better might be subjective...just hang in there.)
“A trip to town then,” Sty said.
Tristan came in and sat between Sty and Thyne. He looked tired. (All that journalizing must be exhausting.)
“Tired?” Sty asked.
“Well, between my article (that I never leave the house to get quotes for) and Thyne's yelling and tossing, I didn't get much sleep,” he said.
“Thyne, did you have another nightmare?” Sty asked. (No, I thought yelling and tossing would be a good nighttime activity!)
“Yes. He did,” Tristan said before Thyne could open hismouth.
“Yes. I did,” Thyne muttered. He didn't want to talk about it, plus this wasn't the first time he'd had nightmares like this. After he'd come home from the war, they'd been bad too.
“Maybe you need some--”
“No. Don't even go there (retro saying alert!). I don't need help. I'll get over it eventually,” Thyne said.
Sty looked doubtful.
“What are you doing today, Tris?” Sty asked.
“I don't know.”
“Want to come with us? We're going to town,” Thyne said.
Tristan shook his head. He hated going anywhere because of his face and he limped. Three scars marred his face. One over the bridge of his nose, one on his chin, and one down his face (his nose and chin must not be on his face). And he limped because of his knee (I think he broke it or something, but I can't remember). Tristan wasn't bitter about the way he looked, but was very self-conscious (he's probably vain because he used to be hot). Thyne had a two-inch cut under his eye, but he didn't care. And Sty had one above his eyebrow, but he didn't care either (nor do I care about this paragraph).
“No. I'm staying here,” Tristan said.
“Tris, live a little (because going to town to buy new boots is the most exciting thing these three have done in two years). A few scars shouldn't stop you,” Thyne said. He fingered his own scar.
“Well. They do,” Tristan said. He crossed his arms.
Thyne sighed. “We can't make you if you don't want to.”
“Darn right (I wasn't allow to write swear words in my teenage years. House rules).” Tristan snapped.
Sty sighed and stood up from his chair.
“Let's go Thyne,” he said.
Thyne shook his head. Tristan had always been kind of whiny, but after the explosion, he'd changed a lot (this MS needs to be part of an explosion. SMH).

Six days later, Sty was reading the morning paper (instead of going to work again) when he spotted an article about one of the colonies on the moon. About how they had been taken over by men who were blue. Sty laughed hard about that (I'm seriously wondering if these guys have a substance abuse problem) and pointed it out to his brothers who also thought it was funny. But there seemed to be a bit of truth to it. Why else would it be in the paper? (Yes, Tristan, tell us, why else is it in the paper? You don't actually do anything, do you?)

The next day, the three of them were watching TV when the program was interrupted by a man who was blue (gasp!).
“What in the world?” Sty said.
“We are a superior race called the Droins. We have come to your planet to take over. We will take over very soon (in case you missed the first announcement). Our spacecrafts carry up to 2,200 men, women, and children (oh, good. Now we know how many we have to kill per ship to reclaim Earth). It is no use to run. Soon we will take over all of the world (in case you missed that first bit, they're taking over, people! BTW, it gets good here. Wait for it...)
“Oh no. No! No!” Thyne cried.
“Oh, this can't be happening. It's not possible!” Tristan said.
“Why do people want to take over our planet?” Sty demanded.
Thyne seemed to be in shock. Tristan was fuming, and fearful. Sty was very angry. (*headdesk, headdesk, headdesk*)
“This is ridiculous! This has to be a hoax (if only)!” Sty said.
He did not believe people who were blue (what have you got against blue people, buddy?) were going to take over the world. He could not believe this. People were just now recovering from the damage Drake Night has done. They couldn't stand up to this. Now now. Thyne was staring at the TV, a scared look on his face. H remembered Drake Night. He wasn't sure he could stand up to this. Suddenly (dun, dun, dun) the telephone rang. Sty picked it up.
“Sty, are you seeing this?” It was Cole Harrison (whoever that is).
“Yes. I am. I'm not pleased. This can't be real.”
“It is. They landed at the Federal Space Center about ten hours ago,” Cole replied.
(And the award for most dramatic reaction to bad news goes to...)
“No! It can't be. We'll have no choice. We can't take this. We'll have to be slaves,” Sty said.
“Yes. We will (way to stay positive, Cole). Unless there's some way to get rid of them.” (Hmm...)
“No. I'm not doing this. We got rid of Drake Night. It's someone else's turn now. We saved the world once,” Sty argued.
Cole sighed. “Yes. It is someone else's turn.” (Ralph, it's your turn to save the world this time! Don't argue with me!) They both hung up the phone.
“It was Cole,” Sty said.
Thyne looked at him.
“What did he want?” Tristan asked. (To borrow a cup of sugar. For God's sake...)
“He asked if I was watching this. I told him that we were,” Sty said. (Oh, dear sweet and fluffy lord. Why?!)
“What did you say about being slaves?” Thyne asked. (“Whips and chains excite me.”)
“You heard the TV (it said zero things about slaves). That Droin said we were going to become slaves,” Sty said as if it was no big deal. (Um, you guys watching a different program than the rest of us? There was no mention of slaves. None.)
“Not me,” Thyne said. “I have no intention of being anyone's slave.”
“That's stupid. How are you going to avoid it?” Tristan snapped. (Whips and chains, yay!)
“I don't know. I'll think of something.”
“Yeah. Right,” Sty scoffed.
“Are we just going to sit around until the Droins come?” Thyne asked.
“Well, what do you want to do?” Sty asked.
“I don't know,” Thyne said.
“Let's go see a movie,” Tristan said sarcastically.
(And the award for best earnest reaction to a sarcastic remark goes to...)
“Actually, that's a good idea,” Sty said. (War has clearly damaged him.)
(And the award for best earnest reaction to an earnest reaction to a sarcastic remark goes to...)
“Nah. I don't want to. Nothing good is playing,” Thyne said.

I'll leave off there. There's more. Sadly, a lot more of this terrible drivel. I spent an entire summer writing this thing. Their reactions to becoming slaves were just too much. I'm pretty sure Tristan was all for it. In the next scene, Sty flips out about not saving the world some more while complaining about his dead wife, who then starts talking to him. Drug problem, I'm telling you. They exchange some more witty dialogue, get rounded up by aliens (“No slaves here.” Actual dialogue, I kid you not), Thyne takes a beating from a whip (much to Tristan's disappointment), Tristan is devastated when a Droin calls him ugly, and they met up with the mysterious Cole at a slave auction. He figures out how to destroy the Droins and they all take a super-fun road trip to New York City. One of my favorite things about this is how the aliens slipped into all the human jobs with ease. They were running Earth just like the humans, but they needed some slaves, I guess. Also, I mention embalming and it's clear I had no idea what that actually entailed. Ah, innocence.

Editing matters. So if you're an aspiring writer, just remember, this is where I started out. I got better. It's a lesson. You can too. Also, interesting point in fact, there is no romance in this story unless you count the dead wife, who kind of turns into a cow when she feels like Sty has let her down. One can only wonder what she must have been like as a living person. Or...one shakes one's head and tries to forget this because the world is a better place without it.





Friday, November 15, 2013

Cover Reveal - The Promise by Kate Benson


Blurb:
Devastated by circumstances beyond her control, Sophie Ryan’s life rips her from the arms of her first love, Jack. With only memories of their lost love, she’s forced to start over in a new town; surviving on her own for the first time since he left. Trying to begin her new life, fate decides a different direction for her, causing her to make a choice she never thought she’d have to.

Unsure of commitment after his failed engagement, Chase Mitchell finds himself stuck on a path of failed conquests and late nights at the bar. That is until he finds a pair of mesmerizing green eyes sitting in his usual spot. Something about this quiet girl forces him to question everything he has ever thought about love.

As Sophie looks down at the fork that’s presented in her path, will she choose the right direction? Will she be able to move towards the arms of the man who standsin front of her? Or will she choose to keep her promise to the one life forced her to leave behind?



10 Things You Don’t Know About Kate Benson

1) I am a lover of all things vampire. Shiny, decaying, gross, hot. I don’t care. I love them all. Yes, Edward Cullen is my favorite. Yes, I know he glitters in the sun. Yes, I love him anyway.

2) My two favorite books are The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski. They are also the only two books that have ever made me sob like a baby.

3) I am a huge music lover and listen to it any chance I get. If I can’t, I’m singing in my head. I also get really nervous if I try to drive without the radio on and find it impossible to listen to Outkast without shaking it like a Polaroid picture.

4) Ever since I had an accident in one on my twelfth birthday, I’ve been terrified of go-carts.

5) I don’t know how to roller skate and I can’t do a cartwheel. However I can air guitar like nobody’s business.

6) I love tattoos and have ten of them.

7) My favorite color is hot pink. I wear at least one hot pink thing every day.

8) My favorite singer ever is Freddie Mercury and I celebrate his birthday every year. I make a cake, watch (and sing along to) at least one Queen concert, wear mustache earrings and a Betty Boop shirt. Sometimes I even wear a cape. Yes, you read that right. I have a cape and it’s awesome.

9) I love to use swear words.

10) When I was fifteen, I had a dream about my wedding day. In the dream I married someone I didn’t know at the time. When I was twenty one, I met him while I was on vacation. He’s now my husband.

Author Bio:
I grew up in Texas and moved to Florida when I met the love of my life 13 years ago. I wrote my first poem when I was five and it was about my love affair with pickles. I still love pickles but I like to think my writing has grown since then. I absolutely adore anything to do with books whether it's writing them or devouring them in one sitting. I live on music, love, and sweet tea. I am known for my silly but blunt personality. I've been lucky enough to find the love of my life, marry him and now we're working on our happily ever after. He inspires me in everything I do, but especially in telling love stories. I'm an ordinary girl living an extraordinary love and I'm so happy I get to share it with the world through my writing. I can't wait for you to read my debut novel, The Promise!

Visit Kate online:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katebensonauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/24034636-kate-benson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Katebensonauthr

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Feature & Giveaway - Her Wicked Sin by Sarah Ballance

BOOK DETAILS:
Title: Her Wicked Sin (A Sins of Salem Novel)
Author: Sarah Ballance
Genres: Historical Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Scandalous Line)
Release Date: September 9, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count/Length: Approx 55,000 words
Buy it at Amazon || B&N || Kobo

Blurb:
Salem, MA 1692

On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight...

Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply... away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse... and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

Excerpt:
“Willard, you beast.” A round of profanity followed the utterance. Though the stranger’s words were foul, they offered for his equine companion both comfort and reassurance. Their soothing cadence eased the alarm from the horse’s eyes, leading his ears to relax from their pinned state.

Lydia found herself enchanted by the man’s tones and by his obvious affection for the horse. He shifted in the leaves, still facing away, and he had yet to acknowledge her. She should flee. She had freed him from his quandary, and his voice tinged itself not with pain, but with humor. She would feel no remorse for moving past, yet her feet did not budge.

If she remained silent, would he not know her there? No, eventually he would wonder what held the reins aloft. She watched, waiting for that moment. Through the profound darkness, she noticed his hair was a nutty brown and longer than that of a Puritan man, though its richness showed no trace of the powder worn by many wealthy travelers. He was a study of contrasts, this man. For all of his finery, he seemed to shun the ways of society, and his roguish nature appealed to those innermost desires she had thought long lost. Her husband, as he were, had ruined her womanhood.

This stranger, in the most insignificant ways, had roused it.

About the Author:
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). Though she adores romantic suspense, she writes in many genres. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found at http://sarahballance.com.

Contact Links:
Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bizz-ay, Bizz-ay

It's Monday. If you're looking for me, I'm not here. It's a federal holiday, so I got to sleep in. Yay!

I wasn't going to post today, but then I realized I wouldn't be here and I didn't post Friday, so I figured I owed the waves of adoring fans something.

I've been putting out the word to bloggers and reviewers that The Convict and the Cattleman is releasing in January. I gotten a few responses  and dates for January and one two in December. The ebook is already available for pre-order on Kobo and iTunes. It makes me all warm and squishy-feeling thinking about it.

Also, the second book of the Heckmasters is coming along. I haven't looked at my hist-rom in a a while. For shame. Here's a little snippet from The Heckmasters: Eban, just to tantalize you.

 “Dammit, Eban, what did you do?”
Tell's bellow drowned out anything Eban was about to say. He cringed and despite the way Beryl felt, she placed her hand over his folded ones. He looked like a kicked puppy.
Library of Congress
“What did you do?” she whispered.
“Called an angel.”
“That doesn't sound so bad.”
“Either Tell's met Eliakim or the power it took to call him broke another seal on the Pit. I'd better go downstairs.” He stood. “Try to get some rest.” 
“But--”
He'd been about to tell her what was wrong with her, and now he was leaving? He didn't make it to the door before Tell burst through, crossbow in his hands. The shining silver tip of a bolt pointed at Eban's face.
Fear made the fine hairs on Beryl's arms rise.
“Put that away!”
Tell didn't even glance at her. “There's an angel on your doorstep. An angel! It says you brought it here. You swore you wouldn't mess with things you have no idea about.”
Eban didn't back down from the threat of being penetrated by the weapon. “I invoked Eliakim.”
“Well, un-voke him.”

“That's not a word,” Eban said in a flat tone.

Oh, dear. Tell and Eban used to get along so well. Until Eb went crazy and started doing things he has no business messing with. Plot twist. Teehee.

That's all I have for you today. If you're off, feel free to return to bed. If you're working, fear not, I'll rejoin your ranks tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway - In the Arms of a Stranger


A Google Tip from the Teacher in IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER

Abby Price, the heroine from IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER, is a school teacher. JP Blackmon, a CIA operative, crashes into her life and causes major havoc. But when the dust clears, Abby’s still loves coming up with quick lessons that students can use.

What does this have to do with Google? Abby’s going to share a quick and practical trick she learned from JP’s sister, Janey Blackmon, the librarian heroine of DANCING IN THE DARK (the prequel to IN THE ARMS OF A STRANGER).

How to Limit by Date

Google’s date limiting feature can be really helpful if you Google for updates on a topic that requires the *latest* information, or information from a specific time period—not the information Google’s algorithms have decided to spit out. Or maybe you’re googling yourself or, if you’re an author, maybe your book reviews. Here’s how to use the feature:

Enter your search. Note mine. Why the quotes? Quotes create a phrase, so the words within quotes must appear in that exact order in all hits. Words that don’t belong in the phrase are left outside the quotes. Then click on Search tools on the top left of the hits.





Next, choose Any time:



Click on Any time to drop the menu for the options:


Depending on how often you’re checking for updates, choose an option. Give it a try. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter for two chances to win a gift certificate and Janey’s story. I hope you’ll come with me on this blog tour. You can easily follow along by checking my Facebook Page or the schedule on my homepage.


About the book:
A dangerous man on the run…
Wounded and accused of treason, CIA operative JP Blackmon is on the run from his own agency and desperate to clear his name. When he finds out his old partner is dead, he’ll do anything to get to the truth…including using his partner’s widow.
Finds a vulnerable woman looking for answers…
Abby Price wanted nothing more than a family and a safe home. But her late husband kept big secrets from her—secrets that got him killed and has government agents watching her every move. And she’s started fearing for her life. The only man who can help her is a mysterious stranger who suddenly appears out of nowhere. But can she trust him?
Together they discover a passion worth dying for.
As danger stalks them at every turn, unexpected passion flares between JP and Abby. But the last thing either wants or needs is more complications. Romance? No. Way. That would involve trust—something neither is willing to do. But in the end, sharing their deadly secrets is their only hope for survival…their only hope to hold onto the love they’ve just begun to share…

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Entangled Publishing – ignite imprint
Publication Date: October 28, 2013
Get it at Amazon || Barnes & Noble

Excerpt:
“Is JP your real name?”

He smiled, and she realized she hadn’t seen one of his real smiles before. This one lit up his face, made his eyes laugh. There was devilment in the smile. “I don’t know you well enough to tell you that yet.”

Yet?

The look of him, the timbre of his voice, as if he really would know her well enough to—

Her breath caught. She couldn’t look away. That well?

She wanted to frown, to be outraged. But his eyes… Good heavens, his eyes. Everything about him, from his short dark hair, to his smile, to his broad shoulders, he was all captivating male.

Instead, she laughed. It was a totally unexpected reaction. She’d never reacted to anyone the way she did to JP. If that was his name…

And what came out of her mouth next was a total surprise. “When do you think you will?”

About the author:
An RWA Golden Heart® finalist, Virginia Kelly’s first book was published as To the Limit and finaled in several contests such as the Holt Medallion, The Golden Quill and The Aspen Gold.

Virginia has always loved adventure novels, but romance is at the core of her stories—romance with the adrenalin rush of danger. Against the Wind, a full-length novel, and Dancing in the Dark, the prequel novella to In the Arms of a Stranger, are about dangerous men and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them.

Traveling is a passion that came early in life. Her first airplane ride was a trip over the Andes Mountains in Peru at the ripe old age of two months. Her travels provide the settings for her novels, whether it’s a fictitious Latin American country based on Peru, the country of her birth, or Florida and the American South where she now lives.

A graduate of the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in Library Science, Virginia is an academic librarian. She tries to include a librarian in all of her books as either the heroine or as a minor character. Having taught high school and college, she has a great appreciation for teachers and often uses that as the profession for her heroines.

Virginia’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Follow Virginia on tour at these other sites!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNo Update

Hi, kids! I didn't get you anything for Stuff That Baffles Me, because I'm a bad blog parent. I have an excuse--my brain is fried from watching too much TV. There, that settles it.

Saturday I was on an author panel at ORA, in which apparently I made people laugh because there's photographic evidence.


Don't look at me, look at the laughing people. I look terrible. I don't know what I was talking about, so don't ask for specifics. I'm sure it was excellent advice, though, because would I give you any other kind? (Some of you, don't answer that!)

I only managed a couple hundred words on NaNo that day. There was intention to complete the assigned amount, but the best laid plans, but they kind of got waylaid when we rented The Walking Dead. We missed Daylight Savings time because we were up to our ears in walkers. We didn't turn it off until 3 am and we were only six episodes into it, I think.

Last night went the same way. I got my writing in early with some bonus, so I only need a little over 600 words to make today's goal. The plot thickens. Eban, the middle Heckmaster brother, has more or less sold his soul (if he has one, dum, dum, dum), lied about what he's doing, swears he won't do anything bad, and is, of course, going to do the bad thing anyway, despite knowing what the consequences will be. The heroine, who's possessed by a lust demon, has no idea and is being dragged around by said demon, who's enticing others to get really, really intimate in public. It's delightful in a horrible way.

And I wrote a couple of paragraphs on my new historical while I was coloring my hair, so there's that too. You know I'm not a plotter, but I need to do some thinking on this one before it can really advance. I've got to get some kind of idea where it's going.

Okay, stop blogging, start writing. It's Monday. The time has changed, I'm totally boggled, but I've got chaos to create in a manuscript.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Friday Five - All Souls Day

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...
You may have seen me gallivanting around FB or G+ with my Dia de los Muertes avatar. I'm not Mexican or Catholic, but I'm a little (morbidly) fascinated with death customs.

To be honest I'm not real religion-y. I believe in Heaven, I'm not as scared of Hell as I should be, I haven't been to church in years, but I pray when folks want prayers and I pray for my own. I guess you'd say I'm more of a spiritual person. One thing I do take semi-seriously is a holiday that my Bapti-costal upbringing never mentioned: All Souls Day.

Here's what you may not know about it:

1) All Souls Day (November 2nd) is the day you're supposed to pray for the dead and visit their graves. Some cemeteries offer candles to place on the graves. I observe the practice of lighting a candle and placing it near a window so the lost souls can return home, which is creepy in a way because I could be inviting any soul. Unless you subscribe to the theory that only the invited ones can come inside. I do.

2) Before Reformation, it was a custom for the poor to offer prayers for the dead in exchange for money or food from the rich.

3) In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it wasn't uncommon for children go to 'souling'. They would sing a song as they traversed neighborhoods, asking for soul cakes or money. If they were given an offering, they had to say a prayer for the giver's deceased family member. Kind of like caroling, but for the dead. Which is where trick-or-treating comes in, obviously.

4) Symbols for All Souls Day include anything to do with death (particularly skulls) or fire.

5) You can totally make soul cakes, if that's your thing. Here's a simple recipe:

1 stick of butter, softened
4 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 C flour
Cream together the butter and sugar. Use a flour sifter to add the flour to the bowl, and mix until it's smooth. Divide the dough into two parts, and shape each half into a flat circle about half an inch thick. Put them on an ungreased baking sheet (baking stones are really nice for this) and poke lines with the tines of a fork, making eight separate wedges in each cake. Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown at 350 degrees.

I got the recipe from this link. There are others there too.

It's (finally) Friday. It's also Day 1 of NaNo. Go, be, do.