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P is for Persistence

Welcome to Day 16 of the A-Z Blog Challenge, and my Letters of Gratitude.

I've said it before here on my blog: We OVERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a day and UNDERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a year.

PERSISTENCE: Do it and stuff happens.

I've always been a big one for goal setting. I used to coach people in business. For two and a half days each week I would talk to clients every half hour for 8 hours a day. My job was to help them become more productive.

Most people would come to the phone feeling they'd been missing something, that they needed that secret that would propel them into the stratosphere. Our level of production at the time was so huge, they couldn't see themselves being able to do a tenth of what we had accomplished in business. “Sharon, what's that missing piece? What's that spark that motivated you to go to the next level?” Everyone thought there was some secret to high levels of achievement. They hired me to give it to them.

My job was to help them realize that the secret was within them all along. You don't have to be smarter, faster, prettier than anybody else. Every writer alive has been told, “You're a natural.” We all think we are all so special, don't we? Yes, we have to believe in our work. But the truth is, TALENT IS OVERRATED.

It's persistence that gets us to where we want to go. If you want to do and go where others haven't gone, you have to do what others won't do to get there. Everyone wants a shortcut. A magic bullet. A technique or brilliant answer to all our problems, without learning through trial and error, what we should be doing. 

Bella Andre taught me this. I don't think I've ever run across a harder working writer. And she reads a book EVERY day, too. She's managed to turn her career from mid-list author without a contract to megablockbusting Indie author phenom in less than 2 years. She did it by doing what others wouldn't do.

How many of us would have quit if we had a big deal withdrawn? Who picks up the pieces after the Snoopy Dancing when there is no party? When the bride and groom don't show up to the wedding? Bella went to work. She got very good at literally running over every obstacle that could come her way.

She became persistent.

Did she fail? Sometimes. Did she have doubts, disappointments? Of course. But just like the Realtors I used to coach, and I've coached probably 200-250 of them during my time, I would tell my clients what they needed to do to be successful and less than 10% would do it. It's probably even less than 10%. 

But not Bella. What about you? Do you show up every day and do your best? Like I said in the letter O post, are you Open for business? Really?


O is for Open Hand

We are over halfway there on the A-Z Blog, letters of gratitude. I'm grateful you're here, too. Did I say that before?

Open hand. When we think about it, and open hand is an invitation. A calling to take someone's hand and walk. A chance to receive a gift. An indication we are open and not closed to the other. Opening ourselves up to our compelling future.

What an open hand is not is a fist. Fists hold things tightly. Like the monkeys they catch by putting holes in trees or pumpkins and filling it with treats. The money won't let go and then can't get his little hand through the hole that would give him freedom. If only he would let go and open his hand. He would be free.

Fists are also used to defend ourselves. When our stomach and psyche is balled up in a fist it is cold and hard as a lump of coal. We protect, and therefore become smaller, focused on defense rather than logic, rather than receiving. We stave off blows with a fist.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for battle. I have the scars to prove it. I have the stories. There are those that are trained to battle for us, so we don't have to. So we can live a “normal” life without having to worry about our safety.

But I find most my own personal growth has come when I receive, rather than fight off. When I listen and not speak. When I think before I act.

What is the next right action? That's where life is. That's where the growth is. Where happiness is. Connection. Abundance. That's where the really good stories are…

Are you open for business in your life?


A is for Angel

Welcome to my first post in the 2012 A-Z Blog Challenge. I've decided to do a month of Gratitude, starting with the letter A.

Angels. I am sure there have been Guardian Angels watching over me for much of my life. That's not to say things have been perfect. But whenever things were darkest, I had the feeling there was something other than a father figure watching over me. Something special, with intention. Something spiritual and magical all in one.

I started dreaming about Guardian Angels after our house burned down in 2008. Each night I would go to bed with the story and in the morning a vivid scene was just right there, waiting for me to write down. I began what would be the first of three Guardian Angel romances, two of which are now uploaded to Kindle and Nook.

I began wondering what it would be like for a Guardian to fall in love with a human. What would happen if this angelic being discovered she would rather be human, and battle the forces of good and evil in the human world, rather than in the vanilla world of Heaven? That her higher calling was, in fact, amongst the human population, and not the angelic realm.

And of course, what would it feel like for an angel to fall in love?

After our house was destroyed, my husband and I spent about 8 months in temporary quarters, first in a motel, and later in a small one bedroom apartment. Everything about my life changed after the fire. Almost everything I valued materially was destroyed.

But what came in their place were the angels and the angel stories. And though my possessions are gone forever, these stories will live long after I'm no longer here. They were a gift. And for that, I am eternally grateful.


Welcome Author Charlene Wilson

Today, I'm hosting talented author, and sister blogger on Ravencraft Romance Realm,  Charlene Wilson, who is celebrating the release of her new book, in a followup to her Cornerstone Deep series, Cornerstone Deep Echoes. Welcome, Charlene!
Tell me how you got started?
Back when I began writing as a teen, I never would have dreamed my stories would ever make it to publication.  Well, I might have dreamed about it.  But, never believed or expected to see it happen.  From the time I was little, my imagination carried me to wherever I wanted to go, gave me everything I wanted to have, and became any kind of friend I wanted.  
I was born in Florida, and with a father that loved to wander the states, I’ve lived all over this country. We finally settled in a small community in Arkansas where nature sings all around me, from the birds in the countless trees to the cows in the fields across the way. (Yeah, they call it lowing. I call it singing). I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters, a fuzzy dog named KooJo, and a gray cat, Chester. I still imagine friends in far-away places.  Now, though, I write them down and share them with others.
Sounds idyllic. Yes, cows do sing. But then, so do chickens. They tell you when they're happy, or when they're stressed. When did you learn you were destined to be a writer?
I was labelled a writer when I was 16.  I would write short stories about dreams I had and shared them with my friends.  For a time there I even wrote short plays that my youth group acted out for family and friends.  I guess I’ll never know what everyone really thought about the productions, but we had so much fun and I’m sure our parents were just happy to have something to keep their kids occupied and out of trouble.  Lol. 
Tell us about one of your first stories, or favorites? 
One of the short story favourites was called Misty Moon.  I was shocked when a few years ago I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen since my youth.  Honestly, I didn’t remember her until she reminded me that she was a friend of a friend.  She had been invited to a church youth function and evidently on the way (it was an hour drive to the dance), I shared my stories…as usual.  Well, she was all smiles and told me she remembered Misty Moon and actually told the story to her children at story time before bed.  I was floored and a little shy about it all.  She asked if I still wrote and, of course, I had to tell her about my published work.
Awesome, Charlene. Compelling enough for her to tell her children. That's the best kind of comment a writer can have. Do all your stories come from dreams?
Several of my stories come from dreams I’ve had:  Scenes, settings, plots…  And many of the attitudes and personalities woven into the characters are taken from those I worked with while serving as a Deputy at a large detention center.  You can find it all in those places.  Kindness, bigotry, spirituality, opportunism; the variety of personal outlooks is amazing.
I agree. I heard stories from my BIL who was a probation officer. Where did you get the idea for Lord Dressen?  
Lord Dressen’s character from Cornerstone Deep Echoes was very easy for me to write..  He’s the villain of the story.  
Forcing his gaze to view the broad city of Shilo, he anchored his chosen destiny. Terra runs through my blood. Nobility courses through my veins. I am Lord Kyle Dressen. And I’m one step away from having Anna…Mianna at my side. Tension eased as he focused on his domain. No one held a higher position, more respect, or more power.
He peered back at the bluff and greed curled his lips. But what of beyond? Realms. Rich with possibility.
His baritone voice rasped as he spoke. “Soon.” He nodded in agreement with his thoughts. “Craft and deed will take me to you.”
Though, he does have his reasons for doing the things he does.   Then, don’t we all.  Life is just complicated.  I don’t believe anyone is all good or completely bad. 
So perhaps he'll have a turning? A next book? Someone to redeem him? What about your hero, Cole? 
Cole, the hero of the story, is pretty tarnished himself.  He’s led by his heart, and with that trait, he makes some decisions that really should have been made with a level head.  But he’s such a romantic soul.  And when Mianna speaks in her unique poetic way, he’s just gone.
Tell us about the excerpt your leaving today.   
In this excerpt, Cole is troubled by something that came to light.  I can’t share what it was or it would give away too much.  But it effected how he viewed the love he and Mianna shared so long ago.  Nothing could dim his love for her, but the information weighed heavy on him.  
~ * ~
Adoration flowed from behind him, touching his senses. Slender hands smoothed his shirt to his waist and a soft form leaned to his back. His heart melted and he closed his eyes. Mianna. Unrest fled. Doubt disappeared. Once again, Mianna’s soul spoke to his as none other had or would. He lifted an arm to turn and hold her in his embrace.
Her brow wrinkled with worry. “You’ve been distant.”
Her soul’s call washed through him and he brushed her long hair with a gentle stroke. “I’m sorry, my love.”
She caressed his forehead with her fingertips, erasing the tension there.
“Hush thy worries. Still thy mind.
For within my arms,
love’s sweet bliss will heal thy soul.
Cares of life be gone.”
Cole rested his cheek on her soft locks, allowing her poetic tongue to sooth him.
“Whispers, wings of love’s caress,
light upon thy heart.
Gazes, speak of my soul’s want.
Body, sing their praise.”
She gently placed a hand to his cheek, guiding him to look into her eyes.
“I long. I pray thee touch me.
Carry forth my will.
Leave behind the world, my love.
Be this moment mine.”
Cole’s heart wrapped around her plea and the reality of her return filled his being. She was his. Now and forever. “This moment, my life, my existence is yours.” He cradled her face with his hands. “Every breath you take is a song to my soul.”
Her words fell to his lips in a hush. “Make love to me, Cole. I need to feel you still love me.”
The breath of Zephyr flowed freely and licorice and cream rode his whisper. “How could you ever doubt.”
He loves Mianna with his whole being.  Would do anything to keep her safe…and his. But Lord Dressen is determined to win her over one way or the other…to the point of obsession.
Really, these characters made it clear how they wanted their stories told.  Comments, quirks, personalities, they all came to light as the scenes unfolded.  I hope you fall in love with them as much as I have.
Cornerstone Deep Echoes is available is paperback and e-formats.  Here’s where you can get them:
CAB: (kindle) http://www.classactbooks.com/Cornerstone-Deep-Echoes-by-Charlene-A-Wilson-Mobi_p_327.html
CAB: (paperback) http://www.classactbooks.com/Cornerstone-Deep-Echoes-by-Charlene-A-Wilson-Trade_p_328.html
And I would love you to join me on the web!  
LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/charlene-a-wilson/15/989/1b8
The Chronicles of Shilo Manor series also has its own site where you can catch up on all things Shilo!  Fan Fare, Extras, downloadables—it’s all there.  Come on by!   http://ShiloManor.com 
Charlene Wilson Bio
A writer of paranormal romance, Charlene loves what magic can add to relationships.  She currently lives in a small rural town in Arkansas and enjoys close family ties with her two beautiful daughters.  
Charlene’s interest in writing began in her early teens and she took any creative writing courses available.  As she married and started a family, she had to set aside her writing and focus on the more pressing matters of job and family.  
Many of the attitudes and personalities woven into her characters were taken from those she worked with while serving as a Deputy at a large detention center.  From kindness to bigotry, the variety of personal outlook was amazing.  As time now affords her, she is able to pursue her love of writing and incorporates those experiences into some of her work. 
Her first novel, Cornerstone Deep, was published in November 2010 by Class Act Books.  Her second, Cornerstone Deep Echoes, was released February 2012, also by Class Act Books.  The stories keep coming and she keeps typing.  On to the next!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Charlene. Yummy characters, excerpt. I'm sure Cornerstone Deep Echoes will be on everyone's TBR list soon!

Can I Get Some Reality In My Romance?

Welcome author J.D. Brown! We are celebrating the new release of her second book, Trace of Passion.

Movies, TV shows, and fiction are entertaining because they stretch reality.
We're willing to suspend belief for a while to go on an adventure in a place
where magic can happen, where the hero always gets the girl, where true,
unconditional love exists.

Wikipedia calls Love
at First Sight
“one of the most powerful tropes in Western
fiction”. Its popularity spans the ages, back to Classical Greek and Roman

How many of you believe in love at first sight in real life? Or in soul
mates? You might like to think it's possible. You might even know someone who
seemed to find true love with the first person they ever dated. I know a couple
people like that. My uncle proposed to his wife on their second date. One of my
close friends from high school married a boy she met in kindergarten. They
remained close through the years despite him moving to a different country with
his family when he was young. They got married soon after she graduated and
have four beautiful daughters now. And my uncle? He and my aunt are still

So I know it's possible. And I know we all love to believe it can be
possible for us too, even if only in a book.

But how realistic is it, really, for two strangers to meet and fall
instantly, deeply, and unconditionally in love to the point that they would
sacrifice themselves without question for the others' happiness? We don't
really think about it because fans of romance want to read about that kind of
devotion. But in truth, most of you probably put aside some amount of
believability to allow yourself to be satisfied by the hero and heroine's
passion. Because really, you could think “Oh my god, that is so FAKE.
Real men don't act like THAT. If this was a reality show, he'd probably only be
dating her for her money.
” But we don't think like that when we read a
romance. Instead we think “Awww! I wish men really did THAT, that is so

Like the movie Titanic.
Woman watched that movie over and over when it first came out and it was all
because of Leo's character. Meanwhile, our boyfriends and husbands wished ill
things on the movie's producer.

In real life, most of us experience “lust” at first sight, which
sometimes then grows into passion. But it's almost never perfect. It's almost
always difficult. Sometimes it ends badly. Few times it ends really well.
Authors are often told to write what we know, to write believable stories with
believable characters and believable motivation. Which is what prompted this
post. As a romance writer, I have a difficult time making two strangers fall in
love. I don't think it's believable. It's definitely not very realistic. And I
refuse to write a story that I don't believe in. So, I make my characters work
on their relationship.
And you know what? It works for me. It's like the novel The Notebook. Allie rejects
Noah over and over until he is forced to trick her into going out with him.
Allie didn't instantly love Noah. He had to work for his chance with her, and
their relationship grew from there. Noah's character scores points with the
audience for being so deliciously clever in his attempts. We even like it when
Noah and Allie fight because it's real.

In my first erotic romance story, A Trace of Love, I poke fun at my
own beliefs in romance. Trace Curtis, the hero, is convinced his feelings for
Ophelia are true, but she doesn’t think it’s possible after only one night. The
story ends with Trace and his band leaving for their next gig and Ophelia’s
missed out on a second shot at love.

In the newly released sequel, A Trace of Passion, Trace is back in town and demands an explanation from the only
woman to ever reject him. What he thinks was payback is actually the cover for
a darker truth and neither Trace nor Ophelia are sure their love for one
another can survive Ophelia’s reality.

And now for a special treat! Excerpt from A Trace of Passion (book 2)

Contains some spoilers from book 1, and contains some light graphic content.
Trace exited the bathroom smelling of mouth rinse. He had the
decency to put his jeans on before he sat on the couch. God, please put your
shirt on too before I do something stupid.
She wanted to ask why he slept
on her couch, but she knew questions would only prolong his stay and lead to
Trace nodded at her mug. “Aren’t you going to offer me some
“That’s not very hospitable. I carried you up two flights of
stairs and stayed on your couch to make sure you didn’t have a concussion or
choke on your own vomit.”
Ophelia narrowed her gaze. “I didn’t vomit.”
“But you could have.”
“Get out of my apartment, Trace.”
“Well now you’re just being rude.”
She pressed her fingers to her temple and sipped the coffee.
This cannot be happening.
“Trace, I don’t have time, I have to go to work in an hour.”
“So go to work,” he shrugged. “I’ll be here when you get
Her jaw dropped. “You wouldn’t…you can’t…don’t you have band
practice or something you have to do?”
He grinned and leaned back while spreading his arms over the
back of the couch. “They won’t miss me for a day.”
Ophelia gulped the last sip of coffee while weighing her
options. She moved to the breakfast bar near the mounted telephone and slammed
the cup against the counter. “All right, I get it.
You’re pissed that I gave you a fake phone number last year.
But if you don’t take a hint and leave now, I’ll call the cops, Trace.
I’m not kidding.”
He stood and cocked his brow. “And tell them what, exactly?
That I helped you into bed after you passed out drunk? That I stayed on the couch
to make sure you’d be okay?”
She bit her lip and glanced at the floor. “Trace, you’re
seriously freaking me out.”
“All I want, Ophelia, are answers. Honest answers.”
Tears welled in her eyes. She blinked them way and tried to
draw up courage that wasn’t there. “Jesus Christ, do you ask every woman why
they slept with you?”
Trace pursed his lips. He sat on the edge of the couch and
ran all ten fingers through his hair.
She saw the agitated wrinkle in his brow before the black
curls fell over his eyes again. “I didn’t mean to scare you, okay? I only
wanted to confront you last night. Call you a bitch or something like that,” he
scoffed. “But now I feel like a dick. I owe you an apology, Ophelia. I’m sorry
I hurt your feelings when you asked me to the Sadie Hawkins’s Day dance.”
Ophelia raised her brow. “The…the what?”
“You know, the dance you asked me to. I shouldn’t have told
you to grow a pair of breasts in front of the whole cafeteria. But damn it
Ophelia, you didn’t have to rip my heart out.”
“Wait,” she stood there blinking. She remembered that day
and was pretty sure he had used the word tits. It stung, but when she
thought about Trace, she always remembered the good things. His smile or the
little tunes he played at lunch despite the rule against musical instruments
being in the cafeteria. “Trace…that was eleven years ago. You really think I’m
the type to hold a grudge over something so juvenile?”
Trace wet his lips. “You mean you weren’t trying to get
revenge for that?”
“No. Jesus!”
“Then…why did you sleep with me?”
Ophelia rolled her eyes. This was tiring. “Trace, I think
your melodramatic song lyrics went to your head. It was just a one-night screw.
As for why I did it, I don’t know, maybe just because you’re you.
You’re…you know…famous and rich and incredibly sexy.” And why am I inflating
his already huge ego? “Why do my reasons have to be any different from
any other woman’s?”
“Because…because I fell in love with you that night. That’s
never happened before.” He glanced at her. “Believe me, I know what a screw
feels like and that was not just a screw.” He stood and Ophelia couldn’t help
but watch his torso muscles flex in the movement. “And I don’t think it was
just sex for you either because you wouldn’t have run away.” She swallowed hard
as he slowly stepped toward her. “You wouldn’t have given me a fake number and
gone through so much trouble to avoid me last night.” He took two more steps. Her
hand slid across the counter looking for anything to hold on to. The closer he
came the dizzier she got. “You wouldn’t have been mad to see me on your couch
this morning.” He whispered as he stepped up to her, his nose mere inches from
hers. Ophelia gasped, her hand landing on the phone. She clutched it to her chest.
He pried it from her grip and tossed it on the couch behind them. “You are mad
because you love me too.” His hands rose to cup her face. “What I can’t figure
out, Ophelia, is why you’re so afraid to admit you love me.”
His lips pressed hot against hers. She tried to resist, but
her body defied her. Her back arched off the wall, pushing her breast against
the planes of his chest as his hands came around her waist. She couldn’t lie to
herself; she missed the feel of him, the heat of his skin burning trails
wherever they touched. And yes, she thought of him every single day for the
past eleven months, twenty-four days, six hours and elven minutes. Still, she
had hoped to fool Trace. What were they doing? If he thought she had ripped his
heart out last year, repeating the experience would truly crush him.
She whimpered between him and the wall. “Trace…”
His whole body pressed against hers, his breath hot against
her cheek. “Don’t say anything and for God’s sake, don’t fight me anymore,
Ophelia.” He sealed her lips with his and gripped her tighter around the waist.
She cursed under her breath as her body melted against him. Her hands flew
around his neck and tangled in his black curls. Her eyes closed tight as their
tongues glided against each other in furious passion.

So not fair, Danielle. Whew! This book sounds hot and I can't wait to read more about Trace and Ophelia. No. She shouldn't fight him anymore.


Author Bio
Danielle Ravencraft graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, her writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth which she continues to visit each summer. Danielle enjoys writing sensual romance exclusively for a female audience. She also writes mainstream paranormal romance and urban fantasy under the nameJ. D. Brown.
Contact Danielle Ravencraft vial email at danielle_ravencraft@yahoo.com
You can also follow Danielle Ravencraft around the web via:

Order Trace of Love here.
Order Trace of Passion here.

Meet Author Hannah Jayne

I've been fortunate to live in California, where I get to belong to three RWA chapters. One of my sisters from the Silicon Valley RWA Chapter is Hannah Jayne, author of Urban Fantasy/Romantic Suspense.

In Under Wraps, she had me chuckling on the first page (a dragon with nail polish?) and didn't let me go until the end.

I've excerpted an answer to an interview question I recently asked her.

SH:  Hannah, tell us about the world building you do. Where the heck do you get all your great characters and ideas?

HJ:  Well, I don't feel like I have to do a lot of world building — my backyard is San Francisco, California — one of the most paranormal places on Earth! I remember looking out the window one day and seeing a leather-clad dominatrix walking a leashed Santa Claus into the library. In July. So, I don't think a handful of tattooed pixies, blue cheese smelling trolls, or fashionista vampires rolling down Market Street is all that far fetched. As for my ideas? Thankfully, I rarely have to go “get” them — they're always coming to me! I'm naturally inquisitive (or maybe it's paranoid?) and I'm completely fascinated by why things happen or better yet, how those happenings affect people. I've always been a big “what if”-er, and that helps. And keeps me up at night…

Here's the blurb on her latest book, Under Attack:

Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco's demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn't about to trust Alex's all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie's past, and malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.

Do I have your attention now? Come join me today over at Ravencraft Romance Realm for the whole interview, and a chance to win Hannah's book, Under Wraps.


Welcome to 2012

2011 Has been a good year.

But then, I say that every year. We either get lessons, or we are blessed with abundance. Or we get both. I think 2011 was one of those.

One of the things I want to do more this year is just accept what is. I've been the director all my life, raising children, running two successful businesses, now my venturing into writing. Funny how I have to do the same things to be successful in each world.

Kristen Lamb once blogged that sharp pointy people are like diamonds that polish us into the jewels we all are. That post gave me clarity, and hope, that I could see some of the circumstances that may or may not have been in my full control, had turned out to be priceless in the end. Almost like I developed a Teflon exterior. If it hurts, it will make me better. Some day.

I've been fortunate to run across some fans and readers who love my words. Can't tell you what a joy that is. They aren't in the thousands, yet. But they are growing. And the emails I've gotten have helped sustain me during the darkest of the nights of my year.

I've met new friends. I've disassociated with people who made me feel bad. Good friends have shown me their worth, their value. False friends have fallen off my radar. I feel relieved of the burden of having to hold my tongue, or wondering if I was doing the right thing. I've learned that I am enough, I have enough, I do enough, just the way I am. With a little help from my friends, I have healed some of the turmoil in my gut, and come to accept that the world is really a pretty darned nice place, and I'm lucky enough to live in a tiny slice of Heaven.

My first words were wonderful, giving me a depth of emotions I'd never worked before, but they were an escape to a world of my own making. Now that I have written almost 6 books, in 2011 the characters began to speak to me as old friends, coming back over and over again, inspiring me. The stories have taken on a life of their own. Now when I read them, I learn things I didn't know I'd written. Amazing. Just simply amazing. Yesterday I was looking for something in one of my Guardian books, and actually got sucked into it. Had been about 4 months, and I actually almost couldn't put it down. It was a pleasant surprise.

In 2011 I've gotten over some sensitivity toward the steamy books I write. I do believe sex is good for people, and should be enjoyed a lot and often. One of my beta readers said she was going to read with her husband, taking turns. I thought that was a superb idea. Could one of my love stories actually help a couple become more close? Trained in psychology and wanting to be a marriage and family therapist at one time, I used these techniques in dealing with clients during my successful real estate career. Now can I do the same with my author platform?

This past year, there are lots of people who make me laugh, who are fun to play with and have given me advice I shall cherish and use every day. Tina Folsom has helped me get over myself (well, not always) and get stuff posted, though I have a fear of these computer things. Bella Andre has helped my confidence as a writer. Same for Virna DePaul. Early on, my first meetings with the San Francisco chapter of RWA, and meeting its president, Sophie Littlefield, I knew I had joined the right group. Rachel Herron and her writing journey has inspired me. Darynda Jones, so free with her kind and careful advice. Hannah Schwartz, Marina Chappie, Margie Lawson, Brenda Novak–all these people are like little guardian angels, coming along at just the right time. The first time Veronica Wolff said, “this is hot stuff and you can take that to the bank,” made me write day and night for about a month straight. And who can deny the inspiration Jimmy Thomas brings wearing anything, or even in his birthday suit.

My critique buddies: Shane, Arletta, Kent, Robin and Ronn, as well as Pam, have been gentle, but firm. When I hear, “you can do better” I know to trust that comment. I thank Tina and Grace and Virna for some early reads of my very rough stuff and not throwing up. To Julia Rachel Barrett for making me laugh and being there at a particularly challenging time last year. My goals group, going on about 2 years now: Delilah, Carly, Myla, Riley, Sidney and Susan have been important in questioning what I did and why, and helping me make it specific and measurable. My fellow bloggers at Ravencraft Romance: Danielle Ravencraft, Kay Dee Royal, Charlene Wilson, Deanna Jewel, Marsha Moore, and Bri Clark have helped me grow as a writer, and push me to keep my butt in the chair and churn out the words every week!

There are others.

With so much talent and wind behind my sails, how can I not have a great 2012. Because, I am truly not alone in this journey.


Honeymoon Bite now out!

I released Honeymoon Bite this week. So proud and happy with this new character in a new series for me: Marcus Monteleone, a golden vampire from Tuscany.

Of course, as he always does, Jimmy Thomas is the nicest thing about my cover. As we speak, I'm working on the second book in this series and should have it done early 2012.

So, why not start 2012 out right, and take a bite out of your TBR pile as well as your favorite lover? Pick up a copy of Honeymoon Bite, and enjoy the meal.


Anne caught her husband cheating with her maid of Honor before their wedding cake was cut.  She decided to take her planned and paid for honeymoon in Tuscany, alone. On the evening of what was to be her wedding night, she gets bitten by a female vampire.
Marcus Monteleone has waited three hundred years to find his fated female, only to discover her dying in his arms. He saves Anne’s life by turning her, and then works to gain her trust, to cope with being a newly formed golden vampire.
But when Anne finds out Marcus has not been completely truthful about his past, she vows to live as a human, and shuns the vampire world. Alone and unprotected, she falls prey to the very villainess who took her human soul, and who now takes the only man she’s ever loved.
Which lover will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the other before they both are lost? 

Home For Christmas

I asked my daughter, Jaime, to guest blog for me today. Many of you have been following her path on this page (the Traveling Teacher blog to the upper right on this site), and have enjoyed her posts. She and I have been looking forward to some plotting and brainstorming, while we sit in the hot tub, look at the stars, and contemplate the meaning of life.
There are many things I'm thankful for this year. Looming huge among them is the fact that she is home for the next few weeks, safe and sound. Her journey in China has at times been hard for a mother to hear, and like so many of our best experiences in life, laced with the good as well as the bad. I've had my own gratitude for the watchful eyes and loving guidance of her Guardian angels. And that my prayers have been listened to, and answered.

One of the other things I'm thankful for is that she appreciates coming home. Home looks different now. It couldn't warm a mother's heart more.

So, here's my treat for all of you at Christmas. Take it away, Jaime!

Holiday Cheer
Jaime Hamilton
“Coming home for Christmas” has a new meaning for me these days. The Chinese don’t really celebrate Christmas; for them it’s a ‘fun’ holiday like Valentines Day or St. Patrick’s day – one signified by a jolly fat man’s face in every store window, giving people a reason to spend their hard-earned yuan.
I hum I’ll Be Home for Christmas Michael Buble style as I walk the Wenzhou streets. The smell of rotten trash, steamed Bao Zi (steamed buns with meat) and sweet bread permeate the air – infiltrating my nostrils as I side step hawked loogies, snot rockets and dog poop on the sidewalk. Tis the season of giving I suppose.
No matter how hard I try concentrating on Buble’s old-school bluesy voice, I can still hear the nasally cat-call of the trash lady waking me up in the mornings at 6:30 a.m. 
“Ba bao meya-meow!” 
I’d like to think she’s wishing everyone good luck and happiness in the new year, but in reality she’s calling for left-over cardboard or recycling. Blaise Pascal once said that “all men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” With that being said, I’m looking forward most to the crazy cadence that family brings, the peace and quiet of a good night’s rest on Hamilton hill and coffee…ad nauseum!
Lord knows how tasty duck tongue and goose feet are, but in more simple terms…these are the things I am really looking forward to the most during the holiday season with family:
–       Coffee
–       Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese
–       Silence and Crazy
–       Watching Christmas Vacation while knitting in front of the fire with mom
–       Fried Pineapple rings
–       Breathing clean air!
–       Not having to hear the letter ‘a’ at the end of every sentence
–       A western toilet!
–       The beautiful twinkling lights on Christmas Tree Lane

Thanks, Jaime. From our family to your family, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hope whatever holiday you celebrate is filled with the unexpected gifts love brings to us all as a family of man.

We promise to keep on writing. We hope you all keep on reading.

Feeling Lucky for Christmas?

My dear friend, Tina Folsom has come up with a huge marketing idea that has caught fire. I thought all my wonderful followers, whether you be writers or entrepreneurs, could benefit from her discovery.
First, let me say that what makes Tina so phenomenal is that she is a relatively new author. In less than three years, she has found herself at the top of some pretty exclusive lists as far as sales numbers. If you scan her lengthy list of titles, you can see for yourself. She has been a busy, and very successful lady.
I have seen her numbers first hand. And it really all started in April of 2010, when she uploaded her first Scanguards series of vampire books, Samson's Lovely Mortal. I think I wrote her third review on Amazon, because I had the privilege of critiquing her early manuscript. Her new book, Zane, is to date her best selling. I think yesterday she sold about 1500 copies. Yes, in one day. I think one weekend she had something like 9000 downloads.

There are a lot of Indie authors who have a backlist of published works they now own the rights for. Their Indie success is due in part to this backlist, and the fan base they accumulated over sometimes many years. I am glad that they have been able to benefit from all that past work.

But what makes Tina so unusual is that she is unagented, and unsigned with a publishing house. No backlist. She writes a darned good book. And continues to do so.

So when Tina does something, I pay attention. Just looking at what she has done in 18 months gives me hope. And the secret seems to be to write a lot of good books and get them out there for the public to enjoy.

Here's her new marketing idea:

Win a Kindle Fire! Like Tina Folsom's Facebook Fanpage to enterhttp://www.facebook.com/TinaFolsomFans?sk=app_176217385757369
Feeling Lucky for Christmas?


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She is having a drawing for a new Kindle Fire. In less than 2 days, she has added almost 500 new followers to her Facebook Fanpage.

There are a lot of things I want for Christmas. Getting a Kindle Fire would be one of them. But I honestly have to say the greatest gift for me during the holidays is the knowledge that some of my friends are having huge success in their publishing journey. Because if they can do it, so can I.

I hope we all win, in more ways than I can count.


Road Trip to Calistoga

My son won a motorcycle by buying a raffle ticket recently, benefitting the Calistoga Fire Department. This was a totally unexpected windfall for him, and was such a cool machine – set up for doing all the off-road stuff guys like to do. 2-wheel drive. It looks like tons of fun.

He asked his mama to tag along, and of course I couldn't resist a visit to the Calistoga Fire Department for a little research. Firemen are a class act, in my opinion. No wonder why so many romance writers like to use them as hunky heroes in their stories. These guys didn't disappoint. And the timing was perfect, in that I had hosted Dating 911 author Kathleen Grieve, on Wednesday.

They have a museum of sorts out front with not only a vintage truck with all its equipment, but old resuscitators, and a medical triage setup nearly 100 years old. I have never seen such a spotless station house.

I'm sure I'm not the only romance writer they have spoken to, or posed with for pictures. I told them about my writing sprints with Bella Andre in Sonoma, and what happens when the local fire crew enters Starbucks. We are like worse than high schoolers. Our fingers speed up and we blush a lot and just say ridiculous things I hope no one else notices.

It's not just the uniform, but the symbol of being the hero, rescuing people from distress, that women love. They are quiet and respectful, like my SEAL friends.

We loaded up the bike, thanked them, posed for pictures, bought a red Calistoga Fire Department T-shirt, stopped at Buster's on the way out for a coffee with an add shot, and played funky music all the way over the hill to Santa Rosa. It was a good day and a nice chance to spend some time with my son – who still, at 35, likes to be with his mama!

Thanks to all the firefighters out there for all that they do to protect us. So we can have a carefree afternoon, enjoying the beautiful countryside, and the warmth of family. That's what life is all about.