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Understanding Balance

I was going to originally title this post: Understanding winning and losing. But that has the wrong connotation, because if someone “wins” that brings to mind someone else “losing.” And isn't life a tapestry of both? And many would say you learn more from your losses than from your wins.

That doesn't mean we should strive to lose, but I once had a great business coach who told me that if you want to succeed, you had to fail faster. I believe it was Earl Nightingale who said, “The degree of success you have is directly related to the difficulty of the questions you ask yourself.” 
Looking at the balance of life lessons as a tapestry, and admitting where we were wrong is a huge part of making the adjustments we need to make to have a fulfilled life.
I spend 1/2 hour every morning in quiet time, and I ask my higher power for guidance. I thank him for my yesterday and pray that today will be a good day for me. I list my gratitudes and ask for strength for my failings. “Bring kindness, peace and light into my soul,” is usually what I end my prayer with. And then I try to remember this during the day. Especially when I fail.
Old patterns die hard. Easy to blame someone else when we caused the “failure.” Sometimes we just had to learn the lesson, like getting burned on the stove when we were little. Like a plant that is grown in a hothouse and then set out in the mid day sun. It will wither, because it hasn't been tested, honed and strengthened by the cold or harsh elements of mother nature. If we were totally protected, or protected our children so that difficulties never came into proximity, we'd be like that withered plant. Not only would we be no use to ourselves, but to the ones we love as well.
I still love the quote: We over estimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Patience. Content with what I do have, not focused on what I don't have. Progress not perfection. Working hard so that when it is my turn, I am fully ready. Making good choices.
I'm grateful that I get to live in a place where I have the opportunity to even think about these things and have so many choices. Millions of people in this world would love to switch places with me. I'm not going to waste this gift.

A-Z Blog Challenge

I've decided to choose a theme this year in the A-Z Blog Challenge, which starts April lst and goes the entire month, or until we get to letter 26. This will be the second year I have done it. I met some wonderful people last year. This year the group is about twice as large.

My new theme? GRATITUDE.

I've had a real blessing over the past three years. My good writing coach/friend, Kristen Lamb has reminded me in her workshops and posts the value of sharp pointy objects and sharp people–who then smooth and shape us, polish us into the jewels we become.

As I sit and write this, I know some day I will be a well known author. Right now, I work at other things until this dream can be realized. But the wandering garden path that looks so enticing comes up for me each day when I awaken. By the end of the day, I've seen garages and boxes of stuff, closing statements, bills, attorney memos, banks and title companies, inspection companies and reports, office meetings, happy people, upset people, traffic and frustrations of all species. It's a bit of a challenge to remember that lovely bucolic path I took in my dreams, during my quiet time, in the morning. Even quieter now that I have sent my chickens off to a better place for them. And for me.

I read a prayer a few Sundays ago in church which sums it up for me:

We confess the daily bread you give us is seldom enough to satisfy our indulgent appetites. Our craving for recognition and significance causes us to ignore the needs of our neighbors. Forgive our lip-service in worship when our actions beyond this sanctuary do not honor you. Renew us by your grace and remind us what it cost, that we might live in humble gratitude for Christ.

I'm not going to make this a religious experience or blog. One could substitute several words in the above prayer and it would apply to other religions or philosophies, and let me make sure to say that my way is by no means the right way. Afterall, I've said it before, I'm a Christian with a bent antennae. The passion with which we get to live and love has me falling down on my knees with gratitude. And to be blessed with the gift of storyteller, is one of the best gifts a person could receive.

And like the Bible stories, the gifts sometimes come at a terrible price. It's always darkest just before the light of a new day. In our stories, the black moment comes right before the resolution. And like in our romance novels, the Happily Ever After is always there, delivering the promise, perhaps not giving us what we want, but what we need.

I'm going to do 30 days of gratitude, one day at a time, starting April lst. I will humbly walk the path and would love to have your company.


Being Thankful for What I Do Have

A much wiser person than me said one time, “Don't compare your insides with someone else's outsides.” I have to remind myself about this all the time. Isn't it interesting, then, that I should pick careers that are highly dependent on what other people think: writer and Realtor?

Selling real estate for 25 years has taught me how to listen to what other people want, not what they say they want. Get the big picture. Be of service where they really need me. I tell my clients they could buy a better friend. But as far as getting the job done? I can definitely be counted on to tell them the truth. In an industry where people are often legends in their own mind, I became very successful because I tried to focus on the truth, not the fluff, the fantasy.

I even had rubber stamps made. One was a castle from one of the Disney brochures. Underneath it is the word Fantasyland. I'd stamp that in red on the lists of homes for sale, without offers. The other stamp said Reality, and it was a picture of a home with a sold sign across it. I would stamp that in green across the solds. Fantasyland or Reality?

Some days I want the Fantasyland, no question. I recently posted to my FB page the following:

There are definitely days when there is too much reality for me. Time for a good fantasy book, a spicy paranormal romance with characters I can fall in love with. Enough checking the stats on Amazon, checking other writer's stats on Amazon. I forget that not everyone can pop to the top of the charts with their first or second or even third book. I forget some days that the success lies in the words I write every day, not the checking my stats for what I don't have. No one writes like me. No one sold real estate like me, either.

One time I drove home from a very successful day. I had listed two homes, sold one and closed one. In the lingo of agents, it was a 4-deal day. I was on cloud 9. Until I drove past a home with someone else's sign in the front yard. I had thought they were my clients. But obviously, they thought otherwise. That yard sign stuck like a spear through my middle. Cursing and slapping the steering wheel all the way home, I am certain I made my family miserable. My husband reminded me, “What are you doing? You had a really great day!”

And he was right.

I've learned that I get to doubting things when I forget all the blessings in my life. I start focusing on what I don't have instead of what I do have. I have four wonderful children and 3.5 grandchildren. All healthy. All doing things they love. And despite my lapses in judgement, we've managed to have relationships I'm proud of. Adult relationships. I have the love of my life who has been by my side for over 40 years now. Who likes to read especially my spicy parts and believes in me.

Now how could stats on Amazon or Barnes and Noble ever compete with those things? Only if I let them.


French Laundry’s Gardens

My husband and I jumped in the car, drove over the hill to Yountville, and strolled through the French Laundry's vegetable garden. I have always loved that place. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that costs on average $1200 a meal, and didn't have a sign out front? Supposed to be the most expensive place to eat in the US. The No. 2 is in NYC.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be able to eat there again. I have enjoyed it several times. But this time around, my feast came in the form of eye candy. An avid organic gardener for 40 years, I love to watch how plants grow, especially plants that bring health and vitality and contribute to a meal costing $1200. That does get my attention.

I view gardening as the next best thing to having children or great sex. And those two are tied for first. I've enjoyed getting dirty every day now for four decades. It's part of my DNA.

Seeing a well-tended garden brings me to tears, and Saturday, I must admit, I had a hard time talking. I smelled the tomatoes (since I didn't have permission to pick them) and the fresh basil. I looked at the roots of the bush beans to see how close they planted them. I looked at the seed potatoes they had just dug up. I even looked at their 8′ tall compost pile I was tempted to rifle from. But, I am not a thief. I reveled in the joy of growing things and how unfettered they displayed their wonderful, magical finery.

In the greenhouse, they had tomatoes staked up and growing like vines, held by twine and clips. Those snaky things at the bottom of the picture are vines that had been pruned, and probably would stand 12′-15′ tall if righted.

Between the rows they had sod. My gardener's delight burst forth when I exclaimed, “You can pick veggies in your bare feet!” How nice to be standing on something green, picking food your body will enjoy. The moist sod keeps the soil damp and weed-free.

I even enjoyed seeing their new little Frizzle chicks, exploring their own part of heaven. I could understand why someone planted savoy cabbage for them to nibble on.

Some years ago, I spent a Mother's Day up in Washington State with my roommate from college and her family, who were in the nursery business at that time. We put a long table down the center of the greenhouse, and had ourselves a feast, with rows of blooming plants. The aroma from their flowers almost overpowered the smell of the wonderful food we ate that day.

I think that if God ever gave up running things, he'd manage an organic farm. And he'd have office meetings in the greenhouse. And talk about redemption and all things new. Where it is inspiring to just be alive.

Isn't this really Heaven on Earth, after all?


Expect Miracles

I am filled with gratitude beyond belief. Maybe this is supposed to be my natural state of being.

Someone is definitely looking out for me. Even woke up on Wednesday after a pedicure. There were sparkles on my toes.

My future's so bright I'm gonna need shades, to quote Steely Dan.

Boy has it been a long time coming.

I'm even starting to love my editing.


Falling In Love With What You Do

All of us do things every day we don't enjoy. I like some things about living in the country. There are also days when I covet a high-rise in San Francisco with not a spot of yard or chickens to lock up at night. No pens to clean out (which is definitely my least favorite job).

It's like that with writing, too. Editing seems to get me down sometimes, until I turn the corner, and then fall in love with my story again, after I've eviscerated it. I don't want this lovely piece to become Frankenfiction, after all. But my second and third drafts can look kinda like that. Until I buff out the seams. Hopefully.

So the key for me is the falling in love part. And, as a romance novelist, why wouldn't it be? It came to me in a blinding flash of the obvious last night as I listened to my friend. When we are passionate about our work, we excel. When we trudge through it, not so inspired.

So maybe I need to clean up my relationship with editing. Make my amends, and decide to fall in love with it. I know lots of sane writers who do. They love it even more than getting down the new words. Diana Gabaldon says it's “polishing, finding all the jewels in the story.” She says she gets excited when she edits.

In my sales career, there were parts of the business I wouldn't trade for anything. There were also some pretty dark times. What gave me great success and serious fortune was that I loved solving problems, putting people's minds at ease. “Always be the calming one in the transaction,” a good friend taught me.

It even worked with raising kids and getting along with my husband.

So back to my edits. Another trainer of mine said, “people need you, and if you don't do your job, they have to suffer with using someone else.”

There are millions of great writers out there. I will never get to meet or read them all. But even if there are a handful of people who want to read my books, by George, I'm going to make sure I do my part.
I'm going to write the best book, edit the best book I can.

And that means falling in love with the process of writing, as much as the words. What about you?


Welcome Author Danielle Ravencraft

I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my best writing buds, Danielle Ravencraft. We have been exchanging emails and posts now for well over a year, through multiple blogs, crisscrossing on our way to fame and fortune! She got the call in January, and hasn't looked back since. I know you will enjoy getting to know her, and reading her work.

Welcome to my world, Danielle. What genres do you write and why? Anything interesting about how you got started?

I write erotic romance with a healthy dose of drama. I got my start in this genre because of a dream I had about two lovers, Ophelia and Trace, and the quarrel between them. Before that dream, I had never written anything erotic. I'm usually one for urban fantasy and YA romance. But that dream kept bugging and eventually I caved and wrote it. My beta readers loved it and encouraged me to get it published, so I perused it. It turned out to be my fist acceptance. J

No wonder. I want one of those dreams. Do you like writing in series, or single?

Every story I write ends up being a series, haha. As a reader, I've always loved series and chronicles. I'd get so addicted to them. Writing a series is a different matter. I love it, but it presents many more challenges than a stand-alone novel does. There's a lot more to plan and you have to be on top of your game to make sure your characters and your world stays consistent through each book. It can be down-right hard at times.

Very smart indeed. Series is where it's at. Tell us about what you did to get “the call.”

By “the call”, I assume you mean the acceptance letter. J  I didn't do anything special other than write something outside my normal genre at the time. I'm very glad I did. I think it's the smartest move I've made since I started writing. Otherwise I might still be struggling with my urban fantasy. Instead, the same publisher who took my erotic romance also loved my urban fantasy manuscript!

Very smart indeed. You wrote something that was of your heart. Your editor got it. Who is your favorite character you've created? Why?

Gosh, I really love all my characters. We're all best friends. And they are all so different in their strengths and weaknesses. Trace and Ophelia are at the front of my thoughts right now since I've been working on continuing their story for the past few weeks. They really are a cute couple.

Oh good. We get more! Do you find it easier to write the bad boys or the good boys? I'm assuming both are heroic, but which ones are more fun to write?

Definitely the bad boys are more fun. Sometimes I stop mid-sentence and laugh at something they just said or did – or gasp. They make writing more fun. But the good boys can be fun too, just in a more secretive way. *wink* 

I'm with you. Bad boys are so fun to write. Love finding out how good they are under that shell. What about the heroines? Do you find it easiest to write the bad girls or the good girls?

The good girls are easier for me to write because I am a (mostly) good girl so it's harder to get into the mindset of a bad girl character. I really like strong, witty or quirky female leads with a touch of sarcasm that makes you laugh. Yeah, I might have just described myself as well…

I'd have to agree with you there, Danielle. We'd get into some trouble if we lived any closer. If you could have a date with one of your characters, which one would it be and why? Where would you go?

Trace would take me to the field museum in Chicago followed by a few drinks and dinner at some really expensive restaurant in the city.  

And then? tee hee. If you could go to a desert island with two companions, who would you bring? What would you do there? What would you bring if you could bring anything?

I would bring my beta readers, Charlene and Anastasia. I'd bring an endless supply of margaritas for me and Charlene and a truck-load of Pepsi for Anastasia, and we'd call it a vacation.

LOL. Here I thought you might put Jimmy Thomas in your suitcase too, but I can see you guys would have tons of fun. Pretend you have just sold your 100,000th copy of one of your books. What will you do to celebrate?

Well, that depends on fast they sell. LOL. Probably dinner with my friends and family or something to that extent.

Tell us something about you that most people wouldn't know or guess about you?

I'm a closet nerd. I like gaming and anime and wearing Victorian costumes, but I'm in denial about it. LOL.

Your secret is safe with me. Who are your favorite authors/books?

I love Anne Rice and Orson Scott Card, but I read a ton and my “current obsession” is always changing. The best recent book I've read was “First Grave on the Right” by Darynda Jones. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, “Second Grave on the Left”.

Ohh. Two of my favorites too. Darynda is so funny. Her style does remind me of your writing, IMHO. What are you working on now?

I recently finished writing the sequel to “A Trace of Love”. The sequel is called “A Trace of Passion”. I'm plotting the third installment, titled “A Trace of Hope”. I'm also plotting a new novella that is a paranormal erotic romance called “Orion”. 

Can't wait to read them all. So now for the fun stuff. Please give us a tease, an excerpt:

Excerpt for “A Trace of Love”

Ophelia sat in her favorite spot in the entire world; the little bar in the very back of The House of Blues. Usually The House of Blues featured local bands; everything from Soul to Bluegrass. She couldn't say why she loved it there. It wasn't the music or the booze or the way reality seemed to evaporate in the dim lighting. But it was, nonetheless, her heaven. 

Today was one of those rare occasions when the venue starred an international band, which meant The House of Blues was packed to the brim. The concert ended and the throngs of fans made their way to the exit. The bartender winked and handed her another beer. He knew Ophelia by name and always let her linger until they locked up. 

Ophelia blinked as the lights brightened. Plastic cups, spilled beverages, straws, napkins, glow sticks, promotional fliers and the occasional bra littered the floor. A smile inched across her lips. Molten Silk put on a good show. 

Other than the bartender, bouncer, stage crew and broom boy, The House of Blues was empty and eerily silent. The guys worked quickly, ignoring Ophelia as she nursed the last sip of her drink. The worst part of the day approached; the part where she would have to go home to an empty apartment. 

Laughter broke the silence as five men walked out on stage, holding bottles of something alcoholic.

“Oi! Is the bar still open?” one of them shouted. The bartender nodded. “Bring us a round over here, mate!”

Ophelia ducked her head, watching the men from the corner of her eye. They were Molten Silk, the band. They looked different in normal lighting, like regular people in ridiculous Goth costumes, but she was positive it was really them. Heat rushed to her face and she looked away. 

“I'm goin' for a smoke,” said an unmistakable voice. Ophelia didn't want to turn around
and stare, but she couldn't help peeking over her shoulder. Trace Curtis, the lead singer, headed for the door with a cigarette bobbing between his lips, lighter ready in his hand. She held her breath as he passed by, just inches behind her. She knew him back when he was Mathew Curtis, the heart-throb teen that played guitar for the lunch ladies. She didn't know why Mathew changed his name after his debut album went platinum. 

Trace paused at the door. He turned around and glanced at Ophelia. She looked away, hoping he didn't notice her staring. It's not like it matters, she thought. He's just going to keep right on walking out the door. 

“Do I know you?” 

Ophelia jumped. She turned and came face to face with Trace Curtis. A small bout of panic took her mind. Should she tell him they went to high school together? She doubted it would help. They were just as much strangers in high school as they were in adulthood and it would be best to keep it that way. She shook her head. 

He leaned against the bar counter. “Are you sure?” 

Ophelia smiled. “I think I would remember if we met before.” 

Trace wet his lips. “Have a drink with me?” 

She looked at her empty beer bottle. What harm could another beer do? “Sure.” 

Grinning, Trace snapped his fingers and ordered two more beers. He took a seat and looked Ophelia over, letting his eyes linger just long enough to make her blush. “I could swear I've seen you before.” 

She shrugged. “Maybe you have. I come here every weekend.” But Trace didn't look convinced. 

“Oi, Trace! We're going bar hopping, mate! Come on.” 

Well, that's the end of that, thought Ophelia. 

But Trace didn't move, except to wave his band mates away. “You guys go ahead; I'll meet you back at the hotel later.” 

The guys made cat-calls aimed at Ophelia, her cheeks burned scarlet. 

“Sorry about them,” Trace mumbled, scowling at his friends as they left. He reached for his beer at the same time Ophelia reached for hers. A tiny shock of static passed between their fingers. Ophelia jumped and glanced at Trace. He scoffed and then moved his fingers so they glided over hers. His skin was warm and callused from years of playing guitar. His pale blue eyes studied her face. 

Ophelia bit her lip, suppressing a laugh. Oh, Mathew, you're still just as smooth as ever; touching my hand, but keeping your gaze above my neckline. As if she didn't know what he was after. 

Trace removed his hand and cleared his throat. “So, are you from around here?” 

She shrugged, trying not to burst into giggles. “Close enough.” 

He glanced away, looking first at the stage and then at the door. Ophelia winced. He was probably getting bored and wished he'd joined his friends. She shouldn't have felt hurt. She shouldn't have cared if he left. He was just one guy. But at the same time, he wasn't. He was Mathew, her old high school crush. And she expected him to be the same cocky dick. But he wasn't. He was standing next to her shuffling his feet and blushing at the awkward silence like an average Joe. 

At the same time, Trace and Ophelia mumbled what they both thought. “You want to get out of here?” 

They blinked at each other and Trace chuckled, his voice as lovely and carefree as a child's. Ophelia laughed and felt herself relax, instantly at ease in Trace's company.

Danielle Ravencraft / Erotic Romance Author

Website ~ Blog ~ Ravencraft Romance ~ Ravencraft Realm ~ Urban Stars ~ The Wicked Writers

THANK YOU, Danielle. It has been a pleasure having you today. I hope everyone goes out and gets this amazing book from a new author who is one to watch. I'm so proud to consider you my friend.


What It Takes To Be The Best

You could learn a lot from a little guy. I'm a writer in training. I don't belong to anybody, although my mom and dad think I do. Even my grandparents do.

Here's what I see as I float in my boat:
Grownups being stressed and running around, worrying, whispering (I listen to the neighbors) and trying to control everything. I may not look like it, but I have a Mainline to God and he told me a few things he wants you to know.
1. Keep your hands open. You cannot receive the miracles of the universe if you are clutching onto things, either possessions or resentments. The need to control, run the whole world is something we little people leave to those at a higher pay grade.
2. As hard as big people try to control the world, the world still goes on in spite of them. Personally, I think you should spend more time controlling yourself, your emotions, your beliefs. Ask lots of questions. And don't act like you know it all. God told me you don't, so don't pretend, okay? You're not fooling anyone with that big act.
3. Everyone does the best they can. There is more out there that supports you than fights you. I'm learning a ton every day. I'm naturally curious, and I think right now, that serves me well. Now, I may not have as much experience as you, but like I said, I'm mainlining the Big Guy now and he has never done me wrong. Besides, watching you big people out there is absolutely funny as heck. That's why I'm smiling all the time. You notice I don't have a rudder on my boat?
4. Be decent and tell each other what makes you sing. What floats your boat. None of us get out of this gig alive, anyway. Why not share the good times with others. The bad times come all by themselves.
5. Ask questions. Explore. Be curious as a way of life, rather than when you're on vacation. We all can't afford to be on vacation every day, anyway. I'm happy. I don't spend money, work in an office, worry about my clothes or what kind of car my carseat is in. I don't really care what the other little guys are thinking about me, as long as they don't bite. I think dogs and cats are just fine, even when I get hair all over me. That's the way they are. They don't seem to mind that I like to drool on them, either. Sort of works.
I might stop by from time to time to dish out my own personal brand of advice, because I think you grownups need it.
Have a great day.

Welcome Author Jim Lindsey

Today I am pleased to interview author Jim Lindsey. ‘A Flaw in the Fabric, Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls’ Historical fantasy, romance, time travel, a monk, a demon and ghosts (lost souls.)1. You first came out with an ebook, and now a traditional publisher will publish your works in print? Which publisher is it & what works of yours will they publish? Arcadia House Press of Halifax, Nova Scotia will be publishing my novel The Flaw in the Fabric (Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls), and Rowga (The Yoga of Rowing), a book of advice for meditators who don’t want to sit in stuffy little incense-filled rooms but would rather venture out on the ocean, which is like the great expanse of mind. 2. When will your books in print be available? Later this year. The publisher has not set a firm date yet. 3. Tell us all how this came about? I know our readers would like to hear your success so that they can be encouraged about publishing their ebooks. I’ll take that question, Sharon (Leigh Anne speaking.) When Jim finished his manuscript in January, he asked if I could help him find a literary agent since I’d been going to writers’ events where I was meeting agents and learning about establishing a writers’ platform. First, I pitched an agent that is interested in my futuristic thriller. She took a look at the first 10 pages, but she turned his work down. After attending the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where I was able to meet dozens of agents, I was very discouraged that it was the same old same old: line up line cattle to pitch an agent who then swats you down like a pesky pest. It made us both discouraged that this old-school method of publishing might be the only route for us, particularly when ebooks were making great strides. Despite our concerns about jumping off into the abyss, we decided it was best to publish Lost Souls as an ebook. Within the first month of publishing his ebook, a traditional publisher picked his book up to bring out in print later this year! ( Arcadia House Publishing of Halifax http://bit.ly/ma2qpo.) 4. Where would you recommend authors to submit their ebooks? (such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing? Smashwords? Google? Barnes and Noble? Apple’s ebookstore) I recommend going the Smashwords and Kindle route first. Both Amazon and Smashwords have excellent author support. Amazon is the biggest currently as a seller of ebooks and Smashwords is the up and coming new heavyweight. 5. What’s your advice or tips you can share to aspiring writers to help them finish their work & get published? Have confidence and get feedback. Don’t bet the bank on your book just because you would like to be an author, but because there are indications you have what it takes. Get your friends to review, enter competitions, do readings. If you really are good, it will become evident. Don’t depend totally on what you hear, but don’t bull your way ahead either if you haven’t really got what it takes. As to how to finish, you’ve got to love your book, and you’ve got to trust the process. I never worried while beginning my Lost Souls series whether I would have anything to say in the morning. I just woke up, picked up my notebook or my laptop, and waited for my characters to get something going. And they never let me down. 6. What made you go the ebook route? It’s a whole new era of publishing, ebooks and indie epublishing (as opposed to self-publishing where you absorb the costs to bring the book out in print.) Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Sony, Google and others now rule the publishing industry. It’s the ability to read books on virtually any platform that removes the blockade to reading for millions worldwide. It’s a tsunami, a ‘sea storm’ this world of epublishing, crashing down on the heads of traditional publishing. The people, not some arbitrary agent or person within a publishing house, decide what they want to read. That’s why I chose that name for my business, SeaStorm Press.

7. A Travellers Guide came out in March and now you have another ebook just released this month called ‘Snapshots from the In Between, a Companion Volume of verse to A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls.’ Tell us more about that book, what your pricing is and where people can buy it. The fictional series looks into what it is like to be stuck between lives. Snapshots are poems about the same thing. Little cameos, sometimes by actual characters from Lost Souls, sometimes not, but always with that haunting quality of no longer being either here or there. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself, even though you are alive at this point and seemingly know exactly where you are. $1.99 to 2.99 seems to be a good price range for a new author like Jim who has been published in other categories, like non-fiction and poetry. He’s won awards. He’s worked at a few newspapers. This is not his first stab at being published. Some well-known authors price their books at $5.99 & $9.99. We didn’t want to start out that high as Jim is relatively unknown, nor did we want to have it as low as $1.99, or 99 cents – or even free as some suggest a first ebook be. Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) suggested at a recent meeting of the Redwood Writers (the largest branch of the California Writers Club) trying different levels of pricing, offering coupons and giveaways if the ebook isn’t selling well. That’s what we’re starting to do now, offer coupons that Smashwords helps you generate. I’m now looking into special programs that Amazon offers. Available this month is the companion volume of verse, Snapshots of the In-Between which we will bring out at 99 cents or free to help generate more interest in Lost Souls. 8. Tell us more about your blog “Rowga – The Yoga of Rowing.” Sitting meditation came into being at a time in the world when people were mostly always physically busy. To actually sit down and do nothing but be with one’s mind made a contrast that brought realization. These days we are mostly always sitting already, involved in endless thinking and getting no exercise at all. The body is the temple that bears the crystal ball of the mind. If we let it fall apart, the ball falls into the dust. We have to take care of our bodies. Rowing on the ocean gives us meditation, exercise and (yes, I’m not afraid to say it) fun at the same time, and is affordable because rowing vessels are inexpensive, and good for the earth because no engines or exhaust fumes are involved. The blogs, which will become the book, lay out the actual method for accomplishing this. 9. How long have you been writing? I published my first short story in my elementary school’s literary magazine. I believe I was in the sixth grade. That works out to something in the way of decades, or a long time. 10. What have you been writing over the years? Almost everything. Fiction, poetry, journalism, technical writing, and now a book about a spiritual path. 11. Do you have a favorite type of writing? Some favorite types, perhaps. I certainly prefer fiction, poetry, and rowga to journalism and technical writing. 12. What’s your writing education and experience? I have an M. A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, was once runner-up for the United States Poetry Award, have been a reporter for three newspapers, have had four books of poetry published (counting Snapshots), as well as several short stories, and have been a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Centre. 13. I understand you have finished your first episode (also called a podiobook), for broadcast on Smashword’s partner Podiobooks.com website. What did it take to create that? First and foremost, a love of reading aloud and a talent for rendering character voices. Then some attention to elocution and a few years on the stage. Then a good microphone and a whole lot of hours learning how to use it and Audacity (the recording software). Then the patience to thoroughly edit the recordings and find the right music for the intro, outro and background. 14. Tell us more about Podiobooks & what they do for authors. Smashwords’ partner Podiobooks.com offers to broadcast podiobooks, episodes, on a weekly basis. Listeners can choose to receive episodes via an RSS feed or by directly downloading episodes. As Podiobooks’ website say, “Some listeners keep the audio files on their computers, some transfer the book to CD, but most transfer the file on to their MP3 player so they can listen no matter where they are.” Why are these free? Many authors do this to get exposure for their work, others do it in the hopes you'll buy a physical copy of their current or perhaps next work in development. There is an option for listeners to donate money to the author of your choice. Authors receive 75% of all the proceeds from the donations from listeners. The smaller portion goes to the maintenance and upkeep of Podiobooks.com. 15. Will there be other venues where you will distribute that reading and your other podcasts? Which ones? We’re looking into Audible, iTunes and the like. 16. What can you tell us about your epublisher, SeaStorm Press? (Leigh Anne) SeaStorm Press is a North San Francisco Bay indie epublisher and emarketer of fantasy & sci-fi ebooks. Later this year, on SeaCast Radio I’ll be interviewing speculative fiction authors about their craft. 17. Why Nova Scotia? I wanted a place to settle down where I could afford to live by the sea, and because it was said to be a good idea by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan teacher who came to America. 18. I understand you are a Buddhist. How long have you been one? And what is it you have taught/teach? As an actual Buddhist who has taken refuge, 26 years. I teach openness, spaciousness, and relaxation. I teach that everything you need you already have. 19. What can you say to those who wish to learn how to meditate? Try it before you buy it. 20. What’s one Buddhist teaching that you can share? You will never change your mind simply by thinking about it. You have to actually take the time to make friends. Mind is not just thoughts. You have to go beyond concept, beyond self, and there you will discover freedom from delusion and compassion for your fellow beings. 21. There are Japanese and Tibetan Buddhists and a variety of areas of teaching within each. Which one are you involved in? My root guru is Tibetan. However, he said we live in a time when it is better to unify than divide. He took us straight back to the teachings of the Budda, beyond sectarianism. 22. Tell us again where people can buy your books and any last comments you have. Thank you. My publisher, SeaStorm Press, will tell you where you can buy my books. My last comment is to take the time now to know your mind. Otherwise when it comes time to die, you will be terrified. (Leigh Anne) Please go to Amazon, Smashwords, Scribd, Barnes & Noble, Google Books and type in Jim Lindsey or Lost Souls. Soon, via Smashwords’ Premium Catalogue, it will be available from Apple’s ebookstore, Sony’s and other international resellers. SeaStorm is publishing a Daily News digest on the writing and publishing industry. Send me an email to subscribe to this free, informative daily paper. LeighAnne@seastormpress.com. You can find Saturday’s edition here: http://bit.ly/izGm5j

Jim Lindsey is a writer, actor, sailor, photographer, blues singer, Buddhist and Texan living in Nova Scotia with family in California, Colorado, Texas, and Germany. His first book, In Lieu of Mecca, published by University of Pittsburgh Press, was runner-up for the United States Poetry Award. His second, The Difficult Days, translations of poems by Roberto Sosa of Honduras, came out with Princeton University Press. His short short story Message from the Thirteenth Floor took first place in Grain Magazine of Saskatchewan’s annual literary competition.

He has an M. A. in Creative Writing from Boston University and was a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Workshop on Cape Cod.

While living aboard a small sailboat in San Francisco Bay, Lindsey worked as a technical writer and undertook a decade of Buddhist practice and study, at the end of which he moved to Nova Scotia in search of a better lifestyle. Now a dual citizen of the U. S. and Canada, he has lived for sixteen years in Prospect, a seaside village near Halifax.

You can listed to an audio podcast at:


Sharon – thank you for having us. We certainly appreciate the quality of your site and interviews.


Just Another Writers Day at Starbucks

Okay, I couldn't resist. I'm sitting at the corner table I love, typing away on my WIP and I see a group of young people getting ready to enter Starbucks. I thought perhaps they were some sort of singing group, hired to wish someone a Happy Birthday or ask for someone's hand in marriage. Well, I am a romance writer, after all. I was thinking of all sorts of storylines.

Whatever they were there for, I had to have my picture taken with them. They were game. We got a barista to do the honors and, voila!
There are lots of things I like about living in California. Lately, there are lots of things I don't like about living in California.
So, on a day when I was working hard at my craft, God gave me this little dose of levity to take me away from missing my daughter, wondering when my contract will come, and hoping either Amazon or B&N will bring me some great news (like 3000 books have sold today).
Today, just for today, I was happy to be living in California.
The kids? They were on their way to a costume party they attend every year in Occidental. Who said you couldn't dress up in August? Oh the rules! Don't get me started about the rules.
I hope they had a wonderful time. I know I did.

Entrenched in the Middle.

Sometimes in our writing journey we feel we are all alone. No one else shares our frustrations, insecurities. We hear virtual whoo hoos and happy dancing things and, yes, are truly happy for other people as they score in the game of writing. But the second thought can be, but when will it be me?

I love this: Don't compare your insides with someone else's outsides. I have a number of friends who almost gave up several times. More than not, the journey was very long – way longer than they thought it would be. I'm guilty of that thought. Every writer should love their work. Think their work is special. I keep telling myself it will come. And I know it will.
But a friend told me on Monday that she keeps to the middle of the pack. What she means is she doesn't hang out on the fringe, where all the animals are that drag you down. She went on to explain that she keeps engaging, participating, showing up. The rest (the sales/career results) will follow.
It is either the fearless writer in me that wants to go to a secluded getaway and write with focused abandon, or the insecure writer part of me that wants to hide out. I have obligations and reasons I can't do that right now.
But perhaps that kind of forced hibernation is what my friend was talking about. We have to face the reality of things the way they are. Sucks sometimes. Doing honesty works better for me. God knows, I can make up stories. Been doing it my whole life. But making up stories about one's own life isn't healthy. They send you to hospitals for that sort of behavior. Doing fiction about the reality of life is like jumping out of an airplane without a chute.
Now is one of those times I have to look into the mirror and tell the truth. Write when it's hard. Write to develop the writing muscle. It isn't all inspiration and soft music. Sometimes it's gritty. Even when the words are fluff and you have to start all over.
I love the idea of being EASY TO START AND HARD TO STOP. On a morning like today, I know it will get hot and my plants will wilt if I don't water them early enough. Watering them in the cool hours of the early morning means they will thrive in the heat and give me flowers. Just like writing the words now that will later be polished, where the sparkle and magic will be added.
For today, I'll stay in the middle of the pack, stay on the blogs and loops, and celebrate with everyone else. I'll suspend my doubts and lack of confidence. And wait my turn, while doing the best I can do to write the best story I can write.
Because writing on a day like today is way more important than writing when I feel like it.

The Power of Being No. 2

I recently ran into another mother I used to share a lawn chair with many times at sports tournaments while our children were growing up. We drove those kids cross country, up and down the state, as they racked up the trophies. While my son played often and quite well, her son sat on the bench. He was a back up player.

I remember hearing about a national tournament where the team was sent from California to the east coast. Out of the entire weekend of play and something like six or seven games, her son played a total of five minutes, and only when the first string player needed a water break.
Her son listened as the first string player talked about not liking to play, whined about getting up on time. He was also the coach's son. Her son was usually the first on and one of the last off the field, often carrying equipment, chairs or water for parents and other team members.
I asked her what had become of her son, and if she knew what had become of the other boy. And she told me. Her son joined the Marines and became involved in special forces. He had tasted combat, and the bitterness of losing good friends in a field not many choose. He loves what he is doing.
The other boy? Got recruited and played for a D1 college, but flunked out. Tried to play professionally but washed out. Coaches when he feels like it. Works as a barista sometimes. And hates his life.
I wonder who got the better training? We all want to be No. 1. Nobody ever strives for No. 2 status. But there's power in it.


I found this saying on the back of a van at Hook & Ladder winery in Santa Rosa off Occidental Road.

Life is about things that happen while you are doing other things. John Lennon said it much better than I have, but it's true all the same. We raced out there to pick up a bottle of Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce. Their motto is “Service Through Courage.” We used this wonderful sauce to BBQ 10# of tri tip on Sunday night for a big family party. There was barely a scrap left.
Here's how you can order your very own: www.paloaltofirefighters.org. All proceeds go to charity. And while you are at it, if you come up to Sonoma County, you must try the Hook & Ladder Cabernet. A good, clean red that went so nicely with the meat, I'm going to start believing in predestination again.
So focused were we about getting this sauce that these words attached to the hatch of a mini SUV caught us completely by surprise. I got to thinking, on the way home, how my wanderings had brought me to this time and this place.
I've shared recently that I began my writing journey in part because our house had burned down and many things were lost to me forever: my great great grandmother's hair – a long braid that was exactly the texture and color of my own; the box she brought over with her from Scotland, lovingly made by her father. It stored all her worldly possessions. She was 14 and came to a family in Chicago to become a nanny. Her father made this box not knowing if he would ever see her again. And we suspect he never did.
Her guts and strong determination to make a life for herself gave me life. Her wanderlust, her desire to go out there and just fish in new waters gave me opportunities to live and now become a writer to tell those stories. And though her box is gone, her doll is gone, sewed with her mother's own hair, they will live forever in my memory.
She was a wanderer, but she was not lost. Just like me.
The president of a very large company I worked for had taken the time to befriend me, and when he found out about my fire, sent me a package. It was a handmade wooden box, like a jewelry box, from about the middle 1850's, that he and his wife purchased in an antique store in Austin. He said, “I cannot give you back your great grandmother's box, but perhaps you could adopt this orphan box.”
And I have. It houses thank you cards and little mercies I run across every day. If I am a little blue, all I have to do is look at that box, read some of the letters and mementos housed there, and feel the pulse of good energy flow through my body again. What is lost can be regained, although not in the same form. Perhaps a better one.
What about you? Are there some days you just feel like getting in the car and driving until you run out of gas? Or, taking a plane trip to some place new? Or watching people at a coffee house?
And isn't that one of the great things about writing? We get to live in a fantasyland of our own creation, and work like a dog until we get paid to do it.
I call that pure heaven.

Mingling with Superstars

Just by chance, there was an open seat next to Sharon Sala for our luncheon. She's very soft spoken in a room of 2000 other women, munching down on our salads. Blessed with having the same first name, she promised to remember me.

When she gave her acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award (the nice big gold statue she's holding), I got to hear the strength of this woman and her tough determination to “turn my family's tradition of storytelling into a career.”
Both she and Sherrilyn Kenyon are of Cherokee descent. I'm only descended of vikings and rogue Scotts, some of whom lost their heads (as in Mary). What was most fascinating was her story of the wolf, and how this wolf “marked” her, according to old Cherokee legend.
As a child, she used to walk home from the bus stop, and her family dog, Buddy, was there to escort her both ways. One day she noticed a lone wolf that followed through the woods, parallel to her, and how Buddy growled and his hackles stood up even on the days when she didn't see the wolf. She knew he was there. And Buddy was doing his job to protect her. I think she said it happened one entire school year (she was 6 I believe).
Years later, she mentioned this wolf to a Native American elder, who told her this meant she was “marked” for greater things. That there was a purpose to her life. Something great would happen to her. And she's taken that to mean she was destined to tell the stories like the ones told to her by her great grandfather, her grandfather and father before her.
This rich storytelling tradition was the thread that has bound many generations of her kin together, connecting forever the living and the dead. The stories remain. They will always remain. They are truly immortal.
At lunch I asked her where she got her inspiration for her first books. She looked at me square in the eyes and said honestly, “Bad marriage.” She later found her high school sweetheart and was happily married until his passing, had babies and told her stories. Her granddaughter attended one of her book signings and, after watching people come up and speak to her over and over again, probably gushing (my editorial license here), her granddaughter turned to her and asked, “Grandma, are you famous or something?” To which Sharon responded, “I don't think so. They just like my stories.” Her granddaughter replied, “No, Grandma. I think you're famous. More than Brittney Spears.”
What about your stories? Are you marked for greatness? Are you giving the world the benefit of your wonderful stories–some carved from stone and some forged in fire?

Don’t Give Up

I had a full day yesterday. We had the keynote luncheon speech by Sherrilyn Kenyon and today I got to talk with her for a few minutes and get her to sign her book.

She has been on the NYT Best-Seller list 16 times. That's a writer who has a lot of dedicated readers.
But life hasn't always been easy for Sherrilyn. Her grace and courage, in the lean years, in the years when she was building her career and during the setbacks are what make her so great. Did you know she was homeless at one time, with a new baby born with lots of medical problems and hung out in a hospital waiting room with her baby because they wouldn't kick her out? She almost gave up writing, didn't even have the money for a stamp to send off a query letter, and carefully stole one of two stamps her husband was hoarding in his wallet. That query letter changed her life.
She talked about getting an editor rejection letter (I paraphrase): “Don't ever submit to this house again. We will never be interested in this author's work.” Instead of giving up, it fired her on.
Some things really hit home for me. We all think we have more than our fair share of grief and bad luck. But she doesn't even stop much to think about it. As she said better than I ever could, “You can measure a person's talent, but you can't measure the fire in their soul.” She wanted it. She wanted it bad. And her dream came true, in spite of some odds most people wouldn't ever recover from.
I like this quote too: “If you sit by the river long enough, you'll see the bodies of your enemies float by.” I take that to mean, if you keep working hard, the defeats in your life will be washed away by the fire in your belly, the desire to become a successful best-selling NYT author.
You see, I think Sherrilyn would agree with me. Adversity doesn't make a person. It reveals a person. You don't overcome your obstacles, you outlast them.
What about you? How do you outlast the obstacles that keep you from being the success you could be? How do you keep your locomotive going so you are unstoppable?

40 Years of Romance

I have been fortunate to share most of my adult life with my husband of 40 years this June. (Yes, I was indeed a child bride). I knew almost from the first time I saw him that I would marry him. Just had to wait (and I didn't have to wait long-he proposed to me on our second date) until the idea came to him. I wasn't going to stand in line, and there was a long one. He was the handsomest man I'd ever dated. I believe our first kiss set up a chemical reaction that made all my other memories fade. I didn't have the crowd chasing me like he did.

We left for our honeymoon in 1971. This picture was taken in our $200 VW, which took us all the way from Holland, through France, Italy, the then Yugoslavia, back along the Riviera to Spain, and then back up to Holland and home through England. We found out when we sold the car for $200 to another American tourist, that it was two cars welded together. The morning the picture was taken, we were robbed by gypsies, and my husband's passport was stolen. But were we unhappy? No, we were so much in love, being stranded in Spain without any money wasn't a problem. And we found a way.
In between having our babies, we found a life together that was not always easy, but then, nothing that lasts rarely is. I have to say it was a lot of work.
But the rewards, out of this world.
I'm one of the lucky ones, and I know it. I feel grateful every time I look at these photos and see my kids and now grandchildren.
So what did we do on our 40th? No more camping for me. And that's perhaps a story for another day, how we camped out for 18 months with 4 kids in a tent (one was a newborn), due to circumstances beyond our control. No, I don't do camping.

We went to Asilomar. Quiet evening with a room with a sliver of ocean view, fireplace, no phone or internet. Walks along the beach and the plank pathways. Aquarium. Ah. It was a nice way to start spending the next 40 years.

What a great abundant life. And so much to look forward to.
What about your relationships? Do they get better with age? Or has weathering the troubled spots turned you into a diamond?

Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue: YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

Author Mary Lynn Archibald is one of the treasures of our Redwood Writers community here in Sonoma County. She has been a volunteer at special events and teaches writing classes, especially memoir classes, throughout the county.

Her story is really a romance, although she's shy when I suggest this. Couldn't you see a romance novel, starting with a couple answering an ad in a local newspaper, and finding their soul mates?
Welcome her and her incredible tale. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
“You can’t always get what you want.” —Mick Jagger “Mick was right about one thing. But, as we discovered by doing way too many things the hard way, you can get what you need. Eventually. What we needed, Carl and I, were like so many other things in our relationship: two vastly different things; yet our twelve-year experiment in country living brought us closer in unexpected, almost magical ways that we were only able to appreciate long after our rural adventure had ended.” So begins Accidental Cowgirl: Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue, a love story, though not the usual kind. This one found my husband and I in the midst of a cattle-ranching business we knew nothing about, when all we’d really wanted was a peaceful, country retreat. “We had met, Carl and I, through a newspaper ad in the spring of 1984. He was trim, dark-haired and jauntily mustached. His ad in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat read as follows: COMPLEX SWM, 47, passes for 39, going on 18, handsome, ex comm’l banker, clergyman, dream analyst, now building own home. Listens to blues, gardens, backpacks, stops for garage sales, writes poetry, reads Countryside (magazine). Immersed in Jungian psych., strong spiritual side but no kook. Well educ. and traveled. Full of exper., innocence, wonderment, entrepreneurial, romantic, down to earth, whimsical, shy, outgoing, playfully comepetitive, great companion, friend, confidante. SF, please have similar qualities and hammer. To which I replied (I think): I am a tall, willowy green-eyed blonde who owns a hammer. Interested? Call this number…and so on. (I actually have hazel eyes, but I thought green sounded better. The rest was true, except for the fact that I’d never heard of Countryside magazine. He’s never let me forget it.)” We also found ourselves hopelessly in love with cows. Ours were Polled Herefords, which as any cowpoke will tell you, have the sweetest personalities of any bovine—hence their names: Big Mama and Baby, Peaches and Paco and Pansy, and so on. We had over thirty in no time—we couldn’t bear to part with them. Since they were beef cattle, this was not a very lucrative plan. I wrote this memoir because, once our backwoods escapade was over, I realized that if I didn’t describe it in all of its funny, sad, agonizing and poignant detail, nobody would believe it. We could hardly believe it ourselves. I kept a journal for our entire twelve-year sojourn, and took many photographs of our other love, the luscious land: ponds, streams, huge rocks, woods, bogs and meadows—even two big waterfalls. As I reread my notes, I realized that our story was something we needed to share with other country dreamers. It took me five years to get it done, and from the feedback I’ve received since the book was published, I know there are lots of others out there who long to get back to the land. Just be warned: the “simple life” isn’t quite as simple as it seems! ••• Mary Lynn Archibald a freelance editor and copywriter and author of two books: Briarhopper: A History, a memoir of one woman’s life from 1913-1945, and Accidental Cowgirl: Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue, a lighthearted memoir of a greenhorn’s life on a small cattle ranch. Her next book, (working title, Showoff: From Soquel to the Summer of Love), is a memoir that expands from her early life on a chicken ranch in Soquel, California, to San Francisco in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and her varied careers as switchboard operator, model, sales clerk, chorus girl and Miss San Francisco wannabe. It is due out in the summer of 2012.

Welcome Tara Lain

Welcome to Tara Lain, who is guesting at my blog today, and promoting her book: The Scientist and the Super Model. Tara and I met online at a Savvy Authors workshop and have been crit partners. She writes beautiful male on male romance. I mean, these guys, I could fall in love with. The excerpt from her book is PG-13, but gives you a flavor for her writing and the powerful emotions she unearths. Welcome, Tara!

The Mystery of Writing Male/Male My sincere thanks to Sharon for hosting me today in celebration of my new release, The Scientist and the Supermodel. As you may know, this book is primarily a M/M story. It’s the prequel to my M/M/F ménage called Genetic Attraction and tells how the two men who are the heroes of that book met and fell in love. Sharon, along with a lot of other people, ask me why I decided to write male/male romance rather than male/ female. I’ve given a lot of quick, glib answers (I love men. Two is better), but I’ve also given it some serious thought. First let me say, I love male/female romance too. I read it and I write it in the form of M/M/F ménage, but I haven’t written a traditional M/F story yet. May happen. But there is something about male/male … A woman who commented on my blog awhile back talked about gender roles. She said she didn’t like the traditional gender roles that seemed to dominate so much male/female romance, and so she liked to read male/male instead. Personally, I think many of my favorite writers create some kick-ass heroines, whether literally or figuratively, and they transcend gender roles pretty thoroughly. But there is no doubt that when the love affair is between two or more men, the gender roles are much more fluid. They can be dominant or submissive, take care of each other in whatever way they choose rather than what society outlines. I enjoy mixing up my characters’ personality traits making my seemingly alpha males into sexual submissives or my obviously effeminate men into decisive, stand-your-ground heroes. It’s all possible with more than one man to play with.
I also enjoy exploring the emotional identity of men. I’m not a man (I’m a happily married woman) and don’t know exactly what they feel, but I do know that no two men are exactly alike any more than two women are. I like to show a range of emotions – men who are comfortable with their feelings versus those who hide from them, men who are extremely verbal as well as the strong silent types. While it’s possible that two men together just doubles the testosterone as some suggest, isn’t it also possible that not having the traditional male protector role in a relationship can allow men to be more vulnerable and open? While the world is fortunate to have some brilliant gay men who write terrific LGBT fiction, I think the role of men together is enhanced by having a woman’s view of what’s possible. Since we don’t have to be limited by “what has always been true for us” in these relationships, we can visualize them broader, more diverse, more full of imagination and possibility than has yet been conceived. After all, romance is fantasy but fantasy has always shown us what could be true. So that’s a little of why I love writing M/M fiction — and I learn more every day. If you’ve never read a M/M book, I suggest giving it a try. It just might turn out to be a passion for you as it is for me. AND NOW I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE CONTEST I’m Running for My New Releases!!! 8 BOOKS THIS MONTH! 4 Books Next Month. Here’s the first simple step: Comment on this blog and leave your email address. I will copy it and enter it in the drawing for the 2 books being given away during this week. One copy of The Scientist and the Supermodel and one copy of Genetic Attraction. You’ll be notified by email if you win. Comment and email, simple. Here’s MORE CHANCES TO WIN! (more complicated so read closely LOL) · Go to my Book blog http://beautifulboysbooks.blogspot.com. Leave a comment and follow the blog (if you already do follow, it counts). You will be entered in EVERY drawing until the end of the month. Two books will be given away every week and you’ll be entered in all those drawings. · Go to every blog on my blog tour and leave a comment on the day of the post (or at least in the same week) and you will be entered again during the week in which the post is made. · The entire blog tour is listed on my website http://www.taralain.com/blog_tour_schedule.html and updates will be posted regularly so check it out. There will also be Yahoo Group chats and TRS parties where I will be giving away other books so watch for those! Whew!! Remember, you can take each one of these steps and have a bunch of chances to WIN! (You just have to enter, the logistics are my nightmare! LOL) Got it? Comment and leave your email. And thanks so much for coming to say hi. : )
Jake has a mad hidden passion for his older boss, Emmaline Silvay, so why is he getting all hot and bothered when he sees this gorgeous man in a bar? Though Jake thinks of himself as straight, he's been having a lot of trouble getting excited about any of the girls he's dated. He doesn't have any such trouble with the supermodel, which throws his whole world into confusion. Roan Black knows better than to fall for some straight guy, especially a PhD scientist who couldn't possibly be interested in a high school dropout, could he? Well, maybe they can just have sex ….Excerpt PG-13 – The Scientist and the Supermodel M/M erotic romance by Tara Lain: The bar suited his mood. Dark, a little musty, it looked like the renovations throughout the old Los Angeles hotel hadn’t made it this far yet. Candles glowed on the few tables at the back and on the massive horseshoe-shaped bar that dominated the room. He climbed onto a barstool away from the door. From their badges, it looked like a few conference attendees had found the place, but he didn’t recognize anyone. Perfect. “What can I get you?” The buxom, California-blonde bartender smiled and looked like she might be offering more than a drink. No fucking thank you. “A dirty martini, two olives.” He barely knew what that was, but he’d heard a friend order one and liked the sound of it. Just the way he felt. Lack of performance. At twenty-five. Not exactly every young man’s complaint. In college, he’d been a serious cocksman, banging half the girls he met. He wasn’t exactly proud of that, but it was the truth. The last couple years, though, except for his dreams of Em, he just didn’t have the enthusiasm. Since his PhD. Since Tom. The bartender placed the drink carefully in front of him, displaying a rack to make a centerfold weep. He grabbed the martini and took a swallow — Jeeeezuz! The bartender grinned as his eyes teared. She inconspicuously placed a glass of water in front of him and walked away. He’d definitely failed the finals in macho tonight. Another mouthful, and he let it slip down his throat this time. Was this supposed to be good? Bitter, burning. He’d think of it as penance. Thinking. There was the rub. Tonight wasn’t the first — or even fifth — time he’d been half-cocked with a girl. Maybe it was the studying, writing his dissertation. He knew doctors said that stress could affect a guy’s…ability, interest. He’d gone for months without a girl while finishing the doctorate. No problem. But, of course, there’d been Tom. Tom had cared for him. He could admit it now, even though he’d tried to ignore it then. And Jake — shit. He’d been a shit. The next big swallow of the martini went down real smooth. “Want another one?” He startled at her voice. “Sure.” ’Cause he felt very, very dirty. A nice buzz set in. Not much of a drinker. He adjusted his wire rims. Man, he’d never feel the same way about them after tonight. Clark Kent, huh? He liked that. He looked across the bar through a comfortable little haze. There were a couple of conference nerds, possibly an LA hooker trying to persuade them to view her etchings, some other random business types, and — Who did that guy think he was, Brad Pitt? A baseball cap and sunglasses in this black hole. How could he see his drink? Jesus, was he drinking champagne? Alone? The bartender was Johnny-on-the-spot with the next martini, and Jake took another mouthful. Oh yeah, just like silk. He hoped there was a lot of nutrition in an olive, because this sure as fuck was dinner. He looked up again at the guy across the bar. At least he thought it was a guy. He could see longish hair sticking out from under the cap. And the mouth… From what he could see, those lips would make Angelina Jolie jealous. Maybe a girl? As he took another swallow, he saw the guy/girl’s hand reach out for its flute of bubbly and miss. Only a quick grab saved the glass from tumbling over. Jake could almost feel how pissed the person was. The cap was ripped off by an impatient hand, letting a mane of shining, black, chin-length hair fall free. The creature looked around like it was searching for predators, then pulled off the huge black sunglasses. Holy fucking Christ. Gorgeous. He knew this was LA, the land of the genetic celebrities, but this was ridiculous. Okay, Jake, you’re staring. He looked down into his martini and took another slug. But he had to look again. Peeking up over the edge of his glasses, he watched the guy — it was a guy, he was pretty sure now — take a deep breath, like he was really relieved not to be flailing around in the dark. Cheekbones. That was what you saw first on that face. Architectural masterpieces with perfect hollows beneath. Shit, the guy was looking! Jake looked away fast but was pretty sure the guy had seen him staring. Now that was embarrassing, but he couldn’t quite believe what he’d just seen. He took off his glasses, wiped them on a napkin to kill time, and then put them back on. He sneaked a peek back to find the guy looking down at his champagne, so Jake just stared. The guy was the most beautiful man — person…creature — he could ever remember seeing. Yeah, it was definitely a guy, even though the face was like some kind of idealized being, half female, half male. Large eyes rimmed with heavy lashes and the Angelina lips were offset by a clean, very male jaw and strong, arched brows. His hair looked black, although the candles on the bar picked up a little touch of red, and it was cut in a lazy European style that swept hair onto his forehead and shagged it around his face. As Jake watched, the man pushed his fingers into that hair, pulling it back off his luminous face for a moment, and then released it to fall again in idle perfection. The guy was young, probably younger than Jake. There was just one problem. If this was a guy, why did Jake suddenly have less room in his suit pants?
Reach Tara Lain at: E-mail: tara@taralain.com Website: http://www.taralain.com Author blog: http://taralain.blogspot.com Book blog: http://beautifulboysbooks.blogspot.com Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain Savvy Authors: http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/member.php?2398-Tara-Lain Twitter: http://twitter.com/taralain Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Lain/100001514105686


The Book Bible: The Setting

Welcome back! So far we’ve discussed setting up your Book Bible in a notebook, the Character section, the Notes section, the Plot section, and any other sections you might like to add yourself. Let’s jump right back in to discuss the Setting section in the Book Bible notebook. Setting Now this area, at least for me, requires a lot of attention. While I’m a character driven writer, the setting section of my Book Bible has tons of information in it. There are two different worksheets I use in this section. One for general information about each country/kingdom you create or mention in your books and one for more detailed information about each city and location. The first worksheet I fill out before I begin writing while the second I fill out before and during the writing phase. Again, the original idea for using setting sketches like this at all came from Karen S. Wieser and her book, First Draft in Thirty Days. And like before, I have edited and tweaked them to work the way I wanted them to. The Country Sketch KINGDOM/COUNTRY NAME:

  • Race:
  • Language:
  • Technology: (What type of technology exists in the country? Be as detailed or as general as you like here. “Modern times”, “Medieval Times”, or “Electricity and indoor plumbing but still use horse and cart”)


  • Located: (Mention where it is in relation to other countries and landmarks – borders, oceans, rivers, etc.)
  • Cities: (List all cities and towns. This list will be used for the second type of setting sketch.)
  • Other Locations: (This is for a random location say in the woods that doesn’t necessarily belong to a town. You can also mention important lakes and rivers here that show up in your story.)


  • Currency: (What type of currency do they use and how much is it worth? Coins, paper money?)
  • Class: (Classes of people. Commoners and nobles? Middle and upper classes?)


  • Type: (Army, Navy, etc or one you made up!)
  • Ranks:
  • Awards:
  • Weapons:

(Repeat this section for each type of military you have in that kingdom/country.) WEAPONRY:

  • Commoners:
  • Nobles:

(Repeat this section for each type of class your country has.) RELIGION:

  • Gods:
  • Goddesses:
  • Beliefs/Superstitions:
  • Myths/Legends:


  • Birth:
  • Death:
  • Graduation:
  • Marriage:
  • Military Promotion:
  • Names:

STYLES: (What people where. Repeat for each class or special government/military rank the country has Be specific for women, men, and children..)

  • Commoners:
  • Nobility:
  • Military:

The Location Sketch Now this sketch, holds the more detail about the country’s cities and locations your characters will visit. Like a tavern or some other building. KINGDOM/COUNTRY NAME: City or Town: Description: (Describe the town itself in general terms. Large city or small? What other land marks is it near? What happens during the day (open market in the square?) and a night (clubs, bars, etc)?) Locations: (Name and describe each location in full detail – look, smell, sounds, etc. Even if you don’t use all the details in your book, having them all listed here will greatly help you when you go to write and/or edit the book. Locations include Taverns, inns, shops, government buildings, houses, etc. Any place your character go to, should be listed here.) I know the example for this sketch is small, but you just repeat the areas for each city or town you need to. With my books, my characters travel around a lot and so I have five or six towns listed with 2 to 3 locations each. Your book might only have one town but 9 or 10 locations. It all depends on your book! Maps Yes, maps. I love to make them and they’re relatively easy to make. I use a program called AutoREALM (http://autorealm.sourceforge.net/) to make them along with Paint.NET for tweaking. Both are free programs to download. Here is an example for you, the map I made for The Kinir Elite Chronicles Series. And there it is! Your Book/Series Bible. Remember that you can edit any of the sections and the sketches to fit your needs. Each writer, genre, and book has their own needs. Even though all my books are fantasy, none of the sketches look a like. Again, if you have questions about something I didn’t explain well enough, please don’t hesitate to ask in a comment here. I was trying to keep these posts from getting too long. Thank you again Sharon for having me here. You are welcome to visit me some more at my website http://avpergakis.com and my blog http://labotomyofawriter.com.


The Book Bible: The Character Tab

Today is Part II of a three part series on Book Bibles. You'll want to bookmark this series to refer to later on. Sometimes I get information that I know I'll use later. Enjoy! (Sharon H.)

THE SECOND POST Welcome back! Yesterday we talked about setting up your Book Bible in a notebook with dividers for certain sections. And we discussed what goes into the Notes, Plot, and any other tabs you put into your Book Bible. Today, we are talking about the Character tab.

Characters Here is where I keep all the character sketches, notes, etc for every major character in my book. The hero, heroine, the villain, and any side characters that are important. Like in my series, The Kinir Elite Chronicles, the Kinir Elite are a team of six warrior elves. While Derac is really the main character of the story, I have sketches made up for the entire team as they are very important to the plot. It is up to you and how you write on how many of these you actually make. I know many authors who only make sketches for the hero, heroine, and villain. I also keep any other notes about the character in this section. I like to “talk” to my characters as if they were real people (and yes, they talk back!) So I have snippets of conversations saved or interview questions and things like that here as well that have added personality traits for my characters. Now, for the side characters that appear but are not all that important like shop keepers, people they might run into once or twice only, and other characters like that, I use a notebook paper and write down their name, if they have one, and any little notes I put into the story as I write. For example, I’ll have “Maleena: Derac’s first wife; died in a fire; long blonde hair;” But that’s it. I don’t need a full sketch on her because she’s dead and only exists in Derac’s memory. She’s important enough that I need to remember that she has blonde hair, but doesn’t warrant a full sketch of her own. The Character Sketch Here is a black character sketch, with explanations for you to use. I originally started using sketch sheets like this one after reading “First Draft in Thirty Days” by Karen S. Wiesnder. I’ve edited the one I actually use to fit my needs – as should any writer. CHARACTER: (Full Name)

  • Character Role: (Hero/Villian/Etc)
  • Nickname:
  • Birth Date/Place:


  • Age:
  • Race:
  • Eye Color:
  • Hair Color/Style:
  • Build (height/weight):
  • Skin Tone:
  • Tattoos/Scars/Markings:
  • Skin Tone:
  • Style of Dress:
  • Weapons:
  • Magical Powers:
  • Characteristics/Mannerisms: (This where you can add those little twitches and quirks about your character – like they pop their knuckles when nervous for an example.)

PERSONALITY TRAITS: (List/Describe your characters personality. I do this in a bulleted list but you can write it out as a paragraph if you like. Mention things like – Quick temper, Battle hardened warrior, Devoted to family, etc.) BACKGROUND: (List/Describe your characters background, their upbringing. Again, I do this in a bulleted list but you can write it out as a paragraph if you like. Mention things like – where they were raise, what type of family do they have (parents/siblings), anything that’s important that happened to them in the past basically.) OCCUPATION/EDUCATION: (List/Describe your characters job and what type of education they have. Put as much detail as you like here about it. Did they go to college? What special skills do they have? What does their job actually entail?) INTERNAL CONFLICTS: (List/Describe the internal conflicts your character deals with during the book. Now I have this section a few times on a character’s sheet – once for each book. This is where you can talk about your character struggling with say, the loss of a spouse/child or some fear they have that may prevent them from reach their goal in the story.) EXTERNAL CONFLICTS: (List/Describe the external conflicts your character faces in the book. This is things like the villain, or even the weather. Stuff that is outside the character and his/her control. Again, I repeat this for each book in a series.) MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: (Use this section for anything else you want to add.) Type it up, print it out, and put it in your notebook. Repeat for each character! If you have pictures or drawings of your characters, don’t forget to add those here! I was able to hire an artist to draw sketches of my characters for me. You can see them at the website for the Kinir Elite, http://kinirelite.com. Now, as you write the book(s) you will no doubt have things to add to this sketch. I simply write them down by hand on the paper or on a sticky note. Yes, I have quite a few hand written notes all over the place. I update when the page gets too hard for me to read without getting lost and print out a new copy. I do like having the notebook, but I don’t want to print a new page for one line of new information. So, I wait until I run out of space or it’s too jumbled for me to find what I want before I update it. And we are done for the day. Come back again tomorrow and I’ll explain the rest of the Settings in the Book Bible. If you have any questions about something I didn’t explain well enough, please leave a comment here. I’ll be sure to visit all day to answer your questions. Anastasia V. Pergakis lives with her husband and two year old son in Columbus, Georgia. She is a high fantasy writer, enchanting adults to remember their imagination is not gone just because they grew up. Her series, The Kinir Elite Chronicles, follows the Kinir Elite, a team of warrior elves protecting Kinir and her people. Cleanse Fire, the first book, is being submitted at the moment.

Anastasia is also the owner of Anastasia Creatives, a web design company helping the “starving artists” and small business owner have a solid web presence through quality websites. You can learn more about this at http://anastasiacreatives.com.

And if all that wasn't enough, Anastasia recently started a new venture called Beyond Worlds. It is a place to highlight fantasy and sci-fi authors and their works. It is a division of HighlightedAuthor.com, originally started by Charlene A. Wilson (http://charleneawilson.com), author of Cornerstone Deep. You can visit Beyond Worlds athttp://habeyondworlds.com.