Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

2011 has been quite a year. I started the year off with the bright and shiny hope that one of my books would get published. That hope was quickly dashed as I received my very first rejection letter January 1, 2011 at 11:00am.

It was very kind.

But since then, I’ve gotten a book published. What started out as a hope–not even a resolution, but a spark of hope–came to fruition this year. The book, which came out in December, seems to be doing well. Not on the best seller list, but here’s hoping!

So as we see 2011 off, and we welcome in 2012, let’s raise a glass to the year that was. Let’s embrace the new year that is, and here’s hoping that the new year brings new hope, new joys, and new successes!

What are some of your big successes of 2011, and what are you hoping for in 2012?


Contest Time

I’m running a contest. Everyone who friends me on Facebook or likes my Facebook page will be entered into a drawing for your choice of a Starbucks gift card or a copy of my book (your choice).  All you have to do is repost the link for my book on your Facebook wall, and you’re entered. The winners will be chosen on January 13 by random drawing (meaning husband will pick a name out of a hat).

Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Marker-ebook/dp/B006MMYSR6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324093757&sr=8-1

That’s it! Easy, and then you have a chance to win either a free book or a Starbucks card! Easy as pie! So come like me/friend me, and repost!


Welcome Guest Blogger Jolyn Palliata

Did you ever get a song stuck in your head? Or part of one? How did you get it out? Did you avoid the song at all costs in the blind hope it would stop hammering you into submission? Or did you listen to the song over, and over, and over, until you were so obsessed that all you could think about was that delicious, devilish little laugh….er, what was I saying? (Right. Song stuck in my head. Ahh…I mean, your head.) Now, I know this has happened to every person reading this post, so I’m hoping you’ll relate to my little story here.

Let me give you some background. In October, I released Connected (Twists of Fate #1), and here’s a  description of the story: A rock group’s rhythm guitarist, Rhys Alexander, dies and finds himself bound inside the body of a woman he’s never met. Can she help him move on to the other side, or will he end up finding the love of his life…after his has already ended?

For a time, I had this for free on Wattpad (where I posted as I wrote it). And several readers asked me how in the world I came up with the concept. The short answer was ‘By taking the longest route possible.’ The more involved answer is this…

It all started with a song—Imagine that, huh?—which began with a synthesized-sounding guitar and a sinful, maniacal laugh that made my gut quiver. (Yes, I do realize this may be an issue I need to fully address later.) It was Disturbed’s “Inside The Fire”. Add a little Framing Hanley (with that oh-so-sexy voice), and Tavion, lead singer of the band Persevere, was born. And what kind of woman would knock a strapping rock star to his knees? Why, a best-selling author, of course.

So here I had two people who worked in the entertainment industry, but were worlds apart. What could possibly bring them together? The answer seemed so simple, really: Fate. Then my next though was “What if Fate was a living, sometimes-breathing, entity? What an interesting point-of-view that would be!” And it spiraled from there. I dug deep into the protag, Devan (the name of the girl in Disturbed’s song), and put pieces of me and my personality into the mix. Naturally, then I had to mock myself and my works along the way. (i.e., Suddenly Impending Reprisals became Devan’s masterpiece, and guess what…it made it all the way to the NYT Bestsellers list! Way to go, Devan!!)

Now, the question was ‘What inspired me to write Connected’, and so far, I’m telling you how I started writing Twisted (Book 2). Yeah, well, I’m getting there. (Remember how I said it was the longest route possible?)

So there I was, writing Twisted and having a hell of a time. And then the unthinkable happened (insert suspenseful music here)…I got writer’s block. I’m talking a stint of writer’s block that could only have originated from the deepest, most vile and sulfuric, bowels of Hell. And, man, was it stubborn! Over a year went by before I picked it up again, and even then it wasn’t because I came up with a grand master plan, or that my head was swimming with ideas. No. It was simply because I missed my characters. So I started to reread/revise/edit the 30K words I had written, hoping it would shake something loose. Enter: two new inspirations.

The first was the Demonica series by Larissa Ione. In the series, paired up mates can sense each other’s emotions and I got to wondering “What would that be like?”

The next piece of inspiration came from Avenged Sevenfold (A7X). I was studying up on rock bands for Twisted (and can A7X ever ROCK!!), and checking out the band members (*drool*) and it inspired a new character—Rhys.

From Ione and A7X blossomed Connected (finally!) where Rhys’ spirit was stuck inside Addison (my protag), and they could sense each other’s emotions.

But I had one problem. I absolutely REFUSED to walk away from Twisted again. Soooo…how could I use this? Well, first of all, Rhys couldn’t be a lead singer since that’s what Tavion is. And secondly, I wanted this to be a fast-hitting novella used to compliment Twisted’s story. What I needed was a supporting member of the band… Hello, Rhys, my luscious rhythm guitarist!

 But then I had another problem. (Because I needed more, right?) I couldn’t picture Rhys in Tavion’s band, Persevere, which is a more mature, established group. No, he belonged with some just-making-it-big band that wasn’t afraid to play with the formula, to take chances, and was just enjoying the ride and what life had to offer. He belonged with the guys of Black Codex.

Then problem #3: How did Black Codex and Persevere tie in to each other? I mean, if Connected leads into Twisted, they have to know each other somehow, right? Well, as luck would have it, they’re all friends. (Who knew?!) Eh, okay, so actually two members from Black Codex are brothers and they grew up with a guy from Persevere, so, by association, they became friends. (It’s all in the details, right?) 😉

All right. Now what? I didn’t want to introduce Fate (my sassy, capricious entity) in Connected even though he’s definitely hard at work behind the scenes. It would’ve been too distracting from the plot, and I had plenty to maneuver already! (Hello…dead rock star stuck in some chicks head!!) So what I did was plot Connected so it all occurs during the same timeframe as the first half of Twisted. Perfect! Then when people read Twisted, they’ll get all the behind-the-scenes-extras that were going on in Connected that either 1) I didn’t have time for, or 2) I couldn’t smoothly transition in.

At the end of my long-ass journey, not only did I have Connected, but I shook myself loose on Twisted…aaand came up with storylines for the other eight band members. (I’ll spare you the details on those. LOL) Thusly, the Twists of Fate series was born.

So, let me ask you again: Did you ever get a song stuck in your head…?

For more information on the Twists of Fate series

Twists of Fate series Facebook Page

To purchase Connected (Twists of Fate #1):

Special Guest!

Today, I’m excited to welcome Mandi Casey to the blog. She’s the author of The Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick, a paranormal romance (and we all know how much I love vampires, werewolves and all things forbidden and dark… even if I did write a historical!).

Without further ado, here’s our interview. But first, let’s take a peek at her cover, because it’s fabulous!

Me: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

MC: I’m a huge fan of paranormal romance, vampires, werewolves, demons, you name it, they’re all hot and intriguing to me! I have 3 naughty dogs that act like little circus clowns when I come home from work, and I love them like crazy.

Me: Do you have a day job?

MC: I do, my dream is to retire early from that and become a full-time writer, doing what I love best, but I don’t see that happening in the very near future.

Me: How do you balance writing with all of your other obligations? (I ask, because I have yet to find it!)

MC: Yeah, I still don’t have a clue. I sneak off when my family goes on errands, when they are working on projects etc… and I delve right in. Notebooks come in handy so I can keep tabs on the ideas swirling in my head because if I don’t write them down, they float away and unfortunately don’t come back lol.

Me: What’s your favorite book of all time, and why? (Because I’m a lit geek, I’ll let you get away with listing more than one)

MC: The Fae Fever series is one of my ultimate favorites, my sister and I are considering going to check out the Temple Bar District over in Ireland. It was that good. Another series, totally out of my normal genre but I love her writing none-the-less, is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.

Me: Oh, the Fae Fever series. Holy smokes, I love that series, so if you go to the Temple Bar district, I’m going to stow away in your luggage. If Barrons’ face isn’t in the dictionary next to the term alpha male, then there’s something not right with the world. He’s awesome.

**Pauses while staring into space**

Me (shaking away the fantasy): Okay, okay, I’ll move along. Who is your favorite movie/TV character and why?

MC: David in Lost Boys, he was the ultimate mysterious bad boy vampire that drew me into the dark and romantic vampire world.

Me: You’re going to give me the shivers. David was my first vampire, too! So, what are your interests outside of writing?

MC: I Frisbee golf, a lot.

Me: Interesting. Getting into some questions about your writing, are you a pantser or a plotter and why?

MC: I’m a plotter, I like to start writing with the big picture in mind for each chapter including the little details that needed to be added, not that things don’t change as the story unfolds, actually, it always does.

Me: Is there a particular author who may have influenced you?

MC: I really like so many I can’t really pick one.

Me: I feel you there, sister. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what inspired this book.

MC: My goal is to write the ultimate paranormal romance, I love including elements of the forbidden, royalty, betrayal, and the ultimate love.

Me: What is your favorite sentence or quote in your new release?

MC: This is probably my fav:

Who knew what was lurking out there in the dark?

I did.

I knew.

And now it knew me.

Me: Oh, that’s fantastic. I think I just got the shivers! Who do you envision as your lead characters?

MC: For Blake I envision the actor who plays Alcide on True Blood, and for Sydney I envision someone similar to Emma Stone with black hair.

Me: I do so love Joe Manganiello. That’s some pretty serious hotness there. *Sigh* Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer?

MC: The best advice I can give is to know your basics in grammar and punctuation, a well punctuated query can get you in the door, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your story is, if the query has mistakes, it will probably end up in slush piles everywhere.

Me: So, before I let you go, where can your readers stalk you?

MC: Lol, great question, I’d love to be stalked by readers! My blog site is www.whoareyoucallingavampire.blogspot.com, or I can be found on Facebook.

Tell us about your new release: Here is the blurb from Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick, I don’t want to give too much away!

After a rogue werewolf attack triggers her latent powers as the Selected, Sydney Sedrick is reluctantly dragged into a war of vampires and werewolves, both battling for total species domination. Each try to use her as their pawn and are willing to use any force necessary to gain control of her special gifts. For her protection, Sydney is armed with only her grandmother’s journal and Blake, the sexy werewolf who insists they are meant to be together.

In order to succeed, Sydney must embrace her destiny and join the battle to protect both sides from genocide. Caught between two very different worlds, belonging to neither, Sydney is forced to risk it all, or lose everything and everyone she holds dear.

Me: That sounds fantastic!

MC: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, happy reading and writing to everyone!

Me: Thanks for being here! I’ve enjoyed our chat!

Friday Night Book Reviews: The Iron Duke

Our book of the night is The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook.

Here’s the blurb:

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power — and fear — of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and despite the nanotech enhancing her body, she barely scratches out a living in London society. Becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him…and the Iron Duke’s ruthless pursuit makes him difficult to resist.

But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans — and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

This book has a little bit of everything, set in a steampunk (ish?) world.  It has everything from nano technology to airships to zombies to adventurers to kraken and giant sharks to men with iron bones. The way these zombies are created is fascinating, and I actually would have enjoyed having more of them. In fact, I would have enjoyed more of the creatures–such as the kraken and the giant sharks–in general.

That being said, I found this world ultimately fascinating. Previously, I’d always thought of steampunk as more Jules Verne than Michael Crichton, but this book was an interesting mix. The nanotechnology, as well as some of the other technological advances (that I won’t name for fear of spoiling the fun), are impossible even today. I must admit, I didn’t know what to make of it at first. But the setting–a gritty, dirty London; a zombie-infested Europe; and seas riddled with both kraken and pirates–was perfect and dark, and set the tone for an incredible adventure.

As for the hero and the heroine, I found them to be real people with real flaws, despite their… differences. I enjoyed Mina and Rhys (but I do have a thing for Welshies. Can’t help it). I admit to having a thing for pirates–and Rhys, despite his title, is one–so maybe that’s why I liked him so much, even though he’s a bit harsh. If the term “alpha male” ever described anyone, it would describe The Iron Duke. And Mina isn’t a wilting flower, either. She’s tough as nails.

That’s why he likes her so much.

I really enjoyed this book. For fans of the steampunk genre, this one is for you. And even if you’re not a fan, give it a shot. It’s worth it.


Technology Rocks… When It Doesn’t Suck

My thanks to Ann Montclair, whose post on this same topic inspired this one. Go check it out!

We’ve all had them…technology errors.

I’m not talking about when there’s a power failure and your Master’s thesis gets erased when you’re on page 168 (yes, that happened to me… M could hear me screaming down the street. Luckily for me, he’d just taken a forensic data recovery class and got all but one page back for me). I’m not talking about the emails that never make it to their destination through no fault of yours.

I’m talking about the stuff you do accidentally.

For instance, I’m addicted to texting. I love it. But I learned this lesson the hard way: always know precisely to whom you are talking. Check to make sure you know who you’re texting. For instance, after a disagreement with the hubster, I texted, “I love you so much. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” to him by way of an apology.

Only I sent that text to my boss.

No kidding. I’ve accidentally sent that text to friends, too, which was embarrassing but not that bad. You’d think I’d have learned. Alas, I am apparently not that smart. I had to text it to my boss before it got through my thick skull that I need to check to see who I’m texting.


I’ve also gotten the accidental texts. Once, I got a message from one of my coworkers, talking about what he wanted to do to his girlfriend’s…uh…naughty bits. And he didn’t use the term “naughty bits” either.

It was actually quite vile. Funny (because I have a sick sense of humor), but vile.

So, being who I am, I had to respond. I texted simply, “Uh, what?”

His response ran something along these lines: “OMG! So sorry! I didn’t mean to send that to you. OMG! I’m so sorry.”

I don’t think he ever looked me in the eyes again. Luckily, I didn’t last too much longer in that job. Because that would have been…awkward.

Do you have an embarrassing technology story, and would you care to share? Because I’d love to hear them. It’s always fun to know you’re not the only one.


It’s Release Day!

Today is the official release of my debut novel, The Marker, a historical romance set in Sacramento and San Francisco in 1874.

I’m excited and scared and bouncing off the walls. So please, grab a copy and help spread the word! I would love to hear from readers, so if you do decide to buy a copy, drop me a line and let me know what you think (and if you want, leave a review for me on Amazon or B&N or the SoulMate website!).





Fun Food Sundays

I’ve decided to add my culinary exploits to the blog, because, even though I can barely eat food, I do really enjoy it (long story, poor me, you don’t want to hear it).

So my latest foray into food started today with candy making.

I attempted peppermint bark (bless my little heart. So precious!) (This is teacher code for OH SWEET MOTHER OF GOD! WHAT THE HELL!)

My peppermint bark does not, let me reiterate, DOES NOT look like other people’s. Let’s just say, the moment I took at look at it, I knew that shizzle was wrong.

This is why I don’t bake. I am not a baker by nature, and, for some reason, even though I can make fudge, today I couldn’t even melt chocolate.

What I created today was something like a cross between peppermint bark and toffee, and has the consistency of super dense fudge on top (the toffee part) and a chocolate bar on the bottom. Topped with peppermint. Yeah, I know.

Luckily, the kids don’t know any better, so they thought it was awesome.

Here’s a picture of my latest culinary adventure:

It looks… okay. Wrong, but okay.

It doesn’t taste like peppermint bark, though. That much is for certain. Monk’s assessment, “Huh. It actually tastes pretty good, Mom. All things considered.”

Oh, my firstborn child, aren’t you just precious? (sic)

So, while I had this brilliant idea this afternoon I would post my recipe, I’ve decided against that. No one needs to recreate this. Yes, I know I burned the white chocolate, but the darn stuff wouldn’t melt. I know I burned the dark chocolate, because, well, I also managed to scorch my pan. Though how I did this with the heat on low is seriously beyond me. In my defense, the recipe didn’t call for a double boiler.

As I stood in the kitchen, burning chocolate and muttering angrily under my breath, Chewey says, “Hey, Mom, what are you making?”

And husband says, “Memories. She’s making memories.”

And Chewey says, “Memories? What’s memories? It smells like burning marshmallows.”

They both got an eyeful of bless his heart.


Friday Night Book Reviews, Saturday Edition: The What If Guy

Yes, yes, I’m a day late and a dollar short.

I’ve had a wicked stomach bug for almost a week, and I’ve been coming home from work and going to bed. I’ve barely eaten anything for a week, and I’ve been living on Zofran.

Yes, I am indulging in better living through pharmacology. And it’s the only way I’ve been able to function.

But enough of my excuses.

Our book of the day is Brooke Moss’s The What If Guy, offered through Entangled Publishing, which I read some time ago, and some of you may have seen my review on Goodreads. I would have posted a pic of the cover, but, well… it’s not in the cards.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

What would you do if your “what if” guy showed up at the lowest point of your life? 

(Autumn Cole clocked hers with an encyclopedia.) 

After losing her job at a swanky Seattle art gallery and finding out her father has been hospitalized, single mother Autumn Cole reluctantly returns to her tiny hometown of Fairfield, Washington, to put the pieces of her life back together. 

Her disgruntled twelve-year old son isn’t thrilled about going from hip to hick, but Autumn’s got it worse. She resumes her role as the daughter of the town drunk, promptly facing a crisis with her father that’s been decades in the making. 

Running into Henry Tobler, and nearly breaking his nose, is almost more than she can handle, but can rediscovering love-and herself-with her “what if” guy teach Autumn to forgive before it’s too late

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were real. They were funny. They were people you might actually meet on the street. And like.

Ms. Moss has crafted a character driven book. So if you’re looking for a book heavy on the plot, this isn’t it. This book is about people, and they have the spark of real life about them. My one issue–and it really isn’t one–is that Henry does seem too perfect, and, well, real men have flaws. But when I think about the first blush of romance, those first few months (or years) when you’re falling in love, your man’s flaws seem endearing. Snoring–oh, cute. Morning breath–who even notices? So when I thought, “Wow, Henry seems perfect,” it’s because, in Autumn’s eyes, he is. Henry’s lack of flaws in this regard was something I was willing to overlook in exchange for a great story with great characters.

A good read for a day curled up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa. So put it on the Christmas list and download it to your new Kindle or Nook or iPad or Kobo.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of my book, The Marker, while you’re at it. The Marker comes out in FOUR DAYS!


Where’s My Proverbial Bucket?

I’m feeling a touch maudlin today. I couldn’t even begin to tell you why.

In any case, as I sit here and listen to Pandora, a song came on by Frank Turner.

 I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up.

And most of all, I won’t grow up.

I loved this song. It reminded me that I’m getting older, firmly in that stage of my life where, yes, I have the stable career and the young family, and I’m entrenched enough in my life that, even if I could afford to change things, I probably wouldn’t.

I’m young enough that it wasn’t so long ago that I had my whole life stretched in front of me, an endless ocean of possibilities. But then there was college and marriage and more college, and then, finally, real life.

Yes, the real job. The real mortgage. The real debt. The real family. It all adds up to real life.

And some of the possibilities began to fade. For instance, I’m already married and have no plans to change that, so eloping to the Chapel of Elvis (which I totally would have done) is not going to happen. Going back to college for more than a class or two isn’t in the cards (no, Mother, I am not going to go back and get the PhD. So stop asking). The year-long backpacking tour of Europe is probably also out of the question. By the time I can do it, I will be too old to do it. To think about it, I think I’ve made all my major life decisions.

Holy crap, when did that happen? When did I become an actual grown up?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the husband and the kids, and most days, I even love my job. I wouldn’t change any of it if I could. It’s just that the possibilities are not as infinite anymore. Even though I’m a grown up, I still have dreams. I still have things to do, things to write. Only now, these things are for my “bucket list,” which actually sounds a bit on the depressing side, if you think about it.

Hey, here’s a list of things I want to do before I kick the proverbial bucket!

And you know, that list isn’t so different from how it was…a few…years ago. (Bearing in mind that this list is all about ME. Of course, my main wants are that my husband stays healthy, and that my children grow up to be happy, healthy, productive adults. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s begin)

1. I want to live in Europe. Maybe for only a year, but I want to live there. Since my German now sucks, I’d probably have to live somewhere in the British Isles. Oh, that would be agony, wouldn’t it?

2. I want to ride a motorcycle on Route 66. Because I am a clodhopper, I would be perfectly content to ride bitch. Uh… honey? This may be the only time you’d actually get to call me your bitch, and I’d agree to it.

3. I want to see my books published, and I want them to be well received (I guess we’ll see how this goes after December 14, huh? Ack!). Eventually, I want to sit down and actually write my great opus. It has a title and everything, and, in my head, it’s so freaking good. But I have romance novels to write until then.

4. I want to visit the Northeast in fall, and I want to eat lobster in Maine. I have a weird obsession with Nova Scotia, too. Don’t ask. I don’t get it either.

5. I want to go someplace really awesome (Fiji, Tahiti), and have lots of great sex. Yep. I went there. But hey, who doesn’t want to go to an overwater bungalow and do it like rabbits?

What about you? What’s are some of the things you dream about doing?