Monday, December 30, 2013

Making Resolutions

Like many other authors, I'm resolving to spend more time writing and turning out good books, but how long will the momentum last? For years, I've spent time making resolutions only to discover that I spent more time listing the things I wanted to change than actually making any changes.  Let's face it...diet's keep getting postponed to 'next Monday,' along with those exercise program we plan to start.  I know...I'm still waiting for the Monday to come that is just right to cut back on chocolate. I don't expect to see it anytime soon.

Life often gets in the way of our best intentions, so I don't have much faith in resolutions.  In fact, I've stopped making them because of continued disappointment in my lack to exhibit the tenaciousness needed to make changes.  Someone once said, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," and I'm rather feeling like that old cur these days.  If you couple that saying with "Old habits die hard," you have two really significant reasons why resolving to change doesn't work.

Oh, I'm not totally resistant to change, I'm just being realistic.  I an say I'm going to sit in front of my computer more often and complete those works-in-progress, but chances are I'm kidding myself.  Once I surpassed the age when I truly expected to be dead, I resolved to enjoy life more.  Now, I not only have to contend with reality TV programs, Facebook has hooked me with Pet Rescue and Candy Crush. Last night, when I went to my desk to actually do some work, I discovered Royal Dice.  So, even though I resolve to avoid resolutions, I am going to try harder to be a more productive author...or at least win more dice games.

Happy New Year, ya'll.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Make a Joyful Noise by Ginger Simpson



Anne Collins curled up in her over-stuffed easy chair and glanced at the daily newspaper. The glass of wine on the end table reflected the crackling fire beyond the hearth. Her workday had prompted her to fill a much larger goblet than normal. If one more person mentioned having a ‘Merry Christmas’, she thought for certain she’d lose control. This year, the yuletide held no reason to celebrate. Her husband, Daniel, lay in the hospital, hanging by a thread. Being festive rated last on her ‘to do’ list.

Warmth spread throughout the room as the logs on the grate crackled and popped, chasing away the chill brought on by frigid temperatures and two feet of snow outside. Anne grew comfortable and tossed the paper aside. She picked up her white zinfandel and sipped it while reflecting on past holidays.

She always considered her life was full and blessed…until the diagnosis. Daniel never smoked a day in his life. How did he end up with throat cancer? Surely there were plenty of murderers or child molesters God could punish. Why her husband? He was the epitome of everything good.

Tears trickled down her cheeks, and she took a tissue from a nearby box and blotted her face. Hell couldn’t be any worse than watching Daniel waste away, suffering with every breath. The radiation and chemotherapy burned his throat and made it impossible for him to speak.  Seemed an eternity had passed since he flashed that smile she loved so much.

This was the first time in their married life she’d picked out and put up a Christmas tree without him. The anger festering inside made her want to rip it down, burn the gifts, and rant at the Lord for the unfairness, but…

A blast of cold air blew into the room as the door opened. “Hey, Mom, sorry, I’m late, but I stayed after school to finish up a science project.”

A smaller version of her mother, fourteen-year-old Casey slugged inside, stamping her feet on the rug in the foyer to clear the flakes from her boots. Peeling off her coat, she tackled the layer of sweaters beneath. “Boy, it is freezing out there.”
She opened the hall closet and hung everything inside, then turned to her mother with an arched brow. “Do you realize it’s the second week of December and we’re the only house on the block without outside decorations?”

Anne took a sip of wine to hide a grimace. “I know, dear. I just haven’t been in the mood this year.” She looked at her daughter and sighed. Casey was the only reason Anne hadn’t cracked under the stress.

Casey crossed the room and perched on the chair’s arm. “I can help put up the lights, Mom. All we need is a ladder. Dad left the little hooks up from last year.”

Anne shook her head. “We’ll do just fine without lights, Casey. Besides…” She stared into her lap, her eyes blurred with unbidden tears.

“Dad’s going to get better and come home, so why are you acting like he’s gone?” Casey stood and pulled her lips into pout. “You know how much he enjoys the holidays.” Her chocolate eyes glistened in the firelight, her tone demanded an answer.

Anne rose, walked to the mantle and picked up a filigreed picture frame. Looking upon Daniel’s smiling face sent pain stabbing at her heart. The photograph had been taken the year they went to Maui. Now thin and gaunt, he barely resembled the man she saw. It’d been weeks since he’d even acknowledged her presence in the hospital room.

She put the photo back and turned to her daughter. “Casey, I just can’t muster up any Christmas spirit. Your dad isn’t doing very well and I don’t feel very festive.” She returned to her chair and downed the rest of her wine, hoping it would numb her worried mind.

Casey peered down at her. “I know if Dad was standing here, he’d be disappointed that you’ve lost faith. Why have we gone to church all these years if you can’t trust God to take care of things?” She spun and stomped out of the room.

Anne pondered the question. Why couldn’t she trust God? The answer was easy. He’d allowed Dan to get sick in the first place. She stood and wandered into the kitchen, her wine glass in hand. After pouring a re-fill, she gazed out the window over the sink at the drifts of snow in the backyard. The old tire swing Casey used to love still hung from a giant branch now devoid of leaves. The setting sun was lost behind a gray wintry haze, and everything looked frozen. While her mind questioned God’s motives, Anne watched until the last trace of daylight disappeared and darkness fell.

She picked up her goblet and started to turn from the window, but a flash of light caught her eye. Too bright at first, it soon softened, and Anne blinked in disbelief.

The shimmering outline of an angel, dressed all in white, appeared just outside the glass. A glowing halo shone brightly above her head, and the assuring smile on her face sent a peaceful feeling coursing through Anne’s body.

The entity raised her arms, and as if by magic, an orb of light floated from her hands and rose into the heavens. Anne’s gaze followed the star’s trail as it climbed higher, illuminating the yard, the trees, the swing, and the old storage shed in the corner where Dan kept the gardening tools. Anne thought to call her daughter to witness the scene, but couldn’t find the voice to do it. She stood rooted to the spot, her eyes fixed on the wonder outside.

The heavenly creature floated a few feet above the ground and gestured toward the sky. The gray haze was gone and a canopy of stars twinkled above. One stood out above the rest, sending a blaze of light flashing to the ground. In the snowdrift just beyond the trees, Anne beheld another wonder. Unveiled one letter at a time, an invisible hand seemed to etch the glowing word ‘believe’ into the blanket of white. Anne gasped, trying to call out for Casey, but the image, along with the angel, vanished as quickly as they’d appeared. The stars still twinkled brightly overhead, but the yard turned dark again.  Her mouth agape, Anne marveled at lightness in her heart.
***


Casey sat at the desk in her room. Christmas music played softly on her radio, and she struggled to concentrate on her homework. How could she possibly focus on school when things at home were so depressing? She couldn’t bear to think of life without her dad, and it hurt that her mother had all but given up on his getting better.

With a sigh, Casey stood and walked to the bookshelf across the room. She searched the shelves until she found her Bible. She thumbed through the index, looking for verses pertaining to hope and found Proverbs 3:3-4. Turning to the passage, she read:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.She’d barely finished when she heard a strange noise coming from downstairs—a heavy thumping sound. Her put her Bible back in its place and tilted her ear to listen. She heard it again. Casey opened her door and the sound became louder. “Mom, what is that,” she called out.

When she received no answer, Casey went to investigate. The noise had stopped but she couldn’t find her mom. She walked through the entire house only to find it empty. A half-filled wine glass sat near the easy chair, but no sight of her mother.

The thumping began again—close and right outside. The porch light cast a strange-looking shadow on the front window. Casey grasped the knob and opened the door just a crack. She saw a ladder and a pair of legs from the knees down. She recognized the fur-lined boots.

“Mom, what are you doing up there?” Casey walked to the edge of the porch and peered up.

Bundled against the weather, her mother hammered at the wooden eave. “I’m putting up Christmas lights. Some of the hooks are loose and I’m tightening them. How about if you get a coat on and check the bulbs in the next strand while I finish hanging these.”

“But… I thought…” Forgetting the cold, Casey picked up a coiled cord and began unraveling it.

“I know, I know. I lost faith for a while,” her mother glanced down and nodded,” but for some strange reason, I’ve found it again. I have a strong feeling that Dad is coming home and we need to be ready.”

Casey smiled up at her mother. “Let me get my coat and I’ll be right back. Tomorrow we can put up the manger scene in the yard.”

“Good idea.” Anne went back to pounding.

Casey paused for a moment and looked to heaven. Her mind wandered to her last week's Sunday School lesson. Make A JoyfulNoise Unto the Lord - Psalm 100. "Who would've thought hammering could qualify?" she muttered, then smiled.  Humming “Silent Night,” she headed for the coat closet.  For the first time in weeks, she enjoyed feeling a sense of peace that magnified the joy of the holiday.  Faith would bind their family together; love would sustain them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

THE END! I finished Book 5 in the Curse of the Lost Isle series

Yep, I wrote THE END on the last page of the manuscript of CHATELAINE OF FOREZ, Book Five in the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series.

I'm going to polish it to a shine during the holidays, and send it to BWL as soon as they reopen in January. Publication date will depend upon how long it takes the editors (some of them in England), and BWL's talented cover artists, to put it together. I predict it will probably be in late February or early March.

Anyhoo... I'm very excited and celebrating right now. Although this is my... let me count... Twenty-third title (I had to go to Amazon to check how many I had already published), the thrill of finishing a book never gets old.

CHATELAINE OF FOREZ follows Melusine (after Lady of Luxembourg) on a new adventure (still based upon the authentic legends, this time in the independent province of Forez (France), where I had a great time researching the local archives a few years ago.

Here is the short blurb:

Still afflicted by the ondine curse, Melusine seeks the reincarnated soul of her lost beloved in the young Artaud of Forez, who reigns over the verdant hills south of Burgundy, on the road of pilgrims, troubadours and merchants. But this dark and brooding Pagan lord is not at all what she hoped. He knows nothing of their past love, her Fae nature, or her secret curse. Must Melusine seduce and betroth this cold stranger to satisfy the Goddess and redeem her curse?

The gold in the rivers instills greed in the powerful, and many envy the rich Lord of Forez, including his most trusted vassals... even the Archbishop of Lyon. When a mythological creature is sighted in the swamps, initiating a holy hunt, will Melusine find redemption from the curse, or will she and Artaud burn at the stake?

Find the first four novels of the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE in kindle on Amazon HERE
There is also a box set including the first three novels (best deal)


Find out more at: http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Great Apple Hunt



Every August, I wait and watch for the new crop of apples. I begin the process of filling my fridge with apples, and proceed to bake apple pies and apple bread. Then I fill my freezer with applesauce. The habit began early.

My parents had three acres in Skaneateles, NY which came with the remains of an orchard. There were seven trees in a row on the eastern side of the house, and I remember the shape and habit of each one well, blooming in spring or illuminated by sunrise. Nearest the road was a classic Golden Delicious tree with low, spreading limbs. It was my particular haunt, because it was easy to climb into. During hot summer afternoons, there were almost-comfortable notches you could get into with a book, but actually, the best thing was just to zone out and watch the ever-changing shadows of the leaves dancing across my skinny arms.   Besides this shapely tree there was also a Schuyler Plum, a Bartlett pear, and a single apple tree each of Rome and Cortland. We had one mystery tree which shed rock hard golden-with-pink-blush fruit very late in the season. To this last, my parents could not give a name until they consulted the local old-timers. This, we finally learned, was a Winter Banana. Although initially “hard enough to shoot through an oak plank”, we found that if you wiped these apples and stored them in a cool place inside a big cardboard box, by early January they would become tasty, juicy and delicious. These heritage apples kept so well, that we often made pies or sauce or even Waldorf salad as late as April. We rarely bought store apples.
Winter Banana

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Massachusetts and so had plenty of excellent northern apples to eat, and so my craving—after dearth years in the West Indies--was satisfied. The newly developed, sweet and crispy Macoun, glowing in those picture-perfect Massachusetts orchards was a revelation. For work, though, we had to move south. The apples here came earlier, and what I found were of poor quality. At the farm stands, the Macs, Romes and Cortlands, and even the ordinarily good keepers such as Staymen, all too soon in the long southern autumns, became mush.  Friends who lived up north sent me fruit by post, but I was an apple exile--deprived.

Moving again, into Pennsylvania, I hoped to find better apples, but at first, I couldn’t locate them. People here liked Lodi, for they come early, but about all they are good for is a mild, soupy sauce. No, the early greens are not favorites—and don’t even mention the awful saw-dust-look-but-don't eat supermarket Red “Delicious”!  The antique varieties our grandparents knew had been destroyed by subdivisions and marketing. I’ve lived in PA for 30 years now, and that once world-famous Pennsylvania export, the York Imperial--of "Treasure Island" fame--has never crossed my seeker’s path.
  
Happily, we are returning to a time in which people crave good taste again, and at the renascent farmer’s markets I'm again finding the old favorites.  It’s catch as catch can, depending on weather, rain and whether I find them fresh off the tree. There are some new, tasty varieties—the Ginger Gold, the Braeburn, the Gala, and the magnificent, late season Goldrush.  Among the newbies, I confess to a weakness for Empires and Jonagolds. The older breeds, however, to my old taste buds, will always be tops. My heart leaps when I find a hard, tart Jonathan or a traditional Winesap, or even a Cortland or a Rome, fresh from a good tree. This year, during my  annual apple hunt, I encountered my Holy Grail of heritage apples—Northern Spy—and enjoyed a brief time of rejoicing in each crispy, crunchy, tangy bite.     


Heritage apples/Assorted
~~Juliet Waldron
Historical Novels @ http://www.julietwaldron.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Night Before Christmas ~ A Poem by Shirley Martin


 
'Twas the night before Christmas                               
And inside my house
I sat at the computer
Clicking the mouse
 
My writing was great
And I couldn't complain
So I thought I'd celebrate
With a glass of champagne
 
But it's time for a break
I thought with elation
But how much time should I take
When I take my vacation?
 
Oh, I'll see it all
I'll see Venice and Rome
But after the Taj Mahal
'Twould be time to come home
 
I headed for the kitchen
To get the champagne
While thinking I'm just itchin'
To see Paris again.
 
As I took a sip
I heard the door chimes
And a woman outside called,
"I'm from the New York Times."
 
I opened the door
And there before me
The woman said, "You're the very person
"I've wanted to see."
 
"You're on our bestseller list,"
She quickly explained.
"Why, you're all I thought of
Before I even deplaned."
 
I gasped and I stammered
I turned ten shades of red
I giggled and said, "This
All goes to my head." 
 
"And look what we have here,"
She said in shrill tones.
"A big brass band with
Seventy-six trombones."
 
I turned from the doorway
And there on the street
A band started playing
With an ear busting beat.
 
"Now don't complain about the noise," she said,
"And don't call the cops.
Just listen to these girls and boys
Why, they think you're tops." 
 
"May I come visit a while,"
She asked with a smile.
"I've come all the way from New York
So let's pop the cork."
 
My success was assured
Or so it would seem
But then I woke up
It had all been a dream!
 
Still, 'twas a nice dream
When all's done and said,
So I set down my drink
And went on to bed.
 
Copyright (C) 2013 Shirley Martin
 
Find Shirley Martin here:



 
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

MY CHRISTMAS PAST--1949




I was born at the end of the baby bust, so when I was little, for a time, before all those glad-to-be-alive Dad’s arrived home from the war, just to be a kid was special. My cousin and I lived in a pleasant rural Ohio town, which had been home to both our families since before the Depression. Mike’s parents lived just four blocks from me. His parents had a Cadillac, a hand-me-down from his grandparents, who were sufficiently well-to-do to buy a new car every two years. These better fixed in-laws liked to “do things up right.”  At Christmas, this meant hiring a Santa Claus.

Now, I’ve heard more about this Santa since I’ve grown up, but when I was a kid, I actually suspected he just might be the real deal. For one thing, I was quite small the first time I saw him, no more than four.

The night before Christmas I was getting the whole “you better watch out, you better not cry,” bit from my parents. There were canned peas for dinner, and I remember forcing those rubbery pills down, and hoping not to gag.

In those days, children went to bed before their parents—long before. Right after dinner, there was a story, a wash-up, and then straight to bed. Tonight, however, right in the middle of the story, I heard sleigh bells.

My parents wondered aloud "Who can that be?" I wanted to go look out the window, but was told to sit still. Daddy would open the door.

When he did, in came the most perfect Miracle on 34th Street kind of Santa.  He was chubby and had a long white beard—a real one--a round face, a bright red suit, black patent leather belt and tall boots. He was even carrying a sack. My father was grinning in a way which clearly meant I was being snookered, so after I croaked out a “Hello, Santa,” I gamely asked about his reindeer.

“Well, Darlin', they’re up on the roof—and you don’t have a proper chimney, Judy Lee, so just I knocked on the door.” Well, this seemed reasonable, because I knew our chimney ended up inside the scary big coal furnace in the cellar--obviously not a good place for anyone to land. From somewhere outside, I could hear sleigh bells, just every once in a while, as if the reindeer were tossing their heads.

 Suspicion somewhat allayed, I watched him take the seat my mother offered.  Dad picked me up and put me down on Santa’s knee. Santa was authentically cold all over, his clothes, his face, his beard, and he had a good vibe, smelling pleasantly, as men often did in those days, of whiskey. He was a polite, low-key Santa. His “ho-ho-ho” sounded as if he was actually chuckling about some private joke.

He asked me what I wanted most for Christmas, so I told him about the “drink-wet” baby doll I wanted. Outside the door, sleigh bells softly jingled. It was pretty amazing, to be sitting on Santa's knee there beside our lighted Christmas tree, with shiny packages piled beneath.

 Then he said “Merry Christmas, Judy Lee,” and said he’d be back later with my presents. As he left, there was a blast of cold and the sound of bells again. I still wanted to peep out the window, but my Dad caught my hand and said, “Hey, JL! What did you think of that?”

 “Was that really Santa?”

He and my mother looked at each other and tried not to smile.  So, even though “Seeing is believing,” I was left with a strong feeling that they had been trying to fool me. In a good way, of course, the way grown-ups did, pretending because they thought we children expected it.
 Although my Santa had been nice, jolly and convincingly bearded, I hadn’t seen him fly away.  I'd very much wanted to see the reindeer perform this feat, but it was pretty clear that I wasn’t supposed to watch him go. My cousin was even younger than I, so about all I learned from him the next day was that he too had had a visit from “Santa.” I decided this visitor might have been The Real Santa--but probably not. In retrospect, I believe the whole performance pleased my elders as much as it pleased me.  


"God Bless us, Every One..." 



~~Juliet Waldron

Mozart's Wife
Roan Rose
Nightingale
Genesee
Angel's Flight
Hand-me-Down Bride
Red Magic

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A little bit of me in every book I write


by Killarney Sheffield

There is a little bit of me in every book I write. You’ve heard authors say that many times I’m sure and it is true. For me that is especially true because well, my road to becoming an author was probably pretty different than most. Why? I was a foster child for starters. Back in the 90’s there wasn’t a lot of resources for a foster kid and there was no money for furthering education outside of high school. I wanted to be a horse vet but struggled in school. I was told over and over I needed to apply myself more, the trouble was math, science and spelling were like learning a foreign language. It’s pretty hard to be a vet without good science and math skills, never mind the spelling. To make matters worse I hated school not only because I found the studies difficult but because I was bullied. I spent most of my time hiding in the library or bolting for the exit when the bell rang before the bullies could spot me. After school was my haven, what I waited for every moment of the day, the stables. Horses understood me and I understood them. They were my family, my friends and my comfort. They became even more meaningful to me when I found out I was Dyslexic only a few shorts months before graduation. I suppose years of reading with a flashlight under the covers helped me and disguised many of the symptoms. My dream of being a horse vet was dashed, but I still pursed a career teaching riding lessons, training, showing and shoeing horses. During all that time I wrote little stories and novels for my own enjoyment. One day many years later after my kids were all born and off to school I saw an article in a newspaper. The article on horse slaughter spoke to me and I wrote the editor a rebuttal. The editor phoned me, said he loved the article, he was going to publish it and could I write him a few more? He thought it was well written and we chatted for a bit and he said I should consider writing a book someday. I laughed and told him I had more than a few novels written on my computer, with the aid of spell checker, but didn’t dare send them anywhere. His comment got me thinking though and I got up the courage to send off those novels to a publisher. Well, long story short they started me on the road to being a published author and I have since had 15 titles published. In fact years after they were first released BooksWeLove has offered to re-released them again. The Cracksman’s Kiss, Stand & Deliver Your Heart, To Love A Horseguard and The Courtesan are and will be available right here! And yes there is a little bit of me in each one. In the Cracksman’s Kiss there is a scene where the heroine has a little… shall we say mammary problem. Yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I had the same problem with my first child. In Stand & Deliver Your Heart the heroine has a special bond with her horse named Shadow, and I have had the special bond many times over with my equine friends. To Love A Horseguard is really about my love affair with Russia, a place I very much would like to see one day and finally The Courtesan, is about a young Hutterite girl struggling to find her place in the world and her faith. Trust me I’ve been there as I’m sure many of you have. So the next time you hear there is a little bit of every author in each book they write you’ll know by my examples that it is true. Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!
Killarney Sheffield.

You can find me at: http://www.killarneysheffieldromanceauthor.com
My blogs: http://killarneysheffield.blogspot.ca
                 http://meldermanstables.blogspot.ca
Twitter: @authorkillarney
FB: Killarney Sheffield

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ROSES IN WRITING


A TRIBUTE TO ROSES FROM MARGARET TANNER

Housekeeping and tidying up. Not my favourite topic or occupation, unless we are taking about tidying up my garden. In particular my rose garden, which I tend with loving care, because roses truly deserve special treatment. No chore to tidy up here. I banish any weed the moment it rears its ugly head near my “lovelies.”

Roses are my favourite flower. My husband thinks I am obsessed with them.  I always wear rose perfume, Bush Rose, Musk Rose. The Yardley (English company) Rose has a lovely perfume, as sweet and fragrant as its namesake. How many wonderful people have you met who are called Rose, Rosy, Rosemarie, Rosemary?

I have to confess that my garden is full of roses. Hubby hates them with a passion because he thinks they deliberately jump out and stick their prickles into him.

I love the old fashioned roses the best. They may not be quite as colourful as the modern day varieties, but they always have a gorgeous perfume.  Just Joey, a beautiful large bloomed orange rose with a delightful perfume is one of my favourites.  Another favourite is a blood red rose named Oklahoma, the perfume is as heady as wine. My garden has recently acquired a rose called. The Chocolate Rose. I have to say that although the bloom is pretty, it isn’t stunning, but it certainly has a chocolate perfume, and you can take that observation from a chocoholic. If there is one thing I know, it is the smell of chocolate.

It amazes me how often I seem to put a flower in the title of my romance novels, give my characters a floral name or mention flowers, mostly roses, in my stories. It must have been an instinctive thing because I don’t recall actively trying to do this.

One of my published novels was titled The English Rose. It had rather a tragic publishing history, but I did a re-write, and it has now been released by Books We Love as Frontier Belle, but the hero thinks the heroine looks like a fragile English rose and he often calls her a delicate hothouse flower. In my novel, Haunted Hearts, the heroine’s daughter is called Rosie. Daphne is the name of my heroine in A Mortal Sin. I have also written a short story with the title Call Of The Apple Blossom.  

In my historical novel, Lauren’s Dilemma, there is a poignant scene set in a garden and the heroine’s husband, (not the man she loves, but the man who married her to save her from the disgrace of having a baby out of wedlock), hands her a cream coloured rose.

In Savage Possession, the white rose worn by the Highlanders in the Jacobite rebellion is mentioned. Daring Masquerade has scenes set in gardens with lavender and rose bushes mentioned. In Fiery Possession, the hero takes the heroine out into the beautiful rose garden created by his mother.

Can you see a pattern here?
                              
So, there you have it. I wonder if there is such a thing as a roseaholic?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ghost Writing



As someone who sits down daily and tries to plunk out a least a few paragraphs of a work-in-progress, I'm highly annoyed at the publicity and fame many have enjoyed because of the talents of their ghost writer. I'm not sure I understand how there can be any feeling of accomplishment on the part of the so-called author, when the closest they came to creating the novel was verbally relaying information to someone else. But let's face it, you can't live on pride alone.


From the monetary perspective, I think I chose the wrong profession. I should have tried my hand at ghost-writing. According to Wikipedia, although some ghost writers are hired to polish a completed manuscript, most are hired to write the entire novel. Information garnered as I read made me nauseous. It's reported that ghost writers for 'big name authors' contracted by NY publishers receive anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 from the 'author's' advance. At the time the information was compiled, Hilary Clinton's memoirs had not yet been completed, but it was estimated that her ghost writer would receive $500,000 from Hilary's eight million dollar advance. Cough, gasp, vomit! What about her life is memorable enough to warrant eight million dollars when people are starving to death in America???


Barak Obama used a ghost writer to pen his novel, too. It makes me wonder if he is able to sign necessary documents in the oval office, or dose someone do it for him. *lol*

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Christmas Pick Me-Up

After struggling to decide what to get my mother for Christmas year-after-year, I decided to ask her what she needed.  You know by the time someone is over the age of 80, they pretty much have it all.  I was so surprised when she asked me to write her a story..so I did, and Virginia's Miracle was born.  It's been published by a few years, and it's not a very long read, but it certainly made her happy.  Hope you'll find your Christmas Spirit between the covers as she did.


Virginia's Miracle by Ginger Simpson
Buy Link
Womens Fiction
$1.50

Summary:
Virginia Collins fears her life is almost over. The one thing that still brings her joy is spending time with her young grandson, Davey. It's Christmas, and despite trying to view the holiday through a child's anxious eyes, Virginia still feels empty, alone and can't find her spirit. So many loved ones have passed, the yuletide is forever changed...until she receives a special Christmas Eve message.


Excerpt:
Tiredness pulled Virginia's mouth into a huge yawn. Tomorrow would be hectic with everyone there, dinner to prepare-a time to give thanks. It would be a good time to let go of her anger at God, if only she could. She had to restore her faith. for Davey's sake. Somehow!

With her palms pressed together beneath her chin, Virginia repeated the same prayer she chanted nightly since her mother's death.

"Dear Lord, please help me to find forgiveness in my heart and help me understand why things happen the way they do. do. I know you have a plan for everything, and I ask you to watch over my little grandson especially. Keep him safe, and please, please help me to teach him right from wrong. Amen."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ten Ways to Be A Better Writer by Rita Karnopp


“Always kill with lean writing,” Catherine Coulter once said. “Sloppy writing is not acceptable. … You don’t want to end up being a murder victim in your own book.”
I so believe that . . . and it's the little things that can make you a better writer.
     1. Ban the adjectives - “Treat adverbs like compliments. A few go a long way.  Listen to what you are writing and if you would not say it aloud, then don’t write it.  The trick is to read it aloud, and your ear will reveal the truth.  Remember the golden rule ‘nothing you write is set in stone—change it and change it until it sounds right.
     2. What is wrong with “said?   Avoid repetition- Cut out those “She encouraged.” “He snapped.” “Damn this God forsaken place, he yelled frantically.  Think about it, it’s like writing, “I’m sorry, he apologized.” You don’t need all the excess words. ‘Keep it simple’ applies here. Every time you use a substitute a word for “said,” the reader blinks—and you have pulled her/him out of the scene. Keep in mind you want constant forward motion. Trust your characters – they know what they are thinking and feeling.
     3. Erase exclamation marks – When I started writing I was told you’re allowed three per book - so use them wisely.”
     4. Expunge euphemisms - Blue orbs for eyes? Really?  Don’t stall your reader into pausing – guessing - what are blue orbs?  Back to writing ‘simple.’
     5. Stereotypes – Characters should be unique and true to themselves—especially bad guys. Imagine them and make sure they ring ‘real.’  Are the people you know – our everyday family and friends – are they physically stunning knockouts? Then don’t create perfect people in your books – you know anyone perfect?  I surely don’t.   Make sure you have a very good reason for whatever you do. Consider giving your characters some sort of ‘tag,’ some quirk that will make them real.
      6. Use restraint in sex scenes – Again – ‘less is more.’  Be sensual, even make your reader squirm . . . but do it with taste.  You don’t have to explain every little detail. The reader will get more out of a scene with tasteful illusions.  Do not overwrite.  Remember humor can be sexy.
     7. Skip introspections – Introspection (self-examination or self-analysis) kills pacing and pacing is key to a good story.  If a character can say something aloud instead of think it, then choose to say it aloud.
     8. Use care with violence and language – If an intense violent scene doesn’t actually advance the plot of the story, don’t use it.  Never write scenes with shock value, it’s gratuitous and you don’t need it.”
     9. Never use cliché’s – We’re all sick of them – and they almost make us laugh at this point. ‘Pull an all-nighter.  See the writing on the wall. Fit as a fiddle. Moment of truth.’ Ugh, get rid of them or your reader might stop reading.
     10. And above all, enjoy writing your story – it will show - Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t push yourself to the point writing is a chore instead of a pleasure. it will not be your best work and it will definitely show.
Happy Holidays Everyone.   Hope these few tips help you to enjoy a more profitable New Year.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Memories of Christmas

I love Christmas. Always have. I'm sure it comes from being raised in a family of Christmas lovers. My mother started the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving by baking. I
swear she made every type of Christmas cookie available. 
Back then, during the holidays friends and relatives visited often and she always served a dish of cookies. 
I remember several big 3# potato chip cans full of cookies. When she went out for the evening, she called to see if we were behaving. Our reward - three cookies. Of course, we took three from each can. Even with six of us (I had three brothers and two sisters) we didn't make a dent. 
Our Christmas tree went up December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. We put our stockings up the night before and in the morning we received oranges, apples, and nuts. Sometimes a harmonica or other small toy. 
My mother went all out for Christmas with an elaborate village set up under our tree, complete with hills, caves, and houses - all lit and surrounding the nativity set. It took a whole day for my mom to set it up. I'll never forget her crawling on the floor under the tree. After laying a bed of cotton, she carefully arranged the caves in the back corner, built hills and valleys and placed the houses. She even created streams and ponds with tinfoil and mirrors. Everything led to the nativity set. A cardboard stable held animals along with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Every year one of us got the privilege of placing baby Jesus in the manger. Once they were in place, she set up the shepherds, wise men, and angels. 
For many years, she place a wooden fence around the whole scene. For some reason, she quit setting that up. I wish I had that fence.
I'll never forget how the neighbors complained that she put the tree up so early because, of course, their kids wanted their tree up also.
On Christmas Eve, we had a traditional supper. My aunt, uncle, and four cousins joined us and after dinner, we went to visit my grandmother.
Our dinner consisted of Oplatky (holy bread wafers like you receive at communion) mushroom soup, balbaki - little bread balls covered in either poppy seed and honey or sauerkraut. At some point, we added periogis to the menu. 
One of my favorite memeroies is the year my uncle decided to dress as Santa Claus. He decided to wear the suit to my grandmother's. My sister and I often rode with him, while some of my cousin rode with my parents.  On this particular year, we stopped at a traffic light. A man came out of the bar on the corner. My uncle waved and yelled Merry Christmas. The man stopped, looked in the car, scratched his head, turned and went back into the bar. Guess he thought he was seeing things. 
I have many great memories of Christmas, and I still carry on the Christmas Eve dinner tradition. 




Wishing everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas.                                                                                                                                                               

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Meet Cassie Fremont - Betrayed's Heroine by Ginger Simpson

I'm so excited to announce the release of my "relationship" novel, Betrayed.  This story is inspired by my sister's real-life experience with computer dating, and delivers a message everyone should read.  The explanation at the end of the book will explain away any doubts you might have and help you understand the writing perspective.  Please, please excuse any typos you might find since in the midst of completing this book, my computer crashed, I finished the manuscript on text edit, then transferred to Word Perfect and transmitted as a Word document.  The book was previously published under a different title, but didn't receive the notoriety it deserves.  Books We Love has given me a chance to revamp the story and offer it with a new title, new name, and correct genre promotion.  I'd like you to meet my heroine, and the best way to do that is through an interview:

Meet Cassie Fremont...

“Get out there.  You promised to do this, remember?”  *Ginger pushing Cassie onto the stage*

*Cassie digs in her heels* “Okay, okay, I’m going, but I’d like to remind you that you’ve already put me through hell in that friggin’ book of yours.”

*Cass approaches the microphone and taps it* “Can everyone hear me?”  *smiles* “My name is Cassie Fremont and I’m the heroine in Betrayed.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to share with you that Ginger hasn’t already divulged in the story.  God knows she told you everything. *rolls eyes* I guess nothing is sacred when it comes to novels.”

*Pulls up nearby stool and inches her butt onto it. Heaves a big sigh, and runs her hands along her slacks while peering into the bright lights over the crowd.*  “Well, I promised her I’d make an appearance today, along with everyone else she’s invited, so I’ll get on with it.”

*Shrugs* “I’m a dolt   What can I say?  I found myself divorced, middle-aged and lonely.  I share a home with my mother because I don’t want her to live alone, but she pretty much keeps to her own part of the house. I have a lot of spare time so I entertain myself with the Internet. Don’t we all spend time on the computer? Well, I happened across a dating site one night…big deal   I figured it wouldn’t hurt to join and see what happened.  I never expected anyone… Okay, that’s a lie.  I wouldn’t have joined if I hadn’t hoped someone would notice my post.  I just didn’t expect it would turn out like it did.”

*Cassie rises, pulls microphone from stand and walks toward edge of stage.* “I admit I was flattered at all of Evan’s flowery words and his Texas accent, but I have no idea what happened to my common sense.  I’m quite sure everyone was stunned that I let a virtual stranger move into my house… and my bed. *gazes down at stage*  I guess if you’ve never been afraid of growing old alone, you can’t fathom why I did what I did.”

*Pauses, pinches the bridge of her nose, then peers out at the audience again*
“I should have listened to my sister and brother, but I didn’t.  Instead, I flew into a rage and wrote them off.  For too long, they weren’t part of my life, but I was so wrapped up in myself and Evan, I didn’t miss them until things got so bad I had no where else to turn.”

*Shakes her head* “Hey, talking about this is depressing the hell out of me.  I’ve moved on to newer pastures.  If you want to know the whole story, you’ll just have to buy the book. Betrayed…*stares at the ceiling for a moment* "What a dopey name  I would have thought an author would pick a title that didn't give away the story"

"*Walks back to stand and replaces microphone* “I can’t say it was a pleasure being here today, because no one likes to admit being an dolt, but it happens.  All I can say is if I pull another idiotic stunt, I sincerely hope Ginger will have the courtesy to forgo writing another book about it. I could write a journal about her stupidity, but I haven’t.  *looks backstage and flashes a glare, then exits to applause*

***

If you think this is something you might enjoy, you can find the Kindle version, priced right for immediate purchase on my Amazon page.  And...to Cassie's chagrin, I have another story in the works...maybe two more.


Contentment

Contentment My birthday yesterday and another year older. Things are going wonky, bits falling off, midsection growing exponentially, p...