Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Blog Post: Virginia Voelker

To continue in my series of Mommy Authors, a post from Virginia Voelker, author or The Color of Ordinary Time.  Stay tuned next week for a reveal of the cover to my newest book, Hot Mess.

Battle Cry 

Hi.  My name is Virginia, and I’m a writer.  I’m also a mom, a wife, a knitter, a failed would be rock goddess, a blogger, a reader, a reviewer, an amateur historian, and the most deadly gardener I know.  I would like to tell you that I have a set time for writing everyday.  I would like to claim that I sit down from the hours of nine to noon and diligently craft my stories over a soothing cup of fragrant tea.  I would like to say that my life is harmoniously organized and transcendent.  I would like to assert all of that.  But I would be such a liar.

I love being a mom not just because I love my boys.  Although I do.  I love that moment when they’ve learned something and are so excited they want to go out and use their knowledge now.  I love the energy and confidence they bring to the proceedings of their lives.  I enjoy the fun.  I enjoy the honesty.  I enjoy the little traditions that are just ours.

I write because I love that moment in a well crafted story where you can hardly turn the page because you know what is coming next could be too awful for words.  I also love that moment when the story takes a turn that is so right, or good, or true, that reading the passage brings tears to your eyes.  I aspire to writing those moments.  Sometimes I’m almost successful.

These two things — being a mom, and being a writer — are the only things I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m not going to pretend it’s always easy, or well organized.  For the moment my boys are young enough that I do far more mom-ing than I do writing.  Over time I know that will change.  Until the change comes, I write on the back of shopping receipts while I wait for the bus, or in a notebook next to my dying garden while the boys play tag.  I keep great ideas on brightly colored sticky notes that migrate around the house with me.  Sometimes a sticky note turns out to hold a grocery list instead of a great novel.  Such is life.

At night, after the boys have had their stories and are tucked in, I sit down at my computer.  As I sort through my sticky notes and receipts I work at creating those written moments I aspire to.  I don’t mind that it’s hard work.  Hard work makes you strong.  I don’t even mind that I fail more than I succeed, for I have been granted a battle cry by my sons.

My battle cry is made up of the words my oldest used to repeat to himself when he was a preschooler and concentrating hard on something.  To me they are the embodiment of energy and confidence in the face of struggle.

“Strawberry Jam!  I’m a genius!”

How could I possibly fail with a battle cry like that?

Virginia's blog can be found HERE

Her book, The Color of Ordinary Time, can be purchased from the following:  You guys may have to copy/paste the links in the browser window.  My links aren't working for some reason.(Anne's note)

At Amazon:  HERE  or

At Barnes and Noble:  HERE

At lulu:  HERE or

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guest Post: Jennifer Raygoza

Another guest post in my series of Mommy Authors...

I was asked to write about my experiences with balancing motherhood and being an author. First off let’s start with the word difficult. I try to write when my two children are at school, but sometimes the inspiration is not there at the moment. I try to write when the children are sleeping, but sometimes the hectic day of housework, children’s homework and life events can exhaust me. So let’s get to the meat of it. I find myself torn between trying to get all my ideas written down, and keeping my promise to go watch SpongeBob with my irritated children who have been waiting for hours.
I love my children but writing when they are in the home is hard. Anyone who is a writer probably needs a little bit of quiet to work, and no distractions to get it done. If your house is like mine once the kids come home-It probably gets pretty noisy and pretty crazy. I would say author moms have to do plenty of multi-tasking to get anything done. On any given day you can see me writing, advertising and doing homework while texting or emailing on my phone all in the same shot. It can be overwhelming. I am still learning how to balance everything. I have started to shut down my PC, and leave my work undone so I can give more time to the kids. I have realized it’s still going to be there. I will still finish it. It just may take a little longer than expected.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Guest post:Brandy Jellum

For the next week or two, I'm going to feature some guest posters who are writing about their take on balancing their lives as a writer and a mommy.  My first poster is Brandy Jellum, a member of my critique group.  She currently has two really exciting works in progress:  Race Wars, and A Witch's War.  I have an ulterior motive here.  I'm looking for tips, as I have a hard time balancing my two roles of family gal, and Indie Author.  Anybody interested in writing a post, email me at

So you want to write?

For some of us that is easier said than done. For some, they have the luxury of writing as their full time job and have all the time in the world to do it. For others, quite like myself, it is one of the most difficult things I have ever encountered. When I started writing just a little over a year ago, all I could think was “Wow, this isn't as hard as I thought.”. Boy was I wrong. Being a mother of not one, not two, not three, but four children all in different stages of their lives is no easy task in itself.

We have Ms. Diva, the pre-teen middle schooler who thinks that the world literally rises and sets with her. That she knows everything and anything and rolls her eyes at you every chance she gets. Next, we have the 2nd grader, wild and rambunctious, who has started to become quite a trouble maker himself. We move on to the 4 year old drama queen, who thinks everything means the world is coming to an end. Quite seriously. Everyday is a global meltdown day at least five times throughout the day, and that's on a good day. Finally, we have the 19 month old, who is trying his best at pushing limits. Climbing out of his playpen by the age of 1, to climbing over the baby gates, jumping out of the bay window and into EVERYTHING. So yeah, writing with children is quite a difficult one. The newest development is, is whenever I have my laptop or notebook out, Mr. Daredevil himself, is at it at once. Either he's trying to slam the top of the computer closed so I can't write or trying to slam the keyboard. If I'm using pen and paper, he's relentlessly trying to take them out of my hands and throwing them on the ground. It's like he knows mommy is trying to write and it's not okay.

Most days, I end up quitting before I even get started.

While the older two kids in school, my days are usually less hectic. I tell myself each and everyday as soon as Mr. Daredevil takes a nap, I will sit down and write. That never happens. Once he is asleep, I realize I need to utilize whatever amount of time I have to do house work. It's never-ending between doing the dishes, washing laundry, figuring out dinner, and vacuuming. The list goes on. Once I finally finish doing house chores, I sometimes manage a little time to write. Just as I get into my writing and everything is moving along, the words are freely writing themselves, it's time to pick up the oldest from school. When all the kids are at home, there's homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time. As well as hitting, biting, arguing, thrashing the house I just spent all day trying to clean, attitudes and just not wanting to listen.
Then there is also work. On top of parenting four children and trying to write, I work 25-35 hours a week at our local Target. It is my home away from home, I don't feel like suffocating. Some of my best ideas have actually come to me while at work. The only problem is, when an idea strikes, I can't just stop what I am doing to jot down an idea or to write. By the time I get a break/ lunch break, I lost the idea altogether.

Writing is so hard.

But somehow, someway, I manage to make it work. I am able to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. I may not write as often as I would like but I get it done. Granted, there are times where I don't write for several days at all. That's okay though. Because when I finally manage some down time in this hectic life of mine, the writing is beautiful. I come with a fresh pair of eyes. In the past year, I've managed to get to the final editing/revision stage for one work in progress. I'm half-way through the first rough draft of another work in progress. And just yesterday I started a new work in progress, which I am entirely thrilled about. 

Thankfully, there are some days where I can slip my headphones on, blast Imagine Dragons or Mozart, sometimes I even listen to some good ol' Frank Sinatra or even the soundtrack to Glee, whatever I am in the mood for and I just write until I can't write anymore. I'm lucky to have my husband home at night now to where I can do this. 

So what I am trying to say is that if I can do it, there is no reason why you can't do it. Have kids? No biggie. Have a full time job? Ah, that's nothing. In school? Who cares. If you truly, truly want to be a writer and write a book, then do it. Don't do it with the idea of becoming a famous author, don't do it for the money, because honestly, you may never make much off your books. Don't hope to have your book turned into a movie, because really what are the chances that will will happen. 

Do it for yourself.

Give yourself that one thing that is truly yours and yours alone. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. I know I am. Seriously, I'm a mother of four, a wife, a maid, a cook, a nanny, a nurse, all combined into one. As well as working outside of my home. And I'm only 23 years old. 

I make the time where ever I can squeeze it in because writing is something I truly love doing. Some days are just harder than others.

Contact her on facebook

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Brandy's blog

Monday, May 27, 2013

Author Interview: Bethany Daniel

Today, it is with pleasure that I interview a new author, Brittany Daniel.

Tell us about yourself, outside of writing.  

I am 24 and a wife and mommy. I have 2 little boys that keep me busy! 

Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for other writers who are looking to publish? 

Don't let rejections make you upset. Everyone has their own style and not every book will fit into the box the publishers have in mind. And when you do put your work out there, don't let negative reviews make you hide away, be proud of your work.

How do you market your work? 

Bloggers! They really help a lot in reaching people you couldn't otherwise. Also Facebook, Twitter, and word of mouth from people who have read it and enjoyed.

Tell a little about your most recent work.  

 My book is Reconnected, it's Young Adult/ New Adult. It's about Liam Warren and his lost love, Katy. They were High School sweethearts and got married right away. Liam was a theater actor and got discovered by Excite Entertainment. When they got to L.A Liam changed and pushed Katy away, he just didn't realize it until it was to late and she left, but they never actually divorced. 4 years later, when he's in Georgia for filming, their paths cross again and Liam wants to make them work again, but has to convince her.

Tell us about your favorite character from the book

I think my favorite character in Reconnected is Krista. She's Kate's best friend, and Scott's love interest, and she's just fun. She's sarcastic and puts herself out there, but she really loves her best friend and would do anything for her.

What motivates you to sit down and write? 

Just when ideas get in my head. Like I'll be sitting there thinking about a scene and it'll kind of play itself out in my head so I'll sit down and write  it all out.

Describe your writing process  

I don't plot out my story ahead of time. Other then figuring out my story line and characters names/personalities and such. The story part, I just sit and start going with how I feel the story should be directed.

Where does your inspiration come from? 

I've always been one to follow Hollywood gossip, and I thought it would be fun to write something in that world. I live far away from that kind of life, but its fun to put yourself in those shoes. Ideas can come from anywhere.

What do you think your greatest strength is in your writing? 

Connecting with my characters. I really  try to be in their heads and make my readers feel like they can connect with them.

Do you have a current work in progress?  Can you tell a little bit about it? 

I'm currently writing Disconnected, the story of Reconnected from Liam's POV. I really feel like it adds to the story and fills in places some people may feel as though lacked in Reconnected. I'm also considering writing Krista and Scott their own story down the line if Reconnected and Disconnected do well.

Links to buy Reconnected:

You can also connect with Bethany on FacebookPinterest, and Goodreads

I downloaded my copy of the book this morning, and I'm planning on posting a review soon!  Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I've been called crazy before...

Yesterday, I took a chance.  I gave away almost a hundred copies of one of my books, readers' choice.  Every person that wanted a copy had to "like" my facebook page, go to my website, choose a book, and then message me through facebook, or send me an email before midnight last night.

This accomplished multiple things for me.  I increased my "likes" on facebook, so more people will get to read my daily progress updates, as well as snippets, and stuff.  Then I increased traffic to my website and blog.  Yay me!  In addition to that, I started a dialogue with each and every person that messaged me.  I asked them to leave reviews, good or bad, but if they were bad, to make them constructive.  I also asked that if the book wasn't their cup of tea to not review it at all.

If a quarter of them leave reviews, I'm in good shape.  At any rate, my goal was met.  I reached more people in one day than I thought was possible at this stage in my career.  Hopefully, this will have some long-term results that will be positive.

Next week, I will be running a series of guest blog posts about writing while wearing the Mommy hat.  I have a few exciting posts lined up.  Stay tuned!

Have a great and safe holiday weekend, everybody!

Friday, May 24, 2013

I'm almost finished with this round of revisions, and I think I'll have time to send out for another round of beta reading before I need to send it to my editor.  I'm still waiting on some feedback from HIV community (I put a lot of information in, and I need to make sure I'm not a big, fat liar).  They seemed excited to read it a month ago, but since they haven't sent me anything yet, I can only assume they're busy.  The perk of being an Indie Author in the digital age, is that I can always go back and resubmit a revised work, if they get back to me after my deadline.

I've really gotten to know my characters here, what I like for them to do, what I don't like.  And I'll be sorry to see them move on to the next stage of their lives.  I am excited for them, though.  The anticipation of them going out into the real world to be judged by other people is really exciting.  Knowing not everybody will love them as much as I do, I can only hope that at least they feel something for them. And leave a review.

I'm running a giveaway on my facebook page.  If I can get up to 200 likes today (5/25), then every person who messages me will get a free copy of an ebook of their choice.  So, if you run across this blog post today, and you haven't "liked" my facebook page, head on over there: and like it.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Finally back to my writing, and I'm in the down-hill stretch of my revising process.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not finished, by any means.  But I've got the notes, and the ideas, and I know what I want to do to fix things. I just have to get them in there, somehow.

I'm not sure if I've said this in this forum or not, but revisions are a lot like dating for me.  Every pass I make through my manuscript, the better I know my characters.  This particular pass, I'm at a point in the story, where one of my beta readers told me I'm telling too much.  So I'm going back to try to "show" instead, and I'm really learning some things about the character.

Earlier today, I saw a thread on goodreads, where people were talking about character sheets they use before they start writing.  I am familiar with those.  Back in college, I was in Theater, and used character sheets for everything.  I honestly thought about using them when I started writing, I even printed some out.  But I couldn't finish a character sheet before starting the novel, because I didn't know that much about the character yet.  I had to write the story to learn about the character.  Does that even make sense?  I'm a little brain dead right now, so I hope so...

Anyway, I've gone back and re-worked some aspects of this novel, that the character sheet can be filled out in my sleep.  But apparently, I haven't gotten the traits into the story very effectively, so that's what I'm working on now.  Showing, not telling, and making Sam less like a moody, ignorant bi*ch.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I'm always afraid to take breaks from anything that I'm on a roll with, because then I lose momentum, and it's hard to get back into the groove.

Like this week, I've been forced to take a break from my writing for family stuff.  I'm losing my focus, and I know I'll spend half of next week getting back into the swing of things.  This week, I've done little in the way of marketing, even less in the way of writing.  I have done nothing towards my new cover, and all the little loose ends I was going to tie up?  Fugetaboudit...

So, while I'm stuck cleaning my house for company, getting my kids ready for this weekend, and basically being a mommy, I have my notebook next to me.  I always think of great stuff while I'm driving, and have become pretty adept at writing without looking at my notebook.  Reading it is another story altogether...

I have lunch with another Indie Author on Monday, and I'm hoping I can jump-start my focus then, and leave our "meeting" with a to-do list a mile long.  That will get me back into the swing of things.

Meanwhile, I'll take a look at my calendar and see how far ahead of schedule I am, and remind myself that everyone needs breaks.  That they're healthy.  That I will be rejuvenated on Tuesday, when I get down and dirty with my laptop.

I just love my job so much, I hate to take a vacation.  Especially to clean my house....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


As an Indie Author, I've discovered there is no other industry like this one...  It's all about the networking.

I used to sell Avon, and the big thing in the Multi-Level Marketing industry is what's called the "Power of Three": Talk to three people every day about your product or business.  If you do that, you can be pretty successful.  The only problem was, I talked to the wrong three people, and ended up with a team that didn't stick with the plan.  So, while I had a great start to my career with Avon, it fizzled out and left me disheartened.

Indie Authors face the same challenges as MLMs, only instead of trying to get people to buy into their business opportunity, they're trying to sell themselves.  Writing is very personal, even if it is fiction, it's still a bit of ourselves on those pages (screens, whatever), and we are banking on somebody falling in love with our words, us.

I jumped into this head first.  I had experience with marketing, and am not shy.  I have absolutely no problem joining every possible online forum, and saying, "Howdy!"

And I've made some great friends this way.

Friends from all over the world, actually.  Well, one of them was a reconnect, when we both realized we'd been writing.  I haven't seen her since college, but we've been friends since kindergarten, when I latched my arm through hers, refusing to let go, insisting we were superglued together.  Ah...good times.  Now, she's in the UK somewhere, writing and teaching yoga, and is an awesome link in my support chain.

I've made friends in Spain, Australia, the UK, and all over the US.  I call them friends if we've chatted back and forth online somehow, either through goodreads, email, facebook, whatever.  I've interacted with them, in a positive manner, and that makes them my friend.

One lady that I've interacted with in such a manner actually lives about two hours away from me, and we've made a plan to get together for lunch one day next week.

I'm really looking forward to lunch with Jill, as I haven't really gotten a chance yet to sit down and bounce ideas off another writer, certainly not one who writes the same type stories I do, has similar interests, and *gasp* computer knowledge!  I'm hoping to pick her brain on some software stuff, how to convert word files to mobi files and stupid junk like that.

Aside from actually writing, and creating stories, my favorite part of the marketing aspect of Indie Writing is definitely all of the people that I've met in the journey.  Some of them have been harsh, but that's okay.  I strive for honesty in my relationships.

In the meantime, sales are up so far this month, and that makes me a happy girl.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: How to Write an Awful Romance

Product Details

By B.D. Trash...

Methinks this is a pseudonym....

This tongue in cheek novella/how to guide explores stereotypes in Romance writing sub-genre by sub-genre. I ran across it purely by accident, while I was searching for free reads on Kindle.  My first thought was, "But I already know how to write an awful romance."  Considering it a Continuing Education course, I went ahead and downloaded it, always looking to learn something new.

And I did.

To write an awful Historical Romance, no research is absolutely necessary.  Just be American (check), make the hero a duke, and the heroine a spitfire.  Other suggested "ingredients" for a Historical are: "grand society ball or masquerade, an elopement to Gretan Green (just over the Scottish border, where people under age could legally marry without parental consent:, possibly a highwayman, a broken-down coach, a mysterious governess of noble background, a great inheritance, and at minimum, a couple of hot sex scenes."

Exploring genres such as Beastly Romance, Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Fantasy Romance with Trash was fun.  The author explained that once I hit fifty, my romances will probably lose a little steam in the sex scenes, so I may want to switch over to Spiritual Romance.

This book was more entertaining than anything else, and I suspect the writer is a traditionally published author, making a little jab at Indie Authors who slop through their writing, self-publish, and call it a day.

Maybe not.  At any rate, this was a quick read that actually made me laugh out loud a couple of times, with it's irreverence of the craft.  If you're a fan of satire, and have a pretty good sense of humor about your own work, read this.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Crimson Sky, By Gretchen Craig

Crimson Sky


Wow.  It has been years since I've read historical fiction this good.  Margaret George, eat your heart out.  It took me a while to read this, but it was sooooo worth it.  I'm glad I didn't make it through this in an evening.  I relished these words.

Ms. Craig has managed to weave a tapestry of life in 1598 New Mexico, with the life of the Keres, Pueblo Indians.  I could go into a synopsis of the story, with lists of characters, and a plot summary and all that.  But I'm not.  What I'm going to say is this:  If powerful storytelling is your thing, if factual research is your thing, if three dimensional characters, both primary and secondary is your thing, if great story structure with interwoven sub-plots and few if any holes is your thing, then Crimson Sky is certainly worth your time.

This is not just a sensitive story about Native Americans, but their struggles through droughts, invaders (both foreign and domestic), and disease.  Ms. Craig shows such an in-depth portrayal of this culture, that I feel like I've been living with them this past week.  My heart has been torn out, put back, and torn out again.  She portrayed both the Native Americans and the Spaniards as humans, inherently weak, yet with an inner strength to survive. 

This story was filled with poignant images, detailed settings, and real people.  My heart ached for the characters, even the antagonists, because Ms. Craig made them REAL.  This is something I struggle with in my own writing, making the bad guys have something likeable in them, because that makes them more realistic.  I'm taking notes on this one.

The story itself was reminiscent of the Odyssey, or Cold Mountain, with a hero and his trek, although it also brings to mind Shakespeare and his star-crossed lovers.  But this one has my favorite: an HYE.  I'm looking forward to my next Gretchen Craig book.

When I was sixteen, my dad and I took a camping trip across Texas, to El Paso, New Mexico, and up to Pueblo, Colorado.  These tiny cliff-dwellings fascinated me in a way that no place else in America has ever captivated me before.  I spent the rest of the summer trying to imagine living inside those tiny apartments (And then I went off to college.  Ha!)  This book was a true treasure for me to find, as it reminded me of this vacation with my dad.  If he were alive today, he would have read it, and enjoyed it immensely.

I loved this book.  Period.  It's now in my top ten.

Kudos, Gretchen Craig.  Thank you for a wonderful read.

At Amazon:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fodder, Fodder Everywhere...

As a romance author, I'm looking for romantic gestures everywhere:  at the grocery store, where a man is buying somebody flowers, at the car pick-up line, where the little boy with puppy dog eyes hugs his kindergarten teacher, and in my car on the way home from school, as my daughter tells me of her latest boyfriend, Kyle.

She's nine, and I gotta say, this boyfriend thing this year...whew!  She's on number three, I think...I've been telling her that she doesn't need a boyfriend, that she doesn't need some little boy to make her worth something, that she's perfect without a boyfriend, blah blah blah...I'm sure that's exactly what she hears.

But, since she's nine, going on fourteen, and she's my daughter, she doesn't listen to a single word that comes out of my mouth.  So I'm letting her learn on her own.  I gotta say, I much preferred her last boyfriend Alex.  Alex didn't call her (my cell phone) at all hours of the day and night like Kyle does.  Alex didn't insist she meet him at the park.  He didn't tell her she would kiss him if she loved him, like Kyle did.  No.  I'm not kidding.  This little punk really said that.  I sat her down for a heart-to-heart after that, and then I went to meet his grandpa, just to make sure everything was on the up and up.

BTW, she actually listened to me on that last one.  I was so proud...She told him, "I love you, but I don't have to prove it."

Oh, back to the romantic gestures...Kyle actually showered her with gifts in his initial courtship ritual.  He gave her a ring, a necklace, and a shirt with butterflies on it.  I don't know where this kid got that, but I'm glad she's his girlfriend now, instead of in seven years or so...He gave her all that stuff, then he pulled the whole, "if you love me, you'll..."

Smooth kid.  Real smooth.

So, today, he broke up with her.  Then he took her back.  I asked her if she begged, and she said no.  That he'd asked another girl to be his girlfriend, and the other girl said no, so he went back to my daughter.  As she said it out loud, I could hear the cogs turning in her head, as she realized that she'd become leftovers.

My daughter's a smart girl.  But she's starting to get self-esteem issues that I can't control, beyond telling her everyday what a smart, beautiful, healthy little girl she is and how much I love her.  At the moment, her love life is like a romance novel, chock-full of happiness, drama, and angst.


I need to take notes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Recipe for Artichoke Chevre Stuffed Chicken Breasts

From my new Chef's Delight companion Cook Book, coming soon to a kitchen near you.  Hopefully, I'll be able to post a recipe a week from the book, but I won't post them all...Just a taste!

I was going to post this recipe back when I posted the picture of the dish, but I couldn't find the notebook that I'd written it down in...Shame on me!


1/2 Cup (four ounces) Goat Cheese
1/2 Cup (four or five ounces) Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

Pulse artichoke hearts in food processor (or chop them by hand, but I always make a huge mess doing that) and mix with cheese and mayo.

Take four chicken breasts and, after cutting the tenderloins out of them (that is the little flap on the side that makes the shape of the breast not very uniform.  Save it for breading for the kids, because they don't eat the tasty stuff).  Butterfly the breast with a sharp knife, placing it flat on the cutting board, and slicing through the side, holding knife parallel to cutting board, not quite cutting all the way through.  Open the breast, like a book, and spoon in stuffing mixture.

Here's the tricky part.  Theoretically, you should be able to put them in a pan, and cook them that way, but I find that the cheese has a tendency to melt out of the breasts before egg in the mayonnaise has a chance to bind it all together, so I put mine in mini loaf pans to hold it all together.

Bake at 350, for 45 minutes to an hour, or until juices run clear when poked with a sharp knife.

This is a great recipe for dinner parties, as it's super easy and tastes like you went to cooking school to learn how to make it.

I would love to try this wrapped in prosciutto, but alas...My stories of Serendipity are set in Serendipity, a town much like my own, where prosciutto is hard to come by...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Different Hats

As an Indie Author with a tiny budget, I wear many hats...Today's hat is the cover design hat.  A lot of authors that I know really enjoy doing their covers, and are very good at them.  I don't mind doing it, but it's certainly not something that I enjoy.  It's more like crafting for me.  I like the idea of it, but when I get started on something, it starts to not look the way I want it to, and then BOOM.  I get mad because I can't make whatever it is do what I want, and I lose my religion.

And I know it's going to happen with Hot Mess.  I have a specific tone I want to set with the cover, and it's not a tone I can do a search for in the stock photo websites, like sexy or loving...I could just hook people with a hot firefighter on the cover, let them read the story, and a third of the way through the book realize that it's going to get much deeper than just flaming hot sex with Sam.  I've actually thought about doing that.  But I want to be more honest with this one.  This particular story is more raw than the others, less superficial, and I would like the cover to reflect that...yet still be sexy, because I think that even with all of it's raw edginess, the book is still hot.

So, I'll be doing stock photo searches this week, hoping to find something that I can work with.  And crossing my fingers that my other computer will be fixed soon, because it has my photo editing software on it...And breathing my way through the process. It needs to look like the other Stories of Serendipity, but not.  I'm not a visual artist, never really have been...My creative talents lie elsewhere.  But I can manage.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Recipes from Chef's Delight...Anyone interested?

A few readers have expressed an interest in recipes from Connor's restaurant, Estelle's from Chef's Delight.  The more I thought about it, the more interesting the idea sounded to me.  I've always been told I was a good cook, I enjoy trying new things in the kitchen, and it's almost as enjoyable for me as reading.  Almost...

My college room mate used to brag to her friends that I could do more with a box of mac and cheese than anybody else in the world.  My husband tells me my food is wonderful, and honestly the only thing that I've ever cooked that he didn't eat was a failed experiment with peanuts, an attempt at a meatless meatloaf that the dog wouldn't even eat.  I've done food for friends' parties, and helped with my father-in-law's catering business.  The only cooking endeavor I've ever failed at (besides the peanut loaf) is finding something that both satisfied my need for creativity in the kitchen with my children's need for familiar food out of a box.  Oh well, they'll grow up eventually, right?

So my first foray into experimenting with Connor's recipes was a success:  Artichoke and chevre stuffed chicken breasts.  They were very tasty.  I wanted to wrap them in prosciutto, but alas, Serendipity is modeled after the small town I live in, and prosciutto was nowhere to be found.  Maybe when I'm taking pictures for the cookbook, I'll drive to the city to get what I need for the recipes I want to use.

I'm killing you aren't I?

So I thought I might post the recipes as I create them.  Since both Connor and Estelle's are figments of my imagination, the recipes are also.  Granted, I did use pinterest for some inspiration, but I'm going to make the recipes up as I go along, test them on my guinea pigs,, and then put them in the cookbook.  I was planning on going ahead an posting the chicken recipe, but I seem to have lost the notebook that I wrote it in...So, until then...

I'll leave you to drool.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Current WIP

So, I have spent all morning emailing potential beta readers for my current Work In Progress, Hot Mess.  I really need someone from the HIV/AIDS community to read it and tell me if I got my facts straight.  I sent almost a dozen emails and finally got a reply from a wonderful organization, The Well Project.  Their president is even interested in reading the book, which makes me feel very humbled because she's uber-busy.  But she's passionate about women in America living with AIDS and HIV, and that happens to be what my book is about, so she doesn't mind helping me out.

Thank God.

Because I'm really nervous about this one.  This particular book has a message beyond falling in love and finding happiness with oneself.  The heroine is a woman trying to live a normal life under the stigma of a positive HIV status in Serendipity.  So far, the beta readers that I've sent it out to, love it (Still haven't heard from Jennifer or Paris yet, so the jury's not completely in), and they felt like they'd learned a lot about the disease from reading it.

So I need to make sure that I'm putting the right information out there.

Don't get me wrong.  I did my research.  I spent a lot of time online looking up facts and finding answers to questions, taking notes, and essentially reading a lot of information that I didn't know.  I'm just not sure if it all came out in the translation when I wrote my book, you know?  One thing I did learn is that there's a lot of false information out there about HIV and AIDS, and most people (in my world anyway) don't know exactly how it is transmitted, and what you can and can't do if you have it.

With my whole theory of "the more eyes the better," I needed someone with intimate knowledge of the disease to look over it, before my final round of revisions and sending it off to Catherine.

And now, it's been sent out, and I'm nervously awaiting their reaction...Trying not to chew my fingernails off...Hoping they like it, and don't find too much wrong with what I'm trying to say...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beta Readers


I've sent Hot Mess, my current WIP out to Beta readers across the world.  I have two that I consistently get great feedback from, as well as my critique group.  The rest are from Goodreads.  I'm of the opinion that the more sets of eyes that see the story and give feedback on it, the better it ends up being.

My first foray into Beta readers was a disaster.  I gave my first novel, Hunkalicious, to eight members of my family and friends.  My mom was the only one who responded.  Turns out, Hunkalicious was awful, and they probably couldn't get through it, and didn't have the heart to tell me.  I ended up cutting 75% of it, and calling it Neighborly Complications.

Based on that experience, I realized that everyone was right:  friends and family don't need to beta.

But I still needed some.

I was talking online with an old school friend of mine, Jen, and discovered that she'd been writing, too.  She offered to beta Dream On for me.  And she was awesome.

Cool.  So I had another beta.

Jen, and one girl I had met online were now my beta readers, and they had completely dichotomous views on what I should do to improve my story.  I chose to go with Jennifer, because I actually knew her, her education level, and trusted her.  I think that was a good choice, because the other lady quit speaking to me, for reasons that are completely unknown to me.

I published my first three stories and started looking for reviewers, to get some stars on my Goodreads and Amazon profiles.  This is how I met my next beta.

Paris offered to review Chef's Delight, and when she read it, she found so many issues with it, that I was quite frankly embarrassed, once she brought them to my attention.  The beauty of digital publishing?  I immediately took Chef's Delight off sale, and hurriedly revised it.  So, Paris agreed to be a beta reader as well.

Back up to two beta readers.  And my mom.

I had been told that I needed at least five beta readers.  I joined a critique group online, and I am so totally lucky it's a good one.  There are four other writers, and we all post our WIPs up and critique and encourage each other.  One is really great about characterization and plot development, two are awesome with finding redundant phrases and words, and the other is my own little cheerleader, while still pointing out flaws in characters.  Those ladies are godsends to me.  I love each and every one of them.

So now, I have six.

But wait, I need more!

I don't know why, maybe it's an insecurity thing, but I just want to make sure that I've done everything possible to have a quality product to publish.

So I go to the Goodreads forums, and start a couple of threads looking for beta readers.  These threads are iffy, at best.  I'll send out fifteen copies of my WIP.  I'll get back four, "This is great! Don't change a thing!"  I'll get one or two where the reader tries to correct grammar, comma usage, etc...The rest, I can only assume hate it, because I never hear anything back from them.  Ever.

I know I have six great betas.  The rest are icing on the cupcake, so to speak.  This is the final push before the last round of revisions.  Once the betas finish, and I decide whether or not to implement their suggestions (some I will, some I won't), then I give the final one or two more read throughs and send it off to Catherine, my editor.

This is by far the most nerve-wracking part of the writing process, for me.  Getting other's feedback on my WIP.  This is where I find out if my ideas are good (of course they are, but everyone needs some validation), and if I have gotten them on paper/computer in a manner that tells an entertaining story.  Because that's my goal: to entertain.  Right?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Emily's Ronda Romance

After finishing this novel, my brain is in a whirlwind. I may be because the narrator is a complete SPAZ! I loved her. While her voice took a little bit to get used to, once I did, the experience was immensely entertaining.

The story is about a woman who wins a trip to Ronda, in Andalucia, Spain over the Valentine's weekend. So, of course, she takes her boyfriend, a completely loveable oaf, who doesn't speak Spanish well, and insists on adjusting his insoles (something that my husband does, and I find hilarious). Their misadventures on their trip are nonstop. If they'd happened to me, they would be boring, but because we read about them in Emily's voice, they are incredibly entertaining.

This isn't a typical romance, where we're in on the story from the beginning, deal with the conflicts and emotions going through everybody's head while they decide if they want to be together or not. This is told exclusively from Emily's point of view, and the romance is secondary to her perceptions of it. And her perceptions are a hoot.

Emily is a little snooty, with a lot of ADHD, and her boyfriend Bryan is constantly bemoaning the fact that he doesn't understand what goes on inside her head. Trust me Bryan, you don't want to know.

Emily compares the Andalucian Spanish to a Scot speaking English, and worries me. Primarily because my high school Spanish teacher learned Spanish in Andalucia, and pissed of the Latinos in the class constantly by correcting their pronunciation, while they spoke Spanish at home every day. She called their Spanish "Spanglish" and they were miffed, to say the least. So now I know exactly why nobody understands my Spanish…

I am really looking forward to the next book in this series. I'm attached to Emily and her antics. And I want to see more of Bryan. He's such a sweetie. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tell my kids to quit getting their knickers in a twist.

Michelle can be found here, if I can ever get this link to work right...

Okay, it doesn't work right, so you'll have to copy and paste it into a browser window. I'm sorry, a lot of my buttons have gone missing from the top of my blogspot dashboard page...

This is what I got from Michelle's g+ page,

Thank you for wanting to know more about me, I am the author of a Chick Lit romance "Emily's Ronda Romance", and the writer of two workbooks for job seekers, "Currículum 2013" and "CV and Resume 2013".

I'm a keen amateur photographer, a fashion junky, and all round happy person. I like to think I'm a complex creature, and who is not easily defined. I might be wrong.

I'm passionate about the potential for a golden future (singularity), and I am an activist for sentient rights. I live in Spain, I'm a native English speaker, and yes, ¡hablo español!

I'm also fashion conscious, I adore heels, short skirts, gold jewelry and precious stones, beautiful lingerie, bright colours, soft fabrics and furnishings, makeup and doing my hair. I also dress down in jeans, t-shirts and flats. I'm romantic, but also logical, I can be a bitch (not often), or the girl next door.

I'd like to make friends online, and my life would be more complete if my online friends will one day also be real life friends. I dream of the day I can have a coffee with my favourite peoples. If you're reading this on my blog, please click the g+ icon above to find me.

I have a fascination for science, especially astronomy, artificial intelligence, and quantum physics. I feel like a child looking into the universe with wonder - it's a magical feeling, really it is - but I'm not an expert. One day I'd love to have the time to go back to university and study the sciences.

I believe people should express themselves the way that best suits them, how they dress, socialise, who they love, their passion for sport, hobbies and crafts.

I moderate the European Union community on g+, and some of the EU pages (English, Spanish, German, and Portuguese), and all opinions are my own.