Monday, October 31, 2011

Liz's Lair: And the Winner is.....





Congrats to Allison Burke Collins who won the Pandigital Technology Center in my first ever contest. She and the other two winners were chosen by random.org. I will be emailing Allison to get her snail mail address so I can get this great prize out to her as soon as I can.

Second place winner is Kim Heniadis who gets a grocery insulated bar with my logo and a signed copy of LIVER LET DIE.


And third place winner, Kaye Thornton, gets a spy pen.


Congrats to all three winners. I will be contacting all of you. Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. Special thanks to Brent Taylor, assistant at Book Cents Literary Agency, for coordinating this contest for me. I couldn't have done it without him, especially since my October was so insane.

October was also a lot of fun, with a whirlwind of promotion filling up nearly every single day. I guest blogged at 21 different sites besides writing my own Monday blog, had 3 books signings, attended one Tea for Literacy, and appeared as the first author ever at Reading and Radio Resources in Dallas, a nonprofit organization that helps the blind. My future schedule is much lighter and so far includes 3 library appearances, a book club appearance, a Girls Night Out booksigning and a three -author booksigning the day after Black Friday. Whew! I'm tired just writing all this.

The good news is that LIVER LET DIE has been getting really great reviews. Here is a good one. And here's another. I'm getting slammed a little over at goodreads, but I guess you can't please everyone. I was fortunate to get reviewed by both Library Journal and the Mystery Scene. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write a review, good, bad, or indifferent, after reading LLD. I will be way more diligent with writing reviews myself when I finally get a chance to read again.

I'm a little teary eyed right now, thinking how lucky I am to be this tired. There are a lot of people who helped me achieve my dream and many more who supported me once I got there. Know that I am eternally grateful.

I just finished the edits for BEEF STOLEN-OFF (yay!) and will begin writing like a madman on Book 3.

And now I want to show my appreciation to all of you one last time before the month ends. I have one final copy of LIVER LET DIE to give away in October. All you have to do is comment and say hey. It's been a long and grueling--and fantastic--month, but now I have to get back to some sort of normalcy, which means BICHOP (butt in chair-hands on pen!)

Thanks for the ride, y'all!

Friday, October 28, 2011

WINNER FROM KERRI NELSON'S GUEST BLOG ANNOUNCED

Hi Mysteries and Margaritas followers. The winner from Kerri Nelson's guest blog on cliffhangers is.....drum roll please... CASEY WYATT! Her name was drawn by Random.org. Congratulations, Casey! I've sent your name to Kerri and also left you a message off loop. ENJOY and thanks for stopping by M&M!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Lists


The fall has begun to creep into New England. There are reports that snow might fall in the north area today or tomorrow. We have rain in Connecticut. But, it comes in some years slowly, others faster than I can anticipate. And there are the years that there is no predicting anything. Like the year our pipes froze in early November yet it we sat on the terrace in shorts a week later.

I love the fall. It feels like the beginning of the year to me, rather than the end. I love the colors, the smells, the crunch of the leaves under foot. I love that it’s when I used to start a new school year. I loved that, as a kid, the events started—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Now as an adult—a wife, a mom, and a daughter, the holidays are a tad more complicated. Yet, I can’t imagine the year without them.

With the change in season also comes my lists and my “duties.” I’ll start with the duties because they are the least interesting. From the time my children were mere tots, somehow Labor Day Weekend was the “sort, file, clean and get-ready” weekend. I put every little toy part back in its box, took millions of tiny pieces of something and found a home with all the other millions of tiny pieces. I filled bags of clothes I loved to see the girls in but of course were now three sizes too small. I still hope there is someone out there enjoying those outfits.  It went on. It went on long enough that inevitably my back went into spasm and twice I ended up in the hospital with disk injury. Okay. So be it. Days long gone. Fast forward.

Lists. That’s today’s topic. I’ve discovered over the last few years that lists are the salvation. They are the solution to every problem that could possibly occur. There is nothing you can't solve with a list. And, they are the answer to my fall season. The only challenge is maintaining them so they are accurate so when you can’t remember what you’ve already done, it's there.

So, my list for this week- this is excepting writing, managing my desk and dealing with life in general, is:

-       Call to have the estimate on a generator installed (we were without anything that runs a house for 10 days, including water);
-       Have the electrician change three boxes to new plugs along with surge protectors so our security system no longer locks us out and sets off the alarm;
-       Shut off and drain all of the outside faucets- that was a major problem one year when the pipes burst.
-       Have the septic system pumped before frost;
-       Have the water filtration system cleaned and replenished;
-       General fall clean-up;
-       Cover the terrace furniture;;
-       Move the rose bushes to the garage;
-       And…..
You get the picture. The list is longer but I dare not bore you more. I huff and I puff but I can’t blow the house down. Then, I got thinking once more.

Isn’t this what we do all the time? When you are writing your story, even those of you who are pansters, don’t you start with lists? How can we get from one plot idea to the next without some kind of list?

Do you have lists you keep? What are they?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kari's Kave: Wacky Wednesday!

Kids!!!! They aren't any easier now than they were at the beginning!!!!

Oh my.....
Let's just say my Wednesday isn't starting out so well.
First, I'm out of coffee!!!!! Then my youngest son forgot his cleats at the middle school yesterday where he has football practice. Problem is, he goes to the junior high school. And his game is at the junior high today. Grrrr, that means I have to pick him up from school and bring him to the middle school and beg someone to open the mud room for him. Then we have to race back to the junior high to make his game. He's in total freak out mode, and his brother don't help as they say, "Oh, dude, good luck with that. They won't let you back in the mud room once the coaches are gone." I could kill them. They are so NOT helping right now. So youngest son is like, "Great. My last game of the season and I won't get to play." Ugh. I had to convince him to let me pick him up and at least try to get his cleats. There has to be someone at that school other than the coaches who have a flipping key!!!!
After a huge struggle, I finally get them off to school only to have oldest child who just drove himself to school tell me he's riding on fumes so I need to fill the tank up when I get home. (that's if he doesn't run out of gas somewhere, which would be my luck today!) And not to mention, um hello, I will be busy picking up youngest and getting cleats and attending a game in the cold temps and pelting rain we are supposed to get today! (oh, joy!)
Now it's time to wake up Diva and get her in the shower (quickly) as I still have to get ready for the stupid dentist. Then before I pick up son number 3, I still have errands to run, phone calls to make, and hello...dinner in there somewhere! Then the game (if we're successful with the cleats) and then homework, etc, etc, etc!
And I'm supposed to write when????
Honestly, some days I just wonder how we are supposed to be everything to everyone every day! That's life I guess. Most days I love it...today, not so much!
How do you cope with it all? When do you write? What kinds of distractions throw you off your game? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Anita's Attic: Guest Author Kerri Nelson Talks about Courting Demons and Cliffhangers

Today, I'm over at Murders and Mysteries talking about building my paranormal world. http://murdersandmysteries.wordpress.com, and while I’m gone, we have a special guest returning to Mysteries and Margaritas; author Kerri Nelson.

Kerri discovered her love of writing at an early age and soon became a columnist for her local newspaper winning the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.

After a fifteen year career in the legal field, Kerri fulfilled her lifelong dream of publication and is now an award winning multi-published author of nearly every genre under the sun (and moon) and also writes young adult fiction under the penname K.G. Summers.

A true southern belle, she comes complete with a dashing southern gentleman and three adorable children for whom she often bakes many homemade treats.

Kerri is an active member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America as well as numerous chapters including Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal Writers and her Presidency of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Today, Kerri is talking about a subject near and dear to my heart …Cliffhangers! And she’s giving away an Amazon gift card, as well as a grand prize later in her blog tour for her latest book, Courting Demons.

Here’s a blurb:

Paisley Barton was already having a bad day before she turned her husband into a rat.

First, she was fired by her boss and then came home to find hubby in the shower with a naked blonde chick. They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned but this break-up may just unleash hell on Earth when Paisley casts a spell of vengeance against her philandering husband.

After her spell casting inadvertently opens a portal between dimensions, Paisley finds her family home transformed into a nightly courtroom for settling disputes between demons of the underworld and she’s the judge! If that’s not enough, she’s got to deal with a charming, ancient demon named Camden who wants to be her personal bodyguard while trying to explain her husband’s sudden, mysterious disappearance to sexy police Detective Dalton Briggs.

But Paisley will show them all that an everyday working mom is better equipped than most to deal with the mystical mayhem…and with a tempting demon hottie and a flirtatious young detective vying for her affection, she soon learns that being single again isn’t so bad after all.

“When a wronged wife turns her cheating husband into a rat, you know you have to keep reading! Kerri Nelson offers up a lot of fun and wild magic in Courting Demons!” --Bestselling author, Linda Wisdom, Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend

Read more about Kerri’s books at her website: www.kerrinelson.com

Follow her on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/kerribookwriter

Visit her industry blog here: www.thebookboost.blogspot.com

Buy Links (print and e-book versions available 9/15 wherever books are sold but here’s the publisher link—free gift available with purchase of print copy—while supplies last):

http://jupitergardens.com/Courting-Demons-by-Kerri-Nelson-print.html

or

Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Courting-Demons-ebook/dp/B005OAY7TG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316621839&sr=8-1

Okay, Kerri. Let’s talk cliffhangers!

Cliffhangers—Who needs ‘em?

Well, I really have a love/hate relationship with them honestly. As a writer, I love to end a scene or book (if there’s going to be a sequel) with a cliffhanger. It is a great marketing technique—hopefully ensuring that your reader will simply have to buy the next book because the urge to find out what happens is so great and overpowering.

But as a reader or a television viewer (particularly if there is a long wait ahead for the next book in the series to be released or the next season of the television show to air—or the absolute worst situation—when they cancel the show without ever resolving it) I can get rather frustrated. I mean, screaming at certain inanimate objects like the television or a book. Throwing the book or threatening to toss the remote into the back yard. You know, the normal reaction to being left hanging by your fingernails.

Grasping for more…just ONE more chapter. Just ONE more scene in the movie! Please!

Now, I’m not saying for sure that Courting Demons ends on a cliffhanger. It might. It is possible that it just might. But what I can promise is that I’d never leave my readers hanging indefinitely. I mean, I’d never cause you to worry like that. I’ll always come back with more—unlike those ugly television networks that continually cancel great shows (or all the shows that I love anyway) without resolving anything.

I recently found a lovely little paranormal series on Netflix named “The Gates”. Have you seen it? It is described as “an American supernatural crime drama”. Right up my alley! I’d love to recommend it to you. The casting is good. The storylines are full of vampires, werewolves, witches, and everything else deliciously paranormal and mysterious that you can sink your teeth into. But I will warn you—it was only on for one short season and it ends on a heck-of-a cliffhanger with no relief in sight. Arghhh (another remote tosser)!

So, as a reader of mystery and suspense not unlike my paranormal suspense adventure entitled Courting Demons…tell me…what do you really think of cliffhangers?

Thanks for hosting today, Anita. It was an honor and a pleasure to be back at M&M!

Giveaway for the day:

Leave a question or comment to be entered to win today’s prize: An Amazon.com gift card!

Then, enter to win my book tour Grand Prize Kindle by following me on tour and e-mailing me the answers to each question of the day at the end of tour. The more questions you answer, the more entries you gain.

Question of the Day:

What’s the name of the upcoming anthology I’ll be appearing in soon? (Hint: It features the famous author of The Raven)

Details on how to enter to win the GRAND PRIZE Kindle at the end of my “Dark Days of Demons Tour” located here:

http://kerribookwriter.blogspot.com/2011/09/courting-demons-blog-tour-win-kindle.html

Excerpt link for Courting Demons: http://www.jupitergardens.com/excerpts/kn_cd.html

© Kerri Nelson 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Liz's Lair: Welcome cozy author Linda O Johnson


It is with great pleasure that I bring you a fellow Berkley sister and cozy author here for her second time. Since her post tells a little about herself and her stories, I'll just let her get right to it. Here she is.

Characters Who Care


Hi, Mysteries and Margaritas. Thanks for inviting me to blog here today.

I’m Linda O. Johnston, and the mysteries I’m currently writing are part of the Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. The second one, THE MORE THE TERRIER, is an October 2011 release. The first one, BEAGLEMANIA, was published in March of this year. This series is a spinoff from my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series.

One of the things I particularly like about cozy mysteries is their protagonists--who they are, what they do regarding the theme of the series, and how they develop in each book and as the series progresses.

In my earlier series, Kendra was a lawyer as well as a pet-sitter, and she came to accept the fact, over nine books, that she was a murder magnet. All of her friends and acquaintances became murder suspects or victims, and she learned to live with the fact that she had to solve each case.

In the Pet Rescue Mysteries, the protagonist Lauren Vancouver is a bit more serious than Kendra. She had to solve the murder in BEAGLEMANIA, which started at a puppy mill rescue, since she was known to dislike the victim’s abuse of animals and was therefore a suspect in his murder.

In THE MORE THE TERRIER, I gave poor Lauren a dilemma that she had to resolve that made her decide that, yes, she had to solve this murder, too.

Lauren is a skilled and dedicated administrator of a private, no-kill pet shelter. She’ll do anything to save animals, and she despises those who harm them. Most of the time.

But in THE MORE THE TERRIER, Lauren learns that her former mentor, Mamie Spelling, has become an animal hoarder. Lauren is horrified, and of course does all she can to save the animals. Every one of them comes out of it just fine. This is fiction, after all. And in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!

The murder victim is a woman who has been hounding Mamie, and Mamie becomes the major suspect. But Mamie is aging and confused, so here is Lauren’s dilemma: Should she help her former mentor clear her name? But Mamie, as a hoarder, has also harmed animals, and Lauren despises people who harm animals.

What do you think Lauren does? You undoubtedly guessed it. She cares about Mamie despite her former mentor's shortcomings. That means that Lauren once more must solve a murder.

The third book in the series, HOUNDS ABOUND, will be an April 2012 release. Once again, Lauren will be faced with a choice about whether to help solve a murder where a friend is accused. HOUNDS ABOUND involves a shelter for special needs pets who are particularly hard to find homes for: seniors, and those with disabilities that require extra veterinary care and even prosthetics.

Of course Lauren will always do what she can to help needy pets. And even if she doesn’t want to be like Kendra and keep solving murders, that’s part of how she develops over time--since I don’t give her any choice!

It’s really fun writing about Lauren and her shelter, HotRescues. As I mention often, I happen to love animals. I’d love to save them all, and I can--fictionally, of course.

What do you like about cozy mystery protagonists?


Please come visit me here and at my blog on Wednesdays here. Friend me on Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think of pet rescue--and THE MORE THE TERRIER!

Linda is giving away a free copy of her book to one lucky commenter. Make sure to include a valid email address.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Barbie Jo's Bunkhouse: Putting on the Polish

This week I have been Polishing my current WIP "Bet on Love". I love this part of writing! While it does take a bit more time, the results really do make the story sparkle.

We all know, and have heard a gazillion time, that writing is RE-Writing. And that is 100% true. Unless you are a megga-super-writer, I'm sure there is always a first draft. Then what? You know, you send it to your critique partner (CP) and let them catch any typos you may have missed, find any inconsistencies in plot or character. Then you go through and correct those minor things. When that is done, it's time to polish.

By polish, I'm talking adding those extra details. The rich descriptions that give you story a big-book feel, things that will stick with the reader even after the book is done. But just like every other aspect of writing, it's work. Polishing means looking at every sentence and seeing if there is a place to add in a setting detail, a character tag, one of the 5 senses.

For example, my hero is a doctor working on diabetes research. He's a laid back, single dad. So when my heroine is having coffee at his house, he's not going to have fine china, and he's not going to have mis-matched cups. She's going to pull out a mug that says "I need coffe, Stat!". I thought it was cute, and quirky and gives us a touch more info on what he's all about. Yes, he's a dedicated researcher, but he's got a sense of humor. I love googling those little details too. It's fun to think of something like that, then turn to the internet to find just that special saying or picture.

Also because he loves the outdoors, I can bring alot of his outdoor sportsman details into the decor of his home. A small touch of pictures of the wall, fishing and camping equipment that might be around his house, all give us a hint about who he is and add those rich details when we are in his home.

Any detail, no matter how small will add that polish to your story helping to give it a life of its own. Sometimes it's kind of second nature and we add these details as we go. But it's very easy to get stuck going over the same chapter or scene several times which can hinder the progress of your MS. That's why I find it easier to get the story out, focus more on characters and plot as I write and THEN go back to add the details. Because if you're like me, your writing time is precious and that is when you need to focus on the story. It's easier to polish when you're on the go, sitting at a sports practice, during lunch hour, or a couple hours in the evening.

Do any of you have a favorite part of the writing process?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cassy’s Corner- Quirky Characters


We all love the characters who stand out. There are the ones we chuckle about, want to invite to dinner, wish they wouldn’t go away when we turn the last page. Many times these special people speak to us because they somehow pull off what we never thought we could do ourselves- the overachiever, the against-all-odds, the believer. Sometimes they are rotten to the core but find redemption. Sometimes they are so much like us that there is no separating their feelings and actions from our own.

Then there are the quirky ones. They make you giggle. You shake your head but keep reading. At times you really don’t believe what they are doing or saying, but you keep loving every minute that they are on the page. I never have liked slap-stick humor. I hated The Three Stooges. Yet, when Stephanie Plum wrecks yet another car I do smile. Why is this? What appeals to us?

I’m working on a new character right now and have started my list of what is going to make her special. What are the qualities that will make you cheer for her, cry with her, and think she is just a little quirky?

Examples of some of my dear characters’ interests have been or might yet to be are :

-       Working through Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and sprinkling odd references throughout her dialogue;
-       Collecting pin cushions (this became a helpful red herring);
-       Clipping obituary notices of people with odd names;
-       Using sticky notes all over the house to remind her of what to do. Often she needs a note to remind her to read the notes;
-       Planning elaborate trips with maps, restaurant notes, train schedules and more for adventures she’ll never take;
-       Learning a new foreign language every year. She’s on number four but not very good in any of them;
-       Watching old movies that have very sad endings;
-       Raising tropical fish in a salt water tank, that always has some malfunction, and;
-       Inventing new gizmos that will somehow make your life better, or more interesting.

The list goes on. As you can tell, I like quirky. When you are reading, what makes a character come to life for you? If you are a writer, how do you decide the components that turn your new friends from drag and ordinary to bold and imaginative? Do share.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kari's Kave: Turn on the Heat!

It's that time of year!
Time to turn on the heat. I work at home all day, so I sit a lot. Not good for the circulation. I know, I know...I'm supposed to get up every hour and move. But sometimes I get on a roll and forget. Not good for the back, either.
The next thing you know, I'm freezing!!!
Now that the temps are dropping outside, it's time to turn on the heat. I hate the thought of turning on the heat because that means that summer is over and snow is coming soon. I caved in this week and turned it on anyway.
It got me thinking about what I write....mysteries!
How does turning on the heat relate to mysteries you might ask?
Well, I am neck deep in my edits for Corpse in the Crystal Ball. One of the things I have to do is tone down the amount of "heat" I turned on in this book :-) What can I say? The romance side of me shines through no matter what I write.
Don't get me wrong, my editor loves my characters and the romance that's growing between them. It's just "cozy" readers can be very particular about what they want in their mysteries. In fact, there are some people who don't think romance should be in a cozy mystery at all. While others love romance in their mystery. The trend I'm seeing is a number of cozies with romance in them becoming the norm and very popular. I love romance in anything :-)
While sex has to be off page, sexual tension does not. However, it can be easy to make things a bit too sexy! And yet our very own Liz Lipperman has to amp up her romance. LOL ... imagine if we wrote a book together...it would probably be perfect!
So tell me, what's your take on the whole "turning up the heat" in mysteries? Do you like your mysteries with romance in them or without? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Anita's Attic: Embrace Wins Five Heart Sweetheart of the Week at The Romance Studio

Only two more weeks until Embrace the Highland Warrior is here! Last week, Embrace received a 5 Heart review from The Romance Studio. That was really nice. Even nicer, it was up for Sweetheart of the Week against the other 5 Heart reviews. So, thanks so you wonderful people, I've just found out that Embrace won. I'm really excited because I don't enter writing contests, other than I entered the RITA this year. It's just a personal thing. So a big THANK YOU to those who voted!! And I also got my author copies today. I suspect the book was at the printer when the news came in that it had made the USA Today best seller list, so they squeezed that title above my name. And I mean squeezed.There was no room left on the book. Get out your magnifying glass and you might see it on the picture here. I posted the review last week, but I'll post it again. Feel free to skip it if you've already seen it.

This week's 5 Heart Sweetheart...

"I just want to eat these Highland boys up with a spoon. If Anita Clenney had written them any sexier, I just might have a restraining order against me. The Connor Clan series combines my two favorite things, sexy Scottish warriors and the paranormal. Set in modern times, Embrace the Highland Warrior still has a very old world feel to it, maybe because the men are so dominant and protective. The ladies of the clan are just as protective however, and there are female warriors. It is a wonderful combination. Ms. Clenney mixes horror, tragedy, humor, love, forgiveness, redemption and just a wee bit of sweaty sex into a spellbinding and enthralling book. In a battle that spans the ages and the continents, the war between good and evil never dies. The evil that seeks Shay and those around her is stepping up it's game, and the winner has yet to be determined.

I think if there had been one more exciting element added to this book, it would have just exploded in my hands. This book is just filled with so many plot twist and surprises. I did talk to the characters in the book quite a bit, and made rude exclamations in several parts. I can't imagine trying to write such stubborn, headstrong characters. I am getting more and more involved as the series progresses, especially concerning a certain female warrior who likes to hit on other women's men. Shady, that is. If you haven't started this series yet, you MUST, before you get left behind. If you're already a fan, trust me, this book will slay you. You will not believe the progression. In a word... excellent." - Wendy Mitchell

Buy it today!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embrace-the-highland-warrior-anita-clenney/1100076266

http://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Highland-Warrior-Anita-Clenney/dp/1402251262

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Embrace-Highland-Warrior/Anita-Clenney/9781402251269


And I had this review come in from Fresh Fiction.

EMBRACE THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR was an amazing roller coaster of an adventure! Not to mention one heck of a romance. This is the second in Anita Clenney's series. As a lover of all things Highlander, this book fed my craving! From the beginning I was swept away into the life of Shay Logan...

This was an action-packed adventure that kept me spinning on the same whirlwind that Shay and Cody had to have felt. It was one thing after another with barely time to breathe in between. The plot had so many twists and turns that I never knew what was going to hit next. In some stories this type of plot gets confusing but I thought that Ms. Clenney did an excellent job of keeping everything in line. It was very entertaining to watch Cody stumble his way through some things. Shay's conflicting emotions about her life and the things that she discovers was very genuine. There were some very real spots where I wanted to sit down and cry right along with her for all her losses. Another part of this book I loved was the other warriors. I absolutely adored Ronan and his mischievous ways. I am looking forward to seeing his story. I really loved how all the other characters played crucial roles to the story, yet didn't distract from it. For me, they were there, I was interested, yet they didn't overshadow the story of Cody and Shay. Ms. Clenney gave me just enough on the others that I will be back for more!

And here's one from Book Savvy Babe

Embrace the Highland Warrior will take readers on a thrilling adventure with plenty of action, jealousy, demons, and warriors. Anita Clenney has blended paranormal, romance, and highlanders into an exciting, and hopefully long-running series. In Embrace the Highland Warrior, future story lines are put in place as characters appear more throughout the book, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next installment in the series.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Liz's Lair: A Day in the Life of Jordan McAllister


As most of you know, LIVER LET DIE came out two weeks ago, and I am currently on an incredible journey with a blog tour and signings. I've had to write 25 different blogs for this month, and I'm all tapped out. So, I decided to reprint this one that I wrote for my friend Dru Ann's blog last week. It's written by the main character in LIVER LET DIE, Jordan McAllister. Here's the blurb.

Jordan McAllister dreams of being a sports columnist, not a food critic. She doesn’t know the first thing about food, but filling in for the culinary reporter at the Ranchero Globe is better than writing personal ads. She's convinced the weekly Kitchen Kupboard report will bring her closer to the coveted sports column—as long as she doesn't let on that she can't cook herself out of a box of macaroni and cheese.

Her first assignment is reviewing the new steakhouse in town. But she never should've ordered that foie gras—or hidden it in her purse. Back home she finds that she’s ruined her friend’s beautiful handbag, but that's nothing compared to finding her waiter from the steakhouse murdered outside her door—with her name and number in his pocket. Now Jordan is the prime suspect, as well as the main course on the murder menu…


Take it away, Jordan.


Did you ever look back on your life and want to just slap yourself? Yeah, that pretty much describes how I felt explaining to my editor at the Ranchero Globe why I ended up in a small town fifty miles north of Dallas writing personals when I’d graduated several years before at the top of my class with a journalism degree.

Three words—a cheating fiancé. I didn't need the editor to remind me how stupid I'd been to put my own dreams of becoming a big-time sports reporter on hold while I followed the jerk all over Texas and watched his dream become reality.

So, here I am in Ranchero, Texas, writing personals and helping desperate women hook up after reading some redneck’s lies about himself. Loves to dance? Right. Probably doesn't have a job, either and still lives with his mother—thinking Norman Bates here. Needless to say, my expectations of ever being in another relationship were in the toilet.

I was beginning to think I would have to crawl back to Amarillo and listen to my parents and four brothers tell me they told me so—until my editor called me into his office. Seems the culinary reporter had been in a ski accident and would be out for six weeks rehabbing both a broken hip and arm. Needless to say, I jumped on it, despite the fact I couldn't cook myself out of macaroni and cheese box.

Did I mention my four older brothers? They’d needed me to even up the sides every day after school when they played flag football with my dad in the front yard. Granted, I can throw a razor-sharp touchdown pass from fifty yards out, but I have yet to cook a grilled cheese sandwich without burning it. Consequently, I my diet consists of fried bologna sandwiches, fast food, and Hostess Ho Hos, which I equate to Prozac.

How hard would it be to write about food as long as I didn't have to actually cook it, I thought. No sooner had I signed on the dotted line—why, I'll never know since the man informed me there would be no increase in my already measly salary, and I still had to write the personals—that I began having serious second thoughts.

Then the editor informs me my job also includes an occasional restaurant critique, and in fact, my first one would be that night at a newly reopened steakhouse on the outskirts of town. Now might be a good time to tell you I hate steak and all fancy food. Since I had the sinking feeling I wouldn't see nachos and mozzarella sticks on the menu, I prayed at least there would be chicken.

Wearing hand-made jewelry and carrying a borrowed purse from Rosie Larue, my hippie neighbor who sold the stuff on eBay, I knew immediately after scanning the menu that I was in trouble.

"What on here isn’t red meat?" I asked the hunky waiter, explaining I was watching my cholesterol.

"Foie gras," he said. "I've never tasted it myself, but that guy over there orders every week. At this price, it has to be good."

I figured since I wasn't getting a boost in my salary, the newspaper could cough up the extra bucks for my meal. But as soon as the waiter set the plate in front of me, I knew I had made a big mistake. There was no way I could eat the foie gras, especially after hearing it was really fatty duck liver. When I thought no one was looking, I shoved the entrée into Rosie's purse, thinking I had just pulled off the con of the century.

Or did I?

************

There you have it. Jordan will hang around all day long to answer any questions you might have for her. One lucky commenter will win a free download of MORTAL DECEPTION which WILL be live in a few days.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Freaky Friday

it's almost noon...do you know where your blog post is??? yeah, that was me a few moments ago. AGAIN!!!! Gee, this seems to be a trend with me. What the heck! And to top it all off, I had 2 really great ideas for the blog this week. Can I remember them no? Of course not.

But, while thinking of Halloween I starting thinking about the paranormal genre. When people first here it they might think of ghosts and such, but in reality it encompasses so much more. of course, the most popular being vampires and while we keep hearing how "overdone" they are, apparently they are still pretty popular because I continue to see numerous books on the shelves. Shape-shifters had their day too, and werewolves for a while but I don't think they ever really took off. Zombies? Hmm...not particularly my cup of tea but there have been quite a few of those too. Witches (especially this time of year.) and let's not forget Demons. And just like any other genre, you can make paranormal dark and scary or light and funny.

I love paranormal things. For a while my stories had some kind of paranormal twist to them. But I wasn't about having paranormal characters as much as I was writing about a paranormal object. Have you ever thought of bringing a paranormal element to your own story? What about adding a possessed necklace or haunted rose garden? Sometimes just a touch of something paranormal can add a different layer to your story and give it that unique quality to really hook your reader.

And writing paranormal can give you a certain amount of freedom - kind of like world building. If you create your own paranormal "being" or decide that a particular object is going to be possessed, YOU get to create all the rules. And if you want to be really clever, nows your chance to BREAK the common myths that most people know about certain paranormal things. For example, what if you were writing about werewolves and common knowledge is they come out during a full moon. Maybe its the light of a full moon that makes their wolven essence visible, but in regular light they look human. (Think pirates of the carribean when the pirates were out at night all you saw were skeletons, but at any other time they looked normal) Finding a unique twist like that can really make your story stand out. There will be times when you have die-hard fans take offense to you manipulating the myths, but I think for the most part changing things up is a really good thing.

Tis the season for some spooky, silly, paranormal writing. So burn a few candles, tap into the incense, chant until your muse gets the chills! Tune into your cosmic energy and let your imagination sore! See what you can do to add some paranormal into your stories! I think you will be "thrilled" with the results!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Guest Blogger Lisa Black

Folks: We have a treat today. Best selling author Lisa Black is joining us. As an expert in CSI and NYT big hit, we are lucky to have her.  Lisa Black’s fourth book Defensive Wounds was released by Harper Collins on September 27. Forensic scientist Theresa MacLean battles a serial killer operating at an attorney’s convention. Lisa is a full time latent print examiner and CSI for a police department in Florida.

Bring on the questions!!

From Lisa:

Today I’d like to discuss what I call my 10 Rules of Pacing

1. FORGET REAL LIFE: Characters cannot do the things that we do, such as eat, drink, sleep or take a bath, chat with friends, family members, even characters we would like to hear more from. Never mind that that if someone knocked us unconscious and stole great-uncle’s diary we’d spend the next two days in bed with a hot water bottle and a cup of tea. That might be reality, but you’re not writing reality, you’re writing fiction. If it’s not an important part of the story, leave it out!

2. FLOW CAN TURN GOOD INTO GREAT: Jaws, The Mummy, The Usual Suspects, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, PD James. None of these aspired to be the Great American story, but I think they are truly great for one reason: there is not one moment that your attention wanders.



3. SETTING THE PACE BEGINS WITH THE FIRST WORD. Backstory belongs later, as stated by Donald Maas. Beginnings are hard. There is so much you need to explain about your characters, where they live, what they do, how they live their lives. But if you dump it all on the reader in chapter one they’ll never make it to chapter two, because they’re not sure they care about the character yet so they’re certainly not sure if they care about the character’s history. The way to get around this is to tell your reader only what they need to know right now, and then only in half a sentence at a time, as the characters are doing something.

4. ANYTHING THAT APPLIES TO FICTION APPLIES TO NONFICTION. Your book may be a memoir or a history or a scientific treatise, locked into progressing from point A to point B. That doesn’t mean you can simply present a list of facts. You will have to pay even more attention to your pace when you can’t make up a dramatic event when the narrative calls for it. You will have to open each chapter with a surprising statement or line of dialogue, and ending each chapter with a bang, a cliffhanger or some other stunning remark.

5. LESS IS MORE: How much description do you really need? Can be difficult esp for me—forensic junkies are reading the book, but I can only make that so exciting. Use telling details—quality, not quantity.  Of course, sometimes less is less. Too little description can be a problem as well. You don’t want your characters to be talking heads in white space.

6. IT’S ABOUT TIME: Use flashbacks sparingly, and no gaps of weeks or months unless absolutely necessary. Every time time lags in the book, it’s going to lag in the reader’s mind. Make your story take place in the shortest amount of time possible.

7. NEVER REPEAT YOURSELF. Just because one character has to recap recent events for another character does not mean you make your readers listen to it again. Do not tell them things they already know.

8. ACTION DOESN’T HAVE TO COME WITH LIGHTS, CAMERAS, CAR CRASHES AND EXPLOSIONS. Keeping the book moving doesn’t mean a constant barrage of noise and chaos. Scenes that are subtle and quiet can be the most suspenseful, as long as the reader is wondering what is going to happen next. Even in Jane Austen, you’re wondering what is going to happen next? Will Lizzie run into Mr. Darcy again? Will she run away with Willoughby?

9. THE DIE HARD RULE: Just keep going. No matter what, just keep going. Otherwise known as pacing is like paint—it can cover a multitude of sins. But not all of them. Paint can’t disguise a lump in the wall, just as keeping the action going can’t get readers past a mistake that makes them stop and think. If they pause to think to themselves, wasn’t her hair brown, or where did the dog go, or why on earth would this rough and tumble guy suddenly spout poetry, then all your breathless pacing has been for naught. This is why every detail has to be correct, every action or thought has to be logical, every fact clear and unequivocal.

10. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: You have to do what’s right for you. Many people loved The Da Vinci Code. Some people felt it was hours of their life they’d never get back. Don’t force a breathless pace upon yourself if you’re not comfortable with that. There are no guarantees, so you might as well be yourself, and write yourself.

Back from Cassy: Ready to give thought to what goes on your page next? Check in with us today and let us know what you think. We're waiting to hear from you!