Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kari's Kave: Trick or Treat! It's time to get into character :-)

Oh, no, it's the undead! I just love getting into character. There's something about Halloween that moves my spirit....mwahahahaha. It makes me want to dive into my next mystery and figure out whodunnit :-)

Inspiration can come from all sorts of places. Listening to music, watching a movie, reading the news, or dressing up in props to get in the mood. I personally love to dress up and act things out to see exactly how a character would look and if something is even physicallyy possible.

I can remember our very own Barbie Jo and I (eighteen years ago when we first started working together) acting out a scene in my basement. I can't even remember exactly what it was, but I do remember it involved an imaginary horse and a hunky cowboy and a fun city chick! I know there was a lot of laughter, and several comments from Barbie's husband when she got home. Their house faced mine, so he had been watching us through the window, scratching his head, and wondering what the  hell we were doing :-) Ahhh, the good ole days.

These days, with our busy lives, it's hard to always get together and play dress up :-) So now, I simply snag my daughter! One of these days, I'm not going to be so cool, and then I'll be dressing up alone and scaring the neighbors! In fact, when shooting the picture I used for this blog, I dressed up and used the timer on my camera as I pretended to break into my house. Did I mention my neighbors behind me are cops? Um, yeah, there was a lot of explaining on my part that day!

So, remember, if you have to go solo, it's no big deal. Just use your imagination and have fun with it. And if you get into trouble, just show your fangs. They'll back off. Either way, go for it.

Dress up, have fun, and act out that next scene. Go get into character, it's the perfect day for it.

Show the world what you've got, and then take a bow. You've earned it :-)
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anita's Attic: A Fond Farewell

This is a difficult post so please bear with me. I’m writing two series now, the highland warriors and the relic seekers, and I've found that it takes a lot of time. More than I have, in fact. I’m not a fast writer, and in addition to writing deadlines that are looming too close, I have a busy family that I'm not giving enough attention. There are two young kids who are very active in school sports, and two dogs who love to get into mischief. And did I mention that time management is not my forte?

So, I've had to make some difficult decisions. I love this blog, and I love these gals, but I’m going to have to step back so I can devote more time to my family and my readers. I've been throwing together meals, neglecting my house, not taking care of my health, and I’m behind on writing.

I hate goodbyes, but while this will be my last regular post for now, in one sense of the word, it really isn't goodbye. The M&M gals and I share an agent, so we’re publishing family and friends. I’ll still visit Mysteries and Margaritas. I’ll even be guest posting from time to time.

So, thank you Liz, Kari, Cassy, and Barbie for allowing me to be part of M&M. You are the best! And to the followers of the blog, thanks for your support. Happy writing and reading to you all and I'll see you around!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Liz's Lair: Meet Bestselling Mystery Author, Beth Groundwater

Please give a rousing M & M welcome to Beth Groundwater, my fellow INKER (as in Midnight Ink authors) who is here to tell us all about her new book and how she did the research for it. Check out  To Hell in a Handbasket. So, without further ado, take it away, Beth.

Researching How Colorado Sheriff Offices Work

Like most mystery authors I know, I try very hard to portray the workings of the law professionals in my books as accurately as possible. That means educating myself about how the sheriff’s offices work in each of the real Colorado counties where my books are set. I started with the setting for my first mystery, A Real Basket Case, which takes place in Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs is in El Paso County, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office holds a Citizen’s Academy twice a year.

I attended the fall class of 2004 with four fellow mystery writers. After the first class, the rest of the students allocated the front row to us since we asked the strangest and most varied questions, mostly about how to get away with various types of murder. Even the instructors appreciated our lively interest! The twelve-week program gave an excellent overview of the entire Sheriff's Office. Topics included:

- Organizational Structure
- Firearms Safety and Education, including demonstration of officers’ weapons
- Use of Force and the standards for escalation from non-deadly to deadly force
- Emergency Services, including the Wildland Fire and Search & Rescue teams
- Internal Affairs
- Vice and Narcotics, including methamphetamine labs
- Tour of the Communication Center, which also handles emergency dispatch
- Crime Scene Investigations
- Officer Safety
- Traffic & DUI Enforcement
- Victim Assistance Programs
- Tours of the City Jail and County Criminal Justice Center
- Ride-Along with a Patrol Officer

The ride-along was a fascinating and sometimes nail-biting opportunity to see what I’d learned in the classroom put to real use. I rode with a patrol officer during his 4pm – midnight shift and observed traffic stops, a domestic violence response, an alcohol check of a noisy teen party, a high-speed lights-on response to a reported bar brawl, and much more. I also listened on the radio to other officers responding to calls ranging from cows on the road to a foot chase and use of a Taser on a theft suspect.

If your local sheriff’s office or police department offers a citizen’s academy, I highly recommend it to everyone. It gives you a much fuller appreciation of what these officers do. You may even end up volunteering for one of their victim assistance or other volunteer programs, as I’ve known fellow academy classmates to do.

For To Hell in a Handbasket, which is set in Summit County, Colorado, I made an appointment with the Undersheriff of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. I came armed with a list of questions about how their operations may differ from those of the larger El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Since Summit County is less populous and the Sheriff’s Office is much smaller, they do not have an in-house laboratory and rely on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to process a lot of the evidence they collect. They also cooperate and share work a lot more with the sheriff’s offices of neighboring counties and the police departments of incorporated cities in the county. I show that cooperation in To Hell in a Handbasket.

The visit to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office turned out to be a lot of fun both for me, including watching a strapping young officer pirouette while modeling his uniform, and for the personnel there, because a visit from a real-live author was a welcome diversion in their day. I also interviewed a detective in the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office for my RM Outdoor Adventures series, and I found that office to be similarly open and cooperative.

My interviewees appreciate that I educate myself as thoroughly as possible on the basics first, prepare a list of questions beforehand, and promise to take no more than an hour of their time. Most wind up offering to answer further questions by email or phone. The Undersheriff of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office even read a couple of chapters of To Hell in a Handbasket to assure that while the events were far-fetched, the portrayal of the Sheriff’s Office’s response was accurate. While I’ve read books about law enforcement, including The Making of a Detective and True Blue, nothing beats talking to the real McCoys!

I’d be happy to answer questions about researching local sheriff’s offices. Would you like to share any interesting experiences you’ve had with your local county sheriff’s office or police department? If you comment or ask a question here, you will be entered into a contest for a free autographed copy of the trade paperback edition of To Hell in a Handbasket. I also hope you’ll visit my website,  and sign up for my email newsletter there.

An icy demise snowballs in book 2 of this Agatha Award-nominated series. Gift basket designer Claire Hanover is reluctantly enjoying a spring ski vacation with her family in Breckenridge, Colorado, when a bloodcurdling scream cuts the frigid air. Claire is appalled to find the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend dead on the slopes. Others assume the girl’s death was an accident, but Claire notices another pair of ski tracks veering dangerously into the victim’s path. To protect her daughter as incriminating clues surface, Claire unravels a chilling conspiracy.

"Groundwater's second leaves the bunny slope behind, offering some genuine black-diamond thrills."
-- Kirkus Review, April 1, 2009

"Tightly plotted and very current, the story manages to keep you on the edge of your seat."
-- Gayle Surrette, Gumshoe Review, May 1, 2009

Bestselling mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A Real Basket Case, a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, and To Hell in a Handbasket) and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner (Deadly Currents, an Amazon bestseller, and Wicked Eddies). The third books in both series will appear in 2013. Beth enjoys Colorado's many outdoor activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, and loves talking to book clubs. Please visit her website

Friday, October 26, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Shifting to the dark side

Happy Friday everyone!! I've had an interesting challenge placed before me and I'm actually a bit excited to give it a try. For all of my writing career I've written what we call "light and fluffy" stories. You know, basically contemporary reads with a bit of humor or sarcasm thrown in. Fun books! Occasionally I've been known to add in a suspenseful moment here and there (my original love was romantic suspense). That's why I like the cozy mysteries, because I can kind of get the best of everything. Fun, maybe even romantic moments (gotta have the love interest) mixed with the whole "who-dunnit". You close the door on sex so I don't have to worry about my Aunt Shirley reading my book and freaking out. And my romances are still very much light and fun but have more sexual tension and of course, they openly have sex (Yes!). Then again, it's all about the romance on that end.

But my mission should I choose to accept it (and I have) is to go to the dark side. Now, before you all scream "No, Barbie! Don't go there!", take a deep breath because it's okay. We all have a dark side. C'mon, admit it. Road rage, check out line fury, co-worker murder plotting.... we've all been there at one time or another. Those moments are just our dark sides letting us know they exist. Now, how we react and what we do with this knowledge is totally up to each individual.  But what happens if you connect with your inner dark self?

Sit back and listen, because Barbie knows best. Once when I was writing a YA novel, I had a fallen angel as my antagonist. He was dark, but I needed to make him darker. So every scene that was in his pov, I seriously overhauled. Oh, mama, lock up your children because by the time I was done he was the most evil, twisted person I had ever written. I'd lived in what my CP and I call "Bunnyland" (the land of light and funny) for so long, I couldn't believe I had this stuff inside me! Some scenes I'd actually scared myself! I'm not kidding. The things I had this guy do were just...just....ewww!!!! When the story was finally finished I had to take three months off from writing because all of that dark stuff took so much out of me to write. I was emotionally and mentally drained, I kid you not! As it turned out, those scenes were so riveting, the rest of the book with the hero and heroine seemed to fall flat in comparison. So while I was recovering from the darkness, I jumped into other projects but at least I knew what I'd have to do should I go back to that story someday.

Now the darkness is calling. Maybe it's the spooky Halloween atmosphere, I'm not sure. As I contemplate my challenge, I'm beginning to realize there's an alter-ego inside me waiting to be let loose. There's some sick, twisted stuff swirling around in my head waiting for the perfect plot, the perfect characters. I just might have to channel the things that really scare me (except Russian exorcisms. We will NEVER go there again). If I pull this off, I'm thinking I could have a best seller on my hands! Although I'd totally have to change my name (as if I don't already have enough pseudonyms).

It's like we've talked about here on M&M before. If you don't try to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, you might miss an opportunity. In my case, the creepy old door just swung open and it's pitch black inside. Excuse me while I grab my rosary and find some holy water....I'm going in!!

Have a great weekend! For all of our readers along the East Coast, please stay safe as Hurricane Sandy makes her way through! We were headed to Long Island to visit colleges with my son, but may very well be changing our plans!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cassy's Corner- How Laundry Saved Me

I confess this is an encore post, but it's from June of 2010 so many of you might not have read it or remember it. It's in part a long standing bit of family history.

I have been astonished over time at how people work so differently. Our kids are classic kids, well adults now, but their habits haven't really changed. No matter what they are doing they will have music going, or the TV on, or a phone in their hand. My younger one went through medical school with her ear buds firmly in place. Folks, this gal was reading stuff so complicated that I would have to sound out each syllable to follow along, yet most of it for her was done to music. My older gal is about the same.

Do you write to background music? I definitely do not. It's just too noisy inside my head to handle more than the sound of my dogs chewing their bones.

Let me tell you a story about a battle of wills in terms of noise. Many many years ago we bought a 100-year old house desperately in need of renovation. My daughter would turn on a hairdryer and my computer would crash. Bits of paper would blow off the table if the wind outside picked up. But, as things go, we couldn't afford to make changes right away. I was writing my doctoral dissertation, our kids were little and my husband decided to create his own firm, leaving one he'd been with for 18 years. Oh, and I was working full-time as an associate dean at Yale while also commuting six hours by train for my PhD. Got the picture? Pure chaos. We loved every minute of it.

Well, most of it. My husband is a huge opera fan. He listens to it loud and often sings along not always knowing the Italian so much of it can be "la, la, la", always with gusto. When he set up his own business he initially put it in a room adjacent to my home office, which was an illegal kitchen put in by a previous owner. I mention the kitchen bit because there were long counters plus a spot for our washer and dryer. I was truly roughing it, but it worked.

Our photocopier sat on the counter. My husband uses the photocopier a lot. With his make-shift new office next to mine, he was in and out of my area many times per hour. So, picture me, the one who likes total silence when I work, one a room away from Puccini. I kept closing my office door and turning of the grating sound of the ancient photocopier. My dear husband would be in and out asking why, first the door was close and second, why he had to keep waiting to let the machine warm up before he could make his copies. I literally started wearing ear plugs I acquired from my last plane trip but they hurt after too many hours. Divorce was not an option.

The washing machine and dryer! They were across the room. I started doing the laundry that had been piling up. The chug chug of the washer combined with the whirl of the dryer solved the problem. My poor kids became the slaves, hauling everything they could find for me to wash. I even began washing clean clothes! Nothing was folded or put away. It was just placed back in the washing machine. It's a new concept on recycling. I wished Erma Brombeck was still around so I could share my household story with her.

Within a few months, my husband rented office space. Thank God. We renovated the house years ago, but the stories live on.

So tell me, are you a music person?  Are you okay with distractions? What are the quirks you have that only you can tame? And, I've done enough laundry to last me the rest of my life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kari's Kave: Banners Rock!

I am sooooo excited. Kelly Bartlett Crimi designed my Kari Lee Harmon book covers and my Digital Diva book covers. My mystery covers from Berkley Prime Crime were designed by the fabulous team at Berkley.

Kelly made these two banners for me to use on Facebook, my website, bookmarks...oh the possibilities! I couldn't be happier. LOVE her work.

I truly love being in both worlds. The world of traditional publishing, and the world of self-publishing. It's a way for me to take years of hard work and put it out there for all the world to see in the cyber world as well as print on demand. And yet still walk into a bookstore and see my books on the mystery shelves. There's still such a feeling of pride every time I do that. A feeling of awe that I'm sitting on the shelves beside some pretty amazing company. A feeling of satisfaction that I've accomplished so much.

But I have so many more dreams I want to see fulfilled.

Times are changing so quickly, it's sometimes hard to keep up. It's scary at times, yet so exciting. So tell me...anything exciting happen to you lately? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Anita's Attic: New Cover!

I just got my new cover for Faelan - A Highland Warrior Brief. This is a novella I'm releasing in November. It's a prequel to Awaken the Highland Warrior and will take us back to the 19th century so we can see how Faelan became such a mighty warrior. I've never written a prequel before, so I'm a little nervous. I had fun going back and looking at Faelan's past, seeing him with his family. I learned more about him, and since he continues to be a character in the series, and there are so many mysteries to the series that still remain, I hope readers will find it entertaining and intriguing while they wait on the third book in the series, Unleash the Highland Warrior.

As Liz posted yesterday, sometimes genres are hard to label. My stories have a little of everything, paranormal, romance, mystery,suspense, adventure, and humor. That's usually how I describe the stories, but that's not really a genre. For simplicity's sake, I usually just say I write mysteries and romance or paranormal romantic suspense. Labeling is difficult, but in the end what matters is that it's a good story, regardless of genre.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Romance in Mysteries

On Friday I was on a panel with five other authors at the Mansfield Texas library. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Library and was billed as Mansfield Writes. My friend, Diane Kelly, who writes the humorous Tara Holloway mysteries, organized the event, and each of us did a presentation on some aspect of publishing/writing. I chose the topic romance in mysteries, a subject that is near and dear to my heart since I write what I call romantic mysteries.

I read an interesting article about this on Did you know that romance with mysteries started way back when Gothic novels were popular? Think Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers. In those days a young, naïve woman found herself in the middle of a horrible storm, usually alone, with screams coming from the attic or some similar scenario. Our young heroine would rush up to see what was going on, only to be rescued by a dashing, brooding, handsome man. Today we call that heroine TSTL – – too stupid to live.

Fortunately, as women’s lib cranked up, so did writers. Modern-day heroines no longer went up to the attic alone after hearing screams unless there was a very compelling reason, and even then, they didn't go without a flashlight, a cell phone, and sometimes a Glock.

In 1943 Phyllis Whitney penned mysteries aimed at a modern female audience. Mary Stuart followed, and from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, we saw an emergence of suspense novels with pronounced romantic elements. Finally, in the 1970s, Mary Higgins Clark introduced us to a new version of romantic suspense with her women in jeopardy novels. This has always been my favorite genre to both read and write, although I get confused sometimes as to what exactly I do write. My heroines always find themselves in jeopardy, but there's a fine line. Romance can be found in all my books (romantic suspense), but you never know who the killer is until the very end (mystery.) Born a rebel, I love breaking the genre rules.

I can only hope the readers who have been kind enough to take a chance on me – – some even who like me – – aren't aware of these rules. They only know what they enjoy reading, and hopefully, I'm included on the list.

I ended my presentation with this little tidbit. After a particularly exhausting sexy encounter with her mate, the female praying mantis bites off his head and eats it.

Moral of this story – – even Mother Nature sees the importance of combining murder with good sex.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Release Day!!!

It's finally out!! My short story Extreme Love Makeover is now on Amazon! This story was once part of a charity anthology three years ago. I loved it so much I always wished I could make a bigger story out of it! Well, I've added a bit more to it but it's still a short story, and I'm thrilled to be sharing it with you all.

Here's the blurb:

Repairing a broken heart requires a new set of tools.

Sidney Edwards has returned to Cape Vincent to build a recovery wing for the local hospital. Never did she dream Mitchell Case, the object of childhood summer romances and the same man she left at the altar, would still reside there. In fact, he’s the doctor overseeing her project. Not ready to face the ghosts from her past, or be within a nail guns length of Mitch, Sidney wants nothing more than to complete the job and leave. But Mitch has other plans as passions resurface. Will Sidney find closure and flee, or re-build a life with the man who has never stopped loving her?

If you've noticed, I have this recurring theme in my books.....yup, rekindled love. I really believe when you find the one you are meant to be with, nothing will keep you apart and you will find your way back eventually. :-) Ahh...the plight of a hopeless romantic! I love Sidney and Mitch so much that I have some future book ideas for them. Their continuing story must be told. One day...

I hope you all enjoy Extreme Love Makeover. It's a sweet, fun, short story!

Enjoy the lovely fall weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cassy's Corner- Color and Texture

Before I post this blog, I must first apologize for missing last week. Life for all of us has its moments of hectic stuff. But here I am now and I thank you for checking in with us.

Today I have been struck by color and texture. As we write and as we read, we follow the cadence that comes with words that describe, that create images, that bring us to the front of the action, romance and setting. How do you put that in a rhythm that communicates with your readership?

I was recently staying with family and offered to put together some small bouquets as someone needed to offer gifts. I walked the property looking for what would be interesting for three arrangements. The colors, textures and the sense of fall were more than evident. The plants were gorgeous (not my doing) and the color range magnificent. My mother has put in a fabulous combination of plants that will be with us until frost.

Putting together the bunches reminded me of how we pick and choose our words. A little yellow here will help the contrast, maybe some blue, Oh—we need big purple hydrangea blossoms and little euonymus so there is a scale change. Yet, there should also be small berries with some medium leaves. Where is the yellow? What about some coleus or marigolds?

Back to the analogy to writing, I suspect you can follow my intent. We have big scenes with huge emotion or action or peril. We contrast that with moments of quiet or reflection or doubt. We add a slightly kooky side-kick who brings the purple to the bouquet. We try our best to write snappy dialogue that takes you, the reader, right into the moment—like wanting to lean forward and sniff the flowers I added. Engagement. We seek to draw our readers in to the worlds we create.

I am finding so many metaphors around me to the process of writing. As fall is in full bloom here in Connecticut I have been trying to find good words to describe the colors of the trees, the sound of my neighbor blowing leaves, the cold spray as my dogs shake off lake water, the changing light at 4 pm, the sound of the coxswain calling orders to the eight rowers behind him.

These aren’t scenarios that appear in any of my books. They are quiet private exercises in searching for descriptions and hopefully just the right word. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kari's Kave: Crazy Characters

Okay, so Halloween is almost here.

At my house that means crazy decorations, crazy pranks, and crazy costumes!

My guys love Halloween, so they go all out. It's as bad as April fools day. I've had toilet seat and lid taped together so I fall in. Or worse, saran wrap covering the toilet beneath the seat, so when someone goes...."it" goes all over the floor!


You name it, they do it. Except, at Halloween, they go scaring each other as often as possible. I hate horror movies and I hate to be scared. I keep telling them if I have a heart attack,  it's all their fault.

It did, however, get me thinking about crazy characters and trying to be as creative as possible when coming up with them. It pushes me to take a look at my work in progress and try to think outside of the box. Try to push myself to really dig deep and come up with some great quirks and traits that make that character stand out.

Writing is hard. That's why I love looking around and really trying to figure get inspired by life. What time of year is it? What type of weather is going on outside? What holiday is it, or what season? Life in general has so many sources of inspiration.

What inspires you?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Liz’s Lair: Taking a Stab at Illiteracy

Yesterday, I was one of twenty-five author hosts who participated in the Buns and Roses Tea for Literacy. This was my second year to do this, and I was thoroughly impressed once again with all the work that goes into the planning.

It started off with a Q & A session at the Plano B & N, followed by a booksigning with about twenty of the authors. Then we were hosted by Chris Simmie with  a meet and greet party, where this year, they allowed readers to participate. The menu? What else but Texas Barbeque.

The tea was actually held on Sunday, and the place was packed. Here’s how it worked. The tickets were $35 each, but if you wanted to go with a group of nine friends, you picked an author and bought the table for $350. Because I was one of the few mystery authors among many romance ones, my table sold early, but even so, I was surprised to see a few women who sat with me last year. I was fortunate enough to be entertained by (first row left to right--Lois, me, and Sandy. Back row left to right—Janet, Judy, Sandy, Genevieve,, Jane and Jean.) Joyce had to leave early and missed the photo shoot.

What a fun group of ladies! I had a blast and felt like I had made new friends.

Anyway, Sarah Maclean was the Keynote speaker and she told an inspiring story about how the written text had changed her life, including being in New York City on September, 11, 2001, crossing the bridge with so many other New Yorkers that day, and being proposed to soon after that. Her Happily-Ever-After made me think about all the people who can’t read text, stories, or even simple words.

Did you know that according to UNICEF, nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them are women?

It gets worse.  2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

OMG! More than 60% of prison inmates are functionally illiterate. And with no help, many will return to prison. See the entire article here.

So, I salute the RWA for their efforts in combating literacy with their literacy booksigning every year at Nationals, and I am humbled that I was asked to be a  part of the Richardson Adult Literacy Center’s efforts in this battle we must win.  

I simply cannot imagine a world without words.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: Book Teasers, Oh My!

First of all - let me apologize for being MIA. Honestly, I think I was captured by aliens and just recently returned home. Between the day job and home....I have spent the last 3 weeks in crazytown and I couldn't even tell you what's been going on. Hence the alien reference. Either that or maybe it was that flashy-pen thing the Men In Black use to erase your memory. Regardless, I'M Baaaaack!!

Even on my whirlwind trip through crazytown (that I can't remember), I was busily pounding the keys at any free moment I had. Wow, have I missed it. Twist of Fate was one of my earlier works. What I liked to call "the book I learned on". It was originally crafted for a Harlequin line, but wasn't quite ready so I kept reworking it. But in the process there were other ideas and new stories that had to be written, so I set it aside for many years. Filed away, but not forgotten. I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the plot for Twist of Fate and tweaking it for self-publication. After all of these years of honing my craft, I feel I have done the storyline justice. Sam and Kate can finally have their story and HEA. (insert dreamy sigh)

Early this week, I finished the epilogue from hell and sent it off to await formatting and a cover. It felt like a weight had been lifted. But in this crazy, competitive world of publication, writing "THE END" wasn't enough. I felt I had to give my readers something to look forward to. A glimpse of my next work in progress, maybe something fun and interesting. After much consideration over the other romances in my files, I chose to include a snippet from HEART'S DESIRE: Book 1 of the Love Is Timeless Series. THIS book is my baby. This story is the one that started it all, oh so many years ago!

Love is Timeless Series will consist of stories of three young women who invest in an antique shop together and purchase a cursed Scottish heirloom collection. These cursed items will bring the girls back in time to find their true love, their soul mate. (insert yet another dreamy sigh) Sassy, modern day girls who meet hot and hunky highlanders. Oh YUM!

I've seen book teasers done in print books and also in some ebooks I've downloaded. If I've liked the story I just read, then I jump right into their teasers and I love it! Seriously, by the time I finish, I'm totally looking forward to that author's next book and I'm looking for anything else they may have out.

So if you ever want to jump start your motivation....add a teaser at the end of your current book. Once I finished adding it in, I was so excited again about the story I can't wait to jump in and finish it!! And to know that there are 2 more books to follow it, totally give me direction with my writing so I can stay on track and keep putting things out!

Why didn't I think of this sooner????

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and happy writing!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kari's Kave: I'm Falling...

I'm finally falling back into my routine :-)

Now that the "fall" is upon us, I am happy to be back in the swing of things. Spring brought about new birth, new possibilities, new books, etc. With the fall, it's time for my bad habits of the summer to die away and fall off. I'm hoping to let the pounds fall off, let the sleeping in fall off, let the slacking off and not writing fall off, etc.

The leaves, change to such vibrant colors. The air gets cool. The haze fades away and everything becomes crisp and clear. Apples and pumpkins and mums are in season. Chili and pie aroma fills the air. The view out my window is fabulous as I sit snuggled up with hot apple cider and my keyboard, ready for inspiration to strike.

I love fall.

And I love having my routine back.

So bring on the  pages, Ms. Muse...I'm ready for ye!

What does fall  mean to you? Do you find inspiration? Do you hate to see summer end? Inquiring minds want to know....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Anita's Attic: Research - Frustrating or Fun?

Forgive me if I seem loopy, but I've been up since 4:30 this morning doing research on Scotland for a novella that I'm releasing in November, and I think my battery is about to die. I'm not really a morning person. It's fun when I get a burst of energy and can get moving early, but it tends to fizzle soon, and then off I go for a nap.

Back to research. We all do it. Some people excel at research and some suck. I'm more on the sucky end of things. I love exploring and learning new things, but usually I end up going off on little interesting side trails that have nothing to do with what I started looking for. I get easily distracted. But it's fun, kind of like a treasure hunt, until I figure out that I've spent valuable writing time on the trail of treasure that has nothing to do with my writing or the initial question I started with. Take for instance this morning. I'm looking to find out what the Beauly Scotland area looked like in the mid 19th century. I found some fun, cool stuff, then I stumbled on a blog by this girl who married a Scot and toured Scotland. Before long, I'm looking at wedding pictures and cute bed and breakfasts.

I'm very visual and need an overall picture that I can use, but I also need clear, simple facts that form nice building blocks to hold the picture up. When I get back on track, I find sorting through the research to figure out what's authentic and how it fits into my story can feel like a big muddled mess. Did I mention that I'm terrible with analysis? This leads to a lot of frustration in addition to the fun little side trips.

I'm always intrigued by how much or how little research goes into a book. How do you research and how do you apply what you've learned?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Liz ‘s Lair: When In Rome… Watch Out For The Paper Panties!

Now that I've got your attention, I want to tell you about my wonderful trip to Italy last week. Don't get your own panties in a wad as I'll explain the title of this blog in due time.

My trip started off last Tuesday with a three-hour flight from Dallas to Charlotte where I met my agent, Christine Witthohn. Four hours later, we boarded the plane to Rome in first class. Somehow, I let her talk me into this even though I couldn't afford it.

But, oh my, it was nice. We each had our own cubicle that totally reclined to make a bed. Since it was an overnight flight, it was terrific. We arrived in Rome about  9:30 Wednesday morning where we met up with Joni Sauer-Folger, my critique partner and fellow BC client, and Daleen Barry, a nonfiction writer from Christine's home state.

All was going well – – – until we tried to check in at Alitalia for our flight from Rome to Bari.

"Are you sea men?"

Excuse me? I write romance, and that word has an entirely different meaning than what she was asking. I gave her my best confused look.

"Ships," she explained in broken English.

It seems the flight I booked on Cheapo Air – – already overpriced at $283 one-way – – was a discounted rate for Italian Navy officers and was invalid. To rebook the same flight would have cost us €450 – – about $580 US one-way – – and they were unable to refund our money since we paid Cheapo Air and not them.

Talk about being at their mercy. We ended up booking a much later flight for about the same price as the earlier one. But that left us with another problem. Now we missed the shuttle waiting to take us from Bari to Matera, and we would have to pay a much higher price for transportation. Not to mention that we'd arrive with little time to spare before the welcoming cocktail party which I was really looking forward to.

As luck would have it, we hooked up with a French publisher on his way to the conference, and Christine used the opportunity to pitch him the entire trip. Once in Matera we barely had time for a spit bath before the party began

From this point on, everything was fantastic, including the terrific conference and beautiful Matera. Liz Jennings, a romantic suspense author, puts on this wonderful conference every year and goes out of her way to draw in lots of important people in the publishing industry. It was kinda cool listening to the Italian publishers/agents through headphones and an interpreter.

Lunch and dinner every day included Adam Firestone, a hilarious gun expert from Virginia, the French publisher and a wonderful German publisher. I discovered the wine over there didn't give me a headache. So, like the Italians, it became part of the ritual for every meal. (This is Joni and Daleen with them. I was taking the picture.)

Before the Festival wrapped up I had made lots of new friends, including the Aston family (Lizzie, Eloise, and Anselm) from England and lots of American authors living in Italy, including New York Times bestseller Shannon McKenna. (Here is Anselm with Shannon.)

The conference ended with a brunch on Sunday, and then we boarded a bus to Naples with Liz Jennings and four of the loveliest interpreters/translators I could ever want to meet. (Mickey, Helga, Lorena, and Angela) From Naples we took the ferry to Ischia where we met up with Entangled editor, Nina Bruhns, and two American writers, Mary Leo and Janet Wellington.

OMG! Talk about beautiful. We stayed at Pensione Mena where our hostess – a beautiful bighearted Italian woman we called Mama Mena and her family treated us like royalty. I ended up bringing home lots of her recipes to be included in CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER.

The first day in Ischia we spent discussing business deals and translations, and the second day we played. Here's where the panties come in.

We went to a gigantic spa situated right on the sea with several pools of healing water of various temperatures and a treatment center right in the heart of the spa. Since my bursitis was acting up from lugging my big-ass luggage (big mistake taking so much) all over Italy, I decided to have the massage after the translators arranged for the therapist to concentrate on my sore hips.

Now I have to tell you that I hate massages. I don't even let them turn on the massage feature of the chair when I get a pedicure. But my hips were screaming at me, and through the interpreters, the therapist assured me she could help.

She took me back to a room with a table and handed me a pair of paper thong panties. First of all I've never worn thong panties nor have I ever had paper ones.

"You want me to wear these?" I asked, praying she'd laugh and say it was all a joke.

She did laugh, but nodded in agreement.

"I can't wear my own panties?"

Again she smiled and handed me the paper ones. Then she indicated that I needed to take off all my clothes.

"You want me naked?" I asked, now in a panic.

Again the smile.

"Oh hell!" I peeled off my clothes and prayed I didn't scare her off.

It only took about 10 minutes of my hour-long massage to get over the paper panties and the naked and fat thing and to start enjoying the massage. It was wonderfully relaxing, but probably was the one and only massage I’ll ever have.

The next day was spent traveling – – first we took the ferry to Naples, then a train to Rome, followed by a taxi to Contessa Alessandra Oddi-Baglioni's house – – she's a client of Christine's – – where she gave us a mini tour of the city.

Then we went back to the train station for the trip to the airport Hilton. The nearly 11 hour trip to Charlotte wasn't too bad because I snagged the bulkhead seat – – pulling up my pants leg to display my knee brace for the sympathy vote just in case someone tried to make me move back to my cramped seat.

All in all, it was a wonderful and productive trip, but it was not without its consequences. Did I mention the salty seawater had apparently acted as an irrigation to my chronically infected sinuses, and I came home with a raging sinus infection? After nearly coughing up a lung, the antibiotics and codeine cough medicine has it finally under control.

But you know what? It was worth it. The Italians are wonderful people and the country is lovely.

Would I do it again? You bet! I came home with requests for my books from both the French and the German publisher. I met friends I will cherish forever, and the best news of all – – paper thong panties do not give you a wedgie!

Oh, and did I mention the hot Italian men??

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Collective Nouns

Yes, I know discussing nouns sounds totally boring. But, we are readers and writers. Nouns are part of our lives. I have a very favorite book that you may know: An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton. It was originally published in 1968 and has a number of reprints. I recently pulled my well-worn copy off the shelf and began to yet again flip the pages. It’s the type of book you don’t need to read front to back- only have fun as you peruse.
The entire premise of the book is to list collective nouns by categories, such as animals, home and family, or romance and raunch. Most of the expressions are accurate (gaggle of geese), while there are others that I wonder about their origin (a score of bachelors). Nevertheless it is a delight to flip the pages
Here are some examples from Lipton’s collection. Please add your own to the list. We can have fun with this!

A pack of dogs, but a litter of puppies
Isn’t it interesting how the collective noun can change based on the age of the animal?
Staying with the animals:
A herd of horses, but a string of ponies
A brood of hens, but a run of poultry

On another theme:
A bench of judges
A board of trustees
A posse of vigilantes

And then he also gets silly:
A rendering of architects
A flush of plumbers
A sesame of locksmiths
An aroma of bakers
A ring of jewelers
A lot of realtors

I do recommend this funny and lovely book if you wish to laugh, learn and live with nouns. But, I need to warn you. Many who share your house might not find the game as fun as we. My husband is threatening to hide the book when my back is turned. It comes off the shelf every few years and he groans each time. Quoting the Oxford English Dictionary, he pleads that he can only handle one wife and not a bevy of ladies.

What can you add to this crazy list- invented or not?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kari's Kave: The Gremlins are Back!


Once again the nasty annoying gremlins are back!

I have been trying all morning to post. I am finally able to get on.

It got me thinking about what if my computer crashed? I am so bad about backing everything up. I say I will, but I never do. Even if you don't back up your documents, you can at least email them to yourself so they stay in cyberspace.

Easy right?

Then why don't we do it? I would freak if I lost certains things. Especially when spending so much time and energy on writing...only to lose it? Eeeek. You hear horror stories all the time, but that still isn't enough to make me do it. I have pictures as well stored on my computer. So much stuff I simply wouldn't want to lose.

So tell me, how do you back up your important material? Or do you back up at all? Inquiring minds want to know :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Anita's Attic: My New Cover

I'm so excited to announce that I finally have my new cover for Guardians of Stone I love the relic stone behind her and the blue. I welcome opinions. The book releases on December 4th, which is getting so close now. 

Here's a blurb:
Indiana Jones ~meets~ Stephanie Plum.  A feisty heroine with a sixth sense and two sexy heroes, a mercenary, and a dark, eccentric billionaire are on a hunt for four powerful relics that could change their lives…and the course of history.

Kendall Morgan is a human bloodhound. Spending her childhood hunting relics with her ambitious archaeologist father, she knew the two of them shared a sixth sense for the history and location of objects—sometimes even people. What she didn't know was that their paranormal gift could ultimately be their undoing.

After the tragic plane crash that killed her father—as well as her childhood best friend—Kendall dedicated her life to finding and protecting relics. When mysterious, sexy billionaire Nathan Larraby hires her for his latest expedition—the search for four powerful relics—she’s thrown into a world of high-octane danger. He sends brooding mercenary Jake Stone to watch Kendall’s back, but he may have created danger of a different kind.

As the team chases down clues, a man called the Reaper makes a play for the artifacts and will stop at nothing to put them to his own sinister use. What’s worse is that Nathan hasn't told the whole story, and the dark secrets he’s keeping could cost them the mission…and their lives.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Liz's Lair: Shameful Promotion

Since I am still in Italy, I decided to do a little promoting for my next book, MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT.

Here’s the blurb:
A sports writing job would have been the perfect catch for Jordan McAllister, but in Ranchero, Texas, all she could reel in was the food column. Though she may not know her way around a kitchen, she has no trouble finding herself in a kettle of fish…

Tempted by the offer of a free Caribbean cruise, Jordan accepts a spot as a judge in a week-long big-time cooking competition aboard the Carnation Queen. She just better hope no one finds out that her famous palate is far from refined.

But there are bigger fish to fry when arrogant chef Stefano Mancini falls face first into his signature halibut dish during the first event. While evidence suggests that the handsome Italian chef’s death was an accident, Jordan thinks otherwise. But she’ll have to keep her wits about her—and the sea sickness pills handy—if she’s going to solve this one…

And a short excerpt:

Will led the couple over to the table. “Jordan and George, meet the other third of the judging lineup, Beau Lincoln.”
The new arrival didn’t even try to stop his wandering eyes from scanning every inch of Jordan while he held her hand long enough to make her uncomfortable.
Sheesh! Doesn’t the idiot know his wife is right behind him?
“My job just got a little more pleasant,” he said, when he finally released her hand.
After his wife cleared her throat, he must have remembered he wasn’t alone and pulled her in front of him. “And this is my lovely wife, Sophia.”
Jordan reached for her hand, noticing how clammy it was. “Nice to meet you.”
Will reached for Sophia’s arm and pointed to where Rosie and the gang sat about four rows back. “We’re getting ready to start. Lorenzo will take you to your seat now.” He handed her off to a steward dressed in a perfectly starched white uniform.
“So, Jordan, tell me about yourself. How long have you been the culinary reporter at the Globe?” Beau asked after settling in beside her.
When Beau inched closer, she moved slightly to her left in Christakis’ direction. “Just a few months.”
“Michael said you were a chocoholic. Ever had one of my Sinfully Sweet desserts?” When she shook her head, his eyes lit up. “Then you must let me come to your room after the competition. I have a box of freshly baked Kahlúa brownies that has your name on it.”
Don’t hold your breath. She wrinkled her brow. Wait! Did he just say Kahlua brownies?
“I couldn't wait to meet you, Mr. Lincoln, after I heard so many good things about you.”
Jordan couldn’t miss the way Marsha Davenport stretched across the table to shake Beau’s hand, giving both her and the entrepreneur a straight-to-the-belly button look down her blouse. Even the chef’s apron didn't hide the attributes she'd no doubt paid a chunk of change to enhance.
Beau moved away from Jordan and settled back in his chair to take advantage of the peep show. Jordan imagined him salivating at the tasty morsel in front of him, but at this point, she was just grateful for the diversion.
“Call me Beau. And who might you be?”
Marsha pretended to be shy and fluttered her eyelashes. “Marsha Davenport. I intern in Hirosoto’s in Fort Worth.”
“I know that restaurant well,” Beau said. “Like chocolate, Marsha?” When she nodded he gave her hand a squeeze. “I’ll bring some of delicacies to your room later so you can sample them.”
Hey, those are my brownies!

Until next Monday when I’ll have so many pictures to show you and so much to tell you—Ciao!