Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blurb for The Wild Irish Sea

I received an extra holiday gift last week, and another little step down the road to publication for my third romantic suspense novel, The Wild Irish Sea.

The book has been listed for pre-order on Amazon for about a month, even though I still don't have a cover (here's a picture for 'inspiration'). But a few days ago, I discovered the order page now boasts this lovely blurb:

Parker O'Neill, using a summer hiatus to explore his familial roots in Ireland, inadvertently witnesses a murder and finds himself fighting for his life on the rugged coast of Donegal. Summoning his twin sister through the telepathic ability they share, she rushes to his rescue.

But to find him, she must enlist the aid of recovering alcoholic and former police inspector Kevin Hennessey, who wants nothing to do with the beautiful American telling him a wild story about murder and danger—all of which she has only seen in her mind.

Each reeling from a painful divorce, they try to keep their relationship on a strictly platonic footing; but the wildness of the sea, the magical legend of a lost selkie prince, and their own desperate efforts to find and save her missing brother before it's too late bring them together on levels neither one could ever have imagined…

If this book sounds a little more 'paranormal' than my previous two, that's because it is! I hope you will all still LOVE this story, which was my first written under contract from just a proposal. It was a challenge for me to write but also very rewarding.


May 2010 be filled with much joy and prosperity for you and your loved ones!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Wonderful Gift!

I have a post up today on Casablanca Authors (just click on the title of this post to go there) about gifts. Plus we are giving away books, including a copy of The Treasures of Venice. Hope you can stop by and leave a comment.

However, I can't resist posting the picture of my niece, her hubby, and her baby boy here too. I know I may be just a wee bit biased, but I think they are the most adorable little family EVER!

My niece and hubby (a man of impeccable taste who absolutely LOVED The Wild Sight) tried for ten years to have a baby on their own. After endless rounds of testing by numerous different doctors, they were finally told that my niece had a genetic condition that left her sterile. So at the beginning of the year, they decided to try the adoption route.

Knowing that it could take several years for them to accomplish their hearts' desires -- an infant -- they settled in for a long wait. Imagine their joy and surprise when they received a call in June that a newborn baby boy was waiting for them!

They had a crib and not much else, so they ran out and bought some blue 'onesies', then stopped at my other niece's house to borrow a car seat to bring their new son home!

This will be little Aiden's first Christmas (pictured above on his first Thanksgiving) and a VERY SPECIAL HOLIDAY for everyone in our family!



Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

Greetings all! I'm off sailing the high seas near Acapulco, Mexico, and undoubtedly enjoying the lovely warm sun!

But since I miss all of you and wish you were here, and it IS my birthday, I thought I'd reprint part of the blog I posted two years ago. It's all about the trials and tribulations of having a birthday close to Christmas.

Another Year Above Ground!

That's what a former boss of mine used to say instead of Happy Birthday. Only within the last few years have I begun to appreciate the significance. And yes, it truly SUX to have your birthday the week before Christmas. First you have to wait ALL YEAR to get any presents, then they all come at once. Second, your birthday gets lost in the shuffle. Parties never come off because everyone is BUSY with the holidays. The weather is crappy (great rationalization to move to the Southern Hemisphere!). Forget anything that's not Christmas themed. My mother was the only person who NEVER wrapped my birthday present in Christmas paper. Sometimes she had to use the comic section of the newspaper, but NEVER Christmas paper.

Finally, DO NOT get me started on the people who try to pull the old "This is your birthday and Christmas present COMBINED" scam! Of course your old Aunty has the perfect cure for that one. I just smile and say, "Really? This is YOUR birthday and Christmas present COMBINED." And when the person looks shocked and says, "But my birthday is in July!" I simply reply, "Too bad."

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all you other December Babies! May you NEVER receive a combined birthday and Christmas present.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holidays and Steps Down the Road

It's that time of year again and may I just say: Bah HUMBUG!

I really hate the crass commercialism that has attached itself to the holidays, especially the part about shopping for presents. However, I do love holiday get togethers, and today my local RWA chapter had ours.

We had lots of yummy goodies (including gluten-free gingerbread) and a silent auction of gift baskets and other items. The proceeds from the auction went to a local literacy program. But best of all was the chance to just spend some face time with other writers!

Nobody truly understands the ups and downs of this crazy preoccupation like another writer. Other writers "get it" when you talk about your characters. They can truly empathize about your writing, revisions, and submission woes. They've been there and done that, and have the same scars and war stories. It's really nice to know that I'm not the only one stumbling along this long and rocky road to publication.

And of course, writers are readers too, yet another bonus! In addition to the sympathy, I always get plenty of good book recommendations.

But back to the long and winding road to publication...

I've taken a couple more steps with my third release The Wild Irish Sea. I'm in the midst of reviewing my copyedits even as I type this post, always an exciting step for me! Plus, I just learned that I have a release date: July 6, 2010!


I also finally got my website updated to include a blurb and excerpt (among other things) of The Wild Irish Sea, and was surprised to learn that it is already available for pre-order on Amazon and Books-A-Million! No cover image yet, but I'm still excited to see the listing.

Oh, and please check out my updated website when you get the chance:

Now back to those copyedits...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

There's nothing like being ill for almost two weeks to make you truly thankful for good health! Feels like I've been battling this 'crud' seemingly forever, but at long last, I'm getting back to my old cantankerous self.

This is the time of year when we here in the States reflect on things for which we are thankful -- friends, family, health...

I'm thankful for all of those, of course! The members of my family are all doing fine. I have eight lovely grand nieces and nephews, with number nine due to make an appearance in mid-February.

I have lots of local friends who have called to check up on me, and whom I get to see on a regular basis. Plus I have a whole host of wonderful online friends who stay in touch with me most everyday. Some of them are waaay far away, but because of the internet, I feel close and connected to them no matter where they are.

Most of all, lately I've been so thankful for readers! I've said before, and will continue to say that fan mail really does make this 'writing gig' worthwhile. This was brought home to me even more than usual these past two weeks while I was sick. Nothing brightened my day more than email from readers! Here are excerpts from the last three I received:

Just finished "The Treasures of Venice" ... had to let you know how much I enjoyed it. The way you interwove the past and present was seamless. Thank you so much for doing what you do, tell an amazing story.
I recently bought and read both your books after my old high school friend recommended them. Enjoyed them both, and have passed them on to others who liked them too! Keep up the good writing!

I read your novel (The Wild Sight) last week. The best romantic suspense book I have ever read... detailed and sexy.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"The Crud" and Florida Dreaming

UGH! I've been sick for the past four days with 'the crud' -- killer sore throat, hacking cough, and aching all over. Yes, Aunty dutifully went and got her flu shot, but apparently it was too little too late this year.

And if being sick wasn't bad enough, last night we had our first frost warning of the season. So COLD on top of being sick is soooo not my idea of a good time. Times like these make me daydream.

Remember the old rock classic "California Dreamin'?" Well, I live in California so in my case, I'm Florida dreamin'. In my mind, Florida is the ideal place to be in the winter, and one of my favorite places in Florida is the Keys.

That little string of islands extending off the tip of Florida is the perfect place for some rest and relaxation. In the winter, it's not humid, just sunny and warm (not hot) with pretty little beaches and gorgeous turquoise water. AHHHHH! I feel better just thinking about it...

Is there someplace you daydream about when the weather is uncomfortable and you're feeling cruddy? Let Aunty curl up with a cup of hot tea while you tell me all about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Second Thoughts on Second Times

My good friend and Bandita Trish Milburn has a weekly feature on her personal blog. On Thursdays she asks a writer friend to answer three questions. Last week she featured my answers. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to respond to the comments. Plus, one of the questions really made me pause and ponder. In fact, I pondered for several days, so I thought I'd repeat the question and my answer here.

If you were to go back to age 20, what would you do differently the second time around?

Just about everything! No really, you know how they say hindsight is 20/20? Well, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have to bumble around and make all those mistakes.

I wouldn’t worry so much about whether or not I could ‘afford’ to do something. Instead, I’d just do it! And I really wouldn’t care what anyone thought of me.

But seriously, with regard to my writing, I wouldn't wait so long to make a real commitment to getting my work published. I wouldn't worry so much about whether or not I had that magical "talent" because I'd know that dogged persistence is far more important.

I'd trust my writing process and not be so afraid to keep submitting and working on new projects.

I'm still working on this last issue, by the way.

What about you? Would you do things differently if you had a second chance?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Piccies

A couple are from the cruise and a couple are from my recent booksigning!

First we find Aunty posing like one of the sculptures in a plaza in La Paz. Unlike the sculptures, Aunty did not have sea shells replacing any part of her anatomy -- Thank Goodness!

This next piccie was taken by the DH, and when I tell you the time you'll know why HE was the one with the camera.

This is a shot of the El Faro lighthouse which sits atop an island at the entrance to the harbor in Mazatlan. If you strain your eyes, you can just make it out there on the tippy top.

This picture was taken slightly after sunrise. 'Nuff said.

Finally, here is Aunty wearing the special 'light up' tiara that my critique partner Cathy D. gave me. This was at my Oct. 3rd booksigning at a local Borders store in Roseville, CA with four other local romance authors: Donna Del Oro, Dee Brice, Joan Beth Ericson, and Jeannie Reusch .

We had a great time and sold a fair amount of books!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I've promised a few of the cruise so here they are:

First up, here's a piccie of our ship, the Sun. I loved the painting on the side, and see how nicely the DH color coordinated with it!

This was taken in our first port of call, Topolobampo. Yes, it was 110 degrees (over 40 Celsius). So WHY THE HECK is the DH wearing a long sleeved shirt?!?! This is one of those shirts especially designed to block UV rays. The DH owns several and wears them all the time when outdoors.

Meanwhile, here's Aunty in a far cooler environment--inside our cabin, where the thermostat remained set just slightly above 'Arctic Tundra." Our wonderful room steward left several cute little towel animals for us. My favorite was this little elephant.

And finally, since the only things in the tiny port of Topolobampo are some local shrimp boats and a huge gasoline storage facility, the DH and I took a 30 minute jaunt via air conditioned shuttle bus to the city of Los Mochis (it means the turtles). The bus dropped us off and picked us up at a lovely green park near the center of town.

I really LURVE cruising! Haven't had a bad day on one yet. If you want to read a lot more details about this particular cruise, I have a guest blog on Tuesday, Oct. 27th at RazLover's Book blog --

Meanwhile, you can tell me what you did on your most recent holiday! Comment away...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Release Date and Blog Topics


I just received word that my editor LOVED my revisions on my third book, The Wild Irish Sea! This book was a real challenge for me, because it is the first book I've written completely under deadline. I sold it based on the prologue, first chapter, and a truly awful synopsis! LOL! I know I was very fortunate to have my editor "trust me" when I asked her to, and believe me, there were times in the writing of this book that even *I* thought she made a mistake!

But in the end, I met all my deadlines (Aunty wipes residual sweat from her brow). And I really love how the book turned out! I think you will too. The release date for The Wild Irish Sea is July. I'd been told "spring" but apparently July is still in my publisher's spring catalog. (SHRUG) I'm fine with the publication date because it gives my northern hemisphere readers plenty of time to read the book while on vacation. And my southern hemisphere readers can curl up under a warm blanket for a cozy winter read. Actually, the book is set in Ireland in July so maybe that is a sign!

I have my usual blog post on Wednesday (the 21st) at Casablanca Authors ( ) and am a guest blogger on Thursday at Raz Lover's Book Blog ( ). You would think that after writing several 80,000+ word books that I would have plenty of things to say, but I'm always searching for blog topics that are interesting to my readers.

So please, help yer olde Aunty out and tell me what kinds of things you like to read about in blogs! Do you like hearing about my books and my writing journey? What about personal blogs on my likes/dislikes and the goings on in my life? Are there topics you'd like me to write about? Any you do NOT want to read? PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cruising, Revising, and Cave-Dwelling

Hola Amigos!

Sorry I have been so scarce in this little corner of the blog-o-sphere lately. Thanks for waiting so patiently for a new post.

As most of you know, Aunty was off on an eleven day cruise to sunny Mexico. AHEM! More like HOTTER Than HADES, Mexico. But we still had lots of fun, and got to visit two ports (Topolobampo and La Paz) that we'd never been to before. Plus, I'm sure all that sweating I did cleansed my pores as thoroughly as any expensive sauna or steam bath. (Pictures are coming as soon as Aunty finds someplace that still actually processes 35 mm film!)

Unfortunately, the moment the ship docked, I had to crawl off and seclude myself in the deep, dark 'Revision Cave' in order to meet my deadline for my third release, The Wild Irish Sea. That deadline was TODAY, by the way! WHEW! Glad to have that task off my plate.

Meanwhile, The Treasures of Venice continues to receive positive reviews and raves from readers. My most sincere thanks to those of you who have read the book and enjoyed it! If you have a picture of the book on a store shelf, or in your hot little hands, please forward it to me. (here's a shot of TToV--third row down-- in the Barnes & Noble in Fresno, CA)

My favorite reviews are from those who claim they never read "those books." You know, the ones with bare-chested men on the covers! HAHAHAHA! I am hereby making it my writing mission to convert those non-romance readers!

Hasta Luego!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Launch Party Pics and Help Wanted


Okay, I'm not really here. I'm out cruising the beautiful Sea of Cortez, but I was afraid you might be lonely. Or (GASP!) forget all about me, so I've left this post behind to appear while I'm lounging about reading, eating waaay too many desserts, and letting handsome men with accents wait on me. Ah yes, life on a cruise ship is good...

A week before I left, I threw a Launch Party (see, I was thinking of boats and cruising even then) to celebrate the release of The Treasures of Venice. It was a really fun party, and I wish ALL OF YOU could have been there, but here are a couple of pictures to show you what you missed:

Just like last year's party for The Wild Sight, we had a beautiful and yummy cake with the cover of the book screen printed onto the top.

Let's see that just a little closer... And it tasted just as good as it looked!

And also like last year, Aunty happily signed books for everyone who wanted an autograph. Here is my friend (and former co-worker) LaVerna and her friend, Beverly watching to be sure Aunty spells their names correctly!

And since we are on the subject of names, Aunty has a favor to ask...

Just so you know that it is not ALL fun and games on the cruise ship, I am working on a proposal for a new book! Yes, this will be another romantic suspense with paranormal elements, and YES, of course, there will be another Irish Hunk Hero!

But I am having a hard time deciding on a name for my newest heroine. So I've decided to ask the members of my newsletter group help me pick a name. If you'd like to help too, just sign up to receive my newsletter. There's a button over on the blog sidebar! Plus group members get to read exclusive excerpts from my next release The Wild Irish Sea. And you never know when Aunty will be distributing gifts to newsletter members... Maybe I'll pick up some souvenirs in Mexico. Like maracas, jewelry, chocolates filled with tequila?!?!

Hasta luego, amigos!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Two Year Anniversary!

Today marks my second anniversary of the day my life changed!

On September 14, 2007 I received THE CALL that changed everything for me in all the best possible ways! I'm reminiscing a bit about the past two years over on the Casablanca Authors blog (just click on the title of this post to go there). It has been a FANTASTIC journey so far, and I anticipate more to come.

Here's what I posted back then:

This morning I received THE CALL that all us hopeful AYUs long to get.

Sourcebooks wants to publish my novel Death In The Fens in the Fall of 2008!

I have been screaming, hyperventilating and generally jumping around like a lunatic ALL DAY! I wouldn't be a bit surprised if my head spun completely around and I spewed pea soup (even though I NEVER touch the stuff)!

Basically I have been busting my butt to achieve this goal for almost FOUR YEARS, but being published has been my dream for most of my life! I was beginning to fear that I would never feel the joy of going into a bookstore and seeing MY BOOK on the shelf. BUT NOW I WILL!!!

I AM AYU (As Yet Unpublished) NO LONGER!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Q&A with Keirnan Fitzgerald

Today, my Big Bad Blog Tour has me at Love Romance Passion (just click on the title of this post to take you there) where I have an interview with my Irish hunk hero of The Treasures of Venice, Keirnan Fitzgerald.

My wonderful critique partners Jo-Mama and Cathy D. helped me come up with some of the interview questions. Unfortunately, the interview was running a bit too long so not all the questions got asked and answered. You know Aunty hates the thought of wasting any part of a perfectly good interview, so here are the questions and answers that didn't make it into the LRP guest blog:

Keirnan, you said the most dangerous thing you've ever done is fall in love. What's the most romantic?

KF: I'm a traditional kind of guy. I like long walks in the moonlight, or picnics in a lovely grassy meadow with bread, cheese, fruit and a nice smooth wine. But any place can be romantic if you're with the right person. (K winks.)

What is your favorite dessert?

KF (with a naughty smile and a gleam in his eye): Tiramisu, and if you want to know why, read the last chapter of The Treasures of Venice.

Favorite poet?

KF: William Butler Yeats, of course. "Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

My mother used to read that poem to me when I was a wee little boy. And my sister would always tell me I better watch myself of a fairy would come and steal me away.

Steak, chicken or fish?

KF: Any, as long as they come with a side order of potatoes. I'm an Irishman, after all.

Boxers or briefs?
KF: Ahem, there are some things about a man that need to remain a mystery.

Thank you, Keirnan, for answering most if not quite all of our questions! Anyone else have a question?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Launch Day!!


Today is my online Launch Party for The Treasures of Venice over on Romance Bandits! (Just click on the title of this post to go there.) We're having a treasure hunt, and I'm giving away books and chocolate as we celebrate all things Venetian.

Since The Treasures of Venice has actually been out for almost two weeks now, I'm curious if anyone has read it yet. If so, please tell me what was your favorite scene?

I was a little concerned how readers would react to the dual storyline in both contemporary and 1485 Venice. So far, all the reviews I've read have been positive about the two interconnected stories. What about you?

If you've read or are in the process of reading The Treasures of Venice, please tell me what you think of the dual storyline. And do you have a favorite scene? I'd love to know what it is!

There's still plenty of time to enter the contest for free copies of both The Treasures of Venice and The Wild Sight over on Booking Mama (

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Big Bad Blog Tour

Only a few days left until the "official" release date of The Treasures of Venice, though copies are already on the shelves of some bookstores, and Amazon started shipping orders a week ago!

Once again, Aunty will be all over the blog-o-sphere. I started my BIG BAD BLOG tour to promote the book this week. Some of the blog appearances I arranged and some were arranged by my lovely Sourcebooks publicist, Danielle. I'll be giving away copies of TToV at every stop (except the B&N Mystery board), so if you leave comments YOU could WIN!

Here are some blog appearances starting with today:
WHEW!!! I'm tired after just typing in all those dates! In fact, I'll be leaving on a ten day cruise to Mexico on September 20th in order to recover from my blog tour!

But seriously, if you (or someone you know) has a blog and you'd like to host me on any of the days NOT listed or anytime after October 1st, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! As I'm sure you can guess by this list, Aunty LURVES doing guest blogs, and I love it even more when I have lots of commenters!

Hope to see all of you on one or more of those blog dates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's HERE!!!!!!!!!!

Break out the bubbly!!!

The first copies of The Treasures of Venice have arrived, and almost two weeks early! Last night I received emails from two good friends of mine, Sharen S. and Nancy L. They both pre-ordered copies of TToV from the same local Barnes & Noble store, and they were both called YESTERDAY and told their books were in.


Aunty is doing the little Snoopy-happy-dance. But I am also pouting, because I haven't yet seen the finished product. I had an email from Amazon that my copies shipped yesterday, and I still haven't received my author copies. WAH!

Since I haven't seen the actual book, it still hasn't quite hit me yet, but I'm sure it will in a day or two. PLEASE!!!

Meanwhile, I have a post up at Casablanca Authors with a new excerpt from TToV (just click on the title of this post to go there). This scene happens to be a favorite of my critique partner, Jo-Mama.

If YOU have received your copy of The Treasures of Venice, I am insanely jealous! But please sent me a photo so I can at least drool over yours until my copies arrive.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Pictures From National

Thought I'd share a few more pictures from RWA National in Washington DC.

Aunty and some of her favorite people...

First, yer olde Aunty and the lovely and talented PJ at the Sourcebooks book signing.

Next, Aunty and buddy Bosun TerriO got all dolled up for the Rita/Golden Heart Awards ceremony. No, neither of us were nominated (THIS year), but we had fun anyway.

And speaking of the Awards ceremony... here's someone who WAS nominated (and for the second year in a row)! The elegant and talented Louisa Cornell, who got a hug from Aunty.

But WHERE, you may ask, is Aunty's infamous riding crop? Well of course Aunty would never go to RWA National without the crop! And it was present at the Literacy Signing, as the beautiful and vivacious Bandita Buddy Gannon C. quickly saw for herself.

Well, I think that's enough for now. There are plenty more pictures on FaceBook and elsewhere, but as you can tell from these four, Aunty had a WONDERFUL time. Hope I can have more fun next year in Nashville and that I can meet even more of you!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Less Than a Month!


I now have less than a month to go before The Treasures of Venice is scheduled to be released! Soon I'll be a MULTI-PUBLISHED author!! The concept hasn't quite soaked in yet, and probably won't until I see both my books side-by-side on the shelf.

To be honest, in the past month, I've felt more like someone with Multiple Personality Disorder than a soon to be multi-pubbed author. I spent most of the month fiendishly working to finish the manuscript of my third contracted book, The Wild Irish Sea. My deadline to send the whole thing in to my editor was July 31st and I'm thrilled (but exhausted) to say I MADE IT!

Of course, right in the middle of this big push to my deadline, I dropped everything and went to the RWA National Conference in Washington DC. I had a FANTASTIC time, and for most of that time, I was signing and talking about my debut release The Wild Sight, which had just won an award for Best First Book. And when I arrived home, I was thrilled to discover it had won another award as a "Debut Title That Rocks!"

Now I'm gearing up for the release of The Treasures of Venice, and the month long promotional frenzy that will start... oh, in about three weeks! ACK! Yes, once again, I'll be all over the blogsphere talking about the book and giving away copies. And the reviews are already starting to come in. Just last week, Booklist (the magazine of the American Library Association) gave The Treasures of Venice a terrific review!

Here's some of what they had to say: "McGary's satisfying, fast-paced romance is filled with passion and deception that resonate through the centuries."

Needless to say, I was doing the Snoopy Happy Dance over that one. And hey! What's a little Multiple Personality Disorder among friends?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Debuts That Rock & RWA National

Just returned home from RWA National in Washington DC a few days ago and my head is still spinning!

What can I say? It was a GREAT conference! The Literacy Signing on Wednesday night was overwhelming. Even though the room was huge, there were so many people and the noise level was so intense that I suffered from what my best friend's mom used to call "The Big Eye!" I did sell some books, and made a great new friend of the author sitting next to me, Amanda McIntyre. The event raised over $60,000 for literacy charities and I was proud to have been a part of it!

The Sourcebooks signing was a bit like the Literacy Signing on a smaller scale. Ten of us Casablanca authors signed our books and we completely RAN OUT OF BOOKS with about a half-hour left of our allotted time. I'd call that a rousing success!

It was GREAT meeting so many readers and signing so many copies of The Wild Sight! I'll post a piccie below of me and my lovely publicist Danielle Jackson taken at the Sourcebooks signing.

I returned home to the wonderful news that The Romance Junkies voted The Wild Sight one of their "Debuts That Rock!" I am honored and thrilled to be included on their list! (To see the entire list just click on the title of this post.)

I'm afraid I still use an antiquated 35 mm camera, so I don't have any of my pictures back yet, but I will share one more sent to me of 15 Banditas and the Golden Rooster (that's me hiding behind Anna Campbell) taken at the Second Annual Romance Bandit Bash. Needless to say, a great time was had by ALL at that shindig!

Friday, July 10, 2009

See Ya In DC!


In a few short days Aunty will be leaving for the RWA National Conference in Washington DC. I'm really looking forward to some face time with all my writer-buddies, and this year for the first time, I'll be participating as a published author in the Literacy Signing! This is a very big deal with over 500 authors participating and all the proceeds going to literacy programs. Plus, since it is open to the public, I'll get a chance to meet some readers.

Aunty hasn't been in DC in about five years, so I asked my Banditas for some info on the hotel and getting around to the sights. If you are going to be at the conference, maybe some of this will be helpful for you too!

My Banditas Jeanne (Le Duchesse) Adams, Trish Millburn, and (Vrai aka VA) Anna Sugden all recommend using the Metro which is at the bottom of the hill from the Wardman Marriott where the conference is being held. They all praised the Metro as being quick, clean, and safe. The red line which is by the hotel goes down to the National Mall and all the fabulous (and FREE) museums! Not sure about the cost but Trish provided this link:

Speaking of those museums, my personal favorite is the Air & Space, followed closely by the Natural History. At Air & Space you can see Lindberg's "Spirit of St. Louis" overhead as you walk in. There's also a space capsule and you can touch a moon rock. When you walk into the main floor gallery of Natural History, you're greeted by a gigantic, charging elephant! Don't worry, he's stuffed and not going anywhere.

Another good museum to see that is often less crowded is the Hirshorn. This is 'modern' art and has all the iconclastic artists from the 1960s. You can see Andy Warhol's soup cans, Jasper Johns' flags, and Roy Lichtenstein's cartoony portraits. You can't miss the building because of the huge sculpture out front that looks like a ginormous twisted piece of raffia ribbon.

VA also recommends the tour buses that let you get on and off at various stops. Anna said: "You can get day passes...and they take you around the city --the people who do the talk are really good. We got on ours at the Lincoln Memorial and went all around DC. If you want to go to Arlington National Cemetery, you need a separate ticket, but then that will let you go round the cemetery, a great tour."(Aunty highly recommends seeing Arlington!)

And here's what Trish had to say about the Wardman Marriott: "The Wardman is at the top of a hill. At the bottom of the hill, right next to the Metro stop, is a CVS. It and a McDonald's are on that end of a strip of stores, and there's a Chipotle at the other end -- not far. There are also a lot of ethnic restaurants nearby."

I really appreciated all their great information and I can't wait to see everybody there! If you can make it to the Wednesday night Literacy Signing, be sure to stop by and say hi!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gimme 5 Things About Building Characters

I have a post up on the Casablanca Authors blog today about how I build my characters (just click on the title of this post to go there).

I'm often asked about my characters and love it when readers talk about them as if they are real people (probably because they are real to me)!

A few things you might not know about my writing process...

  1. My characters pretty much name themselves, at least the main characters. I've been known to go through the phone book for names for my minor characters!

  2. There's a wee bit of Yer Olde Aunty in all her characters. Yes, even the villains! Maybe especially the villains. HA!

  3. Sometimes my characters are based on real people, but usually it is only a certain aspect of that person. Might be the name (yes, I named a character in The Treasures of Venice after a friend who had an Italian name I liked), or a facial expression, or some personality trait. Careful, you too could end up in one of Aunty's books someday!

  4. All of my characters have a distinctive 'voice' that I hear inside my head when I'm writing their dialogue. No! Please don't call the men in the white coats. I'm not the only writer who 'hears voices!' Honestly, I'm not.

  5. I am a little in love with all my heroes. If I don't love them, then why should my readers?
Now it's your turn! Do you have a picture of the characters when you read? Do you want to know who the writer had in mind when they created the character? Or would you rather have your own interpretation?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Than Magic!

I'm doing that little happy dance! You know, the one Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoons does with his nose pointed joyfully skyward.

The reason Aunty is in such a rare and rollicking mood is because The Wild Sight WON the Best First Book category in the Romance Writers Ink "More Than Magic" contest! (You can see the entire list of finalists by clicking on the title of this post.) The first place winners in the ten categories go on to compete for the Grand Prize.

The Grand Prize winner will be announced on July 11th, so PLEASE keep your fingers xxed for The Wild Sight!!

P.S. 68 more days until The Treasures of Venice is released! But who's counting?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Lion King

Last week three friends and I went to see one of the Broadway roadshow productions of Disney's The Lion King.

Aunty has been a live theater buff for decades and has seen it all, including Broadway and the Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford-on-Avon, and I can honestly say -- It does not get any better than this!

The storyline had something for everyone: action, drama, romance and humor. The characters and songs were memorable, and the costumes were absolutely out of this world in creativity and innovation!

Here's a photo of two of the characters: Pumbaa the warthog and Timon the meercat.

As you can see, Timon is an almost-life-sized puppet that the actor manipulated with his hands and speaks for. Pumbaa on the other hand is a large costume with the actor's legs as the creature's front legs, and he manipulates the mouth (and tongue) with his hands. The back half of the animal is an elaborate decorated framework, with the animal's back legs suspended in the air.

My editor has four critical criteria she looks for in any book she acquires. One of these is "a world is created." By this she means that no matter what the time period or setting, the author vividly portrays a unique world for that story and those characters. Readers need to feel like they have stepped into a complete and fascinating world of its own.

The Lion King is the perfect example of a world being created! The audience is transported, even feels like a participant in this beautiful and unique world of strange and wonderful creatures. My friends and I were lucky enough to be included in that very special world for a few hours and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

If you get a chance to see a production of The Lion King-- GO! You will be very glad you did.

Hakuna Matata!

Care to share some of your experiences with being transported into another world?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Galleys and Fan Mail

This past week, I received the galleys for The Treasures of Venice! It was almost as exciting as receiving them for The Wild Sight, but this time I did know what to expect. Galleys are the hard copies of the typeset pages, two book pages (which will face each other in the final form) per galley page. They are large, awkward to handle, and some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen!

Since I've already received and read an ARC (advanced review copy) of the book, I know there are very few "mistakes" or changes I want to make, so going through the galleys will be a real labor of love.

I also received an honest-to-goodness fan letter this past week! Very few people (including me) bother to sit down and write letters any more. Everything is done via email or text messaging, so when I get a real letter (or post card, which I collect) in the mail it is a very special treat. Trust me, all authors LURVE to receive fan mail! The idea that someone would take the time to tell me that they enjoyed reading my book is just THE BEST thing in the world!

And not only did this lovely reader make my day by writing to me, she paid me one of the highest compliments, in my opinion. She said she loaned The Wild Sight to her friend who is from Ireland.

If you've read many of my blog posts, you know that Aunty is quite persnickety and a book (or film) has to really bowl me over before I will even consider recommending it. So anyone who recommends one of my books to a friend is paying me and my writing quite an accolade!

And on the subject of accolades...

A few days ago, I learned that the three items I donated to Brenda Novak's online auction to benefit diabetes research garnered over $100! I was thrilled my donations earned that much for such a great cause, and it was very gratifying to learn that both 'winners' of my autographed books were members of my newsletter group.

HUGE and humble thanks to everyone who placed bids in Brenda's auction. Special congrats to my winners! I will definitely be donating items next year.

Meanwhile... 85 more days and counting!

Monday, June 1, 2009

"The Fall" and The Alhambra

A couple of weeks ago, an artist-friend of the DH recommended we see a rather obscure film called "The Fall." This friend's eclectic tastes are not always to our liking but this movie was WONDERFUL! If I ever get the urge to write a screenplay, I only hope I can come up with something half so unique and entertaining. A story within a story much like "The Princess Bride," the locales alone were stunning.

"The Fall" is basically set in a 1920s Los Angeles hospital. A young movie stuntman has taken a serious fall from a railroad trestle and is paralyzed from the waist down, perhaps permanently. In the same hospital, a little girl whose family are itinerant farm workers has fallen while picking oranges and sports a huge cast from her shoulder to fingers.

I won't reveal any spoilers (because you really should rent this film and watch it yourself) as to how and why the stuntman and little girl become friends. Nor why he spins for her the most gorgeous and fanciful tale about five unusual men intent on killing an evil Spanish governor. But I will say that the settings for this story were shot in eighteen different countries and I could not begin to do justice to them with my descriptions!

My favorite scenes were shot inside the fabulous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The DH and I visited the Alhambra about fifteen years ago on one of our earliest jaunts to Europe and I have never forgotten how breathtaking the place was. We had quite a memorable trip on that outing to Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Morocco, but the Alhambra was definitely the highlight!

Built by the conquering Moors, the Alhambra was actually a series of towers and fortresses overlooking the city of Granada. The main palace dates from the 11th century and has some of the most beautiful and (to a Westerner like me) unusual architecture anywhere. The decorative stucco is so thick in some places that it resembles a honey comb. And I was awed that some of the original paint still survived almost a thousand years later.

Nothing else like the Alhambra existed then, or now. I totally understand why King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella moved right in as soon as they threw the Moors out in 1492!

I would love to return to Granada someday, but until I do, I guess I'll have to content myself with re-watching "The Fall." I highly recommend you watch it too!