Thursday, February 25, 2010

Long Branches On the Family Tree

This magnificent warrior is Quanah Parker, whom many historians call the last great chief of the Comanches. AND he just might be a very distant twig on my family tree!

My son has recently developed a keen interest in genealogy, and has been researching branches of our McGary family tree. Turns out that my 4 times great grandfather, Hugh McGary was married to a woman named Mary Jane Parker. Mary Jane's cousin Cynthia Ann Parker was captured by a Comanche raiding party when she 9 years old, and she was then adopted by a Comanche family who had lost their own child. Cynthia went on to marry the chief of their tribe, and Quanah Parker was their son, who also became chief.

VERY distant relationship I must admit, but still FUN! Many, many years ago, I read the historical novel, Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson, a fictionalized account of Cynthia Ann Parker's life with the Comanches. So I was somewhat familiar with who she and her son Quanah Parker were, but I would never have imagined they might be related even distantly.

Admittedly, my knowledge of my ancestors has been limited to things older family members told me. Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, my son's research has turned up many interesting things that might or might not be substantiated about our family.

Being Irish on both my mother and father's sides, I naturally assumed some of my ancestors came to America during the terrible Potato Famine of the 1840s when so many Irish immigrants landed here. Looks like I was completely wrong in that assumption. Turns out that Grandpappy Hugh was born around 1815 in North Carolina!

And according to my mother's cousin, one of our mutual xgreat grandfathers sailed from Cork, Ireland in 1832 and settled near the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky. Since I know my maternal grandfather was born in a little Kentucky town near the Cumberland Gap, this sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

So what do you know? No Potato Famine immigrants, but a famous Comanche chief. Those branches on my family tree certainly are tangled!

What about yours? Do you have any "famous" ancestors that you know about?

Sunday, February 21, 2010


There have been some exciting things to celebrate around yer olde Aunty's homestead this week!

On the personal side... In the wee hours of the morning on Feb. 20 (and I do mean WEE, as in between midnight and 1 AM) the newest member of our family arrived! My grand-niece Rylee was born weighing 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches long. I am told she has a head full of brown hair, but am waiting for pictures to verify.

We've all been waiting anxiously (esp. her mother and father) since Feb. 11 for this little bundle of joy to make her appearance. And of course, the fact that they picked a name only one letter off from my heroine in The Wild Sight made me doubly proud!

The other piece of very exciting news is writing related.

Did you notice the beautiful lavender logo on my sidebar? Well, just in case you didn't here it is again:

YES! The Treasures of Venice is one of ten finalists in the Australian Romance Readers Awards for 2009! (Just click on the title of this blog post to go to the AARA website.) Treasures is in there against some MAJOR competition, so I have NO expectation of winning, but I am so honored to be included in the list of finalists!

So have you celebrated anything lately?

What about Chinese New Year? It's the year of the tiger! GRRRRROWWWLL!

Did you celebrate Mardi Gras on Tuesday? I didn't but I wish I had.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Q&A with Misa Ramirez

I'm so pleased to have another friend and chapter mate of mine on the blog doing Questions and Answers. (Just click on the title of this blog post to visit Misa's website.) Last year, Misa Ramirez launched her debut novel and book one in the Lola Cruz Mystery series, Living the Vida Lola. This month, Lola is back with the publication of Misa's second novel, Hasta La Vista, Lola. So without further adieu, here are the questions and Misa's answers...

Please tell us about your latest release Hasta La Vista, Lola and how you came up with the idea for the book.

Thanks for having me here today, Cindy! It's been a busy couple of week with the release of Hasta la Vista, Lola! This is the second book in the Lola Cruz Mystery series, and was so much fun to write. The initial idea for the mystery sparked from a newspaper article I read in the Sacramento Bee quite a few years ago. There was a man who died, and his wife discovered after his death that he'd led a completely separate life with another wife and kids. I took that idea and twisted it around, Lolafied it, and ultimately the mystery evolved into something else, but that was how it started. Little ideas take hold and sprout and before long you have a whole tree!

The mystery in the first book also came about from a newspaper article. It was an unusual way for someone to die, and I ran with it.

In Hasta la Vista, Lola!, Lola walks into her parents' house to find nearly every single relative of hers there...mourning her death. Except, of course, she's not dead! Which begs the questions, who is dead, why was she using Lola's name, and who was the intended victim?

Lola Cruz Mysteries are equal parts mystery and romance/relationship, so much of the book continues where Living the Vida Lola left off with Jack Callaghan and the on again/off again relationship they're having.

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start writing?

I've been writing on and off for 15 years, or so, but with the intention of publication, about 6 years. I taught middle and high school English/Language Arts; reading and writing have always been a passion of mine. I'm so fortunate to be able to do what I love!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about writing?

I enjoy revision the most, believe it or not! I know, I know, CRAZY!!! For me, the first draft is always the hardest. I really struggle with plotting and my characters evolve slowly, so sometimes it's an excruciating process (which I still love!). Revision allows me to add to what I've already created, to fine tune, to create layers, and to really dig in.

What is next on the horizon for Misa Ramirez?

I've developed a middle grade series for girls called Quiz Girl. It's being shopped now. I'm currently working on a women's fiction novel with magical realism, and books 3 and 4 in the Lola Cruz Mystery series are being submitted as we speak. I'm always busy, busy, busy!

I've also launched a brand new web site called Books on the House ( ) which is all about bringing great books to readers. Each Monday an author and book are featured, and the following Monday, several copies of that book are given away to random winners. We'll feature skype interviews, as well. I've been working really hard on it, and am so excited to see it grow.

And, of course, I'm always chasing heroes! ( ) Never a dull moment.

Thanks for having me, Cindy!
Thank YOU, Misa, for taking time out from your very busy schedule to do the Q&A!

Now it's your turn! Do you have a question for Misa about her books or her writing process? Don't be shy! She'd love to hear from you!

Friday, February 12, 2010



I'm thrilled to announce that The Treasures of Venice has WON the romantic suspense category in the "Judge a Book By Its Cover" contest sponsored by the Houston Bay Area RWA chapter! (just click on the title of this post to see all the winners)

The Wild Sight took third place in this category of the contest last year so I'm very excited about The Treasures of Venice finishing FIRST! In addition to a beautiful certificate (I have the one for The Wild Sight framed and in my office), a copy of my cover along with the other five winners will appear in an advertisement in the April issue of the Romance Writers Report. If you are a member of Romance Writers of America (or know someone who is) be sure to look for it!

What more can I say except the Sourcebooks Art Department ROCKS! They were totally responsible for this awesome cover as well as the equally lovely (my opinion may be slightly biased) cover of The Wild Sight. I also think they did a fantastic job on my newest cover, The Wild Irish Sea. They did ask me for input on this third cover and I did mention a seascape and a thatched roof cottage, but I never envisioned anything as wonderfully eye-catching as what they produced!

So THANK YOU Art Department and THANK YOU HBA-RWA! You really brought a huge smile to my face!

Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my galleys for The Wild Irish Sea, which are suppose to be delivered tomorrow. One more step closer to the book being on the shelves!

OH MY! Seeing all three of the covers here together makes my heart pitter-pat just a wee bit faster!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Do You Snoop?

My mother was a wonderful woman with many fine qualities, but heaven knows, she loved to snoop! Not in a malicious way, she just loved to know all the little details about everyone around her.

All through junior high and high school my sister and I would catch her listening in to our telephone conversations, or going through our notebooks for possible notes our friends had passed to us during class. (You know those folded scraps of paper passed stealthily hand-to-hand right under the teacher's nose.) But most unforgivable of all to my teenage mind, my mother opened every piece of mail that arrived at our house. No matter who it was addressed to, she opened it and read it first. ACK!!!

My sister claimed not to mind. HUH?!?! I think she just liked the extra attention. I was mortified beyond belief, mostly because Mom would openly admit to her snooping and ASK about things she'd read or heard! Oh the horrors! Oh the teen angst!

Looking back on it now, my mom's snooping was pretty harmless. And I'm sure she would tell you she was just trying to be a responsible parent, which was also true. But I think it went beyond that. She genuinely liked to know. I think snooping was one of the things that made my mom an avid reader.

Reading about characters is a kind of snooping. You are privy to their thoughts, actions, and motivations. Sometimes you get to find out things (or figure things out) before they do!

Needless to say, this little apple didn't fall far from the tree. Yup, I love to snoop too, but I like to think I'm a bit more covert than my mother was, at least when it comes to friends and family. Not necessarily while reading. I've been known to mutter at the characters even while I'm deeply engrossed in reading. On occasion, I've even shouted out, "I KNEW IT!" when a plot twist happened just the way I suspected.

As for my writing, one of the things I love most about it is knowing all the little details of my characters lives. Even if those thoughts, feelings, experiences never quite make it onto the page, I still feel more competent to tell their stories just by knowing all about them. I've even been guilty of rubbing my hands together in gleeful anticipation because I know what's about to happen and I know how my poor characters are going to react.

Yes, yes, I know. We writers are a weird lot. But it's so much fun! Besides, snooping on my characters keeps me out of trouble with my friends and family members who would much rather I not do my snooping about them.

What about you? Do you like to snoop? Ever been caught? Or do you snoop openly like my mother used to do?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's HERE!!!!

Yes, Aunty is doing the Happy Dance all around the room!

I can't help myself, I'm so very excited about


for my July release The Wild Irish Sea!

I know I'm biased, but I think it is GORGEOUS! The Art Department at Sourcebooks has outdone themselves yet again. The beautiful seascape carries through over onto the back cover, and that stone cottage fairly shouts, "Ireland!" Don't you agree?

I know some people (like my DH) object to the headless male torso, but I rather like having a BIT left to my imagination... I MEANT THE FACE!

I'm also very pleased with the back cover blurb:

Drawn together by a force they can’t resist…

The telepathic image of her twin brother fighting for his life sends Amber O’Neill rushing to the rocky shores of Ireland. Desperate to find him, she turns to reclusive local inspector Kevin Hennessey.

Bound together with a passion as relentless as the tide…

His past full of pain, Kevin has withdrawn from the world. But when the rain-drenched American appears on his doorstep with her wild tales of danger, something more than her sensuous beauty makes it impossible for him to turn her away.

The wildness of the sea, the mystery of a selkie prince, and a dangerous band of ruthless smugglers bring two lost souls together in a connection of mind, body, and spirit that can’t be denied.

So now that I have a cover, my Advance Review Copies will be going out soon. I hope to have one up for bid in Brenda Novak's online auction, like I did last year with The Treasures of Venice. I will let you know about that as soon as I know.

Meanwhile, please join me whilst I drool over this latest addition to my book covers. I do think the three of them make quite a lovely set. What do you think?