Sunday, December 25, 2011

Number 21

As many of you know, I just returned last week from cruise #21. The DH and I usually go on a cruise this time of year to get away from all the holiday madness and soak up some nice warm sun.

And what better place to do that than sunny Mexico?

Okay, it wasn't quite as warm as it has been in past years, but check out that gorgeous blue sky! This photo was taken from deck 3 on the port side of our ship looking out at Land's End, which is the very tip of Baja California. Check out a map of North America and you'll see exactly where I was.

On the starboard side (right side facing the front of the ship) is the harbor of Cabo San Lucas. Because the harbor is shallow, all the cruise ships have to anchor out by Land's End and use small boats (called "tenders") to ferry passengers back and forth.

Here's a shot of the Sapphire Princess (the ship we were on at this time last year) anchored near us. Also, if you squint, you can see part of a tender boat in the lower right corner.

We saw some very interesting "folks" on this trip...

Here's a shot of the DH with some Day of The Dead art in a public plaza in Cabo San Lucas.

There were lots of pieces of "art" on board our ship also. Here's Aunty a little uncertain about the spray painted but otherwise naked male mannequins. Aunty's uncertainty springs from the location of these two "art objects." They were standing just outside the door of a music venue reserved for children ages 6 -- 10. *AHEM* Glad these two were not anatomically correct in front, just sayin'...

The whole purpose of this cruise was to celebrate Aunty's birthday. Seriously, who could turn down a birthday present like a cruise?! Cruising on my birthday is on the verge of becoming a tradition with us, and I don't mind a bit.

So here's a shot of Aunty celebrating with our three wonderful waiters -- Putu, Enrico, and Kanang -- who all happen to be from Indonesia and were super-nice as well as giving excellent service. I must say that all the staff on cruise #21 were particularly outstanding!

Hope everyone reading this has a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY and that 2012 is a FANTASTIC YEAR for you and your loved ones! BIG THANK YOU for hanging out with me in 2011!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cindy Woolf's Winner!


CONGRATS!!!

Kay Alber (C.K. Alber)

You are the winner of Cindy Woolf's Centauri book. Please contact her at: cindy AT cynthiawoolf DOT com
to claim your prize.

BIG THANX to everyone who took time from their busy holiday plans to come over and comment with Cindy. We both really appreciate your support!

I hope to have more interviews and giveaways with more GREAT Indy authors in the very near future.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Interview with Author Cynthia Woolf

Today, I'm pleased to feature an interview with Indy Author Cindy Woolf. Not only does she have a really cool name (okay, so I'm biased!), but she also writes really cool romances.

Cindy was born and raised in Colorado and lives there still, so it is no surprise that she writes western romances. Her book Tame a Wild Heart is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions. She also has a fantastic science fiction romance series called The Centauri Series. But I'll let her tell you more...

AC: How long have you been writing?

CW: I started writing seriously in 1990

AC: What made you start writing? Did anyone inspire or encourage you to write?

CW: I wouldn’t say anyone inspired me to write, but my family definitely encouraged my efforts. My husband is my biggest cheerleader.

AC: Plotter? Pantser? Or something in between?

CW: I’m a definite pantser. If I plot the story, it’s done and I don’t need to write it. LOL Of course, this causes me no end of sagging middles and writers block, where I don’t know where the story is going. When that happens, I just start writing, something, anything. Just to get the process started.

AC: Please share some of the highlights of your writing journey thus far.

CW: My biggest highlights have been to be published. To actually have my book out there for people to buy and more importantly, they like it. The reviews have been good and all three books have been well received.

AC: Any advice you’d like to give unpublished or recently published writers?

The best advice I can give is WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. You can’t publish what you haven’t written. Get a good editor, have covers done that you like. And don’t wait for a publishing house to tell you what to write. Write what you love, write how the story comes to you. You can always go back and change it but let it out first.

AC: Please tell us about your current release/project. What’s next for you?

My latest book is CENTAURI TWILIGHT. It is Book 2 in the Centauri Series. Below is a short excerpt. My next book is CENTAURI MIDNIGHT, Book 3 in the Centauri Series. I hope to have it out in January 2012.

Excerpt from CENTAURI TWILIGHT

From Chapter One

Anton needed an escape. All this happiness made him nauseous. In the last two weeks since the announcement of his brother Darius’ wedding to Audra, Queen of Centauri, he’d witnessed more kissing, smiling and cheerful familial festivities than he could stand. Now the ceremony was finally over. All he had to do was manage to not look as grim as the bitter taste in his mouth made him feel, as he survived these last few hours of dancing and merriment.

Taking advantage of a lull in the festivities, Anton pulled Darius and Audra aside. “I’m leaving tonight.”

Audra took his hands in hers, the soft fabric of her wedding dress brushed against his legs. He forced his feet to remain planted. No need to offend his new sister by moving out of arms reach. “Are you well enough to leave?” she asked with a frown. “This isn’t going to be an easy mission for you.”

Anton used the one argument he knew Audra would not stand against. “Sweet sister, I’m well enough. The sooner I leave, the sooner I’ll find Jondalara and bring her home.”

Audra leaned up and kissed his scarred cheek. “Anton, how will I ever be able to thank you?”

Regardless of his own internal agony, it had nothing to do with Audra and Darius. He couldn’t stop a genuine grin escaping. “Name this baby after me.”

Audra slumped against Darius. “Baby?”

Darius held his new wife close to his side. “What baby?”

Anton smiled then chuckled. Should he be upset that his brother had made love to his lifemate, even though she was to have been Anton’s bride? Maybe, but he could not. It was too difficult to find your lifemate and impossible for a Coridian man to resist her once he found her. “It appears you two already had your wedding night.”

Audra’s hand automatically went to her stomach. Nothing was showing, there was no bump, not that it would have shown under her wedding dress anyway. “But, but...how could you know? I don’t even know yet. I mean I haven’t…” Audra sputtered, unable to voice the words.

Darius laughed, rich and loud, uncaring that he was drawing attention to the three of them. “It is one of his gifts, Sweetheart. Ask my mother sometime what happened when he was five and told my mother to expect me.”

Oblivious to everyone else, Anton knew they were in love. Audra leaned again into Darius and he wrapped his arms around her. “A baby,” she sighed and rubbed her stomach. Then she turned back to Anton, the happy bride gone and only the Queen remaining. “I don’t care what it takes, bring my sister home.”

Audra had found Anton half dead in Zelton Slavarien’s dungeon after escaping Slavarien herself. She was resourceful, his sister-in-law. He’d been beaten to within an inch of life and tortured in many other ways by Slavarien who wanted to know where Audra was.

He heard the doctors, while he was in the med tech unit, say how lucky he was. That a few more hours and the damage would totally have been irreversible and he would have died. He wished he had, along with the rest of his company of soldiers. They’d been sent to bring back Zelton Slavarien for trial, but just outside his citadel a trap had been laid. One designed to capture Anton and solicit information from him in any way possible. Torture was the preferred method employed by Slavarien.

She’d saved what was left of his miserable life. He’d do this one thing for her before he let the darkness and guilt over losing his men in the ambush, claim him. He and Darius both knew the odds of survival were low, of finding the princess even lower. But he’d demanded the mission anyway. The planet Delaz was a long way off, a lifetime from the world he knew. And a return to the dominion of the evil Slavarien family.

None of it mattered.

He’d find Jondalara or die trying. This was the one thing that Audra wanted above all else, the one thing he could do for her to repay his debt.

“I will, Your Majesty. I will bring her home to you.”

AC: OOOO! Can't wait to find out what is in store for poor Anton in his attempt to rescue Princess Jondalara!

Thanks so much for being with us today Cindy, and for letting us have a peek at Centauri Twilight!

Please leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a copy of the set of both the Centauri Series books, CENTAURI DAWN and CENTAURI TWILIGHT.

CW: Thanks Aunty Cindy for letting me blog with you today.

AC: My pleasure!

Now it is your turn. Do you have a question for Cindy about her books or her writing process? What other stories have you read, seen or heard in which the hero must rescue a Princess? Star Wars? Shrek? Any others?

I think Anton will be in for a few surprises! What about you?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hola! And Excerpt #2

HOLA!

Right about the time this blog posts, this should be the view I'm seeing. That pretty sunset and twinkly lights are in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the very tip of Baja California. Yes, I'm on cruise #21 taking in a little warm Mexican sunshine for my holiday. Wish you could all be here with me!

I love cruising the western coast of Mexico -- called the Mexican Riviera in many travel brochures. In fact, that is what inspired me to write a book or two set on a cruise ship, so the first story just naturally had to be on a ship sailing along the Mexican Riviera.

As you may recall from the previous excerpt, High Seas Deception opens with Adventure Cruise Line's ship Intrepid docked at the harbor in Puerto Vallarta (one of the prettiest cities in Mexico, in my opinion). Here's a view of some condominiums near the cruise dock (this shot was taken from deck 12, the top deck of our ship on a previous cruise), but the more picturesque part of town is about four miles away. I'll be thinking of all of you as I'm strolling along the Malecon (walkway downtown next to the beach).

And to give you a little idea about the exciting life aboard ship, here's a brief excerpt from High Seas Deception:

“I’m telling you something weird is going on today,” Skylar Davidson declared as she unkinked the power cord from the electronic Bingo board, and helped her roommate and assistant cruise director, Avery Knox maneuver the unwieldy piece of equipment into place.

Avery sw
iped a golden lock of hair out of her eyes. “You worry too much. People lose their sea pass cards all the time. Can you plug this into the power strip?”

Squatting down, Skylar did as Avery asked, but she stubbornly insisted, “This is different. I don’t know why, but I know it’s not just a coincidence.”


“Honestly, Skylar, this is a long way from LAPD. Relax! The worse thing you’ve done yet is roll some drunk out of one of the lounges, or separate two little old ladies fighting over the last blueberry waffle in the breakfast buffet. That’s how it is onboard.”


As she watched the board’s lights blink to life and the corresponding overhead screen flash on, Skylar gave a little shrug of defeat. She knew Avery was right, but old habits were hard to break.
Her days were filled with busy work, not crime, and her surroundings were beautiful.

This was ex
actly what she’d wanted, needed, which was why she’d chucked everything and signed on. Why did she insist on looking for trouble?

“All right, unless you’re expecting a riot from your two dozen frothing Bingo players, I’m going back to the buffet and check for a drive-by fruiting.”


“See you at the sail-away party at seven,” Avery replied.
#
Which would you rather be doing right now? Playing bingo? Relaxing by the pool? Shopping in downtown Puerto Vallarta? Or maybe you have other plans? Please share with us!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

5 Things to Hate About The Holidays

This is NOT my favorite time of year.

There, I said it. I'm a big ole Grinch when it comes to the holidays. It's not that I have a heart 3 sizes too small (or maybe I do).

I actually LIKE the concepts of the holiday season -- families getting together, gift giving, celebrating the old and new. However, what actually HAPPENS during the holiday season, I don't much like.

BIG DIFFERENCE between concept and reality. At least my perception of it. So here then are
5 Things I Hate About the Holidays:

  1. The weather -- I realize this doesn't apply to everyone, but in my little corner of NorCal the weather during December and January is generally miserable. It's cold, rainy and dreary. Okay, not cold enough that there's six feet of snow on the ground, or even much frost. But the temperature at 2 PM is usually only five or 6 degrees higher than it is at 2 AM. And if it isn't raining, it's foggy. We can go for over a week with the sun never really peeking through the clouds or fog bank. UGH!
  2. Crowds and Traffic -- Because really, those two are the same, too many people and too many people in their cars. No matter where you go: grocery store, gas station, the mall (shudder) you fight a crowd and wait in long lines. Plus, nobody compensates for that bad weather I just mentioned. Cars go barreling down wet or fog enshrouded roads like it was a perfect sunny day. Every time I drive somewhere, I narrowly escape being involved in an accident. Every night, I get to hear on the news about the people who weren't as lucky.
  3. The music --I like the wonderful old holiday tunes as much as the next person. But by the 19th time I've heard a song, most of it's charm has worn off. This year, I first heard Christmas carols on Halloween, so this started happening... Oh along about Nov. 2nd! And why is it that every year, they seem to single out a new ditty to totally destroy any possible enjoyment by playing it incessantly? One year it was Feliz Navidad. The next it was that horrid joke song (that I didn't find the least bit funy) Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. A year or two ago, one of my favorites Carol of the Bells was played to the point that I was ripping out my hair within the first few notes! ENOUGH ALREADY!
  4. Spending too much money AND time on gifts -- Everywhere I look, I'm being urged to BUY BUY BUY! Life just won't be the same if I don't buy all the latest and greatest toys, clothes, electronic gadgets. My dearly beloved is suppose to buy me a bunch of diamond jewelry (which I wouldn't wear even if he did) and I'm suppose to buy him a CAR! Um, no. I fell into the buying trap once. It was the first year I was a single mom and I felt so guilty that I ran out and bought everyone I knew lots of gifts. Of course, I had no money, so I charged them, and was still paying for them six months later! Never again. Plus, almost everyone I know (myself included!) already has everything they need and want. I really am a firm believer in "it's the thought that counts." I'd much rather have a tin of homemade cookies than any other gift.
  5. Forced Holiday Cheer -- People who would not normally spit on me if my hair was on fire (and it's mutual) feel obliged to wish me "happy holidays." And I'm expected to do the same. Granted, this was a lot worse when I worked in an office, but the expectations have not changed. Everyone is suppose to be in happy and love their fellow man (women, children, small furry animals) and not let all the stress of the holiday season show. Sorry, but that is SOOO NOT HAPPENING! Reality is that stress is worse this time of year, probably due in no small part to reasons #1, 2, 3 and 4. Sorry, but I have no intention of "faking it" with my holiday greetings. So if I do say, "Happy Holidays!" to you, rest assured that I really and truly mean it. And if I don't, just chalk it up to the fact that I'm a Grinch and have at least 5 good reasons for hating the holiday.
So please tell me I'm not the only ole Grinch here! Is there something that really bugs you about the holiday? Dare I hope you even HATE something about the holidays?

Please share a rant with Aunty!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Excerpt Time

Can't believe November is almost over. Just a few more hours until the December "madness" begins. Though I'm afraid the "madness" that is the holiday season started before Halloween this year. (heavy sigh)

I'm happy to report that Santa heard my plea, and is sending me my very own Kindle! In fact, with a small assist from my DH (LOVE that man!) my lovely little ereader will arrive in a few days. I hope you have your very own ereader too, because my new release High Seas Deception (Can't get enough of that gorgeous cover!) will be available in electronic format. Of course, even if you don't have an ereader, you can still download the story and read it directly from your laptop or desk top.

Here's a little excerpt to whet your appetite:

From the balcony of the ninth story condominium, the Irishman drained his coffee cup and walked to the railing. Lifting a pair of small field glasses to his eyes, he focused on the boxy white ship gliding across the smooth waters of Banderas Bay. Through the early morning haze, he took a moment to distinguish the black, stylized ‘A’ on the vessel’s smokestack, but once he did, the tingle of anticipation zipped along his nerve endings. Adventure Cruise Lines Intrepid – his objective, was right on time.
He saw the harbor master’s gleaming metallic cutter rushing out to meet the huge ship and guide her into the port. Slipping the field glasses into his pocket, he walked back inside to ready himself for his own meeting with Intrepid.

Forty minutes later, he slumped in the shade on a wrought-iron bench and sipped a bottle of water. Through his sunglasses, he watched the first passengers emerge through the gate in the chain link fence that separated the pier from the tiled plaza in front of the flea market a few meters to his left.

A score of eager taxi drivers descended on the new arrivals, crying out in accented English.

“I take you on a tour of the city…”

“… to Mismaloya…”

“… to the tequila factory…”

“… good price!”

“… cheapest price!”

He’d seen the same scenario in every tourist port he’d ever landed in, though he had to admit that as tourist towns went, Puerto Vallarta was one of the prettiest. When the first hardy group negotiated their way past the gauntlet of aggressive drivers, he tossed his empty water bottle into the nearby trash bin and listened closely to their chatter. Their accents matched his intel which said most of the eighteen hundred passengers were from the US or Canada. He’d have no problem posing as one of them.

As a second, larger group made their way toward the shops in the flea market, he looped his backpack over his shoulder and joined them. Ignoring the calls of the pushy vendors, he took less than five minutes to spot a likely mark. The man at the counter stood close to his own height, though huskier in build. His personal identification stuck out of the back pocket of his shorts when he pulled out his wallet to pay for a tube of sunscreen.

This really is child’s play, the Irishman thought as he side-swiped the man’s shoulder. Then he murmured, “Lo siento mucho,” at the same time his unsuspecting benefactor said, “Excuse me.”

The man scooped up his change, dropped the pesos in the bag with the sunscreen and hurried out the door, wallet still in hand. The Irishman followed at a safe distance just to be sure the American didn’t notice his missing ID card.

The Irishman glanced briefly at the white and blue plastic sea pass card before he zipped itinto the inner pocket of his backpack.

“Thank you, Robert Adams,” he murmured under his breath.

#
So what do you think? Is the Irishman a good guy or a bad guy? Can a hero be a thief? Do you want to read more?


Friday, November 25, 2011

New Cover!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US and I have a lot to be grateful for this year. My family and I are relatively healthy (outside the usual aches and pains), and we are happy in spite of a lot of changes and challenges we've faced in the past twelve months.

I'm also thankful for my network of supportive friends (though they seem to be in rather short supply lately). But most of all, I'm grateful for my readers!

Earlier this year, I made the decision to bring my work directly to my readers through self-publishing electronically. My first self-published work went up on Oct. 7th -- a 14,000 word novelette, The Sidhe Princess. My next release will be a full length romantic suspense novel set on a cruise ship and titled High Seas Deception. I hope to have the editing and formatting complete before Christmas, but right now, I'm excited to share the fantastic cover with all of you. And here's a brief teaser about the story:

In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a mysterious Irishman steals a passenger’s identification and slips aboard Adventure Cruise Lines’ Intrepid. His mission is to intercept a dangerous package before it can be delivered to Los Angeles. However, he is discovered by ACL’s junior security officer Skylar Davidson, formerly with LAPD. Is he “one of the good guys” as he claims? Or the ruthless mercenary Skylar remembers from a bloody shoot-out at LAX airport? With the lives of over two thousand passengers and crew at stake, can Skylar trust her instincts? What about her heart?

What about you? Please share some of the things you are most thankful for this holiday season.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Special Guest Jill James

Since dipping my toes into the vast ocean of Indie publishing a few months ago, I'm met some many other outstanding Indie authors. I've decided to take the blog in a slightly different direction by introducing you to a few of these wonderful folks, starting TODAY!

The lovely and talented Jill James is my guest today. Her debut Indie release is a contemporary romance called Divorce, Interrupted and you can buy it for your Kindle here:

http://www.amazon.com/Divorce-Interrupted-Second-Chances-ebook

So without further adieu, let's ask Jill a few questions...

AC: How long have you been writing?

JJ: Since I could hold a pencil in my hand. LOL I wrote plays and puppet shows as a kid for the neighborhood to perform in and attend. Poetry was my first love until I found romance novels. I started writing seriously in 2004 and joined RWA.

AC: What made you start writing?

JJ: Romance novels, plain and simple. I fell in love with love stories. I wanted to write my own. I wanted to have a hero and heroine who seemed like they would never be together, and I could give them that happily-ever-after.

AC: Did anyone inspire or encourage you to write?

JJ: Mrs. Whitaker, my fifth-grade teacher had us write a story every week and read it aloud to the class. She was so encouraging of my writing. I still remember The Run-Away Chevrolet and The Peanut Butter Airplane.

AC: Plotter? Pantser? Or something in between?

JJ: I think I must be something in between. Some stories I plot and some I just go with the flow. But I am a linear writer. I start with Chapter One and go straight through until I reach The End. No random dialogue or scenes. Point A to Point Z.

AC: Advice you’d like to share with unpublished or recently published writers?

JJ: Don’t give up. The day from Hell, when you receive that thousandth rejection, when the words won’t flow, when you hear your subgenre is dead – Don’t Give Up. That is the day that tests how much do you want this. Your success is just around the corner if you hold on. The quote goes something like this – The only difference between a published author and an unpublished one is the published author didn’t quit.

AC: Please tell us about your current release/project.

JJ: Divorce, Interrupted is my first Indie/Self release. I wanted to explore how some divorces aren’t the end but really a new beginning.

Here's the Blurb: Newly-divorced Todd and Lisa Miller are stranded at their mountain cabin. There to divide a lifetime of memories, they soon are in danger from more than the anger between them. A vicious storm forces them to rely on each other to survive.

Can they trust the one person they lost belief in? Or are their hearts in danger from more than floods and frigid weather?

AC: What’s next for you?

JJ: Book 2 of the Second Chances series, Trust In Me. Should be available in a couple of weeks.

Thanks so much for being here today Jill. Your Second Chances series sounds great and the cover of Divorce, Interrupted is beautiful!

Okay readers, now it's your turn. Do you believe in a second chance in romance? And if you have any questions for Jill about her books or her writing process, please feel free to ask!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ten Random Facts

Several weeks ago, my buddy Jennifer Tanner tagged me on her blog, Romance and Other Legal Stimulants (http://jennifertanner.wordpress.com/) to do a post on Ten Random Facts. Try not to faint, Jen, but I have finally gotten that famous "round tuit!"

Here then in no particular order are my Ten Random Facts:

  1. I've always lived in California, and of all the places I've visited, the #1 place I'd chose to live is... CALIFORNIA!
  2. I first heard (and liked) classical music on Bugs Bunny cartoons.
  3. My all time favorite flavor of ice cream is Rocky Road.
  4. If my son had been a girl, I planned to name him Nicole Susanna. His great-grandmother was Susie and his grandmother (my mom) was Anna. I just happened to like the name Nicole.
  5. My dog is named for the designer of the Shelby Cobra sports car.
  6. My favorite part of watching American football is "the huddle." All those lovely muscled rear-ends are great eye candy!
  7. My mother told me I was left-handed from birth, but I successfully do two things right-handed: knit and cut with scissors.
  8. I refuse to own a cell phone!
  9. I saw Jim Morrison and the Doors in concert. My son considers this the coolest thing I have ever done.
  10. I think the coolest thing in the world is FAN MAIL!
Okay, the ten things was difficult enough, but this is the part really hanging me up... I'm suppose to "tag" four other people with blogs to do their own "Ten Random Facts." I'm afraid I've only come up with two. Both are Chaptermates: Jansen Schmidt who was my guest a couple of weeks ago and just started her own blog (http://jansenschmidt.wordpress.com/), and Caroline Hanson whose blog is also the title of her debut novel Love Is Darkness (http://carolinehanson.blogspot.com/).

Now it's YOUR turn. Please share some random facts with Aunty!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumn

Eight years ago yesterday, I rescued my pug-wa-wa from the city pound.

I was working with a dog rescue group and went there to see another dog the rescue coordinators were interested in. That dog had already been adopted. But as I walked by the building that housed the small dogs and puppies, one puppy was howling, squalling, and making quite a racket.

When I stepped inside, this pretty little tan dog in the cage next to the noisy puppy looked up at me with pleading eyes that plainly said, "Please, get me OUT OF HERE!" I called the attendant and took the little dog out for a walk. Three things immediately became apparent to me:
  1. She was leash trained.
  2. She was also potty trained.
  3. No way was I leaving her there!
Luckily the vet was on premises that day, and she confirmed what I guessed (by the scar on her belly), she was already spayed. Two hours and eighty dollars adoption fee later, I took the pretty little tan dog home with me.

It was a beautiful autumn day (just like yesterday, and today!), so I named her Autumn. Turned out she was also crate trained, and a fierce guardian (in spite of a bark that sounds like a wind-up toy) of all she considers hers. Whomever lost her (she was picked up on the street) lost a jewel, and I am thankful everyday that I was lucky enough to find her!

Being part pug (as I was assured by a Pug Rescue group) she does snore like a buzz-saw, but other than that, she is THE WORLD'S MOST PERFECT DOG!

Have you "found" a pet? Or had one "find" you? Weren't they THE GREATEST?!?! Please share your story with Aunty and everyone.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The intimidating world of blogging

Hello everyone!

Here I am at my very first blogging experience and I'll be honest, it's a little intimidating. As an unpublished author I kept telling myself that it isn't necessary to have a blog. After all, I don't have any readers to connect with. Who's going to read a blog from an unknown writer? What could I possibly have to say to those lucky people who even bother to find my blog? Well, that my friends, about sums up exactly how inexperienced I really am.


Sure, I don't have any readers - yet, but there are thousands of people out there I can connect with right now. The more connections I make now, the more potential readers I will have when I'm finally published. How exciting to have people start routing for me right now!

And it's absurd to think that I have nothing to blog about. I'm a writer for crying out loud! I have completed 3 full length manuscripts, several short stories, and I have dozens of ideas floating around in my head for many more. If I can finish a full length manuscript and I have ideas waiting to come to life on paper, of course I can write a one page blog. What a silly notion that I can't.

So here I am, with the help and this awesome opportunity from my dear friend Cindy, reaching out to the world with the hope that the world will embrace me and my efforts.

I'd love to connect with people like myself who are just starting out, trying to stay afloat in the gigantic sea of advice, information, disappointment, and madness known as writing. I'd also love to connect with experienced authors who have managed to not only stay afloat, but have built rafts and ski boats and yachts, and those super over-achievers, with cruise ships. While it all seems nearly impossible from down here in the churning, cold, shark infested waters with no life preserver, I keep looking up at those big shiny cruise ships and saying, "someday soon, I'll be up there with them."


Starting in November, I will be blogging each month from my website jansenschmidt.com. I'd love to have you all stop by and watch my progress and offer encouragement and advice. I'll be looking for you! And of course in the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

At this time, I'd like to ask you, what is your best advice for me regarding my new blogging adventures? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions for not just staying afloat, but for building my own fleet of cruise ships! Bon Voyage!

Thank you Aunty Cindy for this wonderful opportunity to experience blogging in a safe and fun environment. I look foward to being your guest again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Sidhe Princess Is Available!

I'm THRILLED to announce that my novelette The Sidhe Princess is now available on Amazon (just click on the title of this post to go to the Amazon page)!

I hope you will take a look and "like" (just click on the box below my author name) my story. It will be available on SmashWords and other ereader platforms in a few days.

The world of books and publishing is undergoing major changes even as I type this post, and I'm excited to be a part of it. The release of The Sidhe Princess marks a milestone in my writing career, as it is the start of my journey as an "Indie Author."

As an Indie Author, the good news is that I am the one responsible for all aspects of getting my book out there for my readers. The bad news is that I am the one responsible for all aspects of getting my book out there... Yep, definitely a two edged sword, that responsibility! Success or failure is all tied to how well I handle that responsibility. But I firmly believe that getting my work out there for my readers IS a big success.

The Sidhe Princess is a real departure for me in that it is NOT a romance and is not even a novel (at 14,000 words it doesn't even quality as a novella)! No traditional publisher would have even considered publishing it, so self-publishing was really my only option. But I'm not only happy to have this option, I'm pleased to be able to offer my readers a story through this option.

So here's a brief excerpt from The Sidhe Princess, which is about 16 year old Moira Mullins, who sees and hears other-worldly creatures that no one else does:

Nine days later, Moira first saw the new apparition. Mum and Da went off on their usual Saturday shopping expedition, and Moira elected to stay home alone.

Though Mum looked worried, Da actually took Moira’s side. “She’s not a wee lass any more, Mary,” he scolded. “You don’t need her right by your side every waking moment.”

He’d given Moira a wink behind her mother’s back when they climbed into the ancient farm truck that was their only means of transportation. With hearty calls of “Be home for tea!” they rumbled off in a cloud of dust.

The day was far too fine to stay inside ironing, so a couple of hours later, Moira slipped her little yellow transistor radio into her apron pocket and went outside to simply enjoy the sweet autumn sunshine. Even if she felt relief at coming and going as she pleased, she did feel oddly alone after the constant voices and presence of the staff and patients in the sanitarium. Not that she missed the place, far from it!

She missed her sister.

On the radio, the Beatles crooned about “…please me like I please you…” and she sang along. But by the end of the song, the signal was fading. She turned the radio off and wished she’d asked Mum to pick up new batteries while she and Da were out.

As she slid the radio back into her pocket, her fingers brushed over Fiona’s letter. Moira had already read it more than once. In fact, she’d given Mum her reply to mail in the village today. But she walked over to the stump at the edge of the yard to read the letter yet another time.

Something about the letter wasn’t right. It wasn’t so much the things Fee wrote, but more like what she hadn’t. Moira couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling that not all was well. However, she also knew Fee wouldn’t say anything for fear of worrying Mum and Da.

The thin onion-skin paper rattled like the waxy stuff wrapped around the fancy scones that came from the village bakery. Moira smoothed the folded sheets across her lap and read Fee’s sprawling script, heard her voice in the written words as she described the crazy city traffic all going in the wrong direction. The Richardsons had a brand new Lincoln Town Car and Mrs. Richardson intended to buy herself a car too, as soon as she found one to her liking.

Moira closed her eyes and imagined what it must be like to be so rich you owned two new cars and a fine house so big that your three children each had a bedroom and the nanny had one too. While she pictured the lovely wall-papered room Fee had described, the sound of childish laughter invaded Moira’s daydream. Her eyes popped open and she scanned the brushy border of the fens, catching a glimpse of a white figure.

“Who’s there?” Moira cried, shoving the letter back into her pocket and jumping to her feet.

The fens could be a dangerous place for a child, full of boggy spots and stickery piles of brambles, as Mum had never failed to tell her. But as Moira crossed the over-grown expanse of the meadow and drew closer to the fens, she heard the giggling again. A scrape of doubt tugged at her mind, making her hesitate. Something about the sound wasn’t childish. Or even human.

While she paused, the being came into view. Small as a child of nine or ten and clad in a long gown of gauzy white, the girl’s golden hair streamed behind her, strands of it braided around bird feathers or woven into bits of metal or bright colored beads. Her skin was almost the same shade as her hair, like rich honey, and when she stopped to regard Moira, her dark eyes shone with the same flecks of gold.

One of the fae, Moira guessed, and the most exquisite wee thing she’d ever seen.

“You can see me as well as hear me, can you not?” asked the small woman. The proud way she stood and the commanding tone she used were not the least bit childlike.

Moira nodded mutely and twisted her hands into her apron. ‘Twas not the first time she’d seen and even spoken to other-worldly creatures, though never before had one been so bold in approaching her. Nor so beautiful.
Please join me in celebrating this new direction in my writing life. I hope you enjoy The Sidhe Princess!

Along with taking my writing career in a new direction, I'm going to be trying some different things on the blog too. I hope to do more interviews with Indie Authors and maybe give away more prizes. Also, this Friday, my friend and chaptermate Jensen Schmidt will try her hand at blogging for the very first time. Be sure to check back and see what she has to say!

Have you read other Indie Authors? What do you think of electronic books instead of traditional paperback or hard cover books? Is there someone or something you'd like to see on this blog?


Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Winners!

Hey All! You read that correctly WINNERS!

Jo wanted me to give a BIG THANX to everyone who came by and helped her celebrate her second release The Avenger. She also apologized for not naming a winner sooner, but she was struck down with a nasty bout of food poisoning. ACK! No shared recipes were involved, don't worry.

Anyway, Jo would like to give away a free download of The Avenger to TWO commenters:

CONGRATS TO

Loretta

and

Paisley Kirkpatrick

Ladies, please contact Jo at jo.lewisrobertson @ yahoo.com (without the spaces) to claim your download of The Avenger! I just know you're going to enjoy it!

Aunty will be inviting Jo back in the not-too-distant future when her third book in the Bigler County series The Traitor is released.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jo Robertson and The Avenger

Today, I'm excited to welcome back to the blog my fantastic critique partner Jo Robertson. Jo's first romantic thriller, The Watcher came out in August and reached the Amazon Top 100 for Romantic Suspense!

SUPER CONGRATS! Please tell us a little about your second book, The Avenger.

JR: Thanks, Cindy, and thanks for inviting me back to your blog. The Watcher keeps moving in and out of that Amazon Top 100 List, but it's pretty exciting because I've never made a list before. It's my little fifteen minutes of fame!

AC: Previously, you told us the idea for The Watcher came from a psychology class you took. Where did you find the inspiration for The Avenger?

JR: I can't be absolutely sure where the idea came from. You know, we writers have brains that are more like warehouses than workshops, and all kinds of weird and strange stuff meanders around there firing up our synapses!

[NOTE: Aunty knows that all too well!]

JR: But I think I've always had a fairly strong grasp on religious ideologies and how they influence history. It's always been interesting to me that so many events – wars, in particular – are inspired by religious fervor. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, a Jihad. So I played with the idea of what motivates people who are deeply religious, but also are psychopathic killers. And I came up with the villain in The Avenger.

The title is a bit misleading because "The Avenger" is a term the killer applies to himself, but the hero, Jackson Holt, is also an avenger in the sense that he's trying to speak for the dead victims and repudiate the wrongs he's done himself while working for a secret organization over the years.

AC: I think the duality of the title is fascinating! Please tell us how this book is tied to your previous one, The Watcher, and your next romantic thriller, The Traitor.

JR: All three books are tied by setting to Bigler County, California, which is a fictional county based on the county where I live. It's nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain, and the sheriff is Ben Slater (the main protagonist in The Watcher). The books can all be read as stand-alone novels because the resolutions are settled in each book and the happy ending guaranteed for the hero and heroine.

In The Avenger Slater's and Olivia Gant's childhood friend is Jackson Holt, the hero. Something happened years ago when Jack "betrayed" them in a sense, but no one knew the full story. This book brings the issue to closure.

AC: You seem adept at creating very scary and memorable villains. Any idea why? Are they your favorite characters to create?

JR: Trust me, I've lain awake at night wondering why my villains speak so clearly to me. I may need a lot of redemption for my "thoughts" in the hereafter.

Just kidding, of course, but villains who are two-dimensional, flat characters have never appealed to me. I've always preferred the complex, rounded villains. I find it extremely interesting to discover what makes people turn out to be the kinds of folks they are, good or bad. Are we hard-wired a certain way or does environment really affect a person significantly?

AC: What is next for Jo Robertson?

JR: I'm nearly finished with the third book in the trilogy which introduces a new hero, Ashraf Hashemi, a DEA agent at odds with ADA Isabella Torres, who played a role in The Avenger. In The Traitor Isabella focuses on putting an end to human trafficking because she believes her beautiful older sister Maria, who disappeared on a graduation trip to Mexico years ago, was actually kidnapped and is alive. Rafe is looking at the same man, Diego Vargas, for instituting new drug trafficking routes in California.

I'm having fun bringing Vargas' lawyer/bodyguard, Gabriel Santos, back as a major player in this story.

[AC rubs her hands together with gleeful anticipation because Santos is a GREAT character!]

JR: After these three books have a chance to reach readers, I'm considering publishing my two historical suspense books, both inspired by real events. I hope readers will enjoy them.

Finally, I'll be returning to Bigler County for the fourth and last book in the not-trilogy (ha, ha), an untitled book which will actually be about Gabriel Santos, who's an interesting and complex villain with his own unique moral compass.

A question for the readers of today's blog: Do you enjoy seeing recurring characters in books, especially secondary ones who get their own stories?

Have you ever been fascinated enough by a "villain" that you'd like to see if he/she has a story of their own to tell?

What's your favorite fall dessert? Ha, gotcha!

Seriously, leave a good recipe for fall on Aunty Cindy's blog and I'll enter you in a contest to win a download of either The Watcher or The Avenger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Number 20

Just returned from cruise # 20. Had a great time and have lots of piccies to share.

This cruise departed from New Orleans, so here is Aunty ready to sail away down the mighty Mississippi. No, we did not go under that bridge. The ship was too tall, plus that was UP river. The captain had to turn the ship around when we were ready to leave.

First stop: Belize! Okay, I know I'm hopelessly dating myself, but back when I studied geography, it was called British Honduras. They were preparing to celebrate their 30th anniversary of independence on Sept. 21st.

We took a shore excursion to some FABULOUS Mayan ruins called Atun Ha. They are still excavating and restoring the pyramids at this site, which they've dated back to 250 B.C. YAY! Something older than Aunty!

Here I am standing in front of the largest of the partially restored pyramids. This one is dedicated to the Mayan sun god.

The DH climbed to the top of the pyramid (even though we were advised not to because it was threatening to rain) and took this great piccie of the view of one of the smaller pyramids.

Yes, those tiny little figures are people. It was a loong way up! An estimated 10,000 people lived in this area back in the day.

Next stop: the island of Roatan, which belongs to Honduras.

Here's the DH standing in front of the map at the Visitors' Information Center. As you can see, Roatan is a long, narrow barrier island. In other words, built a lot like my DH!

We docked at Mahogany Bay and took a taxi ride into the nearby town of Coxon Bay. On the way in to town, we saw groups of school children practicing their marching. Our taxi driver told us there was a big parade planned on Sept. 15th for Honduran independence day.

Meanwhile, back at Mahogany Bay, Aunty put on her Bandita bucket boots and took a pot shot at this scurvy knave, who claimed to be related to the Lair's Golden Rooster!

Last Stop: Cozumel, which is also an island just off the Yucatan and belongs to Mexico.

The waters off Cozumel are the clearest and prettiest I've ever seen! You can get a bit of an idea from this piccie, but trust me, it is much more gorgeous in person!

Here's a picture of one of the downtown plazas with a HUGE Mexican flag. There were tons of flags flying everywhere and a carnival in one of the main plazas because (wait for it)... They were celebrating Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16th!

What IS IT with Central American countries declaring independence in September? Aunty can only conclude that there was something "revolting" about September back in the 1800s (and right up to the 1980s in the case of Belize)!

Finally, back 'home' in New Orleans, the DH and I took a walk through the Vieux Carre or French Quarter as we tourists call it.

Here's a shot of the DH on Royal Street with one of the beautiful wrought-iron balconies for which the city is famous. New Orleans is probably the most European-feeling city in the US and I ADORE visiting there. And of course, I brought back a strand of Mardi Gras beads!

So there, in a quick encapsulation is Aunty's Cruise #20!


Have you ever visited New Orleans? What about the Caribbean? Which place have you been to that has the prettiest, bluest water?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sailing and Celebrating

SHHHH! I'm not really here.

By the time this post comes up on the blog, I'll be sailing the high seas on cruise #20.

This time, the DH and I are doing something different. We are sailing out of New Orleans a short way down the Mississippi River and into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. I hope our timing is right and we manage to miss the latest tropical storm (not yet designated a hurricane) spinning out in the Gulf. In addition to seeing Cozumel, Mexico, we will be visiting Roatan, Honduras and Belize City, Belize. I'm excited to add two more countries to my growing list! Plus I've already booked us an excursion to a Mayan pyramid, which I'm really looking forward to seeing.

So much for the sailing portion of this post. As for the celebrating... I'm setting this to post on Sept. 14th in honor of the fourth anniversary of the day I received "The Call." On Sept. 14, 2007 at 8:30 in the morning, an editor called with an offer to publish my book that eventually became The Wild Sight. Of course I said yes!

That call changed my life. In one sudden swoop, I went from unpublished and aspiring writer to the lofty ranks of about-to-be published author. I knew my writing was at a professional level, but it was another thing altogether to have someone in the publishing business validate that belief. Basically, I was still the same person with the same capabilities, but that phone call changed everything!

At the 2006 RWA National Conference, Christina Dodd gave a wonderful speech in which she described all writers as moving along the same sidewalk. The sidewalk represented our writing journey and it was different for each person, but in some ways it was the same too. We all move along at a different rate, but we have similar milestones and cross-roads. Sometimes a writer trips, or falls off the curb, but most get back on the sidewalk and keep moving.

After publishing three books in three years, I reached a cross-roads of sorts. Or maybe it was more of a stumbling block. But I've been trying to crawl back up on the sidewalk. This month, I will finally make it, I think, when I release my novelette, The Sidhe Princess.

This is a part of the writing journey that none of us really anticipated back in 2007, but I'm excited to forge ahead on this next phase of my own journey and bring my stories directly to my readers in electronic format. I hope you will join me on this new venture. I plan to have The Sidhe Princess available before the end of the month.

But first I have a pyramid to see... and a boatload of wonderful food and entertainment to enjoy!

Do you have any travel plans in the weeks ahead? If you could cruise anywhere, where would you go?



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lucky September

I can't believe another month has gone. Summer is almost gone. Heck, the YEAR is almost gone! I'm barely used to writing 2011 when I date things, and now it is September already. Actually I'm glad because September has always been a lucky month for me.
  • My paternal grandmother was born in September.
  • I quit my Dreaded Day Job in September, 2003 to pursue my dreams of travel and writing.
  • On September 14, 2007 I received "The Call" every writer dreams about, an editor called and offered to publish my novel, The Wild Sight.
  • In September, 2009 the book of my heart, The Treasures of Venice was released.

You can see why I feel like September is my lucky month! And I hope September, 2011 will continue that streak of good fortune. I plan to release my novelette, The Sidhe Princess later this month. It will be available electronically on SmashWords and Amazon Kindle.

I'm still undecided on whether I will have a print version because it is very short and would probably be a very slim volume. I will share the Amazon link here as soon as it is available.

Do you have a favorite month? What makes it your favorite? And do you have any plans for September?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Winner! Winner!


BIG THANKS to everyone who turned out yesterday to support my FABULOUS CP, Jo Robertson in the release of her debut novel, THE WATCHER!

I really appreciate your support and Jo was overwhelmed with your wonderful, positive responses.

As for the winner of a free download of Jo's romantic thriller, THE WATCHER...

CONGRATS KATHLEEN O!

Please contact Jo at:
jo.lewisrobertson AT yahoo DOT com to arrange for your FREE book!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jo Robertson and The Watcher

Today I'm happy to welcome a special guest, my fantastic critique partner and fellow Bandita Jo Robertson! We're going to talk about her debut book THE WATCHER and give away a free ebook to one lucky commenter.

JR: First, Aunty Cindy, thanks for inviting me to blog with you today. You are my CP extraordinaire!

AC: Thanks a bunch for being here, and for your wonderful critiques of my work! But, tell us about your current project.

JR: I'm very excited that THE WATCHER, my Golden Heart-winning book, is available on Amazon, both in paperback and as an electronic download.(Just click on the title of this post to go to the kindle page on Amazon!)

THE WATCHER is the first book I completed that didn't have to be stuffed under the bed never to see the light of day again! It's the story of forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers and Deputy Sheriff Ben Slater who work together to solve a serial murder crime. Both Kate and Slater are struggling to leave the dark places in their lives. As they take this dangerous journey to capture a killer, they must learn to trust and rely on each other.

Here's the back blurb:


Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working with a single-minded tenacity, she sets out to prove it.

Deputy Sheriff Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with the kind of pathology she proposes is too bizarre.

Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler County, b
ut whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, he fixates on Kate. The killer wants nothing more than to kill "the purple-eyed girl again."

AC: THE WATCHER has an unusual kind of villain. Where did you get the idea for him?

JR: Actually, I got the idea when I was taking a Women's Psychology course at our local college. I was fascinated by one of the true cases our professor told us about. I took that concept, tweaked and twisted (really, really twisted) the idea until I came up with the very unusual kind of serial killer in THE WATCHER. Since the book's a romantic thriller, I don't want to spoil anything!

I get many of my ideas from TV shows or movies, classes I've taken, lots of administration of justice class which are really fascinating, or books and magazines. It only takes a kernel to spur a writer's imagination.

AC: I completely agree about ideas coming from everywhere. Why do you write romantic suspense?

JR: The two genres I most enjoy reading are historical romance (preferably with a daub of mystery) and romantic suspense. Everyone's saying the RS market is soft right now, but I figure that's what I like to read and it's the easiest for me to write.

This particular book definitely came out of the psychology case I mentioned earlier. I won't say too much, but I will say that the crux of the mystery involves the idea that sexuality isn't the fluid kind of thing psychologists once thought. It's much more complex than that, and sometimes a person's genetic makeup is in opposition to his/her real sexuality.

AC: I loved this story and I'm thrilled to have this book released so that everyone can read it. What's next for Jo Robertson?

JR: The second book, THE AVENGER, in this loosely connected trilogy will be available on Amazon in September. It's another serial killer book and involves two childhood sweethearts who are tragically separated and then meet again to solve a current case. We'll see Sheriff Ben Slater return in this one as a secondary character.

I've also completed two historical suspense stories and most recently a young adult paranormal, which made the first cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest.

AC: I'm lucky enough to have read THE AVENGER and it is another GREAT read! Plus we get to see Ben Slater again -- YIPEE! I've read Jo's other work too (Being her CP has definite perks) and enjoyed all of them. I'm sure readers will be just as happy as I am to have these books available!

Thanks so much for joining me today, Jo. Now get back to work on THE AVENGER!

Jo was inspired by her psychology class. What was your favorite class when you were in school?

Jo will be giving away a free download of the electronic version of THE WATCHER to one lucky commenter. Also, if you'd like a postcard of either THE WATCHER or THE AVENGER, or even a postcard of Aunty Cindy's THE SIDHE PRINCESS send your snail mail addy to: cindymm18 AT gmail DOT com