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!


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.


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, 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


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!