31 December 2009

13 New Year's Resolutions I Hope I Don't Keep. Again.

I don't know if nonwriters are as prone to making NY resolutions as the rest of the world, but I'm seeing goal and resolutions lists popping up right and left on industry blogs and such these days. Maybe it's because we're writers and we like to write things down. Maybe it's because the writing-career part of our lives is relatively self-motivated and we hope a list will keep us motivated. Maybe it's because our turn to blog falls around the end or beginning of the year and we have to think of something to day.

Either way, here are 13 resolutions I hope I don't keep this year. Yet again. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

1) I will start 8x as many writing projects as I manage to finish.
2) I will establish at least 1 more social networking time sink in the name of promotion.
3) I will 'earn' 53 form rejection letters in the space of 5 months.
4) I will curse more in front of my children and in public.
5) I will forget to update my websites, blogs and other promotional efforts on at least a monthly basis 1/2 of the time.
6) ...Because I have nothing to add, which is really pitiful.
7) I will watch more movies and tv programs than I read books.
8) I will gain weight.
9) I will spend a great deal of my hours in yoga pants and grungy t-shirts, in need of a haircut and a bath.
10) I will neglect to start dinner in a timely fashion at least once a week, necessitating sudden take-out.
11) I will kill my laptop computer.
12) I will complain frequently about something or other and say it is to keep my vocabulary fresh.
13) I will buy the perfect books as gifts -- that were equally perfect for the same individuals last year!

Have a hopeful one --

Jody W.

28 December 2009

Half Past Dead by Bianca D'Arc

My first NY novella will be officially released tomorrow! It's in a duology called Half Past Dead and is a military romance with a zombie flavor. Cool, huh? Here's a little bit about it:

Special Forces soldier Simon Blackwell ended his affair with Mariana Daniels three years ago, but he hasn't stopped protecting her. Mariana has no knowledge of the dark, deadly creatures that lurk in the forest surrounding her clinic, or of the mysterious powers that make Simon the only one who can defeat them. But soon he'll have no choice but to reveal the truth, and urge her to trust in an explosive passion that never faded...

Since this book is published by Kensington Brava, look for it in bookstores and online.

26 December 2009

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Mistletoe

Though not officially part of the Celtic ogham, mistletoe was a sacred plant to the Druids. In in fact, its Irish name is "drualus", a word related to the word "druid". The root of both words refers to the sacred oak tree, upon which mistletoe grows.

Its various names include "all heal" and "Chieftain tree". The Celts used very small amounts of the toxic berry to treat conditions such as convulsions and heart conditions. Native Americans used infusions of it to treat headaches and lower blood pressure. (Disclaimer: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

As it isn't a traditional part of the original Celtic ogham, it is sometimes referred to as the "blank" ogham. (In runic traditions, the blank run is called "Wyrrd", representing the unknown or unknowable.)

Its associated with the element of air; its ruling planet is the sun, which is fitting because this is the turning point of the solar year. After Yule, the days begin to get longer.

Associated deities include Aengus Mac Og, Arianrhod, Brighid, Findlas, Macha and Odin.

Used as a decoration within the home, it's said to provide protection from lightning strikes, fire, misfortune and evil; placed on the headboard of your bed, it inspires beautiful dreams.

Source: my Druid friend Dryadia :)

Slainte mhor agus a huile beannachd duibh!
(Good health and every good blessing to you!)


Click on the "divination" or "ogham" tags below for more in this series!

25 December 2009

I know not everyone here belongs to the same faith, but I do believe that we all strive toward a common goal and so, at this season where we celebrate the birth of One who came to give us life, I wish you all a very merry Christmas.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sela Carsen

23 December 2009

Three things I've learned about the holidays

It's Christmas Eve Eve in our house, and my daughter is busy counting down the minutes until it is officially Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas, and Christmas Road Trip. There's anticipation and excitement, giggles and glee, all flavored with a dash of greed (Mom, come look at this! I wanted to ask for this to!) every time A Scooby Doo Christmas is interupted by commercials for something she hadn't yet asked for. (Sorry kiddo, it's too late for me to go looking for Aqua Sand. And Pillow Pets have been out of stock for weeks now.)

Some of the presents are wrapped and under the tree, while a few others are in boxes waiting for a moment when little eyes won't see what is in them before the swaddling of shiny paper surrounds them. The cookies have been baked and handed out, and the holiday playlist has been on auto-shuffle for weeks. The days are short, the nights are cold (even in Florida - we almost got down to freezing last night!), and there are less days left in 2009 than there are fingers on my hands.

So now that I've set the mood (busy, cold, and happy) let me share a few things about the holidays :

1 - You can tell a lot about a person by the way they approach gift giving, and receiving a gift. Specifically : What is the perfect gift? My answer - anything, and everything, as long as it is given with loving thoughts and good meaning. If someone gifts a gift card or even smooth foldable cash, and they do it because they want the receiver to be able to get exactly what they want, that gift is every bit as thoughtful and well intentioned as a hand-knit sweater or a shiny flat panel plasma screen that was given with the same spirit.

2 - You can learn a lot about yourself by how you handle the holidays. Are you stressed because you don't have everything finished when you wanted it to be? You may need to stop and smell the pine wreaths. Had your presents wrapped since before Thanksgiving and the cookies in crush-proof boxes in the freezer since the first of the month? You might could use a bit of excitement in your holiday - try substituting Rumplemintz for the rum in your holiday nog. Wishing it was all over and you could forget about the holidays completely? Drop a box of canned goods off at a local food shelter, and you'll have done something good whether it was holiday related or not.

3 - It's about the love. And if it isn't about the love, you're doing it wrong. It doesn't matter whether you are celebrating Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day, or Bill of Rights Day. Celebrate it with love and sincere wishes for the happiness and well being of those around you, and you can't go wrong.

I hope your days are filled with laughter and your nights filled with love as we approach the end of the year. And wherever you spend the holidays, whatever you celebrate, may the peace and spirit of the season fill your hearts with joy.

Happy holidays!

21 December 2009

Happy One Loving Thing Day

(Photo by Diego Hernandez)

Today is December 21st. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere of planet earth like I do, may I say: Happy Winter Solstice and Welcome to the shortest day of the year.

Winter Solstice is an astronomical event caused by the earth’s axial tilt being the farthest away from the sun. It is the day marked by the shortest amount of sunlight and the longest period of darkness.

Think: brrrr.

If you live really far north think: freezing everything I got.

Historically, cultures have celebrated the Winter Solstice as a time of rebirth. Ancient cultures came together during for festivals, feasts, dancing, singing, and cuddling with loved ones around the warm hearth fires. Many modern cultures still follow the old traditions.

As for me, this dark, cold, short day brings me hope. Every moment after December 21st (the occasional storm excluded) will be brighter, sunnier, warmer. From here on out the darkness will be behind us and up ahead are better days. After the doom and gloom year we’ve been living through, I’m thinking we all could use a more sunlight in our lives.

So here’s what I propose:
Like the people of the past, let’s get together on this darkest day. I challenge you to go out and do one loving thing today. Just one. It doesn’t really have to be world-changing, or earth’s-axial tilting. No, just give a gift from your heart, do a good deed, help someone…I don’t need to tell you because you’ll know the loving thing when you do it.

I’ll post about my good deed after I do it. It would be really great if you could post about yours. What was it? How’d it make you feel? Your comments might inspire others to do one loving thing and it will snowball into a giant lovingthingerama.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the best darkest day ever.

Kimberley Troutte
Author Page at Samhain Publishing

19 December 2009

The Worst Question to Ask a Writer

Maybe I’m weird…

[You, in the back, I heard that, and I know where you live.]

…but I don’t have too much trouble with the three questions all writers claim to hate. They’re so easy to answer.

Where do you get your ideas?
Everybody says Walmart, but I prefer the Dollar Store. I’m cheap that way. Besides, the Dollar Store has plastic pirate pistols that make real sounds. (Ooooh, the shiny…)

Why won’t you write the book if I tell you my idea?
Because I like my Dollar Store ideas better. They’ve got pirate pistols. (See above.)

Why won’t you help critique my book?
You bought your ideas at Walmart. It’s a brand loyalty thing. (Really, it’s all about the pistols.)

No, the one that chills me to my marrow is quite different:

I want to buy a book as a Christmas present for a friend who reads a lot of [insert genre here]. What would you recommend?

Insert horrified silence here.

Um, what kind of books does the friend like? Should I mention that I read all over the map, so my depth of knowledge is rather thin? It’s embarrassing but true that there are too many books and far too little time. There’s never enough time. When I was still commuting (gotta love public transit) I used to power through two or three books a week, but even then, there still wasn’t enough time. Wonderful, fabulous books are being written and published every day in all formats. Nobody can possibly read them all.

Then there’s the fact that my brain usually takes a hike when someone pops a question that requires a laundry list. It’s like staring into the headlights of an oncoming car doing seventy MPH that wasn’t there a second ago. I freeze. All my long-term memory leaks out of my ears, and I find myself babbling the same bestsellers everybody’s complaining about.

Fortunately, these days, our social networks come to the rescue. When I got hit with the Big Question this year, I immediately called on my various friend lists and came up with a respectable list, which included all the authors I should’ve, would’ve wanted to mention.

The funny thing is, I have a whole list of books I’d love to push on people. The problem is finding the right people to harass into—er, introduce to the splendors of the titles in question. For some reason, I never remember to check our literary compatibility quotient before commiting to a friendship or relationship. It doesn’t seem to affect my friends or loved ones, but my books look so lonely sitting there by themselves, like the shy kids at the high school dance. Doesn’t anybody know they’re the ones who always grow up to be movie stars?

How about you? Are there books in your library you’d really love to share—if only you could find the right person to love them? Don’t be shy. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Well, since this is my blog, I’ll show you a few of mine anyway, four of my favorite oldies:

A matched set of Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche and Anne Rice’s Cry to Heaven—the greatest 18th century swashbucklers ever written, both turning on the question: “Who’s your daddy?” You want to know where George Lucas really stole all the best bits in The Empire Strikes Back, forget The Hero With a Thousand Faces, read Sabatini. And I’m sorry, much as I love Lois McMaster Bujold, Lupe dy Cazaril can’t hold a candle to Tonio Treschi. (Miles Vorkosigan is another matter. ;-))

Speaking of galley slaves (Lupe), I’d like to suggest an alternative view from Judith Merkle Riley’s The Oracle Glass. This slipstream fantasy romance, set amid the splendor and squalor of the Sun King’s France, ranks as one of my all-time favorite books. You want an unlikely, flawed and ultimately fabulous heroine? She’s in there. You want a dark hero dragged through hell? Oh boy, is he in there. And better yet, he’s a writer, too.

Finally, a book I have forced on people time and time again over the years: Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. I don’t know if Sharyn still has (as she used to claim) a price on her head in Federation Credits, but if she does, everybody who ever set a book at a genre lit convention should all chip in together and pay it. She’s the mother of us all. And you’d better be nice to your mother on the holidays. You never know the kind of stories she’s going to tell.

And the pistols would work with every one of them. I really love it when a blog comes together.

Happy holidays!

Jean Marie

18 December 2009

Holiday Contests and a little Crow...

No need to roast that lucious turkey thawing in my spare fridge. I'm having nice tasty crow for my holiday meal.

:) For the past two years or so, I've been on a rampage. An ANTI-SONY READER campaign.

When the Sony Readers came out a few Christmases ago, my husband braved life and limb to find one for me. It was wonderful. I fell in love with it the first time I held it in my hands. Like all passionate affairs, the initial lust factor lasted a few weeks and then began to settle.

The PRS-500, the first generation model, had flaws. As long as I was reading a book purchased by the Sony store or from a publisher who specifically formmated for the PRS model (Like Samhain Publishing), I was fine. However, books by other publishers and through other retail outlets didn't always wook well. More often than not, those books loaded in sucha tiny font as to be unreadable.

I finally resorted to trying to obtain help from the Sony Customer Support. After two weeks of emails back and forth with suggestions from them, and reports of failure to resolve the issue from me, the Sony Support representative finally sent an email saying they were aware of the problem and regretfully informed me that it would be resolved on the NEXT PRS model. In other words, I was out of luck and they were closing my case.

I was angry. Less than a year into ownership, Sony abandoned me with a critical flaw with my device. I read the books I had already purchased on it, but didn't buy any more. Eventually, the device was put back into its box and put away.

Sony offered to take it back on a trade-in when they came out with the PRS-505, but I was still upset at that point. I didn't want to give them any more money.

The PRS-505, Prs-700, and the next generation - the PRS-300 and PRS-600 - have improved upon the original. Each and every issue I had with my PRS-500 has been resolved and a few extra benefits added.

You can now borrow from your local library. Granted, it's a limited selection; however, it's definitely a start! I'd love to be able to borrow books for my daughter to read without having to drive all over town (or being stuck with them when her interests move on).

They are also now Mac compatible. My PRS-500 doesn't interface with my MacBook and the new firmware update option won't help that hardware problem.

They've changed their digital format to the EPUB standard. No more worries about where to get the titles I'm searching for. No more worries that the publisher my best friend's new release is out with can be read on the device. No more waiting for the Sony site to decide to carry the title I've been waiting for.

They've lowered their device cost. Whereas the first generation device cost $400, the newest generation weighs in at half that with the Pocket Reader's $199. And there's a new trade-in option ($50) for those of us still using the PRS-500 as paperweights.

There is still one major issue with the Sony Readers, but it's really only an issue if you're an international customer - and that includes a service member deployed to an overseas assignment and family members living on military bases abroad. The Sony Store will not sell books to foreign IP addresses. With the new EPUB format, it's not really such an issue because the same digital books carried at the Sony Reader Store (and more besides) are available at other digital retailers.

Anyone know a good seasing for crow? It's certainly beginning to look like I'm going to need it.

Do you have an ebook reader on your Christmas list? If so, read on!

There's still time to win one! If you've missed it, there are a couple of Find the Graphic Scavenger Hunt contests out there.

The Raven Happy Hour (click to link) is giving away a Sony Pocket Reader, a $50 prepaid Visa, and a $25 Amazon.com giftcard. That's three lucky winners. Come Rock Around the Raven Xmas Tree with 30 great authors.

The Samhellion (click to link) is also having a Find the Graphic contest. There are still two readers to be giving away: 1 Sony Pocket Reader and 1 Kindle 2. One of each has already been given away.

And while you're checking out the Samhellion, look for the free Holiday Themed shorts available for download. Mine will be available on December 26th introducing the characters featured in my March Samhain release, BLOOD AND DESTINY.

Happy Holidays and I hope you get everything your heart asks for.

16 December 2009

Christmas is a Magical Time

I was thinking the other day about all the "stuff" that comes along with Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Yule. No matter your particular religious persuasion, this time of year always revolves around some kind of miracle. A miniscule amount of oil that lasts for eight nights, a virgin birth, light returning to the world, something. Even out here in the secular world, we have Santa, who manages to perform mulitple acts of B&E, leaving no trace and presents for good children in his wake. Anyway, it occurred to me that this is the one time of year when EVERYONE becomes a believer in the things we Fantasy writers work with every day: magic. Whether you call it magic or miracle is a matter of personal choice, but there's no denying that we're all inspired to put our faith in something we can't see.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, I've compiled a list of the twelve (of course) best movies that take us back to our optimistic childhood and remind us to believe in magic, if only for one month out of the year.

1)The Polar Express: A fantastic book (and Caldecott award winner) with gorgeous illustrations, the movie version is one film that does justice to its source material. Come on, a magic train that whisks you to the North Pole on Christmas Eve? You don't GET much more magical than that. I like to fancy that I, like the narrator, could hear the bells on Santa's sleigh, even though I've supposedly grown up.

2) Miracle on 34th St.: Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. I don't think I can add expound on it any better.

3)It's a Wonderful Life: We all should be so lucky as to be given the chance to see how much of an impact we have on those around us and return to tell the tale. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." Simple, childlike magic, but magic nonetheless.

4) A Christmas Carol: it's out there in a million variations, from Scrooged with Bill Murray to the musical with Albert Finney. If this story took place on any other night but Christmas, you'd call it Paranormal Time Travel.

5)Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: any movie that involves the Big Jolly Man includes some kind of magic. Flying Reindeer, one of which has a beacon on his nose bright enough to pierce through pea-soup fog? That's magic, baby!

6)The Grinch that Stole Christmas: either the animated or Jim Carrey version will do, but this is alternate reality at it's finest, and nobody bothers to even wonder-what the heck is a Who?

7)Frosty the Snowman: of course. Rudolph and Frosty are like PB&J. It's all about a magical hat that makes animates frozen water molecules. That's ALMOST a good premise for a Sci-Fi story.

8)White Christmas: perhaps not a magical story per se, but there's some kind of power at work at the end, when the warmest winter Vermont has ever seen suddenly turns into a Winter Wonderland, and enough is laying on the ground that a horse-drawn sleigh can move through it. Weather magic, maybe? Was Bing Crosby's voice enough to make is snow?

Okay, so I didn't make it to twelve. I leave it to you to find the last four. But you've got the idea. This Christmas, look at the wonder all around you, and feel the magic. If you can, take a little Christmas magic and carry it with you all year long.

Happy Holidays!

12 December 2009

Here's to the Season

I’ve often been heard to say that I’d like to go into hibernation right after Halloween and wake up after the new year begins. But hey, if I’m going to do that, then maybe I could just sleep until the wind isn’t sending ice cubes down my back and I don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing. I love Fall. In fact, it’s my favorite time of year. Winter, on the other hand, let’s just say I’m not a big fan.

By far, the worst time of winter for me has always been holiday shopping. I hate it. Trying to fight through packed parking lots to get into packed stores to buy the perfect gift — you know, the one you can never find. And don’t get me started on the attitudes of the shoppers! Season of peace and goodwill my left foot (that just got stepped on, by the way).

I can actually trace my serious dislike of holiday shopping back to when I was about five or six and I was shopping with my mom. A small child wasn’t even noticed by the herds of shoppers. At one point I was knocked to the floor by a shopping cart, and the person behind it never even noticed what she’d done. Childhood trauma via shopping cart. Hmm, maybe I should start a support group.

But enough of the complaining. I actually want to say how much better shopping has been this year. I’d think it was my new meds, but other people have commented on the lack of cranky too. Maybe more people are shopping online, or maybe it’s the phase of the moon, or the alignment of the stars. Whatever the cause, I’m grateful. This year, I’m actually enjoying the season. Even if is cold.

Something else I’m enjoying is my family. My husband, my kids, my son-in-law, my grandkids, my mom and stepdad, my friend who’s closer than a sister. My two dachshunds. All the wonderful people, and dogs, in my world. It seemed much more fun this year to buy gifts for them. I enjoyed it more. Of course it didn’t hurt that I got a big hunk of things on the first shopping trip. Two stores, four gifts. Great way to start. Plus I found the perfect planner for myself. Hey, gotta stay organized.

However much you shop, for whatever holiday, here’s wishing you a wonderful, pleasant shopping season.

Oh, and happy whatever!


11 December 2009

It's almost here!

No, I don't mean Christmas...although that is exciting. I'm talking about the fourth novel of my paranormal romance series - The Watchers. Midnight Savior is releasing through Samhain Publishing on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. Be sure to stop by the Samhain Cafe Tuesday to chat with all the other authors with stories releasing that day. Excerpts and contests...you can't go wrong with that.

Midnight Savior - The Watchers, Book Four

The clock is ticking…

The phrase “home sweet home” means nothing to Marie DeVeux. Her parents never understood her ongoing relationship with her dead grandmother. Plus, she’s plagued with dreams of a man being tortured. Dreams so real, the burden strips away every vestige of normal life. At rock bottom, she hears her grandmother’s voice telling her that the man exists, and she’s the only one who can save him.

Kern, a Watcher, should have been more careful when he wished for a little more excitement in his life. Kidnapping wouldn’t have been his choice. Torture, solitary confinement and starvation have left his soul consumed by a burning rage and inner demons that push him to lash out at the first face he’s seen in eight long months. Marie.

Is this woman his knight in shining armor, or just another experiment? Kern must sift through the chaos of his mind for the truth that lies hidden in his heart. And make a decision before time runs out—for them both.

Warning: Contains dead relatives who never leave, climactic lab scenes, and a mad scientist.

Haven't caught the Watcher train yet? Here's what reviewers had to say:

“I couldn’t stop reading and felt the characters’ emotions as surely as if they’d been my own.” – The Romance Studio

A ruthless drug runner who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, a Rogue killing vampire with a heart of stone, and a woman caught in the middle. One may take her heart, and the other, her life.

“There’s a lot going on in this novella length story that will keep your attention, so grab a snack and a soda then sit down and enjoy.” -- Literary Nymphs

His date kidnapped, vampire crack threatening to hit the streets, a psycho vamp planning to take over the city, thousands of humans and civilian vamps pack the waterfront for the fireworks festival, and someone is shipping in Rogues…Sometimes being a Watcher really sucks.

“Well written, not over the top, kept my interest with multiple plots for the characters, not just the rogues but also the man trying to trap Suma’s wolf.”
-- Paranormalromance.org

Hunting fanged creatures of the night while in her wolf form is the only life this Skinwalker has ever known, that is until a drool-worthy Native American male battles by her side. When his own fangs gleam in the night, showing his true nature, everything she thought she knew about vampires is turned upside down.

Find out more about The Watchers series at http://www.dmcentire.com/. Ebooks and print copies are available at http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/ as well as online at all major booksellers.

D. McEntire

09 December 2009

What I Learned in 2009

I know Christmas isn't here yet but I've been thinking a lot about the past year and have come to the startling conclusion that I've learned a lot. 2009 did not start out well for me. I was in a job I loathed (okay, loathed is probably too tame of a word but its early and I can't think straight yet. But trust me, I HATED that job), my health was deteriorating due to said job and a boss that was the role model for Devil Wears Prada. It affected my entire life. But things got better. I left the job, found another I love and along the way learned a few things. So even though its not New Years yet, I thought I'd share some things I've learned in 2009.

I learned....

-That I'm stronger than I think

-But I'm not as strong as I'd like to be

-That "no" still hurts. People say you develop a tough skin in this publishing business but "no" still means "no" and it still hurts.

-To trust my kids' instincts. Sometimes they know whats better for them than I do.

-That my husband really is a wonderful man for standing by me during those horrible months when I cried every day and was a mess emotionally and physically.

-That its not about the publishing, its about the writing. At least for me.

-That the Crock Pot won't cook if its not plugged in.

-To look out every window and use every mirror in the car when backing out of the driveway so I won't hit my husband's beloved Jeep Wrangler. Again.

-To smile in the face of mean, nasty people.

-To be myself. People will still like me if I just act like myself.

-To turn a "no" around to my advantage.

-That I much prefer to work shift work and be on my feet than sit behind a desk Monday through Friday (this was a surprise to me because I thought I'd love having weekends off. Not so much)

-That when you're really, really thirsty a Pina Colada is probably not the best thing to drink.

-To write tight

-To take time for friends

I'm sure there's more but enough about me. What did you learn in 2009?


Latest Release:

Read excerpt

07 December 2009

Ho-Ho-Ho and some Holiday Cheer

Well, it happens about once every couple of years. You know, the year you honestly wish Christmas wouldn't come and the Scoogeitude is upon you? Yep that's me this year. I decided several years ago, it would probably behoove me to only celebrate the holidays once every other year. More than that and it just seems a bit overwhelming. And it's not that I don't like Christmas. I do. From the first piece of garland to the last torn piece of wrapping paper as it goes into the trash. What it comes down to for me....it always seems to get here before you know it. The years are passing much more quickly that they used to.

Kid time has ceased to exist in my world. When exactly did that happen? You know what I mean. The way you'd wait all year long, through the muddy dripping Spring, the long dog days of Summer, the crisp burnt leaf smell of Autumn, for the first snow fall and ....oh.....yes....CHRISTMAS!!! It took forever to get here, and you were sure you'd expire from the wait alone. Not so much anymore.

Now, there aren't enough hours between New Year's Eve and Christmas Eve to get everything accomplished you'd intended throughout the year. Why is that? How did the world slip into some microcosim of time-space that has actually sped the year up? I don't understand. Check the atomic clocks! Are they still running properly? Did we all slip into some giant phonebooth ala Dr. Who and end up in some alternate world?
Help me understand why it is I'm still working on projects in December, I'd set out to finish last Jan. or Feb.

All right, time to take a breather.

Nope. That didn't work either.

And you know, on top of it all....I'm having to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, because of after nearly 17 years at the same job...seniority means nothing and all the newbies got Christmas Day off and us old farts are forced to work it. Nice, huh? If that's not enough to turn someone into a Grinch, I don't know what is. So, the hubster and I will celebrate on the 26th this year. What? You thought I'd celebrate it early? No way. That would push me completely over the edge. And I haven't even started my shopping yet. Oh, and my birthday is at the end of the week, wherein I'll celebrate entering my mid-forties. Talk about a double-whammy.

Maybe, I'll put the tree up this week...or maybe I'll just slap reindeer antlers on the dog and call it good enough.

Sign me,

Frustrated in Frankenmuth

MK Mancos

04 December 2009

Bragging rights

Just had to gloat a bit about a review for my latest baby, DREAM WALK.

Romantic Times Book Reviews gives it 4 Stars in this month's issue!

"Readers looking for a great new paranormal series need look no further. Allison
opens up a whole new world with her sensational Sentinels..."

—Gail Pruszkowski

I'll admit from the outset that DREAM WALK did not start out as a paranormal romance. In fact, it was supposed to be suspense. But the more I delved into the characters and the plot, the more I realized this world of the Sentinels was not exactly as it appeared at first glance.

It took a while to determine what sort of paranormal world I was dealing with, however. Vampires? No, not quite. Werewolves? No... at least, not in this story. ;) So what, then?

It ended up being a bit of a mix -- a world where there are many different, unusually gifted people. People who look 'normal' to everyone on the surface. A world much like the one we actually live in... but with surprises around every corner. Where demons walk among humans and monsters truly do lurk in the shadows.

I love this world of the Sentinels. It's dramatic and creepy...and still ripe for a myriad of happy endings.

So in the end, I'm thrilled with the paranormal turn this story took. I've stopped fighting my own muse and imagination. Now both have free reign.


03 December 2009

13 Rejected Holiday Outfits

What comes to mind when I say holiday traditions? Eggnog, carols, exchanging gifts, watching for snow? Families have as many winter holiday traditions as there are snowflakes, and most of them are anticipated year-round. Most of them are remembered with great pleasure for years.

Some of them--not so much.

In my life, a new and rather horrifying holiday tradition has taken shape: finding an appropriate grown up party outfit. Not the party I have with my writer friends--they love me no matter what I wear, which is a good thing, because I show up in some weird duds. No, this would be the hubby's office party, where I have to dress to impress my husband's coworkers and boss, and I can't spend a lot of money doing it. (The party budget gets invested in my hair.) Since I've been in and out of maternity clothes and up and down the numerical scale these past ten years, I haven't had any go-to outfits I could rely on. No classic little black dress. No magic pants and sweater. One year I even skipped the holiday party because the thought of shopping just made me too cross.

But this year, I'm happy to say this torturous new holiday tradition morphed into something less miserable when I found I was no longer alone. My younger sister, whose involvement in the field of environmental education didn't exactly require designer duds, has several parties on her schedule that require fancy dress, or at least dress that's fancier than jeans and hippy shirts. They're her fiance's parties, and so she's in the same uncomfortable shopping boat I've been in alone for ten years.

We just finished a marathon session in my extensive vintage collection, trying to find attractive yet unique outfits for her various party needs. Since my sister never reads this blog, I thought I might share some of the rejected items she will not be wearing to be glamorous at her holiday parties in 2009:

1) The dress that someone probably wore to a funeral in 1965. (I have no proof of this. It's just a feeling.)

2) The pink shiny mini with the ripped out armpit. (I told her I could fix it before her party, but the fact it barely covered her underpants was a bit of a deterrant.)

3) The black go go boots that were a size too small. (I thought you were supposed to be miserable when you look that good?)

4) The polka dotted 1950's taffeta party dress that was made of awesome. Too big of awesome. (My sewing skills do not extend far enough to remedy bigness, though they could probably ruin awesomeness.)

5) The crispy cotton dress that wouldn't have looked out of place on a cub scout den mother. (A wise choice, as her fiance sort of resembles a cub scout.)

6) The grey wool cape circa 1973. (Even though I told her it would probably be COLD and she only has a rugged barn coat for winterwear.)

7) The black tank top that did not match the black shrug at all. (That was just her excuse. It looked great, but she worried about being cold, and it really didn't match the shrug. It *did* match the cape, a fact she didn't appreciate me bringing back up. She wouldn't be caught dead in that cape. But do you think she might wear it to a funeral? Because that dress in #1 fit her pretty good.)

8) The muppet shirt. (Don't ask. And shut up--I *like* it.)

9) Anything with a turtleneck. (She has a bit of an obsession with freedom of the neck area.)

10) The black and red kimono missing all its snaps. (What, the matching gold safety pins weren't good enough for her?)

11) Striped knee socks. (Actually, she already had these on, and I made her take them off. They really soured her opinion of some of the garments. Honestly, I think if she'd taken them off before she tried on the cape, it would have been a winner.)

12) A jaunty neckerchief. (See: turtleneck. Also see: Dude, I'm not Rizzo, I'm not wearing a neckerchief.)

13) The green and gold lounge dress from the 70's I can't even believe I got her to try on just by pointing out it was mostly a Christmasy color (green) and would match the gold shoes she didn't hate. (But she took it off before I got back with the camera.)


What are your lesser known and least favorite holiday traditions? To suffer through them, I recommend proper companionship--like sisters willing to try on green and gold dresses from the 1970's and dance a jig. At least until the camera shows up.

As for me, I'm wearing black pants and a red blouse. I suspect the muppet shirt will be taken.

Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
www.jodywallace.com / www.meankitty.com

01 December 2009

Prizes! Prizes! Prizes!

Hey gang, join in the mad dash to win a FREE Sony eReader, gift cards, and other great prizes in the 2009 Rockin' Round the Raven Xmas Tree contest! Starts today and runs through Christmas Eve, so you have plenty of time to hunt for the special graphic on participating authors' web sites.

CLICK HERE for details on how to enter. It's easy and fun!

Happy hunting, and good luck!
Isn’t it gorgeous? The Tickle My Fantasy anthology is out in print today!!

Go ahead. Try to resist the magic. We dare you!

Carolina Wolf by Sela Carsen (psst! This is me!)
Debra knows that the teensy amount of witchcraft in her veins isn’t worth getting excited about. Yet someone—or something—thinks it’s worth attacking her. Rescuing her seals Maddox’s fate, but only if he can protect her from a rogue of his kind. A werewolf with a nasty streak…and a preference for raw meat.

The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo and the Poltergeist Accountant by Vivi Andrews
Lucy is doomed. Not to death. To nightly visits from recently deceased Casanovas without the bodies to scratch her itch. Then a living fantasy arrives on her doorstep. Is her dry spell at an end? Not hardly. Jake has been sent to prevent her from getting laid until a particular horny phantom—and key witness in his investigation—pays her a visit.

ParaMatch.com by MK Mancos (hi Kat!)
Even though she lives without a paranormalady, Lucille has managed to carve a niche for herself with a paranormal matchmaking service. Enter Jager, deposed king of the Titans and successful paratrader. She can match anyone, except him. She doesn’t know that he’s out to negotiate the deal of a lifetime—a future with her.

Witches Anonymous by Misty Evans
Amy is done with Devil-worshipping. After swearing an oath never to use magic again, she’s in the market for a normal guy to complement her new lifestyle. And Adam looks like perfect hero material. Lucifer, however, isn’t about to be nice about letting her go…

Warning: This book contains hunky werewolves, smart-ass women and men who think that’s sexy, magic, angels, medieval legends, inter-species romance, disco music and flatulent Boxers. (The dogs, not the underwear.)

Read An Excerpt Online