Flannel Sheets & Memories

I changed the sheets today. Not a particularly exciting task, except that as I dug around in the linen cupboard I realized both sets of flannel sheets that fit my bed were in the wash, and the temperature isn’t due to shift above 10 degrees Fahrenheit until some time next year. And yeah, I realize that’s less than a week away but that’s still another five days of frigid weather and me with plain old—cold—linen sheets. And no, I’m not going to change them again once I wash the flannels. Not until the requisite week is up.

I hate changing the sheets.

As if this discovery weren’t bad enough to ruin my evening, I also did something else whilst sifting through the over-stuffed linen cupboard. I pulled out all the twin bed sheet sets and packed them away. Which turned into an act of nostalgia I wasn’t quite prepared for.

You see, my daughter got a new bed for Christmas. She’s been in her twin bed since she was three, and now she’s twelve—and almost five-and-a-half feet tall. She’s not a kid anymore, at least not in stature. And she shares that tiny bed with the dog, who sleeps a lot like I do—stretched from edge to edge with no concern for the other occupant of her sleeping space.

A bigger bed was long overdue.

Which means we no longer have a need for twin sheets. As soon as we haul hers off to Salvation Army, there will be no more twin beds in my household. One more piece of my children’s childhood, gone.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to pack away ‘baby’ stuff. A couple years ago, my daughter went through her room herself and donated all the dolls and various other kiddie stuff to charity. She kept her Legos, the stuffed animals, books, and only a few other playsets. And then last year, a few months after my son died, she and my husband went through the basement and piled all those toys into his truck and handed them over to charity.

So, like I said, this small, seemingly meaningless task hit me harder than expected. Somehow, over the course of my kids’ childhood, we’d managed to procure some pretty darn cute sheets. Flannel, ironically. (But I don’t sleep in a twin bed, so no, they wouldn’t have worked for my purposes.) And they remind me of happy times, when my babies were, well, babies, and flannel sheets with snowmen on them were fun. Back when they liked to snuggle, and I liked to sneak into their bedrooms and watch them sleep.

Back when we believed they both had their whole lives ahead of them.

Now, I only have one, and she’s outgrown these adorable flannel sheets. Hell, she doesn’t like flannel sheets at all, let alone those with cute characters dancing across them.

Tonight, I tucked away another piece of my life, my past, my memories.

~Tami

It’s Been A Pretty Decent Week…So Far

Yes, this is a bit preemptive, given it’s, well, Monday, but I’ve had a pretty decent week so far. Considering the anniversary that’s happening in a couple days, I figure I should take what I can get.

Granted, it didn’t start out fabulously, what with the one-and-a-half hour commute to the day job, slipping and sliding along unsalted and unplowed roads due to early morning snow showers (that lasted all day, by the way – WTF, Mother Nature? Don’t you know it’s almost spring??). But after that, things got better.

Not the weather, though. Actually, it’s still snowing. And while it’s pretty, IT’S MARCH, FOR GOD’S SAKE, MOTHER NATURE! (Also, it sucks to drive in snow. Even if you’ve done it for most of your driving life.)

Let me count the positives, in hopes they hold up against that big, fat negative. Or at least help me get through it…

A sweet text from the bestie. “Going to check up on you over the next couple of days. Fair warning.” No, she’s not a stalker. She just loves me, and knows this is going to be one rough week.

A royalty check in the mail. (A small one, but hey, we’re counting every little positive here.)

A card full of tiny paper hearts from my husband’s bestie (Is it cool to call guys ‘besties’? Or does that make it weird?), with a note that said, “Sometimes life is just bullshit.” So, so true. But friends who send you cards like that are the silver lining.

And the best news of all: My daughter has been invited to apply to become a member of the National Junior Honor Society! I couldn’t be more proud, and the timing couldn’t be better. As sad as this week will inevitably become, I’m celebrating the moment. My wonderful tribe. And my beautiful daughter and her accomplishments. Honestly, I would have been pleased as punch if her brother were still around to share in this joy (he was NJHS too), but I confess, this little thrill is even more impactful now.

I’m sure I’ll be drowning in the sadness in the next couple days, but for now … It’s been a pretty damn decent week.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is an author who drinks wine, wins awards, and writes happily ever afters. She also sends cool newsletters. You should signup: http://www.subscribepage.com/Tami_Lund

Get Lost in the Everglades with Author Stacy Hoff

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Stacy Hoff to my blog. Stacy writes contemporary romance, and her first book was released through Soul Mates Publishing on September 17th. She agreed to answer a few questions for me, so that you all could get to know her better.

Tami’s Thoughts: Hello, Stacy. Thank you for subjecting yourself to my Q&A today. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself.

Stacy Hoff: For my “day job,” I’m a lawyer.  I handle contracts, primarily commercial and construction. I’ve been practicing law for almost two decades.

For my “night job,” I’m a wife and mother. I have a busy husband and (if possible) two busier boys (ages twelve and nine). On occasion, I can put dinner on the table before 7:00 PM. I’m apparently an excellent chauffer, as I schlep my kids everywhere. I can always offer my driving services professionally if my “side job” doesn’t work out.

For the above mentioned “side job,” I’m a writer, of course. I fit in my writing somewhere between the hours of 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM. During the weekends, I can also grab some daylight hours, if my kids sleep late. When I write at night, my husband watches a lot of sports on TV – football and baseball seasons are very productive for me. When a game isn’t on, ESPN commentary nicely fills in the gaps. So I’m one of those wives who doesn’t complain when my husband watches sports.

TT: I can relate! Now, tell us one incredibly strange or unique thing about you.

SH: I am an artist. I graduated from the “Fame” school in NYC, back in the eighties. I sketch nudes at a local art gallery, drawing on newsprint paper with a variety of charcoals. Taking figure drawing classes keeps my fingers flexible and my skills fresh.

TT: Okay, that’s certainly unique! And fascinating. How about something more … average? Pets or no pets?

SH: Unfortunately, “Squishy,” our Beta fish died. I think that’s going to be it for a while.

TT: Having a pet is like having another kid, so I get it. How about seasons? Winter or summer?

SH: For me, this is a no brainer. Since I live in New England, and abhor shoveling snow, I’m flat-out going with summer.

TT: I live in the great white north, too, so I get it. We always want what we can’t have (much of), right? How about drinks – red or white?

SH: As far as wine goes, I’m pretty ignorant. Thankfully, at my art classes, they have a variety of wine available to drink away our artistic tension, so whatever they’re servin’ I’m drinkin.’ I should disclose, however, that since my alcohol tolerance level is pathetic, and I obviously won’t drink and drive, I’m limited to having only a few sips during the first half-hour of our two-hour-long class. Better safe than sorry, I always say!

TT: Smart practice. However, if you ever want to learn more about wine, I’m a big fan… Of drinking it, that is. That comment, in my world, is the perfect transition into writing. So let’s talk about your books. What’s your genre of choice?

SH: To date, I’ve been a “blendy” writer, as well as a “pantser.” I have limited free time, so when I write, it’s because I have characters and a story line that really draws me into the manuscript. One thing is for sure, I write romance. But I’ve thrown in (depending on the book) action, adventure, humor, women’s fiction and soap opera drama. I’m extremely grateful to my publisher, Soul Mate Publishing, Inc., for not being afraid to blur genre lines.

TT: I like it. There are so many story lines and concepts that have been done a million times, it’s nice to discover an author who introduces us to something new. Let’s talk inspiration. How did you come up with the idea behind DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES?

SH: For fun, I watch a lot of TV survival shows. The premise for my book, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES, is of Stephanie Lang, a NYC television exec who is forced to produce a new reality TV show—a cross between “Crocodile Dundee” and “Survivorman.” Shortly after she meets the sexy star of the show, Colin Brandt, she finds out she has to survive out in the Everglades with him.

TT: I am officially intrigued. How many books have you published, and what’s coming out next?

DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES was just released on September 17th.  I do not yet have a release date for my next book, DIARY OF A YOUNG LAWYER, which will also be published by Soul Mate Publishing, Inc. Look for  it on Amazon.com in the next few months!

TT: Sounds like a plan. Now for the really important question: How steamy is DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES?

SH: I’d give DESIRE a “3.” I don’t write erotica (although I have no problem reading it). That said, my heroine’s character arc requires her to become emotionally confident. As a writer, I felt this arc needed to be reflected sexually, resulting in some pretty steamy scenes.

TT: Hey, that works. I think most romance readers fully enjoy reading that particular kind of arc. Is DESIRE part of a series?

SH: If people like DESIRE, I’d love to write a sequel. I’m sure writing it would be as fun as it was the first time.

TT: Okay, let’s have a peek. Do you have a favorite excerpt to share with us today?

SH: How about starting at the beginning…

 DesireintheEverglades1800

Chapter 1

 

“Did I hear you right?” Stephanie Lang sputtered. “You’re saying our next reality TV series is about a modern day ‘Crocodile Dundee’ guy. Only sexier.” Could her job get any more insane? Thankfully, the big fancy desk the Teleworld Broadcasting Company bestowed concealed her shaky hands and white knuckles.

Her boss nodded with enthusiasm.

She cleared her throat, enlarging the gateway for her stuck, strangled words. “I’m having a hard time believing this, Mark. You want croc guy to tackle the Everglades. Alone. For twelve days. No camping or hunting equipment allowed and only a knife to protect himself. That’s what you’re seriously proposing?”

“That’s right. Though we’ll let him use more than a knife.” Mark stopped nodding and let loose a large grin. “He can always use his bare hands.”

Stephanie wanted to use her bare hands, too. Wrapping them tightly around Mark’s neck. Was this guy kidding, or what? Stifling a sigh, she garnered her patience and tried to look at the bright side. Mark was less stuffy than the other executives, which was good. Not afraid to crack a joke. Also good. Not concerned about anybody but himself. Bad. Very bad. And he steamrolled people to get his way. Much, much worse.

She hoped he didn’t steamroll her now, because this idea was plain old crazy. Seriously whack-a-doodle. “Is this show going to be safe to shoot?” she asked tenuously. If she showed too much emotion, she would join the thousands of New Yorkers standing on the unemployment line waving pink slips. Teleworld did not welcome emotional reactions to their business directives.

“Of course it’ll be safe to shoot,” he answered breezily. “We’re not even having our crew film it. Once they set up the cameras, we’re outta there. Of course, while they’re setting them up, there will be some risk. We’ll make sure they’re protected as best as can be reasonably expected.”

Cringing, she tried to ignore the word “reasonably.” Worst. Qualifier. Ever. Before this meeting was over, her whole body would be twitching. “I meant whether this was going to be safe for the guy we’re filming. He’ll be the one left out there, unprotected.”

“Dunno. Luckily, that’s not our problem. The guy’s willing to take the gamble, so I guess it’ll be safe enough. He’d know best how to calculate his player handicap.”

“This isn’t a round of leisurely golf. I don’t want this guy to wind up handicapped at all.” Yep. Barely eight o’clock in the morning and she was right on time for her daily dose of stomach acid.

TT: That was great. I like your writing style. Do you have a website, a social media presence, where your newest fans can stalk you?

SH: Readers should feel free to stalk me on social media as follows:  Facebook   Twitter  www.stacyhoff.com

 

Stacy Hoff Photo TT: Excellent. Do you have any questions for our blog readers?

SH: Yes, I’d love to know what TV shows makes their imagination run wild. I hope they give me their answers in the comment section below!

TT: Thank you for joining us today, Stacy. Now, for the really important stuff: How can we read your book?

SH: People can order through Amazon.com. Thanks for having me, Tami! This was a lot of fun to do!

TT: It was my pleasure, really. Now I’m off to lose myself in the Everglades with a sexy guy named Colin. Alligators don’t bite, do they?

###

Journaling to Become a Better Writer: Author Interview with Danielle Hanna

I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Hanna, a woman who is an author, but not exactly a romance author. She’s the kind of author that writers like: she writes how-to books. While I love to support my fellow romance authors, I also love to expand my own personal boundaries, and Danielle’s interview was so much fun, I had to blog about it.

When I asked Danielle to tell me a little about herself, this is what she had to say:

I begged my mother to teach me how to read and write when I was four years old because I was jealous of my older brother. She gave in, and It’s all been down-hill ever since. I started writing stories immediately, began keeping a journal when I was five, and I knew by the time I was about seven that I was going to be an author. DSC01646 (3) (481x640)

 My other loves are my pets and the outdoors. I go hiking, biking, and camping with my dog Molly (German Shepherd/Rottweiler) as often as I can, and I’ve even been known to take my cat Juliean along. Although “hiking” with a cat is remarkably non-directional, my dog puts up with it marvelously. 

While today we are focusing on her book, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, I asked Danielle if she writes any other genres, and here’s what she said:

If I had to pidgeonhole myself in two words, I’d say “crime fiction.” But while there’s plenty of action and murder and mayhem going on, my books are constantly exploring the idea of family—loving families, dysfunctional families, broken families, and every variation you can think of. Hence my tagline, “Hearth and Homicide.” 

 I’m also working on non-fiction titles geared toward other authors—how-to books and collections of notions and techniques that I’ve developed along the way. 

I then asked Danielle if anything specific inspires her. How did she come up with the idea behind her most recent book?

My upcoming book for authors, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, was inspired by my own journal, which I’ve been keeping since I was five. I write my journal exactly as if it were a novel written in first person—dialogue, narration, showing versus telling, tension building toward the climax … the whole bit. During a recent low in my life, I regularly shared my journal with a good friend. In addition to offering support and advice, she commented that she couldn’t help looking forward to the “next installment” of the story.  

I began to realize then that I’d been using my journal as a place to hone my writing skills, and that keeping a journal had helped me develop my technique and style in a myriad of ways. I first wrote a series of blog posts on the subject, then decided to expand them into a full book. 

I love it. I love the idea of accidentally stumbling upon the realization that one ought to be a writer. I then wondered (out loud) how many books she’s written, and Danielle said:

I have been produced as a playwright, but have since retired from that niche. My novels—somewhere around twenty of them—are all in various stages of dvelopment. I’ve finally bit the bullet and decided to polish them up and put ‘em out there. But my non-fiction title, Journaling to Become a Better Writer, will be my first published book. Pretty excited! 

I’m excited for her! I truly think this is a great concept. Makes me want to bust out my own journal and see if I can pull any ideas from the musings of an angst-y teen. But I digress. Let’s talk about Journaling to Become A Better Writer:

In each chapter of Journaling to Become a Better Writer, I’ll present a specific technique that can be practiced in your journal, such as recognizing the elements that make a story worth telling, making use of basic story structure (conflict, climax, resolution), getting in touch with and writing your emotions, honing your observation skills, etc. Each chapter ends with a suggested “homework” assignment so you can go give it a try. 

The beauty, I think, of practicing story craft in a journal is that you are relieved of the burden of creating a world and a story from scratch and can focus on the art of describing that world and telling that story in a compelling way. 

 An analogy I reference often is the artist sketching in the park. Her sketchpad is filled with brief studies of the duck pond, the old man on the bench, and the flower growing out of the crack in the sidewalk. What is she doing? She’s practicing her craft by working from life models. She’s training her eye to capture life with accuracy and detail and to recognize art in the everyday world. Then, if she chooses to go draw something from pure imagination, it will have increased realism because she practiced on life models beforehand. 

Keeping a journal is the writer’s answer to drawing from life models. 

And since I’m a strong believer in using examples, the book contains several excerpts from my own journal—many of which are unashamedly honest about my lost childhood and longing for real family, espeically someone I could finally call “Daddy.” 

Fascinating! And because I am a romance author, I always ask how steamy a book is, from 1 (behind closed doors) to 4 (erotica). Danielle’s answer made me laugh:

Mmm … I’d put it at a zero. 🙂 Here’s the teaser: 

 You’ve heard it said: Good writers keep journals. But are you getting more out of your journal than just word count? Your journal is the ideal place to practice your craft, from capturing life in stunning detail to recognizing a story worth telling at all. Learn how to turn your mental meanderings into powerful storytelling. 

Great advice! I then asked Danielle if this was one of the favorites of all the books she’s written:   

It certainly holds a special place in my heart. I’ve kept a journal almost my entire life, and I credit that journal as one of my major tutors as a writer. I’m passionate about journaling, about discovering the stories in your own life, and about exploring and expressing those stories through the power of words. Beyond that, the excerpts I include from my own personal journal tell the story of the best plot twist ever to happen in my life. 

When I asked if it has been released, Danielle said:

I had certainly hoped it would be out by now. The original concept was for a short booklet—but the book itself has demanded otherwise! I’m just now beginning to appreciate the true scope of this project. All I can say now is that it will be out before 2014 is up. It will be available first as an ebook on Smashwords (which will also distribute the book to other popular sites such as Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, and Kobo). After that, I’ll explore putting it on Amazon and possibly even creating a hard version of the book. 

 For anyone interested, I’ll be posting progress reports and release updates on my blog, www.DanielleHanna.com

I plan to follow. I am intrigued by this concept. Here’s an excerpt:  

Journaling cover 05 600 02A car whipped by with wrong-colored license tabs. The sheriff’s deputy hit the lights and shot into the highway traffic. The force of our acceleration threw me back against my seat, but I didn’t flinch. I was just along for the ride—whatever the ride may bring. 

Sam caught up with the little ‘90’s-something Toyota Camry and pulled it over to the shoulder. A young couple sat inside. Teens, early twenties. 

Sam radioed in his stop, then pause  before getting out of the patrol car. “See that massive collection of air fresheners hangin’ from the rear-view mirror?” 

I nodded. 

“That means they’ve got somethin’ in their car. They’re tryin’ to mask the smell.” 

The way he said “somethin’,” I knew what he meant. Drugs. 

I cocked my head like a dog. He could tell that from air fresheners? 

Sam got out of the car. Glanced at me. Locked the doors. 

***

Sounds like an excerpt from my latest novel, right? 

Nope. That’s a snippet out of my journal. My first sheriff’s ride-along. 

I’ve been keeping a journal since I was five. Yep. Five. I’d already been writing fiction for a year before that. (Beware the four-year-old who demands to be taught how to read and write. They may be choosing their life career.) 

At some point in my early teens, I heard it said that good writers keep journals. At the time, I wasn’t sure how jotting down events from my boring little life could possibly affect my ability to pen a novel. But since I was already keeping a journal anyway, I filed the tidbit away in the back of my mind and waited to see if journaling would contribute anything more than word count. 

A couple of decades and more than a million words later, I now credit my journal as one of the primary tools that helped me become a better writer. (My penmanship has also improved drastically since I was five.) 

I am hooked. If you are too, here’s how you can stalk Danielle:

Now, whenever I do these author interviews (which I love to do, by the way, so if you’re an author reading this, contact me and we’ll set up a date…), I like to ask the interviewee to ask the readers a question. Feel free to provide your answer via the comments below. And thank you for joining us today! Now, for Danielle’s question:

Do you keep a journal? Do you think keeping a journal has helped you become a better writer, or that it could if you started one? 

Thank you, Danielle, for joining me today! Now, for the important question: How can we read your books? 

Once the book is available for sale, all the info will be right here: www.daniellehanna.com/for-writers/.

Like this blog post? There’s a new one every week. I also blog over at #writingwenches. If you still can’t get enough, I write books too. Check them out by clicking the links above. And if you like them, please considering leaving a review where you purchased them or on Goodreads. Thank you!

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DAY TWO: A Week of Wands, Fangs, & Wings Paranormal Blog Tour

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Welcome to DAY TWO of

A Week of Wands, Fangs and Wings – A Paranormal Book Blog Tour!

 From August 15-22, we will feature books by EIGHT different authors who write paranormal. What do we mean by paranormal? Well, just as the title implies: wands, fangs, wings and everything in between. Pretty much, if it isn’t real, it might be here. If you enjoy reading all things paranormal, we are about to hand you heaven on a gilded plate. Or, at least, on your e-reader.

What do we have in store for you? Excerpts from cool books. A fun Q&A session with the even-cooler authors who wrote them. A rafflecopter contest in which you could win a total of ELEVEN e-books. Wait, let’s note that again, just for clarification.

Eleven. Books. Free.

 Score! The contest closes Thursday at midnight eastern and the winner will be announced Friday evening, so don’t forget to enter. As if you would. In the meantime, let’s learn about Rachel Medhurst and Misti Murphy, and their featured books, The Deadliners and Raven Falling!

 Let’s talk to Misti Murphy first. She has lived in a fantasy world most of her life, so it’s no surprise she’s ended up writing paranormal books. She also loves Facebook. Speaking of, you can find Misti at ‪https://www.mistimurphy.weebly.com on Facebook: ‪https://www.facebook.com/mistileemurphy and on Twitter @mistileemurphy.

We asked Misti a few get-to-know-you questions, and this is what she had to say:

 Misti Murphy Bio pic1.     Do you like heroines who get rescued, or heroines who do the rescuing? Everyone needs someone to rescue them, having said that I believe in strong heroines who can step up and be the rescuer.

 2.     Morning or Evening? I don’t sleep well so evening is always better for me, and besides everything is better in the dark!

 3.     Favorite book genre? Romance, as long as it has some romance to it I’m happy.

 4.     Sweet or Spicy? Definitely Spicy, no wait, definitely sweet. I’ll take both please.

 5.     Ebook or print? Both have their good points. Ebooks are easier to store. With the amount I read I would be on an episode of Hoarders if it weren’t for ebooks. However, as an author it’s always nice to flip through carefully bound pages.

 Hmm… What sort of book do you think Misti writes? Here’s a taste below of Raven Falling:

 Raven Falling Cover

He handed her two more blades. “I want you to try and hit a moving target.”

“How am I going to do that?” There was nothing here to hit beside the damn trees.

“Aim at me.” Ash was in her face, his big gray eyes solemn as he pressed the blades into her hands.

Raven frowned. “You can’t be serious.”

“Of course I am. I’m going to run and you are going to try and hit me.”

“But what if you get hurt?” she asked, scared she would have to see him bloody, or even dead by the time they were finished. She couldn’t hurt him. He was the only person who knew what she was going through, and she needed him.

“Rae, I’m an Angel remember? I promise you won’t hurt me.” His hands had moved to her shoulders, and he gave them a light squeeze as he tried to assure her everything would be fine.

“I don’t want to.” She shook her head. How could he ask her to do this?

“I know but you have to practice.” He let go of her, running across the clearing, in a zigzagging move, which made it more difficult for her to hit him. He didn’t need to. It was already the hardest thing she had ever had to do.

Raven watched him, as she felt the tears prick her eyes. He looked back at her, encouraging, no demanding she do what he needed her to do.  She fought her own body as she slowly raised her arm and aimed at him, following him across the clearing with her eyes.  Balancing the blade in her hand she concentrated on her target. It was only two blades. She could do this. She let the first one go, flinging it hard, hearing the almost silent whistle as it hurtled toward him. Shutting her eyes, she didn’t see if the blade had reached its intended target. Taking a deep breath she prepared to throw the next.

He was still running across the clearing, she hadn’t managed to hit him. She pulled herself up, straightening her spine and gripped the handle of her final blade tightly. She slowly brought her arm up, visualizing her target, several feet away from where he had been. Pulling her hand back to her ear she pushed all the strength she could muster into her shoulder and hurled the blade, watching as it spun through the air.

She collapsed to the ground her eyes never leaving the blade as it reached its destination at the exact same time he did. She was sure the blade had hit its mark, when she saw him fall to the ground. She sprinted toward him as he pulled himself up onto his knees. The blade lay in the grass next to him, its tip bent flat. She felt the tears gather and she struggled to hold them back, her relief palpable. She sank down into the grass beside him and pressed her palms to her eyes to keep the tears from escaping.

**** 

Now let’s talk to Rachel Medhurst. Rachel grew up in Surrey, England. She writes to prove that no matter where you come from, you can be anything you want to be.

Find Rachel at www.rachelmedhurst.com, on facebook at Rachel Medhurst – Writer and on twitter @rachelmedhurst, and check out her interview below:

 1. Fave paranormal author? That would have to be Kim Harrison, I love the Rachel Morgan Series.

2. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? A dancer. I love to dance along to most music.

3. Do you already have an actor in mind to play the hero when your book becomes a movie? Who? – Yes, Gerrard Butler would be Danny… and I would love to help him on set.

4. Writing inspiration? Enid Blyton – Her books made me want to write to give hope and happiness to people.

5. Fave Vampire series? Blackdagger brotherhood. I love this series a lot!

 Interesting – and amusing – answers! Let’s check out the excerpt of The Deadliners:

 The Deadliners Front

‘Last time we were here, you bargained with me for an extension of six months.’

Nodding, she ignored the burning muscles in her throat. Her feet were firmly planted and her hands were at her side.

‘And the time before that…?’

‘I got the deadline extended for two years.’ She lowered her slender frame onto the grass and leant her back against the cold wall. His shoulders dropped but he stayed standing as he looked down at her.

‘Two years and six months later, here we are again. Are you satisfied that everything’s been done?’

Her head bent back, her bobbed brown hair brushed her shoulders and her eyes landed on the top floor window directly above her. Shaking her head, she let air rush out of her lungs.

‘I’m sorry, Anna, I can’t give you any more time. I’ll give you this though…the rest of today, to spend here, before you come back.’

Her neck snapped forward, her gaze landing on the red cigarette end.

‘Give Mia six months and I’ll give you a whole day.’

The lit end of the cigarette glowed as he sucked the life from the dying tube. She nodded at him and smiled. The corners of his lips lifted as she stood and turned towards the house.

Making her way inside, Anna glanced into the rooms that she passed. The décor was stuck in the eighties. White walls with peach carpets. Glass cabinets and shiny brass handles.

She could hear the television, but she didn’t follow its sound. Her feet carried her up the stairs and into a bedroom. The walls were black with big white circles on them. A bed in the corner had an Aztec patterned throw over it. Bon Jovi posters littered the ceiling, their yellowing edges curling in on themselves. A collection of paperweights sat on a dressing table, trapped in a time that no longer existed. Anna concentrated her energy as she thrust out her arm, swinging it in an arc. The paperweights leapt into the air and thudded onto the wooden floor.

She heard her coming up the stairs, her light footsteps attacking the carpet. Rushing into the room, the grey-haired woman came to a stop. Her eyes landed on the scattered mess on the floor. She ran her hands over her face and knelt on the wood. There was a carrier bag sitting next to the weights. Looking around the room, the woman let tears roll down her cheeks. Picking up the bag, she slowly lowered each weight into it. When she’d finished packing up the room, the lady lay down on the bed and let the breath escape her lungs. The dust danced in the sunlight that shone in through the window. Anna started to cry as she sat next to the sleeping woman. She smiled and sighed in relief as the lines on the woman’s face relaxed for the first time in twenty years.

‘I’m sorry, Mum, but it’s your deadline and I’ve come to collect you.’

Are you as intrigued as we are? Be sure to enter the rafflecopter contest for a chance to win both books plus nine more, or, if you can’t wait, the links to purchase these books are below:

 The Deadliners: Available in the US: http://www.amazon.com/The-Deadliners-Rachel-Medhurst-ebook/dp/B00K5OKIYE/ref=cm_rdp_product

Available in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Deadliners-Rachel-Medhurst-ebook/dp/B00K5OKIYE/ref=cm_rdp_product

Raven Falling: Available here: http://www.amazon.com/Raven-Falling-Shadows-Light-Novel-ebook/dp/B00LRHKUGE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407326499&sr=1-1&keywords=Raven+Falling

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Why Do I Write Happily Ever After?

So I’m a romance author. That means a lot of things, but mostly, it means I crave a happily ever after so much that I feel inclined to write about it, over and over again.

Is there a reason I feel compelled to figure out a happy ending for every heroine in every book I ever have – and ever will – write? Is it because reality is so terrible that I just need to escape from it, through the written word?

I’ll let you be the judge.

My husband and I recently celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. Over dinner, we spoke fondly of the honeymoon we spent in Napa Valley, and the tenth anniversary we spent there too, along with our best man and maid of honor and their spouses – and most important: no kids.

432330_10150646636261579_1645736578_nSpeaking of, we have two kids, a boy and a girl. They are just shy of three years apart and for the most part manage to make us feel proud. So far, anyway. We are on the cusp of the teenage years, so stay tuned.

What do you think so far? Well, let me tell you how my husband and I met.

I was 25. He was 31. I was at a point in my life where I was finally happy; secure, comfortable being single and living on my own. Throughout college I dreamed of finding Prince Charming and settling down right away and birthing adorable little babies. Unfortunately, the boys I dated in college, and shortly thereafter, were far from those guys in the romance novels. Eventually I realized I was having far too much fun simply hanging out with my girlfriends and I figured if Prince Charming existed, he’d come along… Someday.

Oh, did I mention that I lived in Louisiana and the hubs-to-be lived in Michigan?

Before you think, how in the world…? Let me add that I am originally from Michigan and the vast majority of my family still lives there.

We met in May. A dear friend whom I have known since we were fourteen, was graduating from broadcasting school and asked me to come to the ceremony and after-party. I had some vacation time, and I hadn’t been home in a while, so I decided to burn two weeks and spend it up north.

Turns out, the hubs-to-be was graduating from broadcasting school, too. At the same time. In the same class. Notable event from the graduation ceremony: My girlfriend’s brother and I sat in one row, while her parents sat two rows behind us. I asked my future in-laws to please move for a moment so I could take a picture of my friend’s parents.

We didn’t officially meet at the ceremony. Nope, not yet.

It was at the party, afterward. My friend’s brother and I sat at a table in a corner, indulging in alcoholic beverages and pretending we were commentators on The Talk (or whatever version of that show existed back in 1998), while my social butterfly friend flitted about the room, celebrating with her classmates. At one point, she was out on the dance floor with my hubs-to-be and a few minutes later, she came bee-bopping over to our table.

“Hey, Tami. See that guy out there?” she asked, motioning toward the dance floor.

I nodded.

“He wants to know if you’d be interested in a one-night stand.”

What?!

(The joke I like to tell now a-days is, “He sure ended up with a hell of a long one-night stand.”)

I was naturally affronted and admittedly a little turned on (Oh yes, this is reality. You are not reading a novel right now.), so I downed the rest of my drink and headed out to the dance floor. To this day, I have no earthly idea what I intended to do or say. All I know is that we immediately began dancing, then we eventually took a break so that I could go to the restroom, and when I returned, he had a plate in his hand with a piece of cheesecake perched on it, and he spoon-fed me the cheesecake.

I probably would have gone home with him then and there, except the biggest joke of all is that he absolutely was not that kind of guy. He had been trying to be funny. Instead of a laugh, he ended up with a wife. Joke’s on him…?

We spent quite literally every single day of the rest of my vacation together. I met his parents (officially). We discussed bridesmaids and groomsmen (nope, not kidding). I met his best friend, who had to give his stamp of approval before the hubs-to-be could officially date me. (Apparently he had a history of picking up the wrong kind of woman. Maybe he should have changed his pickup line. Or maybe not.)

The day I left to fly back home to Louisiana, I had his demo tape tucked into my luggage. At the time, I worked in PR, and was friendly with the general manager of one of the local television stations located in the city in which I lived.

We met on May first. The week of Memorial Day, he flew down to visit me and interview for a job at the local television station. They offered him the job that same day.  My BFF had to meet him and give her stamp of approval (hey, fair’s fair, right?).

At the end of the week, he flew home and gave his two weeks’ notice at the current job. He moved into my apartment six weeks after we met. And proposed at Christmas. We were married six months later. And still are, fifteen years later.

Mostly happily.262788_10152258347136579_748681343_n

So why do I write romance? I guess the answer is, because it happened to me.

Like this post? You’ll probably love my books. Give one of them a try. And if you do like it, please let me know by leaving a review.

Thank you. Be sure to stop by again next Monday. There’s a new post every week.

This Writer Learns to Let Go

I have learned a great deal since I made the decision that this writing gig was actually, truly meant to be my career. As much as I have already learned, so I know there is much, much more.

One thing I am in the process of learning is to let go. What do

es that mean, precisely? It means, even though I may love the characters and the plot, that does not mean everyone else will. Especially if I can’t seem to finish the damn book so that I can even offer it up to my publisher for consideration.

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One of my publishers has purchased the first book in a new series I’ve titled the Tough Love series. The first book, which is scheduled for release on June 30, is about an FBI agent who has no interest in finding love, but discovers that he doesn’t always get what he wants. Or maybe he does, and just didn’t know he wanted it in the first place.

The book – and the series – starts at a wedding, specifically at the hero’s FBI partner’s wedding. A couple years ago, when I first started writing this series, that wasn’t where it was supposed to start. In fact, it didn’t even start with Jack and Kennedy’s story at all. It started with Cullen and Sabrina’s story – the couple tying the knot in the beginning of Naked Truth. So what happened?

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I loved Cullen and Sabrina’s story. I still do. I love the way they interacted, the obvious sexual tension between them, which they both refused to acknowledge. I love Cullen’s personality most of all, the way he pushed Sabrina away and then got pissed off at himself for doing it, and he was such a lousy communicator that Sabrina kept thinking he was angry at her. There is one particular scene in their book, where they are hiding out in a stall in a men’s public restroom and thanks to Sabrina’s stiletto heels, they end up stumbling into one another’s arms and, well…

That scene alone was probably the reason I held onto that book for as long as I did. Even after I wrote Jack and Kennedy’s story, finished it, edited it and edited it again. And again. I still kept insisting Cullen and Sabrina’s story should be the beginning of the series.

Despite that one particular scene, I found myself falling more and more for Jack and Kennedy’s story. Their story had been seamless, had been so easy to write. The words just tumbled onto the pages, the climax had been right, straight from the beginning. The ending was perfect. The hook sucked you in from the first page. It was ready to go.

So why wasn’t I offering it up to publishers? Because Cullen and Sabrina’s story was supposed to be first, and it wasn’t done. Every time I went back to it, I found something that didn’t quite work. The build up, the climax, the bad guys … one thing or another caused issues and I knew it wasn’t ready. So therefore, neither was Jack and Kennedy’s story.

Then, one day back in February, I read a recently published author’s story about how she’d presented the first two books in a new series to her publisher. They’d rejected the first book but wanted to sign the second. She took the deal.

Shortly thereafter, I was perusing Amazon and came across a book that was being marketed as a prequel. There were several books in the series already available, and the very beginning was just coming out, a novella, designed to provide a little backstory to the series.

And then I came across an invitation to a Twitter pitch party. I had already had some success with a blog pitch party and a couple of RWA contests. I had several manuscripts that, in my opinion, were ready to go. I was in the fourth year of my five-year plan to get published. I decided I would participate in the pitch party. I just had to decide which book to pitch.

So I sifted through the various Word documents saved on my computer, read the first few pages of each, determined which grabbed my attention and held it – and which were done, edited, ready to go. Cullen’s story, as much as I loved he and Sabrina, was not ready.

But Jack’s was.

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So I pitched it. And Crimson Romance liked it. Offered me a contract. Are releasing it on June 30. The first in the Tough Love series, even though it isn’t, not really. But that’s okay, because once the series is wildly successful, I’ll just go back and dust off Cullen and Sabrina’s story and then I’ll offer it up as a prequel.

And then we’ll all find our happily ever after.

Like this blog post? I bet you’ll like my books. You can purchase them through the buy link above. And if you do, please leave a review on whatever website through which you purchased them. Thank you!

I Have Fantasies, Do You?

Today, we’re going to talk about my fantasies. Not those fantasies. If you want to read about those fantasies, check out my books. To learn about my other fantasy, read on.

The fantasy I want to talk about today is the Grand Poobah of all author fantasies:

Writing as your one and only career.

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That’s right. I said it. The fantasy where you walk into the boss’s office and slide that utterly perfectly written resignation letter (that you wrote five years ago and have edited eight-seven times since) across that lacquered wood desk and stand there with a goofy, bemused grin on your face while she/he reads it and tries to wrap their corporate mind around the idea of quitting the real world to… what are you planning to do again?

Write. Full time.

By full-time, I mean, yes, you will still get up early in the morning (some of us on purpose because we write better before noon anyway) so that you can kiss the hubs (or wifey) goodbye, get the kids on the bus and let the dog outside so that he doesn’t piddle on the rug. But once all those annoyances are gone, you are free too… Dive into your fantasy world. For the rest of the day (allowing, of course, six minutes to stand in front of the open refrigerator and eat whatever does not require actual effort in order to shove into your mouth), you can write, write, write. And then, after you’ve tucked those self-same kids into bed, you get to write some more. You’ll also get to do it on the weekends, holidays, and during vacation. Let’s not kid ourselves; writing full time is more full time than any other job, with the possible exception of parenting.

And yet, so many of us dream about it, wish we had it, desperately work to achieve it. What would it be like to be able to claim writing as my one and only career? Like the blog title implies, let’s indulge in a little fantasy here.

In my fantasy world, after I’ve sent the kiddies off to school, I would refill the insulated coffee mug, grab the laptop and head to my home office, which, as often as possible, would be on my back porch, under a gloriously sunny sky.

Wait, if this is a fantasy, then my entire house would be uprooted and moved to a reasonably roomy lot on a glorious crystal clear, clean, sandy-bottom lake. And my home office would be at the end of the dock, enjoying that warm, gorgeous sunlight, at least until it becomes too warm, at which point it would shift to the deck, which is conveniently shaded by two ancient oak trees.

a-dock-on-a-lake-at-sunrise-near-wawa-susan-dykstra

Oh yeah, and since we’re fantasizing, drinking wine before noon is not  only acceptable, it’s encouraged. But only on writing days. On editing days, we save the wine till the end. Then we celebrate. Make sure the wine cellar is well stocked. We get really excited over pressing “send” to forward that next round to our editor.

Writing as a full time gig. What a fantasy. No more nearly ten hour a week commutes. Forty to fifty additional hours back in our pocket (not even counting the commute!). Whatever will we do with the time?

I would write more, but I guess this is a given. I mean, seriously. Let’s take a look at the stats. Bear with me, you right-brained souls. I feel ya, I really do. But we have to go here…. My current commute to the day job is forty-five minutes, each way, five days a week, at minimum. That’s assuming no accidents, no inclement weather (which is really a joke, considering I live in Michigan) and my not running late (which is also a joke), thus running into the “height” of rush hour traffic.

Now, let’s add the 50 hours a week the day job requires me to actually be in the office to that 7.5 already wasted on just getting to and from the place. I say fifty hours because most work environments include an unpaid one-hour lunch, which equals fifty, even to us basic, liberal arts mentality folk. We’re already at almost sixty hours a week. For me personally, it’s easy to justify rounding up to sixty because I work one of those type jobs (I believe the term is “non-exempt employee”), and I have that kind of work ethic. So we’ll say sixty hours, for the sake of easy math.

Holy crap, sixty hours a week? Damn. My fantasy just shot into double-overtime. It’s going nuts over here. Sixty extra hours a week….

I would certainly exercise more frequently. I admit, this is the first thing that goes when I have a deadline or cannot stop writing whatever is in my head at that moment. Of course, in my fantasy, I am perpetually twenty-five and don’t even have to think about exercise, but in reality, well, I need to get in those couple mile walks every day. Every day. It counter-acts the wine. We won’t get into the reasons behind the wine. Trust me, they don’t have to do with writing (usually).

Okay, so besides all the extra writing and a little bit more exercising (we’re being real here, even in the fantasy), what else would I do with all that time?

Learn.

What, like go back to college? No. As cool as that would be… No. That’s for the pages of the books. Pretending to be twenty-five in my fantasy is one thing; actually trying to live the life of a twenty-five-year-old is not quite the stuff my fantasies are made of.

I would take more classes. Tutorials and webinars. Attend a couple chapter conferences. Attend THE romance writers’ conference of them all… the annual RWA convention. Maybe a few others in between.

Why, you ask? (Okay, that question is for the non-authors who are reading this post.)

Writers are like doctors. Yeah, I know, not really. Well, except for one small aspect. We still need to learn. Our practice changes every day. Every single day. And the only way we can keep up, keep writing, keep up with the trends, and keep selling books, is to keep up with the changes. To learn. To take classes, to attend conferences.

To learn.

Please don’t wake me from this fantasy. I’m busy learning about the next book I intend to write that’s just going to blow my readers’ minds.

Now that you know mine, what’s your writing fantasy? Go ahead, tell me!

Like this post? You’ll love my books. Check them out on the buy link above. Enjoy and don’t forget to leave a review!

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