Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Believe in Magic

Posted by Susan B James on 1:19:00 AM with 9 comments
Do you wish on stars? Look for four leaf clovers? Wish you could attend Hogwarts?
Gingerbread house jewel box. Glinda. Pig. Yoda. Duck has to be behind Yoda.
I do all of those and then some. I hate to sit down to write unless my totems are lined up on my monitor.

I love reading about other people's rituals.
One of my favorite scenes in Susan Elizabeth Phillips' book It Had To Be You, is where Phoebe finds out about all of the things she is supposed to do to keep the player's luck in place.

We all have our superstitions and rituals designed to maintain or improve our luck.

I have a new one.
In July I went to Abadania in Brazil with a group of friends to visit the Casa of Dom de Loyola where thousands of healings are performed through John of God. The town and the Casa are built on a crystal mine and the energy there is . . .well. . . relaxing and energizing at the same time.

 The tiny town of Abadania has a variety of crystal shops. I love semi precious stones and polished rocks and there were quite inexpensive. I read the labels and decided to buy several to take home for friends. Hematite for Back pain, Rose Quartz for healing and Citrine.

Citrine is reputed to promote self esteem and motivation, attract the ability to earn money and inspire professional success. Sounded good to me.
 I bought several rose quartz and amethyst hearts for friends. Then I saw a heart made of Citrine and decided I needed it for myself. I took all of the hearts and stones before the entities at the Casa to be blessed. (Are you laughing yet.)
So I come home with my stones and pass them out. I gave my son, Chris, three pieces of citrine as he is a struggling actor.
What has happened?
I got a five star review from InDtale Magazine for Time and Forever.
After a year of no auditions. I've had one a week.
I got money in the mail. Unexpected but wonderful.
I read from the mid grade novel I have been struggling with for YEARS before two editors and two agents at the SCBWI Working Writers Retreat and all four said they would be interested in reading more.
Beginning to believe in the heart.

My friend Kelly. an assistant director was down to her last thirty dollars. She'd applied for a job she desperately wanted. I loaned her the necklace for luck.
She got the job plus three more.
Last Thursday Kelly reluctantly loaned me back the necklace because I wanted to get an audition to play Barry Corbin's ex-wife on an episode of Anger Management. (I feel well qualified and Barry said he would recommend me to the producers)  Since then I got an audition for a Sony Commercial and more money in the mail. I promised Kelly she could borrow the heart again next week.
As for Chris and his Citrine:
He booked a recurring role on the new CW Series, Jane the Virgin and got his SAG card. He's booked several more acting jobs and a couple of student films.
Yesterday I went to Chris and asked for one of the pieces of Citrine back. I'd given him three. Chris  gave me one. He has a whole medicine back full of magic rocks. So when Kelly borrows back the heart, I will still have a piece of Citrine blessed at the Casa.  May the luck roll on for all of us.
What's your favorite lucky charm?
Next week I have Kristan Higgins on my blog. And that's another lucky thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Is Your Kind of Romance?

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 11 comments
I think this is a hard question.
I like them funny, or historical, or funny and historical. I love a pinch of magic or an extranormal power. or funny and suspenseful. I'm seeing a trend here.
But what is funny or delightful to me may not be that way for you.

I went to Smart Birches Trashy Novels for their funny recommendations.
I'd read one of their recommended funny books: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. I had no desire to read their other recommendations. They didn't strike a spark.
Commenters on this post mentioned BetMe by Jennifer Crusie. I love her books. Jen's blog, AarghInk is one of my favorite writing sites.
They also mentioned other favorites of mine:  Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Janice DavidsonJayne Ann Krentz and Georgette Heyer.
Georgette Heyer is no longer well known, but she created the Regency Romance as we know it today. One of my favorite of hers is The Grand Sophy. I love it.
Smart Bitches hated it.
You can judge for yourself. There a free PDF of The Grand Sophy on Goodreads.

Katie McAllister and Lynsay Sands appeared in the comments. They both have huge followings. I have read a couple from each of them. They don't write my kind of book.
We don't all fall in love with the same books.

My top adult authors whose books weren't on the list and which I re-read on a regular basis.

Lani Diane Rich or Lucy March (who are the same person and I love her work. Lucy books have magic in them)
Lyn Kurland  Time Travel Humorous and medieval.
Robyn Carr Contemporary. I can't describe Robyn. She writes about characters and places that grow on me.
Anne McCaffrey Science fiction. My favorites: The Dragons of Pern books and Talents series. 
Roberta Gellis Historical Medieval. My favorites are The Roselynde Books. Strong women heroines in the time of the Plantagenets
Elizabeth Peters Best known for the Amelia Peabody books.

I have new authors I love and I will get to them in another post.  Who do you read over and over? Some of my top authors I found from other people's lists. Please share some of yours with me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Prednisone Princess Diaries.

Posted by Susan B James on 1:00:00 AM with 8 comments
By Aileen Robbins

Meet my lovely, beautiful, warm, funny, sister-in-law, Aileen Robbins.  Aileen is a former opera singer turned entrepreneur. She is  the head of The Dunn Robbins Group which does marketing and stages events for the Food, Wine and Spirits industries.

When my sister Kelly and I were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, Aileen sent wonderful care packages and encouragements to us.She kept us laughing and full of hope. Kelly and I have been cancer free for thirteen years. Her husband, our brother Alex was also diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Aileen and Alex together fought the good fight until his death in August 2002.
Two years ago, Aileen was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma. During her many protocols, she continues running Dunn Robbins and living life with courage and laughter. This is the hilarious piece Aileen wrote after the Prednisone protocol.

The Prednisone Princess Diaries

Friday, August 3rd: I take my first megadose of Prednisone (120 mg).
Friday, August 4th: Wake up at 4:00 AM after having slept for two hours, with the heartbeat of a hummingbird. Although I am usually the polar opposite of Heloise with her helpful hints, from the minute I wake up, I have this mad urge to purge, so I spend the next three early morning hours emptying out closets and bureaus and even the rats’ nest of cosmetics and expired drugs crammed into the cabinet under the bathroom sink. After this culling frenzy, I realize the sun has risen, so I can take Henry the English Spaniel out for a 2-mile sprint around Central Park. As usual, he spends most of the time chasing squirrels, but I am so wired that I spot them before he does, and have to restrain myself from running up tree trunks with him.
Drop the exhausted spaniel back home at around 8:30 AM and then jog the 20 blocks up to my daughter Ariel’s apartment. Have breakfast with her, and read 5 books at nano speed to my grand-daughter. Then, executing my version of “The Red Shoes”, race the 40 blocks from Ariel’s down to Saks, which is having a great end-of-season-sale. I call ahead to warn Carmela, my salesperson/friend there, that the Energizer Bunny is coming to rifle through the racks. Meet her on the 9th floor, and drag armloads of outfits into a fitting room. Hop in and out of dozens of items. Best find: Stella McCartney’s blue polka dot size 27 peg leg jeans. Put them on as soon as I get home, but within an hour they have cut off most of the circulation in my legs. Note to self: only wear them to accomplish brief tasks, e.g. riding the elevator down to the lobby to pick up the mail.
At 1:00 PM, meet two best friends, Rebecca and Claudia, at the Whitney Museum on 74th Street & Madison for lunch at their restaurant “Untitled” and a special exhibit.  Can’t restrain myself from cross-examining the waiter about the Cedar Roasted Salmon: is it actually cooked on a cedar plank? Is the fennel raw or braised? Are the pecans halved or chopped? Hope he doesn’t have to look for another job by the end of lunch. It is very hard to sit still and since I am driving my friends crazy with my rapid-fire patter, we eat quickly and then go up to the Yayoi Masuko exhibit. I am going at 100 mph, so have trouble standing still long enough to focus on the art, although my attention is momentarily captured by the life-size silver rowboat covered with matching silver flaccid phalluses.
Run home to give Henry another brisk walk. Since he still seems to be recovering from the first one, I give him a break—only 10 blocks this time. Feed him dinner, and pull out a stack of CDs, then proceed to sing & dance my way from Mozart to Moss Hart, returning to my roots as an opera-turned-cabaret singer. Warble and whoop and execute several original jazz routines around the entire apartment for a few hours. Which makes me extremely hungry. Rummage through the overstuffed kitchen drawer, find the menu from my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and order 5 different dishes.
Food arrives after what seems like an eternity. Set out the Vietnamese dishes in a line running the length of the kitchen counters and eat my way around the room, standing up like a horse. The satiety mechanism is kaput; have no idea when I have eaten enough or too much.  
Take Henry out for the last walk of the day, ignoring his efforts to hide his leash. Trim the outing down to a mere 6 blocks, but am gone for almost an hour, since I have to stop and chat with everyone I know in the neighborhood, plus a few strangers who are also walking their dogs.
Around 11:00 PM, after 18 hours of perpetual motion, I take two Xanax and jump into bed. Turn on the TV and find Truffault’s “Jules et Jim” in the original French. Decide to challenge myself by translating the dialog before reading the subtitles. By the time it’s over, I’m wide awake from all the translation stress. Start reading a 15-page article in my stack of bedside periodicals on the “History of Croatian Viticulture.” Finally make a To-Do list for Sunday: return half of yesterday’s purchases to Saks; shop for groceries and cosmetics, and clean all major kitchen appliances as well as every inch of the counter tops and floors with Comet and an electric toothbrush.
Everyone to whom I report these compulsive cleaning outbursts begs me to come over to their house, but honestly, it’s not me, it’s just the Prednisone.
Aileen Robbins, August 20, 2014
Aileen's prognosis is good. And I am so happy because she is my hero and I want to laugh with her for a long time to come.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Beth Carter, Picture Book and Romance writer

Posted by Susan B James on 1:30:00 AM with 21 comments

Introducing Beth Carter, who wears two writer hats: Picture book writer and Romance writer.
Thanks for having me! I’m a Midwestern girl who enjoys simple pleasures and dangerous challenges (you’ll have to read my “25 Wild & Crazy Things” on my website, www.bethcarter.com to see what I mean!
I just hopped over. You took SPELUNKING IN COLLEGE?! (You should definitely read Jayne Castle's Harmony books. Lots of alien undergound caves, among other things.)
I’m married (after 16 years of being a single mom). I’ve worked in marketing for over 25 years and was previously a bank vice president. Before that, I handled public relations for two hospitals and also worked at a private college.

I write novels and children’s picture books (three have been published and I’m polishing book four). My debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, released in mid-August by Soul Mate Publishing. This is a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself.

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.

I love firsts, too! I pitched my novel (after three in-person pitches at conferences) during a Savvy Authors five-line pitch session. I wondered how in the world I could boil my novel down to just five lines. It was a good lesson. Seven or eight agents and editors requested it. I was excited by their interest in THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. Some requested partials and others requested fulls. Debby Gilbert, senior editor of Soul Mate Publishing, first requested a partial and a few weeks later requested the full. Then, two more weeks passed when I received an email (which I still have) saying, “We enjoyed your novel so much that we want to publish it!” I was beyond thrilled. I literally danced in my office and squealed. I’m still smiling. 

If it isn’t too nosy . . . (well of course it is!) How about the first time you kissed your true love.?

Hmm. We all think we have several true loves throughout our lives but my hubby kissed me for the first time in my driveway or maybe it was at the front door. Actually, it was both and it was good! I fell for him pretty quickly—more quickly than he did, I think.

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?

I’m afraid I’ll miss someone, so let me say, I read several genres—women’s fiction, contemporary romance, humor, and thrillers. I think that’s why I infuse all of those into my work. I’m a genre straddler!

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?

For my novel, it was being offered a contract, followed quickly by seeing the cover art. Then, it was reading my first review on Amazon. I’m still in awe of my reviews.
For my children’s books, it’s seeing the illustrator bring my words to life and then going to elementary schools to talk to the kids about writing and encouraging them to dream big.
I love doing that too. Watching children respond to my pictures books and encouraging them to write their own is wonderful.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 Reading, hanging out at Barnes & Noble or Starbucks, and shopping at T.J. Maxx. I love that store. I also like to boat, decorate, watch movies and have wine with friends.

What’s your snack of choice while writing?
 Coffee and more coffee. I don’t snack much, but when I do, it’s either almonds or Cheez-its.

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
 Build your publishing credits and your online platform. I hear that many agents and editors will Google you before reading a word of your manuscript. And if you don’t have an online presence (and the ability to market your work), they’ll pass. So…a Facebook author page, Twitter account, and either a blog or website are the minimum for any author.

To build publishing credits, I suggest starting small. Try short stories and submit them to anthologies. I’m in four or five anthologies. It’s a great way to build writing credits. Also, write poetry, flash fiction and six-word memoirs. There are many ways to increase your publishing credits and possibly catch the eye of an agent/editor or to build your resume.

Also, study your craft. Buy books on writing, subscribe to Writer’s Digest or The Writer and join professional writers’ groups. You’ll learn a great deal from fellow authors and speakers. I belong to three such groups.  Me too. I am a member of RWA, LARA and SCBWI. Plus, of course, my critique groups. 
Beth's Childrens Books
What genre or genres do you write?
 I write women’s fiction, romantic suspense and contemporary romance. I infuse my writing with plenty of mystery and humor. As I mentioned, I also write children’s picture books and can’t think of anything more important than children’s literature.
 Links to Beth's Children's Books:

Tell us about your latest release. 
THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS is women’s fiction with plenty of suspense, mystery, and humor. It’s about three professional women (friends since high school) who have chaotic personal lives. Together, they overcome many obstacles and stumble through the giant pot holes of life.
 Here’s my blurb: 
As the go-to wedding planner, Suzy can’t find her own wedded bliss and has one shocker of a wedding day. It doesn’t help that she’s still pining for her high school sweetheart, the one who got away. Handling neurotic brides is the best part of Suzy’s day until her son brings home a bombshell from Europe. 
Alexandra, a beautiful marketer with a “touch” of OCD, falls for a bad-boy cop who's married and possibly stalking her. But he sure is sexy. Alex tries to stay at arm’s length after she puts her job—and life—on the line for the officer who isn’t always a gentleman. 
Hope hates her name, looks, and frizzy hair. As a high school counselor, she dishes out sage advice to students, yet can’t see she’s enabling her deadbeat, stuck-in-the-seventies hippie parents. After tragedy strikes, she reexamines their relationship and discovers a secret that almost went to the grave. 
Friends since high school, the thirty-something women meet every Thursday at Coconuts for their own form of friendapy.
 Amazon Buy Link: tinyurl.com/l9m26ht
I love your blurb and your first chapters. Follow the link, peoplez and look inside.
What’s your current WIP? 
The sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS is tentatively titled COWBOYS & COCONUTS.
Writers are already asking for it and my novel just released two weeks ago, but that’s a good thing and spurs me on! I’ll keep Suzy, Alex and Hope, and of course, the sexy cop, Tony Montgomery. I’ll also introduce a New York socialite, Cheri, and Kate, a horse-loving country girl, as well as plenty of new guys to stir up the mix! I’ll have to create more nasty characters like Mrs. Biltmore or Misty. I have a little too much fun with those types.
And finally, where can we find you online?
You can connect with me here: 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbethcarter (Women’s fiction and contemporary romance)

Thank you for visiting, Beth. Beth is giving away a free copy of Thursdays at Coconuts to a random commenter. I'd like to win this one myself. I read the first chapters on the Amazon preview link and it looks like a great read. So please leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Meet Author Bethany Averie

Posted by Susan B James on 1:30:00 AM with 33 comments
Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Bethany Averie. I’m actually the second-to-the-youngest of eight kids (no, that’s right, 8 kids).  I’m a wife, mother, dreamer, and reader.

Here are some of my favorites:

My favorite chocolate is Godiva.
My favorite ice cream (which the sad part is I’ve got some lactose intolerance so I haven’t had it in several months—a nutritionist I was seeing took me completely off dairy—even when there was some I could have on occasion and I don’t know if I can try any dairy at the moment, gotta ask my medical doc about that) is Baskin Robbins’ World Class Chocolate—dark and white chocolates mixed together…don’t make me cry.
Favorite cookie? My dad’s big, soft, chocolate chip cookies (although I got taken off gluten, too, so haven’t had those in forever…excuse me while I go hunt for tissues because that makes me sad).
Favorite cake? Chocolate with chocolate icing or Baskin Robbins World Class Chocolate with chocolate cake and white icing.

Are you sensing a theme? Yes, I am a chocoholic, and so is at least one of my siblings, so I’m in good company.
Me, too, Bethany. I adore chocolate. Say the word Brownie and I come to attention. There are two great gluten free, dairy free chocolate recipes on my recipe page. 

I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.

In October 2012, I attended my RWA chapter’s annual conference (for info go to http://nwhrwa.com/writers-events/lonestar-conference/ for this year’s October conference topic, etc.).  I pitched to Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing, who requested the full manuscript. My very first full request (I’ve gotten partials and first 3 chapters before, but never full manuscript). Once I got back from Conference, I sent it to her and about 2 days later received an offer. In July 2013, All’s Fair In Love & Lion was released.

 I am reading All's Fair in Love and Lion right now. And enjoying it.
If it isn’t too nosy . . . (well of course it is!) How about the first time you kissed your true love?
         It’s not too nosy. I’m hopelessly romantic, so I’d probably ask that question, too.
 Is it sad that I can’t remember my very first kiss with my husband (my real life hero)? However, I will say I really enjoy kissing him. He’s pretty good at it. ;-) Plus he’s really good looking, and says I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, so I figure I’ve hit the jackpot.

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre?

Favorite characters…that’s a really good question. I really like Damon and Katy in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s LUX series. I love Gregori from Kerrelyn Sparks’ LOVE AT STAKE books. Lucas, Kylie, Della, Miranda, Burnett, and Holiday from C.C. Hunter’s SHADOW FALLS books (although I don’t write strictly YA, my IMMORTAL DREAMS Trilogy straddles the line between YA and New Adult—NA—and I write in Paranormal and Fantasy). I love Lynn Kurland’s Kendrick and Royce characters from her de Piaget/MacLeod books (still hoping that Royce will get his own story!)
I love all of Lynn Kurland's books and I agree with you about Royce. If you get Lynn's permission, I would love for you to guest-post the interview you did with Lynn on this blog. 

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?
My first paperback copy of All's Fair in Love and Lion
Whenever anyone says they like what I’m doing. I haven’t gotten a fan letter, yet, but I just love it when people say they like my work (sometimes it’s on my Facebook page or on my blog—or folks who know me in person). That is the most awesome feeling in the world. I love it when readers enjoy my work because creating my stories is such a joy for me, and the whole point of me publishing them is to share them with others.

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
The girls night out group
Reading, watching movies, listening to music, hanging out with family and friends. Girls’ Night Out with my best friends (they are some of my biggest fans and support me in good and bad times. I adore them). I love spending time with my parents—I’m serious. My folks are generous, kind, and extremely supportive. I also love spending time with my siblings—all of them. We don’t get to see each other very often (most of them live out of state from me) so when we do, it’s fun. We laugh a lot, joke, and just have a great time. Being with my husband and offspring is important to me, too. My husband is a huge supporter of my work and PRs me at his job (thank you, honey!) and offspring keeps me laughing and on my toes. Being a mom isn’t an easy job, but it’s definitely one of the best I’ve had.

What’s your snack of choice while writing?
 I don’t eat while I write. If I’m eating, I’m watching or reading something.

Got a recipe you want to share?
 I got this from a post on Facebook actually. You use some pineapple juice, chicken tenders (or skinless, boneless chicken breasts), a little brown sugar, whatever seasonings you like (I use parsley and salt—I don’t like anything spicy, so no pepper for me, but you can use some pepper) and throw it all in the crockpot on high for about 6 hours (or until chicken is falling apart). It’s pretty good over some rice.
I'm going to try that!

Any advice for new writers just starting out?
           Write, write, write. Read as much as you can. Read stuff on the business, agent/publisher blogs, writer blogs. Read in your genre—read outside of your genre. And, to quote Winston Churchill “Never, never, never give up.” It’s easy to get discouraged when you get rejection letters, or when a story just doesn’t seem to be going the way you hoped/planned. But if you give up, you’ll never know what can happen—sometimes the best and most glorious opportunities happen when you least expect it.

What genre or genres do you write?
 I write Romance Fantasy/Fairy-tale with Paranormal elements—although my Third Realm Romances are currently on hold (indefinitely while I’m writing in another genre). ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE & LION is my Third Realm Romance. I do hope to write more, but so far it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen for a while.

I also write in a genre sort of a “coming of age” type stories—they straddle the line between YA/NA. My IMMORTAL DREAMS TRILOGY are those types of novels and they are Paranormal Romances, with adventure, magic—and a whole bunch of Greek mythological influences and gods/goddesses running around. I’m a huge fan of Greek Mythology and am delighted to be able to write using that love. The main characters in the Trilogy are 18 year olds.

I have a sort of NA (New Adult) Paranormal Story that I’ve been working on for a while and hope to finish it at some point. The heroine is in college and the hero is a early to mid 20’s year old.

Tell us about your latest release.
June of this year Book One of my IMMORTAL DREAMS Trilogy, DIVINE LOVE was released. Book Two, ASTRAL LOVE should release sometime in October of this year, and Book Three, IMMORTAL LOVE is to release probably in January of 2015.
 I read the preview of Divine Love on Amazon and it sounds great!

What’s your current WIP?
 I’m working on Book Three in my IMMORTAL DREAMS Trilogy, IMMORTAL LOVE. I’m hoping to have it written and ready for my personal edits as well as beta reader and critique partners edits soon.

And finally, where can we stalk you?

That sounds scary. However, you can find me at the following links:

      My blog (which I need to update more often):  http://writebybethany.blogspot.com/

      Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WriteByBethany