Friday, December 16, 2016

LASR Winter Blogfest Appearance and Giveaway

Good news! I'll be making a guest appearance on Long and Short Reviews' Winter Blogfest on Monday, Dec. 26. Stop over and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of BLOODSTONE: I'm excited to share thoughts on the magic of the season.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Card Country?

I have the good fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you view winter weather) to live where Christmas most often looks the way it’s depicted on Christmas cards. There is snow, of course, sometimes heaps of it, sometimes just enough to turn the world a lovely white. The trees are frosted. Colored lights glow under snow-draped bushes, giving nighttime an ethereal quality. Around almost every corner are decorations, from the traditional Santa to the latest holiday cartoon character (Olaf is still popular, I noticed today). The local Rotary runs a wonderful light and music show in the park. Our town is host to horse-drawn sleigh rides on selected evenings, and there’s a holiday parade to welcome Santa.

In short, it’s definitely Christmas country. And I sort of take it for granted that Christmas looks this way for everyone. Except I know very well it doesn’t. Great swaths of our country don’t have or even expect a white Christmas.

I lived in West Texas for a couple of years and Christmas looked very different there. Instead of evergreen boughs, yards were decorated with silver, green, and gold spray-painted tumbleweeds tied up in bunches. At night, instead of electric lights, luminaries lined driveways and sidewalks, giving the darkness a flickering, fantasy glow. The Christmas parade rode down perfectly clear streets, and Santa didn’t need an overcoat. I certainly didn’t need mittens, muffler and boots to watch it.

I don’t remember being too disconcerted by my couple of Christmases without snow, without all the traditional—at least according to the card company—trappings of the season. I still got presents. We still had a tree.

Back up here in Christmas country it’s easy to forget the season looks very different for a good share of the world. When we’re deep in a blizzard, it’s hard to imagine some of those people in the other part of the world are actually longing for a Christmas like ours. We’d happily ship some of our snow and cold anywhere that would take it. Hey, we’ll share! If only we could.

But we can’t, and we really don’t need to. Christmas is what we make it, wherever we are and with whatever we have. Christmas is the people we share it with, not the weather or the card-company trappings. It’s your Christmas to enjoy, and I hope you all do so. Best wishes for the season!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Brew Appearance and Giveaway

Monday, Nov. 7, from noon to 8 p.m. join me at Coffee Time Romance's Book Brew Blog: We'll be celebrating fantasy romance and conducting giveaways. I'm giving away a Kindle copy of BLOODSTONE and a Kindle copy of THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. I'm posting about the concepts that inspired my books.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This was always a back-to-school assignment. It ought to be easy--after all, we should have lots of experience memories stored up over three months--but most of us hated the assignment. Mostly because we had so many memories to choose from, the task seemed overwhelming. Those who did best followed this advice: List the most memorable experiences. Choose one. Focus on the critical details. That works no matter what kind of writing one might do.

What did I do on my late summer vacation? I visited a favorite getaway, Door County, a narrow triangle of land separating Lake Michigan from the bay of Green Bay. We went first to Cave Point where this year’s high Lake Michigan water obscured most of the plate rock ‘beach’ we’re used to walking 20-40 feet out on. This rocky area is part of the Niagara Escarpment, an ancient rock formation that extends west from the great Niagara Falls and into Wisconsin.

After that, we tried Norwegian pancakes for the first time (delicious!), enjoyed the signature Door County cherries in chocolate-covered version and in dessert, sampled gelato and various ice cream shops, and settled in for the world-famous sunsets.

One such evening we even met our first mooching wild duck. A very forward mallard hen waddled up to us while we were sharing a hearty scoop of double chocolate ice cream. We’ve been harassed by seagulls more than once, but I’ve never seen a wild duck beg like a dog. Even if I’d been inclined to feed this Minnie-the-Moocher, chocolate ice cream was not a healthy choice. Our treat was topped by a jelly bean, so I flung it mostly to try to get the duck farther away. My ‘fling’ fell short and the duck horked up the jelly bean and looked at us for more. Not going to happen, Minnie. Thankfully, another couple laden with treats sat down nearby. The duck waddled over and sure enough, she scored bits of waffle cone, which she took from the woman’s hand. We usually bring the camera everywhere, but not this time. Oh well.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Addicted to Reading

Okay, so I'm a book addict. I admit it.

I can't pass a book store, used or new, or a rummage sale without checking out the books. And then I buy something. I have my favorite authors and series, and I try to fill in gaps. Sometimes, if I've heard good things about an author or a book, and I find it available, I'll give it a try. I'm pretty selective, so most of my 'tries' turn out to please me, and I add another series or author to my list. That means I have over a hundred paperbacks and hardbacks on my to-read bookshelf, not to mention probably another 40-50 on my Kindle.

Honestly, who wants to run out of choices? If you're like me, you never know what you'll be in the mood for at any given time. And I can't stand the idea of having 'nothing' to read next. Maybe it's a compulsion, but it's one I can live with.

Any other book addicts in the room?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway!

For one week only! Now through midnight May 26, I'm holding a Goodreads Giveaway of BLOODSTONE. Up for grabs is one autographed print copy. For a chance to win, enter at or click on the Goodreads Giveaway widget to the right.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Find Your Center"

You know how certain movies remain with you long after you watched them for the first time? How you keep going back to watch them again and again? How, like the child who wants Goldilocks and the Three Bears read to her for the thousandth time, there’s something about that film that strikes a chord, provides comfort, maybe even confirms your world view.

I’ve recently had to purchase THE RISE OF THE GUARDIANS for at least one of those reasons. I’m a big fan of animated movies, having been raised on Disney’s classics, and I love fairy tales. This combines both in a new take on the familiar icons of Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Sandman, and Jack Frost, and although it’s not a brand-new movie, I can’t shake the way its message—“Find your center”—resonates with me.

Jack Frost, our hero, has been searching for 300 years for the answer to why the Man in the Moon chose him. He has no memory of who he was before he became Jack Frost. Santa tells him to “Find your center,” using Russian nesting dolls to illustrate. For Santa, what’s at his core, what makes him who he is, as the smallest doll in Santa’s set reveals, is JOY. His wonderful toy creations provide joy not only to all who receive them, but he derives great joy from making them. When Jack Frost finds the key to his memories, and why the Moon chose him, his eyes are opened to what’s always been at his center: FUN! Surprisingly, it’s a strong weapon against Pitch Black, the bogeyman. Jack becomes one of the GUARDIANS because to keep children having fun, fear has to be banished.

“Find your center,” is a powerful message for anyone, but I think it especially resonates with me because my characters are always searching for “home.” What they are really in search of is whatever will make them whole and complete, and usually that means finding and acknowledging their “center,” their core truth. When they’ve done that, they can finally allow themselves to love and be loved, to build their “home” in whatever form suits them.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March--a Great Month for Green--saving it and seeing it!

Happy Spring! Today's the official day to welcome the new season. Out with the snow and cold; in with the warm breezes, gentle rains, and fresh greening of the earth and trees. Ignore the last blasts of winter and think SPRING!

Today I'm thinking GREEN and posting excerpts of BLOODSTONE over at Coffee Time Romance Blog. The Kindle version is on sale for 99 cents for the next two weeks. Click here to check it out:

March is also the best time to be Irish. Did you know the ruined castle Drakkonwehr in BLOODSTONE was partially inspired by my visit to Ireland's Rock of Cashel? It's one of the sites on which St. Patrick worked to convert the Irish. Standing there, I could feel it's ancient roots, a truly mystical experience.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Love Between the Covers -- A Documentary Well Worth Watching

I have recently had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary film Love Between the Covers, a film three years in the making. I'm not a big fan of documentaries, but I simply had to see this film and I highly recommend the film to anyone who writes fiction.

The film lovingly depicts the journeys of several romance fiction writers at various stages of their careers. It covers their challenges and rewards, their support systems and their loneliness. It covers the many facets of the industry, and it treats with respect the readers as well as the writers of all kinds of romance fiction.

If you've ever felt alone as a writer, if you've ever felt strange because you're the only one creating characters in your head, if you go to bed telling yourself stories about these characters, then you need to see this film. You're most definitely not alone, or strange. There are literally thousands of people like you in the United States alone. They are the authors who belong to Romance Writers of America, and they are willing to welcome you and support you no matter what kind of fiction you write or aspire to write.

Check out this film's website:

Talk to your local librarian or community arts director about hosting a screening, or find the nearest one and attend. It's an affirmation, and we all need those in our lives.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Calling All Prospective Authors--Contests Work!

The WisRWA Fab Five Contest deadline is a week away (March 1). If you've ever considered entering your work in progress in a contest, this is an excellent one to try. The Fab Five requires just the opening 2,500 words of your novel, and is open to aspiring writers who are not yet published as well as those who are solely self-published. Plus, entrants do not have to be members of Romance Writers of America or WisRWA to enter.

I am living proof of the value of entering contests. THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE, my first novel, placed 3rd in the FFPT category, and BLOODSTONE placed 2nd in the same category. Thanks to valuable feedback I received on both of these manuscripts, both went on to final and win additional contests and eventually be contracted and published.

The judging emphasis is on positive feedback, so even if you don't win or place, you'll receive advice on what's working as well as what's not working in those all-important first pages. Complete details, rules, and entry form can be found at

Putting your work before the judgment of strangers is incredibly hard, but it's the only way to get objective feedback from industry professionals. Be daring. Give it a try. And good luck if you do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday Giveaway!

On Sunday, February 7, Super Bowl Sunday, I'll be giving away a Kindle copy of THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE as part of The Romance Reviews Mega Anniversary and Valentine's Day Party.

To enter the contest, you'll have to log into the TRR site and correctly answer a trivia question about the book. (Hint: the answer is found on my PRINCE page for this blog. Look to the right column for the link.) To get to the TRR site from this blog, look to my left column and click on the Mega Anniversary and Valentine's Day Party icon or click on this link:

Cheer for your favorite team and enter for a chance to win my book and many others on Feb. 7. Best of luck!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Winter has finally arrived in our neck of the woods. It arrived on Christmas Eve, just in time for the traditional White Christmas, with about an inch of pretty white fluff. About seven inches of snow came down just before the New Year. That should be our base for the rest of the winter—unless El Nino magically makes it disappear.

The cold temps and snow are about a month late, so most of us haven’t gotten around to complaining about it yet. Today, there’s a thick hoar frost on everything, making the trees in my yard look like something out of a fairy tale (the Dancing Princesses, maybe?). Recently, I went out at night and I was transported back to my childhood.

My friends and I used to walk to the movie theater, escorted by one or more of our parents, and I recall quite vividly a magical snowy night when we walked home after the feature. The air was completely still. A couple of inches of snow had freshly fallen. Trees and bushes were decoratively draped in it. Our boots crunched and squeaked in the silent air. The temperature must have been near 30 because I don’t remember being cold at all as I breathed in that uniquely fresh air that’s present only after a snowfall. All around us, in the light of the streetlamps, the snow sparkled and twinkled. It looked as though a rainbow had frozen and sprinkled the snow with colorful crystals. I fancied they were jewels, scattered by a giant’s hand for us to enjoy. (I was about eight or nine then and already a great fan of fairy tales.)

When I went out at night recently, snow had freshly fallen and it, too, sparkled with a multitude of colors. The air smelled fresh, uniquely clean. My boots crunched, and I stood for a moment enjoying the fantastical spread of jewels and remembering.