Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blog Hop Challenge...An Author's Promo in Today's World

An awesome friend and great author, Gail Delaney challenged me to answer four questions that are going around on a blog hop. At the end I'll introduce you to other authors, and ask that you check them out as well.

Who, you may ask, is Gail Delaney. Well besides being co-owner of Desert Breeze Publishing, my publisher, and my boss, since I'm also an editor for DBP, she's one heck of a lady. Since she's so sweet, how could I say no? You need to check her out. Click here for her blog.

So here goes the questions...

1) What are you working on?

Right now I'm working on book 2 of the Gemina series (with a cohort...oops, fellow author, Lysa Demorest), an historical military suspense set during the days of the gladiator glory, which we all love. The title is still in the works but we're thinking of Gemina: The Resurrection. The first was Gemina: The Lost Legionnaires.

The inspiration for the first book was Charles Paz, one of the models I wrangle at the convention I attend. Gail and I both wanted him on a cover, so I had about six weeks to make it happen. What did I do? I called out to my previous (and now again) assistant, Lysa. We worked feverishly to get it done in time to go to print for the convention, which tasked us both to our limits, but I think made us both better writers. It was also the first story I wrote with a picture as the only muse. Picture first, story second. Not something I'd ever done before.

As with most authors, I have other stories running around in my head. A couple of paranormal books are in the works, and there's maybe even a cowboy story or two running around the range. My honey has the chaps, boots, spurs, so it works for me, and gives me great motivation. "Oh honey, can you put on your chaps again?" *snicker* And I might even do one on tandem latest passion.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Although I write under the military romance genre, my works (contemporary and historical) have a tendency to be more women's fiction, more realistic.

We all know that we can be living a great love story but then life intrudes, especially when the military is involved, and even though you want it to work, you know it probably won't because of said reality. Doesn't mean that there's no love story for the duration of the book, but may not necessarily work out for the readers that want the "happily ever after" at the end. But my stories always end on a note of ... maybe it could work out later, when their responsibilities are taken care of, so there's always that hope. And that's what drives my different series. Reality with our soldiers. The people you meet, the responsibilities you take on, what life doles out.

It didn't start out that way, but my fans insisted, so who am I to argue with them. They fell in love with a secondary character in the first book of Deadly Obligations: Call of Duty series, Bucky, who saved Garrett's children. My readers wanted that hero to have his own story. Hence, the birth of the second book. Deadly Loyalties: Call of Duty. Scott Nova is the model on the cover. So I had to come up with a brand new scenario for Bucky. So I gave him a heroine that could kick his a**.

3) Why do you write what you write?
I was married to Army Special Forces, special ops, soldier for many years. In Deadly Obligations, my first published book, the scenario was loosely based on my life with him. It was a cleansing of sorts, and I wanted others to know what it's like to be married to a military man. I was in charge of the Family Support Group at Fort Bragg, and saw, on a daily basis, the young wives, who had no clue what to expect, and witnessed them getting lost and having no idea what was going on. I hoped that my books could help them realize it could work, no matter what the odds.

Then the fans asked for another book, so I looked to my current (and will be my last because he's the best) husband. He's an engineer so he thinks logically, which I understand. He's also aware of weapons, technology, and has enough information to take that to the next step. I'm still surprised that Homeland Security hasn't knocked on our door. Our research entailed finding out how to break into a secured military facility, how to set off a dirty bomb, how to erase evidence in a murder. The fact that he could provide this information for me made Deadly Loyalties easier to write, since it went into a realm I'd not been in before.
I also grew up with all kinds of books, movies, and songs from all the ages around me. It opened a whole new world of imagination. I loved Star Trek, Gone with the Wind, Of Mice and Men, That None Should Die, Dracula, Lestat. My father worked at Kennedy Space Center. I grew up and knew the astronauts. So my mind did what theirs saw no bounds. Anything was possible. 

4) How does your process work?
Oh wow. This might take some time, because depending on my story is to how I handle it and what works.

For the most part, I spend a couple weeks hashing out a plot line, picking out names and scenarios, and doing basic research. Once I get into writing, I hope for the plot line to stay intact, I do more research, and wiggle in a certain amount of words per day around everything else going on.

I volunteer with RT days before the attendees come in, then I become Momma T for the cover models, I have kids and grandkids that need attention, I compete in tandem surfing, and volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation. So there are times that my muse doesn't like to play nicely with my real life, but I think that in the end it helps me to understand the angst that folks go through.

Sometimes plot points sneak in and some go away, but they always focus on the main scenes. As I write, others (scenes and characters) decide to show up. There's been many times that I've pinged my writing partner...'uh, sorry, but so and so just raised their ugly how do we deal with this because he/she decided to do this?' By the end, I have the book finished and then go back to figure out the natural flow for chapter breaks. When writing with a co-author, as in the Gemina series, we tag teamed our writing counts each day, sent the new sections to the other author to go over and add/change what they felt needed to be, and continued with the story. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. There also might be copious amount of coffee, tea, wine, and pineapples involved. But I refuse to admit to this.

I did tell you that my hubby (uhm boy toy) is an engineer, right? He set me up with a Visio 'sticky note' file. We color-coded the good guys, the bad guys, the government, and the media scenes for Deadly Loyalites. He's actually an extremely good writer, but doesn't understand the 'rules' of writing and as a long time editor, I didn't want to curb his 'voice'. So I worked with the scenes he sent me...and hence, my second book was born. Having him by my side has enabled me to write, what I write. I can always ping off of him, because if it's lame, he'll let me know.

Now, the purpose of this blog hop is to open the reader's world to other great authors, so let me introduce them now: My three authors that I wanted involved and they all agreed!

Lysa Demorest:
I'm a rural Texas girl who wishes to be on the beach in Florida with my co-author, Tamara McHatton, or in an ideal misty-all-day Scotland. I am currently in the last few classes of my bachelor's degree in English Literature and have to fight with my Tabby cat, Dara, for control of my laptop in order to write. When I'm not nose deep in textbooks or in my own little worlds, then I'm editing for Desert Breeze Publishing and deciding what I want to do with my English Lit degree. (Suggestions are welcome unless it's teaching! I'll teach if it means online classes that I can do while I'm in my comfortable PJs. It's all about comfort.)
My first book with Tamara is military fiction, historical, with a sequel on the way. Next on my plate, with many files saved in the works in progress, is delving into my literary love of science fiction.
A fan of lists, my current to-do includes working on making my blog more active, make the muse sit down to write the start of my stories, and drink more tea.

Amanda Jayde:
I have been telling stories for years, but never let anyone read any of them until recently. Urged on by one of my close friends, I entered an erotic story competition sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine and much to my surprise I became a finalist and my dream of becoming published was born.

I left my hometown of The Bronx, NY to move to a decidedly warmer climate and slower lifestyle in a small town in Florida. When I'm not writing you can find me curled up with a book.

Kristen Secorsky:
I am an author/editor/screenwriter/producer from Dallas, Texas. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Texas A & M University, and a Master of Education degree from University of Phoenix. Some of my film credits include the short films “Option C” and “Shelter.” I adapted into screenplay the novel The Doll House, by Alyn Hoxie, which is currently in pre-production.

I am the author of the successful independently published novels “The Immortal Scrolls” and “Immortal Beginnings: Amara.” I wrote the independently published short stories, “The Auction Date,” “Girls’ Night In,” and “Watch Me, Baby” under the pen name Anna Karam.

I have edited in the past for Runway and Runway Teen and have also written articles for Catwalk. I am also an avid reader of all genres. When I'm not writing or reading, I love to spend time with my family.

Paranormal Romance & Authors That Rock Blog Link to me:

So there you have it folks...check this amazing women out. You won't be disappointed.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Everything You Wanted to Know About A Brazilian Waxing But Were Afraid to Make the Appointment...

Evan's viewpoint:

In the past fifteen to twenty years or so, trends and fashion have dictated less and less noticeable body hair. Now it’s popular to remove or trim hair from places normally no one but your partner sees. The patch of hair left at the top of the woman’s, er, lower front, has even acquired a list of names: “landing strip” “the little Hitler” or the “Playboy patch” as made famous by the centerfolds. Often, there’s nothing visible at all.

While shaving and/or trimming are the usual methods of hair removal, waxing has also become quite popular. For some, the extra cost and putting up with a half hour of pain and discomfort, more than makes up for the several weeks of not having to shave.

The land that brought us the Tonga suit has brought us the ultimate in bikini wax evolution...the Brazilian wax. What is it? Well that’s where you wax everything. The best way to describe it is, “from belly button to backside” Having your legs waxed is one thing and maybe the bikini line but…who would actually pay to expose themselves to an almost stranger and subject themselves to an hour of torture? When we published SUITE Magazine, this was one of our articles.

Our courageous Editor-In-Chief, my partner in crime, Tamara, was about to find out.

We tracked down Feather Davis who is an esthetician at an upscale spa to find out what it’s really like. Melbourne, Florida isn’t that big of a city. So this upscale full service spa is not the norm for around here. It’s got a relaxing plush atmosphere with a big saltwater aquarium and new age music in the background. This is not a typical noisy salon with fluorescent lighting and the intoxicating fumes of nail polish. They do the meet and greet thing (and yes, Feather is Ms. Davis’ real name), then they get down to business.

As Feather is explaining the procedure, I can see Tamara squirming a bit. I wanted to know if a client gave up after the first rip, and that's when I got a dirty look from Tamara. Feather let us know that most folks usually work up to the Brazilian by having other waxings done first. That's when Tamara gave me the most wicked stare since she'd not done any of these. She asked Feather, "You mean people don't go all the way the first time?"
Feather snickered. "No, they don't. It's pretty rough."

I answered, "I think I'm in trouble."
Tamara said, "I think you should give Evan a Brazilian."

Feather answered, "That's called a Boyzilian."
Tamara asked, "So what does this torture entail?"

Feather said, "Well, when doing the backside, it requires the patient to be on their knees and elbows, and they have to relax their back downward toward the table to open up the cheeks."
Now Tamara how the deer caught in the headlights look.

Feather: "When you pull one patch, people tense up...the butt cheeks slap closed. She claps her hands together. "Yep, that wax glues those cheeks right together." She laughed.
I caught Tamara glancing toward the door.

Feather: "It is funny to see people walk they just got off a horse.
It's 4PM now as I watch Feather lead Tamara off to the treatment room, and I ponder my fate when this appointment is over.
Tamara's side:

It all started when feature ideas for SUITE were being thrown around during dinner. After a couple of Margaritas the provision that all of SUITE's articles needed to be fresh and come from a perspective of actually being there, doing that, sounded excellent. But who could we find to actually go through with a Brazilian Wax? So there I was, nodding my head like a fool, not even realizing Evan had thrown out the hook, and I'd taken the bait.
A week later we walked into Essential Spas, the establishment of my soon to be tortuous endeavor, and approached the desk. As I look back now, Evan had been very clever about the whole ruse. And a good thing too because I have been known to hold grudges when physical pain is involved.

"I'm here for my appointment," I squeaked, turning to glare at my business partner yet again.
"Okay," the perky young receptionist answered. "Do you want a robe?"

"Huh?" I muttered, turning back to her in confusion. Robe? For what?
"Well yes," she replied just a bit too smugly. "Since you need to take your top off you might feel more comfortable that way."

My eye twitched and my stomach rolled. I had the sudden urge to hit Evan upside the head. All the while, I'm thinking...I'm here for a Brazilian, the full Monty, but I need to take my top off? Isn't that taking this Monty thing just a bit too far? Evan busted out laughing at my reaction. A minute later, he simply told the girl no robe would be needed.
We were escorted back through a building very reminiscent of ancient Rome with huge columns, hanging plants, low lighting, and for a touch of the modern, a huge circular salt water fish tank. Drinks and snacks were offered. I opted for the wine. Lots and lots of it. If I had to go through this ordeal then I very definitely needed some liquid courage. So we sat down on the cushioned settee, Evan sat back and relaxed, I sat on the edge ready to bolt.

Just a few minutes later Feather came out and we began the interview part. Every time she, or Evan, mentioned the word rip, I cringed. I politely asked that they refrain from using that term but I don't think either one of them paid me any attention. When we were finished with the interview, I stood up and followed Feather toward the back of the building, giving Evan a murderous glare over my shoulder.
Feather had me undress while she went to refill my glass of wine. I thought it rather strange that she left me alone to disrobe yet shortly she'd be seeing a very intimate view of my anatomy, but hey, who was I to complain? I'd just slug Evan once this was over. She came in and had me lay back on a table very reminiscent of a gynecologist's exam rack, which didn't make me look forward to this any more than I do my yearly torture appointments. At least the room was warm! So, I sipped the wine as she began her work. Never having been waxed before I was taken by surprise at how warm the wax was. Feather explained everything as she went along. Then I felt her tug gently on the edge of the wax as she lifted a corner. Before I knew what happened she ripped (yes, now I'm using the word).

I let out a blood-curdling scream and sat bolt upright. I heard Evan laughing all the way back in my room. Feather glanced at me and smiled. "You'll get used to it," she said.
"Nope," I uttered through clenched teeth as I felt her lift the corner of another strip, "no how, no way!"

I remember flying over the handlebars of my ten-speed bike and crashing into the asphalt. I remember missing my feet when throwing a back flip on the balance beam during a crucial gymnastics meet. I remember giving natural birth to a child I should have had by C-section. But I don't remember any of them hurting this damn much! I may have to reconsider the realism of SUITE's articles from now on, especially if I'm the one on the receiving end.
So I lay there, enduring rip after rip, chugging gulps of my wine that Feather graciously kept filled for me, and thought of all kinds of tortuous paybacks I could subject Evan to. I think I finally became numb from the pain (or was it the wine?) because as Feather traveled lower the pain was at least bearable. Then she said, "Get on your knees." Her earlier comments about this part of the torture session came back to me with all too much clarity. I could envision myself, butt cheeks glued together, waddling out of the room to Evan's awaiting guffaws. Gritting my teeth for the umpteenth time, I grumbled under my breath.

Feather told me, "You may experience shaving bumps after the first time, it's better to stick with the waxing rather than going back and forth between shaving and waxing; the second time is better."
Better than what? Hell? Let me tell you, if you've never had the distinct pleasure of hot wax being painted on your backside, you don't know what you're missing! (Insert snide voice here) But I wasn't about to clench my butt cheeks for any amount of money in the world. Not to mention the view I imagined she was getting. Not even my lover is so privy to such a sight. I gripped the sheet beneath me and held my breath. That first rip took my breath away. So much for being numb. Nevertheless, I stayed put. Although I did scream again, very loudly.

"Okay, you're all set. You can get dressed now."
I moved slowly and methodically as a tingly sensation encompassed me from waist to mid-thighs and gave her the best thank you grin I could muster. She left the room and I hopped down from the table. Bad mistake. Moved too fast. I slowed down and got dressed very gently. When I walked bow legged into the waiting area and joined up with Evan, suddenly it crossed my mind; where did I leave my horse tied up at?

~ Tamara McHatton
SUITE Magazine
July 2004

Friday, August 1, 2014

Travelers Not Tourists

My youngest son has dubbed my hubby and myself as travelers, not tourists, and after many excursions, I tend to agree with him. His original comment was, you guys don’t go on vacations and do the typical tourist things. You seek out the locals and find out what they do and that’s what makes you different from the normal visitors.

And that’s exactly what we did on our 6th honeymoon to St. Maarten. I did a lot of research into the hotels available, and one of them stood out above the rest.
If you're going to St. Maarten/St. Martin, for a vacation then you really need to take note of what I'm going to divulge about the hotel/guesthouse where we stayed. I've traveled quite a bit now and am still shocked by how false the reviews in the tourist books are. I should probably start my own book that's honest and lets you know what to expect but that's another story. Initially I went with what the travel books said, but time after time, I became disappointed in what they imparted as the truth and the actual delivery. So I began to check out the different trip review sites on the web for a hotel.

The one that stood out, way above the rest, is Azure, on the Dutch side of the island. It far surpassed what I expected, based on reviews and prices I found online. We don't like the huge hotels that charge astronomical prices, have no personal touch to them, and keep you on site, so the Azure seemed to be right up our alley.
We came in on our 6th honeymoon, Halloween, and got to see little Sky (the owners, Michael and Fawnette's, seven month old daughter) in her angel costume. Although we had to change rooms part way through our stay, and the second room didn't have a lot of bathroom privacy or size to it, all the other perks way offset this very small inconvenience.

Michael was the absolute best host ever. Each morning, we'd walk around to the back of the property (both our rooms opened up to the courtyard, which doesn’t have direct beach access) and sit on the common patio just feet from the beach. We’d lay out our excursions for the day, not sure of which ones to do. Any questions we had, Michael answered, even when he wasn't feeling well, and he went so far as to plan out the best trip for what we wanted for that day. At one point we had problems with our credit card, and he graciously allowed us to use his personal phone to fix the issue.
We loved the courtyard, which had a central, contained area for numerous turtles Michael housed, along with lizards. The hummingbirds strafed the area each morning and were an awesome sight to witness. This area was so peaceful and calming, we visited it every morning during the week we were there as we woke up and decided what to do for the day.

Anything we wanted, to include a convenience store and numerous restaurants, were within walking distance. Parking was a bit of a puzzle since the street that Azure is on is just over two vehicles wide, but again, Michael came to the rescue and allowed us to use his courtyard as a parking place when needed. He is the ultimate host in so many ways.
If you like the personal attention of a mom and pop guesthouse, want to have a local guide with a good rapport of the island’s best attractions, and desire someone who has a deep knowledge of the surrounding areas, then the Azure is your best bet, hands down. We snorkeled, we surfed, we swam, we went on a sunset cruise (the Passat), we explored, and we enjoyed, all because of Michael’s direction. You can’t go wrong with the Azure! It is well worth the money!

Michael, Fawnette, and Sky are the best on St. Marteen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

And That's When the Fight Started...

There comes a point in time, after you’ve been married for a bit, that some things you say to your spouse don’t come out quite as you intended them to. Let’s face it, we get to know each other pretty well, and sometimes we hear stuff in a certain way, and since we’re comfortably ensconced in our relationship, we just blurt out the first thing that pops into our head.

This is a two-edged sword. It’s great that we feel confident enough to be honest with each other. But on the flip side, we’ve also become relaxed enough we don’t engage our censor button as we should. From experience, I can say, this isn’t always a good thing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Perfect Hero

Yes, I'll admit, I work with gorgeous guys. It's part and parcel of my job and it's not my fault. It's something I fell into, kicking and screaming...kind of. I'd been writing, editing, and putting together the cover art for romance books for many years. My radar was always in overdrive when it came to men who could actually grace the covers of books us women love to fantasize about. And I'm good at it. I've worked with RT, the Chippendales, Thunder from Down Under, and many others.

So, when my then-boyfriend-now-husband, showed me his comp card, I was taken by surprise, because I wasn't even aware that he'd dabbled in modeling. Yes, I knew he was gorgeous, but him as a model? That wasn't something I expected from my electrical engineer. Yet the second I laid eyes on the picture he showed me, I sputtered, "You need to be on romance covers.
He answered, "Yeah, right."
So I challenged him. "So you won't mind if I promote you?"
"Uh, no...go ahead."
Little did he know about my contacts and what they could do!
The rest is history. I did my homework and found a competition, that if he won, would pay for him to compete in the Mr. Romance 2003 competition. It was for the Perfect Hero contest from Echelon Press.
Of course he won, and went on to place as 2nd runner up and contestant's choice at the Kansas City Romatic Times Convention in 2003. He also won best costume at Heather Graham's Vampire Ball on Friday night.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Cat's Meow

While this is an archaic 1920s American slang term that meant "impressive to the ladies", in my case it literally means, the cat's meow. I have three of them. All unique, all special in different ways, to include their meows. In fact one of them got her name, MewMew, because of her vocalizations.

She showed up in our side yard a couple of years ago, during a hard freeze, holed up inside our hot tub area. Hubby had hung tarps around the entire canopy so we could enjoy a night in the jacuzzi, get out, and not freeze our patooties off. I was outside one morning, checking on our plants, when I heard this constant mewing coming from inside the structure. So I slipped inside and this dark-haired tabby kitten emerged from between the two tarps covering the hot tub. She'd been using the heat from the tub to keep her warm. Needless to say, she adopted us within the week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Men in Kilts

About 6:30 PM, December 16th, I get a call from a fellow author, reviewer, and good friend, Faith Smith. She'd put her own spin on the sonnet, 'Twas the Night before Christmas, and wanted to know if my husband, cover model, Evan Scott, would be interested in sending her a picture to go along with her rendition of the poem for her blog.

My role, as Evan's manager, was to find out what kind of picture she required. I grinned as she described what she wanted, figuring I'd have to ply him with a few drinks to get him to agree. She wanted a hunk in a kilt, brandishing a sword. Maybe some sort of Christmas background.

Now don't get me wrong here...he could do it with no problem, but for the last few years he's shied away from the cover modeling gigs, feeling he was too old, and too out of shape, to do any pictures the justice they deserved. I totally disagree with him, but I respect his wishes. Faith is also a good friend of Evan's, so it didn't take much arm-twisting from Faith for him to agree.

If you've kept up with my posts, you know we're in the middle of a major remodel. Our studio is in our front entry area. We have a blue screen we usually pull down, so any background can be added, either from me, or the publisher's cover artist. This requires space, as we need to set up the camera, lights, and any peripherals we might need, like wind devices, fog machines, etc. But right now this area is crowded by lots of boxes awaiting a new home, so this option was not available for this photoshoot. We also didn't put up a Christmas tree this year for the same reason; no room.