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Friday, July 31, 2009

Too Busy to Think

It’s been one of those weeks. Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? Or were too busy to think clearly? That’s been my week. It started off with my son injuring himself at football practice. While the doctor’s don’t believe he broke his wrist, the fact that he’s complaining of pain over a growth plate is cause for concern apparently. So, he received a nice, bright red cast on his arm. We go back next Wednesday to remove the cast, x-ray it again and reassess.

That doesn’t get you out of football practice though. Oh, no, apparently there is plenty he can learn even though he cannot catch the ball or tackle anyone. Between both my boys, I am at football practice six days a week. I’m developing a hatred for football right about now and it’s just begun. *curls into a tight ball and whimpers*

Amidst all the football practice, we’ve had karate classes this week because my boys are scheduled to test next week. Yes, we need to add one more sport into my household. Say, ‘Brain the Mom’ sounds like something I could really enjoy right about now. Yes, that was dry sarcasm and no, I really don’t want to play it. But…give me another week and I may brain myself. ;-)

I registered my oldest son for middle school Wednesday and three hours and three-freaking-hundred dollars later, he’s officially a middle schooler. You know the cost of registration roughly came out to one hundred dollars an hour. Who knew middle school was so expensive. And this is my free public education!!! Wow…is amazed…how much would it cost if I had to pay for it? *insert heavy dose of sarcam and rolling of the eyes*

On top of that, I’ve been cleaning all week…kind of like spring cleaning in the summer. It’s long overdue, but I’m exhausted and running on fumes, I’m ready to kill half my family, they’re probably ready to kill me and I’m told tonight that my in-laws are coming in the morning!! *bangs head against the wall* I don’t mind them coming, I truly don’t, but a little more notice would have been appreciated! Enough notice so I’d have known to actually sweep and mop the floors, or clean the guest bedroom.

So, I apologize for the delay in posting. But I am humbly thankful to Carrie for reminding me that today is Friday and NOT, in fact, Thursday. *facepalm* Calgon…take me away! Or better yet…Jensen Ackles, take me away!!!! *sighs dreamily at the fantasies that riot through my head*

*hears a whip snap and bolts straight up in the chair* Right…back to work!

Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Laura J. On Heidi Betts

Hi there everyone,

Pimp BearLet me just say that I am so happy that Laura J. was able to stand in for Heidi today! I wanted to promo the release of Heidi's new book, but because she is so busy writing a new paranormal trilogy as well as some other books, Heidi regretfully didn't have the time to blog herself. She's having a hard enough time keeping up with her own regular blogging demands of Must Love Yarn and Mistress Heidi's Wips and Chains Dungeon.

*from somewhere off in the corner of the MLM set, the following can be heard*

“Hurry, they’re almost ready to start!”
[heavy footsteps moving into the room]
“Start what?”
[eyes roll] “I told you, Laura J. is blogging today at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem about Heidi.”
“Heidi who?”
[more eye-rolling] “Heidi Betts. You know, our creator. The one without whom we wouldn’t exist.”
“Oh, her.” [frown] “I’m not sure I want to read a blog about her. She’s been a little too intrusive in our lives lately.”
[raised brow] “Oh, yeah? Might I remind you that without her interference, you wouldn’t be here right now.”
[slides next to her on sofa, throws arm around her shoulders before giving a huff] “I suppose. I just wish she wouldn’t be so nosy about what goes on in our bedroom.”
[an elbow in the ribs] “Hey, she’s the reason things are so hot in there. Remember the boas? Totally her idea.”
[reluctantly] “Oh. Yeah.”
“So will you hush up now and let Laura start already? She’s going to be talking about us and I want to hear this!”
“All right, all right.” [pause] “You still have those boas, right?”
“Know where they are?”
“Maybe we could get them out later.”
[longer pause]
“So how long is this thing supposed to take, anyway?”
“I don’t know. Let’s ask Laura…”

First let me see say thanks to Carrie for having me stand-in for Heidi today. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fill her shoes nicely or snap the whip accordingly, as the case may be.

Heidi BettsI met Heidi over a year ago. Well, “met” is not completely accurate since I haven’t actually met Heidi in person, although hopefully that will change—we’ve got tentative plans for the summer of 2010 ;-)—but I have chatted with her online through her WIPs and Chains blog. Cute title, huh? And it only took me about 6 months to figure out that “WIPs” was an abbreviation for “works-in-progress” not actual whips. (Although those can be fun, too. ;-))

[Yeah, I had a similar experience. I first discovered Heidi on Running With Quills and I was so intrigued that I wanted to check out her "Dungeon," but like Laura, I was confused and closed the site a few times thinking that I accidentally opened a porn site or that her site link had been jacked, but after the fourth or fifth try, I was brave enough to read on and found that the icon I saw was just Mistress Heidi.]

Mistress HeidiFrom the day I started visiting the The Dungeon (as WIPs and Chains is affectionately known), I was welcomed with open arms. Heidi clearly loves talking with her fans. Her posts are always so funny, even when she’s going through something traumatic (like surgery) her descriptions of what’s going on in her life are just so funny and entertaining. I started going to her blog every day because I was never sure what would show up there and I just had to know. I love when people can find humor in almost everything, and Heidi is one of those who can. If I am having a bad day, I can go to The Dungeon and know I’m going to come away feeling a little better. Especially on Funny Friday and Sexy Saturday.

[True. If you are feeling sick or off center, be sure to know that Mistress Heidi will "whip" you into shape in no time at all. Although her methods might be considered just "wrong," many of us know the value of good beefcake and have heard that laughter can be the best medicine, at least that's what Reader's Digest always said.]

Last summer, Heidi shared with those of us who visit The Dungeon that she had sold a three-book romantic comedy series to St. Martin’s Press. To say I was ecstatic is a huge understatement. I’m a very picky reader; I won’t read anything scary or suspenseful, but my favorite books and pretty much all I want to read are the romantic comedies. So now, I’m getting my favorite type of books from one of my favorite authors in the whole world!

Tangled Up In LoveThe first book in this “Chicks with Sticks” knitting (yes, knitting! Heidi has managed to make knitting very funny and very sexy! [and how!]) trilogy was Tangled Up in Love, which came out in February. In it, we met Veronica Chasen and Dylan Stone, two rival columnists who write for competing papers in Cleveland, Ohio. Veronica—Ronnie to her friends—is no fan of Dylan’s to begin with, but when he remarks that men are better than woman in certain areas, she takes great offense. Thus begins a series of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better challenges issued via their respective columns. Now it’s Ronnie’s turn to challenge Dylan again, and thanks to the friends in Ronnie’s Knit Wit knitting group, she decides to dare him to learn how to knit.

This story is so much fun that it had me laughing from the very first page. (It also caused my daughter to ask some weird questions and gain the nickname “B-Girl” in The Dungeon. But she has since learned to leave mommy’s books alone until she’s a bit older. She does though, still look for her Heidi’s books on the bookstore shelves.) Tangled Up in Love is also very sexy. You may very well need hand-knit oven mitts for this entire series, but I can promise you that it’s worth every one of the third-degree burns you might get. I mean, can you say “naked knitting?”

Love Me, Loves Me KnotThe second book in the “Chicks with Sticks” trilogy is Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, and is coming out next Tuesday, August 4th!!!! It features Jenna and Gage, whom we first met in Tangled Up in Love.

I have been chomping at the bit for this book ever since I finished Tangled Up in Love back in February, so it has been a very long wait. In this story, Jenna and Gage were once married but have gone though a bad divorce. Both of them were brooding or moping through the first book, and you could tell they still loved each other. You just knew they had to have their happily ever after, and thankfully Heidi has delivered. The fact that the hero and heroine are divorced when the book opens isn’t something you see in a lot of contemporary romances. You see a lot of rekindled romances but not rekindled marriages, and I like that Heidi veered off the usual path.

In Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, Jenna wants something from Gage, but she knows he won’t give it to her willingly, so she enlists the help of her knitting group and closest friends (Ronnie and Grace) to get it. Since I have not read this story yet, I can only guess what is going to happen based on the last book and a little teaser that Heidi shared on her blog this past week. (If you’d like a sneak peek, visit The Dungeon) I’m thinking it will be comparable to the antics of Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy) or that of Grace, Karen and Jack (Will & Grace), and that can only be a good thing.

Knock Me for a LoopBut even though I don’t yet know exactly what kind of entertainment Loves Me, Loves Me Knot will hold, I do know that come Tuesday morning, I will be at the bookstore as soon as it opens so I can get my hands on a copy. I’ll most likely have it read in 24 hours, and then I’ll be back to my moping and waiting for the third and final book in this super-sexy, super-funny trilogy, Knock Me for a Loop. (KMFL will be available in February 2010, and here’s a little hint . . . it’s Zack and Grace’s much-much-much-anticipated story!)

I’ll admit that when these books first came out, I was a bit nervous about whether or not they would live up to what I’d built in my head that they would be FABULOUS. It really bothers me when I get really, really excited about a book and then discover while reading that it’s not what I expected. Not that I didn’t like it, it just didn’t keep up the excitement that I built before reading it. With Heidi’s romantic comedies, though, I recommend them to everybody—and I do mean everybody!!! I’ve even convinced a couple of booksellers to buy their own copies of Tangled Up in Love and will soon do the same with Loves Me, Loves Me Knot.

Spicy Yarn PicIf you’ve never read one of Heidi’s books before—or if you have, but just haven’t realized how truly marvelous an author she is *g*—please consider dropping by The Dungeon for a visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re a knitter (or crocheter), you might also be interested in her side blog, Must Love Yarn.

And because I am such a huge Heidi Betts fan, I am currently moderating (and stirring up trouble on) her YahooGroup, Heidi Betts’s Happy Bookers. We’d love to have you join us for some fun discussions of Heidi’s books, as well as monthly giveaways, casting calls of Heidi’s characters, and deciding what songs should go into creating a soundtrack for each of her stories. [You can also follow the links to Heidi's sites under "Moonlighter Hangouts".]

I also update her Fans of Heidi Betts Facebook page and have recently begun leading a group of Heidi’s readers in helping to promote her books far and wide through her Street Team—lovingly known as Heidi Betts’s Street Walkers. (There’s a bit of a theme going on here, can you tell? *g*) [and the reason why Laura J. is pictured as a "pimp" bear!]

The idea behind the Street Team is basically to supply members with items specifically promoting Heidi’s latest release, then have each of you visit your local book and retail stores to talk her up & draw attention to the newest title. If you’re interested in helping out, please visit the Street Walkers website (, e-mail me for more information, or even contact Heidi through her website and we’ll get you signed up!

And, as always, you can learn more about Heidi and all of her books by visiting her website,

But trust me when I say that if you have not read her yet, you are really missing out! And if you have read her, then you know you DO NOT want to miss the August 4th release of Loves Me, Loves Me Knot!

P.S. I was able to convince Heidi to give away an autographed copy of Tangled Up in Love after my visit today. U.S. residents only, please, because of the high cost of overseas postage, but let’s get to chatting about her fabulous books! (She’s even promised to drop in a couple times herself, if she can!)

Remember, to be entered, you must leave a comment to be entered into the drawing!

In true Heidi fashion, here's just a sampling of the beefcake that can be seen in The Dungeon:

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time Management in an Instant and an Apology

First, I must make an apology to the authors of this book and their wonderful tour director, Nikki Leigh. This post was supposed to appear on our blog last Wednesday, but I dropped the ball. It never showed up on my calendar, so I did not post it on the day that it was supposed to post. For this, I am deeply sorry (and rather embarrassed). This is just proof that I am one of the people who would benefit from the information in this book.

Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day

In today’s hurly-burly work environment many business people find it challenging to avoid distraction, stay focused, use their time and energy to maximum benefit, and gain ground on important goals and outcomes. One study by the Families and Work Institute found that one-third of Americans are overworked and more than 50 percent of those surveyed say they are either doing too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded!

Time Management In An Instant helps the reader to overcome this feeling of overload and avoid the traps that lead to an unproductive relationship with time. It offers field-tested time habits and expert advice based on the latest research that will help the reader better manage, create and spend their time with more satisfaction and results.

Bios -

Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are partners in Sterling Consulting Group; an international management consulting firm. They are the best-selling authors of six books, which have been translated into ten languages. Karen and Keith have worked with over 200,000 executives, managers and front line staff in companies throughout the world including: American Express, AT&T, Oracle, Microsoft, Xerox, Marriott Hotels, IBM, Lucent Technologies and UPS. They have been featured in dozens of newspapers including: The New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Newsweek and Time. They also have extensive on-air experience and have been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, Good Morning America and Oprah. Karen is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Sales and Marketing, Incentive, Women’s Day, Self and many others.

Buy a copy of Time Management In An Instant the week of July 20th and receive a free license to the Essential Email online course. To buy the book and claim your bonus, or just to buy the book go to:

While email is the most widely used communication tool for business, its remote nature - which eliminates tone of voice and body language - presents a huge potential for mischief, misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This online program will help you go beyond basic email etiquette, to the proven principles and practices for gaining mastery and saving time over your electronic mail box.

Karen Leland and Keith Bailey are the bestselling authors of six books including Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day. They are the co-founders of Sterling Consulting Group, which helps organizations and individuals learn how to fight distraction and find their focus in a wired world. For more information please contact:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Mayhem with Delilah Marvelle

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Delilah Marvelle’s newest release is LORD OF PLEASURE. His/Her full length historical romance novel is available in paperback August 4, 2009!

Read to the end to find out how you can win an e-arc of the first book in the School of Gallantry series, Mistress of Pleasure!

Places to find Delilah on the 'Net:

My blog that explores Sex Throughout History

My website:


Books can be purchased anywhere books are sold., Barnes and Noble, Borders.

When/how did you know you wanted to write?

Ever since my father read me my first fairy tale, I knew I was hooked on the “what if.”

How long did it take you to become published?

I feel like you're asking for my age, LOL. Truth be told, it took me 11 years and over 200 rejections before I finally got my first contract.

How long does it usually take for you to research a book? Write the book?

I am always researching, whether I am writing or not. I have come to terms that 1830 is the era I will stick with. As I have collected far too many books and done far too much research to leave it behind. It makes writing each book easier in some ways when you stay within the same era. You aren't stopping every two second to see if you're being historically accurate. As far as writing the book, it depends on my mood. I'm usually a pretty fast writer. I can write a 400 page manuscript in 3-4 weeks. Of course, I then spend another 3-4 weeks cleaning it up.

Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?

I have to say the one person I can really relate to out of all my characters is Madame de Maitenon who is the elderly retired courtesan heading the School of Gallantry (which is a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction). She's been through a lot in life, lost a son, has been degraded for who and what she is, and yet there is a pride and self-respect within her that I admire so much. I've been through a lot during my life and being able to keep self respect after everyone drags you through the mud is really something not only to be proud of, but something I can relate to.

What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

This industry is a tough one. Be prepared by honing your skills not just in writing but the business aspect. Getting published is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. There are so many obstacles, you really have to be mentally prepared for it. Regardless, don't ever give up on your dream of being published. There is lots of room for new authors in this industry, but take the time to brand yourself. Meaning, stick with the one genre you love most and go for it. Define yourself and your writing in a way no other writer would be able to. That is what is going to ultimately sell you.

Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

I get a lot of my ideas from researching. So many amazing things happened in history and truth is in fact stranger than fiction. All my characters are pieced together from people I actually know or figures in history. All writing is inspired by reality, my characters are proof of that.

You just recently were published. How does it make you feel?

After trying to get published for 11 years, it was like I won the freakin' lottery. It was amazing. Beyond amazing.

Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.

If you like tons of humor, character driven stories with great sex against the backdrop of history, then I'm your gal. I don't like writing about villains because in reality, we don't meet villains on a daily basis. We are our own villains. And I play with that. A lot.

When and where can we purchase your books?

August 4th is when Lord of Pleasure comes out and you can buy it anywhere where books are sold.

What are you reading right now?

I am actually re-reading Jane Eyre right now by Charlotte Bronte. I read it last when I was in high school and really wanted to revisit it.

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Judith McNaught. To name a few.

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

Without a doubt, Jane Erye. Mostly because I related to Jane having a stepmother who was verbally and physically abusive toward me. It made me believe that despite so many horrible things that happened to Jane, in the end, Jane rose above it all by being steadfast.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?

I would have a historical based book club. And we would alternate between romance, fiction and non-fiction. I am obsessed with anything historical but try to be well rounded enough not to focus on just one aspect of it.

What are your favorite books to give — and get — as gifts?

Anything historical. It doesn't matter if it's non-fiction, fiction, romance, paranormal, it's all good.

Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.

*I believed in Santa Claus until I was 14. No kidding. My imagination has always gotten the better of me and I always had a tendency to want to convince myself that magic did in fact exist.
*The longest book I ever wrote was 800 pages long. Single spaced. It was my first attempt at writing a full length book and I simply couldn't find a way to end it. So I kept writing and writing and writing. It was about the origin of vampires. I cringe just thinking about it but it allowed me to discover the joy of writing.

*I met my husband at a Halloween party. That night I went home and wrote in my journal that he was the man I was going to marry. Lo and behold, I was right. My gut feelings and my writing never lead me astray, LOL.

What else do you want your readers to know?

I love to paint, run (I do five mile runs every other day), cook (I'm a chef by trade, hence the running is *very* necessary, LOL), do kickboxing and love to collect first edition and out of print books pertaining to history. My favorite way to unwind? With my hubbie and my kids.

What are your experiences with publishers and agents?

Having been in the industry for 13 years, I can readily say that this industry isn't just about being creative. It's about endurance. Publishers and agents want the moon and the stars from their authors. And it's up to you to deliver. Because in the end, it's a business. And you are the product. Once you look at it that way, dealing with publishers and agents becomes a lot easier.

What will the role of the Internet play in the future of publishing?

I think it's already playing a huge role. It's bringing readers together, creating communities that otherwise would not have existed. E-books is going to be the future, which environmentally I am all about.

What's your next project?

I have officially started two more series but I am keeping it hush, hush until I get another publisher. Which hopefully will be soon.

Why did you choose your genre?

I have always loved fairy tales. Always. And historical romance simply falls into that whole fairy tale aspect.

Have you ever gotten to a point where a story wouldn't come? If so, how did you get back on track?

I've never had writer's block – knock on wood. Hopefully I'll be prepared for it when it does come...

What do you think is the most important characteristic of a prolific writer?
Being able to keep to a schedule without allowing life to get in the way.

If you could choose one thing to be remembered by, what would it be?

Humor. I love to make people laugh.

How do you come up with original story lines?

There are no original story lines, sadly. Just original presentations. My upbringing and experiences allow me to give an angle that makes it unique. That's what every writer brings to the table.

Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?

I have a concept and the hero and heroine. That's it. Then I sit down and write and get to know the characters and the plot that way. Obviously, I eventually have to plot things out, but I prefer not to. Because if I know how the story is going to play out, I get bored and don't want to write it. I want to be as equally surprised by my characetsr as my readers.

Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?

Delilah is my real name. Marvelle is not. The reason I use a pseudonym is to protect myself and my family. With the internet, the world comes knocking a bit too much.

Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?

It's only difficult because in some ways you're starting over when it comes to building your audience. Unless of course you're Nora Roberts. Then that's entirely different. Even though she is writing as J.D.Robb she brings her other audience by announcing on the cover that she is in fact Nora Roberts.

When did you start writing?

I've been writing ever since I could remember.

Where did you receive your most valuable lessons in becoming a writer?

Life offers the most valuable of lessons. When Hemingway was once asked what makes for a great writer, his response was, “An unhappy childhood.” And truer words have never been spoken. There is a reason why writers write. They have a story to tell and have experienced things in life that no one else has.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? Which do you prefer?

I have two Critique partners, which I prefer. Anything more than that and I feel I am not giving 100% to the people I am supposed to be helping.

Would you recommend critique groups to other writers? If so, what elements, in your opinion, make a successful writer’s group?

You always want to have a sounding board, at the very least. So yes. I would totally recommend a CP or a group. The most successful, in my opinion, are those that equally spend time on each person. The bigger the group, the harder it becomes. Honesty is also important. There shouldn't be sugar coating. It's not about getting your ego stroked. It's about ensuring your writing is the best it can be.

Do you ever look back and think, "I wish I had written this differently?"

I think every writer goes through that. Because with each book, there is more expereince and understanding toward not just one's self but their writing. If you don't think there's anything you would change, then you're not a true writer. A true writer is always looking to better themselves and their stories.

Is writing your full time job or do you have another job also?

Writing is my full time job. But when I can, I am a personal chef on the side.

How important is it to attend writing conferences?

VERY important. Aside from all the friends I have made throughout the years, it's all about growth. I am always looking to attend classes and learn something new, even after 13 years. Personally, I would not be where I am at if not for the writing community and writing conferences.

I want to thank Delilah for giving us such a wonderful interview today and to let you know that I am part of the campaign to save her book series. Details about the campaign can be found on Delilah's website, but if you were intrigued by her interview and want to read more, do her the honor of purchasing her book and proving to publishers that it is a series worth saving. I am currently reading the first book in the series, Mistress of Pleasure, and will have a review of it soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, Delilah has graciously offered an e-arc of Mistress of Pleasure to one lucky commenter today, so comment away! ~ Margay

Monday, July 27, 2009


Hey there everyone!

I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed our spotlight on YA author Sara Zarr and Gracen's review of Carnal Cravings by Keta Diablo.

Because I appreciate authors who say yes when I invite them to blog with us, I try to read everything they write, or at least as much as I can get my hands on from the library. I try not to buy books because, well, the idea here is to get others to buy them after they've been here. Plus, I am a horrid pack rat and refuse to get rid of books. I love books and I keep everyone I've ever bought (including textbooks) because, I have learned that they'll always come in handy from time to time either as a reread for enjoyment or as a reference. Since I would soon run out of room if I purchased YA books before I knew if I liked the author's voice or not, I rent from the library whenever possible. As I find a YA author not on their list, I plan on trying to change that.

This weekend, I read a couple of entries from the anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. I haven't posted my review on Shelfari yet because I haven't finished it. I kind of want to read all of the entries if I can.

However, I think that this book is definitely good for all YA to read and can become a good discussion point between parents and children. The essays in this book are a multi-faceted teaching tool. It explains to adults (mostly parents, but not always) how they can, without intending to do so, effect the eating habits of their children. Don't be fooled, eating habits have less to do with knowing what makes a good, well-balanced meal than they do with environment, self-esteem and tastes.

For example, how many of you remember those cartoon ads that said, Don't Drown Your Food in mayo, ketchup or goo? Well, I do, but it hasn't made much difference in how I eat my food. As much as I like the taste of a potato, if I want sour cream on it, I'll put sour cream on it. If I want to taste the butter on my potatoes, I'll add a bit more than usual. As for my eggs, I like cheese on them [yeah, yeah, I know big shocker with me being from Wisconsin and all].

And, if you read some of the parent magazines, they can suggest mixing peas with honey because it's sweet and sticky and it can be "fun" for kids to try to see how many peas they can get stuck on the spoon or knife. There are other similar suggestions like this such as covering broccoli with cheese. Why? Because kids naturally do not like the taste of vegetables, especially when they know what junk food tastes like. Plus, when you eat the same foods regularly (I have way too many food allergies to try new foods and shellfish can kill me as far as I've been told), you need variety to make it different, so you add things to change the flavor and texture. Some people load their food with spices, some with ketchup, some with gravies and some with dairy products. But to what extent, all depends upon the individual eating the food. So, if they learn to eat their vegetables this way, chances are, they will do this as they get older.

So, that leaves self-esteem and environment. Well, if a person can feel good about themselves, they can be comfortable with their bodies, it kind of goes hand-in-hand. If a person feels bad about themselves, chances are they won't feel good about their bodies.

As you can probably figure out, the environment a child lives in shapes a child's self esteem and how he/she sees food. If you use ice cream or some other sweet treat to comfort a troubled (upset, hurt, etc.) child, as Pavlov's dog learned to salivate to a bell, so will a child learn to eat when depressed. Same goes if that child sees a parent eating when depressed or upset, that's what they'll do. Of course, if you teach a child to treat food like an enemy (in other words, teach them to equate "thin" with "pretty"), that can make them accept or develop eating disorders more readily.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Sure, it seems like common sense that everyone should know. But, we all do it, destroy a child's self-esteem, again and again without thinking about it. We do it as children when we innocently describe someone as fat because we don't know any other way to describe them when someone doesn't recognize them by name and other factors such as hair color or style or the presence of eyeglasses won't help. We do it as adults by hooting and hollering for too-thin women or overly muscled men. We do it as parents when we demonstrate/reinforce poor eating habits, make snide comments about out of shape or imperfect people, making direct comments about they way a child looks, or constantly subject them to the media's idea of what makes a "fabulous" body. We do it as grandparents when we try to counteract those effects. We are surrounded by the potential to develop poor eating habits.

So, how do you, as a parent or grandparent, combat these issues and reduce the risk of an eating disorder?
1. Demonstrate good eating habits by eating properly yourself
2. Do not use food to make someone "feel better"
3. Encourage good exercise habits as well as serving size limits
4. Show your children the images of the best looking women of the past - you'll learn something interesting.

How so?

Well, when you look at the beauties of old, you see that even though they were thin later on, when they started, they looked like the rest of us, curvy.

Norma Jean Baker's (bust-waist-hips) measurements fluctuated all her life and on different sites will be stated anywhere between 36-24-34 to 38-23-36. [I know, when she died, she was 5'7" and 117 pounds and had size 7 shoe, but you get the point, she wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but confidence made her sexy.]

Rita Hayworth's measurements (during the war years): 36.5-C-24-36 and she was 5'6" and 120lb with a size 5.5 shoe. One of the biggest sex symbols of all time.

They were curvy, and if you looked at them right, you could see that their stomachs, while small, were not flat.

While thin, they were not flat, but curvy. If interested, check out some current actresses measurements. But Kate Winslet [check out this article] has to be the best example because she makes a 29 inch waist sexy.

But that's not the only thing to do. Do your research and be sure to point out that most of these so-called "perfect" sex symbols were not happy.

Someone posted a similar question to Yahoo! answers (UK and Ireland). Check it out because the general consensus is that what makes a person beautiful comes from inside. If you are happy with your self and smile from within, the beauty radiates from the inside out, but they make equally good points that being really heavy is not good for your health.

What does all of this have to do with Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. Well, the book can be used to help teach people the effect their words can have on other people and how important it is to learn to accept people for who they are not what they look like. It can be a tool to help children with similar issues learn that they are not alone in how they feel and offer tools that can help them to start changing things for the betterment of themselves and do it the right way.

What about you? Do you have any similar stories to tell?


Saturday, July 25, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Sara Zarr!!!

Hi there,

Today Sara Zarr stands here in our spotlight answering questions I ask her, and any that you [the reader] can think of.

Sara ZarrSara - like many writers, performers and actors - comes from a family of creative people. A big part of her entertainment came from the library. For a kid, the library is a free form of entertainment and escapism and Sara's family took full advantage of that, as you can read about in her bio.

Like many authors are doing these days, Sara has created a really nice FAQ Page and a very in depth section on why she writes called, On Writing. She also tends to cover some very interesting topics on her blog.

Let's get to the fun stuff!

I just finished reading Story of a Girl and Sweethearts – both were fantastic! I wasn’t just watching a story unfold, but I felt I was right there, next to the main characters. Very well done. [Click here to see my comments about these books and her short stories on shelfari.]

SweetheartsUtah living has influenced your writing, as can be seen in Sweethearts:

Q. Did you take the school referred to in Sweethearts from reality or is it completely made up?

A. I made it up, and I can't remember exactly why I chose a small charter school as the setting. I think it just felt like something that would help me control the plot a little more easily and make the backdrop a bit more interesting.

Q. How did you know that these kids (non-Mormon) were treated that way? Was it something you observed or learned about through children and parents that you met?

A. I only moved to Utah after age 30, so I don't have personal experience in that regard, but having talked to non-Mormon friends who grew up here (and some parents who live here) I did hear some stories about how religion can be a dividing line, socially, for kids. Of course that's true in any community where one race, ethnicity, class, or religion is predominant. It has nothing to do with Mormonism - it's human nature to divide ourselves into insider/outsider cultures.

Q. Both of the main characters are on the fringe of society. What made you choose this character type over say a more popular girl?

A. Outsiders tend to make more interesting stories, I think. Most people feel like outsiders when they are teens, whether they really are or not, and giving the characters some tangible outsider-ness helps give flesh to that feeling of being alone, like no one understands you, or that you've got some kind of dual real/fake self.

Q. Would it be safe to say that you draw heavily on some of your own personal experiences to tell Cameron’s and Jennifer’s story?

A. Yes and no. The story was inspired by a childhood friendship I had. Through the wonders of the Internet, the boy and I found each other again in adulthood and I was curious to explore what makes that bond so strong though we hadn't seen each other in 25 years or so. And of course I always relate emotionally to my characters. But, the details of Jenna/Jennifer's life, the details of Cameron's life, those are made up.

Story of a GirlQ. Story of a Girl seems like such an unfinished novel because we readers aren’t really sure what’s going to happen with all three of them (in truth, it is unlikely that Lee and Jason will stay together forever and there seems to be unfinished business between Jason and Deanna. Now, I know you state that you have no plans on writing a sequel (however, I hope you do because these are some really interesting characters and I’d like to know more about them), but could you please share a little bit on what you feel their story might be if you decided to write more about them?

A. Well, they are all very real to me, and I imagine they're out in the world living their lives. I picture Deanna at community college, making new friends and playing a role in her baby niece's life. Her relationship with her parents is still conflicted, I'm sure. Lee probably went away to college and is detaching from her high school experience. And Jason? I don't know. Maybe he got out of Pacifica, but maybe he didn't.

I do get asked a lot for sequels to both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts; I think people want neater endings than I tend to write. If I wrote sequels to either of those I'm sure I would still write ambiguous endings and some readers would want still more!

DoesQ. In December 2008, you participated in the anthology, Does this Book Make Me Look Fat. Please tell us a bit about the story you included in that anthology and why you chose to do participate?

It's a collection of essays and stories about body image. Like most women, I've had my share of body issues, and then some. In that essay I focused on the fact that I had to learn how to not hate myself before I could truly make any progress toward positive change. So one reason I participated is that it's a topic I'm always interested in. Another reason is that I try to say yes to almost all writing opportunities, if they fit in with my schedule. Trying new things scares me, and I'm very insecure, so in order to help myself overcome my fears and insecurities about writing I sort of made a deal with myself to try everything I get asked to do. It's a good way to stretch.

GeektasticQ. Geektastic just came out. What can you tell us about the story you have in that anthology?

A. It's a somewhat humorous piece of short fiction called "This Is My Audition Monologue," and it's written from the point of view of a teen who tries out for every school play but always ends up on the tech crew, and she's fed up. She wants a part! She wants her drama teacher, at the very least, to remember her name. It was fun to write.

Q. Do you like contributing to anthologies?

A. Yes! Working in short-form writing is totally different than writing novels, and as I mentioned I like the chance to push myself and try new things. The Geektastic story was particularly fun because I was in the middle of a really hard revision of Once Was Lost, which is fairly serious. With the short story I could play a little bit.

Q. How do you become involved in them? By invitation or do you search them out?

A. So far they have come by invitation. That's one of the perks of being a published author (and I think my blog helps, too).

Once Was LostQ. Once was Lost is set to come out in October. It sounds like an interesting story. Can you give us a sneak peek into the story? What can you tell us about the story, that’s not on your website?

A. I guess just this: though it's written from the point of view of a pastor's daughter, and it's partly about a crisis of faith, I think readers of any or no religious faith will relate. No matter what beliefs or non-beliefs we grow up with, we all come to a point of questioning and challenging those things and making them truly our own.

Q. As you discuss on your website, and most authors already know, books are usually written well before their release dates. Do you have any projects that you are currently working on? Can you tell us about them please? At least as much as you feel comfortable discussing with us here.

A. Currently I'm working on my fourth YA novel. I'm in the not-talking-about-it stage right now, sorry! All I'll say is that it was one of those unexpected ideas that came about when I was doing a simple writing warm-up from a book of writing exercises (Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston).

Q. Is there anything going on with teens today that you think should be covered? Needs they have that authors could meet? What and why?

A. "Meeting needs" is a lot of pressure to put on an author. Sometimes in young people's publishing, people expect writers to be social workers, therapists, experts on particular issues, parents, and teachers. We're not - we're writers, telling all kinds of different stories. That said, I think the huge range of stories, styles, and formats available in YA fiction now covers pretty much all the bases!

Q. I was actually thinking of them in terms of readers, such as, what they want to read (not what parents expect writers to do, but what teens, as readers, want from authors). Have you been hearing any calls for certain types of stories recently? Just to give us an idea of what kind of trend we might start to see.

A. I think there are going to be more stories about faith and the religious lives of teens over the next couple of years, as this has been one area that's been a little thin.

Q. Can you tell us about your awards?

A. Both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts have gotten some award action. The biggest for me was that Story of a Girl was one of five finalists (in its category) for the National Book Award in 2007. It's given by a panel of other writers, so it's kind of like the Screen Actors Guild award for writers in that it comes from your peers, who do what you do and know all the little details of the craft. So that meant a lot. Plus there is all this hoopla and a black tie dinner and a press conference that makes you feel like a celebrity for a couple of days.

Getting awards and being named to lists is of course great for the ego, and can be good for your career (though it may or may not translate into more sales), and can help you find a wider audience. However, awards and lists don't necessarily do those things, and don't make the process of writing any easier, don't magically give you confidence, don't fundamentally change anything about you. And, they don't matter much to anyone outside of the publishing and book world. When I found out about being a NBA finalist, I discovered that most of my friends and family had never even heard of the National Book Award! So that's humbling, in a good way.

I would like to thank Sara for joining us today. Feel free to leave your comments or ask Sara questions!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Review of Carnal Cravings by Keta Diablo

By Keta Diablo

Buy From Dark Roast Press


Craven and Anthony find themselves in a cauldron of trouble while spying on Beresford Hall. A man in a black hood has routed them while they spied, and now he’s escorted them to the manor and secluded them in separate rooms.

One thing haunts Craven, the ice-blue eyes behind the hood and Anthony’s words, ‘Only one man possesses such eyes . . . Dominic Beresford, the most magnificent creature God ever breathed life into.’


Warning: m/m gay fiction

I went into this story thinking it was a quick read (a novella I believe with a total of 44 pages), and I could get through it quickly because gay romance hasn’t been my thing so far. No offense to the gay romance writers out there, I’ve not read any that entertained me…until now. After reading Keta’s m/m gay fiction, it has me wondering if she has any f/f gay fiction.

Just like with Decadent Deceptions by Keta Diablo, she again drew me in and I couldn’t tear myself away. From almost the beginning, she had me holding my breath when Craven and Anthony are caught by the hooded figure on Beresford’s property. And then anxious again as Crave awaits his punishment for trespassing.

The way Keta breathes life into her characters is fabulous. From the sexy mysterious Dominic Beresford--who I would do by the the unassuming student Craven, I was hooked from page one. I loved both characters equally. What I found very poignant was how vulnerable both Dominic and Craven were. Even though Dominic came from money, had a title and property, he was still longing for that special someone and was unsure how Craven would accept him in the end.

Carnal Cravings was a great read from beginning to end, spicy hot, but you’re forewarned, if you don’t enjoy gay fiction, then skip it. But if you do, pick it up and be prepared to love it as much as I did. Because I loved it so much, I gave Keta 5 out 5 MLM kisses!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Please Welcome Author...Reese Johnson!!

Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Reese’s newest release is Soul Searchers. His paranormal, interracial novella became available in e-book in June 2008!

Reese’s Sites are:
I really was lucky there. My sister-in-law is an author and coached me on how to submit to publishers and my first novella, Sex & Chocolate was published. I did have to go through the same submission steps, editing and everything else that all the others went through.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’m a big Stephen King fan. I read James Patterson, L. Ron Hubbard, Dan Brown, and a lot of others.

Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?
Neither. I think print books will always be popular and I can’t imagine reading Of Mice & Men any other way, but e-books are designed for the busy life people lead today. With many people commuting by either bus or train is a long haul, so pdf readers are an easy way for them to catch up on their reading. E-books are definitely here to stay.

How long does it take for you to write books?
I’ve only written novellas so far. Sex & Chocolate took about a week for the first draft, and Soul Searchers took about three weeks for the first draft. Now the new coming out soon, A Purrrfect Mating took about six weeks because I started out writing one thing and then it turned into something completely different, which was a new aspect of writing for me. I’m not sure I ever sit down thinking “I’m going to write a book.” It’s more like the stories just form in my mind and I write down what I see there.

Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
Well, I would have to say the black men since I am a black man, but I don’t necessarily write from self-experience, I write mostly from the things and people I’ve seen in the past.

Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?
LOL If I’m still alive in ten years, I hope I’m writing something substantial and not just for entertainment purposes.

Where do your story ideas come from?
Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings? Actually, I spent many, many years in prison. In 1966, Oklahoma was a very racial state and I was a young, black kid, stupid and hard headed and got into trouble for robbing a white motel clerk. I was convicted of robbery and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison. I saw a lot of things in the years I was there, and I met a lot of people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Prison is the most basic lifestyle a person can live. You have the bare necessities and anything extra is guarded like your last breath. Survival instincts are the only thing that determines the type of life you will live while inside, and because of that you get to see the worst in human beings. Occasionally you also see the very best, but these are the experiences I draw on when I write.

What is your favorite part of writing?
The finished work! Seriously, have that completed manuscript polished and ready for publication is a great feeling.

Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
Yes, I’m getting ready for the edits on A Purrrfect Mating, and I’ve got another little something I’m working on that’s not quite finished playing out in my head yet!

Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
I’m a pen and paper man. I’m just learning the key board, so it’s difficult to write straight to the computer with my hunt and peck style, so I write my stories out on paper and then I have a little help with the typing.

You just recently were published. How does it make you feel?
I’ve had two books published this year with a third coming out soon—it feels unreal. Completely unreal like did I really do this?

Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.
A Purrrfect Mating is a novella about two shape shifters. One is a black man in his mortal form, and he’s a black panther in his cat form. The female is white woman in her human form and a cougar in her cat form. This is a humorous little cat fight that is really a good excuse for hot sex!

When and where can we purchase your books?
Sex & Chocolate, and Soul Searchers are both available from Noble Romance Publishing at, and A Purrrfect Mating will be available from Noble as well, but there is no release date at the moment.

How do you feel about fans doing fan fiction and/or roleplaying on the web based on your or other author's works?
This is a new one on me, but I’ve heard imitation is the finest form of flattery!

What are you reading right now?
The Second Virgin Birth by Tommy Thompson.

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
James Patterson, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others.

Favorite films?
The Boondock Saints, It’s A Wonderful Life, but I like most sci-fi movies.

Favorite music?
I love the blues. Nina Simone, John Lee Hooker, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Frankie Beverly and Maze are some of my favorites.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
Probably one of the classics like The Great Gatsby because I think those are important writings that say something about our way of life that never really changes. Books like Of Mice and Men, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Old Patagonian Express, One Hundred Years of Solitude are all more than just books, they are piece of who we used to be and who we are now.

What else do you want your readers to know?
My family is the light of my life. I love going to the lake with them, having barbeques, and just spending time with all of them. We ride motorcycles, go 4-wheeling, and I like weeding the garden and taking care of all the dogs.

When did you first realize that you were a writer?
Ha! Still waiting on that epiphany!

What will the role of the Internet play in the future of publishing?
The Internet is huge and for authors, that’s a wonderful thing. There are so many ways to get your name and titles out there to the public that just wasn’t available prior to the advent of home computers.

Why did you choose your genre?
The m/m erotic romance genre chose me. As I said, I spent time in prison and same sex relationships are quite common. I have a sci-fi mind so for Soul Searchers I put the two together, gay werewolves and it worked. Also, I knew a lot of people who were HIV positive or died from AIDS, so that played into the writing of Sex & Chocolate.

How do you create your characters? What determines their characteristics and names?
They are all basically based on people I’ve known, but the names are changed. How that happens, I really don’t know, they just come to me as I’m thinking of how I’m going to make a character fit the plot.

What do you think is the future of writing and publishing?
This is an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, especially the e-book publishers. I recently read that print books sales had decreased 3.9% but e-book sales were up more than 160%. So I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say we’ll be around a while.

If you could choose one thing to be remembered by, what would it be?
That I learned from my mistakes and that the people I love know without a doubt they are the most important part of my life and I wouldn’t trade what I have right now for anything in the world.

Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?
Sort of. Reese is my nickname and it’s what my family calls me, so I decided I may as well use it when I started writing.

Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?
I don’t pay much attention to things like genres. My sister-in-law told me to “just write” and don’t worry about anything else, so that’s what I do and so far, so good!

Would you share a few thoughts on what the writing life is to you?
I learned really fast that the writing part is the least of it! Once you find a publisher and have been through editing, it’s like “why did I want to do this?” But the biggest part of writing is selling yourself, because you have to be able to sell yourself in order to sell your work, and that’s difficult for me. Promotions is the biggest part of writing.

What advice would you give writers looking to get published?
Start promoting yourself before you’re ready to be published, join groups, get a web page, even if it’s only on My Space. Start a blog, and get your name out there.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
All writers love hearing from their readers, so drop me a line, ask questions, or tell me what you think about my books.

Do you ever look back and think, "I wish I had written this differently?"
Oh no. That would be defeatist, but I do look back and think, “what can I do differently next time that will improve my writing.”

How long does it take you to complete a book, from the time the idea for the book is conceived, to when you submit it to your editor?
That depends on the book, but so far I’ve not written a full-length novel, so my time has been pretty short. I know for some authors it can take months or even years, and that’s probably why I haven’t attempted a full-length just yet.

Where can aspiring writers go to learn about the business?
I would recommend joining groups, either Yahoo or critique groups, or both. Also, thoroughly read submission guidelines on publisher sites. Some of the guidelines seem lengthy and ridiculous, but if you can’t follow submission guidelines, how are you ever going to follow editorial suggestions and changes? Also, chat with authors, ask questions, and join writing blogs. The Internet offers a plethora of resources for writers.


Thanks so much for joining us today, Reese! It was an honor and a pleasure getting to know you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Muse is on Steroids

I have a problem. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, my problem is inspiration. Too much inspiration. I am literally brimming with ideas for new stories, each vying for the right to be written first. It's like a pay-per-view boxing match and my mind is the arena. Just the other day, for instance, I was struck by inspiration twice in the same day - for two totally different (style, genre) books - that I just had to start right then or else risk losing the idea. What's wrong with this? Well, nothing, except for the fact that these new ideas are vying for supremacy over the ones I already have in the works.

Now normally, I wouldn't be bothered by this sudden influx of creativity. I know how quixotic creativity can be. Some days, you have absolutely nothing to work with and others, well, you already know about that, don't you? But my sudden surge in creativity is coming at an inopportune time for me. For one thing, my younger daughter's computer finally died a quiet death, so now I have to compete with her for time on my computer. For another thing, that same daughter has some medical and dental issues that have been eating up a lot of my time lately. So of course my muse would pick this time to pump up on steroids and flood my mind with a bevy of ideas that I just have to write now. Oh, well, at least I'll have these ideas to work on when my muse takes a cruise in the winter.

So my question to you is, has this ever happened to you and how did you handle it? If you have an suggestions for me on how to wrangle my muse or at least corral these ideas, I would greatly appreciate it. ~ Margay

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In the Moonlight with David Liss, Author of The Devil's Company

Why Don't Suspense Heroes Like To Read?

by David Liss

Have you ever noticed that in suspense novels writers almost never depict protagonists who read, or even like, books? Yes, I am sure there are lots of exceptions out there, but these are exceptions that prove the rule. If a detective or a spy or an attorney has some down time in the novel, he or she will turn on the television, practice the harpsichord, brush up their Tagalog or indulge whatever obscure, character-developing hobbies they may have developed over the course of their unusual life. They rarely read.

Why is that? Why do writers seem so reluctant to make their heroic protagonists readers? I think part of it is the anti-intellectual stigma we have in American life that posits reading as somehow the opposite of doing. Readers are not doing anything of value, after all. If Secret Agent Jones is not busy uncovering terrorist plots, then he can working on his vintage Ferrari, because that gives him depth and makes him cool. If, on the other hand, we see him relaxing after a hard day by losing himself in Middlemarch, we can pretty much assume that it’s only a matter of time before the terrorists get the drop on him.

Several years ago I was on a panel of thriller writers, and the moderator asked us all to talk about how we researched our books. Everyone else had much to say about their exciting lives: This one spent weeks living with real smoke-jumpers; that one joined a daring smuggling venture across the heavily-guarded Freedonian border. Me? I spent a lot of time in the library. I could tell from the response of the audience that this was a let down. And sure, the library doesn’t make for great anecdotes – though there were some scary paper cuts – I think it’s a perfectly reasonable way to go. Historical novelists, of course, often have no choice but to rely on library work. Until we get that time machine working properly, and I get over the urge to go back in time and kill my own ancestors just for the fun of creating a paradox, the library is the best thing going. But somehow, many readers find this vaguely disappointing.

Books, even works of fiction, are supposed to contain some kind of authenticity. Readers expect information to be truthful. You can go to a historical film and see Vikings riding around on Segues and somehow that’s okay, because it is only a movie. If a novelist puts the wrong color sandals on Jules Cesar’s feet, there is going to be hell to pay.

I also hear this kind of thing from my readers. Just this morning received a very kind email from a man who read a galley of my new novel, which is set in England during the 1720s and, like much of what I write, focuses on a pivotal moment in financial history. “I don’t see anything about it in your biography,” he writes, “but I am sure you must have worked in business yourself, or maybe someone in your family did. I find it hard to believe that you could understand the inner workings of a corporation so well without some kind of personal experience.” Thank you, sir, for your very kind praise, but other than some office temp jobs. I’ve learned many things from my family, but not much of it is useful when writing about economic history. On the other hand, as Henry James wisely observes in “The Art of Fiction,” a mere glimpse of something, when combined with the writers experience, can be synthesized to produce the illusion of reality.

And that’s pretty much what I try to do. My research provides me with the details that cannot be obtained otherwise, and combined with the experience of the world that most human beings acquire through being alive, I can reasonably hypothesize how a particular kind of person would respond under particular circumstances. A lifetime in business would be one way to get that information, but personally I think research is better because when I’m done with one novel, I can go learn about something else and writer a different one. In any case this system has worked for me and enabled me to write about the kinds of characters I want to write about. Who often read, by the way.

David Liss is the author of five novels, with more on the way. His debut novel, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000) with its hero, the pugilist turned private investigator Benjamin Weaver, was named a New York Times Notable Book and won him the 2001 Barry, MacAvity and Edgar awards for Best First Novel. David's second novel, The Coffee Trader (2003) was also named a New York Times Notable Book and was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the year's 25 Books to Remember. His third novel A Spectacle of Corruption (2004) the sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper, became a national bestseller. David's fourth novel, The Ethical Assassin (2006) is his first full-length work that is not historical fiction. David's most recent novel, The Whiskey Rebels, is set in 1790's Philadelphia and New York. The third Benjamin Weaver novel, The Devil's Company, will be in stores in late 2009.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, David is, in fact, a one-time encylopedia salesman. He received his B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from Georgia State Universty and his M.Phil from Columbia University, where he left his dissertation unfinished to pursue his writing career.

David lives in San Antonio with his wife and children. You can visit his website at

Monday, July 20, 2009

What to Post?

Hey there,

I hope everyone had a good weekend. I do not have writer's block, but I have blogger's block. Even as I write this, I have no idea what to blog about, no clue. Any ideas?

I think it's because I am still working on the YA Spotlight project right now, needing to get dishes done because I put them off all weekend because of commitments. The highlight had to be Sunday. My husband and I stopped by the birthday party of a family friend, someone I've known since I was little. I didn't get a chance to see her at my wedding reception, and I really just wanted to see her and say hi, so we went and stayed all of about an hour or so, just long enough to pass our birthday wishes to the birthday girl, speak to a couple of the people who worked with my parents and the sister of the birthday girl. It was nice to see them, and the fact that she was 90, made it feel like it was something I had to do.

Of course, my husband felt out of place, and so did I, a bit, only because we crashed the party. Yes, I admit it, we weren't invited, but I really wanted to see both the birthday girl and her sister while there was still a chance to do so. We didn't stay and eat because we weren't invited, we felt it would be wrong. (However, as we said goodbye, the birthday girl told us we could have eaten anyway and took great care to make sure we were okay, which is one of the reasons I have always liked and respected her.)

This visit was also hard for me because it made me revisit/remember some difficult times in my life, such as when both of my parents lost their jobs (the first time) when I was in grade school. My life changed quite a bit after that time, even though I stayed in the same parochial school, even though I didn't want to stay there. See, I didn't have a choice about being there, so I figured I'd control what I could. Just because I was forced to go to school there, it didn't mean I had to be friends with them if I didn't want to.

Of course, because it was a parochial school, the teachers couldn't leave well enough alone and tried to force me to socialize. That had the opposite effect. I closed off even more. I honestly did prefer to eat my lunches alone and did my best to do so, even when they tried to have kids sit down and eat with me.

I know my parents thought they were doing what was best for me, but I wonder what school would have been like had I attended public school for 7th and 8th grade. Would I have met some of the people I associated with earlier? Would it have changed who I hung around when I got to high school? Would it have changed what I chose to study when I got to college? Would I have still met my husband, or would that have turned out differently too?

But, since I can't change anything, I don't waste my time about what ifs, unless I'm trying to figure out a storyline.

What about you, do you ever stop to consider what ifs?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

YA Author Spotlight Saturday Presents... Brian S. Pratt!!!

Hey there everyone!

I found Brian Pratt the same way I found last week's author, Linda Dawda, from an search of YA authors. While I cannot find his books in my local library, I am very glad I found this author because I happen to be a fan of sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Brian S. PrattWhen you look up Brian on his website, you'll discover that he was born in Modesto, California, graduated high school in 1985 and went straight into the Air Force where he was trained as an Avionic Specialist on the F-117A Stealth Fighter.

When Brian's tour of duty was over, he joined Pizza Hut as a delivery driver where he quickly rose to become a General Manager of a delivery unit in Edmonds, WA. You'll also learn that after a short stint as a taxi driver, he spent two years as a driving instructor and that he now writes full time.

Currently, Brian Pratt lives with his three children, Joseph, Breanna and Abigayle in Lynnwood, WA. On his website, Brian confesses that he always had a book in his hand and read every chance he got. [I think that just about every author could say the same thing. I know it was true for me, even reading during class in grade school.]

Brian is a self-published author of 14 books and has sold over 8,000 copies in both print and eBook form since his first book came out in December 2005.

The Unsuspecting MageWhat you'll also find on his website is a link to a free copy of The Unsuspecting Mage: The Morcyth Saga Book One in eBook form, which you can find by clicking here.

[I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, because I am still working on his latest book, The Adventurer's Guild, but I will be working on it soon.]

If you wish to learn more about the Morcyth Saga, check out Brian's website for a series overview and book descriptions.

The Adventurer's GuildBrian's latest release is called The Adventurer's Guild. I have managed to read the first 26 pages and I am already hooked. I was extremely impressed with how he laid the foundation for the town and the history he created for it. In truth, I felt that I knew enough about his work to say that he has a talent and a knack for writing a good adventure and he considers all the angles.

But don't let my opinion be the one that guides you, make that decision for yourself. Until July 25th, 2009, readers can take advantage of a wonderful special from the author, a free copy in eBook form! That's right, for the next seven days, readers will be able to download a free copy of The Adventurer's Guild! Click here for more details and be sure to use this code: ZS77B.

Enough from me though, let's here what Brian has to say:

"The Morcyth Saga continues to be my biggest seller though it is written in present tense (I know, but what did I know when I started?) The rest of my books are in past tense. It is also my roughest series, the later ones read much smoother.

UndergroundMy books are simply fun adventures written at about the 5th-7th grade reading level. No sex, profanity, or explicit gore. About the most graphic parts are contained in the sword battles. Younger readers would probably enjoy The Broken Key Trilogy or The Adventurer's Guild most. The Adventurer's Guild is quite amusing. The Dungeon Crawler Series is just that. The story begins with a group in an RPG (role-playing game) style dungeon complete with monsters, traps, and treasure, and they have to fight their way out. Again, nothing over a PG-13 rating.

Why did I decide to write The Morcyth Saga? I suppose the main reason was due to the many series, which were currently popular at the time. Series that in the beginning grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go, but then over time began to lose momentum in a mire of subplots and overlong descriptive paragraphs, which I found myself skipping. When I realized I was skipping pages at a time to pass through a subplot that didn't really move the story along to get to the what I would consider the `good points' (action, adventure, actually seeing the main characters) I figured I could do better.

So I set out to write a series in which the reader followed the main character 90% of the time, action or points of interest were in every chapter, and descriptive content was down to a minimum. As a reader I knew I could create my own visualization of surroundings and figured others could to. I mean, do you really need me to go in depth as to what a teenage boy's room looks like? Doesn't `messy boy's room' bring up an instant visual? Stuff like that is what I mean. Certainly there are those who prefer grand descriptive content and a myriad of plots that takes a notepad to keep track of. To them I would say The Morcyth Saga is not for you.

As to the story itself, I was a role player decades ago in high school. And I got to thinking about how interesting it would be should a gamer be thrust into a world in which his gaming experiences could help him thrive. After all, if you take a person from our world and thrust them into a world of magic, wouldn't it be helpful to select someone who would be more amenable to the prospect of magic? Perhaps one whose very interests were along those lines? That was how James came into being, a high school senior who loves creating and then running his friends through his creation.

The Morcyth Saga and The Broken Key Trilogy are both written along gaming lines. The Morcyth Saga is about a gamer that is thrust into a world of magic while The Broken Key Trilogy is written in role-playing style."

Shepherd's Quest Hunter of the Horde Quest's End

Here's a look at Brian's book list:

The Morcyth Saga
(7 books)
The Unsuspecting Mage (First book I published)
Fires of Prophecy
Warrior Priest of Dmon-Li
Trail of the Gods
The Star of Morcyth
Shades of the Past
The Mists of Sorrow

Travail of The Dark Mage
(1 of 5 completed) sequel to The Morcyth Saga
Light in the Barren Lands

The Broken Key Trilogy
(3 books)
Shepherd's Quest
Hunter of the Horde
Quest's End

The Adventurer's Guild
Jaikus and Reneeke Join the Guild

Dungeon Crawler Adventures

Qyaendri Adventures
Ring of the Or'tux

Now, let's hear some more from the author:

"Paperbacks are only available on-line through most of the major retailer. This is one of the drawbacks of being self-published. No one wants to take the chance on you. Actually, if you are over in Massachusetts, there is one bookstore there that stocks them, or at least most of them.

For info on self-publishing, go to:

click here

and scroll down about midway, you'll find it on the left edge of the page. POD means "Print-On-Demand"

When I first began the self-published journey, I used iUniverse as my publisher. Now though, I do it through other companies like Lightning Source, which if one is able, will generate more royalties.

For previews and excerpts, go to Smashwords and you can download the 25% of any of my books for free, except Light in the Barren Lands. All eBook formats are available.

Has there been anything that has helped me to write better? Yes there was. A site called FanStory helped me to refine my writing and be more aware of proper grammar. At FanStory, members submit stories or poems and others critique. Critiquing others certainly helped me to catch more mistakes in my own writing. I would recommend to any wannabe writer who sets out on the self-publishing road."

Because I played AD&D, I just had to know more about that part of his life. Here's what Brian had to say:

"The gaming side, as far as running a bonafide D&D style game, happened primarily during my high school years. I belonged to the chess club, but it was really just a bunch of us who played during lunch and on weekends. After high school, I primarily played on computer games, solo for the most part.

The part I enjoyed the most about RPG gaming was the construction of the worlds. Designing the dungeons and various campaigns through which I would take my friends. That, I suppose, transposed into my love of writing adventures in the fantasy genre that many people have embraced and follow.

My boy likes RPG games with the computer, but for the pen and paper type, no. Currently we are enjoying Fate, which is a computer game that is very much like D&D. You fight monsters, have magic, descend into a dungeon, etc. My girls have interests in other areas."

Have any questions? Feel free to ask Brian some questions when you comment! He'll check in through out the day and try to answer your questions. Be sure to thank him for the free eBooks!