The Boomer becomes an Author

Thank you Christoph Fischer for the wonderful interview on your beautiful blog: http://www.christophfischer.com

Today I have the pleasure to present the complete works of Dianne Harman and an interview with this wonderful and upbeat writer.

“Blue Coyote Hotel” by Dianne Harman has at its heart an excellent idea and an intelligent concept that is very well presented and told with irony as well as compassion.
The main character Jeffrey is an idealistic scientist very much in love with his beautiful wife Maria. Working on an anti-ageing drug initially he compromises his work life for Maria, loses his job and ends up pursuing his dream of making the world a better place by other means at the Blue Coyote Hotel. The book actually begins with the story of one of the visitors to the Hotel and how his stay in their specially ‘air conditioned’ rooms positively affects his life. Throughout the book Maria and Jeffrey’s story is interspersed with segments about visitors whose lives miraculously change after staying at the hotel. For me this concept worked extremely well as we get to see the potential of Jeffrey’s dream and almost accidentally get to know some of the characters that will become more important for the plot later.
Harman has created two very interesting main characters with a lot going on in their lives and heads and she takes us honestly and compassionately through their changing circumstances while adding some other very colourful and entertaining people to the mix: A catholic priest, a Native Indian Doctor and an overweight business executive to name some of them.
With all the care that was put into the story and the people populating it, the book does an excellent job at making us feel for the characters, even if they bend the rules or are involved in ‘drugs’. You get to see where each character comes from and how their motifs are quite often benign and honourable. Told with wit and a great sense of irony this is a complex and engaging read that stayed with me for a long time after I finished it. With romance, idealism, moral aspects and even some suspense in the story this is a remarkable debut novel by a confident and compelling new writer. Harman tells her story with a perspective changing, confident voice which translates into a great narrative. I read the book in almost one sitting, completely involved, taken in and curious were the story would end.
Original, fascinating and very well written this is highly recommended.

 

Hi Dianne, thanks for taking the time for this little interview.

Thank you for having me!

Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always written?

No. I entered the game pretty late. Actually I was 68 when my first book, Blue Coyote Motel, was published. Had always thought about writing. Who doesn’t? But I didn’t feel I had the necessary credentials such as critique groups, workshops, etc. I happened on Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he more or less says “Just Do It” and so I did!

How did you have the inspiration for your stories?

Blue Coyote Motel was a curious thing. We were at a boutique hotel in Palms Springs, California, for a wedding. Our son was the best man and the family had taken over the hotel for the event. It was 106 degrees in October. The air conditioning was wonderful and so quiet. The old hotel had recently been refurbished. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone put a ‘feel-good’ drug in the air conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?” He responded, “There’s your book.” And so it was.

My recently published sequel “Coyote in Provence” came about because so many people asked me what happened to Maria. The continuation of her story needed to be told. And am in the process of doing the final editing for the third book in the Coyote series.

Tea Party Teddy came about because my husband was in the California Legislature for twelve years and we entertained Governors, Congressmen, and people of every political persuasion. I had a front row center seat watching the political world unfold, and so I satirized the experience. It was an interesting time!

Is one of your books more important or personal to you and if so, why?

Whatever I’m writing is my favourite. It’s as if the characters dictate where the story goes. I just sit back and write what they tell me.

Do you have personal experience with politics or the pharmaceutical industry?

Pharmaceutical, no, politics, yes.

Did you do a lot of research for the books?

I research when the events call for it. For instance, in Coyote in Provence, California Impressionist paintings are stolen and smuggled into France. I was on the phone with the Los Angeles Art Fraud Division and Interpol finding out if the US could get the paintings back and what their policy was.

Would you say you have a political or personal message in your books?

I have been told there is a theme of good vs. bad in my stories, but I don’t write the story with a message in mind.

How much of the storylines was fixed before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

My writing is totally organic. I start with an idea, but I never know exactly how it’s going to come out.

Tell us a little about your writing and editing process.

I am very fortunate that I don’t have to work outside the home and I have far more time to write and edit than most people. I’m usually at my computer marketing and writing from about 7 or 8 in the morning until 5 at night and I usually write in the mornings on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, family and other things certainly cut into that time. Marketing is a big part of it, and I believe in digital marketing. As far as editing, I have a copy editor I usually send my books to first. Then I send them to beta readers. My husband is an excellent editor and reads everything two to three times. It’s amazing what you miss when it’s your own. My copy editor places a lot of emphasis on emotions, dialogue, etc. while my husband is much more plot oriented, so there’s a good balance.

Have you always written?

I wrote a book when I was nine about a little girl who goes to China. What was up with that and what did I know? Nothing! No novels until I was 68, but I wrote for newspapers, etc. during those years.

What is your writing environment like? Can you tolerate music or noise or are you a reclusive writer?

I guess I would be a reclusive writer. I don’t have music on. I sit at my computer to write and often in the morning I’ll wake up early and do marketing and email on my iPad while I have a cup of coffee in bed.

Which of your characters was most fun to write?

Slade Kelly, without a doubt. He’s simply a fun reprobate and everyone asks when I’m going to make him more of a major character. Haven’t quite worked that out.

Who would play them in a film?

I don’t know.

Are you like any of the characters?

Some have said that I’m somewhat like Nina in Tea Party Teddy, a politician’s wife. I don’t really see the resemblance, although a couple of the events in the book did happen to me. One which I still remember was being at a Boys and Girls Club dinner at the head table when a woman came up to me and told me how great it was a politician’s wife would wear the same outfit that she wore last year! Who remembers things like that?

What is your life like?

I live the dream life. I’m doing what I love and close enough to the Pacific Ocean I can walk to it. I have a great family, good health, and a husband who has taken over most of the household work so I can write. What’s not to like? I consider myself extremely fortunate!

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I seem to be influenced by whatever I’m reading. I remember years ago when I made the decision not to finish a book because I wasn’t interested in it. Now I probably only read about 10% of what I pick up. Ayn Rand made a huge impression on me. I remember picking it up the first semester of college during final exams. Not smart. I couldn’t put it down and my grades that semester reflected it! I never would have thought I would be writing a lot of thriller/suspense books, even romantic suspense, but certainly Michael Connelly, Dennis LeHane, and Daniel Silva are three that come to mind. I’m a fan of Woody Allen and love his movies!

What are your views on independent publishing?

Pro and con. I see a lot of books that are self-published that have gross errors in them and have obviously not been copy edited. That’s a shame because it certainly bears on how a reader regards the writer and the story. An excellent story can be completely ruined by sloppy editing. The great part about it is that an author doesn’t have to wait by the mailbox for years hoping for a letter of acceptance.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I love B.R. Snow. I think his books are absolutely comically wonderful. I’ve read everything he’s ever written and am anxiously awaiting his next one. John Dolan is a brilliant author who writes great stories, primarily centered in the East. He’s an extremely erudite man, and I love his references to things. And Christoph, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that your book, “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” was one of the best literary fiction books I’ve read.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Best – I really care about people. Oddest – even though I’ve been in the public eye because of past businesses I’ve owned, antique & art appraiser, yoga studio owner, international yoga teacher, and credentialing yoga teachers, as well as having a husband in politics for 18 years, I love to be by myself. At heart I’m an introvert, not the extrovert everyone thinks!

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My favourite animal is my 90 pound brindle boxer, Rebel. My favourite color is probably rust. As for an outdoor activity, it’s changed over the years. Used to love backpacking and have trekked in the Himalayas. I love the ocean, so probably a walk on the shore!

What would you take to a remote island?

I’d hope it has WiFi because I have become quite attached to my iPad!Yes.

Who would you like to invited for dinner and why?

Buddha. I’m fascinated by Eastern philosophy.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

At the moment, I’m editing  two and three in the Teddy series as well as a boomer novel that interests me. You can find me on facebook (Dianne Harman) or (Dianne Harman Author), twitter @DianneDHarman, or on my website,  www.dianneharman.com

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Every book is a challenge, will this work? Will that? Does it make sense? Would a character do that? I write for the Huffington Post, over 50, and recently wrote a column entitled “Oh Wow.” As we get older, we tend to have fewer and fewer of those moments. Writing keeps my mind and opens me up to a multitude of new things and a lot of “Oh Wow” moments!

I couldn’t wait to read “Tea Party Teddy” by Dianne Harman ever since I finished her debut novel “Blue Coyote Hotel” to see where this promising and sharp minded writer would take her creative career. Tea Party Teddy is a perfect follow up, playing once again with themes of corruption and political ideals. Cleverly set up and plotted the book follows a Republican politician on his evil, ruthless and harmful campaign trail, the enemies he makes and the debt he builds and the impact of his career on his private life.
Harman does an excellent job at creating great suspense by planting plenty of plot seeds in the beginning of the book that push the story forward at perfect pace. As the story unfolds the author writes with insightful details and competent manner about the party politics, the lobbyists and corruption, infidelity and revenge.
You love to hate Teddy and with so much going on and emotions and politics going wild this is great entertainment and a fascinating and educational novel written with excellent sense for irony and dry sense of humour.
A very compelling and rewarding read with a moral component and a lot of bite.

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of “Coyote in Provence” by Dianne Harman, the long awaited sequel to her excellent novel “Blue Coyote Motel” and I am pleased to have found it just as remarkable and enjoyable as the first one.

Maria, the ageing Mexican beauty and widow of an American scientist, is hiding in France under a new identity. Harman did a splendid job at tying everything up at the end of the last book but manages to unravel the story again easily. Maria is still ambitious and somewhat of a loose agent who won’t be satisfied with a boring and secluded life and therefore attracts people and problems. Of all people she falls for a detective from Southern California on a field trip to locate stolen art.
A separate narrative introduces a filthily rich Afghan business woman with a big heart. I don’t want to give away much more of the plot to avoid spoilers. All I will say is that said woman is an amazing character and a great and intriguing addition to the already well composed and wonderful cast. Harman really knows how to write entertaining and thoughtful stories with characters caught in the grey areas of morality and legality. With clever juxtaposition and sharp dialogue Harman makes several important points about those (too often contradictory) concepts.
I was impressed how the narratives then come together and how the themes from book one returned so naturally and organically into this story. As far as sequels go this is masterfully crafted and particularly pleasing as the plot is not predictable and the book contains a lot of new elements, yet retains the original character of the series / trilogy (Maybe we can persuade Harman to go beyond the third book?).
I found this a gripping and compulsive read and – although I really hate to use this worn out phrase in reviews – I cannot wait for the next book to find out more about how the remaining issues will be resolved. 
A great equal to book one and a real treat.

IT MUST BE TRUE! I SAW IT ON THE WEB! GUEST POST

Here is a guest post from my colleague Dianne Harman, author of Blue Coyote Motel and Tea Party Teddy, as well as the forthcoming Coyote in Provence. Today, Dianne discusses something I care a lot about. Something we all struggle with on a daily basis. Yep, it’s that cruel mistress known as digital marketing.

These are interesting times for writers. Traditional publishing houses are shrinking, self-publishing is growing, and there are more books being published than ever before. The challenge becomes: how do we sell them?

When my debut novel was ready to be published, I met with a man who had written several novels. He told me the wave of the future was in digital marketing. He said I had to have a presence there and suggested that I get set up immediately on Facebook and Twitter. I’d actively avoided those things, thinking they were nothing more than time sucks.

About the same time I’d mentioned to a friend of ours who owned a high end hotel in Newport Beach, California, that my book was about to be published. He said he’d like to buy twenty-five for his hotel gift shop. My husband thought that would be a great venue for selling and suggested I call on all the hotels along the Southern California coast that had gift shops. The more I thought about it, the more resistant I became to the idea of spending my time hoping some hotel would buy a few books or take them on consignment. Instead, I decided it was time to get serious about the digital world of marketing.

I set up a Facebook account and then went on to Twitter. I remember looking at both of them wondering what was next. Who would possibly be interested in what I would have to say and what would I say? How would I go about getting friends and followers? Well, one thing led to another and it turned out be pretty easy.

Once I had some friends and followers, I was advised to look for groups to get involved with on Facebook, which I did. I joined several and once in a while would add something, hoping I was being relevant. Many groups later (I think I belong to 28 now) and many friends later, Facebook has been one of the best things I’ve done in marketing. I’ve learned, shared and gotten answers to so many questions. Now I have over 1,200 friends on my main page and an author page with over 600 followers. Does this mean I post to each group every day? Of course not. There are several groups that always seem to have relevant information and those I follow. The others I put on “no notification” so my email isn’t clogged and I check in with them from time to time.

Someone else told me that it was important to get a lot of followers on Twitter so I could let them know what was happening with my books and anything else I thought might be of interest to them. When I hit the 2,000 mark, I signed up for a monthly program which allowed me to go beyond the 10% new follower requests. I’m now close to 17,000 followers. Through one of the Facebook groups, I belong to a Triberr group which amplifies what I post on my blog to gargantuan numbers, far more than I could reach on my own. Yeah, I did have to set up a web page and I blog once or twice a week.

And not to be overlooked is Goodreads. I joined that, set up an author page, put my books on it and joined groups. I now have close to 5,000 friends on it and I do pretty much the same thing with it as I do with Facebook – monitor the groups where my sharing and theirs is relevant. Blue Coyote Motel was even a Goodreads Psychological Thriller Book of the Month. I doubt it would have happened if I hadn’t had a presence there. Plus, people in that group are constantly asking me when the sequel will be out. This morning, I posted the cover for the sequel,Coyote in Provence, and said it would be out within the month. Again, if I hadn’t been active in Goodreads, who would care about a sequel?

Now the big thing seems to be Google+. I’ve read a number of articles indicating that this social media will be even more important than Facebook. I’m doing the same thing on it as I did on the others, personal page, groups and relevant monitoring.

So once all these are set up, how do they help? Although I’ve read that a person needs to see the title of a book seven times before they buy it, I do try to keep the information about my books balanced with other things and something seems to be working. The two books of mine which have been published, Tea Party Teddyand Blue Coyote Motel, have both been Best Sellers on Amazon. Does it take time to monitor these social networks and build a presence? Of course. I easily spend two to four hours a day doing this. But for me it beats cold calling on hotels! Plus I’m motivated by one very relevant thing – no one is going to find my books under a rock. I honestly am not sure I would have sold more than a handful to friends and family if it had not been for these outlets.

Bottom line. Do I believe in digital marketing? Absolutely!

 

An Award Winning Best Seller, Blue Coyote Motel was chosen as a quarterfinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest in the mystery/thriller category as well as a Goodreads Psychological Thriller Book of the Month. Blue Coyote Motel is a suspenseful love story which begins in the barrios of Southern California and spans the globe in such diverse locations as Provence, South America, and the Himalayas.

“In Native American folklore, Blue Coyote means ‘turning in the darkness,’ and that’s just what this comprehensive work will have you doing; tossing and turning as you wonder if the very air you’re breathing is just air, or something more sinister.”

 

 

About Steven Ramirez

Author and screenwriter, with one produced feature film. Find me at Amazon http://amzn.to/tH2yw6 and Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/sdSGVn.

Category(s): Digital MarketingGuest Post Tags: AuthorsBlue Coyote MotelCoyote in ProvenceDianne HarmanDigital Marketing,FacebookGoodreadsIndie PublishingSelf-PublishingTea Party TeddyTriberrTwitter,Writers

Where Ideas Come From

Children’s books – A Feast for the Eyes

I recently was at the Orange County, California airport, flying to Seattle to see my son and daughter-in-law. The Southwest Terminal there features changing art exhibits along one wall. I was early and had a little time. I decided to get a cup of coffee and happened to walk along the wall where there was an exhibit of children’s book covers. It was utterly charming and so enchanting I never made it to coffee.
The colors, the simplicity, the gaiety, all spoke to me. Just look at this one on the left by a friend of mine, PJ LaRue. You really want to know why the little girl is riding a fish.

When I returned I had occasion to look at some children’s books on the Goodreads site. Again I was struck by the vivid colors, the simplicity, and completely charmed. Since then I can’t help but compare adult book covers with them. There seems to be a vast difference between them. I’ve noticed that adult book covers tend to be more intricate. Often the cover depicts violence or hints at it. I’m not a Pollyana, but a lot of these lack charm! I understand the reasoning for them – to let the read know what the book is about and I understand that – but sometimes it can be a downer. For instance, I’m not particularly a fan of blood dripping from someone’s mouth depicting a vampire novel. It’s been done a lot!

Another thing I’ve noticed is the crayon colors of the covers. They’re bright and demand to be looked at. Adult covers are often dark, almost hard to see. One’s eyes are always drawn to lighter colors. I’m no expert on this, but I wonder if anyone has ever looked at sales figures of dark covers vs. light covers? It would be hard to determine the effectiveness of lighter colors because of so many other components, such as genre, author, etc., but it might make for an interesting study!

A friend of mine gave this site for children’s book covers. Take a look and see if you agree with me! http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/27013.Best_Books_For_Very_Young_Children#18187353

Selling Author

Today’s Fabulous Friday Interview with Author Dianne Harman!

I feel hugely honored to be interviewed by Ruth Watson Morris, a brilliant and prolific author. Her books include the Reptilian Series, The Voxian Series and How to be a Writer, among others. She recently published Fantasia in the Voxian Series. All are available on Amazon. Ruth, it was a fun interview. Thank you!!! Her website is terrific. Here’s the link: http://authorvoxiansseriesbooks.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/todays-fabulous-friday-interview-with-author-dianne-harman/

RWM – “Welcome today a very popular author of one of my favourite books ‘Blue Coyote Hotel’ Dianne Harman. Hello I am so pleased to finally get some time to talk to you Dianne; can you tell me please what is your current genre? What made you chose this subject?”

DH – “I’m going to answer these questions with my soon-to-be published book, Coyote in Provence. I have two other published books, Tea Party Teddy and Blue Coyote Motel. It’s probably in the romantic suspense genre, although I find the whole genre thing frustrating.”

RWM – “Really you can’t tell when you’re reading your books, they are fabulous. What is your current book ‘Coyote Province’ about?

DH – “This is the sequel to Blue Coyote Motel and follows Maria in Provence where she falls in love with a handsome art theft detective from Los Angeles. She’s trying to stay under the radar, worried that the detective will discover that she’s wanted for murdering her husband in California.”

RWM – That sounds wonderful I can’t wait for the next instalment! Who is your favourite author? Can you recommend one of their books?”

DH – “Usually, whoever I’m reading at the moment. I recommend books constantly!”

RWM – “That’s a cool way to do things, so you have no one in particular that you will call favourite. I can honestly say that’s a great way to approach reading and writing. How long have you been writing?”

DH – “For real, under two years.”

RWM – That’s fabulous and your nearly on book 3, well done you must be constantly working. Okay, how about this question? What is one of your pet hates?”

DH – “Clothes hangers and hoses. They never stay where they’re supposed to!”

RWM – Ha-ha I have that problem with lots of things, pens and pencils in my house, I have loads in my handbag one minute and then come to use one, the have mysteriously vanished. Tell me a quality you really like about yourself?”

DH – “I’ve learned that what people say about something says far more about them than about me.”

RWM – “This is a fact of life I’m afraid there are a lot of people who are out to just score brownie points with who they believe are the right people. I have met a few of them, but as long as you are happy with the way things are Dianne other people’s opinions shouldn’t be that much of a worry. I too have met the ‘being honest’ even though I write the same genre as you people or say they like it but do nothing,” *Shrug*” there is nothing to do but ignore it! What do you hope to achieve in your life, from your writing?”

DH – “Provide people with an escape from “real life.”

RWM – “Yep, you have achieved that! J Tell us more about your book and why not tell us how we can find it! What is your favourite work? What is its link so people can buy it? Tell me about it and why you believe people should buy it?”

DH – “Blue Coyote Motel is probably my favourite because there are so many layers. I thought it was a thriller with a good love story. Goodreads picked it as the Psychological Thriller of the Month. It made it to the quarter finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest in the mystery/thriller category. It became a bestseller on Amazon. So many people asked me “what happened to Maria?” that I wrote Coyote in Provence and Coyote Comes Home.”

Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/SO8uIj.

RWM – “Do you believe that big authors can charge too much for their eBooks?”

DH – “I find them all over the board. My husband just started a series and I realized he’s paying about three times what I normally spend on an eBook. I guess it’s like anything else, “what the market will bear.”

RWM – “ Tell me a little about yourself, what made you become an author and do you have a job besides writing?”

DH – “I’d always wanted to write but didn’t think I had the “necessary qualifications,” whatever those are. I read On Writing by Stephen King and it freed me to write. He says Just Do It and so I did! I’m fortunate that I’m at a place in my life where I can devote my time to writing. The kids are gone and I’m not working outside the home.”

Dianne you are a very interesting person and a fabulous author thanks so much for joining me here today. May I wish you luck in the future and may your books sell in there millions. Well deserved.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE UNDERLIGHTERS?

It’s not often I rave about a book but this one is not to be missed. The writing is superb. It’s by the very talented Michelle Browne and available on Amazon http://ow.ly/oo2ow

“Nightmares are bleeding into her waking world. Children are going missing. To
save them, she must overcome her wreck of a personal life and a closet full of
skeletons. She doesn’t know whether the horrors in the shadows are real…or if
she is going mad.

18-year-old Janelle Cohen is an electrician in an
underground city. The world above has been swallowed by mind-destroying Dust.
Her small life changes forever when a dragon attacks her on the way home from
work.

Her friends worry that she has the Fever, Dust-induced insanity. A
terrifying trip to the surface of the world, the ancient and abandoned Up,
deepens the nightmare. With no world left above, she and the other Crows cannot
afford to fail…”

5 stars: “…You will be rewarded with a dive into the
depths of imagination that may leave you questioning, breathless and inspired.”
–www.TracingTheStars.com

BEWARE OF CLASS REUNIONS!

A sense of nostalgia? A sense of what might have been? A sense of missed opportunities? No matter how wonderful and interesting our lives have been, once we get into the later years, there’s something beguiling about first loves and class reunions.

Doubt if there’s one amongst us that can’t remember that first kiss or whatever else! And certainly memories of high school, while sometimes painful, seem to achieve an almost mystical glow after many years. We remember the music, how the gymnasium looked decorated for the prom, and reflect on people we were crazy about and some we weren’t so crazy about. Then comes the invitation to the reunion. A friend of mine told me that she was sure that most people had two agendas in mind when they attended a reunion: (1) to let everyone knew they were still alive; and (2) to show everyone they’d made it! She was also certain that people who had not “made it,” never attended reunions.

She may be right. A friend of mine whose husband left her for another woman knew he and his new wife would be attending the reunion. She lost 20 pounds, had plastic surgery, and numerous consultations with make-up artists, personal shoppers, and hair stylists. She had one goal in mind — to look better than her ex-husband’s present wife. Was it worth it? To her it was. She was certain she looked better.

Then there’s the guy who was always in trouble in school. You remember — the one who couldn’t sit still, never turned his homework in on time, and barely graduated. But funny thing happened on his way to his first million. He found something he loved to do and was very good at it, obviously. He rented a limo for the event, bought his wife an expensive fur coat (come on, we’re living in Southern California!), and a “knuckle duster” ring. He wanted everyone to know he’d “made it.” And in his mind, and a lot of others, he had.

One of the most poignant memories I have is something that happened an hour before a 25th high school reunion. Several people who had graduated with my husband met in the cocktail lounge of the hotel where the reunion was being held. Alum walked in, turned to one of the woman and said, “Susie, it’s so good to see you. You know, every time I think of you, I remember how you wet your pants in fourth grade.” Susie stood up, said “My mother told me I shouldn’t have come,” and left. What a waste. I imagine that a lot of things have happened to Susie during the years from fourth grade to the 25th reunion, but in her mind, she’ll always be sure that people remember her for something that happened when she was nine years old.

Blended families and rediscovered first loves are often a result of the class reunion. Or maybe it’s a chance encounter with someone you knew and cared deeply about many years ago. First loves are pretty powerful. I just read a wonderful book by Shawn Inmon, Both Sides Now. It tells the story of a young man and woman who meet in high school, fall in love, and are forced apart by the woman’s mother. Several decades later he pulls into a fast food drive-in window and sees her inside, working a second job. They reconnect, marry and certainly seem to be living happily ever after. It’s a wonderful heart-warming read. Synchronicity at its best!

The downside of class reunions is that after a few years people change. And the longer the time since the graduation, the more they change — some might call it aging! I’ve been to a couple with my husband and no one knew anyone. People go in high spirits thinking that it’s going to be “kumbaya” memory time, but in fact, more time is spent looking at name tags than is spent looking at faces.

And why is it there seems to be a certain number of “nieces” at these events? You see a lot more “nieces” than you do “nephews.” I’ve always wondered about that. But I think our reunion days are over. Spending a lot of money not to be remembered or noticed is not a very good return on an investment. Think I could have done better at the track!

The one thing I’ve learned after attending a few of these is that after a couple of drinks that first love begins to look just like he or she did way back when. And if they’re single now, that can be a dicey situation. Reunions remind me of a popular bumper sticker, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Think one should be made up that says “Friends make sure spouses go to reunions!”

WHO DOESN’T LOVE BRISKET OF BEEF?

5 – 6 lb brisket                                                  Worcestershire sauce

3 oz. liquid smoke                                             Salt & Pepper

onion salt & celery seed.

Place meat in glass baking dish. Add seasonings. Cover with tin foil and  refrigerate overnight. Drain off liquids. Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake at 275 degrees for 5 hours. Let cool. Can be made up to a day in advance to this point. If you’re going to refrigerate it before putting on the sauce and the last baking hour, make sure you let it get to room temperature. Slice and bake for one more hour with some of the sauce poured over it. Serve rest of sauce on side.

Sauce

1 cup ketchup                                   1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup lemon juice                         1 teaspoons chili powder, salt & celery seed

1 cup water

Bring to a boil and then simmer until slightly thickened.

My son still requests this when he comes home. Leftovers are great slightly warmed and in sandwiches.

Marriage? Seniors? Who Knew?

I recently submitted this to the Huffington Post where I have a sporadic column. Enjoy!

Senior in Age Only — Thoughts on a 50th Wedding Anniversary

I’ll say it up front: I never thought I’d be married to the same man for 50 years. According to Google (and it must be true!), only 5-6 percent of marriages last that long. By anyone’s calculations, it’s a long time. Think about it. That’s half a century. Good grief!

I’m on the very early end — might even be fudging a year or two — of the baby boomer group. Many of that era’s marriages ended in divorce, at times because women wanted “to find themselves.” I remember when one of my friends came over and said she had to find herself. My son, who was about three at the time, overheard her and told me he could help her, “I can find Carol. She’s right there in the bathroom.” I wonder if truer words were ever spoken.

“Finding oneself” was a pretty common buzzword during those years. I was one of those who decided to “find myself,” but for whatever reason, I was able to search in ways that were socially acceptable and didn’t upend the family unit. Not that there weren’t thoughts of it from time to time. I tease my husband that the only reason we didn’t get divorced was that one of us always had the sense to talk the other one out of it. And I’m glad we did.

There’s pros and cons to being married this long. A pro is a shared history. He knows who I’m talking about or what my reference to a band or event is. The downside — he’s not only heard my stories — he’s lived them. So much for being the glamorous mystery woman. Fifty years of waking up to me without make-up is a huge leap of faith!

It really never occurred to me that I’d be married 50 years. I thought that was for old people and I certainly wasn’t that old. And that’s been a lesson to me in and of itself. I wonder if the reason I never thought about it was that then everyone would have a pretty good idea of how old I was. It’s not that I ever tried to hide my age. I just didn’t think about it. I always thought age was a relative thing, not all that important. But is it? I’m active, healthy, and don’t think I look or act “old.” But when you’ve been married 50 years, it probably needs to be addressed.

Wherever we went in the months leading up to the anniversary, my husband would tell everyone, “In June, we will have been married 50 years.” Swell. I told people he was really into smart 2 year olds who just happened to be in college when he was there. No one challenged me, but I don’t think they bought it.

Then what to do on the actual day? A couple of years ago family members asked where we wanted the party and how many should be invited and how many could we put up at our house. As a boomer who really wasn’t into conformity, the mere thought of wearing a menopausal purple dress and corsage while our guests gathered at some local hall and congratulated us made my stomach turn. I politely thanked everyone for their well wishes and told my husband I’d rather go on a trip, just the two of us. Well, yes, I told him, the dog could probably accompany us.

He graciously acquiesced to my strong objections for the big party and found a fabulous rental house right on the beach in Carmel, California. Now that’s my kind of a party. The two of us with a good bottle of wine, a fire and roaring surf in the background! Yup, guess we earned it and deserved it. What made it even more special was the appearance of our son and daughter-in-law who flew in from Seattle to be with us. (Wonder if they wanted to just make sure we’d make it to the big day?) We spent a week at the cottage, watching seals and birds and listening to the surf. I could not have asked for a better anniversary, topped off by a wonderful dinner at a Carmel restaurant.

Am I glad we stuck it out? Oh yes. Probably didn’t mention, sappy as it sounds, that he still is my best friend. And to think the naysayers said it wouldn’t last. We got married six weeks after we met. We actually decided to get married 2.5 weeks after we met. To say our parents were not happy would be the understatement of the half-century. We did have a proper church wedding, but everyone in the wedding party is now divorced. You just never know how life’s going to turn out! And even though everyone knows approximately how old I am, I’m glad it turned out this way!

A Book’s Beginnings

I’m thrilled to be the Guest Author on Vanessa Ryan’s blog. Her blog is excellent as is her new book, A Blue Moon. Here’s her link. Enjoy! http://vanessaryanwriter.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-author-dianne-harman-mixes.html

Guest Author: Dianne Harman Mixes Romance And Politics In Her Latest Novel

Today, as part of my new Guest Author Series, I am highlighting the work of Dianne Harman. Here is the scoop on Tea Party Teddy by Dianne Harman:

THE MAKING OF TEA PARTY TEDDY

 

My husband was a California State Senator and I spent the majority of twelve years living in Sacramento, California, the capital of the state. Every night there were numerous receptions and fundraisers. I remember a lobbyist telling me she had fifteen fundraisers to attend that evening alone! The lobbyists well knew the perils of eating and drinking too much at events. The food is generally appetizers that are salty and fried – they play well against alcohol. But the interesting thing is that while the lobbyists were very careful about what they ate and drank; to new Legislators it was like a candy store. They could have about anything they wanted and no one would tell them they couldn’t. Many a Legislator was known for imbibing a little too freely at these events.

Tea Party Teddy came about because of two dinners my husband and I attended. Serendipitously, I was seated next to the most biased, bigoted person I had ever met. He was a Legislator and he was my seatmate two nights in a row. I kept wondering how a man like that could be elected, and then became even more interested in the story about him that began to form in my mind.

What caused him to be so biased? What was his wife like? What was his home life like? Did he have children? I’d heard rumors that he was succumbing to the powers of the office – the thinking in Sacramento is “I didn’t make the rules, but I can play by them.”

Divorces were pretty common among Legislators. It may be a simplistic answer as to why there were so many divorces, but I knew a lot of legislators who came to the capitol full of dreams of the good works they planned on doing. After a few years they started believing they were as fabulous as people told them they were. What they didn’t take into account was that the people telling them how fabulous they were generally wanted something from them. I often wondered how the families of these people dealt with the egos that returned to them when Session was over on Thursday only to leave again the following week .And so Teddy was born.

I know that many authors carefully plan out their books, how many chapters will be in it, outlines for each chapter, and the final ending. Writing doesn’t work that way for me.

When I write I have a general idea, actually more of an idea what will happen to a few characters, and then hey dictate how the book will be written. So it was with Teddy. The more I wrote about him, the more I wondered why his wife would stay with him. He was consumed with getting rid of all the illegal immigrants and anyone else associated with them. And at what point would his wife realize she was simply an accessory? And when she found out she was just an accessory, how would she handle it? What would she do? Would she leave him? A lot of wives stay; they like being the wife of an “in” politician.

Teddy’s wife told me she needed romance in her life. I agreed with her. And how fitting it would be if the romance was with the founder of the Republicans for Latinos!  The ending came about because the characters decided that’s what had to happen. I love it when I get to read a book while I’m writing it. I would have missed out on a wonderful experience if I’d carefully scripted it and stuck to it! I love the romance that develops between Nina and Bob and knowing what I know of politicians, a lot of women would be very amenable to having someone like Bob pay attention to them. And yes, there is a happy ending, a prerequisite in the romance genre!

There’s such a thing called “Beta readers.” These are people who read the rough draft of a book and give the author feedback. My Beta readers told me a couple of things: (1) I needed to make it even clearer just how despicable Teddy was and so there is a Cinco de Mayo scene which shows how intense his hatred is of the illegal immigrants and by extension, Latinos; (2) I needed to tone down the book. This person was afraid I’d get sued. (A good friend of mine thought that would be terrific; what great publicity for the book, but she wouldn’t be paying the attorneys’ fees!) I took out the innuendos and rumors. I knew that so-and-so was having an affair with so-and-so, but it hadn’t been made public, so I eliminated those scenes.

I’ve been asked if the novel is a “roman á clef.” Yes, there are certainly people in it that will be recognized, but what they did was publicly well-documented. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent!

I never set out to write a series, but the Beta readers wanted to know what was going to happen after the book ended. The same thing happened in my first novel, Blue Coyote Motel. Everyone wanted to know what happened to Maria. The Teddy Saga will encompass three novels, Teddy and two more. The second is being edited and I’m writing the third. The next two novels in the Blue Coyote series have been written and will be out in the next few months. And yes, romance is alive and well!

Want to know more about Dianne Harman and her work? Check out her links below:

Blue Coyote Motel:  http://amzn.to/SO8uIj  Tea Party Teddy:  http://amzn.to/ZgKwIB

Website:  www.DianneHarman.com             Blog: http://dianneharman.com/blog/

CAMPING WITH THE NOONANS

Introduction

There was a rumble out the back.

We were doing 80km/h down the last stretch of the Birdsville Track and the sun was about to start setting. The rumble was getting louder. Blast it, I thought, a tyre’s gone and we’re only a couple of kilometres from camp. What a nuisance! I glanced in the side mirror to see if I could observe shredding tyre…only it wasn’t the tyre. All the noise was due to the Rear axle coming out. All the way out. The car lurched and then veered to the right as the wheel and axle came completely away. I went for the brakes, but they had gone, and so we ground to a halt in a cloud of dust as the wheel and axle bounced past us and did a merry dance over a few small sand hills.

Tracey and I have been travelling about for years and there would be a “drama” that would happen on average at least once per trip. I have found out only recently that according to the laws of probability, something going wrong on any trip is an absolute certainty! It does explain a lot. It doesn’t matter how much preparation you do, you are bound to strike a problem of some sort. When children came along we still wanted to go on our trips, though now there were more things to go wrong. The fact that they took up space in the cabin was also a “minor” problem. However, having them come along also forced a rethink on how we were set up because we did have a somewhat luxurious camping style, and some of the luxuries looked like they weren’t going to fit in any more. Like my numerous slabs of beer.

Our trips away with our children seemed to be some sort of enigma to our friends for many years. No one had ever wanted to come away with us! Some friends of ours, the Hewitsons, decided to corner us one night at their parent’s holiday house in order to find out what the hell we got up to when we went away. After an all night discussion they decided to come with us on our next trip. I became very excited at the thought of someone actually wanting to come away with us so I wrote up all our tips and ominously titled it “So…You Want to Come Camping with the Noonans.” On that trip they had such a good time, despite one or two “obligatory” problems, they signed up for the next trip that we were going on, which happened to be into the middle of nowhere.

A long time ago I travelled overseas as a backpacker, having temporarily left the workforce and spending six months each in south-east Asia and North America. Many people taking at least six months off usually do travel overseas – only a few would travel their own country. I travelled various parts of Australia in a whirlwind fashion before I went overseas, and when I came back I decided to travel Australia in more detail whilst waiting for the next overseas opportunity. As a result we have travelled all around Australia, but it took ten years, at four or five weeks at a time. The kids have now been to every Australian state, though not through design. Every year we would pick out a new destination, work out how to get there and back, roughly decide what we would see, and just go.

Over the years whenever we were on a trip, there were always some things that were unsatisfactory, whether it was equipment not performing properly, or chores taking too long to do, or the way we packed the vehicle wasn’t quite right. Improvements would be made that would “go into production” on the next trip. A few strangers we had met during our travels had seen the way our vehicle was set-up, with all its “handy-dandy” gadgets, and listening to all my “war stories” suggested that I should either take out patents or write a book.

Some people may be abhorred by doing any preparation whatsoever however setting up the vehicle and camping equipment beforehand was fun for me because I treated it as a hobby. It also removed much of the pre-holiday stress that comes with organising a trip and which apparently occurs to over 80% of holiday makers whether they go on camp or go to a four-star hotel. I don’t collect stamps and sometimes I watch too much television, so the inventing of gadgets and obtaining skills to make the camping experience more enjoyable can be viewed as a more productive use of my spare time. Though Tracey wishes I didn’t spend so much time in the garage!

I think that the biggest hurdle faced by people who don’t travel like we do is actually deciding to go somewhere really different every year to what they have been used to. Here are some reasons

– we’ll wait for retirement when the kids are gone

– there’s too much planning to be done

– there’s too much stuff to take

– it’s dangerous, and there’s been all those outback tragedies

– advice from the “experts” is overwhelming

– it’s easier to book a hotel and go on sight seeing tours

– it’s easier to do last year’s holiday all over again

– the children get carsick

Boring!

Whilst I have been through a few camping ordeals, there’s no need for you to go through them to have a comfortable low risk travelling holiday with your children. Note that I’m not advocating being blasé about going to remote places, and I admit that I still feel a little apprehensive taking my children into any desert.

So remember, you live in a free country, so you don’t need Passports, Visas or a Note from your Mother to go.

Cutting to the Chase

This book is mainly about becoming self-contained and self-sufficient on the road. There is a lot of Advice.

Some of the things I recommend will be expensive, others will not. In my “normal” job as a Project Manager we have a saying in the industry for when we deliver something that goes “Good, Cheap, or Fast – Pick Two.” Basically it means if you want something real quick and top quality then you will pay through the nose and most people can’t afford to do that all the time when travelling, so something’s gotta give.

It has been hard to write a book that is a panacea for every camping situation. It seems every other book tries to cater for all tastes and styles. So, I have made a conscious decision that this book is about family-oriented car camping trips where you travel about and check things out, rather than head to a specific destination for a week or two. In other words, you plan to drive from place to place with your family in your car. And, ultimately, any place, including the deserts or any god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere, on your own, and without the luxury of towing a camper trailer or staying in accommodation most of the time. You are not just going to the Gold Coast for the September school holidays, and there are more than two of you (and probably no more than five – any more and you probably will have to tow something anyway). In an upcoming chapter I explain why we eventually purchased a camper, however it was done primarily to make overseas travel potentially cheaper for us, and not solely to get a better class of accommodation.

The focus is also on Australian conditions; however I would say much of the advice is still very applicable to other countries as well, except by and large you don’t have to worry too much from being stranded and perishing in a baking desert. On our 5 month trip to Europe the cheap campervan we had purchased had a major breakdown in Florence. Aside from the obvious annoying inconvenience, we were never in any danger of perishing because we were in the middle of civilisation, and we had ways and means of continuing the holiday whilst the van was being repaired – which took a week.

So if you are not the desert-travelling non-towing travelling type with no more than a few children, then obviously some of the advice will not really be strictly applicable to you. Though I’m hoping you will get some useful tips or this will be a useful reference guide for you anyway. The advice I give is largely prescriptive, and has worked for us after much trial and error.

Even if you never plan to visit any desert in your lifetime the following are the Key things or principles that I reiterate throughout this book, and if you follow these basic rules you won’t go wrong.

Get apreview here in ebook format at Kobo

ASK A LITERARY AGENT

Come join Seth Fishman, Literary Agent representing Alex Grecian, our Book of the Month author of THE YARD, and the sequel, BLACK COUNTRY.

GIVEAWAYS:

THE YARD, now–June 14th

 

BLACK COUNTRY June 12th–14th

ASK THE AGENT: Seth and Alex have graciously agreed to answer questions from Modern Good Reads members related to traditional publishing, an agent’s role in publishing, and all those myriad things we all want to know about working with agents and New York publishers.

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1364920-ask-an-agent-agent-reading-giveaway

Seth Fishman’s bio:

Seth Fishman (me) was born and raised in Midland, Texas (think Friday Night Lights) and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England (think cold and rainy and millions of castles). His YA thriller, The Well’s End, is the first in a series and the protagonist, Mia Kish, is roughly inspired by a hometown drama that (when I was young) really blew him away: (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/…). When not writing, Seth is a literary agent at The Gernert Company (www.thegernertco.com), and thinks writing and agenting are the two very best jobs in the world.

Agent/Publications & Experience:

I’ve been a literary agent for over eight years, beginning at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. (www.sll.com) and now, for the past three years, at The Gernert Company (www.thegernertco.com). My list is deliberately wide-reaching, as I’m fervently of the mind that good writing and strong stories can be found in any genre. For sake of ease, however, a few published examples in varying categories I rep:

Literary Fiction: NYTimes Bestseller and Orange Prize winner Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, Liz Moore’s Heft, Alex Gilvarry’s From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

 

Hugo winner Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty, Ted Kosmatka’s Locus finalist The Games.

 

Thriller: Alex Grecian’s Bestselling The Yard and The Black Country, Ted Kosmatka’s Prophet of Bones.

NonFiction: NY Times Bestseller Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, BoingBoing Science Editor Maggie Koerth-Baker’s Before The Lights Go Out.

Graphic/comic/illustrated: #1 NYTimes Bestseller Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, Matt Kish’s Moby Dick In Pictures

Young Adult: Nora Price’s Zoe Letting Go, Shawn Goodman’s Something Like Hope

Picture Book: Matthew Olshan’s The Mighty Lalouche (This is just out, his future books I rep).

Forthcoming publications (in the next 3/4 months): The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, What The F Should I Drink by Zach Golden, and The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova.

Seth Fishman’s debut novel:

The Well’s End, a YA thriller, due out from Putnam YA February 2014. COVER REVEAL June 11th 2013: http://io9.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wells-End-Seth-Fishman/dp/0399159908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370547143&sr=8-1&keywords=the+well%27s+end

A childhood accident, a bizarre outbreak, and an impossible discovery…

Mia Kish is afraid of the dark. And for good reason. When she was a toddler she fell deep into her backyard well only to be rescued to great fanfare and celebrity. In fact, she is small-town Fenton, Colorado’s walking claim to fame. Not like that helps her status at Westbrook Academy, the nearby uber-ritzy boarding school she attends. A townie is a townie. Being nationally ranked as a swimmer doesn’t matter a lick. But even the rarefied world of Westbrook is threated when emergency sirens start blaring and the school is put on lockdown, quarantined and surrounded by soldiers who seem to shoot first and ask questions later. Only when confronted by a frightening virus that ages its victims to death in a manner of hours does Mia realize she may only just be beginning to discover what makes Fenton special.

The answer is behind the walls of the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia’s dad, the director of Fenton Electronics, has always been secretive about his work. But unless Mia is willing to let her classmates succumb to the strange illness, she and her friends have got to break quarantine, escape the school grounds, and outsmart armed soldiers to uncover the truth about where the virus comes from and what happened down that well. The answers they find just might be more impossible than the virus they are fleeing.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6561855.Seth_Fishman

Website: www.sethasfishman.com

Twitter: @sethasfishman.com

Tumblr: http://sethasfishman.tumblr.com/

 

Alex Grecian:

http://alexgrecian.com/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/357573.Alex_Grecian

JOIN SETH FISHMAN & ALEX GRECIAN June 12th through June 14th

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1364920-ask-an-agent-agent-reading-giveaway

SUBMIT MANUSCRIPTS TO SETH FISHMAN TO WIN AN AGENT READING

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ppZhundtcvCaTkTsWEJOX_EdGZ8ihAdHs22qcNV0A_w/viewform

 

Giveaway Rafflecopters below (Win Signed Copies)

 

Exclusively for MODERN GOOD READS members.

 

If you are not a member, you must join MODERN GOOD READS to qualify.

What Next?

The last few years have been interesting for you. The kids have finally flown the nest, you may be without a significant other due to life changes, you’ve downsized, and the garden you used to tend has morphed into flower pots on the patio. You’re too young to live the rest of your life knitting in a rocking chair, or whittling in the garage, and you’re too old to wear the polka dot bikini or the thong to the beach – maybe Europe overlooks flesh that has a mind of its own, but in California, it doesn’t work!

So what to do with this new-found time? You don’t want to admit how much time you’re spending on the Internet playing solitaire or Words with Friends. Well, how about sharing some of that knowledge you’ve earned over the years? Non-profits need your skills. You can donate your time and your expertise to a number of different organizations, whatever your interest is – everything from pets to HIV to cancer to community gardens, you name it.  They want you. And admit it! It’s kind of nice to be needed again!

It doesn’t matter where you live; someone needs you and your talents. Hey, we’ve learned a lot over the years! I’ve sat on a lot of Executive Boards of different organizations and the majority of the people who sit on the boards are boomers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Younger people are dealing with children, jobs and all of the other things that just getting from day to day entails. Rarely do they have time to donate to a cause, no matter how worthy. There are only so many hours in a day and a person can be stretched just so far!

If children are your interest, check out the Boys and Girls Clubs. I recently took my granddaughter to a “ba yeah” class (read that ballet!) at one of their locations. The class was reasonable and excellent. They usually provide child care services, sports activities, and classes. Fundraisers help support them.

The Kiwanis club has been around for a long time and is usually very active in communities.   Soroptomist focuses on women and girls. Meetings, retreats, and fundraisers help them become self-sufficient, empowered, transformed, and able to attain their dreams. “Working Wardrobes,” one of their projects, helps women return to the work force by furnishing them with appropriate clothing.

I don’t have space to give a shout out to all of the wonderful non-profit organizations that exist, from the soup kitchens to the Humane Shelters. Whatever you’re interested in, trust me, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Author’s Boomer Lit Recommendation: If you remember Woodstock, read Goodbye Emily by Michael Murphy!

Is the Muse upon You?

I don’t know about you, but I can definitely tell when the Muse is Upon Me. I picture this little bird sitting on my shoulder. No, it doesn’t actually whisper in my ear, but when the Muse is Upon Me, my mind is filled with ideas for books, blogs, columns, etc.

Take this morning, for example. I got up in the early morning hours to heed the call of nature. When I returned to my bed, the Muse was sitting on the bedstand. Yup, from 1:30 on the Muse had me in its grip. I couldn’t wait until it was a decent hour to get up. I don’t know if you call 4:00 a.m. decent, but figured the neighbors might call the police if the interior lights were going on and off a lot earlier than usual. And when I return email or post on facebook or twitter in the early morning hours, I’m invariably asked “Isn’t it… in California? What are you doing up?” I wonder if they understand that when the Muse is Upon Me, I can do nothing but honor it.

And for writers, I think it’s a bit tougher when the mind is spinning. If you’re a mechanic, you really can’t go into work until the shop opens, even if you’re thinking aboout how to fix that car that was brought in last night at closing time. If you sell shoes at Nordstrom’s, you can’t get into the store until it’s open for business and you’re ready to serve the customers.

Us writers, not so. It’s often just a few steps to our working area and that working area is probably open 24 hours a day. So if the Muse is Upon You at 2:00 a.m., there’s a good chance you’ll be honoring it. I have to admit that I’m not a very good middle-of-the-night writer, but I know that for a lot of writers, when it’s quiet and everyone’s in bed, that’s when they do their best work. For me, the Muse serves more as an idea-generating thing in the middle of the night. I really think some of my best ideas for columns, books, resolving plot dilemmas, etc., comes from the Muse in the middle of the night. That’s when the pen and paper next to the bed serve me well. I can jot down notes and flesh in the ideas in the morning, my creative time. Last night, for instance, I thought of the plot for the third and final book of the Teddy series, mentally wrote two colums for a newspaper I contribute to, two blogs and two submissions to the Huffington Post, where I’m also a columnist. Actually, the Muse and I had a pretty good night. The Must is usually very quiet in the afternoons. It must be tired or maybe by now it knows that I find afternoons to be the  best time for catching up on emails and reading trade items, rather than actively creating.

I sometimes wish my Muse was a real bird. Then, at least, I could put it in its cage, cover it with a towel, and tell it to be quiet. But no, when the Muse is Upon Me, there is definitely no way to quiet the cacophony of the mind. Muse – I need some sleep. Please, imagine you have a cage. Just for tonight!

NINE INSPIRING BLOGGERS AWARD

Don’t think there’s anything better than being acknowledged by your fellow peers. Billy Ray Chitwood, author of Mama’s Madness and An Arizona Tragedy, among others, recently nominated me for Best Blogger Award. Thank you, Billy Ray, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his blog, Billy Ray Chitwood, http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com/blog—billy-ray-chitwood–writing.html. It’s absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend it!

Now comes the fun part. In addition to putting the logo on this post and naming people whose blogs inspire me, I have to list seven things people would be surprised to learn about me. So, for better or worse, here goes:

1.  I’m an avowed “word nerd.” Show me a word game and I’m there! Words With Friends and Wordsworth being my two favorite ones. I’ve even succumbed to playing Scrabble on facebook. Ask me what I do first thing in the morning. Yup, you’ve got it!

2.  I’m a closet Dulce de Leche ice cream lover. A little dish in bed at night while I’m reading, (or being a “word nerd),” is nirvana!

3.  I’m capable of dealing with about anything with the exception of three things: problems with toilets, computers, or cars. I drove my husband to the airport the other day in his car. I’d forgotten that you have to put your foot on the brake and push the start button at the same time. I panicked, debating whether to jump out of the car, horns honking, run into the busy terminal and try to find him, or alternatively, just have the car towed. Finally, I remembered how to start it. Not as if I’d never driven it before!

4.  I’m a puppy lover. At one time I had three puppies, one Brittany Spaniel and two boxers. I thought they were adorable. My husband not so much. Particularly when he planted an “azalea garden” with 30 beautiful azaleas. The puppies thought it was beautiful too. So beautiful, each one felt compelled to dig one up and greet him every time he came home.  He’d like me to say it was a mutual decision to give one of the puppies to a dear friend. I know I wouldn’t be responsible for what might happen if I ever volunteered at a humane shelter, therefore, I support them monetarily.

5. I’m a shoe “fashionista.” There’s just something about a fabulous pair of shoes…

6.  I’m a flower and candle junkie. I have to have bouquets of living things in the house throughout the year. Living in Southern California, I can usually come up with something, even if it’s a lot of orange or lemon branches in a big glass vase.  Every room must have candles – yes, even the bathrooms. There’s something about lit candles that makes the world a better place to be. A few years ago I was in a nightclub in Sacramento, California, where they had a wall of mirrors and glass with candles reflecting off of them.  A whole wall. Had to have it! “Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Tell me how we’re going to do it!” I said.  Now I have glass shelves backed by mirrors and candles on two walls. When it’s winter and the two walls have mirrored candlelight, it’s magical. Light them even when I’m by myself. Good for the soul!

7.  Lastly, I’m a closet introvert. Yeah, I know. I’ve entertained everyone from Governors to gardeners and enjoyed them all. But quiet time, looking out at the garden with a good book in hand, that’s when I’m happiest!

Now that you know all (well, maybe not all) of my secrets, it’s time to name a few people who write fabulous blogs and are are my choices for Best Bloggeer Award – in no certain order.

1.  Michelle Browne @ Sci-Fi Magpie http://scifimagpie.blogspot.com/

2.  Kirstin Pulioff @  The Literary Closet  http://www.kirstinpulioff.com/

3. Travis Luedke @ The NightLife (Adult Content) http://thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com/?zx=3df2bb5e9e98b142

4.  Thomas Rydder, Writer @ http://thomasrydder.wordpress.com/

5.  B.R. Snow, Welcome to the Official Site of Author, B.R. Snow @ http://www.brsnow.net/category/br-snow-books/

6.  Joss Landry @ Joss Landry Blog http://josslandry.com/blog/

7.  Jet Elway @ Jet http://jetelway.com/

8.  James J. Murray @ Prescription for Murder http://jamesjmurray.wordpress.com/

9.  Jenna Brooks @ Jenna Brook Blog http://jennabrooks.weebly.com/

They write about everything of interest from children to adult! Enjoy! They’re all terrific.

Authors & Discounted Books

I ran across an article this morning from the New York Times that I think is of huge interest to all of us who write. It deals with discounting books and the different venues.This seems to be a growing trend that was started by Amazon in their KDP Select program. There are other places to promote discounted and free books if you’re not a fan of Amazon’s exclusivity. Well worth a look-see!

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/business/media/daily-deals-propel-older-e-books-to-popularity.html?ref=business

Award Winning Author in the Mystery & Suspense genre