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Fat Girl Begone!

Fat Girl Begone Button 300 x 225So, this morning, I’m not surprised when the guest author shows up at my doorstep. Yes, this time she was expected. I’m all ready to whisk her away to destination unknown (her choice) and conduct an interview, but instead, she shows my her guest blog.

“But, I had an interview all ready for you. We’ll sit on the beach or at a bistro or on top of a tall mountain-”

“Please!” she drawls. “I’m am not going up any mountain, least not today.”

“But-”

And, you know what happens next. Yep, I’m nudged aside and she sits at my new laptop and, well, no mountain top for me today.

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Readers, reviewers, family members – let’s just say pretty much everyone – assumes that writers use the people they know as characters in their novels. Friends and acquaintances will spend hours debating which character was them. The discussions can get a bit heated.

Of course, writers use their own lives as fodder for their writing, but that doesn’t mean we use our personal contacts as actual characters in our novels. How in the world would that even work? If you write several books a year, you’d have to move every other year to ensure you have enough material for your writing. Or set up a social circle so that you can constantly meet new people. And how would fantasy and science fiction writers do that? Have they actually met aliens or figured out the secrets of Area 51? (If you have, please share.)

While I remain adamant that I don’t base characters in my novels on actual people (no matter what my mother-in-law thinks!), I have to admit that I take pieces of a person’s personality and use them as the ingredients upon which I concoct a character. I take those little characteristics, add in my own active imagination, and off I go! I throw in exaggeration as well as characteristics from other persons and before you know it, the character who emerges at the end of the writing process doesn’t resemble the initial person – at all. No, really, not at all. Whenever I actually allow a reader to guess who they think a character is based upon, there are wrong. Every. Single. Time.

Although I don’t steal characters for my fictional world from my friends and family, I admit to totally stealing events and happenings. When I arrived back in the Netherlands last year, I was at my heaviest weight ever and – just like Everly in Fat Girl Begone! – I started the diet and fitness plan to end all diet and fitness plans. I joined three different tennis groups, a gym, and a boot camp. Let the stealing commence!

Fat Girl Begone! is a romantic comedy and, in addition to what I hope is witty dialogue between Everly and her male pursuers, I wanted to add in some funny gym scenes. I am not the most coordinated person in the world. In fact, today I formed a faction with another uncoordinated person at boot camp class, and we flat out refused to do a few exercises because we just knew we’d end up on our asses.

Being uncoordinated may be embarrassing but it’s also a gold mine for writing ideas. I take actual occurrences that may or may not have happened to me and embellish the heck out of them. So, instead of Everly tripping on her own feet, she trips because she’s checking out some hunky guy working out in the gym. She also gets slapped in the face by a jump rope because someone surprises her and not because she hasn’t managed to figure out that she needs to jump up to avoid the rope before it trips her.

Writing a novel about getting fit and losing weight while trying to do the same in real life was a great way to turn real life into fiction. If you happen to read Fat Girl Begone! and think the author is a total klutz, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.

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coverFat Girl Begone!

D.E. Haggerty

Genre: Romantic Comedy,

Contemporary Romance

Published: May 1, 2017

Number of pages: 240

Word Count: 71, 387

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

ISBN: 9781370442188

ASIN: B06XTSHJHB

Book Description:

I’m a total mess. My boyfriend dumped me – get this – because I diet too much. Not because I’m fat, mind you. Of course, this spurs me into the diet-fitness-revenge-plan of the century, which leads me to the gym and a scorching hot personal trainer. I even manage to make some cool new friends, including a millionaire if you can believe it.

Things are looking up! Naturally, that’s the moment my ex decides he wants me back, the personal trainer asks me out, and my millionaire male buddy decides to throw his hat in the ring. But that’s not enough drama. No, not for me. Because I’ve also lost my job and decided to start my own business.

Just call me Ms. Drama.

Warning: Bad language, bumpy roads, and embarrassing moments ahead. But there’s also more than a bit of romance and even, if we’re lucky, love. Fingers crossed.

Not endorsed by or affiliated with any brand of tequila.

Excerpt:

You should totally jump that, chica.”

It’s Monday, and I’ve just survived another Zumba class. I only hit Tara once. Okay, twice, but who’s counting? I’m still trying to catch my breath and stop my heart from jumping out of my ribcage. None of which stops me from panting after my personal trainer. Before I get a chance to respond to her comment or tear my eyes away from Gabe’s epic ass, the rest of the gang joins Tara and me.

What are you bitches yapping about?” Oh great, Charise didn’t just say that at maximum volume or anything.

Everly taking her personal trainer for a ride.”

Oh my god. Please tell me no one else heard Tara announce that I’m lusting after Gabe. I hear giggles and murmurs of agreement from the other exercisers exiting the group exercise room. Of course, everyone heard. Charise, Tara, Naomi, and Jessie have one volume – embarrassingly loud.

I ignore them and head to the locker rooms with my head down. Of course, I can’t help but sneak another glance at Gabe. He’s doing squats for God’s sake! I defy any woman – or man for that matter – to not look. I keep my eyes glued to those glutes as I walk in the opposite direction. My foot hits something and before I know it I’m going down.

I end up sprawled on the floor of the gym. I look down at my outfit and sigh in relief. Good. No rolls of fat are showing. Thankfully, I had put a long sweatshirt on over the loose tank I was wearing during class. A hand appears in front of my face.

Let me help you up, babe.”

I look up to see yet another example of male perfection. Does this gym have a portal to Mount Olympus for the Greek Gods to come and go as they please? Because damn. This is one fine specimen of manhood in front of me.

Babe?”

His voice startles me out of my perusal of his perfection. I reach out and he grabs my hand to pull me up. Only he doesn’t stop there. He pulls me flush to his body and then leans down to whisper in my ear. “It’s okay, babe. Happens all the time when girls look at me.” And crash. There goes my adulation of the man. I knew there was a reason no one believes in the Greek Gods anymore. Vanity is not attractive.

I pull on my hand until he releases me. “Thanks.”

You okay, sweetheart?” As if I couldn’t be embarrassed enough, now Gabe’s here.

I’m fine. Just wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see the former Greek God puff out his chest as if I had paid him a compliment. I can’t help it. My eyes narrow at him, and I attempt to engage my eye lasers. Just like the two gazillion other times I’ve tried to use those lasers, they malfunction.

Gabe ignores the entire episode. “You here to do your exercise class?”

Nope.” I shake my head. “I just put on some workout clothes and then ducked my head under the faucet to get my face and hair wet.”

My personal trainer laughs and grabs my shoulder to give it a squeeze. Why is he squeezing my shoulder? “You’re funny, sweetheart.” I wasn’t going for funny but whatever.

Someone shouts ‘Gabe’ from the other side of the gym. I look over to see the blond bimbo he was training staring daggers at me. Gabe squeezes my shoulder again. “Sorry, sweetheart, I need to get back to work. I’ll see you Wednesday, right?” I nod, and he winks before walking off.

Looks like I’m not needed here.” I forgot Mr. Vanity was still standing here. I don’t bother responding to his obvious pout. I shake my head and walk to the locker rooms.

authorAbout the Author:

I grew-up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear.

After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B.

Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before deciding to follow the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go.

But ten years was too many to stay away from adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Fat girl Begone! is my eleventh book.

Website: http://dehaggerty.wordpress.com

Blog: https://dehaggerty.wordpress.com/category/mymusings/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dehaggerty

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dehaggerty/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7210211.D_E_Haggerty

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.E.-Haggerty/e/B00ECQBURU/

Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/bbmdj9

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DEHaggerty/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/denahaggerty/

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Around The Globe With Renee Dyer

It’s been awhile, but I’m back as the world traveler, seeing sites and seeking out authors. In the next month or so, I’ll present a nice variety of authors. First up, takes me to the beach. Soft sand. Tropical punch…and fuzzy socks?

Sevyn Button 300 x 225

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1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

Well, I live in a small town of about 7,000 people and I’m sure I’m not the most fascinating person, but I know many of the moms like to think it’s taboo to talk to me because I write “porn”. Someday, people will understand what romance stories are really about…the journey of love.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m obsessed with fuzzy socks. Seriously. I must have at least fifty pairs. Ankle socks. Tube socks. Solid colors. Designed. Patriots ones for my favorite football team. I could go on and on. I love them.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

Well, I can’t sing or play any instruments so the rock star fantasy wasn’t happening. But honestly, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I grew up carrying a journal and jotting whenever I could.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

I would love to have dinner with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laurell K. Hamilton, or Nickly Charles. They have some of the most developed and creative stories I have ever read, as well as deeply written love stories. I would probably pee my pants or pass out at the opportunity to meet them, but man, to get a glimpse into their minds…wow, that would be life changing.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

A deserted island would be great. No one would see you cry. One thing I’m always told is, you need tissues to read my books. I feel like I’m constantly apologizing for making people cry, but I love angst—reading it and writing it. I love the ups and down, the tension, the shattering and putting back together. If that’s what you love too, then my books are the perfect company for you.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

As soon as an idea pops in my head, a notebook gets started. If that idea turns into a full story then I form an outline. I’d love to say my characters follow what I think, but they do their own thing. A lot of my stories are made up, but if I’m writing something that is real to life and I don’t know about it, I either ask people in that field or I turn to the internet. My schedule is all over the place. I have to fit writing in around my swag business and my kids’ crazy schedules. Many times I’m writing, sitting on the couch in my living room, while my family is running around, screaming. It’s pure chaos. I’m fortunate, though, to have a handful of amazing beta readers who get my books every couple chapters. With their help, I get a lot of the rewrites done before the book goes to my editor. The amount of rewrites varies by book. My editor does two to three passes through each book, normally two, but if she suggests a lot of additions, a third run through happens. The only book that has been different is Sevyn. The idea came to me and I let the story sit in my head for eleven months, just swirling around and completely forming. Then I wrote for seven weeks until it was complete. The characters didn’t veer off course too much.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Everyone has to find their own process. I know authors who have to have a full outline. Some just plot their characters. Others simply write. My piece of advice is find what you think will work for you and write. If it isn’t working, you’ll find that out and know where to tweak it. Don’t get frustrated. There’s no right answer. There’s no one way to make the process work.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I always tell people life is for living, or be happy, you’re on the right side of the grass. We spend so much time surrounded by negativity I try to show people as often as I can that there’s a lot of good out there.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

Oh, hell no. The multitude of started notebooks in my back room can’t go to waste. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t writing. The Healing Hearts Series is a big project for me. I am currently doing some rewrites on books one and two. They are already published, as well as book three, but they were my first books and I feel they could use some cleaning up. Exposed, book four is written, but won’t be published until I get the rewrites done. And Hidden, book five has been started. I also have children’s series started with my two younger sons. One series for 4-7 year-olds and the other for 8-12 year-olds.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

I post on Facebook the most, but you can find me at any of these places:

Facebook author page

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorReneeDyer

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ReneeDyerAuthor

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/reneedyer1/

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/author/reneedyer

Pinterest Page:

http://www.pinterest.com/reneedyerauthor/

Google + Page:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ReneeDyerRomanceAuthor/posts

Goodreads Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7529668.Renee_Dyer

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coverSevyn

Renee Dyer

Genre: Thriller/ Romantic Suspense/

Dark Romance
Publisher: Forever Red Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-941853-39-9

Number of pages: 300

Cover Artist: Lee Ching from Under Cover Designs

Tagline: When life hands you impossible choices, can you become the man you want to be?

Book Description:

Born into rival drug cartels, Kevyn Zozlov and his best friend Esperanza Torres defy the odds, finding laughter in a world full of pain. Ripped away from her at a young age, Kevyn has to learn the difference between family, loyalty, and obedience. Fear keeps him focused each day. Memories fill his dreams at night.

Torn between the death he sees daily and what he believes is right, he struggles to decide the kind of man he wants to be—until a promise he makes to his mother, the person he loves more than anyone, changes everything.

Get out of here and find Esperanza. Promise me.”

Now, Kevyn has to figure out how to make his way to the only friend he ever had—the one person who understands his damaged world. Will she welcome him back with open arms, or turn him away, leaving him more lost than he already is?

With time against him, can he find Esperanza and his happiness, or will he be another casualty of the drug war, buried in an unmarked grave with no one to mourn his loss?

Excerpt:

My fourteenth birthday started with screaming, “I want to see my son. He would never ask for this. Kevyn! Kevyn!”

My father was screaming for me?

The hopeful boy in me that had always prayed he would love me ran out of my room and down the stairs. He was in the cage. I stared at him in confusion. Looking back at me was nothing but hatred. Still. He didn’t need my help. Didn’t want it. He wanted me to see how much I disgusted him.

You fucking bastard!” He screamed. Spit flew from his mouth. As usual, he was high. “How dare you wish this for your birthday?”

Excerpt 2:

There is no way to explain the punch in the gut you feel seeing someone murdered. The sound of the gun shooting. The way their head jerks. That moment before the body realizes that its essence is gone, eyes staring nowhere, devoid of all emotion, before finally crumbling to the ground. Blood dribbles from their lips and pools on the floor. It’s like your soul performs one last dance before wrenching away to find out what lays beyond. One last morbid, horrific waltz, it gripped onto me and imbedded every detail into my young mind.

I would never be the same.

He was really gone.

I never wanted to be responsible for someone’s death, but I was responsible for this. My father was dead because of me. As he laid there, his eyes devoid of life, no longer able to judge me—hate me, I looked up to the sky and silently thought to my mother…justice is yours.

Excerpt 3:

Esperanza’s lips touched my cheek and she whispered, “I always knew you were still out there. My heart would have known if you ceased to exist. People thought I was crazy, but I told them you’d come back. I knew you’d come back for me.”

I could feel her breath on my face and couldn’t stop myself from the stupid action I took. It was quick, and anything but smooth, but I turned my face and brought my lips to hers…only for a brief second. I whispered back, “I’ll always come for you.”

She pulled away and put her fingers to her lips before a smile so big it could split her cheeks broke out. “Never leave again, okay? My heart can’t take it a second time.”

I’ll never go anywhere without you.”

IMG_20170504_124048108About the Author:

From a young Renee Dyer had a love of writing, starting with a doodle pad at age four that morphed into journals. Poetry became short stories and short stories a novel. Although she’s surrounded by males all day having three sons, a husband, and a hyperactive chocolate lab, she still finds time to be herself by escaping into the fantasy of reading and writing romance. That is, until she needs a male’s perspective and garners eye rolling from her husband at all of her questions. Renee is a true New Englander. You can find her screaming profanity at the TV while the Pats play and cuddling under blankets during the cold seasons (which is most of them), reading a good book. She doesn’t believe snow is a reason to shut things down, only to slow down and admire the beauty. Ask her anything. She’s an open book—pun fully intended.

Facebook Author Page

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorReneeDyer

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ReneeDyerAuthor

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/author/reneedyer

Pinterest Page:

http://www.pinterest.com/reneedyerauthor/

Google + Page:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ReneeDyerRomanceAuthor/posts

Goodreads Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7529668.Renee_Dyer

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Following Directions

When-all-else-fails-follow-directionsMay I have a few paragraphs to discuss a minor issue? This is about following directions.

Before I joined Gannett, I spent years filling out online applications (paper applications having almost gone by the wayside) and have spent years querying agents and publishers regarding my books.

Each site and organization has directions to follow to fill out their applications or to submit material.

Online applications are relatively easy to follow, although a complaint I would make is that the forms are long and heaven help you if you mess up or your computer balks in the middle or when you hit SUBMIT to forward your application to the HR department. I don’t know how many times some glitch occurred and I had to start from the beginning. Ten, fifteen, or more minutes gone because of a glitch and I had to re-type all of the information.

Many times, there are directions on what material to upload to attach to the application. Resume, references, salary requirements, blood type, birth certificate, driver’s license, school transcripts, grocery receipts, etc. (Okay, some of these might not be needed.) This was a slow process, too, because I remember at one company-which shall remain nameless-I wasn’t sure whether the information had actually uploaded because the system wasn’t designed to be user friendly.

Applying to a college which shall also remain nameless (but I’m very tempted), I couldn’t work their online system. So, I spent an hour trying to find the campus HR office (which was off campus), and walked in to find half the lights out, and one woman manning the desk. I explained my situation but she said I had to apply online. “But I’m right here. I have my resume. Could I fill out an application.” No, it had to be done online. “But I’m right here.”

I walked out thinking she needed to find another job because her position was obsolete.

But, it comes back to following directions (which I balked at because I couldn’t navigate the system.)

With regards to submitting to an agent or publisher, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard to follow their submission requirements explicitly. If they want three chapters, send three chapters. If they want 50 pages, don’t decrease the font size to have the entire book on fifty pages. Most don’t want a manuscript until about the third round.

I have no problem with these directions. I may have a problem with them not replying, even to say no. I realize they’re inundated with hundreds and hundreds of queries, but I think it comes down to basic business courtesy. “Thank you but this is not for us.” That’s all it takes and that’s what I’ve received numerous times.

Anyway, I bring up this topic because I’ve signed up on a couple review sites. Authors look on the site, find a reviewer, contact him/her to request a review. Now, in my section on both sites where authors are able to see what books I’m interested in reading, I suggest that authors please look at my review blog (braytonsbookbuzz.wordpress.com) to see how I review and to read past reviews. This is so they understand the difference between my review blog and others. There is also a sidebar where I list the genres I’m interested in and how to make a request.

It lists my email and states the following: “In your email, please submit name (duh!), website (must have), and any relevant information about your book (including publisher and purchase sites). Please do not send attachments with queries.”

I want something more than, “Hey dude, here’s my book. You want to review it?” Most of the time, however, I receive an email with not much more than this. Also, I don’t know how many times people have attached the book in anticipation of my acceptance or else to save time.

One of the best requests I received started with a deference to my busy schedule. She introduced herself, gave a website, gave me the elevator pitch on her book and formally requested a review. Normally, I wouldn’t have read her book because it was a foreign mystery and I think twice about those. However, because of the way she wrote her request, I accepted it, and mentioned that in the review. The book didn’t rate a black belt, but was still enjoyable.

I don’t like attachments, partially because of the reason other businesses don’t like them: the possibility of the attachment being corrupted. Another reason is I think it shows a bit of courtesy toward the person (as it would the agent/publisher) not to assume. I certainly wouldn’t attach a manuscript to an agent/publisher and basically say, “Here it is!” They’re going to be suspicious and reject it automatically…unless their instructions ask for the manuscript.

I’m not saying I’m as important as those agents and publishers, but if I speak to another blogger, in regard to either review of my book or getting space with a guest blog/interview, I’m always formal and courteous.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Do you?

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My Desk

2017050295072915Wanted to show you a small section of where I work.

My desk.

On my side of the floor, there are rows and rows of desks just like mine. Each has a dual monitor Macintosh and is L-shaped. Some of the residents have put up pictures, some have action figures standing guard. Others have small plants and all have bits of personal items.

You know, a typical work desk.

When I started this job, I shared the computer with the guy who came on in the evening. After awhile, he moved to another shift and another computer. Which meant his action figures went with him. I didn’t mind them at the desk. They were interesting to look at.

About a month ago, the artists and assistant artist who had been grouped into teams, moved to be together in the same area. So, I moved from a desk near the inside window where I could peer down into the central atrium, see what’s happening down there, hear how groups of chattering children sounded like seagulls, to an outside window across from the Savory hotel that is being renovated (at a snail’s pace in my opinion), where I can peer down on Locust Avenue, and enjoy the sunlight and the thunderstorms.

However, I am back to sharing a computer with the night shift guy. Now there’s no major problem with this arrangement. He has his stuff (movies quotes on the partition, Vikings trivia and Get Fuzzy calendars, lotion, back scratcher) and I have my stuff (small Santa ornament on the back partition). He has the bottom desk drawer and I have the top. I have my little fan which he probably uses.

The only minor issue that I’ve worked around is he has the computer up on a stand. I tried it the first day but didn’t like looking up so much. Plus, he has the monitors tucked back into the corner of the L. I like them right in front of me, not at an angle. So, each morning, I move the monitors to where I like them, and before I leave, put them back where he likes them. I also switch out the mouse and the mouse pad.

See, when I previously shared a computer, the guy and I used a Windows mouse. I don’t like the Mac mouse. It’s too small and I don’t like the scroll wheel. About a month into the job I started getting dry skin on the areas where my hand touched the mouse pad. A dermatologist finally told me it was a personal problem. Seriously. Because I was using a mouse constantly throughout the day, it brought to life some internal problem that resulted in dry skin. I thought it was something I might have picked up from the other guy who also used the mouse pad. So, IT gave me a separate pad for my use only. I’ve brought those over to the new computer.

However, last week, the Windows mouse died and I was forced to use the Mac mouse for a couple days. IT didn’t have another Windows mouse so I bought my own wireless Windows mouse.

So, I’m set.

This is my desk. This is my workplace.

I know, nothing really special about this week’s blog, just a bit of my thoughts on my workplace.

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Chapters – XII

C12I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

I feel sorry for the patron who made this complaint because this person probably missed out on something else delicious. Maybe the store didn’t have the usual items your hometown store did, but one of the beauties of travel is to poke your nose into a local small shop and see what’s there. Many times the items on display might be interesting, locally made, a homemade treat that is made only in that town or country.

The same can said of independent book stores. Yes, it’s quite all right to wander around the aisles looking at the variety of books in your local Barnes and Noble and I’ve done it often. If you’re an online shopper, Amazon probably has what you need.

But it’s the local shop with the narrow aisles and the crammed shelves that might net you something unexpected. For instance, my book. That’s right There are a couple of stores within an hour’s driving from my town where you will find my book. I had to contract with the stores for them to allow my book on their shelves but that’s the nice thing about indie stores. Sometimes they’ll let local authors sell books. They may even have a ‘local authors’ section that you find at B&N, and who knows what treasures you may find from people in your hometown.

Just a short blog today to encourage you to visit small, out of the way shops, poke around, chat up the owner. You might learn and discover something wonderful.

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Integrity

Richard-Norton-with-quote-296x300Another set of student essays. This time, on Integrity:

Stella –

I think integrity is practicing you hardest and doing the moves the correct way. It is about not fighting with or being mean to my brother even if mommy and daddy are not watching.

It is also about doing what the teacher says, like standing quietly in line when the teacher is helping someone else.

Helping others when you say you are going to help is also a way to show integrity.

I think mostly, it is trying your best, working hard, having fun to get better and learn more about karate.

Noelle –

What is integrity? Well, the definition of integrity is basically honesty and knowing what’s the right thing to do. Integrity is when you are honest to someone. Integrity is a good attribute to look for in a friend.

You can use integrity wherever you go – school, outside, at home, or even in the small, unimportant place. Integrity is a key characteristic that you should look for in people. If you see honesty shining out of someone’s personality, you know that they have great integrity quality.

At school, integrity is seen all over. If someone forgot to do their assignment and is afraid to tell the teacher when she asks if the assignment was completed by everyone, integrity is being honest and admitting to it.

If, at a friend’s house, I am called to come home because I didn’t clean my room like I was supposed to, integrity is doing the right thing honestly by telling your friend that you need to leave and why and not making an excuse.

Integrity is being honest and always doing what your heart tells you to do. It’s telling the truth even if you don’t feel like it instead of lying. Integrity is showing people that you are trustworthy. There are many examples of integrity all around in your life. You just need to look for them.

Elijah –

The definition of integrity is: being honest or having strong moral principles. Integrity is a good thing to look for in a friend.

If I want to go to a friend’s house, but I have to clean my room, I don’t lie, I clean my room. In the same way, if you ant good grades, you do your homework. You don’t just lie and say, “No, I don’t have any homework.” You do you homework.

If my instructors ask me if we practiced our form, but we didn’t we don’t say we did, we tell the truth and say we didn’t.

Integrity is shown all around you. If you don’t tell the truth, the consequences are greater than they would have been if you would have told the truth.

Madison –

I love doing the right thing. At school, I pick up paper towels off the ground. AT home, I play with my sister and use kind words. At swim practice I share the lane and let others in front of me unless they’re scared.

Amber –

The meaning of integrity is being honest and having fairness to others and share with your friends and also show people your courage and strength no matter what you’re going through. Be honest if someone asks you something, do tell the truth. Always return things if you find them. Don’t keep it. Show strength and courage no matter what situation you’re going through.

Saleena –

Integrity is about sharing with others and being fair to your friends and taking turns and honor the things you do at home or with your family and teachers. Integrity is about being honest about things, being trustworthy to other people.

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Chapters – XI

The Latin Quarter, Paris, FranceThe roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

Okay, I just don’t know what to say about this.

Anyway, I wanted to relate this to how reading has always been one of my enjoyments. I think one of the best jobs I could have would be one where I did nothing but read books. Maybe for review (which I do for free nowadays) or just get paid to enjoy a book.

This brings me to my book collection. I don’t know how many books I own both in print and various computer files. However, I thought I might share some of them with you. First off, you get an insight into what enjoy and second, it makes for an easy blog when the majority of the blog is copy and paste or listing authors. Lol.

All of the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books in the series.

Most of the Doctor Who novels.

Many Bill Bryson books

Many of the Dave Barry books

The James Herriot books

Several of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers books

Most of the Hardy Boys books

Some of the examples in the horror and sci-fi genres include:

L.A. Banks

Tom Allen

Clive Barker

Algernon Blackwood

Most of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Karen Chance

Brendan Hay

Dean Ing

Stephen King (of course)

David Morrell

Bill Pronzini (include him in the mystery genre)

Dave Watson

F. Paul Wilson

H.P. Lovecraft

Mystery authors include:

Nevada Barr

Lawrence Block

C.J. Box (saw him at Killer Nashville one year)

Donald Bain (ditto)

Jeffrey Deaver (ditto)

Lee Child

Clive Cussler

Every Dick Francis book

Erle Stanley Gardner

Rex Stout

Jack Higgins

Reginald Hill

John Lutz

Lisa Lutz

Steve Martini

Ellery Queen

John Sandford

Dorothy Sayers

Jon Trace

Stuart Woods

I also have many Star Trek and Star Wars stories.

Wow, I just realized that I could go on for several weeks like this, just listing books and authors. Again, I could go through my inventory and count but that would take way too long.

I can do this for you. When I started collecting books, I made the decision to put the horror novels separate from every other genre and start numbering them. I don’t know why I decided to do that. Some OCD thing early on. Anyway, every book I deem a horror or something very similar gets a number. As the years have passed I have realized that some of those early choices probably should have been placed in the mystery or sci-fi section, but I’m not going to go back and change the list.

What I’ve done with every print book I’ve bought is place ½ of an index card with the number I’ve designated for it just inside the cover and the other half with the same number showing on the back of the book when I wrap it in plastic for storage. When the eBook files started rolling in, I just included them. Now, I will admit that some of the stories listed in the horror section are not full length books. Some are short stories that have been published on their own and some have been included in anthologies. Again, I wasn’t going to take the time to research. However, the vast majority of the numbered horror stories are full length books. At the time of this writing, I am up to number 1585. That’s just in the horror genre.

Currently, in my ‘to read’ collection I have a bookcase that is approximately three feet wide with six shelves, double-stacked with paperbacks. I also have a metal bookcase approximately four feet wide or so, three shelves full of hardback with a three foot stack of hardbacks on top. Then I have a video case about a foot wide with, I think, six or seven shelves for the rest of the hardbacks. Then I couldn’t even begin to guess how many of the eBooks are on the ‘to read’ list.

In storage, waiting for my dream library, are at least twenty boxes of various sizes of wrapped already read books.

So, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll get back to reading.

What are some of the books in your inventory?

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Spotlight On L. M. Pruitt

Wicked Button 300 x 225

coverWicked

A Damned Novel

LM Pruitt

Release Date: April 2017

All things truly wicked start from innocence.

Ernest Hemingway

Book Description:

Being a demon isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Especially when you make a massive mistake your first month on the job.

Even more so when your sister is one of the all-star players on the other team.

Add in the rumors of not one but two coups and it’s not hard to see—something wicked this way comes….

pruittAbout the Author:

L.M. Pruitt has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. A native of Florida with a love of New Orleans, she has the uncanny ability to find humor in most things and would probably kill a plastic plant. She knows this because she’s killed bamboo. Twice. She is the author of the Winged series, the Plaisir Coupable series, Jude Magdalyn series, the Moon Rising series, and Taken: A Frankie Post Novel.

http://www.lmpruitt.org

https://www.facebook.com/pages/LM-Pruitt/364776895104

https://twitter.com/lmpruitt

http://www.amazon.com/L.M.-Pruitt/e/B00427WOW4/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4320796.L_M_Pruitt

Excerpt 1

Julie, is it? When you died, what did you see? And please don’t insult us or waste our time by claiming you saw nothing.”

I studied him for a moment, torn between doing just that and telling the truth. There was something about meeting the be-all-end-all as far as the creation of everything went which made me want to keep our conversation to ourselves. On the other hand, I didn’t relish having to go through the whole dying thing again and I had a feeling the key to my miraculous return rested in those few minutes when I was, to quote the younger dead, all dead.

There was a white room. And a woman.” I paused, hesitating another moment before continuing. “She said She was the Power.” I took a deep breath, holding it a few seconds before exhaling. “And when I asked if She was going to kill me, She said no, it wasn’t my time to die. And then I was back here.”

It’s not enough.” Joanne shook her head, her hair sliding over her shoulders. “Michael, it’s not enough. You know how She is. She could have been playing one of Her fucking word games and any minute now—.”

I know, girl.” The almost giant next to her knelt down, kissing the side of her head before murmuring something in her ear. Whatever he said reassured her enough to have her letting up some of the death grip on my hand although she still didn’t let go. Michael turned to Gabriel, standing silent and watchful in the back of the room. “Can you speak with Her?”

You think She’s less likely to lie to me?” Gabriel snorted. “You know She doesn’t play favorites.”

And we all know that’s a lie. She was willing to sacrifice innocents to keep you whole, if not happy.” Gideon’s gaze flicked to the tall redhead who, if I was keeping up with the names being thrown around earlier, had to be Lucinda. “She’ll answer your questions, even if She doesn’t want to.”

I didn’t say She wouldn’t answer me. I said there was a good chance She would still lie to me.” Gabriel sighed. “But fine—as the patron saint of women and children—.”

We already know your resume.” Joanne’s voice was so acidic every person in the room, archangel or not, flinched. I lifted my brows but stayed silent. This Joanne wasn’t the one I remembered. This Joanne seemed as if she could not only reduce a person to tears with a few words but she would enjoy doing it. “Now go do your job.”

As the queen wishes.” Gabriel offered a bow which was just a shade shy of mocking, his smile dying away when he glanced at Joanne. “Right. I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

His departing flash was enough to blind me but thankfully sulphur free. Although I was feeling less and less like death with each passing second, I wasn’t quite ready for the scent of brimstone.

You had to piss him off, didn’t you, Mom?” Olivia widened her eyes, blinking rapidly. To be fair, the majority of the people in the room were reacting the same way, the only exceptions being Joanne, Barry, Raphael, and Michael. “You know how he feels about being ordered around.”

Much the way you feel.” Joanne’s face softened ever so slightly, her lips curving upward. “In case you wondered where you get that particular quirk from.”

Yes, blame it on my brother.” Michael kissed her cheek again, tucking her hair behind her ear and studying her face. Whatever he saw there had him nodding. “Why don’t we all go in to the other room for a few minutes? Leave the two of you alone?” He glanced over at Raphael and Gideon, standing silent and watchful with matching looks of suspicion. “Do you think that will be a problem?”

If she were human, hell, yes—she had multiple seizures leading up to a massive cardiac episode and she was dead for damn near ten minutes.” Gideon paused, sighing and shaking his head. “But I’ll admit, I don’t have a goddamn clue what’s happening here. Even when the Power is generous enough to provide a miracle, She still tends to make it hurt, just so you don’t mistake her kindness for weakness.”

Gideon, please.” Joanne’s voice broke and once again the entire room responded, although this time there was a definite degree of panic. People all but tripped over themselves in an effort to exit the room, the sole exceptions once again being Michael, Raphael, and Barry. “Just a few minutes.”

Fine. Yes. Fine.” Gideon shoved Lucinda toward the flap which apparently served as a door, nodding rapidly. “If anything happens, yell.”

If you need us, we’ll be outside.” Olivia scooped up Douglas, ignoring his whines to stay with Nana. She paused with one hand on the flap, glancing over her shoulder. “Do you want me to go get the others?”

Not yet.” Joanne shook her head, clearing her throat before continuing. “I need a few minutes.”

Okay.” Olivia shifted her gaze to Barry. “Are you coming?”

In a moment.” Striding across the room, he nudged his way between me and Joanne, kissing the top of her head and then mine. “Let me know if you need anything.”

It was a tossup as to who his statement was directed toward and right then it didn’t matter. Joanne nodded, stretching up and kissing his cheek. “I don’t know why you were there but thank you.”

His only answer was a nod before he followed Olivia out of the room.

We’ll be right next door.” Raphael leaned across the bed, giving Joanne a hard, brief, almost possessive kiss. Glancing at Michael and lifting his brows, he said, “Call if you need anything.”

Don’t be a hero, girl.” Michael didn’t kiss her, instead simply pressing his forehead to hers. “Call.”

We’ll be fine.” She glanced at me, her smile clearly forced. “I promise.”

The two men exchanged another look before leaving the room, the flap dropping shut behind him. For long minutes, there was only silence. Finally, Joanne sighed and shook her head.

Julie—what the fuck have you gotten yourself in to?”

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Let’s Talk Cars

talk carsIn my role as an assistant graphic designer, I see a multitude of ads come through on a daily basis. Since I began processing ads, I have done many auto ads. It didn’t take very long to realize that the style of cars has changed in the last decade or so in one particular way, at least in my opinion.

Some years ago, I remember seeing an article about an actor who had souped up his pickup and turned it into a ‘sport utility vehicle’. Soon after, the average Joe wanted one, so car makers responded.

Now, I think over fifty percent of the vehicles I see are SUVs. And style? Well, I think they’ve lost a lot of style since this trend started.

I realize that the ‘SUV’ has been around for awhile, even if they weren’t always called that. Jeep Cherokee, Chevy Suburban, Land Rover, etc. Aside from those, what I remember are basically five choices in cars: Pickup trucks, vans, sedans, sports cars, and station wagons. (I’m excluding motorcycles for this discussion.)

Today, the first four are still around. The pickups went from being large clunky, sharp-edged looking things in the 60s and 70s to small zippy lightweight things with an attempt to be gas conscious in the 80s. Now, they’re back to full-sized monster trucks without the giant wheels. Gone are the Chevy S-10s and smaller pickups of which I used to keep a running count of on the highways.

The sedans, have, for the most part, gone soft curves on the fenders and trunks and roof lines. The new Lincolns and models from Lexus try for class and somewhat achieve it. I do sort of like the new Impala.

The sports cars are the only ones that are still sporty. I like the curves and the low slung frames, the convertibles, the chrome, the style.

The vans have softened and the cargo vans are just plain weird.

1969-mercury-montego-mx-station-wagon-original-3There are still a few station wagon type cars, very few. Nothing like the old long station wagons of the 70s. The Country Squires, the Impala Wagon, The Malibu Wagon, The Town and Country, and the battleship gray Mercury Montego wagon my grandmother used to own. You know, the cars that demo derby drivers craved. Now, they’re soft curvy Outbacks and Foresters.

However, those have begun to look very similar to today’s SUV. I’m sorry, but sometimes I have difficulty telling the difference. Terrain, Equinox, CRV, Murano, Pilot, the new Cherokee, Escape, Edge, Explorer and on and on. There are differences, but on the road, they tend to blend into one vehicle.

yukon denaliAnd the Suburban has its clones: Deanli and Escalade. Different logos, but the same vehicle with the same hefty price tag.

And most of these SUVS do not have much cargo room behind the back seat when you open the hatch. Even the big ones, although some have a fold down third row.

But the thing I’ve noticed is the lack of style. Once one company has an idea, the others jump in with their own and the originality is lost. The style, the classiness, the unique-ness are gone.

However, this isn’t a new trend. I saw it back in the 70. Some of the late 60s and most of the 70s vehicles were featureless boring pieces of steel. The 80s became bland fuel efficient I-want-to-be-a-cool-car-but-I’m-not cars. (’84 Dodge Charger for example).84 charger The 90s tried, but like that decade’s Top 40 music, became a jumbled mess. The new century  brought in the early era of SUVs and soft curves.

I want fins and edges and length and chrome and fender skirts and flare and hood ornaments and whitewalls and custom jobs and STYLE!

Now, I can hear my dad saying, “But son, I see two problems with your argument.”

The first would be that I give my heroine Mallory Petersen her dad’s car, a 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger. Wasn’t that from the era of boring? Yes, and I will admit to a bias that I thought my family’s blue with white hardtop Swinger was cool. 75 coronetAnd our ’75 Coronet, though it had lost its edgy style, was a tank that pulled trailers and went through snowdrifts. Too bad the alternator decided to conk out at 100,000 miles and I couldn’t afford to pay for it.

The second would be that I own a Dodge Caliver, one of the modern smaller SUVs. What do I think about that?

I will admit, it doesn’t have much storage room in the back. It has soft curves. It and the Dodge Journey remind me of a grown up Chevette or at least a teenage Chevette. But mine is Mango Tango Orange, so i’ll give it a grudging pass.

See, the only cars today that could be worth looking at are the sports cars. The Camaro, Challenger, Charger, a few Mustangs all remind me of the 60s muscle cars. But I’m talking cool sports cars. The Corvette, the new Miata, the Acura convertible, the Cooper. They still show some style.

My hope is that America and the car makers will move through this SUV phase and get back to some decent looking cars or that they will stop being so alike and offer more choices to make their brand stand out.

What sort of car do you own and what do you think of the SUVs?

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Friendship

Friendship“True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.”
– Charles Caleb Colton

I often think of the friends I’ve made throughout the years. Those in high school, some of whom I see either annually or every five years. Those in college, most of those I’ve never seen since graduation. Those in the workplace, through my association in the American Taekwondo Association, through my writers’ group meetings. I could never name all of them but I’d like to highlight a few:

Clark, Jennifer, Paul, Marvin, and the girl who lived next door: 1987. Keystone, SD. I spent a summer working at a burger/chicken place attached to the Ruby House Cafe. Clark was my cook mate. Jenny was his girlfriend. Paul worked inside the restaurant. Marvin was my supervisor. Somewhere, I still have a placard the girl who lived next door to my bunkhouse placed on my car the day I left to go home. We all had some good times and I wish I still was in contact with them.

Allan Allsup: A guy who had the first room on the left when you stepped into the 3rd floor west hall of the Iowa Wesleyan men’s dorm. He re-introduced me to backgammon. We talked music and philosophy and I’m 0-21 against him in ping-pong. Some of his life was troubled and I’ve kept my eye out for his name ever since he left to go experience what the world brought to him. Allan, I’d love to sit and talk with you some more if you’re ever in the area.

Gary Petersen, Dave Stone, Roy, and that girl who wore the miniskirts: First real job out of college (not including the month I worked at the Amoco shop.) WKEI/WJRE in Kewanee, Illinois. I was there less than two years, and when I worked the morning shift on the FM side, oh, the fun we had. Gary was the AM board operator. Dave was the newsman. The receptionist/office worker who wore the tantalizing clothing didn’t stay around long enough. The fun Dave, Gary, and I trying to make each other laugh on the air. Sportscasts, splitting up the holiday schedule. Roy and I tormenting that one guy (all in good fun, but no, we probably should not have done that. I don’t think it had any lasting effects) on the late shifts. I honored Gary a bit by giving my heroine his surname.

Becky and Jim (don’t call me James) Gaskill: She was a coworker for a time at the Oskaloosa Herald. He worked in CAD. The dart games. The card games. The dinners. The one time we all went to dinner with some of his coworkers and I got as drunk as I’ve ever been and will never be again. (Sorry about the waste basket and the knit pillow.) I saw them when they came through on a family vacation. Everybody’s a little older, but nothing’s changed, and that’s just great.

Yvette: No, that’s not her real name, although for a time I thought it was. She was an assistant when I attended a photography course in Iowa City one week before my senior year in high school. I met her four years later when I was doing my internship at a Quad Cities radio station. She lived in the metro area and the one day I stopped by I was ‘conned’ into helping her move.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention a bunch of other people (sorry if I omitted your name but not by choice. I’m just brainstorming here and am bound to leave out a few): the entire class of ’84 Danville High (that’s Danville, Iowa, folks); Kim, Roger, all family (yeah, the pesky in-laws, too), Angi, Mike, Karen, everybody in any writers’ group of which I’ve been a member, Peter (Chicago!), all the ATA instructors/students at all of the camps/business meetings/tournaments; Robert (you hug-able friend), Mary, Rod, Kim (with a different last name), Mrs. Rieke (sorry, can’t get used to calling you Mary, even after all these years), Matt, Nik, Crystal, Kurt (You think I wouldn’t mention you four? Think again!), Dan, that guy I played tennis with at 1 a.m. in Keystone, those wonderful people at the AME church in Kewanee, the pre-press folks at Sutherland Printing, the other Boatheads on third floor west at Wesleyan…

…and all the rest.

Cultivate your friendships because they will make memories to last a lifetime.

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