Friday, December 29, 2017

WOOHOO! Kindle Countdown starts TODAY!

Heads up! I'm having a Kindle Countdown on the The Shell Keeper (first book in the Keeper Series) STARTING TODAY! So if you got a new Kindle for Christmas-or just haven't gotten around to reading it, now's the time to pop over to Amazon and get The Shell Keeper on your Kindle. Starting tomorrow it will be 99 cents for a few days, then it will go up to $1.99 and finally back to $2.99 on January 3. Don't wait, grab it now while it's only 99 cents! CLICK HERE!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Happy Birthday Jane!

If, through some miracle of longevity, Jane Austen were still alive, she'd be 242 years old today. Think about it, just how is it that this female author, writing in a genre (the novel) that was frowned upon in her time, is still lauded today. It's not just that the books are exceedingly well written...there are other books that some might argue are greater 'works of fiction'. But Jane's stories speak so completely to the heart of humanity that they have become timeless.

While it's true, a woman's fortunes no longer hinge on 'making a good match', anyone who is between a rock and a hard place in their lives can appreciate the pictures her words drew of characters who hoped and dreamed, despite the odds, who sometimes felt resigned or beaten, but ultimately through fate or their own efforts, found what they longed for.

In Jane's day, a woman had very little control over these things, and it wasn't all about having the comfort of a nice home, a hopefully loving husband and financial security. It might truly be about having a home at all and some sort of security, making her dependent upon the charity of others for any comfort in life.

Things have certainly changed! But Jane is a stunning example of a woman who made her own choices, as best we can tell from what history has handed down to her readers. In her later years her writing did offer financial support for herself and her family. But she found this success with a kindly yet biting wit that still comes through in her pages. Take as proof the opening sentence of 'Pride and Prejudice'...

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." 

In those first few words she sums of the mores of the time, makes fun of them, and establishes one of the themes of the book. When you understand where she is writing from, you understand that that is not some weighty well of words that leaves you pondering--it should make you laugh. I'm sure it did her, and those who read it at the time.

Writing in and for her time is part of what made her timeless. She was born in England at the start of the American Revolution and during her life her country was at war, either with America or France, more often than not. Open criticism of traditional values, culture or politics could have serious consequences for yourself and your family. She toed the line nicely between gently prodding society and committing treason.

True, she probably would have fit in well with the 'Me Too' movement, as proposed in a recent Washington Post article, but there was so much more to her decisions. While she may have chaffed at the royal request to dedicate her book 'Emma' to the notoriously randy prince regent, she was targeting so much more than men behaving badly. She had society in her sites and she hit her target so incredibly well, and with both humor and insight, that both Jane, and her work remain relevant 242 years later.

Happy Birthday Jane!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Few Writer's Habits, Tools and Favorite Foods!

Lately I’ve been reading about the writing habits of different authors on Tony Rich’s extremely entertaining blog, The Writing Desk. It’s definitely a fun ‘time killer’ for readers and writers alike, if you’re looking for something like that.

And it’s really a fascinating topic. I have a feeling there’s probably a book to be written on snacking habits alone! I personally know authors who set up their writing table with Twizzlers and Oreos—that’s a little too much sugar for my brain. I tend toward tea or coffee. Daphne Du Maurier stoked her creativity with cigarettes and Fox’s Glacier Mints. Agatha Christie, who grew up in Devon, was so partial to the heavy cream of the region that she kept a cup by her typewriter to sip as she wrote.  (I can feel my arteries hardening even as I write that sentence!)

Of course, there’s a lot of strong coffee going down too, but many, Stephen King included, start the day with tea. Michael Crichton, however, was thinking ahead by having a ham and cheese sandwich pre-made and sitting alongside a diet coke in his fridge, ready for lunch. I wonder if he had a certain word count he had to hit before he allowed himself to break for lunch.

Ultimately, no matter the snack, they all had to actually sit still and WRITE, how they get there, and how they actually transferred their thoughts to the written page, has as many variations as snowflakes in a storm.

Hemingway liked to wake early and write before he did anything else-including dressing. He wrote longhand in small notebooks, on paper, in coffee shops or in his bedroom/office, keeping a daily tally of his word count (500 was the goal...I’m assuming they were 500 VERY good words!). Typing was often done standing up, which might become a new norm with some of the pop-up style desk tops that are out there now. I can’t blame any author who sits for hours at a time if they enjoyed standing and stretching their legs now and then while writing too.

Agatha Christie kept voluminous notebooks to catalog multiple ideas...not always in any recognizable order. She’d often go on long walks, particularly when she stayed at her country home, Greenway, which was near the sea. She’d compose aloud, work out dialogue, and then return home to her trusty Remington Victor T portable typewriter.

Naturally, Jane Austen took quill in hand to write. History(and Jane’s relatives) has passed down scant details of her process, but we do know she often wrote at a very small table and in her later years at Chawton Cottage, a home provided by her brother that she shared with her mother and sister, Cassandra, she used a writing box. It had a lid that tilted up to write on and the bottom opened to store her pages. I think Jane was something of a ‘pantser’, to a point. By which I mean she dove right into her stories and wrote ‘by the seat of her pants’, rather than voluminous pre-plotting. As a result, many of the pages that remain are sometimes thickly edited with multiple lines crossed out and new sections inserted.

Despite the advent of the computer age, many authors still love to write longhand. Some, like Stephen King, prefer the feel of the fountain pen-a marvelous instrument I also love...though not for composing fiction. J.K. Rowling wrote longhand because she couldn’t afford a typewriter or computer, and still writes her first drafts that way. It must be a tactile feel, the physical transfer of thought to pen to page, and for many it still works best.

These days, you eventually have to sit at the computer and create the document that will become your book.  Like Christie, I’m a lover of notebooks filled with thoughts, scene ideas, research, etc.  But when it comes to actually writing I need that keyboard. For me, I just can’t write fast enough to get my words down longhand. I’ve tried dictating...but as Christie found out, the sound of your voice is an odd sensation that doesn’t quite go with the story. For me, the words flow fastest, smoothest, and most creatively when my fingers are on a keyboard.

Of course...there are those days when words just won’t come. But that’s a topic for another blog! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Research...Not Necessarily a 'Necessary Evil'!

One of the things I envy other writers is the research that must have gone into some of their books. I have several historical series that I love reading not just for the characters and plots, but for the details of the periods in which they are set. Whether it’s Charles Finch’s Charles Lenox Victorianmysteries or Lana William’s Medieval romances or the Scotland of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander , I never get tired of stepping into another time along with a great story.

But history isn’t the only thing authors might research. In A Road Back to Grace, I didn’t need to step back in time since it’s a contemporary tale. But I did need to learn a little more about wine making. The main character, Claire, is a lover of all things red (cabernet, merlot, etc.), although I haven’t actually written her turning down white or it’s hard to say where that line is, or even IF it is!

How fortunate for Claire that she fell for a guy who owned a Colorado winery and vineyard. As an ‘almost’ native of Colorado, I was already familiar with our western slope wineries in the Palisade area, and I knew the valley beneath the sandstone Book Cliff mountains, that is nurtured by the Colorado River.  It was a natural setting for my book, with a few tweaks here and there. But what did I actually KNOW about making wine?

As some of you may know, my sons own a I already had some appreciation of what may go into it. Still, some research was called for and, frankly, I can’t say it wasn’t fun—it was! Mr. Google had links to tons of info, plus I made connections with a few wineries I’d never heard of before and learned, through them, more about the process. I never was able to go for anything ‘hands-on’, unfortunately...but I’m hoping someday to make up for that.

In the meantime, I’m literally savoring the fruits of that labor (aside for the book), and looking forward to my next research project...but that’s another blog. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Character Interview: Claire, from A Road Back to Grace

Interviewing Claire, from A Road Back To Grace. This could get steamy--again!

I’m once again interviewing Claire, one of my trio of main characters in my new women’s fiction release, A Road Back To Grace.  This is the sequel to the first book in my Keeper Series, The Shell Keeper. Both are humorous and touching stories of three women who become unlikely friends.
Some of you may remember reading my interview with Claire back when The Shell Keeper first came out. 

If you missed it, click HERE to read it. Claire’s been through a great deal since that book concluded, so today, I’m sitting down again to talk with Claire about the new book...or rather I should say we are both in meditative cross-legged positions as Claire is wrapping up a yoga session.

RN: So Claire, you’re into yoga now?

Claire: I used to think this was a bunch of new age crap but there’s really something to it. Even after all that’s happened, I figure it’s still good to keep my chi and chakras and junk like that in a good place. Hey, don’t you have to do some sort of spoiler-alert or something?

RN: Oh, you’re right, thanks. For our readers, if you haven’t read The Shell Keeper yet, you might want to stop here...there could be spoilers. But we won’t go into detail about the new book, A Road Back to Grace. Just some teasers.

Claire: Teasing I can do.

RN: Yes, I’ve definitely written you with a talent for that, among other things.

Claire: I’m good at the other things, too.

RN: And we’re moving on... So, you went through a terrible situation near the end of the last book and this books picks up after you’ve moved to Grande Valley to be closer to Bob—

Claire: And Gwen. You know, I don’t do things just because of a guy. I’m taking some time to rest and get my bearings know. I shouldn’t say, right? In case they haven’t read the first book. The situation, as you say.

RN: Exactly.  So now you’re resting and getting your bearings, trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Who you want to be.

Claire: Not a gardener, that’s for frickin’ sure! (Claire laughs, then adds) or a cook. That zucchini thing was out of control. But the wine over here in Colorado’s wine country is awesome; especially the wine from Bob’s vineyard. He’s very good at making wine. Well, he’s very good at a lot of things.

RN: You’re getting kind of a dreamy look there, Claire. I think you really like this guy.

Claire: Well, you should know, but I think you plucked me out for this interview about half way through the book so I can’t say where this is going.

RN: Yep, that way you won’t accidentally reveal something you shouldn’t, since your story is still going.

Claire: We I can tell you Gwen’s bakery is off the charts successful. And her new cook, Jason. Oh my, he makes me want to cook up something. (she winks at me). But what’s up with Del? Her love life is a hot mess. I kinda feel sorry for Jimmy, is he out of the picture now?

RN: I can’t say...spoilers, you know, but I can tell you Del’s story is far from done.

Claire: That girl’s getting her own book after mine? (I nod) ‘Bout time. I’m in there too, right? (I nod again). Of course, I mean, it would be rather dull without me. (another wink).

RN: We’d better wrap this up and you’d better get back in the book. I think the Larson sisters need your help.

Claire: Spunky little old ladies, those two. They’re kinda growing on me.

RN: And you on them. Have a great read, Claire.

She grabs her yoga matt and is gone, off to discover her story at last. If you want to discover it as well, check out A Road Back to Grace. The second book in the Keeper Series, this one is Claire’s story. Hope you have a great read as well!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thank you to the Booze and Bookworms Book Club!

Thank you to the awesome members for the Booze and Bookworms Book Club for making my latest book, A Road Back to Grace, their October selection. Thank you so much for inviting me to join you at your latest lunch meeting.

In honor of the winery theme in A Road Back to Grace and it's protagonist, Claire's, love of all things red (cabernet, merlot, etc...) it was held in a winery!

Some of the readers had also read The Shell Keeper, which I totally appreciate. I was happy to hear they enjoyed both books. And it was interesting that they were very curious about the book publishing process. It is a BIG part of the Indie Book industry, and I think they were surprised by the amount of time and effort that authors put into both marketing and publishing, in addition to actually writing their books!

I also learned my readers are waiting for the final installment of the Keeper Series, Del's story. So I'd better get back to writing. Thanks again, Booze and Bookworms for including me. I totally appreciated it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Free copies of my books?!? It's true! I'm running Giveaways for both books in the Keeper Series on Goodreads so follow the clicks below to enter to win today!

Click HERE to enter for The Shell Keeper (only 5 days left-enter now!)

Click HERE to enter for A Road Back to Grace (this one just started so you've got a few days, but don't delay, enter for this one too!)

After you click, scroll down and look for the link that says "Enter the Giveaway". Click it, fill out your info and your all set. 

If you have time, please give the book a Goodreads Status. Something like 'Want to Read', 'Reading', or 'Read'...if you have. 

That's all there is to it. GOOD LUCK! I hope I'll be sending you a FREE PAPERBACK copy soon! 

Friday, September 29, 2017

More Free Books?! This is Crazy Talk!

But it's true! Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win a FREE paperback of The Shell Keeper. The Giveaway runs until October 23rd...but why wait and risk forgetting? Click on this link to take you to the Giveaway now-it's free to enter and you can win a free book. You've got nothing to lose so CLICK HERE now. Good luck to everyone! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Limited Time FREE Offer!

The Shell Keeper is FREE on Kindle today through September 23. If you haven't read it yet now's the perfect time!

Click HERE to find it on Amazon. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Short and Sweet Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis

I’m a huge Connie Willis fan. There’s no arguing Willis knows her genre as one of the most award winning Sci-Fi authors out there (Nebula, Hugo, etc.) I’m particularly fond of her time-travel adventures. I can’t imagine anyone who does it better with books that are chocked full of fascinating history (i.e  Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, etc.)—my mind is boggled by the extensive research she must have done to prepare to tackle some of these subjects (The Black Plague, Victorian England, The Blitz!). But she knows how it’s done.

Clearly this latest, Crosstalk, took some in-depth research to understand the concepts and history behind the science and myth that propels this tale of a near future where a small implant in our brains can ramp up the emotional ties between two people. But Ms. Willis is creating a future, not tweaking a past, and sometimes that works and still works, but it puts her readers to the test, as she does this time around.

Our heroine, Briddey, is persuaded by what she thinks is love to receive a surgical implant that will enhance her empathetic connection to her co-worker and (hopefully) soon-to-be fiancĂ©, Trent. But there’s more going on with Trent’s proposal than she realizes and she soon discovers why the company geek, C.B., tried so hard to persuade her from having the procedure done. Briddey finds herself connected to a whole lot more than Trent’s emotions, but she’s also finding out who really cares about her, and what real love truly means.

Great concept, right? But throw in the MOST annoying family and co-workers, mix with more guessing and second guessing and interrupting just when a character is about to reveal vital info (MULTIPLE times!), and stir it all together with far more words than are necessary and you have a recipe to stress and challenge even the most ardent Connie Willis fan. But I persevered! And I was glad to finally reach the end and a satisfying conclusion, if not also one constantly interrupted by another family member!  (I get it...maybe all this confusion is designed to make us feel some of what Briddey feels, but still...). 

So here's my advice about this book. If you love Connie Willis read it-you gotta, it’s part of the package of being a fan. If you love Sci-Fi in general, you might love this. We’re not talking Classic Sci-Fi here (Dune, War of the Worlds, 1984), it’s a future that’s right around the corner...but contemporary references probably will date this book in an equally not too distant future.  If you love characters-and relationships-worth rooting for, this fits the bill too. But if you don’t have patience with a little more of the written word than really is necessary and endless rehashing of facts and science...maybe you should start with Doomsday Book. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Shell Keeper, Book 1 of The Keeper Series, Gets a NEW Cover!

I am so excited to share the new cover for The Shell Keeper, Book 1 of The Keeper Series!

Julie Beckett of JuJuBeckCreative has designed this lovely new cover, as well as the previously posted cover for its upcoming sequel, The Road Back to Grace.
I LOVE it and hope you do too.

Click on think on the side bar to find The Shell Keeper on Amazon and don't forget to click on the 'Look Inside' feature to see the beautifully designed new interior of the book, courtesy of Jennifer Jakes at The Killion Group.

Altogether, I'm so excited for you to see the new books and hope you'll enjoy reading them. Watch for an update soon about the release date for The Road Back to Grace.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Short and Sweet Review: The Queen's Accomplice: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Queen's Accomplice is the 6th book in the Maggie Hope Mystery series. I gave this one 4 rather than 5 stars because it was a little gruesome and gory in spots. This series can be counted on to build tension--it has some real 'thriller' moments, but this particular book went a little over the line with details, I thought. Just a warning, in case you don't want those visual images in your life.

Aside from that, it's a great book and moves Maggie's story forward nicely. The setting is WWII London and a Jack the Ripper wanna-be is on the loose and terrorizing the women who have volunteered for duty in the secret section of undercover warfare in which Maggie is, by this time, a seasoned veteran. Maggie, of course, is the perfect person to team with Scotland Yard to hunt down the serial killer...and maybe become a target herself.

In Germany, Maggie's half-sister has been temporarily released from the hellish confines of Ravensbruck concentration camp. But will she cooperate with the Nazis to gain her permanent freedom? Meanwhile, at Maggie's behest, Churchill has sent Free French forces to rescue her...if they can convince her that's what she wants.

The action flips from England to Germany to other locales where Maggie's friends prepare for their own under-cover French mission. Ultimately, Maggie must turn to the Queen for help, but that's really setting up the next book, so, my biggest question is, why is it called The Queen's Accomplice? It would have made more sense to call it Scotland Yard's Accomplice, but maybe that just one mystery the book leaves unsolved.

The rest are well played and if you are at all involved, you will absolutely pick up the the 7th book in the series, The Paris Spy, to find out what happens next. If this series is new to you, I highly recommend it. Start with Mr. Churchill's Secretary. There are several books out already and they are all great reads. Enjoy!

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Cover! New Book Coming Soon!

I'm so excited to share the cover for my new book, A Road Back to Grace. Isn't it beautiful? The lovely and talented Julie Becket at JuJuBeckCreative is the artist and designer.

A Road Back to Grace is the sequel to the Amazon 5 Star Reviewed The Shell Keeper, and Book 2 in The Keeper Series, though it can definitely stand on it's own, if you haven't read the others. Here's a little info on what to expect....

Claire left real estate and came to Colorado’s wine country to escape and find some well needed R&R. A violent assault that almost ended her life left her feeling adrift in her early 40’s, unsure which path to take next. 

Her friends encourage and support her, though empty-nester Gwen is busy with a new bakery and single-mom Del is dealing with a very confusing love-life.

Friends, yoga and too much gardening can only go so far. Not to mention a great guy named Bob whose winery takes up more and more of his time. Enter two sweet, little old ladies who live down the road and need her help. Or is it the other way around?

Claire’s rest and relaxation is coming to an end, but will she return to the bleak inner landscape of her old life, or can she step away from the pain of her cynical past and embrace a new life she never expected to want so badly?

I'll be announcing it's publication very soon, so be sure to follow my blog for updates! Plus, CLICK HERE to see Julie's gorgeous new cover for The Shell Keeper! (Let me know what you think-I always love hearing from you!) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Short and Sweet Review: A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

As all readers know, it’s no fun when you come to the end of a good series and feel adrift in your lifeboat of literature, searching for the next thing to read. So I’m throwing out a lifeline with A Beautiful Blue Death, the first in the Charles Lenox mystery series by Charles Finch.

Set in Victorian England, Charles is a gentleman of the upper class with Parliamentary aspirations who has discovered he has a real talent as a detective. With time and means to pursue this talent he’s already earned a reputation among his peers-and Scotland Yard-for both good and bad outcomes. But he knows his way is the way of the future so, invited or not, he doesn’t stop until the crime is solved.

In this case, the crime is the mysterious poisoning of a housemaid in the home of one of London’s most powerful political players. The suspects are many, as are potential motives. But Lenox persists, with the help of his friend, Dr. Thomas McConnell, and in spite of personal danger and a second murder. 

His neighbor and lifelong friend, Lady Jane, is a frequent companion with a great interest in Charles’ activities and well-being. Readers will wonder if something deeper is developing between these two and it very well may be.

Along the way readers are treated to a fun education in Victorian England. If you are a history buff as well as a lover of a good mystery, this one’s a page turner. And the good news is, once you turn the last page, there are nine more books to go.