Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Friday - Sarah Anderson

Hi all!  Welcome to Guest Friday!  Today we are lucky to have the lovely and talented Sarah Anderson don her stilettos and chat with us for a while.  She was nice enough to subject herself to an interview with yours truly! Her new book, A Man of Privilege, hits shelves next Tuesday.  Trust me when I say, after getting to know Sarah, you aren't going to want to miss it!

(Joelle) Why did you get into writing?  (AKA – what the heck were you thinking?)

Sarah - I love this question, because it implies there was actual ‘thought’ involved. I had always wanted to be an author, but had never had any idea how to do it and hadn’t even thought about it for some years. Then, when my son was 2 ½ and my Gram was 92 ½ we took a weekend trip. Everyone was worn out on the way home, and I desperately wanted both of them to sleep the whole way home. I didn’t even turn on the radio. But I had to do something to keep from falling asleep, so I let my imagination run wild and saw this scene of two people fighting in the rain and then kissing. The whole thing intrigued me—who were they, why were they fighting, and what was up with that kiss? This sort of thing had happened before—I’ve been accused of having an overactive imagination—but this time, instead of the scene slipping off into the void of my faulty  short-term memory, those people stayed with me. I finally had to write down what they were saying just to get them out of my head!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?

That writing the book wasn’t the hardest part. Oh, it was hard, but that first book, with the kissing in the rain? I loved writing it. Something inside me had been released, and it felt good. Then, after I typed ‘The End,’ I started looking around the Internet and saw how much work it would take to learn the business, to get published, to be a professional author. That was a terrifyingly daunting prospect. I almost didn’t do it, it was so overwhelming.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Unwind? Relax? What are these words? Seriously, I watch a lot of kid’s movies with my son, play solitaire, and, if I have the time, read a book. If I get really wild, I knit. I’ve been working on the same scarf all year!

Tea or coffee?
Tea. Lots and lots of tea. Black, green, white, oolong—anything but mate. And, in the summer, water and lemonade. But tea.

Chocolate or potato chips?

No contest—chocolate. I’m really enjoying the chocolate with the hint of chili in it—that edge of spice is wonderful!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

When writer’s block hits, I take a calm, reasoned step back and freak the heck out. Then I force myself to remember all the other times I’ve drawn a blank—after I had the flu, when I wasn’t sleeping, etc. Sleep is the first step, getting back into my routine is second, and third is reading a book or two. I might as well enjoy the writer’s block, right? By then, usually my Muse has had a nice little vacation and she’s raring to go again!

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

As I said, I always thought I’d be an author. My mom had me in a creative writing summer course for kids back as far as third grade. I’d taken a couple of cracks at stories in college, but never could get back my Dreaded Backstory Problem. (Trust me, it was a dreadful problem!). I’d basically given up on achieving that goal, but through a caffeine-fueled road trip, I found that spark I’d been missing. It took a hell of a lot of hard work, but it’s really wonderful to say that, all those years ago, I knew I was going to be an author and now I am.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I write best with music—with lyrics. Part of my brain needs to be distracted so the rest of it can focus on the words I want. I know a lot of writers who cannot write with music or with music that has words, but humming along with Toby Keith or Motley Cru keeps me from worrying about laundry or dinner or whatever so all that’s left is the story.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

I do. I know I’m not ‘supposed to’ because I’m leaving myself open to the slings and arrows of outrageous reviews, but I do. So far, they haven’t overtly influenced my writing, but I gotta tell you, reading a positive review makes me smile for days. I know that one day I’ll hit the negative review that rips my heart out, but I just can’t quit those reviews!

Which of your characters would you like to invite to Thanksgiving dinner and why?
Well, which one can cook the best? Probably Maggie in A Man of Privilege. She’s been baking cookies and carrot cake for about nine years!

What is the best thing about being a published author?

Ooh, it’s a toss-up between being paid to do something I really like and having a reader tell me how much they loved something I wrote. Both are pretty awesome!

What’s next for you? 

It’s more a case of what’s not next for me! In addition to having A Man of Privilege out on July 3rd, my next book, A Man of Distinction, will be out on September 4th. All three of the A Man of books are loosely related—Rosebud, the heroine from A Man of His Word, shows up in all three.  After that, I have my very first release from Samhain due on January 1st called Mystic Cowboy, a Valentine story from Desire called The Real Cowboy on February 5th, and then a series called the Bolton Biker Boys from Desire out later next year. Whew! I got tired just typing that!

Finally, tell us about your pets!

I love my dogs. We have always rescued dogs. For almost a decade, we had a three-legged wiener dog named Jake. Sadly, he went to Dog Heaven last year. Right now, we have a beagle-terrier mix—a teagle!—named Gater, as in Al E. Gater (say it out loud!). He doesn’t look like a beagle, but boy, he sure barks like one. And a few months ago, we got Fifi, a ‘shepard thing.’ She’s supposed to be Australian Cattle Shepard and Border Collie, but I highly doubt the collie part. She’s mostly just a smallish shepard dog with a whole lot of energy! 

Readers, is there anything you want to know that I forgot? I’m giving away a copy of A Man of Privilege to one lucky commentator! Plus—bonus—every week I’m giving away one of these handcrafted (by me!) book necklaces from everyone who commented throughout the week! Check the Authorial Moms blog every Sunday to see if you were the winner!

A Man of Privilege :  She isn’t what he expected.

Blue-blood lawyer James Carlson is working on the case of his life.  After winning this trial, his career will be set.  He won’t let anything...or anyone... alter his course.  Then he meets his witness.
Maggie Eagle Heart makes him question everything--his family, his goals, his future. Because she’s the one woman he wants, and she’s the one woman who is completely off limits. Yet even as he struggles to keep their relationship all about business, he can’t deny the attraction is mutual--and irresistible. James has always done what is expected of him…until now.

A Man of Privilege is available! Visit your favorite bookseller, at Amazon, or for the Nook.

Bio: Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux.  She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.

When not helping out at school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband and son.

Blog Boilerplate

This post is brought to you as part of the A Man of Privilege/Distinction Blog Tour.  For a complete tour schedule and rules, visit Comments on this blog will be entered to win a signed copy of A Man of Privilege.

Next tour stop is July 3: Video Interview at Happy Ever After

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saving the World, One raccoon at a time

 A few weeks ago, my hubby took the dog out for his evening walk. As they were heading back to the house, he decided to take a short cut through our front lawn. That's when Truffles, our very precocious and only semi-trained 3 year-old dachshund (remember, all my dogs are doggie school dropouts) began barking furiously. This is why he was barking.

Yep. Those are baby raccoons. It's hard to see from the pictures, but their tiny eyes are fused shut. The one on the left was a female (we found this out later) and trying to walk. The one on the right was a male and a bit wimpier than his sister. They were lying at the base of a big oak tree in the middle of our lawn. All alone.

Because at this point I still believed in the baby bird myth (you know, the one that says you aren't supposed to touch a wild baby because then the mother won't go near it), Truffles and I stayed with the babies to protect them while my hubby called a local wild life sanctuary.

The wild life lady (for want of a better title) immediately drove to our house. She picked the babies up and held them against her chest where they warmed up and literally came to life. She told us that the mother was probably gone and the babies had gotten hungry and shimmied their way out of their hidey hole in the tree and fell to the ground. Poor babies! If Truffles (hence forth known as Raccoon Saver) hadn't found them, they've died of exposure during the night. They are currently residing at the Goose Creek Wild Life Sanctuary, where they are being fed on Raccoon formula (yep, there really is such a thing). According to the wild life lady, they'll free the raccoons at about 8 months when they can take care of themselves in the wild.

Not a bad day's work for Truffles, the RS!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dusty (or the dog that got away)

From the cat who literally swallowed the canary (and then threw it up on your aunt's antique Persian rug) to the dog who ran away, we at the Stiletto Gang put our collective heads together and thought: what could be better than walking down memory lane with thoughts of some of our favorite--and not-so-favorite--pets? Join us for the next two weeks as we reminisce about the animals we loved and those who loved us.

For most of my childhood, my mother didn’t work.  Then, one day, she went back to work at an office in the Bronx, leaving just before I and my three siblings left for school in the morning.  Fortunately, my grandmother had just left her job at the local convent and was burdened with the task of getting the four of us off to school.  But if you’re a regular reader, you know that Mom and grandmother had a great system for lunches (all made on Sunday; grab and go from the freezer on each weekday) and the bus stop was only across the street.

What could possibly go wrong?

Enter Dusty, the recalcitrant golden retriever.  Lovable, yes.  Obedient?  Hardly.

My grandmother opened the door of the house one lovely Fall day in the mid-1970s and ushered the four of us, all clad in our plaid Catholic-school uniforms, across the street to the bus stop, watching us from the protective comfort of the storm door.  As the door slam started to slam shut, Dusty emerged from whatever hidey hole he had set up for himself and ran past her, taking all hundred pounds of her with him, racing down the steps.  It was bus stop time!  The best time of the day for a two-year-old golden retriever.  Nothing would stop him in his quest for a place at the bus stop with the kids.

Maga, our grandmother, lay prone on the sidewalk in front of the house.  This was a woman, however, who had left the comfort of her Irish cottage in the early 1920s and sailed for America, forging a new life and new family for herself, so this was not a woman to be trifled with.  She made a valiant grab for Dusty’s collar but he wasn’t wearing one and off he took, down the street, our collective groan no match for the sound of the bus trundling down the street. 

I looked at her in horror.  She looked back at me.  The mission was clear:  get Dusty back in the house before the bus reached our stop.

Did I mention that Maga couldn’t drive?  Hence, the horror.  If I missed the bus, I would have to walk two miles to school.  If I had to walk two miles to school, I would be late.  And if I was late, well, Sister Loyola would not be pleased.

I dropped my book bag and took off down the street toward the lawn where Dusty frolicked; when he saw me, he was overjoyed at the thought that I would skip school to play with him. He ran and jumped and chased his own tail, all the while I stood in one spot in the middle of the street, my pleated wool plaid skirt and weskit not suited to playing with a dog.

After a few minutes, Dusty wore himself out and came over to me, throwing himself to the ground at my feet, his tongue lolling out of one side of his mouth.  I looked up the street and saw the bus pull to a stop, everyone else getting on, staring at me wide-eyed from their seats as the bus pulled away.  My heart sank.

I grabbed the dog around the neck and pulled him the entire length of the street, his back feet digging into the asphalt as I begged, pleaded and cajoled that he help me get him to the house.  It took the better part of a half hour, my hysteria mounting the whole way, my grandmother standing by the driveway, helpless.  We finally reached the house and I dragged him inside, my grandmother swatting his behind with a copy of the Daily News and screaming at him that he had made me miss the bus. 

He didn’t care.

I ran outside, gathered up my book bag and looked around frantically hoping to spy a neighbor on their way to work or the grocery store.  The neighborhood was desolate and I was at a loss.

Next door lived my favorite neighbors.  They had five sons and one daughter, and their youngest son was my best friend in the whole world. His older brother, second in line, was not.  To him, my best friend and I were just snot-nosed kids (by this time, he was in his twenties and we were tweens), something that he made crystal clear when we were admiring his brand-new, all white Ford Mustang.  “Don’t touch anything!” he hollered when we got close to the vehicle, the one that would take him to his new job as a high-school teacher.  As I stood on the front lawn that day, I heard the familiar rumble of the Mustang’s engine as he revved it, preparing to peel out of the driveway and head to school.

I tore across the front lawn, throwing myself in the direction of the car, screaming “please, please, please!” as I got closer, hoping that he could hear my frantic cries over the roar of the engine.  He looked up and saw me and while I could see a threat of indecision cross his face—should I or shouldn’t I—he decided to stop and see what I needed.  “A ride,” I gasped.  “I need a ride.”

Of course, he was late for school.  Weren’t we all that beautiful day?  I put my hands together and begged him for a ride, something that took far longer than it should have, given the circumstances (crying tween girl, non-driving grandmother).  He finally relented and opened the door for me with one condition:  I couldn’t touch anything in the car.  So, we rode to school, me sitting on the edge of the white leather bucket seat, my hands crossed on my lap, desperately trying to hold on as he sped toward St. Catherine’s.

I made it to my classroom just before the first bell. (And by the way, Bobby—I touched your dashboard.  Three times.  When you weren’t looking.)

Dusty only lived two years (he died of a congenital birth defect) but he had two years filled with such capers.  He was not a dog for the faint of heart, but he lived life to the fullest, taking any opportunity to frolic and roam and wander.

We all need a little Dusty in our lives.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Learning from our pets

by: Joelle Charbonneau

It’s still pet week (or weeks to accommodate those of us who post every other week) here on the Stiletto Gang.  When the group talked about doing some themed blog posts, I was happy to hear we were going to chat about our pets both past and present, because you can learn a lot about a person by hearing them talk about the animals that share their lives.

But while I had a great idea for a funny blog post in mind, I have chosen not to write it.  Why?  Because my heart is breaking for a friend.

Yesterday, I learned that a dear friend and fellow author, Ellery (Jen) Adams, lost a member of her family.  Her sister-in-law gave birth through c-section to a beautiful baby girl and then passed away before she ever had the chance to look into her baby’s eyes.  This year, I, too, have experienced the loss of a close family member, so I admit that I broke down and cried when I heard the news. 

There never seems to be enough time with our loved ones.  Sometimes the final goodbye lasts months or years, but often, as in Ellery’s case, the final moments come too soon leaving us with thoughts of the things we wished we said or did.  Making us long for extra moments where we could share our love without reservation.

Too often in our lives, we hold back.  We don’t say what is in our heart because we worry that someone will think we’re overemotional, or dramatic or just plain odd.  Sometimes we don’t express what is in our hearts and minds because the people we care about are not demonstrative in their affection.  Sometimes, we are scared to risk sharing our feelings in case they are not returned.  Other times we just take for granted that there will be moments in the future to embrace what we feel.

But those moments don’t always exist and too often we are left sad and unhappy that we didn’t grab those precious moments as we should have. 

Which is why we should learn from the theme of the last two weeks….our pets 

Dogs don’t worry about whether showering you with affection is going to embarrass them.  (If they did, we probably wouldn’t see quite so many dogs sniffing crotches.)  Cats don’t fret about whether the love they give is returned.  At least my cat doesn’t.  He just worms his way onto my lap and insists that I make him feel loved.  Rabbits, camels, gerbils, guinea pigs, parrots, ferrets…none of the animals we welcome into our lives worry about the proper time to express their love.  They just love us.  And because of that we love them.  Unashamedly.  Without reserve.  Without waiting for the right moment to express what is in our heart.

So today, I say that we should learn from our pets and learn to express affection to those we love every time the moment strikes.  We should go to those we care about, wrap our arms around them so tight they try to wriggle away and let them know they are important.  So we are never left wondering or wishing.

And for those of you who pray….please put a special prayer in your heart for Ellery and her family and send as much love and affection as you can her way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lori's Book Sense

Sadie Girl

We weren’t really an animal family. Growing up we had two dogs. Muffin was a Lhasa Apso, and the cutest little lap dog.  My brother then got a dachshund that he named Chili -  a chili dog - who was adorable, but also a pain in the butt. That dog would bark at the wind.

I’d never really had much of a desire to have a dog of my own. I am out of the house for work 12 hours a day, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave a dog locked up all day like that. About nine years ago my parents got a little Maltese puppy and named him Max.  For about a minute I thought about getting a puppy myself. But again, the work issue came up. I just couldn’t do it. And my parents had been pushing me to get a puppy for a while.  Because I live with a treatment resistant type of clinical depression, my parents felt it would be wonderful for me to have a little companion around. Someone I could take care of and that would love me back unconditionally.

One weekend about four years ago, my parents needed me to take care of Max.  I had a blast with him. And by the time Tuesday rolled around, I realized I really missed having him around. Dad and I sat down and talked. I told him how surprised I was to find myself missing have Max there.  (Now mind you, since Dad had  been after me for a while to get a puppy, I just got the “I told you so” look.)  I again reiterated my concerns about leaving the dog alone for 12 hours a day, and I got this in response: “Lori, you work for me. You’ll bring the dog to work with you every day.”  Well, that was easy.  The next day he called the breeder who he got Max from, and she just happened to have two puppies left from her last litter, each about six months old. She had a boy and a girl (Max’s niece and nephew). We set up a time on Friday night to go and meet with her. Before we even got there my parents were insisting I take the boy. “Boys are easier, you want the boy!”  Well, the three of us took one look at the two puppies, looked at each other, and said ,“ We’re taking the girl!”  And since Dad was being so generous in letting me take her to work, I named her Sadie, the name he had planned to give the girl puppy my mother wouldn’t let him get.  The next day I brought her home.

Never in my life did I think that something so little in size would have such a big impact on my life. From day one, she was stuck to me like glue. Every single place I went, she went.  I should have named her Shadow, because she still follows me everywhere. If I get up to turn the light on, about three feet from where I’m sitting, she hops off the couch and follows me. Even though she can see me right from where she is sitting.  She’s got to be right beside me at all times.

 I would always hear people talking about their “fur babies” and not really get the attachment. Now I do!  She’s my baby, and I would be lost without her. She’s playful, happy, and such a snuggler.  Not only did Sadie change my life, she also saved it. She gives me unconditional love, covers my face with kisses when she knows I’m down, and loves to hold my hand while she sleeps.    I can’t imagine my life without her.

Here are some dog related series I think you'll enjoy!

Andy Carpenter Series (with a golden retriever named Tara) 
David Rosenfelt

Pet Rescue Mysteries
Linda O Johnston

Ellie Engleman ~ Dog Walking Mysteries
Judi McCoy


Dog Lover's Mysteries
Susan Conant