Friday, September 28, 2012

Great Expectations

Contests and awards are wonderful. Americans love them and love winners, above all, from the Olympics to the Pulitzer to The Voice. We love a winner, and that’s what we all want to be, a winner.

What happens when we come close? What happens when we’re so good that we beat out hundreds of others to become one of a handful of finalists, but we don’t win? I’ve been there a number of times in my writing career, most notably when I was a finalist for a prestigious national poetry award with a nice cash award that you had to be nominated for. I really hoped I would win it, but that was not to be. Bummer! When I checked out the work of the winner, however, I could see that, if that was the work that spoke to that judge, there had never really been a chance for mine to win. It was great poetry, but a very different type of poetry from mine.

I’m thinking about this today because a dear writing-group friend of mine made it to the finals of a big national award in two different genres, novella and essay. What an accomplishment! Our whole writing group, which is tiny, celebrated with her and rooted for her to win. She just received word that she hadn’t won in either category and is crestfallen and depressed.

I’ve been on just about all the sides of this issue. Not only have I been a finalist who’s not made it to winner status (many times), I’ve been a winner (several times). I’ve also been a screening judge (the ones who read through hundreds of manuscripts to send on one or more finalists) and a final judge in these contests. And I’m telling my friend—and you readers out there—that the real accomplishment is in making the finals. The competition out there is fierce. Out of those hundreds of manuscripts the screening judge must choose one (sometimes with a back-up of another or two) to go on to the finals. I’ve seen many times that I wished I could send more, but it wasn’t possible. So, every one of the finalists is basically a winner. Each manuscript is usually worthy of winning the award in its own right, but the final judge is only allowed to choose one. I’ve seen judges really agonize and beg to name two winners or even three, because the works are all of such high quality. In each case, they’re sent back to choose a single one. It’s practically a coin toss at that point.

My message to my friend and to everyone who reads this who eventually winds up as a finalist for something is this. Making the finals is the real victory. Believe this! Know it deep inside. That way, if you don’t win that last coin toss, you won’t despair. And if you do win, you won’t get a big head and start to think you’re better than everyone else. You’ll know that there are four to nine others who could be in your place if the coin had just fallen slightly differently. Either way, you’re a winner. Congratulations!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Lineup

by Maria Geraci

It is now officially Fall, and you know what that means. TV is back! Well, at least fresh TV, and it's about time because I was getting heartily sick of reruns. My DVR is programmed and ready to go with "my shows" as I affectionately call them. What are my shows? Well, I'm glad you asked.

I admit it. I'm a Dancing With The Stars freak. I love love love this show. From the corny jokes Tom Bergeron (the host) tells, to the sparkly costumes, fake spray tans, and even the awful dancing of some of the celebrities, I'm hooked.

This season the show is doing a first- the celebrites are "all stars" as in they've either won the show previously, or were close to winning, or were a fan favorite. Last Monday night was the premiere and it was absolutely fabulous. Lots of super great dancing (well, except from Pamela Anderson and Bristol Palin, but I digress...). The competition is going to be stiff with world class athletes like Emmit Smith, Apollo Anton Ono and Shawn Johnson. There's also fan favorites like Kirstie Alley and Joey Fatone and Drew Lachey and Gilles Marini (better known as the naked guy from Sex and the City) competing.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, though, and give an early prediction. I think Emmit Smith is going to take away another Mirror Ball Trophy. Remember you heard that hear first. And if I'm wrong, then just forget I ever said it ;)

Other shows I'm excited to reconnect with are Modern Family (Gloria is pregnant!), Revenge (did Victoria really die in the plane crash?!?), The Office (yes, I know it's the ninth and final season, but I still love it), Grimm (who doesn't love scary monsters?), The Good Wife (will they just make Michael J. Fox a permanent character, please?) and Survivor.

New shows I'm excited about? Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller as a modern day Sherlock Holmes living in New York City and Lucy Liu as Watson (premieres tonight!) and Call The Midwife, a BBC series about nurses in London in the 1950s (premieres Sunday. The previews look fabulous). The only bummer part about the Fall line up is that it doesn't include Downton Abbey, which doesn't air till January here in the States.

What TV shows are you most excited about?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is there a Research Assistant out there?

by Bethany Maines

I need to buy a new computer.  I can’t tell you how much this fills me with dread.  As a working graphic designer I use a computer daily.  This leads some people to think I know how computers work.  I don’t.  I know how my programs work, but what causes them to function… That is the realm of IT geek… er… professionals.  And researching the proper specs for a new computer suitable for graphic design use is more than a little tortuous. 

But it occurs to me that researching the computer is a bit like me researching any other topic that I know nothing about and popping it into a novel. There are usually three things that I need to find out – what I want, what exists, and what I can afford. (i.e. I’d love an iPad that acted like a real computer, but it doesn’t exist right now, and even if it did, I probably couldn’t afford it.)  But when it comes to novels the criteria has to shift slightly to: what I want my character to do, what a real nuclear physicist/Quetzalcoatl/poker player/whatever would do, and what I have the length to explain. 

Having plotted my story I know that my character must progress from point A to point B, after overcoming obstacles X, Y, and Z.  The way in which he overcomes said obstacles is dependent on his history, knowledge, personality, and profession.  So I sketch out what I think is likely for my character and then I do some research to see if my ideas are realistic, ludicrous, or just mildly improbable.

The internet is an invaluable tool for starting such research because it has more bizarre articles on any topic you can possibly dream up.  (My favorite random article of the week? Why Time Travel Stories Should be Messy) Unfortunately, the internet often lies.  So there has to be a lot of double-checking to find out if Quetzalcoatl was a priest, an Aztec god, or a Spanish immigrant.

The next research tool is an actual poker player or archaeologist specializing in the Aztecs who has spent years researching the topic at hand.  These are the kind of people who will tell you about fascinating disemboweling rituals and may also be kind of pissed if you don’t get the details right, so be sure to take notes.  On the up side, they’re usually really excited that someone is taking an interest in their topic, so they will tell everything you could possibly want to know about current Quetzalcoatl theory. 

And the third research option is to travel to Mexico and investigate the Great Pyramid at Cholula yourself.  Which, I’m sure you’ll all agree is a bit on the expensive and time consuming side.  It’s also the option that I would totally take if I weren’t just looking to fill in the blanks on a 10,000 word short story.  Yeah, I think I’ll head back to the Reference section of Wikipedia to see what I can find.  Anything that lets me avoid looking at computer specs.

Bethany Maines is the author of Bulletproof Mascara, Compact With the Devil and Supporting the Girls.  Catch up with her at or check out the new Carrie Mae youtube video.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crap shoot

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Skating On The Edge launches a week from today.  EEK!  A book launch brings with it lots of excitement and nail biting.  Before I started writing, I thought book tours sounded so glamorous.  The idea of people standing in line for hours waiting to get a book signed by an author was pretty cool.  Of course, that is before I got to know the business a bit better and learned that those lines are the exception to the rule.  More often than not, an author on tour hopes he or she won’t be sitting alone in the bookstore when the signing starts.  You hope someone – anyone – will come, talk to you and hopefully buy a copy of your book.  If not – well, that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Even for the big names.  Some days the line is around the block.  Other days there are crickets.

The same can be said for blog tours.  You write posts and hope that people who have no idea who you are read them.  Sometimes they do.  Other times it’s just your mother and other members of your family who click on the link and comment on what you say.

I admit that when I was just a reader, I never even considered how difficult it was for a book to make it into the hands of a reader.  I assumed a book was written, bought, edited and then every store in the country carried it.

Yeah—I was silly back then.

Getting a bookseller to carry your book even if it is published by a big publisher is a trick.  Some bookstores or chains don’t like carrying books by authors who don’t have a strong sales history with them.  Well, if you are a debut, or in my case a sophomore, author you haven’t had a lot of time to develop a sales history.  They only have so much shelf space.  They want it dedicated to books that will sell.  If you don’t have a sales history or you don’t live in the region – they don’t trust it will sell.

Tricky, right? 

So paying a visit to the stores, meeting the booksellers and letting them know you are more than a name on a page is important.  Since you can’t do this for every story in the country you have to pick your battles and know that most of the battles will never be fought.  You can only hope that a reader who wants your book will go into those unknown stores, ask for your book and order it thereby getting your name in front of the person who places the orders for stock.  Maybe they’ll decide to look your book up, think it sounds like something their other readers might like and order a few extra copies. 

Or not.

E-books are just as tricky.  There are price adjustments, free days, the hope that some miracle of marketing will help the book land on a list that will attract new readers since there isn’t a physical shelf to browse.

Face it—it’s all a crap shoot.  Physical touring, blog tours, advertising, tweeting, Facebook posts and everything else done to promote books are all crap shoots.  Some might work some of the time.  Others might not work at all.  And no one can tell you when and where those things will work for you.  Fun right?

That’s what’s nice about this blog where I can ask you—what works for you?  How do you find new books to read?  Do you pay attention to Amazon’s suggestions?  Do you take recommendations off of Twitter, this blog and Facebook posts?  Do you go into bookstores and look for the cover that attracts your eye?  What works for you?  I’m dying to know

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lori's Book Sense

Welcome to this months edition of Lori's Book Sense.

This having a boyfriend thing is seriously interfering with my reading time :)  I barely got anything read this past month. So for this month, I thought I'd share some titles that are due to be released in October that I'm really looking forward to reading. BUT, I promise to be back next month with some reviews of some amazing books I've just finished up!

Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown  (Oct. 2nd) ~  There’s always something to gossip about in Savannah, Georgia, and Reagan Summerside always seems to be in the middle of it. She’s busy enough running her consignment shop, The Prissy Fox, with her vivacious Auntie KiKi, but now the gossip—and the sales—are about to pick up after a gruesome discovery…
Reagan’s messy divorce has left her with nothing but a run-down Victorian and a bunch of designer clothes. Strapped for cash, Reagan makes use of the two things she has left, turning the first floor of her home into a consignment shop and filling it with the remnants of her rich-wife wardrobe.
Thanks to his cunning lawyer Walker Boone, her ex got everything else, including the Lexus—not to mention a young blond cupcake. When Reagan finds the cupcake dead in the Lexus, she’s determined to beat Boone to finding the murderer. As it turns out, the gossip fiends flooding Reagan’s shop will give her a lot more than just their unwanted clothes—they have information more precious than a vintage Louis Vuitton…

Stalked by Allison Brennan (Oct. 30th) ~ Lucy Kincaid returns—as a killer’s obsession.


A new trainee at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Lucy Kincaid has already seen more than her share of murder and mayhem. Still reeling from the sex-crime case that sealed her reputation, she’s found a true friend and mentor in Agent Tony Presidio. No matter what goes down at the Bureau, Tony’s got her back—until he’s called to New York to help investigate the murder of a reporter with ties to Lucy.

But the reporter may not be the first victim of a patient killer with a penchant for revenge, and she’s definitely not the last. Connections between closed cases, a missing person, and Tony himself lead Lucy to fear for those she cares for most. When the FBI is rocked by the death of one of their own, Lucy seeks the help of her boyfriend, private investigator Sean Rogan, to help put together the puzzle—and puts her career in jeopardy. But the harder she pushes for answers, the clearer the truth becomes: There’s a killer inside Quantico. Watching her every move. Waiting to kill again…

Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon (Oct. 2nd) ~ Bliss, Texas, is gearing up for its annual Winter Wonderland festival, but when a mysterious Scrooge ends the merriment with murder, it’ll take more than a ghost from Christmas past to set things right.
Designing a holiday fashion show set in the town’s most prominent historic mansion seems like a job tailor made for dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy. But with the mansion’s restoration still in progress and threatening weather on the horizon, she’s feeling on pins and needles more than reveling in holiday cheer.
Having volunteered to play Santa in this year’s festival, Dan Lee Chrisson was ready to move on after his divorce—until Bliss became his final resting place. Discovering his body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. She’ll need plenty of help from friends and even her late great-grandmother’s spirited sleuthing if she’s to have a ghost of a chance of catching a killer who’s just jumped to the top of the naughty list….

Scorched by Laura Griffin (Oct. 30th) ~ Kelsey Quinn set out to trace a murder victim. Now she may become one.

The dead don’t speak, but Kelsey knows their secrets. As a forensic anthropologist at the Delphi Center crime lab, Kelsey makes it her mission to identify bodies using no more than shards of bone, and her find at a remote Philippines dig hints at a sinister story. When Kelsey’s search for answers puts her at the scene of her exfiancé’s murder, only one man can help her. The same man who broke her heart just months before, and who is also a prime suspect. Faced with an ultimatum— Kelsey or his job—Gage Brewer did the only thing a Navy SEAL could . . . but that doesn’t mean he stopped wanting Kelsey. Now Kelsey is running for her life and Gage is her last line of defense. As the threats escalate, Kelsey realizes this conspiracy goes deeper and higher than they could have guessed. With the clock ticking down on a madman’s plot, the slightest misstep will have unthinkable consequences. . . .

A Fatal Stain by Elise Hyatt (Oct. 2nd) ~ Out damned spot!
As her wedding to detective Cas Wolfe approaches, Candyce "Dyce" Dare, sole owner (and employee) of the furniture refinishing business Daring Finds desperately needs to find something to do to avoid sitting down and planning the event with her mother and her best friend (particularly since she suspects their plans involve having her cat dress in a tuxedo). Working on a table she recently bought at a yard sale fits the bill.
Until her sanding efforts uncover a disturbing stain—one that looks like it might be blood. Dyce knows that, with a fiancé who’s a policeman, parents who own a mystery bookstore, and a recent history of inadvertent involvement in murder cases, she can be prone to seeing things that aren’t there. But then she discovers that the table’s previous owner has gone missing—and once more, she is drawn into a solve-it-yourself mystery project. And when Dyce starts a project, she just has to see it through…  

A Grid for Murder by Casey Mayes (Oct. 2nd) ~ Savannah Stone makes her living creating puzzles for logic lovers. But when a novice puzzle maker’s number is up, Savannah has to fill in the blanks to solve a murder...
Savannah would almost rather drink poison than have tea with Joanna Clayton. Not only is the unpleasant woman one of the worst gossips in Asheville, North Carolina, over tea she flaunts her new assignment creating logic puzzles for a local newspaper—one that has repeatedly turned down Savannah’s work.
But when Savannah’s retired police chief husband, Zach, calls her later to tell her Joanna has actually been poisoned, she is more than puzzled—she’s troubled. Will the police consider puzzle envy a strong enough motive and think she decided to eliminate the competition? It’s time for Savannah to sort through Joanna’s long list of enemies to find out who was bitter enough to poison the prospective puzzle maker . . .

Friday, September 21, 2012

Like Shane's Sneakers

By Laura Bradford

During the latter part of last school year, my eldest daughter and I began looking at colleges. Two of the ones we saw were high on her written list--both falling off that list after our campus visit. The third visit really just happened because I was speaking at a book event in the same town as College X and they were having an open house on the same day. Surprisingly, she liked several things about the school and deemed it a "good standby."

Fast forward to this past week when we set off in the opposite direction of the first three schools to see two more. One, again, took itself off the list. The other--we'll call College Yes--jettisoned itself to the top.

From the time we drove up, you could tell this place was perfect for her--small size, well-kept buildings, cozy feel, great great program in the major she wants to pursue, and warm people.  The general information session/student-led tour gave us a personal view of the campus, while the tour my daughter set up with her department-of-choice's director gave us an amazing behind the scenes look at her major and the opportunities available to her.

Watching her throughout the day, I knew we'd found her place--the place she'd been worrying she wouldn't find after so many schools hadn't lived up to their spots on her list. And just as happened with my stepson during his college visits last year--there was even a "sign" that pointed to this school.

A sign, you ask?

Last year, after visiting the campus my stepson ultimately chose, he woke up in the hotel room talking about a dream he'd had...a dream where he was wearing green and yellow sneakers (the school's colors).

This year, during my daughter's visit, the tour took us through one of the academic buildings that housed a tall glass case with a stuffed polar bear. My daughter's first and only teddy bear--the one that still sleeps in her bed at 17 years of age--is a polar bear. She's had her since she was 6 weeks old.

We both took one look at the polar bear (as the student tour guide is saying, "none of us know why this bear is here...he just is.") and my daughter's face breaks into a wider smile than she's already had throughout the day and says..."Mom, it's a sign. Like Shane's sneakers."

Tell me, do you believe in signs?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting through the first draft

by Maria Geraci

You know how I know I'm excited about starting a new book? I begin writing at all sorts of strange hours. And by strange hours, I mean 2 a.m or 4 a.m or maybe even in the middle of cooking dinner which can create all sorts of problems if one wants their dinner to not be burned to a crackly crunch (as Mike Geraci and I generally prefer ours not to be).

I'll be honest, this sort of shake up to my routine is not only expected, it's highly desired. Nothing is worse to me as a writer than to sit at my computer forcing myself to come up with something to put on the page. I have plenty of stuff I could be doing instead.

Multi-pubbed and ultra-famous author Nora Roberts is generally credited with the quote "...just get the story down." And that's exactly what I do.I get that first draft done in snippets, sometimes writing for as little as five minutes because inspiration can come at the oddest moments (in the shower, while driving a car, standing in the grocery line) which means I have to be creative about the way I write.

The other day while I was waiting at the deli to order lunch meat, a brilliant (yes, brilliant!) line of dialogue came to me and I had no paper or pen. So I whipped out my iPhone and began typing dialogue in my Notes app. I was so engrossed that I completely missed hearing my number called. I mumbled a quick apology and the clerk took my order, but I have to wonder what she would have thought if I'd said, "Sorry, I was writing my novel!"  I'm sure that would have garnered me some strange looks but I wouldn't have cared. Writing the first draft is like inching your way on your belly through the trenches. You get to the finish line any way you can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"I Am Not My Hair"

“I Am Not My Hair”

I thought it might be fun to make this post a little lighthearted, as heavy-hearted as many of us are probably feeling after yesterday’s tragic anniversary.  I awoke yesterday morning and turned on “Good Morning, America,” as I always do and found myself humming along to India.Arie’s song, “I Am Not My Hair.”  The lovely Robin Roberts, one of my personal heroes, was about to enter the hospital for stem cell treatment to take care of a cancer related to her original, treated diagnosis of breast cancer and had shaved her head down, I guess because she will probably join the ranks of chemo patients everywhere (again) and go bald.  She posted a picture on her web site and her colleagues at GMA showed it during the broadcast.

I have a very uneasy relationship with my hair, dating back to when I was a child.  I don’t like getting it cut, I don’t enjoy the salon, and I don’t really like spending too much time styling it.  I’m more of a no-muss, no-fuss kind of girl and fortunately, found a hair stylist I love as a hairdresser and as a friend.  She has been guiding me along with my own post-chemo hair:  long, kind of curly, turning white.  Yes, my head is turning white, though in patches; it seems that the rare few of us who were lucky to survive our stage IV melanoma diagnoses by using a particular immunotherapy all have the distinction of having white hair.  Interesting, huh?

Not so much if you still fancy yourself a young woman with plenty of dark-haired days in her future.  But when I get to feeling vain about it, I start thinking of it as a battle scar and one that I will wear proudly.

But back to India.Arie.  I got up this morning and looked at my multi-colored hair and wondered what I was going to do.  It was very long and now, very white in certain spots.  Would I keep dying it every four weeks, getting highlights every eight, getting a cut every ten or so?  Or would I go back to the buzz cut that I had after treatment—and that I loved—and embrace the world of short, white hair (though only in certain spots)? I knew that if I went to the hair salon I would lose my nerve; someone would surely talk me out of this.  Because even though my hair was turning white, it is nice, thick, wavy hair.  Hair that some women would kill for.  It just wasn’t right for me anymore.  I have to come to the place, though, where I want to make things easier, not harder.  For me, finding a few hours each month to go the hair salon was getting harder and harder.  And this is me, now, so why not embrace it?

Before I lost my nerve, I went downstairs to the bathroom, took a scissors and hacked off about six inches of processed hair.  Then, I took it down shorter.  Finally, I took a buzzer and with the #8—the longest setting— in place, I buzzed it off, my heart racing.  I left a little length on the top but took everything else down to as far as it would go on that setting and then, jumped in the shower to wash off the pieces of hair that were stuck to my body.  When I was done, I combed it out and wouldn’t you know it?  I didn’t do a terrible job!

I sent my hairdresser an email and explained what I had done and she couldn’t have been more supportive.  She knows how I squirm as I sit, waiting for the hair dye to take effect.  She knows how I jump from the chair as soon as it is washed out, not waiting to have my hair blown out, running out the door.  She knows that I was born without the gene that allows me to sit, be pampered, and enjoy the experience.  She told me that if I wanted I could come in when I had a little length so that she could shape it just so.

Cutting one’s hair is not for the faint of heart but as I reminded myself when I was bald, “It’s just hair.  It grows back.”  I am not my hair anymore.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Blessing and the Scary Part of Having a Big Family

We have been blessed by four new great-grandchildren in the last four years.

Jaslyn who is now 4 (she's named after her daddy, Jason)

Justice, Jaslyn's baby brother

These two charmers belong to granddaughter, Merenda, and I don't get to see them often enough.

Aleena was just born a week and a half ago, nearly 9 pounds. All went well, until she came home from the hospital. She spiked a fever and had to be rushed back to the hospital. She was dehydrated, not getting enough milk. She, mama and daddy spent two days and two nights while the doctor's ran all sorts of tests.
Granddaughter, Jessica, lives all the way in North Carolina. I can tell you we all did lots of praying.

This picture was taken when she got back home. She looks as happy as I'm sure her mommy and daddy were.

The next week, great grandson, Julius (I year) had to have an operation to take a cyst off his forehead.
Julius before his surgery

In the recovery room
When he woke up all he wanted was his daddy and his bottle.

His daddy, Nick, is the grandson we raised from age 11 to 22.

Julius is doing fine now. But again, it was a lot of trauma for a one week period. We get to see Julius a lot, and he's a tough little guy.

All together we have 13 great-grandchildren. The eldest is 19. Lots of blessing.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Strange Stuff


I'm always on the lookout in the news for interesting bits for our next novel. This week lots of strange stuff showed up on my radar – most of it would be unbelievable in a work of fiction. Still maybe we'll find some way to use it. 

In Tulsa, OK – woman survives being trapped in a home freezer for 4 days. Details are a little hazy over how she got in there. Police reports say foul play is not suspected. Most surprising to me is that she had that much extra room in her freezer. I know if I buy two gallons of ice cream at the same time, the frozen peas have to be tossed to make space. 

In Rockhill, SC – ex-boyfriend found living in woman's attic. And this was twelve years after they broke up. When he got out of prison, he looked her up. Or rather down – he was sneaking looks at her through the heating vents. Apparently he just moved into the crawlspace, making a human nest amongst her winter coats. She heard noises but thought she had “poltergeist stuff going on" in her house.  Moral of the story – when things go bump in the night, don't call a psychic - call an exterminator. Works equally well for both cockroaches and ex-boyfriends. 

I don't know what to say about it – some people just have too much spare time on their hands. Pretending to be Bigfoot could get you some attention – I'll give him that. But pretending to be Bigfoot (although dressed in a camouflaged costume) and standing in the middle of the highway traffic means you're just not playing with enough marbles. Usually that would be enough of a story – but the reporter goes on to hint at a conspiracy. Maybe someone paid this idiot in an attempt to get a pseudo- reality television show to film in their community. See, you really couldn't use this stuff as a plot in a novel – readers would never buy it.
What's the strangest story you've heard lately? Got any that you think would make a good mystery plot?
aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Trade Paperback (exclusive to Amazon for 90 days)
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Great Expectations

 By Laura Spinella 

Best Graphic Available Under Pressure
I’ve never been a fan of the phrase, “book pregnant.” Maybe that’s because I wasn’t particularly good at “real pregnant.” Years removed and my memories still rouse a hazy sea of green swells, my stomach rolling on the thought, not to mention the cumulative 27 months of my life spent on my knees at the porcelain altar. I didn’t glow, I didn’t nest.  I didn’t do much of anything but puke. Friends and family, not to mention my husband, are amazed that we have three children.  I attribute them to the same you-never-know audacity that makes writers’ write book two, after book one fails to sell.  Granted, in some circles this might be perceived as stupidity.  The first pregnancy was the worst. We were in the midst of building a house, traveling back and forth between Long Island and Maryland. By the time there was drywall, I’d tossed it up in every rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike.
            I say the first pregnancy was the worst, and it was. The other two weren’t a terrific improvement, but I knew what to expect, so in some regards it made for slightly smoother sailing. I’m hoping the same holds true for books as I find myself “in a novel-way” again.  THE IT FACTOR is in its first trimester, with the father-bird, Penguin, settling in to roost.  As you can see from my bright blue mock-cover, I’ve already decided it’s a boy.  Like a real pregnancy, a book sale draws a huge round of congratulations, the big difference being you can indulge in the champagne.
            We’re off and running (using the term loosely here) on a journey of edits and cover concerns, wondering if they’ll let me keep the name I’ve chosen.  Who knows?  I am sure, however, that there will be a word-by-word dissection over the back cover blurb, which can be critical in terms of readership.  I’m already wringing my hands over this part, separating information that readers will find intriguing from a passage that gives too much away. It looks like THE IT FACTOR will be a late fall book and this can be tricky in New England.  But I have solid experience here, having had four babies in raw weather months—November, December, March and January, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S pub date.  To be honest, that part feels rather fitting; a sunny day in June would just seem strange.  When the calendar finally gets around to next fall—which, admittedly, seems light years from now—I’ll fret over Aidan and Isabel like I did Megan, Jamie and Grant on their first day at school.  Will people like them? Did I do enough before pushing them out the door?  Will they be resilient when labeled a frothy romp? Okay, so I wasn’t thinking about my kids on that one. Regardless, there will be no turning back. Of course, I do have an advantage with the book. I can always ignore my Amazon page.  Live children make this a tad more difficult. 
         So let the countdown begin—Aidan Royce, my rock star protagonist, waits calmly in the wings for his cue. His elusive love interest, Isabel, is probably not as anxious—but isn't this what we strive for in a complex character?  I'm still  not fond of the phrase, “book pregnant,” though I can’t deny the similarities, right down to that queasy feeling of expectation.    

Laura Spinella is the author of the award winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, THE IT FACTOR!  YAY!! Visit her at       


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One More Blog About Twilight

or  I Know, I Can't Believe We're Still Talking About It Either
by Bethany Maines

A friend of mine and I were comparing notes on the Twilight series, which she loved and I mildly enjoyed enough to make it through the first book and then wikipedia the plots of the others so I could find out what happened in the end.  Our discussion centered on the fact that much of the media portrays Bella as a passive, whiny person who contrasts poorly with the likes of Hermione, Buffy, Katniss or Leia.  My friend thought that since Bella didn’t have super powers that she would never compare well in any competition with Buffy et all.  I thought that while some of the media interpretation of her whininess is undeserved, that Bella, super powers or not, just isn’t much of a strong feminist role model.  The argument eventually concluded with, “Yeah, well, you know what’s feminist? Writing whatever you want and not having to censor yourself because feminists won’t like it.”  Oh, snap. Point and match. 

But I think there’s another reason that Bella isn’t an apples to apples comparison to Buffy, Hermione, or Leia.  Each of those three happened upon love while pursuing a greater cause.  They had epic events with some love.  But Bella flipped that around – she fell in love and then had a few epic events. And of those two scenario’s, which sounds more likely to happen to your average teenager?  I don’t wonder that Bella resonates with a generation ­– falling in love, getting depressed, getting back together, it’s all part and parcel of being a teen. 

But… I just don’t like the decisions that Bella made. As a kid I thought Eowyn (LoTR), Esther (Bible), and Leia (Star Wars) were awesome.  Smart, strong, sexy women with a rebellious streak and a thing for royalty (except for Leia, who of course, liked scruffy looking nerf herders).  My parents went out of their way to point out good role models because they wanted me to know that women could do whatever they wanted.  But what if I had wanted to be married at 18 to my on-again off-again boyfriend like Bella did?  That would not have gone over well with anyone in my family except for my really sexist grandmother. If my best friend in high-school had been Bella, I would have been fairly horrified at her decision making skills, and chalked it up to an a broken family and low self-esteem.

I know, I know, Twilight is just a fiction novel – not a how-to manual for life.  It’s a romantic story that features star-crossed true-love and a happy ending.  But if I ever have any offspring of the female persuasion I won’t be pointing out Bella; I’ll be pointing at Stephenie Meyer and saying, “Look how she wrote a book that touched the lives of millions of people – you can do that to!”  

Bethany Maines is the author of Bulletproof Mascara, Compact With the Devil and Supporting the Girls.  Catch up with her at or check out the new Carrie Mae youtube video.