Thursday, March 29, 2012

Do Authors Need A Mobile Website? Yes!

Whether we are published or not, we love our blogs. There's just something exciting about putting our thoughts out there for the world to read. Many of us choose from the available free services – blogger, wordpress.com and companies who promise free hosting, to name a few.

But the fact is that if we intend to reach a larger audience, we must consider a mobile website. More and more people are surfing the web using mobile devices: smart phones and tablets. Some people have moved completely to tablets and don't even boot up a laptop anymore. The world is becoming more mobile day by day.

Knowing this – we must respond and provide our content in a format that the public can read on their handheld devices. Since I am a full-time freelancer, it seemed like this skill would be a great addition to my portfolio. I already build Wordpress blogs and migrate blogger blogs to Wordpress for other writers, so why hesitate on learning how to build mobile-friendly sites?  So I took the plunge.

This is what my blog looked like on a smart phone before I built a mobile site:



It's pretty easy to see that it is not reader-friendly. Only a portion of the page shows and you can bet that anyone visiting this site on a smart phone will click their back button in less time than it takes to fully load. What I need is a mobile site that provides a full page view, with navigation that makes sense to the viewer. This is the one I built for myself:



As you can see, the navigation is clear and easy to follow. Whether you would like to read the About Me page or my Recent Blog Post, there is no question where you would click to find them. Not only that, the "Click to Call" button will call my office number from your smart phone. All I had to do was select my header image directly from my blog, write pages that are appropriate for a mobile device and code them for the platform. Of course, you don't want to put everything you have on a mobile site, it would load too slowly. So you decide exactly what you would like to showcase and create a site that lets visitors know who you are.

If a reader clicks a link in search engine results that points to my blog while on a mobile device, they will automatically be transferred to the mobile version. To accomplish this automatic switch, a website must be on a top level domain (TLD). If you have a Wordpress site on a TLD, I can even install a plugin that will do the work for you as long as your mobile and desktop sites are hosted on the same server. If your site is coded in HTML, I also have a script that can be installed on your pages to send mobile visitors to the new mobile version.

My freelance site is: http://PayNoPostage.com – and the rates for building mobile sites are listed on my "Services Available" page on the mobile version. (If you do not have a mobile device, you can see my mobile site on your desktop or laptop by keying in this URL in the browser bar: http://m.paynopostage.com.)

If you mention you read about it on Wendy's blog, I will give you a 10% discount on the price of building your new mobile site.

Why wait? I am building mobile sites now. 

Michael Lee Joshua is a happy grandpa and a freelance writer. He is also skilled in SEO techniques and can help you find and dominate your niche on the internet. Visit his blog at http://InspirationalSayingsFromGrandpasHeart.comor his SEO site http://PayNoPostage.com

Need an editor?

I edit manuscripts! Here is my editing information:

I started my writing and editing career in January of 2008. Since the start of my career my passion for the craft has only grown stronger in that time. Not only do I have the drive to perfect my own books but to help other busy authors as well. I have several years of freelance editing experience, have recently attended advanced grammar classes in college, and extensively study the craft of writing. I'm also an award winning, multi-published author.

I succeed when my client succeeds. Editing should be a creative and as enjoyable as possible so my goal is to provide fast, friendly, and efficient service while working with my clients. No author is the same so I can tailor your editing plan for you.

The areas of editing I cover are:

Story Structure

  • The flow of the story. 
  • Plot strengths, weaknesses, and inconsistencies. 
  • Point of view, tone, and voice flow.
  • Character development. 
  • Dialogue 
Line Editing 
  • Line by line editing for typos and grammatical errors. 
  • Page by page revision recommendations when applicable. 
  • Phone, email, or online chat time for brainstorming your manuscript.
  • A second read-through to go over "problem areas" of the manuscript with no extra charge.  
Rate: 

Editing services: $1.00 per page (double spaced). 

Email: creativemanuscripts@gmail.com 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get to know me!

Good morning! You know I'm an author and all that, but today I decided to let us get a little more personal. Here are 5 random things about me that you might not know:

1. I grew up in Oregon but live in Arizona which is funny because I looove water activities. Growing up, we spent a lot of time at rivers, lakes, and the ocean. The ocean is actually one of my favorite places to visit and I'd love to live by one some day.

Even though I live in Arizona, we have plenty of access to water activities. We have a pool which provides many months of swimming each year. We also have some lakes around us. I even visited one yesterday!

2. I collect 2 different things. Even though I'm not a fan of fantasy, I love fairies. I collect fairy figurines. I also collect autographed novels. My collection includes some bigger names like Jennifer Ashley, but all of my autographed books are important to me. A friend of a friend just visited Phoenix. We had plans so I could meet Gina Ardito, but I ended up sick during her visit. She left me an autographed book for my collection. This made my entire month even though I am so sorry I missed meeting her.

3. I am such a mushy romantic type of girl. Even though I write romance, I prefer watching true crime documentaries on TV. I also interned for a criminal defense attorney which I loved doing.

4. When I was young I was really into dance. I took tap, jazz, and ballet. I also did baton twirling and performed in a parade. Besides an occasional Zumba class, I don't dance now. When my daughter was little I tried getting her into some sort of dance. "Nope," she had said, "I only do soccer. Dance is too girlie." So I let her play soccer. One day she decided to take a ballet class. She fell in love with dance and now (almost 15 years old) she attends a performing arts high school for their ballet program. She taught her ballet class last week and wants to open her own dance school some day.

5. I love to give back to my community. I was a Girl Scout leader for 5 years. I have also done other community service activities such as serving food at a soup kitchen, donating my hair to Locks of Love, and participated in many clothing drives. When we outgrow our things, I don't sell them. I give them to needy families. When I moved from northern Arizona down to Phoenix, I had to downsize my belongings. I owned a  home child care at the time. I gave all of my extra baby stuff to a single mother who couldn't afford much for her new baby.

Anyway, now you know a little more about me. Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by :)

Wendy Ely

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where Do All Those Secondary Characters in the Books Come From? By Jerold Last


Life informs art and vice-versa.  Or something else like that is probably true for all of us who are authors or would-be authors.   As we try to create the imaginary worlds of our books, to be believable we have to rely on reality for inspiration.  My scientific work in my two major fields of expertise, biochemistry and toxicology has taken me to South America several times.  I’ve tried to explain elsewhere, I use the places I’ve lived in and visited as characters in my novels.  These novels have to be populated with people, both the major participants like my detectives Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster, who are the central characters in all of my books thus far, and all of the rest of the people they will meet as they investigate the murder or murders.  As an author I have to create a dozen or two minor characters as the plot develops.  We quickly encounter a problem of how to make these bit players into distinct individuals rather than just 20 clones named Pedro or Jose.  To solve this problem I try to use real people I’ve met in South America as models for some of my fictional characters in these books.  Often it can be as subtle as visualizing someone I actually met for a physical description or taking part of their personas to start building my fictional characters.  For this blog entry I thought I’d select a few of the suspects in the murders being investigated and a couple of the minor characters at random from my last two novels and try to trace the pathway these individuals traveled from reality to book pages.

      First up is Bernardo Colletti, the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party from The Ambivalent Corpse and a suspect in the murder.  He has his roots in reality.  I first visited Montevideo in 1982 as a Fulbright Professor teaching courses in toxicology and in protein biochemistry during the waning days of an ultraconservative military dictatorship.  My hostess, a pediatrician who practiced at The Hospital de Clinicas, surprisingly turned out to be married to a pediatrician who worked in the Emergency Room (think of George Clooney’s role in ER) who was the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party.  Despite his politics, he was a charming and well-educated (Uruguay and Chicago, USA) physician with whom I was expected to interact professionally and socially while I was there.  To create Bernardo’s character in the book, I merely aged his role model from 1982 to 2011 (about 30 years) and grafted the real Nazi’s looks and personality onto the fictional one.  Despite the obvious reasons one should not like a virulent fascist, I tried to portray Bernardo as I recalled the real thing: extremely charming and intelligent in social settings where he deemphasized the more odious of his political views.  Some of the discussion over dinner that takes place in the novel is recreated from what I remember from a dinner I had with my hostess and her husband in 1982 at the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo.  In my mind the fictional Bernardo comes across as a complex character rather than a mere caricature of a Nazi because to me this ambivalence accentuates his evil and makes him terrifyingly real.  Parenthetically, I liked my hostess, the pediatrician, a lot.  She eventually divorced the real "Bernardo" and took a position with the World Health Organization in Switzerland, where she had a very productive career.

      Next up is another character (actually two characters, a couple) from The Ambivalent Corpse, Gerardo and Andrea, who act as hosts for Suzanne at the University de la Republica and become good friends of our heroes as the story evolves.  The couple is modeled after my best friends and scientific colleagues in Montevideo. They are, in fact, named after their two children.  Now there’s a switch, naming the parents after their children.  You can get a real sense of power when you write fiction!  The scene at the Feria (open air market) in the park that I described in the book is modeled after the actual Saturday morning Feria in the park across the street from our apartment we rented when we lived in Montevideo, and the negotiations for mate (the poor person's coffee substitute in South America) gourds and bombillas (silver straws) are pretty much the way the negotiations we had in the Feria and on the streets were when we bought tourist-type stuff to bring home with us.  Andrea’s research with algal toxins (microcystins) that she described at dinner in the book is pretty close to what the real “Andrea and Gerardo” do in Montevideo, and is part of the basis for our collaborative research and teaching.   Their life style as described in the novel is pretty authentic, and they organized and participated in a workshop we recently taught together in Lima, Peru.

In The Surreal Killer Suzanne is taken shopping for baby clothes at the Mercado de Las Incas in Lima by several women she meets at a scientific meeting.  Two of these women worked as scientists from government agencies in Lima and are based (their physical descriptions and their willingness to adopt Suzanne and show her the techniques for shopping at The Inca Market) upon the actual Peruvian government scientist who hosted our group from the University in Montevideo (including the real “Gerardo and Andrea”) and me in 2010.   We spent that week in Peru teaching a course to about 50 Peruvian scientists and engineers about analysis and toxicology of the Microcystins, toxins produced by Blue-Green algae that can contaminate drinking water supplies, a current problem throughout the entire world.   An exceedingly busy scientist spent some of her precious time to not only make us feel welcome in her country but to make sure that we had a few experiences that made us appreciate the rich Peruvian culture as well as the science being done locally.

Finally, in Chapter 18 of The Surreal Killer Suzanne and Roger are taken for a flight over the Atacama Desert in a small two-engine plane by two of their suspects, Pedro and Romero.  Along the way, Pedro gives both of them lessons in how to fly the plane.  Pedro’s character is a composite based upon a couple of real scientists I’ve known, one of them a North American originally from New Jersey who actually taught me how to fly a single-engine Cessna many years ago while we were both research scientists at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  The other, more extroverted, half of Pedro's character is based upon a real Chilean scientist who hosted me during several visits to Santiago as we tried to build a collaborative program at The University of Chile similar to those we had already developed in Montevideo and Salta, Argentina. 

            In this brief blog entry I've tried to describe how a small part of the creative process works for fiction authors.  Our life experiences are the source and our books and their characters are the product.  If you'd like to meet Bernardo, Andrea, and Gerardo, they can be found hanging out in The Ambivalent Corpse, available from Amazon for $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/Ambivalent-Corpse-Crime-Meant-ebook/dp/B0060ZFRQG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319989507&sr=1-1, and also from Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/100325, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble (Nook).  You can meet Pedro, Romero, and their Beechcraft Baron airplane, as well as the helpful women in Lima who take Suzanne and her future baby to The Inca Market, in The Surreal Killer, available from Amazon for $2.99 (currently FREE for Amazon Prime members) at http://www.amazon.com/The-Surreal-Killer-ebook/dp/B007H21EFO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330988453&sr=1-2.

Brutal murders, Brutal puns, Suspenseful mystery novels, South American intrigue: What more can anyone ask for? The Surreal Killer is available from Amazon (FREE for Amazon Prime members) for $2.99 athttp://www.amazon.com/The-Surreal-Killer-ebook/dp/B007H21EFO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330988453&sr=1-2. The preceding book in this series The Ambivalent Corpse is available from Amazon for $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/Ambivalent-Corpse-Crime-Meant-ebook/dp/B0060ZFRQG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319989507&sr=1-1, and also from Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/100325, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble (Nook).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Get Blogged Down by Joe Jenkins

Don’t Get Blogged Down
Joe Jenkins
In this two part article, I’m going to be taking a look blogging.
Part One – Why Blog?
Part Two – WordPress 101 (in English)

Part One – Why Blog
While this article looks at writers, it can be used by all of us, in all situations.
If there’s one thing that writers are good at, it’s writing so, surely, it would be best for us to just stick to doing that.
Why should we have to start messing around with computers and start blogging, that’s far too technical and, when we do finally blog, how long should we spend on the blog making sure that it’s word perfect, because those critics are everywhere.
Stop. Take a deep breath.  Calm down.
The reason that we should all have blogs, is to get out there, be seen.  Writing for the sake of writing is good, and there is no need to be seen unless, of course, you want your writing to be read.
In this short article, I’ll be taking you through the reasons that you should be blogging, and then take on you on a quick tour of WordPress – in English.  I won’t be able to cover everything, but I can get you to the point where you can easily move around.  I’m currently working on a book that covers this for writers, so if you need more information, then get in touch, if not, then you know the book will be great J

Why Blog?
Blogging is nothing more than keeping a diary, though with the possibility of millions of people looking under your bed (in this case Google), and opening it up to read.  When you write your diary, it doesn’t have to be word perfect, you don’t spend hours agonising over single words and you don’t expect to win a Pulitzer for it.
It is no different with a blog, which is just a shortened version of the original name given to it, web log.  For this article, I’ll give you two reasons to blog.

Practise Makes Perfect
As with any muscle, that writing muscle needs exercise, but this doesn’t have to mean that you spend every day working on your short story or novel.  Just write.  Write about the weather, write about the new postman and how you’d like to leave your stamp on him.  Just write.
As you write, you will find that you can do it without even thinking, you just get into the habit of writing and it will flow.  With this behind you, when it comes to writing your book or short stories, it will come more naturally.
Market Yourself
You need to be seen, you need to be read, you need to be known.  When you start to build a fan-base on your blog, you will find that many of those who spend their time reading your blog will then pay to read your short stories or your novels.
Once you create a fan-base, they will tell their friends, then their friends will tell their own friends and, before long, you will find yourself with hundreds and even, eventually, thousands, of fans.  Fans equate to sales which means you being read.

In part two of this article, I will be taking you through the basics of using WordPress, but in a way that you will understand.  There will be no technobabble and I will include plenty of images.  I will also be showing you how easy it is to place your WordPress blog within your Facebook page, so you can easily get the word out about yourself on the world’s most popular website.

About Joe Jenkins
Joe Jenkins is an author and head of Moonworks Publishing, as well as being a WordPress developer.  He lives in Fareham, Hampshire, England and likes to sing karaoke – badly.
Moonworks Publishing has just released its first book, Telling Tales, with all proceeds going to a hospice.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How much sex do you prefer?

Carolyn and I were recently hanging out with a group of authors we were just getting to know. Beth asked Carolyn about her books. Carolyn explained that she writes under two names. One name because those romances are really clean (no sex) and the pen name because those books have some detailed sex scenes added. Once Beth heard that Carolyn wrote "clean" books, Beth's attention turned to me and remained there. I don't write clean books. My book's main focus is the love between two people but the books do have sex scenes sprinkled through out. This might be too much for some readers. It might not be enough for others. I know that when I'm reading someone else's book and not in the mood to read about sex, I skip over the scene.

After our day with that group of authors, Carolyn and I had a huge discussion about sex in books. She suggested that I get more attention because I don't leave those scenes out. I really don't think clean books are bad and some readers prefer them. When I first wrote Confessions, the book contained "closed door" sex. My critique partner called me because she didn't want to read any more of the story unless I added at least one sex scene. She might've been joking, but I never had to figure that out because I started the first sex scene between Chelsea and Jordan. Writing this type of content scared the crap out of me. I had no idea how to do it. My critique partner, an erotica author, showed me the way. 

Now my novels range in heat level. The reason for that is because sometimes I don't think the story always calls for a really naughty scene between the characters. Other times, the story is full of it. Dreaming of Him has one "closed door" sex scene even though the cover is a bit naughty. The sexiest book I've ever done is Cross the Line. All of the other's heat levels fall in the middle. The level of sex included in a story isn't something I focus on. My focus is always making the characters someone the readers can relate to. People occasionally have one-night-stands. So do my characters. Sometimes people have other issues that prevent them from physically opening up to their love interest. Guess what? Some of my characters do that as well. This is where my focus remains. 

Speaking of one-night-stands, Allison tried having one of those with Miguel. Here is a little teaser: 
“Would you like to dance?”
     She nodded while trying to get her heart to stop racing in her chest. Did she even remember
how to do this? It had been so long since she’d danced with someone. She pictured herself fumbling
in his arms and stepping on his shiny shoes.
      Not wanting to lose this chance with him, she wiped her sweaty palms down her pants before
putting her arms over his shoulders. Tingles of excitement raced throughout her body when Miguel
slid his arm around her waist and pulled her even closer to him, making her breasts press tight
against his chest. Her breath caught in her throat. Her body stiffened when his lips found the curve
of her neck as they swayed together over the grass, while the slow song filled the warm air with
sweet tunes. The evening would’ve been perfect if she hadn’t had to continuously push away the
panic that tried to make an appearance in her heart.
      “We can stop if you aren’t sure about doing this,” he whispered against her ear, his hot breath
sending shivers through her.
     “I want to.” Each part of her body screamed for more, in spite of the mix of emotions flooding
through her by his embrace. Fear swirled through the arousal and desire to be with him. Maybe
she should just end it with him right here. End the dance, end the date, and end any tomorrow that
might’ve happened with Miguel. But she didn’t want him to let go of her.
     “Then relax. I won’t hurt you.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “Not ever.”
     Her stomach tightened as she repeated his words in her mind. He wouldn’t hurt her ever. The
more she thought about what he’d said, the more she believed him. The words intoxicated her, or
the wine finally started to work, making her relax against him. Were those the words she needed
to hear? She took a deep breath, enjoyed the spicy scent of his cologne, and his arms holding her
tight against him. Even the moon seemed a little brighter as it started coming up for the night.
     She snuggled closer to him, allowing his hot breath to brush across her ear, sending shivers
down her spine. Being with Miguel made her realize how much she’d missed the security that came
with being with a man. If she’d known what she’d been missing, she might’ve dated sooner. But
what if he caused this sensation to come over her and nobody else could? Nope, not Miguel. It
couldn’t be him because that would mean this was more than she thought. No entanglements. Only
fun. And that’s what she’d have.
     Allison pulled back a tiny bit to look in his dark eyes. She moved her face forward to brush
her lipsgently against his. The simple kiss shot sparks through her body. Her lips parted and she
tasted the tip of his tongue as it played just inside her mouth. Heat swirled around in her belly and
traveled in both directions through her body, all the way down to the tips of her toes and up to her
cheeks, making every part of her body long for him. Opening her mouth more provided the chance
to take his tongue all the way in.
      His hand reached under the back of her shirt to trace small circles over her skin with his
warm fingers, then moved around her side to her stomach. “Do you want me to stop?”
      “Oh, God no.” She’d probably die from the yearning to be touched pulsating through her. 

*** 

If you'd like to read more of Midnight Secrets, you can find it for your Kindle here http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Secrets-ebook/dp/B004GHN46U/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

But before you go, drop me a note to let me know how much sex you like in your books! 

Talk to you soon, 
Wendy Ely 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carolyn Hughey talks about her new releases!

Dishing Up Romance and Magnetic Attraction are my current releases.  Dishing Up Romance was truly a labor of love for me.  Every chef I know dreams of having their own cookbook, and I’m no exception.  When Avalon asked me to write this series, I was over the moon knowing my dream was about to come true. And, what better way to combine two of my favorite subjects: romance and food.  I hope you enjoy reading the excerpt, and the making the recipe I’ve included below.

Washing vegetables during my externship for the last month at Chez Francoise hadn’t taught me anything about my aspiring career in the culinary arts except to give me chapped hands. I blocked a yawn using my forearm and drained the water, only to refill it for the third time and watch the spinach float to the top.
Charlie Johnson, the executive chef and owner of Chez Francoise entered, and I gasped as I gawked at Mr. Rock-hard Chest Guy standing next to him.  I stood up a little straighter.  Oh yeah, flashed through my mind.  Things were indeed looking up—big time.
I quickly moved behind a wall that jutted out to get a better look at him so those close by wouldn’t witness my girlish fantasies coming to life.  He said something to Charlie and as his mouth moved, I watched his sexy lips and crooked smile. Charlie said something to him and pointed in my direction.  I jolted back to the sink, my heart now wildly pulsating and watched him head my way.  I tried to calm down, but as he got closer, my mind imagined he was Don Giovanni, the Italian Don Juan, and I was Princess Caterina being lured into his world by his good looks and charm.  Then all of a sudden, Dad’s favorite song played through my mind.       
When the moon . . . hits your eye . . .like a big-a pizza pie.
“That’s amore,” shot out of my mouth like a canyon when he stood next to me, the scent from his aftershave teasing my senses.  I cleared my throat to squelch my embarrassment, but then this wasn’t the first time I’d made a fool of myself.  He leaned toward me.  I inhaled deeply, enjoying the woody scent of what I thought was cedar or pine, but maybe it was the wooden crate of spinach he held in his hands—the one I hadn’t noticed before.
“Amore?” he said with a devilish grin.
Cooking!” I responded quickly, my index finger doing a standalone.  “The food . . . the cooking . . . that’s love—don’t you think?” My lashes fluttered.  I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d resorted to acting like a love starved woman who’d been on a deserted island most of her life. Actually, I was, but that’s my doing—darn it! 
                        “Yes, I agree,” he said with a wink.  “Food is love.  Now, where would you like me to put this crate of spinach?”
                        “Crate?” I asked, still watching his mouth move, my legs now wavering like a limp piece of liver.
                        “Yeah,” he said, “Charlie asked me to bring this over to you.”
                        “Oh, right.  More spinach,” I mumbled, too embarrassed to look him in the eyes.  “Sorry.”  I pointed ahead.  “By the sink, please.”  I followed close behind, enjoying his back view as much as the front.  He placed the crate on the floor then stood and extended his hand.  I was barely able to lift mine, now limp and shaking, into his warm palm.
 I shook my head. This wasn’t real and I had no desire to become involved with anyone, especially now that I had a new career on the horizon.  So why was I so bowled over by his looks?  Because he was gorgeous, and I was lonely?  Or because I had conflicting thoughts about having a love life?
                        “I’m Josh Benson.”  He interrupted my thoughts.  “Are you alright? You look a little pale.”
                        “Uh huh,” I said, still trying to avoid his baby blues.  “I’m Cassie Pirelli,” I stammered. “I’m just getting over a cold.”  I didn’t sound nasally, but hey, I thought it might work, but then maybe not so much.
                        He grinned, and I knew I’d been snagged.  He knew exactly what I’d been thinking.
                        “I’d like to ask you something.”
                        Ohmigod rushed through my mind as my pulse picked up speed.  It had been a long time since any guy had paid attention to me.
                        “So what did you have in mind?” I said fast and flirty. 
                        I chastised myself, but you think I could stop acting like a jerk?  I knew it, and he knew it, but here I stood while he watched me with a cautious eye and a toothy grin.  My eyes glanced down at his left hand just for Yuks—you know, in case I was interested, all the while praying I wouldn’t see a ring on that finger.  Ah, my prayers were answered.  No wedding band.  Not even a tan line.  My heart skipped another beat.
                        “How long have you worked here?” he asked.

Dishing Up Romance includes 32 recipes, several of which are my closely guarded family recipes, like my mother’s Tomato Sauce and Meatballs that I’ve weaved into the story.    It is currently discounted at Amazon.  http://amzn.com/0803474598
And as an extra bonus, I’m pasting in a simple recipe for you.  I hope you enjoy them, but beware, you might just enjoy them too much.
                        NO DATE--NO BAKE CHOCOLATE PEANUTBUTTER DATE BALLS
                         
                         2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 40-45 cookies)
                        1/2 cup finely chopped dates
                        1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
                        1/2 cup cocoa
                        1/4 cup peanut butter
                        5 tbsp dark corn syrup
                        2 tbsp butter, melted
                        2 tbsp hot water
                        2/3 cup of confectioner's sugar (for rolling)
                         
                        This guy shouldn’t be on your mind at a time like this, but your thoughts are all shot to Haiti in a hand-basket.  Making these ‘no date’ date balls should clear your head and heart from the tennis match playing out in your brain.  Focus on what’s right and ignore the heart palpitations whenever he’s around.  Focus girl, focus!  Tell your alter ego to take a hike and stop messing with your mind.
                        In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter, peanut butter and corn syrup.  Stir to incorporate and let bubble, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Remove from stove and add cocoa.  Blend with spatula.
                        Add the nuts and CRUSHED wafers in a large bowl to safeguard your heart from being crushed.  Pour chocolate mixture over top and work the mixture with your fingers to form a dough.  If the dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of hot water at a time and blend.
                        Keep your eyes on the prize of success as you form the dough into 30 one-inch balls and less on his abs while you roll the balls into the confectioner’s sugar.   Place in an airtight container with a lid to keep them fresh.  And in the event you become tempted to go to the other side because you think you’re missing another window of opportunity, break the freakin’ window!


~~~
Magnetic Attraction, written by my alter ego, K. T. Roberts is a lighthearted romance with sizzle and released two weeks ago.  Needless to say, I’m very excited.  The reviews rendering 5 out of 5 stars have been amazing.   And . . . drum roll please, my cover was done by our very own multi-talented Wendy Ely.  Isn’t it wonderful? 



ORDAN BAILEY has issues. She wants it all—like loving and being loved, the flowers, the candy, the romance, and please, a relationship that doesn’t end in disaster. That’s not asking too much, is it?

Apparently so, because discovering her boyfriend of three years is a two-timing dirt-bag isn’t her idea of the happily-ever-after kind of relationship. And while she’s getting even, who could have predicted she’d have a chance encounter with Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell who teaches her how fate, friendship and passion all contribute to “having it all” or will he be swooped up before Jordan ever gets that chance?
Below is an excerpt.  I hope you enjoy it.  The book is available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007H0HRNO/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Here’s chapter two:  Jordan and her two friends are going to Miami for a weekend to help her get through her heartache of learning her boyfriend has cheated on her.
~~~
Back at Mags’ apartment, Emily and I headed for the kitchen with the food. Mags took off for the bedroom to pack.
“Jor, are you feeling any better?” Emily asked while searching through the drawers to find silverware. Just as I was about to respond, she was shouting out to Mags. “Where are you hiding the silverware? Sorry, Jor. You were saying?”
“I’m…”
Mags yelled from the other room. “Check the hall closet.”
“The hall closet?” She shook her head. “Who the hell keeps their silverware in the hall closet?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at me as she walked back into the kitchen. “Jor,” she sighed, “sorry. Go ahead.” With plastic silverware in hand, she shouted. “Mags, food’s ready.”
Mags padded to the table in furry blue slippers. “I’m starving.” She turned to me as she sat down. “How are you doing, Jor?”
“Oh, I’m—”
She looked over at Emily. “Where are the plates?”
“I couldn’t find them, and I’m exhausted from trying to think from your scary perspective.” Mags jumped up out of her seat, shaking her head. She bent over and opened the cabinet under the sink, and began shifting cleaning products around.
“Under the sink?” Emily said impatiently, shooting me a side-glance. “You know, Mags, you are seriously pathetic.”
“Hey, so I’m not domesticated,” Mags fired back. “You were saying, Jor?”
“Nothing,” I held up my hand, and shuffled off to the living room. I began to regret having invited them to Miami. I listened to their bickering for the next few minutes, my eyes glazing over from the snipes until I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and walked out the door, closing it behind me. I heard Mags briefly ask Emily about the noise but that only lasted a second before they were back to their favorite pastime. Outside, I flagged down a cab knowing they were in too deep with bickering to even notice I was gone.
The cabbie dropped me off in front of my apartment. I made a speedy exit, unlocked the door and slowly walked to the sofa and flopped down. Ryan’s number flashed across the screen when my phone rang, and I couldn’t shut the ring off fast enough. My pulse shot up. He was adding insult to injury. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?
I sat for a while, staring into space and trying not to think of anything, but my curiosity got the best of me. I keyed in my pass code and listened to his message.
“Hi Jor, it’s me. My plane just arrived.” He sighed. “I just wanted to check on you, baby.”
Resentment shot through every fiber of my being and my anger flared up again. Why was he torturing me? His infidelity was already out, so why was he playing this game? I grabbed a champagne flute from the cupboard and was reminded of the night he’d given me the six-piece set as a gift—the same night we’d talked about going to the South Beach Palms for our honeymoon. What happened to make him cheat? I could feel my nostrils flare, and wondered if I’d be able to resist chopping the guy’s freakin’ head off if I ever ran into him again. I filled the glass from an opened bottle of champagne on the shelf in the fridge and took a sip of the flat, sickening sweet liquid. It had lost its fizz, just like our relationship.
I scrounged around for something to eat, when the doorbell rang. I knew it was Mags and Emily and listened to them pound on the door. The banging went from a normal tap to successive weight on the bell that was grating on my nerves and forced me to open the door.
Emily forged past me with the bag of food. “Jordan, honey, we are so sorry,” She placed the bag on the counter and came over to me. “C’mon, sit down and we’ll fix you a plate of food.” I didn’t budge.
Mags dropped her suitcase on the floor, then reached out to grab my hand and pulled me upright from the sofa. “C’mon, Jordan, you have to eat something.” I rolled my eyes. “Hey, you know, I just thought of something,” her mouth curled into a smirk, “you remember those zits Ryan had all over his face last week?”
“Yeah. What about them?”
“That was the evil coming out of the dirt-bag.” She squinted her eyes and twirled her finger around like she was mixing a magic potion of poison, “that shit has to come out somehow so it seeps out of their pores in the form of zits.” As our resident comedian, there was no way anyone could avoid laughing at some of the funny things she said and did—except for Emily who’s the oldest of the group, and the least amused by Mags. Em and I gave Mags another side-glance, but I laughed. Mags shrugged, “Hey, that’s what my mother says whenever I have them.”
“My mother used to say the same thing, but that was just about making sure I was toeing the line. Whenever she’d see a red bump on my face, she’d give me the squinted eyes and say, “You did something to get that bump. What was it?” We all laughed and it felt good to release some of the stress I’d felt all day. Finally eating something did help to calm be down as well.
Once we’d finished our take out, I rallied the troops. “Okay,” I said tossing the plates in the trash trying to clean up the mess we’d made. “We’d better hit the road before we miss our flight.”



Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hanging out with Gerry McCullough!


Gerry McCullough – the Story of a Belfast Girl.

When Wendy invited me to guest post on her marvelous blog, I thought I'd write a little about my own publishing journey. It's just over a year now since my first book was published – Belfast Girls, the story of three girls growing up in the new post Troubles Belfast of wealth, fashion, drugs and crime, and of their lives and loves. And possibly some of you know very little about me and would be interested in finding out a little more.

Halfway through my all girls’ primary school (I was about 8) I was put into a 'house' called Charlotte. The headmistress explained when 'houses' were introduced that she had picked the names of 4 famous women who would be good role models, and talked a little about each of them – Florence (Nightingale), Elizabeth (Fry), Octavia (Hill) and Charlotte (Bronte). All great women. You should look them up if you haven't heard of them. 

She explained that everyone in Charlotte need not necessarily aim to be a great writer. Charlotte Bronte's determination to 'do something worthy of fame' was in itself a good attitude to follow. Nevertheless, that was probably what first made me want to be a great writer – someone not only popular and best selling, but also looked up to as a good, classic, literary writer. And, of course, a woman! 

I should explain, here, that for a good part of my life I didn't consider that being a woman was a disadvantage. My home, and my schools, treated me as in every way equal to 'boys' – if not rather superior. It was only as an adult that I came across the strange idea that women were less intelligent and inferior in lots of ways. I still didn't believe it, of course, but it was certainly annoying.

I wrote lots of things for years, seeing little success in terms of published work. A few poems, quite a few articles – all of them unpaid. This wasn't what I was aiming for. I wanted my fiction to be both published and paid for – my aim was to be a professional. Meanwhile, I married twice (my first husband died very young) and had 4 children – 2 per husband, which seemed reasonable, I used to joke. When my youngest child was ready for school, I took on a full time job, working in the Civil Service. Writing was still very important to me, but time was at a premium.

Finally came success. About 10 years ago, an Irish magazine, Ireland's Own, accepted one of my stories and paid for it! Moreover, they expressed an interest in seeing any others I cared to send them! Wow! I couldn't believe it at first when I opened the envelope.

That was the first Old Seamus story, The Tale of a Teacup. As my first published and paid work, I still have a great love for it. Since then, Ireland's Own has published over 30 of these 'Old Seamus' stories, the tales of an Irish rogue who lives by poaching and tells stories going back to his own childhood or youth, full of humour, nostalgia, and sentiment. The first 12 have now been published by Precious Oil Publications, at a deliberately low price, around a dollar or 77p, so that anyone interested can easily buy them on Kindle. This is my most recent book. It went straight into the Amazon top 100 for 'romance – short stories', which was nice.

But back tracking slightly, I was very happy to have stories published in a magazine, but my aim was still a full length fiction book. Some of the signposts on the way, which confirmed my belief that my writing wasn't too bad, were winning the Cuirt International Award for New Fiction for my short story Primroses, and being short listed, runner-up, and commended in a number of other literary competitions for short stories.  Around 20 of these more literary short stories have also been published by now. 

In 2007 I was taken on by a local Literary Agent, Bill Jeffrey. He suggested, in October 2009, that I put Belfast Girls up on Authonomy, the Harper Collins website. Once there, Belfast Girls reached the top 5 in six months (quite good going) and had so many positive comments that I began to believe that my writing must, in fact, be okay.

Well, Harper Collins wanted a lot of changes before they would consider publishing Belfast Girls, which doesn't fit neatly into just one of their genres. But meanwhile, a number of much smaller publishers had expressed interest in the book. Among these was Night Publishing, run at that time by Tim Roux and Bruce Esler (who later dropped out). Bruce was enthusiastic about my book, and so, in July 2010, out of the several offers made to me, I accepted a publishing deal for Belfast Girls with Night Publishing.  By the end of the year, the book was out. Now, just over a year later, it's sold over 3,500 copies. It entered the top 100 for its genre in March 2011, was picked as Book of the Month by the Ulster Tatler in the same month, won the Night Publishing Book of the Year Award in April, and continued to climb the best seller lists. Usually it has been in the top 100 on 3 genres in Amazon UK; Women's Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction, and Contemporary Romance. It has climbed as high as #1 in Women's Lit. Fiction, and recently has been staying there.


By now, my confidence in my writing had grown, build up not only by the sales but by the lovely 5 star reviews left on the both Amazon sites by readers. I would not, previously, have thought of self publishing. A real publisher or nothing, had been my aim. But now, for the first time, I seriously considered allowing my husband to publish my next books, through his fledgling publishing company Precious Oil Publications. Raymond is an excellent writer as well as a publisher – his books so far are The Whore and her Mother and A Wee Taste of Craic – and he had set up the publishing company originally for his own books. So I agreed that he would publish my next book, a more straightforward thriller, Danger Danger. The story centres on the perennially fascinating topic of identical twins, and how their lives seem to follow similar patterns even when, like Katie and Annie, they have been separated from birth; and on the dangers which beset both girls.  By late October, it was out.  I was sorry not to continue with the marvellous Tim Roux and Night Publishing. Tim very kindly said that if I ever changed my mind he would be very happy to publish any of my future books. But the die was cast.

Danger Danger has had some great 5 star reviews. But it's like juggling plates – it's hard to handle publicity for two books at once. I know I haven't done enough to push it yet. It went straight into the top 100 bestsellers list for romance suspense, which was more than Belfast Girls did at that stage; currently it’s in the top 1000 overall, and #12 in romance/suspense and #13 in thrillers/suspense; has sold nearly as many copies as Belfast Girls in a fraction of the time; and I personally believe that it's a better written book than my first. We'll see how it continues to do.

And now, as I mentioned above, the first 12 of my Old Seamus books has been published, in January 2012. I'm pleased to see it out. I have a sentimental affection for it, as my first actual success, The Tale of a Teacup, is the first story in the collection. Lots of people have enjoyed these stories in magazine form, and in the podcasts I made of the first 5. I hope they'll buy it for Kindle – same price as a bar of chocolate, and not even fattening, as the publicity says.

Now I've 3 plates to keep spinning, and I'm working on a fourth. This is a huge revision of the first book I wrote as an adult. I still think it's got something, but I can see the faults now very clearly. If I can make a good job of it, it will be out later this year. It's another romantic thriller, set between Belfast and Greece, with the new title Angel in Flight (unless I change that, too!).

Time I stopped this very long post, I think. It’s been great fun writing about myself – who doesn’t enjoy doing that? Thanks for the opportunity, Wendy!

You can buy my 3 books at the links below. 2 of them are ridiculously cheap, and Danger Danger is extremely reasonably priced. Hope you'll get them and enjoy them as much as others have done.







Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cross the Line Teaser!



I dropped the last box on the brown tiles and worried whether I’d packed anything breakable inside. With my luck, I had. Relieved to be done moving, I was already tired of the new city I called home even though I’d only been in it for a few hours. If I didn’t find something appealing about the place soon, I would be looking into moving again like when I’d wanted to get out of Billings, Montana. Nothing had been wrong with the old place, I get bored easy and like to move around is all.

My new best friend roared to life, blowing cool air from the vents. Ignoring the open front door, I sat down on the box I’d dropped. I did my best to rub the knots out of my lower back, but with achy arms, I wasn’t doing so well. Sweat trickled down my forehead, requiring me to stop my half-attempt at a massage, grab a washcloth from a nearby bag and mop at the sweat. How did people live like this? Why I’d decided to accept the job offer in Phoenix was beyond me. But moving in the middle of the Phoenix summer? Even worse. Now I could understand why Arizona had earned the nickname “the devil’s playground.”

Playground? Not sure that would be the right word choice because I was convinced I’d arrived in hell itself.

A knock on the door made me jump up from the box, making every strain in my muscles and joints become more prominent. The pain quickly faded as a luscious vision in denim leaned against my doorframe, looking sexy as sin.

A shot of heat spread through my body. I had no idea why he instantly turned me on. I didn’t find goatees attractive, wasn’t into the whole tattoo bit, or the almost too tight t-shirt style, but it all looked perfect on this man. This man definitely had the talent to pull off the bad boy look that made women drop to their knees. Me included.

I quickly ran my fingers through my hair. It had once been in a complete ponytail, but was only partially bound by a hairband at this point. I looked like a mess and knew it. What a great way to start out meeting someone so handsome. But that’s my luck and I had accepted it long ago. To make the best of the situation, I wiped my sweaty palm down my jean shorts before holding it out to him. “Hi. My name’s Leslie Teague.”

“Chris Matthews.” He barely touched my hand before dropping it, as if scorched. He cocked his head toward the front of my apartment. “Need help with that truck out front?”

“I would’ve taken you up on your offer a little earlier, but I’m done now.” The lie floated from my lips as if the act came as a second nature to me. I never lied to people and never, ever asked anyone for help. So why did I find myself holding my hands out toward the room full of boxes as if presenting a prize? “Unless you want to assist in moving the mattress to my bedroom?” A few suggestions as to what we could do on that mattress came to mind, but I did my best to keep my mouth shut.


Blurb: 

Leslie thought she had it all, until Chris showed her the rest. 

Another move and a bigger paycheck are all Leslie Teague depends on. Living the ‘no strings’ attached lifestyle has always worked for her…until she arrives in Phoenix. 

She doesn’t like bad boy types of men, so why can’t she keep her hands off Chris Matthews, who also just happens to be her new neighbor? 

Content warning, this book contains a fulfilled fantasy, adult language, and a life saved.