A Place for Print

We celebrated my niece’s fifth birthday this week.  Her parents got her a Leap pad tablet and, being an awesome aunt, I bought her Disney’s “Tangled” reading game.

As I watched her delight at the gift, I realized her generation may be the last to see print books. This thought, I’ll admit, made me sad.

In my  lifetime, I’ve watched technology flourish. VHS was replaced by DVDs then Blu-Ray and now, streaming.  Sega was replaced by PlayStation 1, 2, 3 and now, 4.

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Change is inevitable and technology shows no signs of slowing. As an author whose books are sold primarily in the e-book format, this transition benefits me. Still, I can’t bring myself to think print is completely dead.

There is something magical about holding a book in your hands and discovering the world that resides within its thin pages. From hardcovers to paperbacks, books bring the reader a level of enjoyment no movie or video game ever will.

Change is inevitable and technology may show no signs of slowing, but I strongly hope that in this brave new world, print will still hold some clout.

                                                        ColdAmbition200

“It was my life-long dream to become a private eye. Little did I know that with my very first case, that dream would become a life-threatening nightmare…”

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy?

“COLD AMBITION” Available Now on Amazon!

LostDistinction

“It all started with a favor…”

When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore…

“LOST DISTINCTION” Available Now on Amazon!

****And Keep an Eye Out for “RETRIBUTION,” Coming Soon from Soul Mate Publishing!****

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FLOWERS, FLOWERS, FLOWERS

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My pink Hydrangeas

I love flowers. I grow them– Wait, I need to qualify that. I am not a gardener’s gardener and having a green thumb was not bestowed on me at birth (nor any other time in my life).

So what I grow are weed-flowers, bulbs, and any other posies that volunteer to come up each season, or those that can withstand being first nurtured (planted and watered), then invariably neglected (because I forget to water them) and they still thrive.

But what I enjoy more than anything is photographing flowers wherever they happen to be planted.

This Easter, my husband gave me two very pretty pink hydrangeas. They stand about fifteen inches tall and the heads of flowers are bush-worthy huge. My husband thought they would look nice at the top of the chimney tile tubes (recycled from an old chimney). The oblong tubes stand upright and are about three feet high. I use these tiles to mark the walkway between my kitchen porch flower bed and the line of lilies and chives on the other side of that flower bed. An eight inch square pot fits nicely into the top of the tubes.

Trouble is, my husband didn’t read the little label stuck in the hydrangeas. I read the label and discovered the plants are good if the temperature runs from 50 to 80 degrees. That’s June to October weather, not April, not even May because we get frosts and snow is always a possibility.

So, the two pots of hydrangeas will remain on my dining room table until better weather. Then I’ll put them outdoors in the chimney tubes. Then it’ll be amazing if I remember when it does get hot to water them daily.

Of course, come the first autumn frost and they’re toast. Unless I bring them indoor. No, that will only prolong their death. You see, whenever I have this brilliant idea to keep indoor flowers or plants, I forget about them. Which means that despite my best intentions, I don’t water them often enough and, well, they wither and die.

So, how’s your green thumb?

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Posted in Catherine's Cup of Tea! | 6 Comments

Alternative Legend

Something perhaps a little different from your more typical romance writer’s post this morning. But it’s what I do, and it’s not too long. So don’t give up too easily.

I’m reading Parke Godwin’s Sherwood,  a very imaginative treatment of the legend of Robin Hood. Godwin places the lovable outlaw in the 11th century, in the turbulent years following William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings and his consolidation of the British Isles.

Kevin Costner as Robin-HoodOK, wait just a minute. We’ve seen the Kevin Costner movie, even if we haven’t read any actual books, and we remember the stories from our childhood. Robin Hood was in the 13th century, right? Keeping the faith for King Richard while he was in captivity following one of the crusades. You can’t just pluck Robin Hood out of his day and put him a couple of centuries earlier, can you? Must be a law or something.

Truth of the matter is, Robin Hood is a Legend. Perhaps he is based on a historical figure, but in the end, who but a bunch of historical boffins really care? Robin Hood’s real place is in the legends and stories, not in any particular historical place.

I like Parke Godwin. He has a similar imaginative treatment in a trilogy on King Arthur, who is also the subject of my Alternative Legends. In Firelord, Morgan is one of the small people who live beneath the earth, worship the old gods, are terrified of iron, and capable of harmony with nature that we can only imagine. Godwin’s bold treatment–he is totally unafraid to change anything in the “standard” story of Arthur–gave me permission to do the same.

Our beloved King Arthur has also been the subject of “historical revisionism,” if indeed he was a historical figure. The 12th French romance poets, Chretien de Troyes notably, plucked Arthur from the late 6th-early 7th centuries and deposited him in their own times. Clad his knights in armor that wasn’t even invented yet (picture at the end of this post), and even had them joust–which of course they couldn’t have done, since stirrups hadn’t been invented yet (if a knight couched his lance and charged another knight without stirrups, he would have gone flying off the back of his own horse!).

But Arthur is no more of a historical figure than Robin Hood. His place is also in legend and story.

So how much “deviation” from “standard” is acceptable?

First of all, there is no such thing as standard. Disney’s Sword in the Stone and the musical Camelot are different treatments, not definitive. Same for Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, no matter what the medievalists think.

And second, ANY deviation is acceptable. As long as it is a good story and well told–and doesn’t strain our limits of believability too much (we readers don’t like that).

In the beginning, Rusty’s personal version of Arthurian History wasn’t particularly complex. But as my novels continued to develop the legend–and push the envelope–I had to create an extensive historical timetable about what happened when, just to keep my own stories from conflicting with each other. That was a delicious exercise in its own right, complicated only by things that I’d already published. Some of those caused me some problems, and I wished I had done it sooner!

 jousting armorPlate armor protected man and horse and allowed jousting to become a sport

5th century armorWhat Arthur would have worn if he were a real, historical figure. You didn’t joust in this stuff — be like playing football in a loincloth.

Posted in On The Blog Rhoad With Rusty! | Tagged | 4 Comments

Let’s Celebrate the SMP RONE Nominees! By Lauren Linwood

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I wasn’t much of an athlete growing up, so I don’t have a collection of trophies and ribbons from days of running track or playing soccer. I did win some academic awards, though, and I was named Most Likely to Succeed by my senior class.

As I continued on my journey through adulthood, I felt fortunate to be honored by my peers when I was recognized as Teacher of the Year at two different high schools where I taught. I also beamed with pride anytime a student asked me to the Top 5% Banquet, which honored the students with the highest GPAs in the district. They were allowed to invite a teacher who had influenced their lives in a positive manner, and I cherish each time I got to attend with one of my amazing students.

Now I’m a writer—and with over 3 million new titles released on Kindle last year? Let’s just say I’m not hitting the New York Times best seller list. But I am pleased to be honored by InD’Tale Magazine, landing 3 nominations for a RONE Award. This award honors the best books in indie & small publishing. They are ones who achieved high ratings by InD’Tale reviewers in order to be eligible. The public is then allowed to vote from the list of nominees, with the highest number of votes allowing a novel to progress to the finals. The finalists get a read by a group of industry professionals, and the book with the top score will win the RONE in each category.

A Game of Chance small cover

My western historical romances A Game of Chance and Written in the Cards are my entries in the American Historical category this year.

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Since a voter can only vote once, as the “mom” of these books, it’s hard to choose which of my “babies” should get my vote! Both novels are the stories of a gambler who comes to find love in an unusual way. You can vote for either book till the end of Friday here:

http://indtale.com/2015-rone-awards-week-one

A Bit of Heaven on Earth 400x600

In the Pre-Medieval category, my novel A Bit of Heaven on Earth can receive votes May 11-17 at:

http://indtale.com/2015-rone-awards-week-five

InD’Tale Magazine is a huge supporter of romance authors. We here at Soul Mate Publishing have several authors up for a RONE Award in many of the categories. Take time to support your fellow Soulies in a variety of categories, from Sweet Contemporary to Post-Medieval to Paranormal. Most nominees have either posted through our email loop or on our author FB site as to which of their books were nominated. It would be terrific for SMP’s profile and these authors’ careers, so spend a minute of your time and help out all these wonderful authors!

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The Things Authors Say …

As authors, we often look to other writers for inspiration. I thought I’d share some of my favorite writing-related quotes. I do have to admit, I “borrowed” this from my own blog. I’m in the middle of three separate deadlines and — admittedly — lost track of time. However, you can never have too much inspiration so I’m sharing them here.

Writers on Writing:

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. – Douglas Adams

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. – Peter de Vries

If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper. – T.S. Eliot

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are. – Somerset Maugham

The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book. – Mickey Spillane

If the sex scene doesn’t make you want to do it – whatever it is they’re doing – it hasn’t been written right. – Sloan Wilson

Writers on Editing:

CartoonGet it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner

It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly. – C. J. Cherryh

Never throw up on an editor. – Ellen Datlow

 

Writers on Critics/Reviews:

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs. – Christopher Hampton

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. – Ernest Hemingway

It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends. – Samuel Johnson

Writing Self-Deprecation:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. – Robert Benchley

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. – Gustave Flaubert

Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publication. – Fran Lebowitz

A Writer’s Obsession:

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to. – Somerset Maugham

SandmanWhen writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: ‘House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.’ – Neil Gaiman

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. – Eugene Ionesco

 

Just for Fun:

He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license. – Milton Berle

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I hope you enjoyed these. I have hundreds more! As a writer, I just wish I’d been smart enough to create a few of them myself.

Until next time, writers keep writing. Readers keep reading. You are why we do what we do!

Nancy

 

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Second Act Wisdom – Part V

In the Second Acts series on my blog, over eighty women from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States share their reinvention stories, proudly revealing their battle scars and triumphs.

Their message: It’s never too late to launch a second…third…nth act.

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More pearls of wisdom from twelve amazing women…

Being at a turning point in your life, be it by your own choice or by circumstances beyond your control, can be a scary and daunting . But fear of change shouldn’t hold you back. Other fears may seem to be insurmountable or even prove to be so, but don’t hold back changing your life because of your own lack of confidence or fear of the unknown. Anne Ashby

I’m calmer now. I’m content. This Day Job doesn’t intrude in my home life the way broadcasting did. I have more energy to put into my writing career. And now, when situations threaten to overwhelm me, I can remember what Eckhart Tolle said: “This moment is temporary.” MJ Compton

If a butterfly can undergo metamorphosis from a creepy crawly caterpillar into something beautiful and extraordinary, why shouldn’t a human being, with all his/her numerous sensibilities, be able to change at will? Andrea Downing

I realized all these years of struggling with fear and insecurity, I had actually been waiting for permission. I had been waiting for that unknown someone, to pick me and confirm that I was a writer. If you’ve been waiting for permission, let me encourage you to go ahead and pick yourself. Embrace the freedom of who you are. Lorna Faith

Follow your bliss. If it’s not writing, that’s okay. Whatever it is, when things get hard, do as Dori says and, “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” Camille Faye

My advice to anyone planning to pursue a second act is to not allow fear to win out. YOU CAN DO IT! The universe is waiting for you to “show up” and it’s never too late to pursue a dream. Ask yourself “If not now, when?” Lucille Fisher

God puts dreams in our hearts for a reason. It is our duty and responsibility to see that those dreams come to fruition. One of my favorite quotes is “every set back is a set-up for something new and exciting.”… My best advice to anyone pursing a dream is just this: never give up on it. It may take 5 minutes, 5 years, or a generation to fulfill, but I truly feel you are never too old, and no dream is ever too big, to pursue. Peggy Jaeger

I am allowing myself to thrive and be successful and happy, I don’t need any more approval from anyone. And I love teaching this deep transformational work to other women who are stuck on midlife crossroads. Saskia Jennings

Listen to yourself. If you so choose, become curious and present with what you’re noticing and engage with the support that is best suited to you. Stephanie Mount

If someone is thinking of pursuing a second act, I would say go for it! It’s easier than ever before with online information, free workshops in the community, and Google. Plus you know, exercising your brain keeps you young! (I’m back to 39 now.) Dr. Linda O’Connor

I now feel I’m building on my skill set to really support clients to value themselves for their uniqueness and to design lives for themselves that they love. I really believe that we have the capacity to heal ourselves from depression, lack of self-confidence, overwhelm, trauma and the diseases that are associated with them. The first step we have to take is to ask for help and support to do it. Catherine Simmons

Act II is funny and fulfilling. I love talking to audiences, giving out surprise door prizes, and listening to the many people who come to book signings. I also feel happiest when I’m neck deep in research and trying to figure out how to solve a plot problem. Now, instead of teaching people, I’m entertaining them. But I’m still remaining true to what I did for forty-four years: I’m getting people to read. Susan Van Kirk

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An Inside Peek: Vampires Run Amok! Love Runs Amok! By Susan Hanniford Crowley

I’ve been pushing to finish my second book in the Arnhem Knights of New York series, which is about Vampire King Maximillion’s daughter Noblesse.  In Vampire King of New York,  the first book, you meet Noblesse as her father’s assistant in business and also his bodyguard as an Arnhem Knight. Noblesse is all business in her pencil skirts, formal jackets and dark hair up in a French bun.

In this book, you see a different side of Noblesse. She has two heartaches in her life.  Her mother disappeared just prior to the French Revolution, and Noblesse went to Paris to find her. When Noblesse died as a human during the Storming of the Bastille, the mystery of her mother’s disappearance continued to haunt her. The other heartache has to do with never falling in love.

Max was there on that day in Paris and thinking her to be the noblest of creations made Noblesse a vampire and his daughter.

With a part of her still lost, she is now has a chance for love! Two men claim to be her lifemate. Both are lying, one wanting to save her and the other to destroy her. But which is which?

I don’t usually write about a book in progress, but people have been asking. I decided to give everyone a little sneak peek as I continue toward the finish.  The Vampire King of New York is available at Amazon in Kindle and print, Barnes and Noble Nook and print, and Kobo.

All the best and hugs.  I’m off to my writing cave.

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!

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