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I’m back online after nearly three months of dealing with an MS flare-up that affected my vision and wouldn’t let me work on the computer without bringing on a vicious headache.  I still can only be on for a limited time but at least I’m on and that’s something!  Guess I’ll just have to ease myself back into the grind which isn’t a bad thing…except when I want to write and I can’t.  Oh well…what is it they say?  Patience is a virtue.

Meanwhile, here are the top three things that have been going on in my life: 

First and foremost, the release of my latest book, Winds of Fate, a paranormal romance based on the Native American legend of the Blowing Rock in North Carolina.  I don’t think I’m biased or anything when I say, “Gorgeous cover!”  Now I need to get it posted on the WoF page here on my blog and on my website.  And I desperately need to start promoting, something I haven’t been able to do because of my wonky vision.

Hmm, maybe this calls for a contest.  Stay tuned…

Second, I haven’t been able to do much writing so I spent the time reading.  Have I mentioned how much I love my e-reader?  Probably not, but I do and the best thing about it is the ability to adjust the font size.  Love it, love it, love it!  And I love that I’ve been able to read–no back light on the e-reader which I think is key to not causing a headache–something I haven’t really had the time to do in a while.  The absolute worst thing about being an author is that it doesn’t leave much time for reading so if nothing else, I have to be a little grateful to the MS for giving me this time to indulge in something I really love.

Third, spring training is here at long last!  Yippee!  Won’t be long till my guys are playing at Fenway and from what I’m hearing this will be a banner year…or maybe I should say a pennant year?  I just hope all this talk about how good the Red Sox are going to be this year doesn’t jinx them right out of the running.  I want to tell everybody to just shut up already but I don’t think anybody’s going to listen to me–unless it’s someone else who’s as superstitious as I am.  I guess we’ll see what we see when we get to the season but I’m really, really, really hoping that my guys have a year full of wins and more important, no injuries!  Go Red Sox!

And that’s it for now.  Time to rest my eyes and get back to reading…or maybe I’ll push and try to get some more writing done.  This morning I was able to get a few hundred words done on the third book in my Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows, and a rough draft of the synopsis for Whistling Woman, the fact-based historical my sister and I have written about our great aunt’s life growing up in the mountains of NC in the late 1800’s.  I hate writing synopses but it has to be done and I’m slowly making progress so…maybe a few more minutes!

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Yeah, I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting this blog.  I’ve been busy writing and in my spare time, I’ve been researching ways for authors to promote their books, ’cause, you know, mine’s coming out in a little over two months.  I figure it’s about time I quit screwing around and get busy…doing something.  And if not doing, at least planning what I’m going to do.

So, I went on the Internet and wow!  Jackpot!  I found a slew of articles, several very informative sites, and quite a few blogs, all pertaining to the best ways to promote your book.  Too many to mention here, but I’ve bookmarked them all and hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out what to do before Snow Shadows is released.

And a big hat tip to Lisa Alber for finding my blog and leaving a comment, thereby enabling me to find her blog, Lisa’s Words at Play, where I found a wonderful, hilarious YouTube video that reminded me I’m not the only one struggling with promotions.  Here’s the link to Lisa’s post and oh yeah, the video came to Lisa’s attention by way of Patricia Wood’s blog.  Go ahead and check it out, I promise you’ll laugh out loud–especially if you’re an author–and you’ll also get a good lesson in what not to do when your book comes out. 

Okay, so when I wasn’t researching, I was writing and reading.  Got about five thousand words written on Storm Shadows–not as much as I’d hoped–but I also started the third book in the series.  No title for that one yet, but I think it might be the easiest one to write because I’ve already fallen hard for Luke, the brother who’s the main character in that one.  On top of all that, I found the legend I want to use for the fourth and final book–again, no title, but for me, finding the legend is a big step forward because it’s been giving me a bit of trouble.  As for reading, I read The Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman, the story of a southern woman during the late 18th century.  My dad used to work with Ms. Dykeman at the Knoxville News-Sentinel and he loaned me his autographed copy.  Great book! 

Other than that, not much going on in my world, well, except, squee!  Manny Ramirez hit his 500th homerun, but 500 apparently wasn’t enough for him, because he went on to hit numbers 501 and 502 in the next two games and number 503 last night.  Yay, Manny!  Oh, and the Red Sox are back in first place in the AL East after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway.  Woo-hoo!  Way to go, guys!

Okay, back to my writing world…I happened to catch a post by Jane at Dear Author the other day; “Hello, I’m Jane.  I have a lot of reader baggage.”  Interesting and as most of the posts on DA are, entertaining.  Quite a few people commented, both readers and writers, and had some interesting points of their own to make.  But the one that really caught my attention was from Emily.  It included a link to Sharon Lee’s blog, Eagles Over the Kennebec, and a post where Ms. Lee writes about The Contract Between Reader and Writer.  A lot of food for thought in that one and I encourage every writer/reader to take a look at it.

The thing is…I’m both a writer and a reader, so I need to really study that thing.  I’m thinking of printing off a copy and hanging it on the wall of my office where I can read it every day.  Oh heck, who am I kidding, I need to memorize it, or maybe make a chart and stitch a sampler of it!

Then again, a better plan might be to pull out my Aretha Franklin CD and play it every morning, because essentially, Aretha got it right with only one word; RESPECT.

So, I as a writer, promise to do my best to remember you as a reader deserve my respect…and I hope you’ll extend the same courtesy to me.   

Okay, in between talking baseball with my fellow Red Sox fans–of which there aren’t many down here in NC–and watching the World Series games–Go Sox!  Three down, only one more to go!–I’ve been spending my time immersed in Cherokee legends and myths while I research the second book in my Eternal Shadows series–the first book, Snow Shadows, is now under contract with L&L Dreamspell and is scheduled to come out in print and ebook next year!  Woo-hoo!

Sorry, it’s difficult to curb my enthusiasm over that one!

So anyway, amid all the sites on the Internet which deal with the history of the Cherokee, I’ve found one that originates from Indiana.  Indiana?  Yep, there’s a branch of Cherokee Indians in Indiana called the Lone Wolf Band, and they have an interesting history of their own.  Here’s the link if you want to check it out: 

http://www.skyenet.net/~myersdk/toc.html

I clicked on the site originally because it came up when I searched for “Cherokee Religious Beliefs.”  That page on their site was interesting so I clicked over to their main page.  And well, wow!  There are a number of pages, dealing with everything from history to spiritual beliefs, and I took the time to read them all.  As a result, I’m even more enthralled with my ancestors than I was before. 

As I was reading my way through the many different pages, the one titled “Are you Cherokee?” kept catching my eye, but I resisted clicking on it.  Why?  Well, my great aunt always said, “one drop of Cherokee blood is enough to make you Cherokee,” but there are many who don’t feel that way.  A lot of tribe members today consider only those who can prove their heritage with documentation true members of the Cherokee tribe.  My family can’t do that, we have no legal documentation that my great-great-great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee.  So I avoid pages like that.  I know I’m Cherokee and I don’t want–or need–anybody telling me I’m not.

But the rest of the site was so engrossing that I overcame my deep-seated resistance, braced myself and clicked on that dreaded page anyway.  And I hate to repeat myself, but well, wow!  The page begins with a prophecy from our ancestors that the new century  (my first thought was the 20th, but on another page this site says it’s the 21st) “would bring forth many people of Cherokee blood that want to rejoin the heritage that had been hidden from them.”  The prophecy is told in detail on the “Return of the Buffalo” page and it’s fascinating reading.  A little like the predicitons of Nostradamus, far-seeing and eerily accurate.

The thing is, it goes on to offer an explanation as to why my family doesn’t have the “legal documentation” so many say we need if we want to claim to be a part of the Cherokee tribe.  The page says:    

“During and after the removal of the people, times became very hard. So the government devised yet another way to assist in the extermination of the Indians. The government offered those Indian people their own plots of land and also gave them up to $5000.00 in cash so that they could live and farm their own lands. They even offered them slaves. But this was not without a catch. To do this the government required these families to denounce their Indian heritage and to never speak of it again. The government wanted these Indians to live as whites and because times were so hard for these people, many accepted.”

That little historical tidbit is something my great aunt never told me and I never found in all my research, and I’ll be honest, it feels incredible to know that Aunt Bessie was right; even with that one drop of Cherokee blood that flows through my veins, I am Cherokee.

That speaks to my soul and warms my heart.  Enough so that when I read the part about the so-called Cherokee “experts” who refer to people like me as a “Wannabe,” or even more derogatory,  a “Twinkie,” I laughed. 

Me, a Twinkie.  Who’d’ve thought?  I just might have a t-shirt printed up!

So thanks to the Lone Wolf Band of Cherokee Indians in Indiana.  You’ve confirmed–in my mind and heart!–my heritage, given me a few ideas to be included in my next book, and lifted my spirits all at the same time!

Wa-do!  (Thank you in Cherokee)

Finally figured out how to add images–woo-hoo!  Inserted the cover art for Unwilling Angel on the corresponding page, but I’ll add it here too–just for practice of course!

Unwiling Angel Cover 

Isn’t that fabulous?  The cover artist is C. J. England and I think she did a fantastic job!  Don’t you?

Oh, in case you’re interested, the blurb and an excerpt can be found by clicking on the Unwilling Angel page on this site.  Then, if you think you might want to read it–and I hope you do!–click on Twilight Fantasies in my blogroll and you’ll see me right there on the front page–first place winner in the Zuzu’s Petals contest! 

I spent a great deal of time this past weekend on MySpace, updating my seriously outdated page.  Through sheer determination and a lot of uh-ohs,  I learned a bunch of things–how to change my background, how to add a fancy cursor, how to upload–download?–images and post them on my homepage–but the thing that stuck with me the most after all my time on there is how popular surveys seem to be on MySpace.

I don’t get that.  I mean sure, I read them, but I never fill them out  Besides, if I was going to take the time to fill out a survey, I’d probably choose one of those that promises something in return.  You know, like those that pop up on the Internet at times, offering free laptops or a gift certificate to some restaurant or even money if you’ll just take a small survey–yeah, right!

So, I’m a survey voyeur.  I read them, even think about how I would answer some of the questions, but you won’t ever see me filling one out.  It’s not that I don’t have the time…well, maybe that is the reason.  You see, I know how my brain works, and one suvey might take me hours to fill out.  I’d agonize over every question and once I posted it, the chances are very good that I’d read back over what I wrote, cringe at some of the answers and think what a boring person I really am.

I don’t need a survey to point that out to me.  I know I’m boring and I’m actually okay with that.  I’m a homebody, one who’s uncomfortable being in the spotlight–unless it’s in front of a bunch of elementary students, that never bothered me at all–and one who could very easily become a hermit.  Yes, that’s right, if I had my druthers, as my grandpa used to say, I’d cut myself off from the rest of the world without blinking an eye.

The thing is…if you’re an author, you just can’t do that.  You have to put yourself out there, you have to promote yourself and your books, and you have to be a participating member of society, even if it is just in cyberspace.

And thank God for cyberspace.  I don’t mind promoting myself or my books on the Internet, but I have a feeling next year when the two print anthologies which will include a story from me are released, I’m going to be wishing I’d stuck with ebooks.  I know I’m already dreading it, but I’m going to have to suck it up and do what needs to be done…

…I’m going to have to put on something besides jeans and a sweatshirt, go out in public and talk to real, live people–and I’m going to have to be nice to them.

Oh, horror of horrors!

No post yesterday, because Unwilling Angel was released and I was busy with all the hoopla that goes with having a book released.  I tell you, it’s an aweome thing when you submit a manuscript then hear from a publisher that they would like to offer you a contract, but when it finally hits the cyber-space bookshelf–after weeks, or even months, of edits, countless hours spent working with a cover artist to find just the right cover, and days of pre-promotions, it’s a relief.  You get–or I do–a feeling of whew, at last it’s done!  Now I can move on,

The thing is, what do I do next?

I have plenty of options to choose from–five, count ’em, five works-in-progress, seven completed books which need a home, more promotions for my new release, web site to be updated, etc., etc., etc.–none of which appeal to me at the moment.  You see, after yesterday’s whirlwind, I need a break and I can feel my Procrastination Slut persona coming to the fore.

I’ve written about her before in my LJ blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned her here, so I’ll give you a bit of explanation.  I have this tendency to shut down, especially when I have a lot of things I need to do.  It’s irritating, but there it is.  I’ve learned not to fight it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream of what it would be like if I banished her for good.

Hmmm…I’d have numerous books either out on the market or awaiting release, I’d finish off those WIPs and get them out to publishers in the blink of an eye, I’d compose query letters and synopses with little or no painful frustration, I’d be a computer-savvy wiz at promotions, and I’d know how to upload a picture to this blog–

 –and that’s another thing, why is it when you click on the “insert image” icon on WordPress, you don’t get a “browse” option like you do on almost every other site in the cyber-world?  Instead, you get seven fields which have to be filled out and most days, my brain is way too tired for that.  Maybe while the Procrastination Slut is ruling, I should present this to her as a puzzle to be solved.  She doesn’t like to work, but she has no objection to sitting on her butt and playing around with the computer.  So, maybe if I don’t classify it as work, but dress it up as an…enigma (she likes fancy words), I can fool her into figuring it out, because I know there’s a way to do it, I just haven’t found it yet!

Anyway, the Procrastination Slut is back–hey, do you think that’s what’s wrong with the Red Sox, they’re putting off till tomorrow what should be done today, or more correctly, what should have been done weeks ago?  I’ve been trying not to think about this, but I have to say it, Boston is through for the season, they may as well pack up their equipment and slink off the field with their tails between their legs.  And I do mean slink.  They have no reason to hold their heads up and I have no desire to give them a standing O.  Come to think of it, they’d better keep their heads down, ’cause I’m sure there are a lot of fans in closer proximity than I am, who’d love nothing more than to toss a few balls and bats at them.  A word of advice, boys; keep your batting helmets handy this winter, it may save you from a hospital visit.  Oh, and during the post-season when you’re not playing, in between watching the New York Yankees win the AL and probably go on to win the World Series, maybe you should hit the Patriots up for some shoulder pads and a lesson or two on how to band together when times are tough–you obviously don’t have a clue.  To put it in lingo you’ll understand…you suck wicked bad!

Okay, that helped a little bit.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…the Procrastination Slut reigns supreme in my world and there’s no telling how long she’ll hang around.  So, while she’s reclining on her chaise lounge (her version of a throne), popping bite-size Heath bars in her mouth (her version of chocolate truffles), and being entertained by her sister’s latest romantic thriller (her version of a court jester), I’m going to present her with a conundrum (I think she’ll like that word):  How many cyber-space imbeciles does it take to post an image on WordPress?

Her answer (I’d bet money on this one):  Ask me later, I’m too busy wasting time right now.

It’s a rainy day here in the mountains of western North Carolina.  Not that I’m complaining.  After a winter with little to no snow, a spring that will be remembered for its April cold snap instead of  its April showers, and a summer of unbearably hot, dry weather, we definitely need it…but (you knew there was going to be a “but” here, didn’t you?), but the thing is, I hate rainy days.

Why?  Well, it has nothing to do with getting wet or anything like that, it has to do with the fact that my muse always seems to abandon me on rainy days.  She flies the coop of my brain, catches a flight to sunnier climes, and hides there until dryer weather returns to bless her home terrain.  All of which leaves me floundering in a sea of unwritten words and unfinished manuscripts.

My first line of defense in this case is usually to edit and/or polish one of those many unfinished manuscripts, but that’s dicey.  I usually find that whatever I edit ends up getting re-edited when I re-read it and cringe at what I wrote on a brainless rainy day.  Does that make sense?  I told you my muse was AWOL.

When I lived in Maine, there was the option of turning on the TV and watching a replay of a Red Sox game (there was almost always one playing on NESN) which I loved, especially if it was a game they won.  Can’t do that here, though there’s probably an Atlanta Braves game on somewhere, but I’m not that big a fan of the Braves.  I miss NESN!

I could do some research, but–and I hope you’ll pardon me–blech!  I hate research more than I hate rainy days! 

So, my options today are to do some housework or read.  It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which one I’ll choose.  I love to read.  My “to be read” pile is almost as tall as I am, and my “books to buy” list is as long as my arm.  Before I started writing, I would never have let myself fall so far behind with either my TBR pile or my BTB list.  But, since my fist book came out, I noticed a  drastic fall-off in my reading habits.  I just can’t seem to find the time to read anymore.  Proof of this lies in the fact that I’ve lived in North Carolina now for over ten months and I still don’t have a library card!  Sacrilege!  That’s the first time that’s happened since I learned to read when I was four years old.  Usually the first thing I do when we move is visit the public library and get a library card.  I even got one in Denver, and we only lived there for two months while my husband went through some training in the Air Force.

Hmmm…maybe I should try to find my rusty, unused umbrella, see if it still works, and take myself off to the library.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams