Jumping

Five years ago, I posted

this

about jumping into the world of querying and pitching. 

FIVE.YEARS.AGO. 

The daughter I mentioned is now a teenager. The teenager I mention is probably married and raising her own kids. Well, maybe not, but it's possible.

And, me?

Until a few months ago, I was still standing on the end of that diving board.

I didn't jump.

I was pushed.

Now, all I have to do is make sure I cannon ball and not belly flop!

And this one time at band camp...

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Like I said yesterday, I'm at ASL Teacher Camp this week. Okay, that's not what it's really called. But, that's pretty much what it is.

So, tell me your best camp story. Pranks, homesickness, sneaking out of the cabin and meeting that special someone (not that I ever did that!)

You know, this one time at band camp....


Why We Are Moving Out Today!

*I had a completely different blog post for today. But, after a harrowing experience yesterday, I decided to share this instead. Below is an email I sent to my friend to try to work through the trauma*

The story of why we are moving out today.
By  Dawn Alexander

The puppy is the tan one.
She's 5 months old. 
The puppy is getting better on house training, but still has accidents. Friday, I was playing with her on my bed and she got excited and dribbled..alot. So, had to wash the bedspread. Huge-heavy-denim-takes-FOREVER-to-dry bedspread. Usually, I wash it, put it in the dryer for a cycle, take it out and turn it over, put it in the dryer for another cycle, then spread it out on the spare couch for a day before putting it back on our bed.
Well,  around 7pm on Friday night, I basically fell into a coma and slept until Saturday morning, then spent the day running errands all day on Saturday, so when I remembered to take it out Saturday evening, it smelled kind of mildewy. I spread it out in the laundry room and left it all day yesterday. Still slightly smelled this morning, so I put it back in the washer. Immediately took it out, cycle in the dryer, flipped it, cycle in the dryer. 
Decided to spread it out on our bed instead of the spare couch because I've got boxes of pictures all over the couch right now (whole other story)
Took it to our room, started spreading it out and FREAKING COCKROACH FROM HELLLLLLLL came crawling out of one of the folds! 

It looked JUST LIKE THIS! Only bigger with more teeth!

Let's just say, I might have screamed like a little girl and did the heebie-jeebie sprint into the living room 
Scott, being the hero he is, drowned it in bug spray and flushed it. 
So, new to-do list for today:
BURN BEDSPREAD
MOVE
I'll send you our new address. 

For my non-Texas readers, there is something very important you must understand. We do not have little  scurry-when-the-lights-come-on cockroaches here. We have I'm-looking-for-water-and-will-kill-your-whole-effing-family-to-get-it Palmetto bugs.
I was going to add more pictures, but just looking at them was freaking me out!

So, tell me your story. 
Any fascinating encounters with our insect friends you'd like to share? 

You can read about me other creature encounter here. 




Spoiler Alert

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

My oldest daughter, who is much older now than in the picture above, made a confession last week that forced me to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about this sweet child.

SHE READS THE END OF A BOOK FIRST.

I fear I have failed as a parent.

I blogged before about

her reading obsession.

 She is almost never without a book. Takes two or three with her for any kind of overnight stay and, when we recently changed the sheets on her bed, I found she was sleeping with FOURTEEN (!) books every night. 

The child is by all definitions

a reader

.

But, she reads the end first! 

Shocked and confused by this admission, I took my argument to the best place for public opinion.

Facebook.

Me: Michelle just confessed that she reads the end of books first...I don't even know her anymore...

Male Childhood Friend #1: 

I do too! If I don't like the ending, why invest my life in the story? 

For me, reading fiction is an escape from reality. If I don't like the destination, I'd rather not buy the ticket!

(WWHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT?? Not by the ticket?

Isn't that what the whole reading experience is about?)

Fellow Mommy Friend:

Funny! [Her daughter~same age as mine] reads the last book in a series...what's wrong with their generation?!?!?

Male Childhood Friend #2: 

I've always read the end of books first... Agree with [MCF #1]

 on this one.

Me:

 [MFC #1]while I have to admit on the surface your argument has substance...It's just wrong. wrong. Wrong. WRONG! 

 You, too,[MFC #2]

. (I say this with love, of course!).

Is this some kind of widespread epidemic of which I have lived blissfully unaware? Do YOU read the end of a book first? Is there some kind of 12 step group I can get my daughter in before this gets out of hand?

Why Do You Remember?

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


There either is or is not, that's the way things are.
 The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. 
Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it's red.
 But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day.
 I'm not going to tell you the story the way it happened.

 I'm going to tell it the way I remember it.
Charles Dickens ~ Great Expectations

My husband and I had a conversation recently about first kisses. He doesn't remember his. 
I'll pause for a moment and let that sink in. 

HE DOESN'T REMEMBER HIS FIRST KISS!

How does that happen? He couldn't even with confidence remember the first time he kissed ME!*

*Disclaimer: I am married to an amazing man who supports me fully in everything I do. I can forgive the fact that he has let a moment on Sept. 21, 1997 at approximately 10:14 pm while slow dancing in my apartment to a local country station playing from my mini-stereo slip his mind.*

His explanation was that he "didn't catalog the information for future reference."
Then, he mumbled something about women never forgetting anything

But, my mind was already working. Why do I remember so well? 
I'm sure part of it is about being a girl and living for those kinds of moments, but I believe there is much, much more. 

I don't just remember my first kiss. I remember everything about it. Where I was standing, the butterfly army in my stomach, praying my mom did not choose that moment to walk into the kitchen. Everything. Just like I do so many other tiny but huge moments in my life.

But, I wonder how much of it is because I'm a writer. I love the story of each moment. I love hearing how other people met and fell in love. I love passing those emotions on to my readers and sharing the experience of moving through it together all over again. 

So, tell me your story. 
Do you remember the tiny but huge moments of your life with vivid detail? Were you cataloging it all for future reference? 

If you're in the mood for some nostalgia, you can check out this post about Remembering the Good Old Days (It's worth the click just to see my 1989 hairstyle!)






HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO RONI LOREN!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Today, I am breaking out the virtual champagne and throwing imaginary confetti for my friend, the FABULOUS RONI LOREN!

Roni is awesome. I'm a total fan of her Loving on the Edge series, especially Melt into You (Hmm, Jace and Andre....*insert dreamy stare here* Oh, sorry. Were we talking about something? Oh, right, the blog post.)

Um, as I was saying, her new release
is the first title in Roni's new eserial.
  A new installment will be released every week over the next eight weeks. 

I have been totally looking forward to this because 1. It is about Andre's sister. He is in the very first scene ( *insert fangirl squee) and 2. It will be longer than her regular novels, which I love, but always want to read more!


So, CONGRATULATIONS RONI!!!
Here's to a terrific release day. 

From the author of the Loving on the Edge novels comes a story of a good girl who discovers that once you dare to cross some lines, it’s hard to turn back…
On the night of her graduation, innocent veterinary student Cela decides to play a game of Never Have I Ever with the two hot neighbors she’s been quietly crushing on for the last year. Always the prim and proper student, Cela thinks she’s earned a wild night before she has to move back home under the watchful gaze of her family. But what starts out as a simple game is about to take a very sensual turn...
Ian Foster is tired of playing games. With his membership to The Ranch, an exclusive BDSM resort, and a musician roommate who brings home groupies with a taste for ménage, Foster has a life most guys would kill for. But lately, his need for dominance is no longer satisfied via one-night stands. He craves the full surrender a woman—a submissive of his own. 
But when his quiet, sweet-as-sugar neighbor shows up at their door with a bottle of tequila and an invitation, Foster decides he and Pike may have time for one more fling… 

And a few questions for the Roni fans out there.
What book is your favorite? 
What character would you love to spend an evening with? 
What character would you be terrified of spending the evening with?





Welcome Taylor Lunsford

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Welcome

I met Taylor through twitter. I am very excited to have her with us today to discuss her novel 

Welcome, Taylor. Tell us a little about  Need You Now.
Need You Now is the story of Melody Carr and Caine Maddox, two childhood friends who had a fling in college that went south. Mel’s finally moved back to their hometown of Unknown to start her medical practice. Lucky for her (or unlucky, depending on your perspective), Caine’s now the mayor and he still carries a torch for her.

Caine’s got his work cut out for him trying to win Mel’s trust back. The town doesn’t want her there and the local gossip blog can’t stay the hell out of his personal life for even a day. When the animosity brewing in town turns to vandalism, Caine makes sure Mel knows he’s not going anywhere. Keeping Mel’s stubborn-as-hell self safe from whoever’s targeting her may be the only way to convince Mel he’s playing for keeps. Getting Mel to trust him again is going to be the hardest fight of Caine’s life, but he’s determined to prove the to her that she needs him by her side.

And, it's the first in your series. Love in Unknown. I love that it is set in Unknown, Texas. How did you come up with that setting? Is it a real place? 
Haha, so Unknown actually started out as just a placeholder for the town name because I kept drawing a blank when I tried to name the town. At one point, it was going to be called Fortune Lake, but then my critique partner and I voted that Unknown had a quirky charm to it that stuck. I even managed to come up with a romantic origin for the name that’s revealed in the books.

Unknown is not a real place. It’s based off of bits and pieces of small towns in Texas I’ve visited during road trips with my family over the years. Most of it is based off of Georgetown, TX where I went to college, especially the square. McBride’s Books, which plays a big part in the second book (Ready to Love Again) is based off of the bookstore I worked at during my junior year.

So, tell us more about you. What's your favorite thing to do when you aren't writing? 
There’s a time when I’m not writing? Oh. Yeah. Maybe a little bit. LOL. Between my day job and writing, I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I like to hang out and watch movies with my friends. If I’m really procrastinating writing, I’ll knit or get some harebrained idea of how to redecorate my apartment.

What's craziest thing you've ever done for love? 
You know, that’s a tough one. I’ve never actually been in love. I got a tiny bit singed by romance in high school, so I’ve spent the last few years focused on school and work (I’m only 24). Rather than becoming jaded with romance, I focused in on my writing and sharing my hopes for romance with other people.

The town gossip causes issues for your hero. If you could have an outrageous rumor spread about you to the world, what would it be? 
Hmmm….I think it would be that I work as a covert Interpol operative who is dating someone I can’t name, but who may or may not be third in line for certain throne (for the time being. He’ll moved to fourth in July).

What's next for you? 
What’s next? Whew, it’s going to be a busy year. Up next is a short story in the Love in Unknown series called We Own The Night, which should be out in June. Book 2 looks like it’ll come out sometime in July and Book 3 will be in October if all goes as planned. In between, I’ll also have a series of short stories coming out that center around the siblings of Jane Austen characters and their roads to love.

How can we get to know you better? 
If you visit my website, you can find a great page that tells you anything you could possibly want to know about my Love in Unknown series, including links to the people I’ve cast as all my characters and a playlist for NYN (http://taylormlunsford.com/love-in-unknown )
You can find me on twitter as @writertay. 

I also have a great Pinterest board set up for the Love in Unknown series (http://pinterest.com/writertay/unknown-tx/ )



Welcome Back, C.A. Szarek


Welcome Back!
C.A. Szarek





I'm so excited to have my friend and NTRWA chaptermate, C.A. Szarek with us again today! We're going to talk about her latest release and she has a swag to share! Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an excerpt of Sword's Call.


Welcome back, when we last hung out (almost exactly a year ago!) your debut Sword’s Call had just been picked up by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. It’s out now. Tell us about your journey from then to now. What’s been the best part? What’s been the most surprising? 

Well, wow. The whole thing has been a plesant surprise. I was really nervous about edits, being since I had never been through a professional editing process, but my editor, Denise (who is AWESOME) really put me at ease, and the process was good. I dreaded for nothing. The journey is a learning process. You sign your contract, do your edits and then it's "Hurry up and wait" for your book to come out. The fun part is the cover, of course!


 
And, you’ve got another series coming out with Total E-Bound Publishing, how did that come about?

Collision Force is the first book of my romantic suspense series called Crossing Forces. Wow, the story, the book and even how it came to be at TEB is an adventure in and of itself. I had actually written the book for another publisher after a positive critique at a conference with one of their editors only to have it ultimately rejected by them. Then I was working with another publisher who asked me to restructure/rewrite the whole second half of the book...which I did. Only to have them ultimately reject it as well. I took it really hard. But after I picked myself up off the ground and told myself it was an even stronger story that before, even if they didn't want it, I re-shopped it. I ended up with THREE contract offers on it. So, I guess it really was stronger! I picked Total-E-Bound and so far my experience with them has been steller. I am so glad Collision Force and the Crossing Forces series has a home there. It will be available for pre-order May 20, will pre-release on June 3 and be general released on July 1. I am very excited.

Collision Force:
Badboy, married to his job FBI agent Cole Lucas always gets his man. So when the unthinkable happens and one gets away, Cole grits his teeth and hunts human trafficker Carlo Maldonado all the way to Antioch, Texas, where he collides with Detective Andi MacLaren.
Cole doesn’t do small towns and he doesn’t get involved with women he works with, but Andi tempts him in ways he doesn’t want to acknowledge.

Two murders, her partner shot and leading the investigation on her own, the last thing Andi needs is a cocky FBI agent that sees her as no more than a tagalong.
Widow and single mother Andi is used to being on her own. When Cole gets stuck without a place to stay, crashing on her couch puts them in dangerous territory.

Attraction and passion bring Andi to a place she left behind when her husband died.
Her three-year-old son quickly wiggles his way into Cole’s heart, and he starts contemplating things—family, love—that he’d never planned for himself.

Can being forced to work together make them stronger or will their differences jeopardize their case and their hearts?

 
Unlike Sword’s Call, this series is romantic suspense.  What was it like switching genres? Did you struggle with it at all? 
Switching genres isn't a big deal for me. I write what occurs to me in a way. But I am more comfortable in the fantasy world I created than having to write in the real world...rules! I have to follow rules that I wasn't the maker of.

 
So, what’s next for you? 
I just finished Love's Call, which is the 2nd book in the King's Rider Series, and I am working on Crossing Forces book two, Chance Collision. I have a few other stories swirling around in my head, too. So we'll see!

 
I understand you have a treat for our readers! Tell us about the giveaway! 
I do! I will giveaway an ecopy of Sword's Call or a Swag pack (containing a T-shirt or tote bag...US ONLY) Winner's  Choice! Just comment and tell me what you like to read! Make sure to leave your email so I can contact you! I will pick a winner from one of the comments!

Thanx for having me, Dawn! It was fun!

Want to know more? Connect with C.A. 


And here's where you can find her books!


SWORD'S CALL
For generations, the Ryhans, ruling family of the Province of Greenwald have been keepers of a sword rumored to possess enough magic to defeat kings. Lord Varthan, a former archduke and betrayer of the king, covets the sword and invades Greenwald.

Lady Ceralda Ryhan, daughter of the murdered duke, gains the sword and flees, trusting only her white wolf, Trikser—magically bonded to her. Cera needs nothing more to aid in her fight. 

Jorrin Aldern, half elfin and half human, left his home in the mountains of Aramour to find his human father who disappeared twenty turns before, but finds Cera with Varthan and his shades on her tail instead. His dual heritage and empathic magic will tempt Cera in ways she never thought she’d desire. But can he convince her trust and love can pave the path to redemption or will the epic battle end in tragedy and evil conquer them all?


Heart pounding and fists clenched, Cera sat in the Dragon’s Lair’s darkest corner. By choice, the candle on the table was unlit. The bowl of stew half eaten, food the last thing on her mind.
The door to the tavern swung open. Her white wolf growled low and deep beside her. Cera glanced up, squinting in the sudden flood of sunlight. As the door slammed shut and her eyes adjusted to the renewed murkiness, she took in the newest arrival.
Then she focused on Trikser. She couldn’t have him going for anyone’s throat.
“Shhh, Trik, it’s okay.” She ran a hand through his fur, smoothing his hackles along the length of his spine. The big wolf looked up at her and licked her hand. One corner of her mouth lifted and she bit back a sigh.
The only reason the owner of the tavern, Marshek even let him in was because no one else was allowed to enter the Dragon’s Lair if she was inside without him. No one according to Trikser, that is. He’d almost taken the hand off the last guy who’d tried.
“What’ll ya have?” Marshek barked, revealing his instant dislike of the newcomer.
She fixed her eyes on the bartender. Then she took a closer look at the man sitting in front of him. His pointed ears betrayed his heritage, but his height suggested he was not of pure blood.
Marshek was known to be tolerant of elves but he hated what he called half-breeds. Cera could imagine what the grumpy, middle-aged tavern owner was thinking, and it wasn’t friendly.
She rose, Trikser also immediately rising, awaiting her move. The white wolf was her bondmate and had been since he was young.
Relax, she thought-sent.
Trik sat, but his body was tight, tense. He didn’t respond to her mental order.
Moving to the bar, her wolf followed, slinking close to the floor, moving in a slight crawl. His belly probably touched the filthy planked flooring of the tavern.
Cera made a face but forced a breath. Detached control. Sliding onto the stool next to the half-elfin man, she was just in time to hear his order. His voice was clear and deep.
Marshek filled a mug with ale and started to put the jug in its place on the shelf.
“Wait, Mar,” she said with a wave of her hand, “I’ll have some of that, too.”
With a curt nod, the older man poured her a mug. She brought it to her lips, glancing nonchalantly at the stranger. His coal black hair brushed the collar of his hooded gray cape, giving him a rather unkempt look, but rugged rather than messy.
Cera couldn’t see the hue of his eyes from her seat but his high cheekbones made his profile appealing, his sleek tapered ears adding to the attraction. His powerful jaw line was clean shaven, an oddity in these parts. She could tell he was aware of her perusal. He was young, not much older than her, and had the stunning beauty of the elves.
His chest heaved as if he’d taken a breath, and he finally glanced at her. Blue. His eyes were a deep, sapphire blue. Her heart skipped a beat but she ignored it. The man said nothing, not that she’d expected him to.


The Worst Prank Ever

No Makeover Monday today. The Easter Bunny brought me a horrendous sinus infection. Hard to organize with a 50 lb weight on each cheek. Instead, I decided to rerun the post below. We buried my Dad on April Fool's Day nine years ago. This just seems to fit. 

The Worst Prank Ever

or 

How to make your daughter cry in 30 seconds or less

Dad sometime in the 80's

When my boyfriend and I abruptly dropped our plans for the Fourth of July and made the three hour trip to my parents' house. I'm pretty sure my Dad already knew what was coming. Especially when mom and I announced we were going shopping and leaving the two of them alone.

First, Dad tried to encourage Scott go shopping with us. When Scott insisted he would rather stay and hang out with him. Dad decided there were a few "chores" that needed immediate attention around the house.

Like cutting down a tree in the back pasture.

So, as I drove away with my mother, knowing full well Scott was going to ask my dad to marry me.

My Dad was smiling, waving and revving a chainsaw!

My mother promised me that Dad would not kill Scott and hide is body in the back pasture. I wasn't so sure.

Dawn and Scott 1997

 A little less than an hour later, my Mom and I were strolling through the mall, heading for the wedding dress store when her cell phone rang.

Checking the display she said, "It's your Dad."

I was all smiles when I answered. "Hi, Daddy!"

Dad was loud, but he rarely yelled and usually did not cuss when talking to me. 

"What do you mean this S.O.B wants to marry you?" He was yelling.

I laughed at first. "Well, you know. He kind of likes me."

Dad got louder. "Well, I told him no. I told him he was not welcome in this family. He told  me to go F*&# myself and took off. He's walking to town right now!"

At that moment, I burst into tears in the middle of Dillards.

My mother took the phone while a very sweet cosmetic counter lady comforted me with a box of tissues. Through the my sobs, I heard my mother saying things like "Well, what did you say?" Pause "What did he say?" Pause. "Why is he walking? Why didn't he take his truck?" Pause. Longer Pause. Longer Pause.

Mom and Dad early 80's

Then, my mother's face changed. She stepped behind a makeover screen, which offered no real sound protection and let loose with a string of insults, ending with "This is your idea of a joke? Your daughter is crying. Crying. Right now in the middle of the store." Then she turned to me, "It's a joke, Dawn. It's a joke. Everything's fine."

I took the phone, through the tears and uncontrollable shaking, I was able to hear my Dad's booming laugh and the words, "I'm sorry, baby. I thought it was April Fool's Day!"

I could barely speak to him or my future husband for the rest of the weekend. Although, my husband disavowed any knowledge of a plot to tease me. He swears he was in the bathroom the whole time. Yeah, right.

So, how did the conversation really go?

Scott: I'm  sure you know why we're here... I want to marry your daughter.

Dad (putting down chainsaw) : Well, if you know her well enough to want to marry her, you know if that's what she wants, there's nothing I can do to stop her. So, welcome to the family. Want some ice tea?

Scott: Thank you. Tea sounds good.

Dad (Patting Scott on the back): Let's call Dawn.

 Miss you, Dad.

Guest Post: Feeding the Muse



Guest Post: 

Feeding the Muse

So we’ve all had creative moments in our life inspired by something. Maybe it was a painting. Maybe it was a passing car. Or maybe it was that car chase racing down I-35 the other day.

I’ve had those moments. But really? That’s not exactly what my muse loves to be fed. It gets me the initial idea, yes. But my muse wants stronger stuff than a passing car or a painting to sustain me for a book. In that case, I turn to a very important fuel:


I know what you’re thinking. Who needs a freshness seal? That bag was gone in a week, but it got me through 23,000 words for the first week of November. I kept telling people, the book demanded it. No one believed me, I don’t think, but it’s true. Sometimes, you’re coasting along, writing away, and you stop. You have to ponder a scene for a while.

Now I’m highly OCD. I have nervous ticks that drive people up a wall. Especially when I’m trying to think. My fingers need to do things or I tend to destroy things that are around me. I also tend to grind my teeth together when I’m concentrating. My dentist hates me.

The book demanded Twizzlers at first, as evidenced by the picture up there. The good thing about Twizzlers is that they are relatively low calorie. Of course, that really doesn’t matter when you’re like me and finish off the bag inside of a week. They’re also chewy so I can sit there and grind on a Twizzler instead of my teeth. Not saying that it’s better… in fact, my dentist still hates me.

There’s a lot of me in my heroine in Off Her Game. Valerie doesn’t pig out on Twizzlers like me, but she needs to be busy. And that’s a big thing when someone suddenly has a huge lifestyle change, like losing a job. I drew a lot off my own personal OCD experiences. It’s never been debilitating for me. But I’ve always been aware of it. And while Val might not be as aware, she does know that she has her own oddities.

All this to say that I highly recommend candy as a way to feed the muse. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve coaxed myself out of with a bag of Twizzlers. In fact, I’ve got another two pound bag in the kitchen for when I’m ready to hit the next half of my current WIP. But right now, that book wants Hershey’s Cookies n Cream and Elton John (music is an entirely different post, because if I tackled it now, Dawn would never invite me back…)

Sigh. The muse is never satisfied.

Thanks to Dawn for having me over today. 

So, it’s y’all’s turn now.

 Have you ever been attacked by a hungry muse while writing? What was the food of choice? Talk to me.
~~~
Off Her Game is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble for pre-order. Releases March 25, 2013!
Penalty Number One: Men
Making time for men and relationships doesn’t fit into Valerie Chase’s game plan. This crisis-counselor-turned-cocktail-waitress knows the score—Men are a distraction. But when a certain hockey player tempts her wild side, part of her wants to indulge in a little harmless fun.
Penalty Number Two: Desire
As the star center for the Texas Highlanders, Darren Moran’s good looks and deadly determination make him a fan favorite. But after the previous season’s disaster, the last thing he needs is to let some woman crawl under his skin. But… Valerie is different. She brings out the best in him—both on and off the ice—and he’s not about to lose her.
Penalty Number Three: Passion
When the game moves to the next level, Darren and Val have got to call timeout. An unplanned romance is a game-thrower, a sinful temptation that neither of them can afford. After all, there’s no way to have order in matters of the heart when the penalties tally up to an ejection from the game.
~~~
Suzan Butler is a romance author with a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination.  She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that’s when it’s quiet in the house.
Visit her online on her website and subscribe to her newsletter to keep up with all her new releases.

The Myth of a Carefree Childhood

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


The Myth of a Carefree Childhood

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that read: 
I just want to be 10 years old again with no worries in the world. 
If I remember correctly, it was accompanied by a picture of a child on a bike, riding with no hands, or some other heart-swelling image of nostalgia. 
Several comments followed about the carefree, joyousness of childhood. 
Youth is wasted on the young and similar cliches. 
The same faulty rhetoric people feed teenagers when they declare, 
"Enjoy high school. It's the best years of your life."
Trust me, if high school was the best years of my life, 
I would have snapped and gone running naked down the street a long time ago. 

It's all lies. 

Because, you know what? 

I live with a ten year old. 

A smart, beautiful girl who does well in school, has close friends, as well as  a strong family that loves her fiercely... And, she worries about everything
Not just about how she looks or if her favorite Disney Channel couple is going to stay together. 
She worries about the little girl who stole her snack from her locker because
 "Why would she need to steal food, mom?" 
She worries about her friends when others tease them. 
She worries about the boy her sister likes not being nice enough for her. 
She worries about what the country will be like for her children. 
(No, I'm not exaggerating.)

The idea that childhood is this blissful, free of stress, time is absurd.
 At no other point in your life are you in such confusing situations 
with such little control over your own destiny.  

I remember laying in bed at night, unable to shut off my mind. 

My mom probably remembers having to call my third grade teacher at home  because I couldn't stop crying. The teacher had made a boy stand in the trashcan as a punishment during class. I was so humiliated for him that I couldn't sleep and so scared of getting the teacher in trouble, it took my mom a good hour to get out of me why I was sobbing uncontrollably. 

That's the carefreeness of childhood. 

When adults look back through the rose-colored glasses, they discount the overwhelming pressure of that time in a child's life. 


By the time I was my daughter's age:
  • My parents were separated for the third or fourth time.
  • I had lived in three states in three years. 
  • I knew what drugs were.
  • I knew what alcoholism looked like. 
  • I had sat at the graveside of someone I loved. 
  • I had vague information about what sex would be and the thought was pretty terrifying. 
My life was far from stress-free. And, I wouldn't consider my childhood to be "bad". It just was. 

Children deserve for adults to respect the their emotions, ease their fears with out belittling them and offer empathy and compassion. 

Not just a patronizing pat on the head and a wistful, 
"Oh, when I was your age..."


So, tell me your story. 
Do you remember your childhood as all sno-cones and games of tag? 
Do you think people romanticize those early years? 
Is high school ever the best years of someone's life? 
 













Musical Misunderstandings

Tell Me Your Story

Musical Misunderstandings

    On a recent car trip, I decided if I had to hear Taylor Swift croon one more I'm-his-best-friend-but-secretly-in-love-with-him-let-me-cry-on-my-guitar-oh-he-loves-me-too! ballad, I was going to throw myself on the pavement at 75 mph. 
    To save me from highway suicide, my husband put in some  more mature, yet kid-friendly music. That's when this song came on. 

My girls started singing along and Scott and I exchanged a look. 
This was going to be one of "those songs."

One of those songs you sing as a kid and have no clue they are any thing but innocent. One of those songs that make you call your mother when you're older and say,

 "Do you know what this song is about?" 

Yep, it's happen to me. I was exposed to a variety of music growing up. My parents were never into oldies. They listened to Hank Jr., The Eagles,  and people like Joe Ely. My uncle liked to show me off  (and win bets with his friends) because before I was in elementary school, I could identify songs by The Who, Peter Frampton and Little Feat.

 He did get reprimanded by mom when I was belting out Angel in the Centerfold in the middle of Pizza Hut. 

But, my AH HA moment came driving home from college. I hit an old country station and a great song from my childhood poured from the speakers. 


No one wants to go down to Tucson in the summer

So this time the boss chose me 

(See, he's a hard-working man who's ready to do a job no one else wants.)

I've been sort of restless yes he thought it might help if

I got away from my wife and family

(He's been stressed. Needs a break. I can respect that.)

There's been no other woman since the mother of my 

children

And in each and every way she's a lady

(He's faithful. Loves and honors his wife)

Now there's one that I'll remember a sultry night we spent

 together

(Remembering an old flame. Playing the "highlight" reel. It happens.)

And she satisfied the love inside of me

Go on and send me down to Tucson and I'll get the job done

(Good man. Send me down, Boss. I'll take care of it!)

And call up the one whose love is free

(Huh?)
She may be easy and I love my lady

(Whaa?)

But the lady don't satisfy the love inside of me

(He's CHEATING?!?!?! *Insert sound of childhood

 innocence shattering here.*)


So, tell me your story.
Ever had a song you loved but were clueless about the meaning? 
Ever had a "What?" moment like me? 

Pillow Talk

First, some old country to get you in the mood.

Talking in Your Sleep~ Crystal Gayle

 

I so wanted to be her when I was 8 years old...or, at least, I wanted her hair!

One night this week, I had a rude awakening...literally. My husband yanked my pillow out from under my head, smiled at me like a loon and rolled over.  Okay, technically, this--> 

is a loon and he looked nothing like that. 

But, that's not the point. 

The point is this happens frequently. 

It's worse when he's been playing hockey. He's "windmill" saved my pillow in the middle of the night, "kick" saved a two-liter bottle of Coke off the coffee table while he was sleeping on the couch, and carried on complete, if incoherent, conversations with me of which he later had no memory. 

The most interesting happened right after we were married. 

I woke in the middle of the night to him petting my hair like I was a Cocker Spaniel and laughing manically. 

If he knew I was telling you all this, he would throw in his own story about the ONE TIME I did something similar. 

He came to bed after I'd been asleep for a while and I demanded to know if he "filled up the forest". 

Yeah, I don't know. I completely remember the conversation and at the time it made perfect sense to  me. The next morning? Not so much. 

So, tell me your story

.

Do you talk in your sleep? Walk in your sleep? Get up and dance the Macarena? 

For another interesting sleep story, you can read about the

Cookie Monster, Marvin the Martian and why I will never do drugs

It's Over! Goodbye 2012!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

It's Over!


Happy 2013!
     I won't bore you by going back over all the reasons 2012 was not a good year for me. I will just let out a deep sigh of relief and let you know that 
I am so glad it is 2013! 
(which has to be one of the THE most reliable sources on earth, don't you think?)
 promises good things for me this year: 

You've been preparing for the breakthrough and surge in success, so you'll be more than ready to take your rightful place in the limelight. All areas of your life receive the benefits and blessings of Jupiter for the second half of 2013. Your confidence is sky high and you feel more optimistic about life and your future than you have in ages. All of the suffering, heaviness and loss of 2012 will quickly become a thing of the past as you embrace the amazing opportunities being showered upon you in 2013.

Limelight here I come!

So, tell me your story. 
Do you have high hopes for 2013
or was 2012 a banner year for you? 
What'd you do to ring in the New Year? 
Kiss anybody good? Real or imaginary? I don't judge.
You can read my past NYE exploits here. 



HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT FIRST DAY OF THE NEW YEAR!



    

Where have you been?

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Where have you been? 
Or the story of how life slapped me in the face and I quit blogging for a while.
By Dawn Alexander


 If you're still reading this blog, thank you. I've been out of touch for a while. Paul A. Shortt got a month long feature for his new release and if you look past that you will see that I missed the entire month of October.

 Honestly, I thought no one would notice until this weekend when the president of my RWA chapter said, "I keep stopping by your blog and that man's still there."

So, if like Jen, you've been dropping by and seeing Paul alot. I thank you for continuing to check in.

I wrote in September about getting myself together. Everything was under control.I was ready to start writing, blogging, playing on social media. 

I was ready to be me, again. 

Then, October happened. 

Sometimes, just to let you know you ain't running nothing, as my dad would say, life backhands you.

Five deaths in 9 weeks. 

That's where I've been. 

Two family friends, two high school students and one cousin, who is being laid to rest today.  

All with their own stories that they don't get to tell anymore. 

I am making a proclamation that this year is done. 

No one else can get sick. No one else can be hurt. No one else can die. 

2012 has not been a pleasant experience. I have high hopes for the year to come. 

I just have to get there...with this little thread of sanity I am clutching intact. 








      

      


Happy Release Day To Paul A. Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Happy Release Day! 





Welcome back to the blog! I looked back at your first interview from August of 2011. So much has changed for you since then!

Thanks for having me again! Yeah, things have come along a lot. It's been a really exciting time.

First, tell us about Locked Within.

Did the inspiration for this book come from any particular source? 

I had seen an increase in the amount of books where the hero was some powerful supernatural creature. I wanted to try something different, where the hero was just a man. Sure, Nathan Shepherd gains knowledge from past lives through the course of the book, and learns how to harness the power of being reborn, but compared to his enemies he's just a mortal. He has vulnerabilities and has to use his wits to get by.

Reincarnation has always interested me. The idea that we've been here before, and will be again, is kind of comforting. One thing I hadn't seen much of was a setting where reincarnation was considered the norm, and it was assumed that most people had been reborn at least once. Although Locked Within features conflict over the matter, it's still a world where reincarnation forms a central point in the development of the supernatural society.

Locked Within is set in New York City. I know you recently took a trip there. Had you visited there before writing the book? Where did you visit that is mentioned in the book? 

My wife and I had our honeymoon in New York 4 years ago. The book was firmly in my mind at the time, and had been for many years, but I hadn't started writing yet. We spent 2 weeks in Manhattan. Between that and our week there earlier this year, we still haven't seen or done everything we wanted to!

I've visited several places that appear in Locked Within. The New York Public Library and Riverside Park in particular play important roles, and Grand Central Station appears as well. There's also a bar called Druids in Hell's Kitchen which pretty much serves as the location for a disused bar that features in a particular scene.

Can you describe the feel of holding a book with your name on the cover? ('cause some of us are still waiting for that, you know!)

There's no one feeling that can really describe it. Excitement. Fear. Giddiness. Pride. Fear. It was more than just a feeling of accomplishment; it was also a sense of responsibility. I'm a professional author now, I've achieved my lifelong dream, so I have to work even harder than ever to stay here. 

But at the same time, yeah, I've achieved my lifelong dream. It's amazing to look at the book, feel the pages, smell the paper, then read my name on the cover and think "Wow, I did this."

So, you are doing a live book launch as well as a virtual launch on Twitter (which I think is awesome.) How is that going work? 

The live launch is being held in Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum, which is near Dublin. The store is doing an amazing amount to promote the event and we've already reached 100 confirmed guests on the Facebook event. I can't wait!

The virtual launch will be the following night. I'll make sure to start it at a time when people from the other side of the Atlantic can make it. I'll assign a Twitter hashtag for people to use so that anyone who's online can join in and chat about the book. 

And, do I understand correctly, that you are already working on a sequel? Tell us about that and when we can look for it. 

Yeah! I've actually been working on it since last year. I'm currently in the middle of a hefty re-write before sending it back to my publisher. Originally my plan was to write 6 books about Nathan Shepherd, but after thinking things over, I decided to shorten the series into a much more manageable trilogy.

The sequel, Forgotten Cause, continues Nathan's story and has him facing not only the consequences of his actions in Locked Within, but also actions taken in his past lives. He comes face to face with an old nemesis, and a woman who could be an ally, lover, or a traitor. If the manuscript is accepted by my publisher and the editing goes well, we should be on course for a release date in 2013.

Last, on a personal note, tell us about the twins! 

Hehe, yeah, those two are currently kicking lumps out of my wife's insides. As you may know, last year we had our first baby, a boy named Conor. We lost him after only three days. It was a really hard time, the worst we could possibly imagine, but we had our friends and family to get us through.

We knew we wanted more kids, so when we found out Jen, my wife, was pregnant again, we were thrilled. You can imagine our surprise at the first scan when the midwife said "I think that's another fetal sac." It was small, less than half the size of the larger one, but there was a definite heartbeat. The midwife was concerned we might lose the smaller one. My wife said that as soon as she saw the heartbeat on the monitor, she knew the second twin would be fine. At the next scan Twin 2 had caught up completely and now the pair of them are weighing in well above the average, even for single babies!

We're expecting them to be delivered by c-section on the 28th of December, but based on their size they could decide to come early. It's been a pretty incredible year. Our lives are changing in big ways and I can't wait to see what's next!


It has been awesome getting to know Paul through his writing journey. 

What else would you like to know? You can leave a question in the comments, or if you have minute, leave him a note of congratulations on his first release. 


Alyson Reuben

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Welcome
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women's fiction, leading to the debut of ABEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.
Alyson is with us today to talk about her latest release
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.

Isn't that a beautiful cover?  
Keep scrolling after the interview to read an excerpt.
 
Let's get to know Alyson!

Welcome! First, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write? 
I’ll start out by saying how glad I am to be here today, Dawn!
 My writing career launched itself in 2nd grade, after I listened to a visiting author give a lecture at my school about his children’s books.  Immediately following his visit, I sat down and penned my first story (untitled) about a girl and her dog.  As a young adult, I wrote several short stories.  Later, I wrote for my local newspaper and contributed to several online sites.  But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I became truly serious about my writing.  Last year, the Wild Rose Press published A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, a WWII historical romance.  My latest, CASTLES WE BUILD, is set in the roaring 1920’s.  A FALLEN STARR, my current work in progress, is a young adult story, set in the 1940’s, about a girl who is working with a fortuneteller in a carnival.  They’re all very separate stories, written in different ways.  The one thing that links them is that they’re set in the “vintage years”.

Tell us more about Castles We Build
The theme in CASTLES WE BUILD gives new meaning to the adage, “When it rains it pours”.   Julia Hampton is an ordinary wife and mother living in extraordinary times, swallowed into even more extraordinary circumstances.  The story starts out with Julia happily living with her second husband, Ford, and their three children in their lavish beachside home.  When her first husband, Landon, who she thought died nearly ten years ago in WWI, shows up alive, claiming he still loves her, Julia’s calm life is suddenly turned upside-down in an avalanche of shocking events.  Passing through fire, water, and wind – literally – by the end of the story, everything centers on which man she chooses to spend the rest of her life with.

You seem to have a favorite time period in to use as a setting in your work. What draws you to that time?  
I enjoy reading several types of stories, from contemporaries to futuristic.  Yet, as I sit down to start a new book, it will almost always end up having a historical slant, specifically the vintage years of the 1920’s – 1950s.  That doesn’t mean my stories are old-fashioned, though.  Not at all!  Although CASTLES WE BUILD is set nearly eighty years ago, modern readers will easily connect with Julia’s way of dealing with specific dilemmas.  After all, no matter what time period, issues involving men, marriage, and family are ones that women can always relate to.  This is why the story is also categorized as a contemporary women’s story.

I hear you also have a love of vintage fashion. What fashion trend from the past do you wish would come back in style today so you could wear it?
Oh Lord, there are too many of them to list!  lol  I guess if I had to choose just one vintage trend, I’d pick hats.  I collect the 1920’s cloches and the adorable little hats of the 1930’s – 1960’s.  If they ever come back into vogue, I’ll try wearing a different one every day!  I’m also crazy about vintage jewelry, although I’m not about to wait to wear the pieces I’ve collected.  I pair-up vintage jewelry with my outfits on an almost daily basis.


What has been the best part of your writing journey?  
Oh, wow, that’s another tough question to answer.  There are several awesome things about my writing journey.  Probably, the most important one is seeing my characters come alive, not just for me, but for those who read my books.  I’ll never grow tired of hearing people tell me that they are sad when they finish the last page of one of my stories, because they wanted to find out what is going to happen next in the characters’ lives.  That’s a very rewarding feeling for any author!  Also, I’ve met so many new friends along the path to publication, from fellow authors to reading fans.  The world of books is almost like one huge family – all the better since writing can be a very solitary profession.

What do you do when you aren't writing?
There’s absolutely nothing I like better than spending time with my husband and daughter.  We live in a small community and there is always something going on, whether it’s ballgames, fundraisers, or parties.  I’m also an artist, so I try to save room for sketching and painting.  My other hobbies (and there’s never enough time for them all) are antique-hunting, being outdoors, taking long walks, cycling, touring old scary houses, watching good movies, going out with my fab friends, and, of course, reading!  It might sound like I’m very busy – and I am- but, overall, I consider myself pretty average.

What's next for you? What are you working on now?
Besides A FALLEN STARR, I’m writing a couple of short stories for The Wild Rose Press, both in early stages.  I’m not very good at sticking with writing just one story at a time.  I catch myself starting a new story while I’m still working on another.  It works out to my advantage by keeping me out of a writing-rut.  Plus, I can be involved in several different adventures at once!

How can readers get to know you better?
You can find me at the following locations:
My Amazon page:
Goodreads site

Thank you for visiting with us. I'll step aside now and let our readers have a peek at Castles We Build


Except:
There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 
            Landon Sloane.
            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….
            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.
            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 
            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….
            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 
            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”
            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 
            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 
            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 
            Like Brent’s.
            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”
            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.
            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 
            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
            He won’t cage anything again.
            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
            None of this is the way it should be. 
            It’s all messed up somehow.
            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
            Oh, God.
            I’m married to someone else.
            And I have a family.
            Two men. 
            Two husbands.

 Castles We Build can be found in paperback and Kindle format at: amazon