Friday, June 10, 2011

Just Dance

JUST DANCE!
When I was a teenager, or even before then, I loved to dance. My dream was to become a Broadway dancer, you know, like in the musical Chicago. I truly thought that one day I’d do that, but then life puts us on different paths than the ones that are old stars in our eyes. Not bad forks in the road, just a shift in priorities or perhaps an even more exciting direction. I did take ballet lessons in my twenties, but ooh, that was not a pretty sight.

I still listen to music that makes me want to get up and move. I jiggle all the way to work listening to upbeat dance music. I have not been to a night club in eons but just might have to do that in the near future, just as research mind you—I have no intention of looking at the cute young hotties out there these days—or maybe I do! Hey, I ain’t dead yet, just married :-) For a long time. To a man who doesn’t like to dance anymore. I don’t think he was ever very crazy about dancing but he’d let me drag him out onto the dance floor after he’d had a few. He’s really a sweetheart.

Now I’m dancing for the exercise--in private. I turn on my favorite dance music and just make myself move as I do things around the house. I have let myself get way too out of shape, so now I have to work doubly hard to get the extra pounds off. So…I say just dance.


IPod Music
Move While You Walk

Here is a “short” list of some of my favorite current dance songs – I have so many that I decided to list just a few of the songs that are now playing on the radio: Check out the music videos on Youtube too, they are always lots of fun, quite creative and very interesting! And even if this is not the kind of music that you normally listen to, just give it a chance. Sink into an alternate personality and let that crazy wild WOMAN/MAN out of the closet!  I think you will be surprised at how it makes you want to move your mojo and it’s quite fun. You just might feel like a teenager again, I know dancing makes me feel younger, even if I have to do it with myself. Hmm, maybe I could hire a Gigolo to take me dancing. :-)

I have these on a playlist on my Ipod© and walk to the music too, and it helps me speed walk on my work breaks, kind of sort of a speed walk - working on that too! But here's a good list to get you moving whether it's walking or dancing! Enjoy. :-)
Happy Dancing
Wendy Treitel


Just Dance by Lady GaGa
On The Floor by Jennifer Lopez
Bow Chicka Wow Wow by Mike Posner
Grenade by Bruno Mars
The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
E.T. (feat. Kanye West) by Katy Perry
Higher by Taio Cruz
S&M by Rhianna
The Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani/Akon
Animal by Neon Trees
Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner
Get This Party Started by Pink
Raise Your Glass by Pink
Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake
Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) by Enrique Iglesias
Won’t Go Home Without You by Maroon 5
I Like It by Enrique Iglesias
Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
All The Right Moves by OneRepublic
Gotta Be Somebody by Nickelback

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Moon And It's Effect On Our Moods

Ever since I was a little girl, (and I’m not divulging how long ago that was so forget it!) I’ve had this fascination with the moon, like zillions of other people I’m sure. I swear, when I look up at it at night, I know I can see that “Man in the moon”. Today I was feeling a bit sluggish and I wondered if the moon could be the cause.


Admittedly, I’m hooked on my daily horoscope that I get on my IPhone©  every day and along with it comes my Tarot Card reading, so I decided to check my out for today and see how close it comes to how I actually feel. I’m always testing them :0)   Today’s said:

“You’re in a right sulk today, dear Wendy. The alliance of the Moon and the Tower is indicating some aggravation within the family or relationship. Instead of retreating into your shell with an ugly smirk, just say straight out what you want from your relationships, be they with a lover or family. There’s no worse enemy than silence when discontent sets in.”
Well, I guess my mood is because my twenty-seven year old son is moving out (he’s been out and back a few times, not unlike myself when I was young), but I am genuinely happy about his moving on up and out into the big bad world, again.

Anyway, my point is that the moon definitely affects our moods and it has now been proven that this is indeed fact. Below I have listed several website that have some great information about the moon and how it affects our moods.

The Moon and You
By Daniella Breen


Moon Phase Calendar for June, 2011 and other interesting info about the moon – I was especially interested in the Blue Moon as I had the opportunity to see the last one that occurred and even took a picture, although with my camera it just looked like a normal moon, but I know better. J I swear that’s not a fish story either.
http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases_calendar.phtml

The Spiritual effect of the moon on man:


Nice website: You will have to copy and past this website address into your browser to get it to work:

Ecogirl and Cosmoboy’s Blog
http://ecogirlcosmoboy.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/top-ten-ways-the-moon-affects-us/

Happy Moon Mood to you all!
Wendy Treitel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joplin, MO

I would like all our readers to keep my hometown Joplin, Mo in their prayers. As many of you know, last Sunday Joplin was hit by an F5 tornado and 133 people were killed. Thousands of people have been displaced and have no where to live.

I’m very happy that all those in my family are alive, although several cousins lost every thing they owned. There have been many tales of people helping the survivors with every day needs and keeping them fed.

Mostly they need prayers.

We can all say every possession can be replaced, but that’s hard to convince a seventy year old man whose wife died of cancer two years ago. All he wants is a picture of the woman who held his hand for fifty year, now that’s gone forever.

There are a lot of heartaches and many trials ahead for the residents of Joplin, and I hope you will keep them in your hearts and prayers.

Thank you.
 
Write On!

Geri Foster

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My strangest peccadillo

Okay, I have some quirks. A LOT of quirks but all-in-all I think I’m pretty normal.

I do, however, have one odd quirk and I’m sure it drives the people around me nuts, though they humor me a lot.



I change my sheets every day. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

If I don’t, if I try to sleep on the sheets I slept on the night before, I inevitably wake up at one or two in the morning, itching like crazy, having tossed and turned in the hours beforehand and change it anyway. So, I always change the bed.

I can even tell when in a hotel, if the sheets have not been changed. I’m sorry environment, but my peace of mind is more important to me. Once, when Ella and I were at a conference in Houston, I put the “please change my sheets” card on the bed. That night, as I’m getting into the freshly made bed, I touched the sheets and found they’d not been changed. Yes, I can tell simply by feel. I was not a happy camper and let the hotel know about it.

It was too late to have them changed and I spent a restless, uncomfortable night, even though the bed was huge and I slept on the mostly un-slept on side.

I know, I know, it’s crazy. Ludicrous, even, but hey, it’s just how I am.

And yes, I have an insane amount of sheets. More than can comfortably fit in a large hope chest.

As I said, the people around me humor me about it. When I ask for sheets for Christmas or my birthday, they no longer say “Again?” but instead ask “What color this time?”

My boyfriend only had 2 sets of sheets when we started dating a year and a half ago. He now owns 5 sets. Since he has to pay to wash, I tote the sheets with me and take care of that part. Fair is fair. I’m nuts, but I have some sensibilities.

Because there must be balance in the universe, my kid is the exact opposite of me. He doesn’t even sleep on a sheet. It’s creepy. I’m just saying.

Let sleeping dogs lie ... comfortably in fresh sheets!
Photo courtesy of Csuka AndrĂ¡s
I   know that I have way more oddities about me than that, but really, I think this is probably the most fun. It’s certainly an interesting conversation piece. 

What about you? What’s your strangest  peccadillo?
Happy reading,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Drawing on the Exciting Energy of Others



Books and Stories
Getting Published! Woohoo!
 A lot of good things have been going on lately. My friends are getting published and I feel the hum of their energy as if it were my own.  In my many years of searching for inner peace, as with many of you I’m sure, I’ve read volumes of self help books, been in therapy, joined group sessions and attended various churches in order to make myself “well and happy”. It seems I’ve always been searching for something elusive. Something I just can’t seem to put my hands on or sink my heart into with a frenzied passion like other people seem to possess.

I wish I had known this a long time ago, but now I know my passion is writing and writing for success. I’ve known I wanted to write and become a published author for years, sure, but not to the extent that I feel it now, and that I was willing to truly work my ass off and sacrifice certain things for it.

But I am now.

 I want to taste that sweetness, feel that rush, and own that victory! I want to be able to hold up my hand the next time a speaker asks, “How many of you are published?” I will get there, this I know, somehow, some way, I will get published.

I feel honored to be able to surround myself with some amazing women and men whom I get to call friends and family. People who are as determined as myself to reach success and who are doing it in a wonderfully positive light.
Woohoo, doing
the Happy Dance!

Congratulations to all of you who have published recently, and an especially big congratulations to our own Jennifer August and Roxi Cox.

You ladies rock!

Thanks to you all for allowing me to drift into and soak up your dynamic light! You are awesome and I am privileged and blessed. Thank you, God, for giving me this opportunity. And thanks to my family for having confidence in me.

Positive energey looks
kind of like this to me.
Soak up the rays!

To me there is nothing more energizing and motivating than the power emanating off of people who know where they are going, know what they want, and are going to go get it, by God!

I love it!
I want it!
I will get it!  

Happy success seeking!
Wendy Treitel

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Revisions

How to start? Where to begin?
These are critical questions for the beginning of a new manuscript and usually something I get wrong the on the first draft. Thankfully, in fiction there are rewrites.
Revisions aren’t easy; usually it’s a struggle trying to decide what to keep and what to change. What changes make the story best? How to make the changes and keep the elements of the story you envisioned? It’s always a struggle.
But trying to get it right from the beginning is the hardest part. Life doesn’t always follow the prescribed pattern. Neither does fiction, but as the writer you control that-right?
Sometimes.
Maybe.
Well, no not always. That’s why there are rewrites, so you can make it better, make it the best.
I guess you can tell I’m struggling with the rewrites. Strike this, save that, change the wording here-all notes that must have your attention.
The reward, the part I’m having trouble envisioning, is a manuscript that is better than when you began. So I’ll get back to it!
Life is good. Enjoy the rain.
Ella

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fun With The End Of The World

In honor of the impending end of the world (you know, tonight at 6 though I'm still unclear on the time zone thing. Cause when it's 7 in NY, it's 6 in TX but 3 in CA, so yeah, good luck with all that) I thought I'd take a look at some favorite disaster flicks:

2012 - The movie with John Cusack. Loved it. For me, Woody Harrelson totally stole the show as crazy mountain man. Lots of action and screaming and blowing up of stuff. Yeah, good times.

Towering Inferno - Ah, Steve McQueen and a high-rise in peril. Who could resist? Lots of interesting action shots and panic-stricken faces in this one. Watching it now cracks me up, although watching it then probably would have cracked me up, too.

The Poseidon Adventure (Classic Version) - The one with Ernie Borgnine. This is such a good movie. Much more than a disaster flick, it actually had heart and character. And Shelley Winters in the swim scene? Get outta here. Sheer genius.

Volcano - there's a volcano under Los Angeles and it's gonna blow. I kept waiting for Tommy Lee Jones to whip out some sort of MiB accoutrement and take care of it, but he had to be all heroic and stuff. This one calls for a full bucket of popcorn and a couple of beers. Enjoyable.

Staying with the volcano theme, who could forget Dante's Peak? Yum cause it starred Pierce Brosnan and that right there is worth a look, but the contents of the film.... well, uh. Hmm.... My favorite part is when the grandma (Elizabeth Hoffman) wades in the horrible acid lake to save the kids and burns her legs off to tiny little stumps. Seriously, who writes this stuff?

And let us not forget the spate of meteors destroying the earth! In one year we had both Deep Impact and Armageddon. Deep Impact had a host of starts including Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall. For a disaster movie, this one had a lot of heart and emotion, lots of character development and, not to worry, lots of explosions and death.

Armageddon, on the other hand, was nothing but a rock fest of adventure start to finish. Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi as RockHound. Giant asteroid, space shuttle and nuclear weapons. They pulled out all the stops for this one. I catch it every time it comes on. And I cry every time in the control room when they're saying their goodbyes.

The Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall. The ultimate global warning ... warning. This film really made me wonder why they always pick on New York City. Specifically the Statue of Liberty. That poor old girl continues to keep her head above water, sand, snow, lava, etc., but dang. You'd think she'd be tired of it all now.

My all-time number one favorite disaster film has to be Independence Day. I love that movie. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are our salvation? Can I get an amen? I didn't think so. Cause admit it, you're too busy cheering them on and waiting for Bill Pullman to give his "we will not go quietly into the night" speech. And, like me, I'm pretty sure you know all the dialog by heart. I quote that movie a lot, completely out of context, thought.

So, what are some of your favorite disaster films?

Happy reading,
Jennifer August

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Love My Car!

How is it that our cars manage to nuzzle up to us, get under our skin and get into our hearts like pets? Are they alive like in Stephen King’s Christine? Well, I think my car is. I only know that when I have to do without her I go into withdrawal and it makes me crazy and throws me totally out of whack.

It took me nearly 40 some odd years to get my own BRAND NEW vehicle. I’ve had it now for 7 years and it’s all paid off, runs like a dream and has been very dependable for me. Prior to getting my Impala, I’ve been the owner of many hand-me-downs, to name a few:

A 5 speed Subaru GL10 (I believe, can’t remember the model). Cute little car, but was forever having to climb through the leaking sunroof to retrieve forgotten keys left in the ignition - back before the car would ding at you for leaving the keys in. Should have seen me crawling on top of that car and squirming my way in through the sun roof - whew what a sight that must have been :-) Although I was younger then and my ass wasn't as big.

OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating
a little bit, but not by much!

A rusty beat up red Ford Pickup truck – nuff said!

An ancient pukey green grandma’s Oldsmobile Cutless! Again nuff said – this one was a beauty.

Think there might be a few
miles on me? Watch it, Buster!

A faded black Ford Taurus that had more miles on it than a hooker from the old west!

These last 2 weeks have been interesting because my trustworthy paid-off 2003 Chevy Impala, which I love, has been sending me messages in the way of warning lights. My Security light is flashing, my big red Battery Warning light is flashing and pinging, and my Service Vehicle Soon light is flashing as well.

Kind of freaked me out to see all three of them going all at once.

When I got home from work, frazzled because I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, wasn’t sure she’d get me all the way home, so my honey fixed me a glass of wine and I sat down at the computer to see if I could find a copy of my owner’s manual online because I can’t find the actual book anymore. I used to be so organized but that has gone out the window with most of my good habits. I love the internet. I quickly found a copy of my owner’s manual and looked up the yapping warning signals. 

The manual tells me that we need to take it to the dealership. Well, we’ve been trying to avoid that because we know they’ll find something wrong or something we need to buy, and we’ll be charged out the wazoo. So in an effort to save on what is sure to be a large expense we took it to two different car shops. The first said they couldn’t do anything unless they could see the lights coming on, and of course while my husband was driving her, the stinking lights wouldn’t come on. This always happens to me, be it cars, computers, etc. whenever I ask someone else to take a look, whatever it is won’t do what it was doing to me. Things blink, ping, stare and jump at me, but not for anyone else – no, I know I’m not losing my mind! They wouldn’t come on for anyone else but myself.

So, I was forced to drive my husband’s old, very used, many repairs later, Durango to work, which is a vehicle sorely lacking in many fine comfortable things. The radio sounds like you're inside a tin can (bad start), the seat wobbles and slides a few inches back and forth every time you hit the brakes or the gas pedal, oh joy!

Yikes!

We took my car to another shop and the mechanic said they had another car in there doing the same thing. He was able to see the lights though, and he checked the battery (which was fine) and whatever else he could and said the most he could do right now was to disable the warning lights. Fine.

Well, guess what came on, on the way to work this morning! Yep my Security light is flashing, my big red battery warning light is flashing and pinging, and my Service Vehicle Soon light is flashing as well. So, I get to drive the Durango again tomorrow. Now we have to take the Impala to the dealership to get it checked out because no one else can figure out what is wrong.

I firmly believe that the factory sets some of these warning lights to go off after a certain number of miles and they are the only ones who can figure out what is wrong, if anything, and they are the only ones who can service these warning signals.

What happened to the old kind of car that anyone could fix with the right tools? They’re making vehicles so complicated these days with all the new technology, technical wiring, and groovy upgrades, which I’m a fan of, but now it’s so difficult and costly to get a car repaired. When I was younger, I could do a few things to my car, check the oil, change a battery if I had to, change burned out fuses, change a tire, even put a new window in a door once, but gosh even those simple things have become complicated. Getting the battery out of the car is a real chore.


Oh well, I guess we have to adapt to the technological changes and just go with the flow, but really, should it be this difficult to get a car repaired? I think not!

So wish me luck, my car will be in the shop, again, tomorrow. At the dealership this time! I want my car back!

It fits me!
I love my car!
Happy Driving!
Wendy Treitel
 



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Childlike Excitement

When I think about it, I’m sort of glad that I have a long drive to work. It’s thinking, reflecting, singing time for me. By the time I get there, I’m more relaxed and you would probably think the opposite because of all the crazies out there, but for the most part, I kick back, get in the old lady slow lane and listen to my radio and think. I absorb all sorts of inspiration.

On my way to work this morning, I passed two young boys  riding their bikes to school. They were both pedaling as fast as they could to get their speed up so they could coast down the upcoming hill.

When they reached the down slope, one of the boys lifted his arms and proceeded to coast hands free. The laughter and whooping they were doing reminded me of those crazies (yes, you know who you are!) on roller coaster rides who scream bloody murder with their hands raised in the air. Unlike me who gave those life-threatening rides up years ago. I watched this boy’s face in the rear-view mirror and the huge smile, wide-eyed, heart-slamming exhilaration on his face got me thinking.

When was the last time I experienced that kind of childlike excitement? And how often do we even look for that elusive feeling? What can we do to get it back occasionally? Maybe we just get complacent and the emotion is there, we just have to reach out, grab hold of it and allow it back into our hearts.

Think back to your own childhood, as far back as you can go in your mind, and try to remember the events or even favorite items that brought out that childlike happiness and joy. Now try to think of things in the present world that give you the elation that you remember feeling back then. I think you will be surprised as I was that even small events can bring back that indescribable childlike excitement.

Some of my own memories of this feeling occurring when I think back to the time my father bought me beach gear for my birthday. We lived in Pensacola Florida at the time. I was asleep and on my birthday morning, he came in our bedroom (I shared a room with my little brother – bunk beds) he slid a fully inflated float through the rungs at the end of the bed, right on top of me. I remember waking us so exited because I knew this meant I was going to get to go to the beach that day! I loved and still love the beach.

Another time I remember was the first time my mom let me go shopping for whatever I wanted for my birthday. I had a blast.


Now this little one is
much braver than me!
 One more time was when my parents would allow me to go to the country with my best friend. We would ride on the tailgate of her grandpa’s old beat-up white pickup truck on our way out to feed the cattle. With our feet dangling over the side and every bump threatening to spill both of us out onto the hard ground, we’d giggle and loudly sing off key “Somewhere over the rainbow”. Happiest of times in my memory.

So I thought about now and what gave me those same wonderful, warm and fuzzy feelings and made a short list. And if I keep thinking more occasions pop into my mind.

Visiting with my children
When my husband or children buy me a thoughtful gift out of the blue
Whenever I get to go on a trip to anywhere

Sitting in the middle of a bunch of feeding deer
Whenever I come up with a new story idea
Getting a new electronic toy
Taking off of work
Seeing Babies
Getting my own domain name


Give it a shot, see what wonderful things you can come up with on your list. I bet you’ll be surprised how many things you can name.
Happy childlike excitement reliving!
Wendy

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For the Love of A Puppy

I love my dog. That sweet little fuzzy face, those big brown eyes, the lolling pink tongue… I’m so hooked on him, it’s ridiculous. We got him as a rescue when he was 6 months old. We’d gone from shelter to shelter and each one broke my heart but none were “the one.”

Then … we met Ranger.

 He looked up at us through the bars, his little white butt and tail wagging so hard, we thought he’d take off. The staff let us leash him and take him outside to get acquainted. He ran around the little park in the back, zoomed between our legs then, the piece de resistance, he laid down and bared his belly.

We brought him home that day, almost 6 years ago and haven’t looked back since. He’s sweet and ferocious, adorable and demanding. He’s really smart and passed dog training, though most of it has been forgotten. He knows what “let’s cuddle” means and he knows when I say I’m going to change the bed, he has to jump off. He likes to talk and he snuffles and has the most endearing look on his face when he’s looking up at you. Especially when he wants something.

We live in a sort of rural area. Rural enough that our backyard is home to several kinds of wildlife including rabbits. One day, he went outside to play. When he scratched on the door to be let in, as he’d had hundreds of times before, I opened the door.
And screamed like a banshee then slammed the door shut on him. My sweet, little puppy was holding a dead rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit was big, it hung almost to the ground around his mouth. My mom was the heroine of the piece. She grabbed a Milkbone, opened the door and traded him the bone for the rabbit.
Then, she calmly ran through the garage and tossed it out in the front yard. The strange thing was there was no blood or anything on the rabbit and the next day he was gone. I like to think he was playing possum with Ranger and as soon as he was safe, he up and hopped away.

That day, Ranger gained a middle name – Elmer.

And like my kid, he knows when I use all his names he’s in real trouble and has only one avenue of safety. He runs to grandma!

Yep, I love my dog. He’s pretty special to me.

How about you? Any animals make your life special?
Happy reading,
Jennifer August

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Improvise


When I can’t write, I’m not a happy person. I get really grouchy and blame anyone in listening distance. Usually, it’s my husband, critique partners, plotting gals and accountability group. I know they want me to shut up, but so far, they haven’t said that. But I know its coming.

This last weekend was a perfect example of how hectic life can get. I worked twenty four hours of overtime. All on the weekend, and it was Mother’s Day. My work ended about 12:30 on Sunday.

I went home and watched the final chapter of Fringe. Can Peter really never have existed? If so, how did he get the bad Olivia pregnant? Now did the good Olivia fall in love with him? I can’t wait until next season. That’s my favorite show.

Afterwards my son and daughter came over and we had a light lunch, which I fixed. They no sooner left then my two step sons came in to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. Everyone was gone at 5:30 but I still had to go grocery shopping, do five loads of laundry and get ready for work.

I didn’t type a single word.

But I did work on my book. I found a little app on my iphone called Voice Memo. I talked into that phone so long I think people thought I was nuts, but I got a lot of information down I needed for my story. Today I played it back and ended up with five pages of notes. Some I need now, some for my synopsis and some for other scenes in the book.

The important thing is I keep my story in the front of my brain and that’s what important. It helped me figure out a few plot problems and I played ‘what if’ a lot. It as fun, easy and I’m glad I did it.

I now have a new tool to put in my writing toolbox.

Write On!

Geri Foster

Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding Characters

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to everyone! Yes, even you guys-cause you know!
I slept in. It was totally awesome. Then there was the familiar beep of an incoming text. My son wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and wondering what plans I had, having none he invited me to spend the day with him! He needed to study, and I needed to write so we headed to Starbucks. Yes, every mother needs a Carmel Macchiato on Mother’s Day and none of the low or nonfat stuff today, please. I think it was the best I’ve ever drank! Certainly it was the best I’ve had this year. The cup came with a personalize Mother’s Day message, how special is that?
But, here’s the best part. I’ve been having trouble with a character; female, blonde, late twenties, sophisticated yet vulnerable-and there she sat at the very first table with her mother and grandmother! I had to stop myself from asking if I could interview her, and I had to be very careful how I obtained information. I needed to stare covertly. It’s an art.
I had Gracie (my sweet little notebook) out and was typing as fast as my fat little fingers would go. I typed nonstop for ten minutes, details and impressions. It was fabulous. I even got some of the interaction between the women; subtle body shifts, amused quirks of an eyebrow, the sudden flash of independence or disapproval. The thing I can’t describe yet is how this young woman managed to cross her legs while sitting down and do it gracefully. It was one fluid motion of easy, graceful movement and I’m not sure how it happened. Too bad I couldn’t ask her to do it again! ;-)
After they left, I was on a mission, how many other characters could I find, describe for current works or future unplanned projects. There was the mom in Panda Express with five small children, yes five under the age of ten, and she was grace under pressure as she wished me Happy Mother’s Day in the most beautiful, serene voice.
The afternoon was reserved for shopping or window gazing and some serious people watching. IKEA, Half-Priced Books, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and everywhere I went-there they were, characters living life and enjoying time in the company of people they loved.
The man alone on a restaurant patio lazed back with one ankle resting negligently on his knee. Babies in carriers, wide eyed or sleeping; in Stone Briar Mall there was a young couple on a bench, baby draped over dads knees sucking down a bottle of milk while mom relaxed. And in the play area, fathers and grandfathers played with the kids so the ladies could shop in peace.
The weather was stunningly wonderful, enriching this day made for spending time with families into a small slice of heaven right here on earth. And then I found these!Kisses From Heaven.
Life is good! Live with passion!
Ella

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Pleasure of Reading

This year, 4writers has been lucky to have a stellar bunch of authors drop by and share their thoughts with us and we are so happy they came. Each author has offered something different to the readers and I have read all of them and enjoyed all of them.
In fact, the most recent book I read from our guests was Sophie Oak’s Bound. It came out last Friday, I bought it, downloaded it around 10 p.m. and didn’t put it down until the very last sentence. It was that good. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the guilt-free pleasure of being able to stay up all night to read. What a treat! I read just about every chance I get and I’m lucky enough to get sneak peeks at works in progress through my critique partners. I love a traditional print book and I’ve been reading online for years. I downloaded the Kindle and Borders apps on my phone and I’m slowly getting used to those, but I still have some glitches with them.
How I read doesn’t matter, just as long as I do. Reading makes me happy. It takes me to places I have never been to, lets me revisit others, helps me visualize the impossible and improbable as absolutely doable. Reading is one of the things that I seek solace in. Inspiration. Hope. It’s like a movie for your brain, one you hold in your hands and cast yourself.  I don’t know about you, but I do a lot of accents when I read, especially the Scottish books.  Granted, they’re bad, but I still hear them in my head. I sometimes emulate the movement of the characters as I read (uh, I did say sometimes!).
I also find my mood while reading to be affected by what’s going on in the book. Woe betide someone who interrupts me during a moment of reading something intense, whatever that may be. If a murder just happened in the book, check my eyes for rage before asking me to make you a peanut butter sandwich. Often my poor dog bears the brunt of my shivers when I’m reading anything slightly spooky. Anytime I gasp and say “Holy crap!” and bury my head in his fur, he huffs patiently and waits for me to get a mental grip and let up on the undercoat.
I love the way I feel when I read. The satisfied “ah” that comes with an ending so perfect, it brings a smile, a sob or a gasp when you read it.  Speaking of those moments, there has been more than once instance when an author has moved me to write to him or her. The latest was Heather Graham. I read her book the Death Room and I was so floored, so surprised by what happened that I just had to write her. Yeah, it was an equally good squee of fangirl-itude when she replied.
The bottom line is that reading matters. A lot. I hope you all are prolific readers. Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite genres? What moves you when you read?

Happy reading,
Jennifer August

Friday, May 6, 2011

My First Year with Guest Blogger Sophie Oak

Today at 4writers, we are delighted to have author Sophie Oak visit us. Sophie's newest Siren release Bound is now available.
Sophie, thanks for being with us today! I LOVED Bound. I stayed up all night reading it. Can't wait for the next book in the series!
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Special Guest Star Sophie Oak








My First Year

It’s been almost a year since my first book came out, and I thought it was time to reflect on the things I’ve learned over the course of this year. I walked into the publishing business a bright eyed innocent and one year later, I’m not so sure how much of my innocence is left, but I know I still have a lot to learn. In honor of surviving this first year, I thought I would reflect on its lessons, both in and out of the industry.

  • Not everyone will love me. That was a hard one to take. Not everyone will love everything I write, and I can’t let that affect my blood pressure. The connection between a writer and a reader is a little like finding a soul mate. When it works—it’s the best thing in the world. When it doesn’t—well, that’s why I don’t look at Amazon reviews anymore.


  • Have a really good answer on hand when your twelve year old takes a gander at your new cover and wants to know a) why everyone is naked and b) why are there five football players and only one girl. All I could come up with was a) it was laundry day and b) they were down a player, and she was the only one around.


  • Facebook is my friend. Wow, I can really connect with readers on Facebook. I’ve gotten the whole social networking thing down. I tease on Fridays and announce when my books are available and I connect the whole thing through Twitter and my Amazon and GoodReads pages.


  • Facebook is my worst enemy. Wow, I can spend a lot of time on Facebook. And why do people think I run a farm?


  • Maybe my backyard pool isn’t the best place to skinny dip. I learned that the hard way, and that’s all I’ll say on that.


  • Fear and doubt kill my creativity, yet they stalk me all the times it seems. No matter how well my last book has done, I always think the next one will tank.


  • This business is just like any other. The grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there and realize that it has its own version of weeds.


  • You take a toddler to the potty, but you can’t make her use it.


  • Friends are like gold. I’ve managed to find some spectacular ones in the last year of my life. I’ve found plenty of people ready, willing and able to criticize me, but boy, have I found friends, too. I’ve made friends in the past year that I have no idea how I managed life without. They’re creative and funny and ridiculously loyal. Sharing this journey with friends has made it all the sweeter when it’s good and bearable when it’s bad. Cling to the people who love you. They’ll be around when the accolades are gone. They’ll buy the margaritas when someone thinks you’re the worst writer in the world.


I think what I’ve really learned is to remember why I got into this business in the first place. I love to tell stories. Beyond the money and the fans, (and don’t get me wrong, those are good reasons to be in this business) what I really love is creating worlds in my head. I get to live through my characters. In my forty years on earth, I’ve been a rancher, a woman on the run and the Queen of the Seelie Fae. I’ve run a BDSM club, been a famous artist and got elected to be the sheriff of the strangest town in the world. And I’ve gotten to share those experiences with people. I’ve been able to connect on a level I never would have imagined.

Yes, the business is rough. But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. What have I learned this year? I learned that I’m luckiest woman on earth. I can’t wait to see what I learn in year two.

Bound now available!
Sophie Oak writes erotic romance for Siren Publishing.
You can read the first chapters of all her books at www.sophieoak.com

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Am Not My Characters by Guest Blogger Susan Gable

Today at 4writers, we welcome author Susan Gable, whose new book As Good As His Word is now available in bookstores and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Thanks for stopping by, Susan!
Susan, I liked Hayden in the previous Hawkins' books but he absolutely stole my heart in this one. Great job!
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Special Guest Star Susan Gable

I Am Not My Characters/My Characters Are Not Me
Maybe my books should come with a disclaimer at the beginning.  Especially this new one.
Disclaimer: The author does not necessarily condone all behavior, comments, or thoughts, taken by the FICTIONAL characters in the story you are about to read. Some of them may be politically incorrect. Some of them may be blatantly dangerous. Some may go against your particular code of conduct/morality/ethics.
 Come to think of it, some of them may go against my code of conduct, too.
But then, I am not my characters. My characters are not me. My stories are not platforms for me to advance my particular viewpoints.
I'm just telling stories about people. Imperfect people. People who think differently than I do. Than you probably do. Because we all have our own viewpoints.
I love telling juicy, meaty, emotionally messy stories. Which means my characters are often hip-deep in something. I like stories that make people think without me beating them over the head, or without telling them WHAT to think.
I've done stories about surrogacy. About organ transplant. My last book featured a savior sibling. (A child conceived to be a cord blood donor for an older sibling who needed new bone marrow.)
This new story (As Good as His Word) features a heroine who is legally still married. It features a cheating husband who's in a permanent vegetative state. It revolves around a family who has lost one of their own and think this heroine kicked that family member when he was down.  There's also a teenager dabbling with pot.
Messy, messy...life. And let's face it, life is messy. But just because I write something, or my characters do/say something, doesn't mean I'm endorsing that behavior or viewpoint.
This blog took on whole new meaning while I was in the midst of writing it. A woman who's been a very successful high school English teacher for over 20 years suddenly found herself being vilified by some parents because she writes erotic romance.  She'd been very careful to keep her private life separate from her teaching life, using a pen name, not spreading around the school what she wrote, etc. One parent fretted on camera to the "news" (and I use that term VERY lightly) that this teacher might now be "looking at" her high-schooler son in a certain "way."
Because, of course, if she writes about sex, then she must only be thinking about sex. Always.  Somehow I think that mother confused the teacher with the camera-hound's own hormonally-overloaded teenage son. (Teenage boys are generally always thinking about sex.)
That teacher is NOT her characters. (Who, I feel I must point out, are all consenting adults.) If she were writing about serial killers, would that mom be worried that the teacher would suddenly go berserk and kill her son?  I doubt it. Does she think J.K Rowlings has a magic wand, or is cooking up spells in her basement? Doubtful. Stephen King has a car that drives by itself and kills people? Or that because of the crazy stuff that comes out of his imagination (and he has the nerve to write down on paper) that he's some sort of menace to society and the people around him? D'uh, of course not.
But because she is writing <GASP> about characters who have sex, and even worse <bigger GASP>, enjoy sex, of course she must be looking at everyone around her with an eye towards having sex with them.
Seriously?? Come on, people. Do we need a remedial class in the differences between fiction and reality?
The good news for that teacher is her books are now selling like crazy. But her life is never going to be the same because someone who wanted to be the morality police and thought they had the right to vilify her for something she did on her own time. For something her FICTIONAL characters did.
Writers are NOT their characters. Sometimes we write stuff to pay the bills. If we're writing gay sex because it's selling, that doesn't mean we're gay. It doesn't mean we're NOT gay, either.  Sometimes people write Inspirational books when they're not big believers, too.
 My point is, you shouldn't know who *I* am or what *I* believe based on my characters.
Because...they're not me.
Have you ever assumed something about a writer based on something they wrote? Do you have to agree with everything the characters do in order to enjoy a book? Or are you just looking for a good story? Entertainment? What do you think about that high school teacher? Is she somehow a menace to her students? Should she be forced out of teaching? Where should the lines be drawn?



Now available!
BIO: Susan Gable's seventh book for Harlequin's Superromance line, As Good as His Word, is available now. (For a limited time only on the shelves! Thank goodness for ebooks and their unlimited shelf-lives.) Swing by her website, www.SusanGable.com to read an excerpt, articles for writers, and all sorts of other stuff. Her book The Family Plan, another of the Hawkins' Family books, was recently named a finalist in the National Readers' Choice Awards.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THANK YOU NAVY SEALS!!!

I want to take a moment to thank the very brave and courageous men who brought down one of the most dangerous men in the world. You guys Rock!!!

I cannot in a single post give our military personnel credit for keeping our country safe. Yes, it’s their job, but they risk their lives to do it. Not many people are willing to do that.

They leave their wives, kids, parents and siblings behind and head off to foreign countries so that we in America never see or feel the terrors of war except on TV. Many give all. I am both grateful and sorry for the parents who sacrifice a child for the sake of freedom. It plays into that saying that freedom isn’t free.

So, that’s why I write about these brave men. They are the characters in my books because I admire and respect everything they do. They are real, live, breathing Heroes. I can’t say that to all of them, but I can put them in the books I write.

That decision was made several years ago for me. I was at the DFW airport waiting for a plane to Seattle. I noticed a man dressed in a military uniform on crutches, his right leg missing. He leaned heavily against the wall, obviously resting before continuing on to his gate. There was another person watching him as I was, and I’m sure, like me, he didn’t know how to help this young, wounded solider.

Out of nowhere an airport shuttle cart come wheeling down the corridor with a young couple in their forties and what appeared to be their teenage daughter. While I simply watched, the medium height, gray haired man acted. He stepped in front of the cart and held out his hand. The cart stopped abruptly. In a very calm voice my fellow passenger asked if the driver might have room for the wounded military man.

The driver didn't have the chance to speak as the guy along for the ride told the man in front to the cart to get the hell out of the way. They were late for their flight.

Medium height, gray haired and handsome snapped straight and told the man to get out of the cart now. The man and his family got out reluctantly, and older man helped the soldier to the cart, and sent them on their way.

The medium height, gray haired, handsome guy went absolutely ballistic on the younger man, his wife and child. He told him that soldier had paid for, and earned the right to be in front of him and everyone in this airport. He embarrassed the man so badly the guy couldn’t even look him in the eye.

Then security showed up and by now the cart was back to pick up the family,the soldier safely at his gate. When security heard what had happened I expected our hero to be tossed out of the airport. Instead the security guy stepped over to the driver and told him to never, ever pass a wounded soldier without offering him a ride.

When medium height, gray haired and handsome came back to the boarding gate, he was greeted by a round of applause and a standing ovation. Everyone within hearing was clapping. When we all boarded the plane, the captain announced he was buying the hero a drink.

His name is Laurence C. Foster, United States Navy. While it’s been a long time since he wore the uniform of a Naval Officer, I’m still proud to be married to that guy who had the courage to stand up and make a difference.

It all ended well, but it taught me a valuable lesson. We can’t all be on the front lines. I’m not equipped to go into combat, and I’d make a piss poor soldier. But I’ll stand up for them until the day I die, because many have died for me.

Thank you United States Military Personnel
 

Remember: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
Write On!

Geri Foster