Sunday, November 29, 2009

Durian - Love it or Hate it

There are signs posted in some Malaysian Hotels - No Durian on the Premises

They're serious about this.  I wouldn't be surprised if suspected guests were frisked to ensure the premises were not contaminated.

So what or who is a  Durian?  It's no rock star or even a person.  Durian is a fruit and a popular fruit at that.  In Malaysia it is carted into cities by the truck load.  I've watched men in bare feet leap atop lorries with machetes swinging as dusk gathers lopping right and left to break the shell of this popular fruit.  In open air restaurants, diners crowd plastic tables and devour stacks of Durian. 

So with all this attention on one fruit - there is no choice but to try it.  So I did.  However, it wasn't much of a bite.  The smell got to me first.  Still I braved putting the thing in my mouth despite the smell.  That one wee bite stunk of garlic that had been tinged with a good splash of sewer water - and that was more than enough!

I may adapt easily to other places and cultures but some things I just can't understand and the Durian is one.   So I'm with the hotels that want the Durian well away from them. 

There are thousands of people that will disagree and tell you that the Durian is indeed the King of Fruit.  And who knows, maybe they're right.

Totally off topic or maybe not so much -  my latest hero has taken a shine to Led Zepplin.  This from my completely classical guy - any surprises in your travels?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Author Tours

What can I say about a virtual author tour?  This is my first and it's definitely an experience.  It's a whirlwind of activities and without my calendar I'd be sunk.  But despite that I'm having fun.  Did I mention all the incredible people I've met these last few weeks?  Authors, bloggers, readers sometimes one person is both or even all three.  But anyway you slice it they're great people to hang out with.

So, with the tour continuing here's where I and my current sidekick "Ring of Desire" are appearing next:

Love Romance Passion are gracious enough to host me tomorrow November 25. I'll be talking about why I wrote a paranormal set in medieval times as opposed to contemporary. Come on over, chime in, say hello and enter for a chance to win a copy of Ring of Desire.

I'll be over at Ellz Readz today - stop by - and enter to win an ecopy of Ring of Desire.

Thought for the day:

"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.".
- author unknown


Monday, November 23, 2009

Football and a Good Book

Yesterday, for an afternoon, I was turned into a football fan! Me, who at most is happy watching only one half (preferably the back half) of any football game.

So let me back up here - yesterday was the Canadian Football League's Western Final. It was a home game that the home team won! Although I was there for a fund raiser and only saw bits until the last quarter, the noise and energy in the stands sucked me in. Awash in the home team's colours, the stadium vibrated as people hammered the upper decks and cheered their team nonstop for the entire game. How could you not be pumped?

And with a story - same thing, you want to be cheering all the way through - totally drawn into that world playing in front of you. It might not be your kind of game - maybe a historic instead of the contemporary you normally read. But it reaches out and sucks you in anyway.

Kind of like the football game yesterday. I ended up arriving home with a thunder stick in hand and the green and white colours slashed across my cheeks. Did I mention that I was supposed to be working not viewing - I couldn't help myself!

What draws you into a story?


Why is this post in green? The Riders of course - go Riders!
Next week is the Grey Cup!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ring of Desire - An Excerpt

I'm just taking a breath after yesterday. For those of you who missed it - take a look at the discussion that went on all day yesterday. Wow - great job Romance Studio! Thanks to everyone that showed up! My blog may never be the same again LOL!

Today I realized as I updated my website that there is currently no excerpt available online for my new release "Ring of Desire". Not one I could find anyway. I know it will be available eventually but while I wait for that to happen I thought I'd speed up the process - here's a sneek peak at "Ring of Desire".

Chapter One
Southern England 1072

I will not die.

Vala turned her head blindly toward the shore. She spat a stream of water and choked as the chair lurched and her neck snapped forward. Her head spun as she twisted in circles over the water. Her wrists ached and burned as the wet rope cut into them.

“Again!” the priest commanded.

The rope played through the smith’s reluctant hands. The chair began to lower.

“Nay,” she whispered and grimaced at the pain in her throat that was raw from swallowing water and the silent screams of those she defended. Her bare toes touched the unusual chill that sheeted the river. Water closed over her head. The water wrapped around her like a cold, silken blanket. Her nostrils quivered and her throat ached from holding her breath.

How much longer?

Vala wrapped her fingers around the rough rope. The elements she could touch—rope, water, chair—were fast becoming her only reality, her only link to the physical world. When she thought she could take no more, the chair began to move upward. Her lungs ached and rivets of pain clawed her chest. She thought she would die if she did not get air. She gasped as her head broke the surface.

“Ye will obey.” The priest’s words were spewed in sharp hate edged

“Let her go.” A woman’s voice broke the silence.

“Aye,” another agreed.

“She’s had enough.” This time the women seemed to speak as one.

Vala’s teeth chattered as the chill spring wind wrapped around her wet body. She thought of Rosaline, with her stillborn son at her side, alone and dying because of a Norman. She sucked in a breath as heat flooded her body. With a gasp she twisted the chair so she faced the shore.

You are the chosen. It is not time. The voices of the Ancients rippled deep within her soul. Everything is, as it was foretold.

“Cease!” a man roared.

“Tis I who give orders!” Alfred, who had presented himself as a priest not so many months ago, puffed his flabby chest, adjusted the rope around his waist and glared out at Vala.

“I will not,” she persisted through the chafe and rawness of her throat. “It will kill her.”

“Stubborn wretch. Again!” the priest demanded.

The priest swung a hand in the direction of the smith whose expression was agonized as he clutched the rope that controlled the chair.

“It will be done.” Alfred motioned again for the rope to be lowered.

Vala pulled in a deep mouthful of air. She waited. Nothing.

Cynn, the blacksmith, hadn’t moved. He clutched the rope that still held the chair clear of the water.

“Nay.” The sound broke almost before it escaped Vala’s lips.

“Nay? How dare you, witch. Ye will not refuse me. Ye will admit your wrong and right it.”

“No wrong.” Vala could barely get the words out and against everything that Magna had taught her she threw her aura in the priest’s path. To the Ancients, an aura was a powerful thing. It could take down a man. But it was a weak effort and only the gold cross on his thick chest glinted sparks in the dull mist.

Destiny, girl, you do not have the power to change.

Hope swelled through her at the sound of Magna’s voice. Magna, she had always been here a part of Hafne even in the time before Vala could remember.

You can give it to me, she threw the thought out.

But Magna was silent and in the silence Vala knew. There would be no magic that would rescue her this day.


Friday, November 20, 2009

The Romance Studio - Who's My Favorite Author?

Subject: Oh, I’m sorry. What did you say? Who’s my favorite author?

Oh, you thought I was going to name a favorite author, didn’t you? That will never happen. LOL My reading tastes are just as eclectic as my musical tastes. I like everything from young adult to Stephen King at his goriest so to name a single favorite author is not possible. And I imagine most of you would agree to that. Unless you’re a fan of Stephenie Meyer, in which case you’re not reading this blog. You’re in line to see New Moon, again, somewhere right now. LOL

I digress.

While I do have a lot of favorite authors, what grabs MY attention? Author sites.

If the site loads fast, the author’s latest book is out there on the front page for me to drool over, navigation is easy enough for me to understand at 1 AM when I actually have time to surf the net and am half asleep. If I find a book I like and the site has it going on, and I’m hooked. I’m clicking through to buy that book. Why? Because aside from getting a good story, I know I can count on that author to make it super easy for me to buy it. The less I have to click, the better I like it.

Want to bet on how many readers out there are just like me?

A good site grabs my attention more than 200 Yahoo promo posts, the author’s rant about toothpaste on Twitter, or that invitation to Farmville on Facebook (and you WON’T get me to play that, sorry! LOL) I don’t have time to do the contest thing, the chat thing, or to follow blogs. A good site is there, up-to-date, and constant. Ready whenever I am. Now we’re talking. =)

What will turn me away at an author site? 1) not being able to find what I want in 5 seconds (television and the internet have given us all ADD, let’s be honest), 2) not being able to get in the site because the flash promo is stuck or didn’t load properly, or 3) finding the site hasn’t been updated since April.

Ever feel like that?

So, fellow readers, I pose this question: What can an author do to grab YOUR attention? Do you read the promo posts on the Yahoo and MSN loops? Do you like contests? Do you love the blog circuit? Getting email announcements from authors?

What do you like?

I’ve got print books to give away readers. =) I’ll do some author prizes too. But talk to me.

Thanks to Ryshia for letting me play on her blog.


The Romance Studio ~ the romance genre today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Simplistic - Think Again!

Malfunctioning programs and oversized files have made what should be a simple mailout problematic. With a list of things to get done in the next few hours I find that I spent most of them reducing files. Something I should have done right off the hop - I know. Something I forgot.

It's days like this when the list I began early on doesn't look much shorter, that I wish that life were as simple as it seems for this Burmese fisherman. Just the water, his boat and the day's quota. A day on a quiet lake with not an electronic gadget in sight sounds wonderful.

I know, be careful what you wish for. Simplistic might actually mean rough hewn living quarters and a lack of the amenities I enjoy every day. And, a long day on the water would, in my case, mean a bout of mal de mer and more than likely a bad case of sunburn. But the dream doesn't go away quite that easily. Not when the e-mail is dinging with yet another problem.

Ever had one of those days?

Whispers of an Ancient magic
draw them together...
...An unspeakable evil
fights to keep them apart.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rules of the Road

In my travels I noticed that the rules of the road differ from country to country. Here's a sample of what I've experienced:

  • Don't assume that the cab driver with perfect English that you hired to pick you up the next day is the cab driver you're going to get to take you cross country.
  • Speed and the ability to understand English sometimes has an inverse reaction. The more you tell the driver to slow down, the faster he may drive.
  • Your driver's continual horn honking does not actually ensure your safety nor get other vehicles out of your way.
  • The cab driver you hire is the one you'll get.
  • Radar is common and painfully slow drivers plentiful - another inverse correlation.
  • Horn honking is rare but glaring and speeding up to cut you off when you signal to change lanes - common

  • The left hand side of the road - the left, the left...

Tomorrow, November 16 I start a book blog tour.

First stop I'll be visiting over at Books, Gardens & Dogs. Pop on over- I have to say the interview was interesting! And there's a chance to win a copy of Ring of Desire a medieval paranormal with enough magic to keep things on the edge.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's in a Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet." William Shakespeare

Shakespeare said it all those many years ago but is it true? Now I'm not one to argue with Shakespeare, at least not usually. But I have to take issue with the name. Names are important. At least I find that so with fictional characters. A name encompasses a personality. It is sometimes your first idea of what that character is all about.

A hero called Jamie or one called Rhett - is there a difference? What's your first perception? Yes, I know many of us have gone through life with names that might not be quite to our liking. Did it change us? Maybe, maybe not.
I've been dabbling in numerology lately - and if the numbers are any indication, names matter. Not that I'm saying I take numbers seriously but I'm not discounting them either.

What I do know for sure is that if I name my hero or heroine wrong they will walk around in one-dimensional cardboard until I get it right. In fact the latest hero did just that!

Do names matter?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Sells a Book?

With "Ring of Desire" about to release an author's proverbial question arises - "What Sells a Book?" And then there's the reader's proverbial question - "Why buy the book?"

Those two questions look simple enough but the scope turns into that multi-layered problem I've touched on in other posts - promotion. Truly, between you and me, I'd rather just write the book. I love words, stories and sharing them with others.

Okay, now that I have that secret out in the open, the reality is that to sell a book, you must write a good book and people must know it exists. But the marketplace is a busy place these days with more books being published than any of us have time to read. So what is an author to do? This week my writing has suffered on the quest of the conundrum - How to get the message out in a crowded marketplace?

Don't get me wrong - there are things I love about promotion. I love the creativity in coming up with that just-so bookmark or creating contests that readers will love. Or the idea that, while tried before, I've put my own unique spin on. Yes promo, that horned beastie that has mutated into marketing and promotion, is roaming free but I promise I'll try to keep it contained for now.

I must run - it is less than an hour away from the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th hour. One of the most historic moments of the last century. It is that special time when we honour all those that fought and still fight worldwide for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Lest we forget.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Promotion - A Different Journey

It's rather like the launch of a space shuttle - in of course a much smaller way. But in the scope of my life the launch of a new book is a big deal and I have the proof - sore fingers.

Sore fingers you ask? What does that have in common with the space shuttle? Nothing!

Nope - that's right nothing. Except to accentuate how much hard work goes into launching a book. Ring of Desire will be released on November 15. But now the other work has begun - promotion. So I've opened the closet door on the monster I call promotion and I'm wrestling him into submission. Yet promotion has tentacles that seem to spread into corners previously unknown - review sites and ad copies, author spotlights and bookseller orders and launch dates, and... And if my sore fingers are any indication I'm not sure which one of us is winning but I'm putting up a pretty good fight. One thing I've learned about promotion is that it's all about a combination of hard work, tenacity and creativity, a proverbial smattering of luck and, of course, the most important - a great story.

So Ring of Desire is waiting in the wings. And there's some goodies in the wind - a book signing - a prize or two - maybe an appearance or two. As I develop the plan, I'll roll out the details.

In the meantime, I'm going out to enjoy the day. It may be only 2 celsius or 36 Fahrenheit but there is not even a flake of snow on the ground and I know later today about 5:00 the geese will shadow the sky in their perfect v formation as they head to feed in fields outside the city. All of it a gift in November in Saskatchewan.

Where did your travels take you today?