Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gifting Books Giveaway Hop - Win an E-Book

A Widow - A Stranger
A depression era farm - they both claim
A story of love and endurance - and a romance to take your breath away.

It's the Christmas season and what better time to have something like the Gifting Books Giveaway Hop?  Ready to take a break from shopping and endless Christmas parties - thinking of maybe settling down with a good book?  Then here's a good place to start.  Just follow the trail of blogs to books, books and more books.  

In the theme of this hop -  the special book I was gifted, and there's been so many in m life that I'd like to mention but one stands out.  It goes back to childhood.  As a child I wanted Heidi in the worst way but Heidi was a few years away from making a repackaged come back.  In fact, the book at that point was pretty much out of print in Canada - hard to believe now, when a multitude of variations and translations are available.  My mother found the book in a local second hand store - red-cloth bound with that dusty delicate feel of a very old book, the pages yellow and worn and tinted with a smell of mildew and dust.  I treasured that book.

So to celebrate the season, I'm giving away another book that's special to me.  One I wrote, an e-copy of my first book  "From the Dust" to one commenter over the course of the hop.  

Drop by and leave a note and I'll enter you for a chance to win.  What book did you receive that was special?
giveaway-hop/">ng books"
src="" alt="gifting books
giveaway hop" width="305" height="438" />

Folllow the links below to more books.
Let's Hop!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Underground Culture - Inspiration in the Shadows

It's interesting how changing what appears when you open your back door lifts a floodgate that might be masking your imagination.  My imagination needed a jump start and my backpack needed dusting off.  So if you've been paying attention to my spotty blogging, I took a trip and met a whole new culture and another group of people.  And while much is the same, a lot is different.  The weather for one.  It's averaged mid twenties here.  While at home it's wavering between single digits over zero and -20 - bear in mind that's all Celsius and no I'm not converting it for you, I'm having enough problems of my own with that.

Like - "Why the heck are you driving so fast?"  I believe I asked...before considering conversion possibilities.  "The speed limit is 35."  35 miles an hour that is, not kilometers.  But of course I have my neck cricked at an odd angle looking for the local sheriff anyway.  I've read about him and all his tough guy patrolling of borders (hey, I'm just reporting it as I read it) hunting for smuggling of all kinds.

And then there are the other kinds of stories, those not quite so serious and in some instances, just plain entertaining.  Stories of aliens from another planet and even alien burrows, lost gold and forgotten mines, Elvis sightings and...  Yes, the stories go on, urban legends, fodder for tourists and in some instances, real mysteries. 

Underground culture, the best feeding ground for a writer's imagination.  Don't get me wrong, every place has it, you're just more apt to look for it when you're new to a place.  That's one of the lures of travel - the newness of it all. 

So the notebook is out, the pen is out of ink and there's little time and more stories to be had. 

There's secrets in those shadows.

What makes your day?


Friday, December 7, 2012

Work is Interfering with my Golf Game

Is it golf or work that's the problem?  I don't know but a working vacation is really kind of a misnomer.  It worked real well in the beginning - that is the beginning when we'd recently arrived and the days stretched ahead unmapped, uncharted and seemingly never-ending.  Then, in the beginning that is,  I'd get up first thing in the morning, have a couple of hours to myself before a swim in the pool and starting the day.

Now the days are closing in - vacation is slipping away and talk of home is on the horizon.  I'm not sure if I'm ready for that.   The conversation filtering from outside is a discussion with the pool boy who obviously is a native of the warmer south.  He wants to know if anyone works outside in the winter. 

Roll that question back - I'm not sure if anyone stops working outside in the winter.  That's what polar fleece was made for and other scientific technologies that swear your nether parts won't freeze off.  

Too hot - too cold.  There are bragging rights on how hot or how cold a place can get.  Haven't you noticed that?  People love to brag about their temperature extremes.  Me, I'd rather just have a nice consistent high 20's Celsius or even a tad warmer and that would be perfect.

Perfect, that's here, right now - except for the prickles and brambles but that's another story.  Hmmm - best get in my golf games, laps and that shortened work day while there's still time. 

But, you know,  I'm kind of looking forward to my schedule especially with two projects on the go and a release in the immediate future (more on that and all the fun coming up). 

In the meantime - here's a view of Christmas down south.

Any weather getaways or a working vacation on your horizon?


Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Far Are You Willing To Go?

You know what you want but how far are you willing to go to get it?

While in Mesa our lives brushed briefly with an artist. Painting a mural on a building in Mesa.  The mural was a mirage designed to look like a melting building - melting in the Arizona heat.  It took six months to complete it and he and his girlfriend lived in a, not very large trailer, in the parking lot until it was done.  A glance at the worn, sun-faded trailer sitting on the blacktop made me think of one thing, suffering for one's art. 

Don't know if I'm willing to go there but how far are most of us willing to go for whatever our dream might be.  Are we just paying lip service to a dream or are we out there hauling ass trying to make it happen.  I read a blog today that said the only one we can control is ourselves and that's true. 

In the meantime watch out for the brambles and thorns in life - I heard some of them can make you veer just a tad.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm So Alone...We All Are

Travel takes us out of our norm and into the norm of other people and places.  Usually, as tourists, we're looking through the telescope of distance and can only assume what another person's reality might be.  But some days we make contact.

Today, was one of those days.  While feeling our way around our new stomping grounds, we headed into Mesa.  And it was there where our lives knocked up against the life of an older woman on the precipice of change.  She'd just lost her husband and in the throes of fresh grief she was uprooting herself and selling her house and belongings.

The story came out in a few questions that were innocent enough - strangers getting to know each other.  But soon it was clear that we were entering shaky ground.  But grief is a strange beast.  Some of us curl up and shutdown and others of us just want to talk.  We listened as she spoke of a man we would never meet and recounted stories that began with we when it was clear there was now, only an I. 

Reality.  It was in the tears that were so close to the surface and that sad but resigned half-smile on her face.  It was as if the smile was a shadow of a personality in happier times and the house, a reminder of what she no longer had.

I don't know what I'm going to do.

Sometimes storms come out of no where.
Her fear echoed in that sad statement.

Real life - maybe that's why many of us love romances where we're guaranteed the happy ending.  We all know love comes with strings, long sticky, often sorrowful ones.  If you love you may some day grieve.  

It's those feelings that slap us around and knock us to the ground that in the end, and this isn't like it sounds but - are a writer's feeding ground.  I know I was close to tears myself.  It felt like I had been widowed by the death of a man I had never met.  But it is those emotions that I'll remember a year, two or even ten from now.  And while I probably will never forget her, it won't be that woman or her circumstance I'll write about, but the emotion I briefly touched, somehow - somewhere it will be there.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Where in the world am I...?

Where in the world am I...

I know it's a strange question, I should know, shouldn't I?  It seems in the last week or so I've been many places.  It's been a rush of craft/flea market sales, contests and packing, not to mention travel.  And even though I know where I am, I'm feeling slightly disorientated.  I've been offline for awhile, skidding across country borders in search of some nicer weather.

Instead I've ran from warmish-cool fall temperatures and no snow in Canada only to discover the further south we went, the colder it got.  In fact, the snow that we hadn't seen up north was hundreds of miles south courtesy of Blizzard Brutus that was moving in across some of the northern states.  We drove a step ahead of that storm for most of the way, getting caught on icy highways only in New Mexico.  But that's another story and you'll have to bear with me as I backtrack here, there and everywhere.

Somewhere in New Mexico
But weather is what it is and often there's no second-guessing it, unless of course you own a pig spleen or two.  A strange prairies' lore for weather forecasting.

So we're here in Arizona, in one piece, the weather has turned again, for the better, and I'm just trying to catch my breath
It's strange typing this by a pool that I was recently swimming in with temperatures only now dipping enough for a light sweater.  I've been told that home was hit by the long arm of Eh Tu Brutus - read Brutus the Blizzard and a foot of snow landed as temperatures plummeted since we left.  I glance over at the pool and think I'll be glad to just make a straight trade, one pool for a snow shovel.  Somehow I think no one is buying.

Tonto National Forest
Last week internet was spotty because of travel and this week began with no internet.  Finally in a stationary place I set up shop and vacation or not, meant to spend a couple of hours a day at work.  And it was then that I learned how stealthy the internet is as it creeps in and sucks up time.  I won't say much about it as that subject has been written to death but if you want to try an experiment - turn off your internet.  It's amazing how often you just click here or there, checking the weather, the news, your mail.  Short blips of time that are almost automatic.  I didn't realize how many there were until I couldn't connect at all.  After I got over the panic of not connecting, I enjoyed long stretches just focused on one thing, my latest story.

So now that I've wrapped the story up and discovered my synopsis needs a bit of tweaking.  Yes, any story I've ever written makes it a few chapters in before veering ever so slightly from the synopsis. 

I may mull that over some day but in right now I have a new cover to look at.  It seems that although the world outside my window has changed, my laptop still reminds me that other worlds and promised vacations aside - right now there's still work to do.


If you're interested in a bargain read - The e-copy of Ring of Desire is on sale for 99 cents at  And the e-book of From the Dust is on sale for $2.99.  Both are great deals that may not last much longer. 

Illusion of Calm (soon to be released) - the Borneo jungle trembles with life and shimmers with the threat of death as Garrett and her scientific team flee to safety dragging their headless guide behind them.  But in a land rife with predators can she trust the one man who claims to be their rescuer?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dangerous Affairs - A Golden Heart Winning Book!

Today, November 1 - yes, I know, I posted early on Halloween, what can I say, the Halloween Gremlins kicked in.  Anyway, I'm excited to welcome Diana Miller who is making a whirlwind blog blast as part of her book tour with her new book - Dangerous Affairs.  Not only is Dangerous Affairs an exciting sounding suspense, it's also the winner of a Golden Heart!  I suspect that we are about to be mowed over by a good read!  So read on and leave a comment or a question or two - get to know the author and enter to win a great prize!

But before we get into all that, here's a bit about Diana:

When she was eight, Diana Miller decided she wanted to be Nancy Drew.  But no matter how many garbage cans she dug through, conversations she "accidentally" overheard, and attics she searched, she never found a single cryptic letter, hidden staircase, or anything else even remotely mysterious.  She worked as a lawyer, a soda jerk, a stay-at-home mom, a hospital admitting clerk, and a conference host before deciding that the best way to inject suspense into her otherwise satisfying life was by writing about it.

Diana is a five-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award and winner of a Golden Heart for Dangerous Affairs--a romantic suspense novel that shows not everyone in her home state is Minnesota Nice.   She lives in the Twin Cities with her family.

Blurb for Dangerous Affairs:
When soap opera star Abby Langford leaves Los Angeles for her Minnesota hometown, she's hoping to give her nine-year-old daughter the peaceful childhood she never knew.  But instead of tranquility, Abby finds an old knife hidden between the walls of her new house.  Then the nightmares start:  a blood-soaked victim and a killer's arm slicing through the air, again and again.

Abby wonders if she's having the nervous breakdown the tabloids claim she already had, especially when sexy, skeptical police chief Josh Kincaid questions her story.  When menacing hate mail arrives, Josh's professional concern for Abby soon evolves into an intense attraction, and the feeling is mutual.  And now Josh wonders if her psychic visions are of crimes of the past--or a premoninition of terrors to come.

To survive, Abby and Josh must uncover the truth and stop a killer...before Abby's worst nightmares come true.

Excerpt for Dangerous Affairs:

The knife had obviously been there a long time, nestled in the dust bunnies and wood shavings between the walls, in the space one of the two mahogany doors that separated the Victorian-stle living room from the Brady Bunch decor of the family room usually slid back into.  And it was covered with blood.

Abby Langford leaned the broom she'd used to fish out the knife against the wall, then picked the knife off the floor and studied it.  Despite the day's warmth and the sunlight streaming through the picture window, a gloomy chill engulfed the room.  She could almost feel the steel blade scraping down her spine, raising goose bumps on her shoulders and arms.

This knife had killed someone.

Then she shook herself, dispelling most of the prickly cold.  As usual, she was letting her imagination run wild.  This wasn't some menacing murder weapon, but an ordinary kitchen knife, with a nine-inch steel blade and a wood handle that looked parched enough to absorb a cup of mineral oil.  The blood consisted of a few reddish-brown splotches on the blade, splotches that to her looked too dmeared to be rust.  It could be old food, though, something like dehydrated ketchup or oxidized chocolate.  Or even blood, but from a rare steak, not a human.

Another shiver slivered across Abby's shoulder blades.  Because if this were an innocuous kitchen blade, why had someone hidden it so carefully?

Diana will be awarding one $25 Amazon gift certificate to a 
randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Want to read more?  Diana's website link is or check out more about her books or, jump on in and purchase one at Amazon

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology - The Launch!

Today, October 23, I'm excited to be part of the launch of Eldon Taylor's latest book Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology.  I was thrilled a few months ago to be asked to review the book which turned out to be everything and more than I expected.  Head on over to the party launch site now or check out a bit about Eldon, read my review, and get a preview of the fantastic things happening at the launch party first.

Eldon Taylor is the award winning author of over 300 books, and audio and video programs.  He is the inventor of the patented InnerTalk technology and the founder and president of Progressive Awareness Research.  He has been called "a master of the mind" and has appeared as an expert witness on both hypnosis and subliminal communication.

 Here's how Eldon got into hypnosis and subliminal communication and 
how he uses it in his own life:

You have been called the "Master of the Mind" and "one of the world's foremost experts in preconscious processing."   Can you tell us something about your background and how you became interested in hypnosis and subliminal communication?

I think I have always been interested in the power of the mind; early on I read a lot of books on the subject and attended numerous schools specializing in hypnosis.  However, my interest really took off in the 80s.  I was a practicing criminologist at the time and I frequently ran lie-detection examinations.  One of the problems in lie-detection tests is in eliminating the inconclusives--some people are so nervous about the procedure itself, that even though they are innocent, they can give readings that would indicate deception.  On the other hand, some people are very experienced at taking lie-detection tests and they use counter-measures.  I was looking for a way to make the innocent person more relaxed and the guilty person, more tense.

I came across some research regarding law enforcement using subliminal audio programs in a hostage situation, and although I could never verify this, it did give me the incentive to explore this area a whole lot more.  I contacted numerous companies who were producing subliminal self-help programs and I discovered that the whole field was rife with mis-information.  Quite frankly, many of these companies simply did not understand the process themselves, and as a result they were producing products with no retrievable subliminal content, poorly designed affirmations, or affirmations presented in such a way that the subconscious mind could only perceive it as being gibberish.

To cut a long story short, I did my own research and created my own subliminal program for use in my lie detection practice.  The results were phenomenal!  My inconclusives pretty much disappeared and I found myself launching a whole new career.  If subliminal communiation could be so effective in this scenario, what else could we achieve with it?  I created more subliminal audio programs and allowed them to be tested by numerous independent institutions and researchers (such as scientists at Stanford University).  The results were all positive.

My fascination with hypnosis followed a very similar path.  Initially I used hypnosis for forensic applications, but as I learned more and more about the power of the mind, I started using hypnosis for a tool for personal growth.

As my reputation grew, I was called in as an expert court witness with regards to both hypnsosi and subliminal comunication.

You say in your book that self-hypnosis and subliminal communication are the best self-help tools.  Do you use them yourself, and if so, how?

Yes, I use them virtually every day!  The subliminal programs are easy to use as they can be played in the background as you go about your day.  Sometimes I will be working on something specific, say avoiding catching a cold that is going around.  In this instance I use the Accelerated Healing and Well-Being program.  When I am not working on something specific, then I like to keep myself 'tuned up' and will use a program such as Optimism Plus or Quantum Younging.  I actually have a number of programs that I have put on my i-phone, which of course has built in speakers.  This way I can keep my phone in its holster and benefit from the subliminal programs whatever I am doing.

I generally use self-hypnosis twice a day.  I try to take time out to meditate every day and self-hypnosis can really speed this process up.  I can achieve in a 10 minute session what would take me half an hour if I did not use self-hypnosis.  I also use self-hypnosis last thing at night.  It is a great way to go to sleep and also for keeping myself focused on my goals while I am sleeping.


My review of Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology:

Being able to attain your best self by using self-hypnosis to tap into the power of your subconscious is an enticing thought.  And the positively charged, feel-good, dedication to the reader's potential sets you up for a book that doesn't disappoint.  Taylor immediately piques the imagination by exploring the life-altering concept of change.  From there he delves into the history and science of hypnosis in an easy manner that makes you want to read on and lays the groundwork for the book's focus, using self-hypnosis and subliminal techniques to free yourself from self-imposed restrictions on your life. 

Combined with audio recordings that lead you through the process of self-hypnosis, it is a book that is sure to become a reference on many reader's bookshelves.  All in all, an enjoyable and thought provoking read.    Ryshia Kennie

As the kick off to an exciting new book Eldon has lined up a fabulous collection of contest giveaways from many industry experts.   But I can't really say it any better than it's already been said so here's what's going on at the party launch site.  Hope you head on over and check it out!

Join the book launch party where there are over 100 bonus gifts plus the chance to enter drawings to win super-gifts from supporters of Eldon, such as Linda Evans(Emmy nominated and award winning actress), Dee Wallace(award winning actress), Steven Halpern(award winning composer and recording artist) and many more!  This is a limited time event.  Please click here for more details.  

Head on over to Eldon's launch page and read what experts in the field thought of the book, sign up for a chance to win any number of fabulous prizes and even purchase your own copy, which qualifies you for free gifts, and get started today!  Click here to discover where it's all happening. 

And should you want to find out more about Eldon and his other works - there's more here.

Hope to see you there!  And by this time next year - who knows where Personal-Empowerment has taken us!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Left My Suitcase At Home

Plans change quickly and yesterday was no exception.  We'd planned to take Mom to her home town this week but Wednesday was on the schedule.  But this time of year you have to play by the weather and a warm day can easily precede snow flurries or just cold rain and wind.

A gas museum?  It wasn't open.
So off we went.  A short trip really but it takes a while to get past the city clutter that stretches further every year with new subdivisions and acreages lapping the edges of what were once more distant bedroom communities so it seems like endless civilization.  Until - there's always the until, you make that turn off and find yourself on a smaller grid road heading into small town Saskatchewan.  And there it is, acres of what remains of golden cropped fields, the occasional house laying well back from the road and circled by a barn and a clutter of outbuildings.  A herd of cows, a horse or two and endless fields stringing into the distance. 

And just like that we're there.  The small town where Mom grew up, she now swears looks nothing like she remembers.  Except, wait - there's the old hotel and over there is so and so's house.  And, on it goes.

But it has changed.  You can see it in the sleek lines of new homes in a bay to the right and construction that's going on at the local school.  But for the most part it is still quiet without the continual sweep of traffic that we left how many miles behind.

The cemetery is the first stop - the primary reason for that trip.  All cemeteries have a story or two and this one was rife with them like any other.  And having Mom along, she knew a few stories herself.  This one had a special area for the nuns as there was a convent in town - we'll go there later.  It also had, what I had only heard of as a practice in "the good old days".  A practice that reminds us that the old days had a few issues too.  When someone committed suicide they weren't buried in the main graveyard as that was consecrated ground.  Mom told me the story of the poor man who had been driven to kill himself and how he was buried in a far corner of the cemetery.  And sure enough, his grave was still there over fifty years later.  In the city I wondered if he would have been moved by now, back to the main area where he belonged.  Or maybe in the city, it would never have happened. 

So after an encounter or two or three, four, no five - with garter snakes.  The cemetery was alive with them.  We headed to the convent which had been taken over in the usual small town fashion by the post office, a hair salon, judo and dance school and the Mexican restaurant.  It's a restaurant that's been drawing people from all around.  I'd heard of it before we made this trip and eating there was no disappointment.  The restaurant was set up in what had once been the chapel.  Mom, never one to stand back and not ask a question, soon had the owner engaged in conversation of how/who and why.  Why did she come from Mexico and end up in small-town Saskatchewan?  How did she like it?  Well, she said it was a culture shock, of course that was a few decades ago and now she was used to it.  I'd imagine in the early days - the winter alone would be a shock.  And small town life, well I've always said one day I'll try it - short term.  It's different from city life like winter differs from summer and spring from fall.  I don't suppose you know either until you've lived it.
Once the convent - now library/restaurant etc.

So after that it was on to, where else - the town library.  There I discovered the life of a small-town librarian is very different from that of one in the city.  Here, she appeared to be master of her domain.  Heading a wooden desk in a small room with only a dozen or so shelving units full of books.  And after I satisfied her curiosity about the new face in her library, I discovered a few other things; that she knew my Mom and wanted to be a writer.  So after giving her a few writing tips I turned her over to Mom.

And after that - we headed for home.  We'd had a history lesson, ate authentic Mexican food - and it was fantastic. I'm going back for their weekend special one day soon!  All in all it was a short but fun trip.


And the winner of Michelle Garron Flye's October 8 giveaway is: 


Mark your calendars!
Tuesday, October 23 I'm featuring Eldon Taylor and his amazing book Self-Hypnosis and Subliminal Technology.  Stop by and check out the book and the link I'll have up for all the fabulous drawings that you can enter for a chance to win.  And I do mean fabulous drawings...  Really, I peeked.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The System Crashed - I Lost Everything!

It finally happened.  I knew one day it would.  It's just one of those things that you know.  Kind of like if you see that black cat walk in front of you or you walk under that ladder or... yeah they're just superstitions and nothing will happen and nothing does, usually; until it does!

Okay, so nothing was as dire as the title reads.  I suppose I could amend it to "The System Crashed - And I thought I Lost Everything!

Today I discovered that somehow in my cleanup, I'd dumped the entire folder of my first book "From the Dust".   Not only dumped but I emptied the trash well I was at it - irretrievable; at least by me.

The whole file was gone!  I discovered one lone little pdf copy of the published book and after that there was nothing.  It was as if the book had arrived printed and stuck between glossy cardboard overlaid by that lovely cover and nothing had happened before, no first drafts, no revisions - nothing.  Never mind everything else that was stashed in that file from newspaper interviews, to the sell sheet to...

First, I freaked. 

Then I tried to calmly tell myself that it was my first book.  It was safely published.  So as long as I had my good copy of the final published effort and some of the more important documents in hand, it was good.

Who was I kidding?

What else was missing?  I swallowed down a second panic go around by checking my more recent work, still there!  Feeling calmer.  That calm lasted, well not as long as it took to write this sentence.  

It was gone.  Every revision, and revision of a revision, yes, I know I could have dumped three-quarters of that file but it was that one quarter that had be feeling a little sickish.  So sickish that I didn't even consider that memory stick I loaded up last year - that was last year, leave me and my short-term memory alone.

So I eyed the little backup machine that I've never used to actually restore anything.  Fortunately I had used it to backup.  I'd listened to it chug and then give me a view of what it had done with the nice space age foldout of my system files by date spread across the screen that always included the word - restore.  But restore what?


Would I lose what I've done yesterday and today.  Would it do a Tom Sawyer whitewash of it all!   I remember reading that his whitewashing of the fence was rather haphazard.  Okay, so haphazard isn't too good either, possibly worse.  

Hoping for another option but who knew as the sleek little gadget had no findable or even memorable manual.  Hoping for that one saving option - overwrite, one file and one file only - an option yet to be seen, I opened time machine and there on October 9 sat From the Dust's entire folder.

Don't do it.

I had to!  Instinctively I right clicked after highlighting and there it was - the option to restore one file.  From the Dust was saved.  That little backup drive just became my most treasured possession.  Should there be a fire, after hubbie, forget the dog - I'm saving that sweet little device.

I will not be second to a machine!
Okay, really, I was kidding, Rourke.  I promise, in case of any type of disaster,  I'll get you and the device, possibly not in that order, oh - right and a memory stick or two.


I don't think he believes me.  In fact I know he doesn't.  He's ignoring me and heading up the stairs.  I'm not sure what he means to do there but I'm sure it will involve defacing something I hold dear.

Well I'm off to do damage prevention.  Meantime, hang around and check out the sidebar on the left or my website, for sales on both my books and the first contest of the month - both on until October 31!



Monday, October 8, 2012

Where The Heart Lies - Author Tour

Welcome to author, Michelle Garren Flye who is visiting today with her latest release, Where the Heart Lies!!

Stick around and find out more about Michelle and her latest release.  A bonus - not only do you discover a new book in Where the Heart Lies but Michelle will be giving away a 10% off coupon from Carina Press to one of today's commenters at this blog.  And the chances to win prizes don't stop there - Michelle will also be giving a second prize for one randomly drawn commenter over the duration of her book tour - a $10 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of Bartlett's Poems for Occasions, which inspired some of Where the Heart Lies. But, more importantly, today is a chance to meet Michelle and discover a great read!

So first up - a bit about Michelle.

Michelle Garren Flye is a mother, writer and editor based in coastal North Carolina.  She obtained her degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992.  Not liking the hours required of a journalist, she went on to obtain a Master's in Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1977.  When her first child was born in 2000, she packed her diplomas and began a new life as a stay-at-home mom, which fortunately afforded her the opportunity to pursue her writing on a semi-regular basis.

Michelle has served in various capacities for several online and print literary endeavors, including Dark Recesses, edifice WRECKED, Horror Library, Butcher Shop Quartet, and Tattered Souls.

Michelle is the author of three romance novels, Where the Heart Lies (Carina Press 2012), Winter Solstice (Lyrical Press 2011) and Secrets of the Lotus (Lyrical Press 2010).  Michelle also self-published a fiction book titled Weeds and Flowers for the Kindle in December 2011.

Here is Michelle's response to the sentence that we all know can lead one across the world or just around the corner. 

Describe a trip that changed you, whether near or far or:

Life hasn't been quite the same since...

When I was first given the challenge of writing about a trip that changed me, I knew it would be tough.  Every time I travel, something changes, but this needed to be something special.  I considered the trip to the hospital to have my first child, the trip my husband and I made to Bristol, U.K., shortly after we were married, and my first excursion to Las Vegas.  But what I kept coming back to was a much simpler trip.

It happened in the year my husband and I lived in Baltimore.  My little family (my husband, my 3-year-old son, my newborn and me) were scrunched into a two-bedroom apartment where the neighbors blasted their stereos through the paper-thin walls.  It happened that on one early spring Saturday we had nothing in particular to do.  It rained all morning and we stayed in.  By the time the sun came out that afternoon, my 3-year-old was into everything, my newborn was fussy and my husband and I were very short-tempered, to put it mildly.  Making a decision, I grabbed jackets and car keys and ushered everyone out the door with no clear idea of where to go, just to get out.

My husband drove us to Annapolis and we made our way to the waterfront.  if you've never been there on an early spring when it's just beginning to get warm, you don't know what you're missing.  The air sparkles and everyone is just happy to be there, especially after a morning of rain has kept you inside.  I remember we bought ice cream for all of us (except the baby, but he seemed happy to be outside in the sun), and we listened to someone playing reggae drums.  It resonated in me and I looked around at my husband and children and really felt how much I loved them.  It was so wonderful to feel that way after such a fretful day.

Thank you, Once Upon a Time, for asking me to write about this topic.  It reminded me that the simplest trips are sometimes the most meaningful.

Where the Heart Lies

All widowed Alicia Galloway has left of her war-hero husband are the flag that draped his coffin and his final wishes:  to move to his hometown, take over the family bookstore and enjoy a simple, quiet life with their two small children.  When she arrives, her husband's best friend makes that new life anything but simple.  How can she be so drawn to Liam Addison?

Liam only intended to help Alicia get settled.  But one unexpected kiss awakens his long-held forbidden feelings.  Soon, the town busybodies swoop in to warn Alicia away from him.  Because no matter the man he's become, he'll never live down his reputation as town troublemaker and wolfish womanizer.

No one wants the war hero's sweet widow and the supposedly former bad boy together.  But the more everyone tries to keep them apart, the closer he and Alicia get.  And the more determined Liam is to prove he's a changed man.  Will it be enough to convince Alicia to let a new love in her life?

Excerpt from Where The Heart Lies:

Alicia came out of the bathroom, fastening an earring.  She looked amazing in a long black skirt and white silk blouse with her brassy red hair falling over her shoulders.  For a moment he had trouble breathing.

He'd considered bringing flowers, but he'd known what Penny's opinion of that would be, and more importantly he hadn't wanted to do anything that would make Alicia uncomfortable.  Confronted by her beauty, however, his fingers felt empty, as if he needed something to offer just for the opportunity to look at her.  Was this how Aphrodite's worshippers had felt as they left their worldly goods a the feet of her statue in ancient Greece?

Want to read more?  I know I do.

Meantime, lets give Where the Heart Lies a rousing welcome!!  Jump in, find out more about the book or just say hello to Michelle by leaving a comment.  Maybe you'll be the lucky one to win a prize!

And, should you wish to contact Michelle directly, you can find her at:
At her website:  Breathe
And on Facebook at:  Michelle Garren Flye on Facebook

Note:  If the first four comments look funny to you - well due to a technical issue with the first post they were copied over once I deleted the original post to fix the problem.  Enough said - computers sigh!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Author Tour - New Book and a Giveaway

Monday, October 8, Thanksgiving up here in the "not yet frozen North".  Strangely we'll have done all that turkey eating, pumpkin pie thing on Sunday.  It's tradition, at least in our family, that Monday is Thanksgiving and we celebrate on Sunday.  Don't ask why, I don't know.

What I do know is what I'll be doing on Monday.  I'll be hosting author Michelle Garren Flye with her latest release,  Where the Heart Lies.  Stop by and meet the author.  Not only will you get a chance to ask her a question or two but one lucky commenter commenting here at Once Upon a Time... will win a 10% coupon from Carina Press.  Not only that but there will be a second draw for a commenter from any blog over the course of the book tour who will win a $10 gift certificate from Amazon as well as a copy of Bartlett's Poems for Occasions. 

Mark your calendars.  Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Day Another $1.50

Okay so the title has no real reference to anything in this post.  I was just trying not to be cliche.  And it sounded like a good title.   Don' t call every morning my most creative!  But on an obviously less-creative day,  I'm here at my desk pecking away and it's dark outside, dark and chilly.  What happened to those lovely long sunshiny days of summer when the mornings started early and the warm evenings ran late and...quick someone pull me back to reality!

Those days are officially over, that's clear as the furnace rumbles and the trees that keep spitting leaves that cause me to slog outdoors - yes that is slog because my gardening sandals are finally falling apart, and rake.  Wait, didn't I say that was free exercise?  Insert happy smile here - can hardly wait to rake.

Fall.  That time when strangely, while the plants are dying and summer stuff is being put away, we're all rushing to begin new things, start new programs, make new commitments.  With summer behind us, it's time to let go of the old.  In a way, at least for me, I'm more enthused to commit to something new now than I am to make say, a New Year's Resolution.  I know I'm for sure more apt to carry it out.

This year, it feels like there is only more and no new maybe because I haven't signed on for anything like a painting class.  Wait, I don't paint.  Instead there's a new story that is very close to moving from draft to first reader's hands.  And then there's all my side projects related to books that are already published, some ideas I have for one in the middle... and the projects, well they add up.

I've over-committed which only results in feeling overwhelmed.  I suspect much of this feeling is because, as one friend just reminded me on her facebook post, one must get organized.  And as much as I may want to tease her about her organized cutlery drawer, I think she may be right.  Organization does make everything clearer and it's easier to multitask when you have a clear flight path.  So one place I need to start is my computer files.  Time to dump some mail and take a look at the tired versions of stories that never made the cut, or old versions of those that did.  And create some folders for these new projects currently resting in the folder called 2012.

I've been dodging the cleanup thing for quite some time, telling myself that I don't have time.  But as I went through the long list of e-mails, many of which have no relevance to anything anymore, I found my place to begin.  Time to forget about moving everything to a new folder where it can be promptly forgotten, it's time to dump - ruthlessly send to trash and then horrors, hit "empty trash."

Yep, it's time for fall cleanup.  Let go of the old and grab onto some new.  I'm ready to go forth and attack, but first...  Wait, I think the living room walls need a wash down.  Yep, I think I'll start there.

And some of those things I'm working on, I'll post them over on my website and on the sidebar here for any of you that are the least bit curious.

So, anything you're dodging this week?


Friday, September 28, 2012

Buy the book or I'll break... your thumb - not

Hmm - despite what the title says, one doesn't want to resort to mob style tactics to sell books.  Of course, I'm not even built to be a physical threat to anyone anyway - so there goes that option.

 Seriously, what does sell books?  Is it giveaways like bookmarks, pens and lipstick holders?

Hmmm - got more pens then I need and last I looked, the house was flooded with bookmarks, some of them, many of them - mine.  And besides I was trying to simplify.  Apparently that means less stuff!

Okay, so again you ask - what sells books?  Will you quit reading if I say right now I don't have the magic answer?  I don't think there is a magic anything unless you have the name - you all know the name, the one that is immediately recognizable like if Queen Elizabeth II decided to write a book or better yet, any number of music or movie stars.  Wait, what do you mean some of them did?  Sigh - as if the market wasn't flooded enough. 
Ring of Desire - Hot or Not in the Dead Sea?

But what else sells books, since most of us aren't destined for fame or even infamy?  I know the obvious things - market presence, known name to consumers and of course a fabulous product that everyone knows about - and sometimes good old-fashioned luck; right time, right place.

Maybe it's consistency and baby steps that gets the job done.  Like my dad, whose been unable to walk since his accident.  To get him moving again we're going to try, rather than a big push to physio and standing up immediately,  pedaling or moving around using your feet to propel a wheelchair.  But whether he pedals or doesn't, walks or doesn't, it is all dependent on my dad's frame of mind, a dicey thing these days, you'll know if you've been following this blog, but maybe that wheelchair will be the magic number that gets him slightly more independent.
Ring of Desire - Hot or not in Petra?

I think selling books is much like that - keep moving forward - write another book, send out a newsletter etc. etc..  But first,  I apologize to Dad right now for comparing promoting to his walking but I know "back in the day", he'd get it and be the first to say I should use the comparison.  Of course he'd add one of his interesting catch phrases which I won't repeat here.

So lets talk about my latest marketing venture.  My e-books were price slashed on Amazon from $4.99 to .99 cents through to the end of October.   I thought sales would be immediate with a few well-placed online ads.


A - the ads may not be not as well-placed as I thought.  Because on day two, no one was getting it.  So going on the recently read theory, that seven ads equal success (where do they get these numbers?) I carried on - and on, and, on. 

From the Dust/Ring of Desire - Hot or not in Swaziland?
The other day, the numbers on Amazon blipped and then they lurched and then they peeled downward by hundreds of thousands.  Smaller numbers on Amazon are good - very good!  But sitting as far up on the queue as I was means you have a lot of room to move.  And even a few sales can give you a big number jump.  So what happened?

Only one thing for sure - a book sold.   "Heavenly days" as my MIL would say.  Now how many books?  Well, I tried the free trackers and they couldn't even verify what I knew for sure.  So maybe I sold five books or ten or... thousands - okay pull me from my "happy place".  I sold a few and I can live with that if it consistently does that from now to the the end of the month.  Because you know, I may be biased, but they're good stories.  So, meantime I'm going to keep getting the word out and  I'm going to be happy if I can continue to shave a small whack of numbers off my Amazon rating and get my books noticed by their darn algorithm!

And thanks to all of you that took the chance - and forked out .99 cents.  Not bought under diress I hope.  Not that there was any threat to your thumb if you didn't - really.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Blow The Doors Off - It's A Sale!

I'm dancing up and down - a sale. I love sales!! 
The e-book edition of my fantasy romance Ring of Desire and my historical romance, From the Dust are on sale now through to the end of October! Only .99 cents over at Amazon.
From the Dust
Picture it - 1935, the Canadian prairies an economic and environmental dust bowl:

 A widow...
A man with a dream...
A farm they both claim.
Sometimes love can be, so unexpected!
What happens when a desperate widow inherits the same farm that a wealthy man claims?
Eva Edwards has given up a lot of things in her life.  She won't give up the farm.  

Tate Prescott Brown believes farming is something he understands.  So when he inherits a Saskatchewan farm he gets in his coupe and heads for the prairies.

"The plot was so well-written, and the people so endearing that it was impossible to not love this book." The Romance Studio

"Kennie writes beautiful descriptions of the prairie.  She paints a pretty picture of the wheat fields and surrounding scenery.  Within the first page, a dust storm overtakes our heroes and I could feel the sand stuck in my teeth.The Long and the Short of It

Ring of Desire

Whispers of an ancient 
draw them together...

In the medieval land of Hafne, a curse has swept through the land leaving it barren and without hope.  As one of the chosen, Vala watches for signs of the prophecy and with it, the owner of a ring who is destined to fight by her side and drive away the darkness.  The newly arrived Norman enemy is an unnecessary complication in Hafne--and in Vala's heart. unspeakable evil fights
to keep them apart

Giles arrives with his Norman men in time to rescue a mysterious woman from a watery death.  Holding Vala in his arms, the stirrings of destiny and desire begin, binding him to a prophecy for which he surely wants no part--binding him to a search for his true origins and a fight to save his soul and hers.

"Great plot, great writing, great love between the hero and the heroine. Action filled pages that keep the heart pounding sometimes with fear for the characters when evil stalks their shadows and sometimes with excitement as love develops."
And if you've already read both these books pick another on sale book - maybe give a new author - someone you haven't read, a try.  Who knows what can be found in the electronic bargain book bin!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wear Purple And Kick The Devil Out of Alzheimer's

The call came yesterday.

"Your dad's wheelchair is ready."

I never thought I'd be picking something like this up for my dad.  Here's the qualifier, he wouldn't need one if he didn't have Alzheimer's.  I mentioned in an earlier post that he'd broken his hip.  Now he can't seem to remember how to lift himself up.  It's the first step he needs, if he is ever to walk again.  And with muscles atrophying daily, whether or not he will, that remains to be seen.  But that's the reality of Alzheimer's - it brings you down and eventually, it doesn't let you back up. 

101 failed research drugs lay strewn on pharmaceutical floors and after years of research few have made it to market and none change the outcome.  Alzheimers is a tough disease, tough on patients, tough on families, tough to find a cure.  But the fight doesn't end.  People like my dad and all those that made the march before him and those that are now beside him - they are the pioneers, the beacons that remind us that something must be done.

So what can we do?

Raise awareness for one.  And one of the best ways is remembering that this disease has a face and it has feelings - it's about people.  Acknowledge them - like the hospital volunteer that took the time to stop by my dad and talk to him, give him a big smile and a wave and then repeat the whole procedure not once, but three times until she got an answering smile.  And you know, that and a coke - I think pretty much made Dad's day.

This month is World Alzheimer's Month and Friday, September 21 is Alzheimer's Action Day.  Tomorrow is a day to draw notice to this disease and to do that, you can donate to the cause in any number of ways but for most of us it's as easy as doing one thing - wearing purple and telling at least one person why you're doing it.  Even if it's a dibble of purple.  Dig out those hideous purple socks or even a pair of purple underwear if you really have nothing else.  It's the thought that counts although I don't know if you want to mention about the underwear, you know, to strangers.  And no, I don't want to know about the lace trimmed, thong beauties you wore when... enough!!  No more, please... I'm covering my ears.

Friday, Sept. 21 - Purple for Alzheimer's.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Get Your Damn Foot Off That Rake

The rake has disappeared again.  And I need the thing even though the trees are still full of leaves, the ground is covered too. 

A shovel when I need a rake!
It seems a workout program, a mini gym, has dropped into my yard.  The cost, free - just pick up the rake.  This is good for those of us who have been whining that they are in need of exercise.  It's time to get the weight machine functioning again.  Never mind that all it needs is a slight tweaking with a screwdriver.  I have my excuses and you have yours.

It's been a hard summer, maybe that's a wrong descriptor - more like difficult.  And as a result I've let a few things go and I'm not feeling good about that.  This blog for one - no more, it's a new leaf (no pun intended) but the change in a season always seems to bring about that feeling of change.  Twice a week I'll post, I'd commit to more than that but lets see how that goes.

All that space and I'm all run out.
Fall is beginning to coat the mornings with chill and the days with that unique scent that seems to have combined endings and beginnings.  I'm ready for the switch to darker, crisper mornings.   It's a time to get things done - when I'm alone and the world is quiet.  But despite the advent of late sunrise, I'm having trouble settling in.  I set the alarm early as usual and sleep in for forty-five minutes passed that.  I suspect, despite my argument to the contrary, that I'm having trouble realizing that it's time to put my shorts away.  Or maybe it's my flip flops that I'm partial to. 

As far as the story goes - a small glitch, something called the middle.  And as for the rest of it, you know what's to come - I've been thinking as the mornings get colder that maybe when fall's edges harden and the temperature drops, a temporary escape is in order.  Somewhere south, over one border, two, three or four.  Fine, I'll go for one for now, just a small break later in the year.  We'll see how things go.

Check out my website for everything that's going on.  It's a work in progress but this fall looks like it may be busy.
And you, planning ahead?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

To Review Or Not To Review

I've been thinking about reviews.  The subject has come up a number of times lately.  Not reviews of my books.  Not that I wouldn't like more, more reviews and more published books but that's the subject of another day or even another few days.  Today I'm thinking of  reviews of other books.

I've been asked to do a review by two different bestselling authors.  One of the books I've been asked to review is a non-fiction book, completely out of my genre as an author,  but as a reader I devour a lot of non-fiction in a year.  The other is fiction by an author who has yet to write a book I didn't enjoy.  I figure if the universe knocks not once but twice in as many days, then it has something to say.  But I'm reluctant to give it a resounding yes without some consideration, after all review queen isn't my gig - I'd prefer to be considered author.   And wearing more than one hat, well doesn't that just become a jumble?

Besides that, there are other reasons I've been hesitant.  I'm a worst-case forecaster.  I suppose you could translate that to worrier.  I'm terrified that four and five star is an expectation.  And I'm not going to lie, if I like the book I'll let you know and if I don't - is there an opt out clause?  I'm not one to post bad reviews I've had my share of great reviews and I've had one or two ouch remarks, and they smart.  I don't think, never mind - I know,  I couldn't do that to another author.  So I suppose worst case scenario would involve a graceful retreat.  I know lackluster reviews are relied on by many readers to keep it real.  I've heard that too many four and five stars and the book becomes suspect.  And while there may be some truth to that - I'm going to leave the reality checks to someone else.  Meantime I've done some research and from what I can see, if past record is any indication, the opt out clause on either book won't be required. 

Still,  I worry.  I worry if reviewing should be something divorced from being an author.
Am I dancing in another's playing field to even consider reviews?

I know a word of praise from a bestselling author is a coveted commodity on any book cover.  And while those remarks aren't a review, they are words that can sway the sale of the book, like a banquet of flowers or neon lights flashing at the reader. And yes, I know that's a different entity than the review I've been asked for, but it does remind me that authors are allowed to have opinions on books too.

So after consideration I think I'm going to give this a shot.  This isn't going to be the norm by any means, in other words I don't think I'll become a full-time reviewer any time in the future.  Nor will I offer reviews as a matter of form to authors I host.  But every once in a while, I may change things up and do the odd review.  So maybe the next book you read will be reviewed by me.

And as far as those coveted cover quotes.  Unfortunately, so far my world does not include requests for quotes on the front cover.  Maybe next year or maybe in another life. 

Speaking of reviews, this isn't just about me - it's about you too.  Do you know that you don't have to do a full scale review to be a help?  Did you know that even a few thoughts on a book you read and liked, placed on Amazon or other online sites or even your local library can be a big boost to an author?  Next time you read a book you love - leave a sentence or two and a rating.  It's another way to pay it forward.  And as I say that, I have to admit that I've been as guilty as I suspect most of you,  for not doing that.  But I'm changing that up somewhat, starting now.  I won't offer a word on every book but once in a while when one stands out...

So - what are you reading today?  Enjoying it....what about a few online words of praise?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Blogging

I'm blogging over at my agent's blog today.  There's a blurb about me and my writing - just in case you don't get enough of it over here.  Seriously, come on over and keep me company for a while.

It's all at Scott Eagan Babbles.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Middle C Isn't Always Where You Think

Middle C - on a keyboard, there it is plunk in the middle.  On a violin, not quite the same.  It's there but you've got to slide your fingers around a little to get to it.  Of course, one year of training does not a violinist make.  Thus some of those notes - well they needed a bit more sliding around.  But alas, the violin is no more and that - well, it's another story.  But it's not music whose notes were a little off this summer but the health of a  family member.

After breaking his hip and causing some frightening moments thinking he wouldn't make it, my Dad is on the mend and looking healthier than he has in a while.  He's recently taken his pencil out and is attempting to do the Word Searches that he was famous for before his accident and reading his paper, albeit sometimes upside down.  My father has Alzheimer's so it's an up and down battle while he waits for long-term care, trying to make sure that each day is the best for him that life can offer.  

While I'm admittedly tired of the smell and feel of hospital, it's not such a bad place.  That's what the other patients have taught me over the weeks.  Life on the fourth floor is a lot of sameness.  The long-termers, mostly oldsters waiting for an appropriate care facility, all seem to have one trait in common, with the occasional exception, they're people with an ability to make the best of what many would call a bad situation.  Roaming the hallways in convoys of wheelchairs and walkers they're quick to chat or request a favor from wheeling their chair into a favoured position for lunch to lending them a phone to call home to just lending an ear for a chat.   

I suspect many on four remember living on the prairie.
Their resiliency amazes me for I suspect if it were me I would be bemoaning the fates, complaining about the food and overworking the call bell. I think about that as I leave the ward and head home but before I exit I'm surprised by the drawn out, once over look of a man wearing nothing but a flapping faded blue hospital gown and sneakers.   While I skirt as politely as possible around him, I have to bite back a smile.  His pickup technique is in need of work, the gown for one - just not working.  And I'm sure that given the opportunity there's a few little ladies on four that would be wheeling their chairs down to main to set this man straight.

And if you said fiction was more interesting than life - I have a whole crew of people you should be chatting with.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Pay It Forward - Visit a Library

Have you ever considered how books get into libraries?  If you're a frequent cruiser of the library like I am - you might already know.  But if you're not, here's the deal.  Many of the bigger publishers are on an automatic order to libraries across North America.  So if you write for someone like Harlequin - getting into a local library is usually a no-brainer.  But if you're a mid or small-press author it's often a different story.  Often the library doesn't get those books in because they're not on their radar.  This is a huge loss for an author trying to get their name out there and have people aware that they even exist.  Admittedly by having a book in the library the author isn't getting royalties for sales of those books but people are reading them and sometimes that's just as good a tradeoff for future sales.  And in Canada there is the Public Lending Right Program which compensates authors for books taken out from select libraries across the country.  Still, not a royalty, but as I said there's other benefits.

Selling books isn't an easy venture especially if you're that sensitive artist type - we hate rejection probably worse than the rest of the population and often experience it more.  Who wants to add to the heap by going to battle with libraries to please carry your book.  Sometimes they do on the request of an author - sometimes they don't.  But what they almost always do is order a book in on the request of a local reader.  When I find an author whose work I know I'll enjoy, and whose not on the library shelves,  I not only make an effort to get my own copy but I also request the book at my local library so that others may enjoy it too.

When I occasionally host authors I always check to make sure their book made it to the local library and if not I put in an order for it.  I  often do it quietly without mentioning what I've done to the author but one day I had to say something - and that was the day when every copy of the book was on hold with readers vying for the next copy.  I sent an e-mail to let that author know and I think I might have made her day.  I know it would have made mine.

There's many small and mid-press authors to choose from - tons of good reads.  Just the other day I requested White Lies by Jeremy Bates and while I'm first on the list to read it, I suspect I might pass up that option and buy my own copy.

Now there's limits to all this - you certainly can't be requesting books monthly or even biweekly without becoming a hindrance rather than a help to the library.  So while it's a limited tool, it's worthwhile because if I helped a small handful of authors in any given year well, I've paid it forward. 

How did you pay it forward this week?