Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Insanity Workout? Me in a Bikini? Clearly, I've Lost It

I shared my writing resolution with you for this year, but what I didn't tell you is that I made yet another resolution to lose weight and get in shape. I know, I know...not again. I have struggled with my weight my whole life, and I can't tell you how much money I have wasted on diets and exercise plans.

So how would this time be any different? That was my challenge. I was chatting with a friend on Facebook, and he said that the reason most people fail at weight loss (or other resolutions/goals with yourself) is that there are no consequences if you fail. If you don't lose weight, you just continue you on the way you are. No harm, no foul.

As a behavior analyst, this made sense to me. Obviously I'm not very good at changing my own behavior for an extended period of time, and maybe a negative consequence might be just the thing to motivate me (I've already tried promising myself good stuff - didn't work). 

I gave it some thought, and told my Facebook friend that I would make myself wear a bikini this summer. If I lost the weight I wanted to and kept working out, I would look nice. If not...well... He thought that was a good start, but pointed out that I would be around family and friends, which might not be enough public humiliation to keep me honest. He upped the ante by challenging me to post a picture of me in my bikini on Facebook.

That gave me pause. If I failed, would I really post a blobby pic of me muffining out of a bikini on the internet for all to see? After some discussion, I finally agreed. He finished the conversation by simply saying "Done." That one word gave me the impression I had just made a pact with the devil.

He was right though. That deal has made me crazy obsessed with sticking to my diet. I was already in the gym four to five days a week with the kids for their P.E. requirement for home school, so I just had to add in the diet part. How tough could it be? Pretty damn tough apparently. While I'm not old, I'm not exactly young, so my body is hanging on to every ounce despite a strict diet. I knew I would need something more intense (translation: desperate). 

Enter the Insanity Workout infomercial late one night when I couldn't sleep. Even though I had sworn not to spend money on stupid gimmicks, it seemed to be the answer I was looking for, pushing me to burn extra calories, and whipping my body into bikini shape.  

I knew I was in trouble when I had a hard time making it through the fitness test yesterday. Today was the first real workout, and I was sucking wind during the warm up phase. Not good. Thank God I had been going to the gym since August, or I might likely have keeled over. There were incredibly toned men half my age literally crawling for their water bottles during the short breaks. I thought "Insanity" referred to the intensity of the workout. What it really means is: If you aren't a personal trainer, aerobics instructor, or professional athlete, you have to be out of your damned mind to do this.

Normal people don't jump like this without a trampoline. 
It isn't natural.

I made it through the first day. It wasn't pretty, but I survived. However, I forgot to figure in my other gym commitments. I talked my husband into joining the gym this month. I told him that I would go with him in the evenings when he got home from work and on weekends. Add that to taking the kids every morning during the week. Not so bad, but then I added in the Insanity Workout. Perhaps I didn't really think this through. I'm going to have to pace myself. The thought of working out once a day is daunting, much less three times. I don't want to end up looking like this in my bikini:

Not sure this is a chick. Could just be a dude on steroids 
with shrunken junk and impressive pecs.

Thanks to months at the gym, I'm not as sore as I would have been, and I'm seeing the reappearance of muscles I forgot I had. I'm going to try and stick with it. No pain, no gain, right? Stay tuned :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cover Reveal!! -The Rustler's Daughter

I'm not sure what it is about getting a finished book cover that really gets me excited about publishing. I think it's because it is almost the last step, and the cover makes it real. As if I don't believe my story is going to be published until the cover makes it a tangible thing.

I am in the final phase of editing for my new historical/western romance, The Rustler's Daughter. If I haven't said so before, I HATE editing. I think it sometimes takes me longer to edit a book than it does to write it. I have noticed myself slowing down lately, despite my February publication goal.

I decided to take a break and work on getting cover nailed down. It was just what I needed to boost my spirits. I couldn't believe how excited I was when I got the email today. Since this is my third book, you'd think a cover would be old news. It wasn't. This excitement never gets old. I jumped up and down just like I did with my first cover.

I'm so glad I have a chance to share it with all of you. This book was a break from my usual paranormal genre. I wasn't sure how well it would be received, but I have been given so much positive feedback for challenging myself to try something different. I just can't thank everyone enough for all the encouragement and support.

Here is the cover for The Rustler's Daughter. Set for release in February 2013 with a rough draft of the synopsis. Thanks everyone!!

When Hannah Miller's mother dies unexpectedly, she is forced to go live with the father and brother she thought were dead. Hannah has high hopes that her father will be happy to finally meet her, but Roy Miller quickly puts Hannah in her place. She is a burden -  just another mouth to feed, and an ugly reminder of the wife who left him.
Roy Miller's act of desperation puts Hannah at the mercy of his enemies, the neighboring Scott family. Despite the bad blood between their families, Hannah is immediately attracted to Jackson Scott, but he has his own secrets, and feels Hannah would be better off with someone else. When someone else does offer Hannah a way out of her predicament, will Jackson put aside his past and step up, or will his choices force Hannah into a loveless marriage?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Sale: A Secure Heart by Charity Parkerson

A Secure Heart

On Sale Jan 22nd- Feb 5th for only 1.99 

·            Amazon U.S.

·            Amazon U.K.

·            Barnes & Noble

·            Smashwords

Re-released with new cover and edits January 8, 2013

What does it take to secure a heart? For the Smith Security Services team it's Flowers, Chocolate, Wishes, and Sparks!

Flowers: Fashion Designer Flower Calloway's next big show could make her famous all over the world, but she ends up uncovering a few secrets that could break her heart instead.

Chocolate: A quick trip to the store for some chocolate therapy, and a fateful encounter with a few gorgeous men, shakes up F.B.I. Agent Genie Cook's once secure life.

Wishes: For Jacob and Gracie, it is love at first sight, but it will take more than a few wishes to hold them together when Jacob's career threatens to tear them apart.

Sparks: Twin brothers Weave and Bob are hardened fighters, but two special women are going to have them throwing off sparks instead of punches.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Author Spotlight - Valerie Haight

Imagine getting your dream job after college. You're happily married, but hubby's feeling a little left behind. On a business trip, you get attacked. Your husband isn't there, but your hot co-worker is. He saves your life and now the two of you share a bond that threatens your marriage. This is the basis for the book, Happenstance, by Valerie Haight. I just read it, and absolutely loved it. I have to say, I did not know which way it was going to go. The ending was perfect, but you'll have to get a copy to find out. The links to purchase Happenstance are at the end of the blog.

I met Valerie on Twitter, and I was immediately won over by her energetic personality. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she is very generous in supporting and encouraging her fellow authors. I am very happy to introduce to you, my cyberbud, Valerie Haight.

Thank you so much for featuring me on your awesome blog! We connected a long time ago and you can bet there was a reason we didn’t lose touch! I have so much admiration for you and I’m honored to be here talking about my first release, Happenstance.

Turquoise Morning Press picked me up after I queried their After Happily Ever signature line about a year ago. I wrote this story using some of the relationship conflict I witness at my corporate day job and I’m thrilled each time someone tells me they loved the story. Here’s what they’re talking about:

Taryn Ballard is happily married and a newly appointed analyst for a prestigious shipping company.  Her career upsurges in record time but she’s about to discover the real price of corporate life.
While on yet another business trip, Taryn suffers a brutal attack by a carjacker. Her husband isn’t there, but her co-worker Devin is.  The accidental bond Taryn and Devin share pitches them into dangerous and confusing territory. Taryn struggles to discern both her feelings for her sexy protector and Wade's reaction to it all. Unfamiliar emotions blur the rules of the game and Wade's ready to quit.
Taryn must rise above disaster to save her marriage. But is she ready to let go of the man who saved her life? In a single moment, Happenstance changes everything.
I learned to like putting my MC’s through the wringer and when that happened, the party was on. Taryn was so much fun to write because of her constant angst while I wreaked havoc on both Devin and Wade. Yes, I’m awful. J My favorite genres are suspense and romance so I couldn’t resist merging them in Taryn’s story. Here’s an excerpt from Happenstance:

“Devin, it’s Taryn. You were right. The execs want me to meet them for dinner and I feel really foolish because I have a GPS and a connect-the-dot map from the concierge and I’m still lost.”
Devin laughed. “Not a problem. Where are you?”
Taryn took a second to locate the green street sign. “At the corner of First and Third at a tiny, ancient-looking convenience store.”
“Oh, I know the one. You’re right next to us. I could probably see you from the tower window. Okay, which restaurant are you looking for?”
Taryn grabbed the hand-drawn map. “Caminas.”
“I know where it is. Actually, it might be faster by freeway.”
“Of course it would. I just came from—”
An unexpected rush of damp, hot air hit her and Taryn turned, confused to see her door open wide. She sucked in a quick breath and saw too late the arm reaching for her. Terror gripped her as she zeroed in on the gun in her face.

Happenstance is available now at these sites!

Author Bio:
Valerie Haight is a short story writer and contemporary suspense and romance novelist. She is a member of Ozarks Writer’s League where she placed first in a flash fiction contest and a published author with Turquoise Morning Press.

Tweet with me @Valeriebrbr, follow me on Facebook or find out the latest on my Author Page about my upcoming short stories Raeanne Revealed in the Orange Karen Tribute Anthology out in April and Magnolia Brides in a TMP wedding anthology out in June! I also give way more than my two cents on my website

Thanks again, M.E.! Wishing you much success in 2013!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Next Big Thing - The Rustler's Daughter

I was incredibly honored when I was approached by Stacy Claflin to take part in the Next Big Thing blog hop. Read about her book, Deception (The Transformed, Book One) here. I love finding ans sharing information about new authors and books, so I was more than happy to join in. The point is to give published/unpublished writers a chance to share their work and then pass it on to two others who will post the following week for the rest of the year.

1      What is the working title of your book?
The Rustler's Daughter  (Haven't finished the cover yet)
2      Where did the idea come from for the book?
I grew up reading Harlequin romance books and watching western shows on television, so it was bound to come up at some point.
3      What genre does your book fall under?
Historical romance
4      Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm always terrible at casting. It doesn't help that most of my characters are young, and I'm not up on the latest up and coming actors. After a little research, here is what I came up with.
Hannah Miller - Amanda Seyfried 
Roy Miller - Dennis Quaid 
Thomas Miller - Chad Michael Murray 
Jackson Scott - Jesse Metcalfe 
Matthew Scott - Matt Lanter 
Lucas Scott - Josh Bowman 
5      What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Hannah is forced to accept help from her handsome neighbor after her father's reckless decision leaves her in a desperate situation.
6      What is the longer synopsis of your book?
This is just a quick synopsis. I am terrible at writing these, and generally go through several drafts. This is what I came up with in a pinch.
When Hannah Miller's mother dies unexpectedly, she is forced to go live with the father and brother she thought were dead. Hannah has high hopes that her father will be happy to finally meet her, but Roy Miller quickly puts Hannah in her place. She is a burden -  just another mouth to feed and an ugly reminder of the wife who left him.
Roy Miller's act of desperation puts Hannah at the mercy of his enemies, the neighboring Scott family. Despite the bad blood between their families, Hannah is immediately attracted to Jackson Scott, but he has his own secrets and feels Hannah would be better off with someone else. When someone else does offer Hannah a way out of her predicament, will Jackson put aside his past and step up, or will his choices force Hannah into a loveless marriage?
7      Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self published next month.
8      How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I don't have a lot of time to write, so it seems like it takes a long time. If I put the time together, I would say it took about a month to write the first draft.
9      Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I really have a deep love for old western television shows and movies. I used to watch them with my grandfather, and he always went to the Swap Meet (flea market) and pick up grocery bags full of used Harlequin Romance books for me. I used to tell him that I would write one someday.
10   What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I tried to make this book as historically accurate as I could as far as the setting and the culture of the time. It was difficult for a woman to make it alone. They were often dependent on men, but they could  still be incredibly strong. It was a challenge to create a strong female character in a male dominated world.
Next up on January 30th
RJGordon author of Gemini Witching: Elements 101: When strange things start happening to Samantha Carpenter and Emily Hunger, a woman shows up claiming to be their aunt bringing these two strangers together. Her revelations will lead Sam and Emily on a journey of self discovery in a world they never knew existed.
DionneLister author of Shadows of the Realm: Bronwyn and Blayke are two strangers being drawn into the same war. The young Realmists' journey pushes them away from all they've known, to walk in the shadows toward Vellonia, city of dragons, where an even darker shadow awaits.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Author Spotlight - K.R. Jordan

I am always happy to host amazing authors on my blog, so I am honored to have K.R. Jordan. (River Jordan) back. You may remember her from a poet spotlight blog I posted in May. I absolutely love River's writing, and I am very excited to share information about her latest release, Riftglade.

On a clear night, the iced countryside of Overland shimmers in deep purples as it absorbs the light from the stars overhead. But this night, everything is dark as onyx; the occasional gloomy twinkle playing peek-a-boo with eventide.
The currents of the atmosphere sense a disturbance, shifting and shivering as if in expectation of some cyclopean storm. Intruding in the peaceful song of the frozen ebony sleep comes a sweet, but perplexing hum.

At once it is as if the things of nature recognize the color of the exciting hum. The snow covered hills beginning to glow warmly, a rhapsody of inner light coating the frozen tundra. In moments the air snaps to attention, exuding the scent of ancient virgin forests untouched by fae. A mix of pine, cedar and oak, fighting to dominate, release their heady perfume into the ozone.

An obscurity of bright and colorful streaks stream from over the mountains miles away. Red blending into purple; purple blending into indigo; indigo into pink evinces a masterpiece of surrealism.

If you stopped time in that instant before the ancient one was impelled by the Realm of Clouds to reach out and taste fate, you would see an amazing sight. If you hovered in the face of the masterpiece of light and color you would behold the sorrowful expression of an exquisite fairy. Long red hair flowed out behind her as she flies. Drawing your attention would be the reddest lips and the most beautiful blue eyes. Rimming those eyes, which are at once clear and open but deep and dark as well, were the darkest lashes. The whisper of crystalline tear hovered at the edges of those nymph eyes; the tears stretching out with the speed at which she flew. This paragon of beauty is Princess Yaliza, daughter of Vodianyk, High King of All You See.

Come and join Princess Yaliza on her adventure in Riftglade by K.R. Jordan.

She also shared this poem from the preface:

I laid her down in a field of clover
her wanting body I hovered over
dress gathered, seductive at her waist
ahh I saw her thighs, longed to taste

she raised her hips, dress pulled over
and left it lying stoic in the clover
yes, nothing to hinder my view of her
with a whisper she said "come higher..."

she opened herself to me, nothing left to hide
yes no need to play, just to explore inside
freed and pulsing my masculinity her reward
with the heels of her feet she led me inward

I lay my hardness o her place just to tease
she gasps in a breathless tone "take me, please"
without a second thought and boyish grin
I concede to her request, our passion begins

Making love in a field of clover!
These are my dreams, over and over

Clover's Bliss by Gary L. Robinson, 2012

Other work by K.R. Jordan:
Leela in the Red Wine Anthology
Alba in Dark Light
Sweet Enchantment in Blue Fire Heat: ebook, paperback

Author Bio:
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas and spent most of my youth in or near the water.

My father was a fisherman that always had a paperback Louis L'amour in his back pocket. My mother would read anything and everything she could get her hands on.

My own personal love of reading and writing began at a very young afe. I would spend hours at the local library checking out as many books as they would allow.

I write under the names K.R. Jordan or River Jordan. Mostly I write fiction, but I am obsessed with writing a personal history of my family.

I still live on the Gulf Coast of Texas with my family and I enjoy writing, reading, fishing, and the great outdoors.

You can connect with River on Twitter @UniqueRiver or check out her author page on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

J.A. Konrath's Resolutions - No Social Media?

For those of you who don't know J.A. (Joe) Konrath , he is a self publishing guru. He is in the Amazon million dollar club and has a very successful blog, where self published authors (like me) go to read any small piece of advice we can glean in the hopes of duplicating his success.

Every year, he posts his resolutions for the current year on his blog which he adds to the previous years' resolutions, creating a list that evolves with him. Like many other self pubbed authors, I was interested to see what his resolutions would be this year, since he seems to have accomplished nearly everything he has set out to do.

In reviewing his list for this year, it occurred to me that the advice might not be the best thing for newly published indie authors. For the first time, I felt uncomfortable by some of the things he said.

He stated that he had lived long enough to see some of his advice become obsolete, like finding an agent and publisher. While it is true, that finding an agent or publisher is no longer the push for most authors, I'm not sure that I agree with the rest. Konrath said that he rarely uses Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or other social media sites. He also said he is never going to do another book tour or official book signing. He's stopped public speaking and attending events. "Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email." He stated that removing himself from these things has not affected his book sales.

While that may work for him, I think that kind of thinking could be damaging to authors who have not achieved the level of success Konrath has. I'm not at a point in my writing career where I have enough fans to make my PR machine a thing of perpetual motion. I don't think new authors can blow off social media, doing public speaking, attending conferences, doing book signings, and meeting with fans. I'm not sure even established authors should.

Also, the "Get Over Yourself" thing. I know that Konrath is blunt and often irreverent, but one of the great things about self publishing is the interaction and feedback writers get from readers. I don't think you should ignore reviews. Of course there will always be people who don't like your writing, but maybe you can learn something from those reviews. It's also nice to see a good review to know that your hard work was appreciated. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to or enjoying reviews. It doesn't make me self centered or focused on being famous. It is the connection with another person, and knowing that that person liked my writing.

Readers and fans play an important role in our careers as authors. If they don't buy our books, then what's the point? Sure, I can write for myself, and I would continue to write even if I didn't publish. But the moment I hit that publish button, I had a responsibility to readers and fans, not only to continue to write the best books I can produce, but to interact with them and acknowledge their support of my efforts.

With the advent of social media, the ability of fans to interact with authors has become the norm. I do agree with Konrath when he says writing should always be an author's first priority. I even blogged about that subject myself. However, I have seen his resolution blog circulating among other authors, and quotes from his resolutions being touted as the next great Konrath advice, but I worry that new writers may take it too seriously.

Promoting and networking in social media should not come before writing, but I think it is a mistake to cut it out completely; and to relegate fans to email communication. Maybe that is where Konrath is at, and his fans only want his next book and nothing more. In that case, it works for him. As for me, I will continue to chat with fans and authors on social network sites; and if people go out of their way to leave a review for one of my books - good or bad, I will read it.

Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What's on My Kindle? Shadows of the Realm

I'm currently reading Shadows of the Realm, an epic fantasy novel by Dionne Lister. She is temporarily reducing the price from January 8-22. If you love fantasy, don't miss this opportunity to get it before the price goes back up.

Here is the information from the author:

Shadows of the Realm is an epic fantasy for teens and adults. Join Bronwyn and Blayke, two young realmists, and their animal companions, as they are forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known to undertake a dangerous journey towards Vellonia, city of the dragons.

The gormons are invading, slipping through the corridors between realms, and they want blood, lots of Talian blood. Will the young realmists learn enough of the Second Realm magic to prevail, or will everything they love be destroyed?

The first book in The Circle of Talia series is on sale from the 8th to the 22nd of January for the bargain price of $1.99 on Smashwords and Amazon. Grab it and escape into an original and enchanting world filled with mystery, danger, dragons and adventure; you won’t be sorry!