Maimonides and the Question of Modern Ethics

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As told by Moses, Son of Maimon

by

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Ilil Arbel

I rarely use my magic arts or inventions, particularly my skill of time
travel. I am not sure it is an ethical thing to do, and since I don’t
know anyone else who had learned to do so, who can I ask for advice?
Once in a while, I feel the need to study the events to come. This is
only my third time, and I have jumped about eight hundred years into my
future. The year is 2015 of the Christian calendar, and 5775 of the
Jewish calendar. I have never jumped so far ahead before. 


But
this is not all. They have wars, the horror of which even the great
Saladin would not be able to understand. Sadly, the fanatics called ISIS
remind me of the wild Almohades who had destroyed my beloved Al-Andalus
and exiled or killed my entire community. Like the Almohades, ISIS
brutally murders other Muslims, Christians, and Jews, pretending to do
so in the name of God. What God would want to see the innocents
slaughtered? Many of these wars are fought merely for money and power.


Another ethical question is the insane greed the rich are exhibiting. It is worse, much worse, than the habits of the rich in my time. All the money is concentrated in the hands of the few, while the populace is becoming poorer and poorer. Entire nations are losing their wealth to these groups, who do not seem to care at all for their own countrymen and women. Some of the practices they employ in the name of profit I am unable to understand. They seem to be able to employ people on meagre pay in faraway lands, instead of leaving such work in the hands of loyal employees who had served them well. Entire communities have the bread taken from their mouth, while the rich commit excess the likes of which the world has never seen.
They have learned nothing, nothing at all, about ethics. But as I am preparing to go home, I trust that someday in their own future they will see the light. I could not live without hope. 


I have to admit that as a physician, I am very much impressed with their practice of medicine. I have seen people cured from cancer. Artificial hearts save people from certain death. They can create a natural immunity to future diseases by using certain serums. But despite such wonders, they allow those who cannot pay die from illnesses the physicians could cure. I simply cannot understand that – in my time, a good physician would treat them for free. In my own practice, I set aside a time each week for people who cannot afford to pay.

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Ilil Arbel is the author of
a number of fiction and non-fiction books, including biographies, memoirs,
novels, and mythology/folklore. She has also written articles, short stories,
and Judaic myths.

Arbel has a Ph.D. in the
field of mythology and folklore but has also devoted much study to her special
interest in Jewish history, biography, legends, and myths. She is currently
engaged in writing the biography of Hillel the Elder, the first century B.C.
leader and religious scholar.

Dr. Arbel was born in Tel
Aviv, Israel. She has lived and studied in Tel Aviv, Paris, and New York and
currently resides in Manhattan.

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 Moses, Son of Maimon

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Born into a distinguished family in medieval Cordoba, Spain, the young Moses Maimonides was quickly recognized by his teachers for his outstanding intellectual abilities and extraordinary versatility. At the age of twelve, when his peaceful world was shattered by war and persecution and his family was forced into exile, his religious and secular studies continued. Despite the years of wandering and the harsh conditions, he also developed into a writer and wrote extensively until the end of his life.
 

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After years of wandering and relatively short stays in Morocco and Israel, Maimonides and his family settled in Egypt. The Jewish community quickly recognized his genius, and after completing his important book, the Mishneh Torah, he was recognized internationally as the chief religious and legal authority of the entire Jewish world. He produced many books on diverse subjects such as philosophy, law, religion, and medicine that are considered extremely important to this day by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. Despite experiencing loss and controversies, Maimonides rose to eminence as both the official head of the Jewish community in Cairo and the private physician to the sultan and his court.

His world was full of contradictions. A man who abhorred excess of any kind, Maimonides nevertheless lived as a member of a glittering society. Cairo of that time was full of art, music, literature, elegant fashions, priceless jewelry, and sophisticated food. He moved among the sultan’s wealthy advisors and the elegant ladies of the royal harem during the day, and among the Jewish scholars in the evening. He was accused of supporting corporal punishment for wives, and at the same time, people gasped at his revolutionary defense of women’s rights.

His fame brought controversy that is still raging—eight hundred years after his death. At certain times his books were banned and even burned at the stake. But no one could ever deny that his work was that of a brilliant innovator and scholar who could reconcile religious traditions with science and philosophy like no one else.

Social Media and its impact on us all

 Will Shakespeare asks, “What do you read, my Lord?”
by
Susan Obijiski

You
are reading this blog, so it is safe to assume that you are a regular
participant in the social media world. You are not alone. The world has
embraced the social media phenomenon as a means of communication and
sharing. As an author, I share my thoughts through my books, and comment
on life, purpose and the world, in hopes of connecting with kindred
spirits and offering hope and insight to my readers. I also maintain a
number of blogs (Common Sense, Legacy of Dreams,
etc). These blogs provide the opportunity to express myself, and to
focus on my interests and on writing. I can engage other authors and
aspiring writers, and share my interests and opinions with people who
browse blogs and participate in social media.
BN | Amazon
It is true that social media, blogging and other internet
sharing provide value to the world, but that value does come at a price.
There are a number of things that concern me about the world of
blogging and social media, and I will share a few concerns with you
here.

First, I believe that those who come after the Millennial
generation will suffer the consequences of being raised on social media.
Already, we see the results of social media fever, in the form of arm’s
length socializing, poor social skills and shortened attention spans.
Our children are less able to socialize face-to-face and less likely to
get out there and exercise, or discover the world on their own terms. We
play games online and even select prospective romantic partners. How
many times have you gone out to dinner and watched the people at the
next table texting or looking at their phones instead of talking to each
other?

Then there’s the problem of anonymity. We no longer have
to face the people we talk to, so we can remain anonymous when we snipe
at others and revel in character assassination. That anonymity has
blossomed into intolerance for other people’s opinions and polarized the
world, rather than showing us our commonality.

Reading blogs,
getting news online and browsing through social media sites also
creates a crowd mentality that suppresses the natural human tendency to
think for oneself. We read something and assume that the person
expressing an opinion is an expert, or they have more information about
the topic than we do, and therefore we should listen to that person. In
many cases, that is a rash assumption!

Lastly, social media and
blogging has accelerated the decline of grammar, spelling and good
writing. We always seem to be in a hurry to express our opinion, so we
don’t bother to choose just the right word to describe how we feel. Our
vocabulary is shrinking, and our spelling, punctuation, capitalization
and grammar is appalling! That might not seem to be a big deal, but
exposure to good writing and a good turn of phrase creates
thought-provoking debate, and conversation. Eloquent writing and speech
encourage independent thinking, and expression, and nurture the next
generation of writers, artists, poets and thinkers.

So, get
out there in the world and experience life for yourself, rather than
seeing the world through the filter of social media. And, the next time
you jump online, take the time to think about what you are reading, and
form your own opinions. Then, think carefully about what you want to
say, and express yourself with eloquence, maturity and respect.
Blogging, social media and mass communication do not have to contribute
to the downfall of civilization. Rather, these tools can be used to
encourage intelligent thought, rumination and eloquence of expression!


Susan Obijiski is the author of the ‘Legacy of Dreams’ metaphysical, fiction book series, including, ‘Dreams of the Many’, and ‘Dreams of the Few’, as well as a contributing author for ‘Sedona Awakenings’. She lives in beautiful Sedona, Arizona with her husband.
  Introducing DREAMS OF THE FEW
the second instalment of Legacy of Dreams series
 Renowned New York stage actor Brody Murphy must put aside his life and
career, and step into a dream world to rescue Casey Wheeler. After seven
years of sobriety, and a new life with his wife and son, Brody is faced
with the prospect of returning to the nightmare world he once escaped.

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Once again, renowned
New York stage actor Brody Murphy must put aside his life and career, and step into
a dream world to rescue Casey Wheeler. After seven years of sobriety, and a new
life with his wife and son, Brody is faced with the prospect of returning to
the nightmare world he once escaped. But this time the stakes are even higher;
without Brody’s help, Casey is likely to die.

This journey will be
the most challenging of Brody’s life. No one can help him find Casey and return
the boy from the desolate landscape of the dream. While his friends and loved
ones attempt to support him from afar, Brody grapples with sobriety, repressed
memories, and a lifetime of fears and demons that threaten to sabotage Casey’s
rescue and the very fabric of Brody’s sanity.

Can Brody find Casey
before it is too late? Can Casey and Brody emerge from the nightmare, whole and
unbroken?

Dreams of the Few is a
story of friendship, love and devotion. It is a reminder that our purpose in
life is to learn, and that we learn best from our trials and challenges.

“Remember, it is
not the destination, but rather the journey that is the lesson and the
prize.”

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Amazon | Smashwords | Publisher site

Excerpt – Dreams of  the Few

Michael held his breath, and waited. By the time he identified the sound, it was too late to run. The wolves emerged from the shadows, their fur illuminated with an iridescent glow that seemed to come from within. The pack leader was a massive beast, with eyes the color of charred steel. The animal stepped forward, and his pack lingered in the shadows. Michael stood his ground, and met the animal’s gaze with resolve. The wolf moved forward with stealthy purpose, never taking his eyes off his prey. His lips drew back to reveal razor sharp teeth, and he issued a low, guttural growl that raised the hackles on Michael’s arms. The wolf turned his head slowly to the left, and then to the right.

“He’s communicating with the pack,” Michael thought.

The covey of brothers assembled around the pack leader, and looked to him for a signal. The pack leader dipped toward the earth, and rested on his front legs, ready to lunge. He glowered at Michael, and ran his tongue over his exposed teeth. It was probably his imagination, but it seemed to Michael that the wolf’s eyes had turned from gray to scarlet. He watched as the color of the wolf’s eyes shifted and spiraled, morphing with a glassy madness that threatened to pull Michael into the abyss. The animal lifted his chin, and glared at him, its teeth bared in a hideous smile.

The broad muscles in the wolf’s shoulders bunched and tightened, and he lifted off the ground, and lunged with terrifying precision. Michael stared into the open maw of the beast, and wilted from its burning breath. He spun away, narrowly avoiding the first snap of the wolf’s jaw, but the wolf circled to the left, and cut off his escape, grabbing at his outstretched arm, and locking its jaw around the bone. Michael fell hard. The pack closed around him, and the world stalled. The wolves moved in slow motion, descending on him with bared teeth. Michael waited for the pain, but there was none. The pack leader climbed onto his body, ripping at the flesh on his hip, with violent abandon. Still, Michael felt nothing. He was tumbling – winding into a kaleidoscopic tunnel – where the earth was no longer solid. He rolled onto his back, and fought for his life. He could feel it coming. His muscles failed, his arms fell to his sides, and his breathing slowed. Michael opened his eyes, and fixed the pack leader with a determined glare. The wolf hesitated, then pushed his snout closer to Michael’s face, and cocked his head, as if he was about to ask an important question. The animal’s fur glowed with an alien brilliance that defied description. The massive muscles in his shoulder girdle rolled and tightened under the skin. The wolf curled his upper lip, and bared his large fangs. Between the seconds, Michael had enough time to wonder at the animal’s pristine dental hygiene. The wolf’s eyes turned blood red as he dove to the right, and fixed his iron jaw on Michael’s neck. Michael rolled into the dream, and knew no more.

Sound Off Time: Why Social Media’s Da Bomb!

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by
Millenia Black
A
s
we all know, times are ever changing, ever improving. When I was a kid growing
up in the 80s, I had no clue the Internet was on its way in with a vengeance!
And in the early 90s when I discovered and fell in love with Sidney Sheldon
books, I couldn’t have imagined that one day I’d have the ability to simply
boot up a laptop and shoot him a hero-worshipping e-mail—which I did many years
later and nearly keeled over when he actually replied personally!

So connecting, bonding and sharing our passions
with each other has never been easier—or more fun—than it is today. I remember
when you actually had to sit down, write letters, lick their envelopes, then stamp
and mail them off to New York publishing houses c/o of your favorite authors to
let them know just how much you loved their books, or even to invite them to a
conference call with your book club.

Amazon
And as a writer, it’s amazing to be able
to get a kick in the proverbial butt from your readership when you’ve spent a
little too much time in the procrastination currents and not enough in the flow
of inspiration and creativity. As such, RAINDROPS ON ROSES is my first novel in
eight years! The Great Betrayal came
out in late 2006, and since then there’ve been several dedicated fans who’ve
found me on Goodreads, Facebook, or on my website asking whether or not I was still
writing and when the next book would be coming out. I can’t tell you how much those
pings inspired me to pick up my pen, get back in the game and reacquaint myself
with my trusty old muse.

Currently, I’m enjoying the heck out of Pinterest! It’s too bad the site
wasn’t around when I published my earlier novels because creating a board for
the Favorite Things Trilogy has been loads and loads of fun! Visual aids never
go out of style, do they? And so my readers get to check out the characters’
sense of style, the cars they drive, the music they listen to and of course—lots
more of their favorite things! It’s pretty neat!

Now I know there are those who say social
media’s dumbed us down or made us lazy, but to that I say we need to accentuate
the positives and eliminate the negatives! The pluses far outweigh the minuses
when it comes to the convenience and ease of connecting and sharing with
others, whether they be long time friends, family members, or a new reader
who’s discovering your books for the very first time…

Cheers to socializing! Let’s
connect, bond and be merry!

 From the #1 Bestselling Author of THE GREAT PRETENDER comes a highly anticipated new trilogy! Love, Loss, Jealousy and Vengeance — A Razor-Sharp Love Triangle For the History Books! 

Book One of the sizzling new FAVORITE  THINGS Trilogy  
What happens when the man you love, falls in love with someone else?

Buy now! Amazon
Mayfair Island, Florida. Grief-stricken
after the sudden loss of her beloved grandmother, an enduring but
reclusive Hollywood icon, young Priscilla Bauer finds herself adrift and
looking to find solace in the arms of her vast inheritance, when she
meets the kind and considerate corporate brand designer, Michael Frost—a
drop dead gorgeous beacon of light in her all too dark night.

Falling
hard and falling fast, Priscilla has no idea she’s stepped into
dangerous territory…Because someone else has already branded Michael
Frost her very own—and she has no intention of ever letting him go.

Passions are high, but bitter vengeance gets even higher!

With RAINDROPS ON ROSES, the captivating Favorite Things Novella Trilogy—takes flight!

About Millenia Black:
Millenia is the bestselling author of the novels THE GREAT
PRETENDER and THE GREAT BETRAYAL. She loves to tell a compelling story
and is an avid reader. Heralded as a double life and relationship
expert, she’s been a featured guest on radio shows across the country
discussing the 7 SMOKE SIGNALS YOUR MAN IS LIVING A DOUBLE LIFE, a nifty
e-book guide everyone should have!

Millenia is an alumni of
Keiser University and was born and raised in Florida where she still
resides today. She is currently working on BLUE SATIN SASHES, book two
of the sizzling FAVORITE THINGS trilogy!

Currently unmarried, Millenia has never dated anyone living a double life…she thinks.

Five Facts about Renegades

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by
S.A. Mason

1. Renegades was actually inspired by the television show Firefly. The short-lived show was much different than other science fiction shows; it really broadened my traditional notions of science fiction and helped me think outside of the box to just combine the things I was interested in. I had always heard the advice to write the book you’d want to read, and Firefly really helped me do that. I wouldn’t call Renegades fanfiction because it takes place in a whole different universe with new characters, but the Firefly inspiration is definitely noticeable, if you’ve seen the show. (If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it immediately.)

2. I spent almost four months doing world creation and developing the characters before I even made an outline. I wanted to know every detail of the world and people I would be writing about. Once the outline was done, I wrote 1,000-1,500 words a day and finished the first draft in two months. Renegades wasn’t published until almost a year after that because I couldn’t stop editing.

3. I had originally named the protagonist Elena, but as I was doing my character development, I read the 50 Shades of Grey series, and one of the characters was named Elena, so I changed her name to Elora. Not only did I not like Elena’s character in 50 Shades of Grey, but since that series was so popular, I didn’t want any kind of association with it. In the end, I’m glad I went with Elora. It’s not a very common name, but still pronounceable, which was what I aimed for with all the character’s names.

4. Nigel is my least favorite character. I find him to be very needy, annoying, and immature. But I think his character is necessary for the book to unfold how I wanted it to. His skill set is obviously necessary, but for him to stick with Elora through everything, I felt like he had to be in love with her. His level of dedication had to be more than friendship.

5. I decided to forgo the traditional publishing route and self-publish Renegades mostly because I’m impatient. Querying agents and securing a publisher can take years, and I wanted my book available as soon as possible (and my mom wouldn’t quit asking me when she could read it). The actual writing, editing, and publishing part of self-publishing wasn’t as hard and time-consuming as I thought it would be. Marketing, on the other hand, takes up more time than expected.

Introducing…


RENEGADES

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Amazon | BN | Kobo Smashwords
Elora Pertin spent her life trying to please her father, an esteemed General for the Empire.

When he convinced her to leave her quiet life as a scientist to advance a secret project for the Emperor, she had no idea what she was getting into. The seemingly innocent projects she engineered were actually being used to develop a genocidal weapon. After uncovering the Emperor’s plot, Elora had no choice but to act.
Elora finds herself fighting for her life against the Empire she once served, abandoning everything with only a handful of friends and an unlikely ally—the Emperor’s deadliest assassin. Will he prove himself true as her protector, a loyal servant of the Empire, or a romantic distraction? With the law and assassins searching the star system for them, Elora and her team are determined to accomplish their mission . . . or die trying.
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Sara Atherton Mason

Sara Atherton Mason was raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, with an amazing immediate and extended family. 


She attended Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, graduating with highest honors in Chemistry. She then graduated from the Florida State University College of Law with high honors. 


She lives in the Florida with her toy poodle, Melvin, and clerks for a United States District Court Judge. She enjoys coffee, wine, sports, and science fiction television shows.

Writing YA isn’t about censoring but more about communication

by
Barbara Kloss

There has always been something magical to me about YA novels. It’s not any one thing in particular, but if I had to focus on one, I’d say the main reason I love both reading and writing in that genre centers around the themes YA tends to deal with. Themes like discovering yourself and finding love for the first time or finding the strength to stand up for what you believe. It’s during that period in life where we really find which platform to stand on. Where we truly begin the course that helps define the rest of our life. I love watching characters (and people) grow into who they were made to be and find the courage within themselves to become who they truly are, and YA, for the most part, tends to dwell there.

But what “can” and “can’t” you write about for YA? I’m pretty sure anything goes, these days.

YA has changed so much over the years. The lines defining things we “can” and “can’t” write about seem to have, well, gone, and more and more often I find myself reading something that surprises me, considering YA is “technically” ages 13+. YA has become more inclusive of what may have traditionally been referred to as “adult themes,” because YA isn’t just read by teens anymore; adults make up a large percentage of the YA readership. Twilight is proof of that.

For my own writing, however, I draw a line, but it’s not because I don’t think the YA readership “can” or “can’t” handle certain subjects and situations. It has more to do with who I am as a person. Even as a reader, I tend to enjoy books that lean toward the “more censored” side. It’s not that I like pretending certain aspects of the world don’t exist. I know they do; I just don’t like reading about them in great detail when I can get the idea in a few words or sentences. I also have a fairly happy disposition, so while I might appreciate darker novels, I don’t typically enjoy reading books with a tone that dwells on the darker side of humanity, unless there is some great redemptive quality at the end.

Over the years, I’ve really had to think hard about the idea of what I “can” and “can’t” write about in YA. But again – YA has changed so much, and I’ve realized it’s more a question of what I “want” or “don’t want to” write about, and the answer to that question is so different for every writer. Once I answered it for me, I realized that my answer would have been the same had I written for middle grade or new adult or adult.

It’s less about censoring myself and more about what I’m trying to communicate. As much as I write for me, I also believe that I have a certain responsibility to those reading my stories, and now that I have a toddler, I’m feeling the responsibility of that even more. Do I want to write characters who learn the importance of forgiveness? Or do I want to write characters who desperately hold on to grudges and seek revenge? Do I want to show how important mercy is? Or write an emphasis on judgment prevailing? What kind of person is my hero or heroine? What lessons or sense of morality am I trying to convey? I mean really…what is the point of this, anyway?

There is such a rare and very beautiful relationship between author and reader; what am I REALLY saying to others about what I think is important in life? In relationships?

But how does that specifically apply to YA? I love the voice of YA. How raw and real and honest it is. I love its emotional potency and the focus on relational dynamics and personal growth, and I love that emotional connection I tend to feel more with YA than any other genre. Probably because there will always be a little teenager inside me, and I think that’s true for most of us. Pretty much anything goes in YA fiction these days, and I think as a writer, deciding what you “can” and “can’t” write about is more a matter of personal preference.

Introducing…
Breath of Dragons

After Prince Alaric’s death, Daria and Alex set off in search of the legendary box of the Pandors’. The box is famed to hold a secret of power—one strong enough to overcome Lord Eris and the shield of power he stole from Valdon. Daria doesn’t know where the box is hidden, but she can’t ignore the silent urging, beckoning her to the land of Pendel—the land her mother, Aurora Pandor, was from
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Time is running out. Lord Eris’s army of shadowguard vastly outnumber Valdon’s forces, and if Daria doesn’t find the box in time, Valdon will need reinforcements from the other territories to survive. But those territories will not hand over their armies willingly, not without Daria’s hand in marriage. 

And there is another, older power rising, one that hasn’t been seen in centuries—one thought lost since the days of Galahad: the dragons.
Barbara Kloss studied biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, and after she began working in a clinical lab, found herself daydreaming about far off lands and slightly deranged wizards. She, her husband, baby boy, and Lhasa currently live in Arizona, where she escapes the summer heat by writing about lush vegetation and moderate to cold climates. Author of the Pandoran Novels, a YA fantasy series.

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Excerpt from Breath of Dragons

Sal left, and Alex put one hand on my waist, took my hand in his, and led me into the next dance.
“Where have you been?” I hadn’t meant the words to sound accusatory, but they did.
Alex raised a dark brow, looking a little startled by my outburst. “Where I always am: keeping both eyes on you, and that seems to require a lot of energy these days.” His gaze trailed after Sal, who had already found another morsel to snack on in the form of one of Alex’s groupies.
“You said he’s a thane?” I asked.
Alex nodded, his gaze drifting back to mine. “He governs the land on the western shores. He is Mercedes’ nephew. He will be furious with me for cutting in like this, but I couldn’t help it. He looked like he was about to eat you alive.”
“How do you know I wasn’t about to eat him alive?” I teased. I tried pulling Alex closer, but he firmly held me back at an appropriate distance.
“Careful, your grace,” he said, eyes locked on mine.
He was setting the precedence for our conversation tonight. He was holding up barriers and urging me to stand behind them. He was reminding me that I was a princess and he was my guard, and that I had better act that way.
A new piece started, much slower than the others, and the melody had a kind of lilting and heartbreaking quality to it. I tried not to take it as any kind of symbolism. Still, the dancing slowed and couples moved closer. Even Alex pulled me close, sliding one arm around my waist, and I was distinctly aware of the warmth soaking through the fabric of his sleeve and onto my bare lower back.
“How are you feeling?” Alex asked. His expression was carefully stoic, but his eyes were layered in concern.
“Well, if you must know, I feel a little bit like a pinwheel. Much more twirling and I might just twirl myself right off the edge of this balcony.”
Alex grinned. “We don’t have to dance. I could escort you back to—”
“No.” I held him tighter, gazing defiantly into his eyes. “I missed my turn last time, and I’ve regretted it ever since. But I am a little surprised you’re allowing this…?”
“Allowing what, exactly, your grace?” Even behind his walls of formality, he made the words your grace sound like an expression of intimacy only lovers used.
“Us dancing together.”
“Ah.” He was so controlled and elegant. “I didn’t see any harm in it, considering I’m your Aegis and that you’ve already had your fair share of attention this evening.” There was a glint in his eyes that made me certain he’d heard Sal’s proposition.
“And I see that you’ve had yours.” I glanced askance at the group of girls watching us, clearly unhappy that I’d stolen their shiny new toy.
Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


“Allowing what, exactly, your grace?” Even behind his walls of formality, he made the words your grace sound like an expression of intimacy only lovers used.
“Us dancing together.”
“Ah.” He was so controlled and elegant. “I didn’t see any harm in it, considering I’m your Aegis and that you’ve already had your fair share of attention this evening.” There was a glint in his eyes that made me certain he’d heard Sal’s proposition.
“And I see that you’ve had yours.” I glanced askance at the group of girls watching us, clearly unhappy that I’d stolen their shiny new toy.
Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


“Us dancing together.”
“Ah.” He was so controlled and elegant. “I didn’t see any harm in it, considering I’m your Aegis and that you’ve already had your fair share of attention this evening.” There was a glint in his eyes that made me certain he’d heard Sal’s proposition.
“And I see that you’ve had yours.” I glanced askance at the group of girls watching us, clearly unhappy that I’d stolen their shiny new toy.
Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


“Ah.” He was so controlled and elegant. “I didn’t see any harm in it, considering I’m your Aegis and that you’ve already had your fair share of attention this evening.” There was a glint in his eyes that made me certain he’d heard Sal’s proposition.
“And I see that you’ve had yours.” I glanced askance at the group of girls watching us, clearly unhappy that I’d stolen their shiny new toy.
Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


“And I see that you’ve had yours.” I glanced askance at the group of girls watching us, clearly unhappy that I’d stolen their shiny new toy.
Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


Alex followed my gaze then whispered, “It’s nice seeing you jealous.”
I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


I let out something of a snort. “Well, I could just put an end to it by ordering you to dance with me the rest of the evening. I’m not so sure I want to share you.” I tried to move in a little closer, but Alex’s grip firmly held me back again.
“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


“I’m sorry, your grace,” he said, his eyes glittering like emeralds, “but I would have to politely refuse those orders.”


It’s All About The Mornings

A Day in the Life of…
Elizabeth Myrddin 


I work a full time job. Thus, my writing must be scheduled so that it becomes part of my regular daily routine. A work shift of 11:30am to 8pm enables me to write in the mornings. This early-to-rise habit is easily applied to weekends and holidays, whenever feasible.

I attempt creative productivity in the mornings at least five days per week. Some weeks it is less. In other weeks, I go into the zone and amass a nice chunk of chapters, or, in the case of short stories, some workable drafts. A typical day in the life of this author goes something like the below:

6:30am: The alarm goes off. I shut it down and ignore the morning for about fifteen to twenty more minutes. My cat starts acting noisy and mischievous around the apartment because she has also heard the alarm and wants food.

7:00am: The cat has been fed. A pot of coffee has been started. As I wait for the pot to brew, I open my laptop and review the most recent section or chapter I’ve written. And only that chapter or section. This helps shift my focus from a sleep-daze into a creative headspace and also prevents me from entering the dreaded “endless re-read and re-edit” cycle.

Does that cycle sound familiar? It was so difficult to train myself to refrain from a complete re-read of the WIP each time I sat down to write. My attention would fixate on previous chapters in a vicious circle of re-reading and re-editing, over and over. Time drifted by and no new sections were tackled. Now, only the most recent section of writing from the previous session is allowed a review for modification. Then I get a cup of coffee (or a second one, if I’ve already downed a cup) and begin a new section of the novel or current WIP.

For the next two to two and a half hours, I write.

After that, breakfast, shower, time to get ready and leave for work. On weekends, the same routine occurs before I leave the apartment for the day. I rarely write at night. I’m usually busy with other things.

What about the rest of the day? Well, if ideas for scenes or plot points or story arcs come to me during the day while at work, or just out and about, I carry a notebook so I can jot notes. These are then added to or outlined in the manuscript later. If I like them, they are expanded upon or merged into the piece.

In addition to a full-time job, I have an active social life. Over the years, I learned to limit my diversions to prevent the creative output from becoming fallow. The active social life is a tricky area for me because I am inspired and receive many of my ideas for storylines and characters through my real world interactions and social activities. To stay home, seclude myself, and focus only on the WIP would cause the well of inspiration to dry up. The stimulation required to motivate me would short-circuit, and my enthusiasm to get the words onto the paper (or onto the laptop screen), would shut off.

A balancing act. That is essentially what a day in my life is like. At the moment, I am about six days behind on my NaNoWriMo word count. (I am drafting my second novel in the Naked Eye Series using the NaNoWriMo method). That is atrocious! However, the Thanksgiving holiday looms. I intend to use those extra days off to immerse myself – to partake of the very seclusion I tend to avoid, to make the strides necessary to finish at least a 50,000 foundation draft for my current WIP.

Mornings are my creative high tides. When is your creative high tide and how do you tailor it into your everyday life? 


Introducing…
Fun is for Shallow People
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Parlors, petticoats, and poison! 

A half-empty bottle of absinthe and a dead man in costume are found in a drifting rowboat. As Detectives Ted Rose and Alexa Sheldon unravel intrigue and ferret out motive, they bump up against the heaving bosom of theatrics that is the Laurel Bay Costume Society. Soon, a group of suspects emerge from the clique of unconventional people. 

Two beautiful women seek to influence the proceedings. One is Trina, the blond, wanna-be femme fatale. The other is Yvette, the cunning, red-haired scene queen. Yvette and Trina turn their battle for social standing among peers into an extreme sport as they try to sway the investigation. 

Ted and Alexa are determined to out-maneuver the manipulators in order to crack the case.
Elizabeth Myrddin

Elizabeth Myrddin works, lives, and plays in beautiful San Francisco. She writes for enjoyment and because the individuals and experiences that pepper her life, for good or for ill, inspire her. Although her writing tends to lurk on the darker side of storytelling, she finds the soft-boiled pulp mystery subgenre appealing. Fun Is For Shallow People is her first full-length novel. The penning of Part Two of the story is already in progress.

Excerpt One (300-500 or so Words): From the opening chapter/scene.

Detective Ted Rose sat on a bench on the dock and tried to ignore the chill mist that swirled around him as he entered notes using an iPad.

adrift rowboat on lake pulled in by mgmt. contains one dead adult male in costume.

His work partner, Detective Alexa Sheldon, studied the boat and he heard her remark, “Interesting.”

She joined him and by way of greeting said, “So we have, apparently, a dead fop. Or rather, a man in a foppish costume, but still very dead.”

Ted glanced up as she pulled on a black wool beret and opened an umbrella. He resumed typing after acknowledging her presence with a faint smile. Ted had worked with Alexa for eight months. The early weeks of their partnership had been tense. His reserved, aloof demeanor frustrated her, he knew, but he had eventually relaxed his guard. They were finally getting know each other a little better. Or rather, Ted allowed himself to be more communicative.

Alexa held out the umbrella so that it sheltered them from the sprinkling rain. “What’s the word on this situation?”

Ted felt her lean over his shoulder to read the screen. He shrugged. “I don’t have much yet. I met the owners, Martin and Eunice Caldwell. They’re married and Parrot Lake Boating has been their business for thirty years. Martin said a bunch of costumers held a gathering in the lake area yesterday. After the party, they left the park. At least one individual stayed behind with a rowboat and a bottle of absinthe. The guy was found dead in the drifting boat this morning. That’s all I’ve got except for the name of the group that reserved the gazebo and rowboats for their event – The Laurel Bay Costume Society.”

“Suicide ruled out?”

Ted tapped, half-empty bottle of alcohol. smells like absinthe. empty glass with absinthe residue. to lab for analysis. He powered down the device and stood. “Nothing is ruled out yet. The coroner’s office will take care of things and get back to us. Let’s finish with the owners.”

As Alexa followed him to the reservation office, Ted zipped shut his black, hooded fleece jacket. The drizzle of rain had eased and the weather was again a dense mist. Jesus, the clinging damp was more annoying than a full-on rain.

He entered the boating office and Martin, a lanky, older man with steel gray hair worn in a short ponytail, stood behind a counter writing in a ledger.

Martin looked up as the detectives approached. “All done out there or do your people need more time to do what they do with the boat and the body?”

“They’ll let you know when their work is complete,” Ted responded. He gestured to Alexa. “Martin, this is my partner, Detective Sheldon. We’d like to ask you and your wife a few questions, if you don’t mind.”


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Chasing the Cookbook!

A Day in the life of… 
Joan Porte


As a cookbook author, my methodology is not typical of
most writers. I do not have to face a blank screen or piece of paper and will
the words out of my right brain.
I don’t have to fear writers block. However,
that does not make my task any easier than that of the novelist or biographer.
In fact, I am not as fortunate as those lucky people are. Every time I sit down
to work on a recipe, I face something much more dastardly. It is the memory of
the days when I had to chase my mother around the kitchen to try to have her
actually write down a recipe for what she was making. Don’t snicker! This is
something that can cause flashbacks of horrors for decades.
Members of my mother’s family were of the touch-and-feel
school of cooking. If you would ask her how much salt to add to a pasta recipe
she would say something like, “Feel it, when it feels like there is enough, it
is good.” How do you write a recipe that reads – amount of salt — to the
feel? It can’t be done.

One day I was determined to get her recipes on paper and
spent days which seemed like decades  –
yelling “STOP” every time she was about to add something – and then grab a
measuring cup to get some idea of an amount. It was not pretty – nor were the
looks she was throwing me throughout the process.
Actually today, when I see one of her recipes, I smile
at those days.  I now know that they were
good training for cookbook writing because they instilled in me two skills you
must have to write a good recipe. The first is measure, taste and measure again.
Whether it is an old recipe that needs to be updated or something I concoct I
pay special attention to that extra ½-teaspoon of cardamom and the ¼-teaspoon
of lemon zest that will just make the dish pop.
When I get an old recipe – and I love scouring colonial
cookbooks for ideas – I, of course, have to change some of the meats. There is
not much call for squirrel anymore. Then I always update the herbs because
today fresh is always better. However, you cannot just toss in the same amount
of a fresh herb as dried. Something like oregano packs quite the punch and 2
teaspoons of fresh will destroy the flavor of every other herb. Therefore, you
measure, taste, and measure again.
The second lesson is to take the recipes that friends
gave and make it your own. In other words, I had to “feel them” and see if they
needed something else to suit my personal taste. Many friends offered family
treasures for my cookbook but I had to rework each so they had the same “tone”
as all of the others and still had my touch. I would make the recipe exactly as
written, then take those same ingredients, and make it my way.

What do I mean by tone? You have to remember that a cookbook is still a book
and you do not want to have it appear disjointed as if two different voices had
written the same book.
It is a mistake to take someone else’s words and think
that they will flow naturally with yours. I had to be sure that everyone was
fine with me not taking her recipe verbatim. I wanted no hard feelings but had
to be sure it was totally mine.
So, while the training was harrowing I thank Mom for the
lessons and for the food – and the memories.


“Signs of the Tines: The Ultimate Astrological Cookbook”
is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sign of the Tines
.  Link for chart readings or contact Joan via email or visit her blog (above). Download her podcast Astrological Cooking.
The 295-page book with more than 120 recipes is written to celebrate a unique pairing of food and astrology. 
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A new breed of cookbook that combines personal astrology with a love for preparing and sharing delicious meals. 
Astrologer and gastronome Joan Porte brings a new, fun twist to cooking by showing anyone who loves to cook how to personalize a menu for your family and friends. Beautiful photographs complement the more than 120 featured recipes organized by zodiac sign. Choose a dish or plan a multi-course meal with selections from: Appetizers, Soups, Pasta, Veggies & Fruit, Meat & Fish, and Dessert for each of the twelve signs. SIGNS OF THE TINES is a heart-warming and mouth-watering invitation to eat in alignment with our stars!
Discover why:
Scorpios have
a craving for pasta puttanesca
Librans feel
grounded when they dig into a chocolate mousse parfait
Cancerians stand
tall with their bowl of Brunswick stew
Virgoans set
aside their healthy-conscious habits when faced with chocolate raspberry
ramekins
Aquarians respond
to the sustainable fish used in Pollock with berry prosecco sauce
Pisceans beat
a common ailment when feasting on quinoa with roasted root veggies.
“These recipes are taken from a
number of sources; some are family gems, others I’ve concocted and tweaked over
the years,” says author Joan Porte.

The home cook will discover how
astrology as a source for new food ideas and new ways to entertain friends. And
the astrology enthusiast will discover how cooking can be a new use for
astrology as a way to add more meaning to the daily ritual of eating we perform
to survive and thrive.
Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed paperback and a $10 Starbucks Gift Card!

Joan Porte started “playing” with
Astrology when she was in grammar school. She always had a fixation with the
planets – Pluto being her favorite (surprise she is Scorpio Sun!) Yes, Pluto is
still a planet to her! She put her astrology “toys” away when she
grew up and went into the “real world,” sadly convinced that it was
time to do more important things. The universe and her North Node in Sagittarius
woke her up in her mid-thirties after which she began an intensive study of
Western astrology.

According to Joan, “Modern Man takes for granted the Sun and how its
energy propels and sustains life. Moon energy controls the tides yet we ignore
the other more personal influences it has on our bodies and lives. We have lost
the art of appreciating and reading the stars as messengers from the god and
goddess. Humanity has disconnected from its source


and consequently suffers emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

“Each person is born with a map – a soul map – that is his or her
astrological chart. It is a map through the maze of life that shows the karma
we need to balance our soul’s desire for a life that leads to enhanced soul
growth. I simply read the map – illustrating where you have been and where you
are going to make your journey through life less bumpy.” With this cook
book Joan is combining her astrological knowledge with her lifelong love of
cooking in her own inimitable way.
 

Gram’s Cranberry Pie

Every Christmas my friend, Diane Stoy,
makes her Gram’s cranberry pie as a way to keep her grandmother’s memory alive.
It is a wonderful tradition – to be appreciated by tradition-bound Cancer, and a very good pie!
This is what Diane has to say about her Gram’s pie. “So you thought cranberries
were only for use in cranberry sauce??

Here is a famous original recipe for cranberry. Gram lives on in many ways, but
especially in this recipe. Over the years, her granddaughter shared this
special treat with many others in Washington, D.C. Now this delicious memory
can be enjoyed by friends everywhere. Thanks, Gram!”

1 ¼ cup fresh cranberries, washed
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg (2 eggs if you want a fluffier batter)
¼ cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup walnuts or pecans (optional. Diane leaves these little buggers out when
she brings this to my house.)
1 cup whipping cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Makes one 8-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the cranberries in a plate and
sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar. In a large bowl mix all of the other
ingredients well except the ice cream or whipped cream and pour on top of the
berries. (Batter may be thick.) Bake for 45 minutes in a greased 8-inch pie
plate. Serve warm or cold with the whipped cream or plain.
To serve with the whipped cream just beat the cream with an electric blender
until it becomes cream and dollop on top.
You can also serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Comedy and Fun Excerpts

by
Bryan Taylor


When you think about fun, what is the first word that comes into your mind? Is it nuns? No? Most likely you never met the nuns in my novel, or you had to put up with nuns as teachers for twelve years in Catholic School, or both. As one person who read my novel put it, I never knew any nuns like that. To which I replied, what is it about the word fiction that you don’t understand?

Though I have written a book about three former nuns who do things most nuns would never think about doing, it isn’t from experience. I have never been a nun, since I am a man, and I have no background as a Catholic. My dad was a minister, and both my parents’ dads were ministers of the hellfire and brimstone Jesus-died-for-your-sins variety, which probably explains more than never having attended Catholic School. So as you can see, when I took that writing class and the teacher told me to write about what I knew, I didn’t listen to a word the teacher said.

My nuns listen to others about as well as I do. Coito endured twelve years in Catholic School, though I’m sure the nuns who taught her prayed every night that she would go to a public school and leave them in peace. She usually did well in school, but even if she had flunked every subject, I’m sure they would have passed her to the next grade just to get rid of her. Let me give you an example of why the nuns were happy to get rid of her.

One of our goals in Catholic School was to save the Pagan Babies. For only five dollars, which seemed like a pretty good deal to me, we could get a Pagan Baby baptized and sent to heaven. They even showed us short movies of Catholic missionaries in Africa baptizing the Pagan babies to spur us on. We could buy a saint stamp for ten cents to paste in a book, and when the book was full, we could redeem the book for a Pagan Baby, whom we could name on our Pagan Baby Adoption Certificate. When we were first told about this opportunity, I rushed home to my parents and said, “Guess what, I’m going to have a baby, and she’s black,” which would have given my dad multiple heart attacks were it not for the biological impossibility of my statement at that tender age.

These Catholic equivalents to S&H Green Stamps prepared us for the future because they taught us how to buy on the installment plan. I asked our teacher if our book were half full, if we could we redeem it for half a Pagan Baby, but she said no, so there was always a rush to fill the book before the Pagan Baby Awards Day ceremony. There was a poster with Jesus in a pastoral scene at the front of the classroom and every time someone adopted a Pagan Baby, we got to add a child to the poster. By the end of the school year, Jesus had become the most prolific father in history.

In a way I thought the pagans were lucky. They automatically went to limbo and didn’t risk going to Hell until the missionaries baptized them. I could just imagine tribes fleeing the missionaries to make sure they kept their spot reserved in limbo. When my mother told me that our dog had gone to “Doggie Heaven,” I wondered whether unbaptized pagan dogs went to “Doggie Limbo.”

After realizing that once the Pagan Babies were baptized, they too would need a Catechism to guide them along the straight and narrow path, I wrote K’s Catechism for Cannibals in perfect Palmer Method penmanship, providing dozens of important questions and answers as well as prayers written just for the pagan cannibals.

Q: Is it better to cook a Virgin Martyr or a Heretic?
A: It is better to cook a Virgin Martyr than a Heretic because the Virgin Martyr is sweeter to the palate and the meat is softer to cook than that of a Heretic.
Q: Should a converted Cannibal woman continue to walk around topless?
A: A converted Cannibal should continue to walk around topless because Priests are celibate and will not be tempted.
I even provided the cannibals with a prayer to say before each meal.

Our Martyr, who hath been cooked, blessed be thy meat. Thy flesh be done, so thy sweet taste will fill us when we eat.


I sold my literary creation to my fellow students for a dime and then contributed all my earnings to converting the Pagan Babies in Africa. Despite my altruistic intentions, when the sisters got a copy of my addition to the canon, they imposed an excessive number of penances on me. The nun who imposed the greatest guilt and fear in us was Sister Mary Margaret whom we referred to as Attilla the Nun because she behaved more like a four-foot, ten-inch tall Auschwitz prison matron than a Sister of Mercy. Some students were convinced that not only did she have eyes in the back of her head, but that the Blessed Virgin Mary had endowed her with the ability to see through walls and read our minds. It was rumored that she made extra money in the summer by training Marine Drill Sergeants, and we had no doubt that she gave every penny she made to the church. We joked that Satan would rather do battle with the Archangel Gabriel than Sister Mary Margaret because at least Satan had a chance with Gabriel. Even I watched her step around Attila the Nun.
So as you can see, not all of the teachers were scared of Coito, but I’m sure even Attila the Nun had had enough of Coito by the end of the school year. If you want to read more of The Three Sisters merry adventures, you will just have to read the book.


Introducing 

The THREE SISTERS

Nuns just want to have fun! 

But when three former Catholic nuns, Coito GottTheodora Suora and Regina Grant have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.

Amazon
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they
work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are
arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip
poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck
Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on the 700
Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington
Monument, their lives will change forever.

Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a
sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the
government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of
the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the
funniest.

“Blessed are they who read The Three
Sisters, for they shall inherit eternal laughter.” — Matthew 5:66
“The most pestilential book ever vomited
out of the jaws of Hell.” — Billy Sunday
“Les trois soeurs valent bien une messe.” –
Henry IV
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi che leggete Le
Tre Sorelle.” – Dante Alighieri
Warning: The Surgeon General has determined
that reading The Three Sisters may lead to Eternal Damnation.  Side
effects may include a renewed sense of humor and a better sex life.


Win a copy of THE THREE SISTERS …





Bryan Taylor is a double PK, a preacher’s kid of a preacher’s kid. With that legacy he faced two destinies, being an unhappy triple PK (Jubilees 17:23, “He that is born unto the son of a preacher and himself preaches shall be miserable until his dying day and suffer eternal damnation.”), or being sacrilegious and happy.

He decided to forsake the Southern Baptists for Catholicism, but when he applied to join a convent, he was rejected (sex discrimination!), so he decided to do the next best thing: write a novel about the three nuns he would most like to meet.

Bryan Taylor was born in Louisiana, grew up in Michigan and Texas, went to school in Tennessee, South Carolina and California, taught in Switzerland for a year, and has traveled to 50 countries, more than any Pope except Saint John Paul II. He now lives in California, which is one of the few places with people crazier than him.



Excerpt from THE THREE SISTERS

Chapter 1            One
of our goals in Catholic School was to save the Pagan Babies. For only five
dollars, which seemed like a pretty good deal to me, we could get a Pagan Baby
baptized and sent to heaven. They even showed us short movies of Catholic
missionaries in Africa baptizing the Pagan babies to spur us on. We could buy a
saint stamp for ten cents to paste in a book, and when the book was full, we
could redeem the book for a Pagan Baby, whom we could name on our Pagan Baby
Adoption Certificate. When we were first told about this opportunity, I rushed
home to my parents and said, “Guess what, I’m going to have a baby, and she’s
black,” which would have given my dad multiple heart attacks were it not for
the biological impossibility of my statement at that tender age.
These Catholic equivalents to S&H Green
Stamps prepared us for the future because they taught us how to buy on the
installment plan. I asked our teacher if our book were half full, if we could
we redeem it for half a Pagan Baby, but she said no, so there was always a rush
to fill the book before the Pagan Baby Awards Day ceremony. There was a poster
with Jesus in a pastoral scene at the front of the classroom and every time
someone adopted a Pagan Baby, we got to add a child to the poster. By the end
of the school year, Jesus had become the most prolific father in history.
In a way I thought the pagans were lucky.
They automatically went to limbo and didn’t risk going to Hell until the
missionaries baptized them. I could just imagine tribes fleeing the
missionaries to make sure they kept their spot reserved in limbo. When my
mother told me that our dog had gone to “Doggie Heaven,” I wondered whether
unbaptized pagan dogs went to “Doggie Limbo.”
After realizing that once the Pagan Babies
were baptized, they too would need a Catechism to guide them along the straight
and narrow path, I wrote K’s Catechism for Cannibals in perfect Palmer Method
penmanship, providing dozens of important questions and answers as well as
prayers written just for the pagan cannibals.
Q: Is it better to cook a Virgin Martyr or
a Heretic?
A: It is better to cook a Virgin Martyr
than a Heretic because the Virgin Martyr is sweeter to the palate and the meat
is softer to cook than that of a Heretic.
Q: Should a converted Cannibal woman
continue to walk around topless?
A: A converted Cannibal should continue to
walk around topless because Priests are celibate and will not be tempted.
I even provided the cannibals with a prayer
to say before each meal.
Our Martyr, who hath been cooked, blessed
be thy meat. Thy flesh be done, so thy sweet taste will fill us when we eat.
I sold my literary creation to my fellow
students for a dime and then contributed all my earnings to converting the
Pagan Babies in Africa. Despite my altruistic intentions, when the sisters got
a copy of my addition to the canon, they imposed an excessive number of
penances on me. The nun who imposed the greatest guilt and fear in us was
Sister Mary Margaret whom we referred to as Attilla the Nun because she behaved
more like a four-foot, ten-inch tall Auschwitz prison matron than a Sister of
Mercy. Some students were convinced that not only did she have eyes in the back
of her head, but that the Blessed Virgin Mary had endowed her with the ability
to see through walls and read our minds. It was rumored that she made extra
money in the summer by training Marine Drill Sergeants, and we had no doubt
that she gave every penny she made to the church. We joked that Satan would
rather do battle with the Archangel Gabriel than Sister Mary Margaret because
at least Satan had a chance with Gabriel. Even K watched her step around Attila
the Nun.


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Social media isn’t important to an author…

… it’s CRUCIAL!
by 
Angelina Rose

VBT Cafe

Social Media

Social media is probably the most
powerful marketing tool for writers. It gives you free access to millions of
potential readers. Business owners tend to dive head long into social media
expecting to see huge results in short periods of time. That is simply not the
case. It takes patience in order to build up a presence on social media. Here
are a couple of frequently asked questions.

How important is Social Media to Authors?

It’s not just important, it’s absolutely
essential for writers to establish themselves in the social media world. Here
are some of the reasons why:

Brand Building

Social media is perhaps the most
powerful brand building platform in the marketing world. You can use it to
decide the manner in which you want people to perceive you as a writer. If you
don’t find a way to make readers feel that your books are in demand, then you
will not sell very many copies.

Thriving Community of Readers

Social media brings with it a diverse
and cultivating community. It puts millions of potential readers right at your
fingertips. When you build a community, you are guaranteeing that future
opportunities will be more successful. 

Gives you Authority as an Author

Without being active through social
media, you will not be able to garner the authority needed to convince readers
to buy your books. Authority is especially important if you are a non-fiction
writer.

Competitive Advantage

The
truth is that a lot of individuals don’t do a good job with social media.
Therefore, keeping on top of it will give you a significant advantage. When
starting out as an author, you need all of the advantages you can get.

What is the Best Social Media Platform

There
are so many opinions as to the best platform to use that it’s a bit of a toss
up as to which one you should use. Here are the three you should be most
concerned about:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Facebook

If
you don’t know what Facebook is then you must be living under a rock. It’s the
granddaddy of the social media world. You should definitely have an account
with an author page. Just be sure to make your profile and page come across as
professional. The trick to simplifying Facebook is to use your author fan page
to promote new books as opposed to creating pages for each book you release.
Only do that when you can afford to hire a team to manage your Facebook
accounts.

Twitter

Another
great (and necessary) platform for writers is Twitter. Fans absolutely love to
be engaged by authors. Twitter lets you easily connect and sometimes reply to
readers in a more personal way. In addition, you can effectively get your fans
to advertise for you through retweets.

LinkedIn

Finally,
we come to LinkedIn. Many tend to skip over this ever-important platform of
social media. If you’re trying to get signed by a traditional publisher, a
LinkedIn account is necessary. Publishers are guaranteed to search through
LinkedIn once they read your query letter. If they don’t find you on, then you
will likely be ignored.

Final Tips for Social Media

Let’s
end this article on a few quick tips of some things you should keep in mind
when using social media.

Don’t Spam your Fans

Spamming
is the fastest way to scare off fans (or send them storming off in rage). In
the social media world, if you only ever post that people should buy your books
or products, then you are spamming. So most of your posts should be fun and
entertaining posts, with a few promotions scattered throughout. 

Be Consistent

You
can be as active with social media as you want but I do recommend that you at
least add one post a week. However, stay consistent. If you plan on posting
once a week, then make sure you do so. Don’t go weeks without posting.

Never bite off more than you can chew

In
other words, don’t try and do too much. Maintain a schedule and only spend a
limited time on social media.





The Eyes of Love

After a tragic
loss five years ago, Sally Overby becomes an Attorney in Atlanta. She convinces
herself that all she’ll ever need again is her young son, David, and her life
as an attorney. Until one day, Colin Dean barges back into her life and promptly
blows her safe world apart, driving her crazy as only a guy she’d had a
“school girl crush” on can.


Although shocked
and thrilled by Colin’s attention, Sally is wary to love deeply. Only, with
every loving look Colin gives her plus every sweet kiss, as the attraction
between them sparks, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the one she should
be with. And although Colin didn’t realize his life was going to change so
quickly, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change.
Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether… the one for Sally’s
heart.

Will Colin be able to convince her
that’s it safe to love him… and that forever isn’t really out of reach?

Romantic, amusing, and deeply moving,
Book 4 in the Mill Creek Crossing Romance Series, is a tale that will stay with
you.

The Eyes of Love is a novella… you
will be able to enjoy it in just one day!

Join in the fun for prizes:

Angelina Rose
Author Angelina Rose is the first daughter of immigrant parents, and from childhood has had her head buried in books. It was a shocking experience that jump-started Angelina’s author career.

In 2010, Angelina had a long stint in hospital following a motor vehicle accident. It was then she took up pen and paper wrote four short fiction stories for young adults, entered them in several competitions, and managed to win three first prizes!


Angelina has now authored four books in a new “Mill Creek Crossing Romance” series… contemporary romance intended for adults.


The “Starting Over Series” is another contemporary romance series she wrote about a subject she knows well… nurses and their love life. At a recent reunion of her graduating class, she could not help but notice how the same girls would group together and laugh, chat, and even shed some tears over their lives since graduating. Many of the girls had divorced… so Angelina thought “what if a group of the nurses came up with a plan to meet in two years and have a new love story to share?” Then the first story in the series was born.


Angelina really loves to hear from her readers and she invites you to connect with her on Facebook as she interacts daily with her readers there!




 The Eyes of Love


“Well, if it isn’t the handsome Colin Dean,”
she said fanning herself and smiling. Gracie was older than he was, but he
remembered her younger sister, Eva, quite well. They’d all hung out together at
parties when they were younger, and Gracie had been a fixture at Stella’s for
years even though she recently came into some inheritance money.

“Hey, sweetie,” he said kissing her on the
cheek. Women loved Colin because he made them feel good, and he was always
kind. Stephanie hadn’t been able to take that away from him.

“I’ll never wash this cheek again,” she said
touching her face and smiling. “How are you, honey?” she asked with a
frown.

“Hanging in there.”

“I hate to see you so sad, Colin,” she said
sliding into the booth across from him.

“I’ll be fine, Gracie.”

“I know you will, but if you ever need to
talk…”

“Thank you, but I don’t. Not yet anyway. The
divorce was finalized last week.”

“I’m so sorry about Stephanie, but she was never
good enough for you.”

“Gracie…” he said shaking his finger at
her.

“It’s true. Ask anybody. That woman is trouble
with a capital T. Always has been,” Gracie said, refusing to mince her
words. She’d despised Stephanie since she first met her.

“Glad you’re always on my side, sweetie,” he
said rubbing her hand and laughing. “I sure wouldn’t want you on my bad
side!”

“Good thinking. Oh, crud, I’ve got a
customer,” she said as she slid out of the booth and headed back up to the
counter.

“Dean!” he heard a voice call from behind
him. It was one of his baseball buddies, Cal Erwin. “How are ya,
man?”

“Good. Where’ve you been lately?” Colin
asked as Cal dropped down into the seat.

“Well, I went out to California to visit my
brother for a few months. Played in a band out there and gathered up lots of
ladies along the way,” he said grinning.

“Glad you had a good time.”

“Where’s Steph?” Cal asked.

“I have no idea. We’re not married anymore,”
Colin said as he looked at his menu.

Cal’s mouth dropped open. “What?”

“We divorced, Cal. She screwed Jazz and I walked
in on them.” Cal’s mouth dropped open yet again.

“Dude…”

“You know, we’re not sixteen anymore. You should
stop saying dude,” Colin said with a chuckle.

“I’m sorry, man. I had no idea.”

“No biggie,” he lied.

“I can’t believe Jazz…”

“Look, can we not talk about it? It’s kind of old
news, and I’m really done discussing it,” Colin said pointedly.

“Sorry. So, are you skipping the reunion
then?”

“Of course not. Why would I?

Alison Neuman on how social media is important to her

For us authors, social media is important.
Not only are we able to keep readers and friends up-to-date with our writing but also with the life events of others. Currently, it is impossible for
me to travel so social media allows me to reach my destinations from the
comfort of home, and I love that opportunity it’s given me.
In the past few years, there has been a huge
shift to the Internet. Blog tours are a great example of this and an excellent way
to promote your books.
How it works is that the author visits several blogs and
they are introduced to a new audience.
I have heard of authors who have been made into bestsellers
just because of social media.
It’s a tool in the authors’ promotional
toolkit that should not be overlooked.
Although, we have to be careful. When I
get continuing posts from individuals trying to sell me products, I must admit, I tune out. When that happens, we are losing a potential relationship. For
myself, I plug Ice Rose during the holiday buying season and for blog tours or
events. Just enough to keep my book out there, but not enough to cause offence.
Like most authors worldwide, I like to share activities and
events that are going on with my career, but my
 blog isn’t only focused on writing, it’s also about the arts and crafts. A writer once advised me
to post a new blog every two weeks,
but I find this challenging. Finding fresh
topics can be difficult and I wonder how other bloggers manage it.
And, I admit, when I write my posts, I do
not always focus on how worldwide social media can reach. So when, few years ago,
I posted a blog on a cookie bouquet that I was making, and received a comment
from a reader in Germany I was very shocked and pleased.

Ice Rose 
Amazon.UK
Amazon.com
A teenager’s world is turned upside down when an explosion steals her dad and her identity. Entering an exclusive academy that immerses her in the world of secret agents, she must overcome her fears and disabilities to discover the truth about her dad’s mission, his software, and the mystery man stalking her before she ends up like her father — lost.
Alison Neuman 
Alison Neuman lives in
Alberta, Canada, where she is a freelance writer and lyricist. Nearing the end
of her studies for the Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree program at
Grant MacEwan College, she was inspired to complete the first draft
of  Ice Rose. The pace of secret agent books and movies gave her an
unlimited playground for  imagination. Music and performing are passions
she was able to bring into her writing and build into her characters.




Alison’s writing has appeared in “MacEwan Today”, “Westword”, and the “Edmonton
Journal” along with three tracks on the CD release Outside The Window.
Co-writing the screenplay adaptation of the book Whale Songwith author
Cheryl Kaye Tardif exposed her to the world of screenwriting, which she hopes
to continue to examine further in the future. Alison also has been writing
shorter pieces of non-fiction, one entitled Establishing Roots, that
earned a top ten ranking in the Edmonton Stories contest. This past spring she
was a winner in The Expressions of Hunger Contest in the Emotional Poetry
category. Her piece Undeniable Craving was on display in June and
July in various artistic locations across the city of Edmonton.  She has
completed a final edit of her memoir “Searching For Normal” and is currently
writing her next young adult manuscript.



When not writing creatively, Alison  is editing or writing for her
business, Sandy Tree
Communications
.

The changing world and its impact on social media

by
Jodie Clock

Outside of death and taxes, the only thing for certain we can count, on is change!

My day job happens to be a funeral home owner/director for both humans and pets. Some people may find this profession to be a bid odd, morbid or even down right depressing. Me, well, I find it incredibly fascinating. I get to learn interesting information about people. Not things like where they were born, or how many children they have (although that type of learning can be very interesting), I’m talking about things that really impacted their life.





It’s the 21st century, and presently our population, has more people over the age of 65 than ever before. In our funeral home, it’s not uncommon that we are taking care of centurions, nonagenarians and octogenarians. 


While I was writing Navigating the Eldercare Journey…without going broke! I had the pleasure of talking to one lady who was in her 90’s who came in to pre-plan her funeral. As we were capturing information, I asked her what was the biggest thing she had experienced that changed her quality of life. Her answer was “paved roads”. Many of the stories she remembers as young child revolve around traveling in a covered wagon. This response leads me to ask about her other inventions such as the television, which in her lifetime went from a large black and white monstrosity to the digital television we have today. 



VBT Cafe
This very wise lady got my interest peeked and forced me to reflect on what has impacted my life. In all candor, both personally and professionally speaking, I can say technology. Through the use of technology, I was able to pen and publish Navigating the Eldercare Journey…without going broke! in less than 18 months. The internet enabled me to communicate with my publisher, editor and even public relations team in real time. It’s only been within the last 20 years that the internet has been utilized to by the general public and not just the military. Think about how many things technology has changed! Books are now available in a digital format as well a paper bound format. The newspaper in some cases has all but physically gone away and has transformed into digital. How about social media? If you had asked me just 10 years ago what social media was, I don’t think I would be able

to answer that question. In a very short period, this concept we have labeled “social media” has transformed the way everyone communicates. Heck, there are now even college degrees that revolve strictly around social media.


As a small business owner and author, the invention or platform of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google have provided more affordable tools at my fingertips, which can provide an incredible experience for my consumer. As an author, the ability to have readers place reviews about my book on Amazon is incredible. Creating a Facebook page for my book that challenges me to create a fan base only inspires me to become a more efficient communicator. Social media, if used properly can be a powerful tool. The only downside I can see is that once you put something out there, there is no turning back, it’s there for the world, and I mean world, to see.

What is critical is to find the balance where your posts are consistent, but not over the top in terms of length of posts or frequency. Twitter promotes brevity, but can be difficult to understand all the tweet terms and protocols.

Facebook has a wonderful business page side that allows people to create pages (book’s page). It also has wonderful “how to” sections to learn how to market your book to your target audience. I love the fact that it allows you to upload videos, create polls and even have private email conversations with your readers. Amazon’s author page has some of these tools, but not all of them. My next venue will be to learn Goodreads and begin to promote my book.

Blogging has turned into an interesting animal, if you will. It seems the rules for engagement change to the point of really anything goes. Blogs are turning out to be powerful. Initially, they reminded me of an online brochure – now, they are becoming just as important as your website. Think about this – the fact that my book is on a virtual book tour is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around. The internet really is changing the face of communication, business, relationships, education, recreation – and the list goes on.

So in closing, what’s my point? My point is that as an author and a small business owner, I have found both writing Navigating the Eldercare Journey…without going broke! and running the business is far easier than promoting. I find social media a double edge sword. It can, and if done correctly, provide a solid platform to market from and establish a relationship with your target audience. The challenge is monetizing it. We know that social media will encourage people to act on purchasing your book or seeking out your services, but what we don’t know is how many social media touch points it takes for that action. Like anything else, once we figure that out the information will be yesterday’s news, as at the end of the day, the only thing certain besides death and taxes, is change! 

Jodi M. Clock 
For over 25 years, Jodi M. Clock has worked in the ‘end-of-life planning’ industry, including family and corporately owned funeral homes, advance funeral planning companies, casket manufacturers and insurance agencies. Having personally witnessed the financial confusion that families endure, especially at an emotionally taxing time, Ms. Clock has centered her career on helping people to understand the options that are available to them. She currently writes and speaks about the basics of Medicaid and asset protection and is a seasoned expert in end-of-life directives.

Ms. Clock wrote Navigating the Elder Care Journey…Without Going Broke! to help people appreciate the important facts they need to know in order to make the right financial choices, in one easy-to- understand guide. It is her hope that through the personal stories, straightforward information, and family care plans which include checklists, she will help people manage this process. Her goal is for everyone to become informed on options available that will not leave their hard-earned assets unnecessarily exposed, potentially saving them hundreds if not thousands of dollars; qualify for Medicaid; and have their funeral expenses pre-paid, therefore allowing their loved ones the ability to focus on what’s important and not have anxiety or stress over finances.

When she’s not consulting or helping manage the family funeral business, she volunteers with The Noah Project, a no kill animal shelter. An avid animal lover and supporter, she has a house full of pets and enjoys spending time on the western Michigan shoreline.

 Navigating The Eldercare Journey:Without Going Broke
by Jodi Clock

I dont feel old.  I dont feel anything until noon.That’s
when it’s time for my nap.” 

Bob Hope

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
We’ve all enjoyed a good laugh at the
perils of getting older. But entering your Golden Years without any money is no
joke. End-of life planning is a difficult subject to talk about – between
facing mortality (either your parents or your own) to discussing the
ever-confusing subject revolving around long term care options or understanding
the differences between Medicare and Medicaid, or a living will vs. a living
trust, there’s nothing fun about facing death and the issues that come with it.

Navigating the Eldercare Journey –
Without Going Broke! can help reduce the challenges and minimize frustration
encountered when you are placed in this situation. This easy-to-understand
guide takes you from the basics of understanding long term care options that
are available, how to seek out an elder care attorney and know if they are good
fit for your needs, and how to qualify for Medicaid as a financial means to pay
for care, including the benefits of funeral planning – in layman’s terms.
Author Jodi M. Clock provides fundamental information regarding the basics in a
way that helps you understand not only why her recommendations are important,
but how you can minimize financial exposure regarding end-of-life events.
Whether you are in a crisis situation or taking proactive measures, these
valuable end-of-life solutions could safeguard you and your parents’ assets.

You have a choice – be proactive and
preserve your money. Don’t leave it unprotected and unnecessarily taxed when
you or your parents die. No matter how prepared you think you are, the reality
of death is sobering, and expensive. When time is on your side, you can make
well- thought-out, proactive decisions, enabling you to focus on what’s most
important in life.

Short Excerpt:



HAVING “THE TALK”


How do you have “the talk” with your parents about wills, finances, medical care choices, and funerals?

Elderly parents may be reluctant to face end-of-life issues. This may be due to one of three reasons:procrastination; lack of experience or information; or denial.

If you are thinking about asking your parents about planning their end-of-life affairs, you are most likely motivated by love and concern. You are hoping to: 


· Honor their wishes regarding personal items, medical decisions, and funeral preferences.

· Avoid making hasty and emotional decisions in a crisis.

· Prevent overspending due to not knowing your parent’s wishes.

Sadly, elderly parents sometimes misconstrue their children’s concern as nosiness. Even worse, they may see it as an attempt to take over management of their personal affairs. Many of today’s seniors were raised not to discuss these issues openly, so don’t be surprised if the first response you hear is, “None of your business.” At some point, no matter how awkward this conversation may feel as an adult child, if your parents have not initiated this dialogue, you will  have to.

Key Point:

Just because people are aging or beginning to face health challenges doesn’t mean that they are insensitive, ignorant, or incapable of decision-making.

Sex sells, but how to sell sex?

by 
Mona Darling
 aka Dead Cow Girl



Throbbing cocks, wet pussies, and hungry mouths. These are the words most of us skim for when reading books about sex.


Every time I tell someone that I just published a book about the female sexual experience, these are the words they think of, and they are certain I have an instant best seller on my hands. After all, sex sells.

But the reality of marketing a book in a marginalized niche like sex and erotica, that doesn’t yet have its own virtual shelf, is proving quite difficult. There are limits as to where you can market sex and erotica. Even now that it’s finding more common ground, erotica is still often banished to the area behind the virtual counter. I’ve been turned away from book reviewers because “They don’t do erotica.”



VBT
Glitter
is not romance and it’s not erotica, although it has aspects of both. It also
has stories of sexual trauma and stories from gay as well as straight women, so
those barriers are crossed as well.  In the Internet age, where everything
needs to fall into a drop down box category, Glitter doesn’t.

Every time
I list it somewhere, I have to select a topic from those boxes, and because the
topic is sexual, I often have to choose erotica, even though it is not. The
people who are looking to read erotica are looking to escape. They are not
looking to be reminded that for many women, sexual desire is shaped by trauma
and shame. Yet, because there is a some erotica in it, I’m often steered away
from posting it under self help, where I feel it would more truly fit.
I
know there is a market for Glitter. I know women want to read it. I know there
are women who NEED to read it. These stories are not polished and
sensationalized. They are not escapism. They are relatable and eye opening.
They were compiled to show women that they are not alone in their desires. But
how to reach those women?
I
spent twenty years in the sex industry, and I know there is someone for
everything, even those things that make you scratch your head and wonder. It is
hard not to get frustrated with marketing any book, let alone a book that falls
outside of those drop down boxes.
Yet every time I do, I have a wonderfully
supportive circle of friends who remind me that Glitter was brought together to
help women feel less alone in their desires. They remind me that I am bucking
the status quo, and that is never easy, and that real change takes time. I pick
myself up, dust myself off, and once again say, ‘No. Actually, it’s not
erotica. Glitter is real stories of sexual desire from real women. Some of them
are erotic, but many are not. They are the real stories that define us as
women.”



Glitter

AmazonBarnes and Noble

Glitter is about the female sexual experience, which contrary to what the media would have you believe, is not all bubble baths and chick flicks.



Women are constantly judged as slutty, or uptight, but the reality is somewhere in between those two, and sometimes, nowhere near either. We have secret shames and private desires and we all feel we are the only one.



We are good church-going girls with a fondness for the paddle, PTA moms who hire escorts, feminists who like to bottom in the bedroom, slutty virgins, bi-curious married laddies and women with a past. We are gay, straight, and undecided.
We are all over the map, and we are amazing.

Mona Darling aka Dead Cow Girl, spent close to twenty years as an A-list professional dominatrix before becoming a D-list mommy blogger. After spending many years traveling the world being told that she is fabulous, she now spends her days being told she doesn’t drive fast enough by her three-year-old son.



Dead Cow Girl was a nickname she received in grade school after a humiliating morning involving a mobile butcher and a school bus. She chose to use that name to reclaim the part of her that spent much of her childhood red-faced with shame, embarrassed for her unique childhood. She also likes it because it is readily available on nearly every social media platform.

She writes, sporadically, about food, sex and toddler-related mayhem at DeadCowGirl.com

Confessions of a writer… researching.

by 
Laina Turner

I was thrilled
when I saw the topic of the month for this blog. Why? Because I love hearing
secrets, who doesn’t, and I thought it would be fun to share some of mine,
about my writing anyways. They say confession is good for the soul.

I sometimes
forget if a memory is real or whether it’s something I thought-up in a book. I tell a story and find myself wondering if it’s true or just a cemented
figment from my imagination.
I have to think really hard to figure out which it
is and there have been times where I can’t, so I just go with that it’s
real. 



Some of you may think that is a little crazy and I understand. I happen
to think it’s quite normal.
At least for me, which I will whole-heartedly blame
on my parents because I’m an only child (their fault) and that made me overuse my imagination in order to entertain myself. So it’s no wonder I have
a hard time going back and forth between reality and fantasy.

It’s also no
wonder I closely identify with my characters. I like to afford them experiences
that I would like to have. Not that I would have any clue what to do if I came
across a dead body, but I’d like to think I would know.
It’s fun to pretend to
have that excitement.

I like to write
about places I have visited and experienced, and use my it as the background in my books. So
I have, on occasion, pretended to be one of my characters in order to fully
immerse myself in what she might see or do.
Again, you might think that’s
strange I like to think its good research to role-play and play make believe.

What do you like
to pretend?


Laina Turner, when she’s not working toward her
goals she likes–
OK fine–LOVES wine, coffee, shopping, and books. She enjoys
her kids, they are awesome. She hates the cold but yet lives in the mid-west.
Vegas is one of her favorite spots as she loves to people watch and if she ever
gets married again it will definitely be in a drive through chapel by a fake
Elvis.



Laina is currently
living in Indiana, with her family, and is always writing something, whether
it’s blogs, articles, business journals and books or ideas for her next novel.
She is continuously doing what she loves which is writing or drinking coffee.



Mystery and Romance



all in one book




Presley tells her boss what he can do with her job in HR and embarks on a new career as a freelance journalist. What seems like a simple interview with a Senator turns to murder when the day after her interview the Senator turns up dead. Does the fact that Presley was one of the last people to see him alive make her a suspect? Her ex-boyfriend Cooper, who was in charge of the Senators security, might think so. Presley is determined to clear her name but can she do it and resist Cooper’s charms?

Necklaces and Nooses 
When Presley’s boss is found hanging she thinks its suicide until the police discover its homicide. Who would want to kill a boutique owner? Presley’s not sure but she’s determined to find out. The cute detective assigned to the case makes it all the more exciting.

Handbags and Hooligans 
Presley went to Vegas to watch her friend Anna get married and the event turned into solving the mystery of her brothers girlfriend disappearance. But Ashley wasn’t exactly the schoolteacher she appeared to be. Who was she and was she kidnapped?

The holiday short…Mistletoe and Murder
In this holiday short story, Presley goes home for Christmas expecting it to be a relaxing holiday until her old boyfriend, Brian, asks for her help finding out who has been stealing from him and it turns from theft to murder. Why would anyone want to kill Tommy and what was he hiding?

Gems and Gunshots

Presley heads to San Diego to hang out with Cooper and enjoy the great west coast weather. She didn’t expect that while hanging out at the local coffee shop she would be a witness to a robbery and murder at Gemstone’s Unlimited. Much to Cooper’s dismay Presley feels compelled to investigate. She discovers that not only was the store owner a womanizer but also was filing false insurance claims for diamonds that weren’t really stolen. Was that why he was being blackmailed? Was that why someone robbed his store? Presley is determined to find out!


As a bonus get the short story prequel, A Day in the Life of Trixie Pristine.
In this short story prequel, Trixie and her friends Berklie and Sophie, considered themselves typical thirty something females until someone turned up murdered in their newly opened bookstore/wine bar. They thought they would be living out their dream in their new shop not trying to catch a killer. Who killed Sylvia and why? Or was one of them the intended target?


Enter the Rafflecopter for the giveaway:





Excerpt from Stilettos and Scoundrels

“Hello?”
“Presley!
I need to talk to you right away!” It was Helen Daniels, hysterical. I could
hardly understand her.

“What
is it, Helen? What’s wrong?” I had fallen asleep, but the sound of fear in
Helen’s voice quickly woke me up.

“Just
meet me at Gardner’s old warehouse in thirty minutes. If you’re not there, I
will not be able to wait. It’s not safe. You have to hurry!”
“Helen!
Calm down, safe from whom? Why all the drama? Helen…Helen?” She’d hung up. I
glanced at my watch. Crap! I’d never
make it there in thirty minutes. All I could hope for was Dirt and his deputies
were out investigating the Senator’s murder rather than trying to keep the
streets safe from speeders.

I
ran out of the house, running past my mother still working in her garden.
“Presley,
where are you going?
“I’ll
be back in a bit.”
“For
dinner?”

“I
don’t know.” I said exasperatedly. I didn’t need the third degree.
“Where
are you going?”
“I’ll
explain later. Just eat without me if I’m not back.”
“Pres!”
“Bye,
Mother.”

I
pushed seventy in a forty-five mile an hour zone, my Kia humming, just hoping
to get there on time. I was surprised my car could go that fast. In Chicago, the
traffic was so bad you didn’t really have a chance to speed this much. My phone
rang again, but I didn’t look at it. I needed to concentrate on my driving.
Gardner’s warehouse, located about twenty miles outside of town, used to be a
production plant for some automotive part. The plant closed years before, when
I still lived here. It was so long ago that I couldn’t remember what the
company actually produced.
I
pulled in the parking lot, gravel flying, hoping Helen was still here. The
clock on my dash said it had been thirty-three minutes since she called me. I
pocketed my keys, not wanting to weigh myself down with my purse, and jogged
around to the front entrance. I had on flip-flops, not the best jogging shoes,
but I was so startled when Helen called I just ran out of the house without
paying attention to what I had on. This was a big place, and I huffed trying to
catch my breath. I really must get in
shape
, I wheezed to myself.

Helen
hadn’t specified exactly where to meet her, so I assumed she might be at the
front entrance. She wasn’t waiting outside for me, so I tried the front door or
what I presumed was the front door. It was unlocked, which I thought strange
for an abandoned building, but I assumed Helen had unlocked it. Though had it
been locked, I could have crawled through one of the many broken windows. I
carefully stepped inside the building and the darkness engulfed me. The little
bit of light in the building was let in by the broken windows, and it took a
few minutes for my eyes to adjust. It smelled dank and musty, and I could hear
the scurrying of what were probably little furry rodents. I shuddered
involuntarily and didn’t want to think about what type of creepy crawlies were
in this building, especially with me in flip-flops. I wasn’t thrilled about
stepping any further into the building.

“Helen,”
I called softly. No answer. Where the
hell is she?
I tiptoed a little further into the building in an effort to
be quiet, though I still couldn’t see very well, so tiptoeing wouldn’t do me
any good if there was anything in my way. All of a sudden, I felt a hand on my
arm; I jumped about ten feet and started to scream.

“Shh,
Presley. It’s just me,” Helen said. “Do you think you could be a little
quieter?”
“Then
don’t ask me to come to an abandoned building and grab me when I’m not
expecting it. I can’t see! You could have been anyone or anything,” I retorted.
“I am not a big fan of the creepy things I am sure are in this building.” I
took one look at Helen and grew concerned. She was usually one of those women
who always looked impeccable, but her dark brown hair, usually in a knot at the
nape of her neck, was disheveled and loose. I could tell Helen had been crying,
from her smudged make-up. She definitely wasn’t her normal well put together
self. I could see that, even in this poor light. I still felt a stab of
jealousy because, even a little worse for wear, Helen looked better than most
women. Not fair at all.

“So
what is going on, Helen? Why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff? Why did we have to
meet here, of all places?” I asked, looking around and waving my arms. “Should
we even be here? The place looks about ready to fall down. I’m sure the owners
wouldn’t be too happy if we fell through the floor or something. This building
is quite a liability.”

“It’s
the only place I could go where I could easily see if I was being followed.
Besides, we own the building. Or rather, I do now,” Helen, replied giving a
little laugh—the hysterical kind, rather than the ha-ha kind.

“Why
would anyone be following you?” I took a step forward, concerned Helen might
really be in danger. It seemed so surreal.

Helen
tried to keep herself from crying again. “They called my house, Presley. They
called my house and demanded money. They said if I didn’t pay up, they would
make sure I met the same fate as Tom. I knew they would want their money, but I
didn’t think it would be like this. I thought I would have some more time. I
can’t get my hands on that kind of money right now. It would look too
suspicious; besides, I don’t even know yet where I am going to get it!” Helen
then burst into tears.

I
waited for a few uncomfortable moments for the tears to subside. To help Helen,
I needed her to calm down and tell me everything she knew. Plus, I had a few
questions of my own.
“Do
you know who it was that called you, Helen? Who did the Senator owe money to?”

“I
don’t know specifically who the caller was, nor who Tom owed money to. I didn’t
recognize any voices and they didn’t tell me their names. Tom tried to hide as
much as he could from me about this aspect of his life, I told you that
already, and when I forced the issue, he told me as little as possible. Usually
just enough to get me to shut up. To be honest, it got to where I didn’t even
ask much because I didn’t really care.”

“Who
else knows about the Senator’s gambling problem? Maybe that’s who called you.
Could it be blackmail?” I thought blackmail seemed as good a reason as any.

“The
only people who know about this, besides the people he owed the money to, are
me and Tobey. As the Senator’s assistant, Tobey was privy to a lot more
information than I thought he should have been,” Helen explained. “Tom said he
would find out anyway, and that we could trust him. I don’t think Tobey is the
type to try to blackmail anyone. Other than that, there is no way Tom would
have told anyone else. He might have been a gambler, but he wasn’t stupid. At
least not that stupid.”

“What about Garrison Palazzo.”




Unconditional love, but what does it mean?

by
Carol McKibben

How Do I Begin to Write a Book?
One
might consider me strange, but my ideas come to me in dreams or in messages
from other people.
The premise for Luke’s Tale came to me in a dream about a year after I wrote my
first book. Around that time, I went for a psychic reading for my birthday. I
told the psychic nothing about myself…yet; she told me that the angels around
me, my guardians, were urging me to
write a book about unconditional love. This freaked me out! Then, afterward, I
had the original dream again. So, I really had no choice in the matter.

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
On top of everything, my yellow lab Luke is/was my
hero. He was a therapy dog and so dedicated to me. When he was six, he was
diagnosed with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) for which there is no cure.
Complete blindness was the result. Even after that, he continued to bravely go
everywhere with me, gently feeling his way with his paws and sticking to me
like Velcro. He continued his therapy dogging long after he went blind and
brought joy to hundreds of hospital and nursing home patients. He was my
inspiration. I made him the narrator of Luke’s
Tale, because the book’s message is unconditional love. What other creature
except a dog exemplifies unconditional love?

The book I am currently
writing, entitled Snow Blood, came to
me as the result of a dog named Snow that I had fostered and placed in his
forever home, along with a conversation I had with my daughter about vampires.
We both love vampire stories…and contrived this one together.
How Do my Ideas for Materials Develop?
This will make readers laugh, but
it’s true.
William Faulkner said it best: “It begins with a
character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I
can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long
enough to put down what he says and does.”
For me, that’s the way it works. Once I know my characters, they come
alive and are a life of their own. They move through the story and fall out of
my mind onto the page.


How long does it take to write a
book?
Riding Through It, my first book, took
several years. My second book, Luke’s
Tale
, took just a little over a year. I think I should be able to finish Snow Blood, within six months. I am
making progress!

Where do you find the time to write?
I
am a working writer. By that, I mean I have other authors with whom I work to
develop their stories as well as corporate clients for whom I write everything
under the sun. So, writing for myself occurs after work and on weekends.

Do you have a desk? An Office?
I
definitely have a desk and a formal office. But, the office is littered with
the sleeping bodies of my two dogs, so it’s not normal by any means! All one
can hear is their soft snoring and the clacking of my fingers on my computer.
Wait! Does that mean I’ve bored them to death? Let’s hope not!

Here’s
a final thought. We all have great stories within us, but some of us have no
other choice but to write them. It’s part of breathing for us. The things that
we experience, feel and think compel us to write. For me, there’s no other way.




Carol
McKibben
, the author of
Luke’s Tale, – A Story of Unconditional Love, currently
writes from the heart of a dog’s eyes. Often telling her stories to
Labradoodles, Basset Hounds and any stray that happens by, it wasn’t long
before people stopped to have a listen as well. Now Carol writes for people and
speaks to large audiences, dogs included. Carol was a magazine publisher for
more than 20 years. She began a new career in freelance writing and editing in
2007, as well as working with other authors to realize their dreams. She also
has published a Memoir, Riding Through It. Both books are available on Amazon.com. She currently is writing
another book from the point-of-view of yet another dog! It’s an episodic series
called Snow Blood, filled with vampires, demons, magic and mystery! 

Win a print or e-book copy of Luke’s Tale: A Story of
Unconditional Love
by replying to this post and writing about unconditional love and what it means to you. 

Please be sure to
include an email address where we can reach you for an address and we will pick
one lucky winner at random!
     

 

VBT

CREATING IS ONE THING—LETTING IT MARINATE IS ANOTHER

by
Cindy McDonald
 People are always
asking me: where do you come up with the ideas for your Unbridled series? I
always chuckle a little bit and then I explain: Well, hanging around the
backside (stable area) of a racetrack for twenty or so years will give you
plenty of fodder for story lines—trust me!

It’s true. So many
characters hang out at the racetrack: gamblers, liars, jockeys, agents (yes,
jockeys have agents), liars, horse trainers, exercise riders, veterinarians, crazy
blacksmiths, and did I mention liars?  There
are lots of liars. Oh yes, the racetrack is a treasure trove of characters, and
if you are paying close attention (I’m a watcher by nature) they will give you
as many storylines as your little heart desires.

Now just to be
clear, I have never seen anyone murder anyone else, nor have I been murdered
myself at the racetrack, so there is quite a bit of exaggeration placed in the
Unbridled books. And although the Unbridled books are fiction, there is a lot
of truth that lies between the lines.

Another question
people are always asking is: Cindy, where do you find the time to write? The
answer is quite simple, I make time. I write everyday. Sometimes I feel as
though I am handcuffed to my computer, but like anything else that you want to
do well, writing is a commitment.

I love to write in
the evenings. It is the quiet time of day, and after I have finished cleaning
up dinner, I pour a glass of wine—usually a chardonnay—I never drink red, it
makes me sweat. Wait a minute.  Maybe I
should reconsider—the sweating might help with those love scenes that I pen.

My stories are
taken from the original telescripts that I wrote for the TV drama series,
Unbridled. Warner Brothers sniffed around it, but the show never got sold, so
my telescripts are excellent outlines. Even with the scripts, it takes me
approximately ten to eleven months to write an Unbridled story. After months of
writing, rewriting, thinking, and yes banging my head off my desk the
manuscript is read to upload it to my editor, right?

Whoa, not so
fast—not for me anyway. This is where my writing and publishing habits may
differ from other authors. This, my friends, is where patience must persevere, and
sometimes that’s a mighty big order.

Okay, take a deep
breath, because it’s time for the marinating process to begin. Yep, that’s what
I said “marinate”. You’re probably wondering if I’ve hit my head off the desk
one too many times, not really. When I’ve finished a manuscript I do the same
thing most authors do—I start over from the beginning and read, tweak, read,
tweak, and then read and tweak some more. And after I’ve gone through this
procedure several times I close the file and let it marinate.

I let the file sit
for up to six weeks without opening it, without re-reading or tweaking it. But
I never stop thinking about it. I keep a notepad close by to jot down thoughts
during those six weeks that the manuscript is becoming juicy and succulent. It
is definitely an exercise in fortitude, but hey, ya know what? It always pays
off in a very big way because when I open the file to re-visit the story, I’m
reading it with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts and the results are always well,
fresh.

Hurrying my
manuscript is never an option for me. I want to make sure that it is a story
that my readers would not be able to put down. Every author has their writing
rituals, for me it is contemplation. Beyond marinating my manuscripts, I
usually take short breaks during the writing of a book as well. Sometimes, I
will walk away from a manuscript for a week or so. If I find that I am becoming
frustrated with my story, I know that it is time to take off my glasses, turn
off the computer, and go for a walk or take my dog, Harvey, for a nice long
run.
The sunshine clears my head and it feels good to stretch my legs for a while—I
was a professional dancer for twenty-six years, I need to move around a bit!
But if I return to the problem pages and nothing has been resolved, then its
time for a break from Unbridled for possibly a week or so. Honestly, it doesn’t
take long until I’m missing my characters and I’m back in the saddle tapping at
the keyboard once again.

Yes it’s true,
marinating and contemplation is a long process, however I am always pleased
with the outcome. I am usually able to publish two Unbridled books per year.
How? Well, I am always a book ahead—sometimes two books ahead of what you are
finding on 
Amazon.  Example: the fourth book of the Unbridled Series, Against
the Ropes, will release on June 1
st. I am almost half-way through
the fifth book, Shady Deals—it will be marinating by July. 

Whew!

I must admit
that no dust ever settles on my computer and those handcuffs come in darn
handy, too. ;}



Other posts on WWBB from Cindy McDonald:
Memories of Presque Isle
When writing romantic scenes where does one draw the line?
When reviews count for nothing.




Deadly.com
by Cindy McDonald

BIO FOR AUTHOR, CINDY McDONALD…

For
the past twenty years Cindy has helped her husband raise, train, and race
Thoroughbreds at their forty-five acre farm known as Fly-By-Night Stables near
Pittsburgh.
During those years Cindy has paid
close attention to the characters that hang-out at the back-side of the
track.  She found the situations and life style most intriguing. In 2005
she sat down at her computer and began a journey into writing about this life
that few understand.
Cindy has recently retired from making
her living as a professional choreographer. She owned and operated Cindy
McDonald’s School of Dance since 1985.  She studied at Pittsburgh
Ballet Theatre School and with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy at Carnegie Mellon
University to name a few.  She has choreographed many musicals and an
opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards.


Enter the giveaway:
One signed paperback or ebook (winners choice, US/Canada), International – one ebook: DEADLY.COM HOTCOCO or DANGEROUS DECEPTION

DEADLY.COM

Make a note: never agitate a madman. Successful Thoroughbred trainer Mike West just made that mistake, and he’s gonna pay—more than her ever realized. But it’s all in the family; his sister, Kate, has been the object of the madman’s desire on the social network site “My Town”. Her constant rejections have infuriated him. People who seem to be in the way start turning up dead, and he’s got Kate and Mike next on his list! In the first book of “The Unbridled Series” Cindy McDonald introduces you to the world of Thoroughbred racing, while taking her cast of characters for a wild ride through a maniac’s mind.

EXCERPT:

The heat of a summer night wrapped its arms around Westwood Thoroughbred Farm. The farm’s vast one hundred acres nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania outside the small town of Grantville. Westwood was a lucrative, bustling horse farm. In the mornings exercise riders would put the horses through their daily workouts. The stable hands would scuttle about the barn chattering in Spanish while cleaning stalls and filling water buckets. In the afternoon, the farm manager, Punch McMinn would deliver the horses to the racetrack where they would dash hell-bent–for-leather toward the finish line. 

Not tonight. Not for Kate West anyway. Kate was only looking for peace and quiet tonight. The glimmer of candlelight and the comforting scent of sweet lilac filled the room. She took a long, gratifying sip of her Sleepy Time tea with a drizzle of honey, a tiny indulgence to help her unwind. She ran her fingers through her blonde, silky hair. Dressed in a soft cami and a pair of pajama pants, she was feeling cozy and glad to have the evening off. She often worked late into the evening as a veterinary assistant at the racetrack. Tonight was going to be a hot one.

She stretched out on the sofa in her father’s study. The sweat dribbled down her neck to between her breasts. Her cami clung to her like a contestant in a wet t-shirt competition. She propped her feet on the coffee table. Her lips curled devilishly as she thought how her father would disapprove. 

Twenty-five-year-old Kate was much too old for scolding, but Eric West could be somewhat over-bearing. He loved the grandeur of the old Victorian-style farmhouse. He claimed that installing a modern convenience such as central air would compromise the home’s integrity. But he wasn’t home. She wiggled her toes, lifted her laptop from the couch, and logged onto a local networking website. The Wi-Fi delivered the site speedily to announce “MY TOWN” across the screen in bold letters. 

The blueness from the laptop’s screen illuminated Kate’s face. She arched a brow and she bit her lip softly when the picture of Giorgio appeared on the screen.

He’s logged on! Oh yes! There he is a delicacy of pure eye candy.

Giorgio had smooth olive skin. His long, dark hair swept across his broad shoulders. His eyes were a cool, inviting green. His jaw was square and strong. It was as if he wasn’t real, as if he was one of those erotic-looking characters on the cover of a romance novel. 

Kate chuckled to herself. She could easily picture this half-naked Adonis, embracing a buxom beauty with her brunette hair cascading over her shimmering bare shoulders with a title like Desire at Dawn scrawled over their heads. 

She had been cautiously chatting with Giorgio for several weeks after he had requested her friendship on the site. His picture was so stimulating, how could she resist? A congregation of attractive woman worshipped him with suggestive messages and invitations on his page. And why wouldn’t they adore him? His half unbuttoned shirt clarifies one thing. He’s ripped.

Among the women who paid daily homage to Giorgio was Ava West, Kate’s ex-sister-in-law. Kate had a healthy disdain for her. She was unfaithful to Mike, Kate’s older brother. Ava blatantly flaunted her beauty in men’s faces to get what she desired. Tall and leggy, beautiful Ava allowed her auburn hair to dangle so she could brush it back with a coquettish smile when in seduction mode. Like Giorgio, she too had green eyes, but they weren’t soft. They were definitely piercing. 

Every man’s wet dream featured Ava, and she knew it. She could be quite the smooth manipulator. Her messages to Giorgio weren’t so much suggestive as straight to the point. Ava liked men in multiples. One man, no matter how handsome, was just never enough for very long.

In general, Kate thought little of women who participated in cyber-sex; she considered it a pathetic, desperate activity. But merely flirting with a gorgeous man in cyber-space couldn’t hurt, right? She laid her fingers thoughtfully on the laptop’s keys just as a message popped onto her screen. 

“Want some company?”

Her fingers jerked from the keyboard. Giorgio! Has he been waiting for me to log on? Hmmm. Maybe he prefers sultry blondes over auburn, green-eyed manipulative monsters.

The cat and mouse game she’d been playing with him for several weeks had been a lot of fun. He had suggested hooking up several times, but she wasn’t prepared for a face to face meeting. Not yet anyway.

She licked her lips in delight as her fingers found their way back into position. I have to hold him off a little longer… make him want me… make him really want to be with me. She typed, “Soon… maybe.”