Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Author: Elyse Mady


Hi Toni.  Thanks for inviting me to visit your blog today.  Thrilled to be here! Nice to have you, Elyse :)
 
Who are you and what do you write?
My name’s Elyse Mady, I write contemporary and historical romance for Carina Press.  I live in southern Ontario with my husband, two boys, a cat with an identity crisis and a ragged collection of semi-feral dustbunnies I’ve named Flopsy, Mopsy and Killer.
When I’m not writing, I teach film and literature at a local college.  When I’m not writing, teaching or ferrying my children to activities, I enjoy creative endeavours like sewing and hand embroidery.

What’s your favourite place in the world to visit?
I went to France this summer for the first time and loved it.  It was utterly gorgeous.  Became something of a running joke, as we’d round the corner of some teeny tiny road, only be greeted by the site of nodding sunflowers, dappled skies and some 13th century village, all soft creams and red clay, to sigh and say to each other in exasperated tones, “Ah yes, yet another picturesque French vista.  Really, I do so long for a change, don’t you?”  (What can I say?  I come by my penchant for sarcasm honestly!) I do love France :)

How long have you been published or is this your first sale?
“Learning Curves” is my second novel, but my first contemporary.  My first, “The Debutante’s Dilemma”, was a historical novella and came out last fall.  I’ve got two more books coming out in the next six months:  “Something So Right” in September, 2011 is another contemporary, while “The White Swan Affair,” my first long historical, will be coming out in 2012.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was a teenager.  I wrote my first novel in my early twenties and then several screenplays after that.  None of them were picked up but I kept at it.  When I returned to school after my second child was born to complete my masters, I started doing magazine articles on a freelance basis in order to make some extra money, since grad school does not make you rich.  While I was there, I wrote what became “Learning Curves”, which was ultimately sold to Carina.

What comes first—characters or the plot?
Characters all the way.  I’m a total and complete punster.  I don’t even write my novels in order.  For me, it’s the characters who direct the story and really tell me how they want the story to evolve.

Who’s your favourite hero?
Captain Frederick Wentworth from Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”.  He loves Anne Eliot so faithfully.  How can you not love him, too, when he says something like this: 
Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.  That’s love, in my opinion.  Real, piercing, untidy but ultimately unshakeable.

*sniff*
Who’s on your auto-buy list for authors?
Megan Hart, Julia Justiss and Michelle Willingham are all authors I love.

Do you write to music? Do you make soundtracks for you stories? If so, what was on the soundtrack for your latest release?
I never listen to music as I write.  I find it utterly distracting.  I can work in noise (uh, hello?  Two small kids in the house – I could probably work on a runway at Pearson and not notice!) but music is something I can’t work and listen to simultaneously.  I love music – I played piano for a lot of years but not while I’m writing.

What’s your biggest dream?
I want to write a novel that ends up on the NYT Bestseller’s List.  Barring that, having one of my novels optioned and then get either Daniel Craig or Hugh Jackman to star in it.  Or both.  Preferably acting in Speedos ;) Funny but I'm hoping your wish comes true too :)

If you were a millionaire would you still write?
Absolutely.  I write when I’m very far from a millionaire and love it now.  How could I give it up?  I’d just have a fancier computer, an assistant and a must better ‘research’ trips to far flung places.

Cat or dog person?
Grew up with a dog.  Sam.  A schnauzer of dubious pedigree.   Married a cat person though, so by default, I sort of switched alliances.  Love our calico, though and sort of enjoy the best of both worlds.  As my mom says, our cat is the most dog-like creature she’s ever met and it’s true.  If she (our cat, not my Mom!) ever starts barking, I won’t be surprised.

Elyse Mady is the author of “Learning Curves” and “The Debutante’s Dilemma”, both with Carina Press.  Upcoming books include “Something So Right” (September, 2011) and “The White Swan Affair” (2012).  She blogs at www.elysemady.wordpress.com.  You can also find her on Twitter at @elysemady and Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4410592.Elyse_Mady.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A picture of Wales

That I found when looking for something else. Isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parents moving...

Next month my parents are moving out of the house they've live in for the last 37 years and I'm very sad I can't be there to help them. The house is more than 300 years old. It has some walls that are as thick as I am tall, no central heating, no double glazing and comes with a shed the size of a barn and a cellar that is frigid and a perfect home for zombies. When I was a little girl I remember my dad putting a few cans of baked beans down there incase of nuclear fallout. We'd have all died of baked bean poisoning before the radiation got us.

They're staying in the same town but it is hard to say goodbye to the place where you grew up. I guess most people don't have that connection anymore anyway.

We moved there when I was six and I have such vivid memories of growing up there. Of riding my bike over jumps in the garden. Of our tortoises, guinea pigs and (27) rabbits in the garden. Of me collecting snails and storing them in the shed. Of our rabid bantam cockerel who wouldn't let you go in the pen without a fight. There was our old dog, Pal, who lived until he was 21. He made Houdini look like a 2-bit chump, got run over twice, bitten in the jugular once and fathered an embarrassing number of puppies with KK registered bitches.Then there was shooting practice  with my dad's airguns, and a few teenage parties--one where my brother's friends literally came through the roof of my bedroom.

There were things about that house I hated and things I loved and I'm so glad mom and dad are downsizing but so sad I won't be able to visit one last time before they move. The move won't be easy considering they are kleptomaniacs and are moving from a six bedroom house to a 3 bedroom semi. I always thought I'd be able to help hump boxes and pack stuff.

Weird.

Living so far from home is hard sometimes...poor me *rolls eyes at self*
 
The last photo, above, was taken secretly inside of my dad's shed. It was like that until my elder sister got her hands on it. She said he had 27 of everything.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Author: Kathy Ivan

Who are you and what do you write? 
Hi, I'm Kathy Ivan.  I currently write Romantic Suspense with Paranormal Elements.  I'm published with Carina Press, with my first release, Desperate Choices.  


What’s your favourite place in the world to visit?
I'm pretty much a homebody now, haven't done much traveling in recent years.  The day job (medical transcription) keeps me pretty tied to a desk most days.  But when I was younger I visited Hawaii, and thought that the islands and their culture were just astonishing.  The warm sandy beaches, the crystal blue waters, the warm tropical nights, what could be better than that.  (Although I have to admit, I used to live in Key West, Florida, so I am partial to the tropics.) 


Where do you write?  
I have a dedicated office where I work all day long doing the day job.  In the evenings, it doubles as my writing space.  I've tried writing at other places in the house, even venturing outside to restaurants and things, but I tend to need a quiet space to write.  So I can go into my office, close the door, and the rest of the world just falls away.  


How long have you been published or is this your first sale?
Desperate Choices was my first sale!  I still pinch myself at times, cannot believe that somebody else loved that story as much as I did.  It was published by Carina Press in September 2010.  


How long have you been writing?
I've always had stories and ideas and plots in my head, every since I was a kid.  Snippets of conversations, a place, anything could get my imagination going.  But I seriously started writing again about 6 years ago after a friend invited me to a Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA) meeting.  That got me hooked.


What comes first—characters or the plot? 
Usually it's the plot for me.  I'll get a kernel of an idea for a story, start branching out and the characters quickly follow.  Rarely does the hero or heroine come first, except for Remy.  (Remy is the hero's brother in Desperate Choices—I'm still working on his story.)  


Who’s your favourite hero?
Whoever I'm currently writing at the time.  With each new book I fall head over heels in love with that hero.  


Who’s on your auto-buy list for authors? 
Oh, wow, way to many to name them all.  I love J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  Linda Howard, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kim Harrison, Angela Knight, Toni Anderson :) (oh, thank you!).  My reading tastes are very eclectic; I'll read just about any genre if the books are good.


Do you write to music? Do you make soundtracks for you stories? If so, what was on the soundtrack for your latest release?
I'm one of the few people I know that does not write to music.  I've tried but it just doesn't work for me.  I guess that's because I spend all day with headphones on, hearing people talk for my day job.  I like peace and quiet when I write.  That usually means going into the office and closing the door to anybody and everything.  No answering the phone, no internet, no cellphone.  Just me and my keyboard. 


What’s your biggest dream?
Right now, my biggest dream would be able to write full time, making enough money at it that I could give up the day job.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job and what I do, but the passionate creative author side of me would love to be able to write whenever the muse strikes, and not have to have a specified time period when I try to squeeze my writing into.


If you were a millionaire would you still write?
Absolutely.  I'd just be writing on a beach somewhere, with cabana boys, ocean breezes, and sparkling beaches right outside my door.  :)
 

Cat or dog person?
Definitely a dog person.  I love cats, too, but I'm allergic.  I can be around them for a short time, but too long and my chest seizes up and I can't breathe.  I've had dogs for the last 25+ years until just recently.  We lost our Missy in April and right now my house is animal free.  I don't think it'll be that way for too much longer, though.  I miss not having a four-legged friend around.  (I totally understand the need for some space when you lose a beloved pet. So sad. Strangely, I'm also allergic to cats, to my daughter's chagrin.)


Thanks so much, Toni, for having my on your blog today. (You are welcome, Kathy. Desperate Choices is a great book).   
I'd love to leave you with a little excerpt from Desperate Choices, my Carina Press release.  It's available at the links listed here:

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

Carina Press

Kobo Books

All Romance Ebooks
Audible.com

 ***

EXCERPT FROM DESPERATE CHOICES 
BY KATHY IVAN

        Behind the wheel of the car, Max angled his head and watched Theresa. She sat silent and unmoving, just as she had since they’d left her shop. His gaze slid slowly along the length of her, and he definitely liked what he saw. He never paid much attention to her when she and Remy first began hanging out together. She’d been way too young. He’d rarely been home then, staying in Shreveport while attending LSU.
Max didn’t really understand Theresa and Remy’s friendship. They were so diametrically different, yet their friendship endured all these years.
Theresa had spent a lot of time at their house, all the holidays, birthdays, even family reunions. She was practically a member of the family, at least to everybody but him. He’d never had the remotest familial thought about her. When he looked at her, she set him aflame.
Every damn time there was a get-together, she’d been included. Until about a year ago. Things started to change then. He stopped seeing her as Remy’s best friend. Instead he saw a sexy, vibrant, eye-catching woman. A woman he wanted in a primitive, gut-wrenching and wholly masculine way. His body ached with wanting her. He’d been avoiding her like the plague ever since. A relationship was a complication he couldn’t afford in his life right now.
“Pull over here.” Her voice drew his attention back to the road. He angled the car over to the side of the pavement. Coasting to a stop, he swiveled to face the passenger side, watching Theresa closely.
“Why here?” he asked in a deceptively quiet voice, careful to betray nothing. An amazing coincidence. She’d told him to stop at the exact location the police discovered Tommy’s cell phone. Just a lucky guess. Doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Opening the passenger door, Theresa stepped from the car. Max got out and walked around the front to join her where she stood. He watched her take several steps forward and then backtrack. Her eyelids were shuttered, as if by closing them, she could obscure her surroundings.
For a few tense moments, he watched and waited. In a whispered tone, she finally spoke. “Give me the cell phone.”
Quiet resolve and determination filled her face. Reaching through the passenger-side window, he plucked the manila envelope from the front seat and handed it to her. Then he stood back and watched.
            Theresa slowly opened the clasp on the envelope, her movements tentative, a slight trembling in her fingers. She didn’t want to be involved in this case. She had a bad feeling about this, a really bad feeling. Mentally bracing herself as she reached inside, she grasped the cell phone. She lifted it and held it in her right hand, her fingers sliding around the metal and plastic. It felt cool to her touch. Switching her grip to both hands now, the envelope drifted unnoticed to the grass.
Images began to form. Slowly at first, they gained substance as she allowed the psychic energy to wash over her. It happened like that sometimes. Some visions came in a great flash, immediate and precise in detail, crystal clear and sharp. Other things were vague, fuzzy, out of focus.
The closest she’d ever come to describing it was a near-sighted person without their glasses, nearly blind. With tremendous concentration, she could sometimes get images to slowly and steadily come into focus.
Even though it was late afternoon, in her mind’s eye it was twilight. The dusky time between day and night where everything fades to shades of gray, black and white. She extended her extrasensory flow, hearing nothing except the normal sounds of nature. Crickets chirped, mosquitoes buzzed, an occasional bird lifted in flight. The normal sounds of a Louisiana evening.
Things began coalescing into definition. She stood alongside a motorbike. The motor wasn’t running.
She let her psychic senses run free. In the distance, she heard an engine. Its growl grew louder as it approached. A vehicle pulled to the side of the road a short distance ahead of where she stood beside the bike.
“Theresa,” Max interrupted. Never opening her eyes, she raised her finger to her mouth, motioning for quiet.
She concentrated on the vehicle, but as hard as she tried, it wouldn’t come into a clear image. She could only determine it was a light color and large. Focus, she whispered in her mind. Go deeper. Bring it into focus.
A sudden jolt broke her concentration. Her neck snapped back, jarring her from the vision and back into reality. Theresa stared up at Max’s face inches from hers, so close she could feel the warmth of his breath. His grasp on her shoulders felt firm yet insistent.
“Theresa.” A hint of anxiety filled Max’s normally placid voice. “Theresa. Snap out of it.”
“What’s wrong, Max?”
“What’s wrong? You were standing there, barely breathing, shaking like a leaf, and you ask me ‘What’s wrong?’” Max’s hold on her eased and she watched him run a hand across his eyes. “What the hell just happened?”
The vision vanished, faded away like mist evaporating. Nothing left but the daylight surrounding her and Max. She handed him the phone and managed to stagger a couple of steps, resting her hip against the hood of the car.
Her body trembled, exhaustion enveloping her like a heavy cloak. This was one of the reasons she hated this kind of reading. It wiped her out, leaving her emotionally and physically drained.
“There’s not a lot I can tell you, Max. I saw the bike at the side of the road. Right there.” She pointed. “It wasn’t running. I couldn’t tell why not. I didn’t get the impression there was anything mechanically wrong, but…”
She took a few steps away from the car and glanced toward the woods. They were dense, thick and mysterious, yet no sense of danger emanated from them. Sunlight poured through the few leaves, wiping away all trace of the twilight hues from her vision.
“Another vehicle pulled over there.” She gestured toward the road again, indicating an area about twenty feet beyond where his car was parked. “It was large, light in color. Maybe white or a light yellow or tan, I couldn’t tell. It stopped. I sensed a brief moment of fear, but just as quickly it was gone. Tommy felt relief. He didn’t seem afraid. He seemed thankful, maybe even happy.”
Theresa looked up into Max’s eyes for the first time since the vision ended and met his gray-eyed gaze.
“Max, whoever took Tommy wasn’t a stranger. It was somebody he knew.”

Copyright 2010 Kathy Ivan
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest Author: Rae Renzi

Who are you and what do you write? I'm Rae Renzi, and I write contemporary romance, with a bit of adventure and sometimes a hint of the supernatural thrown in.
What’s your favourite place in the world to visit? There are so many great places to visit! Maine, Provence, Tahiti--I love them all. One of my all-time favorite trips was the six-day river-raft ride down the Grand Canyon that inspired the opening scene in my novel RiverTime. Standing at the river's edge and looking up at canyon walls that extend for a mile was simply awe-inspiring. Tracing the passage of eons in the striations of the canyon very clearly demonstrates the scale of human life as compared to time. And the river! Wild and wonderful doesn't begin to describe it.
Where do you write? In some strange quirk of physiology, my feet have to be higher than my derrière for me to write (or so I believe). This is a little awkward in my office when I'm working on science manuscripts, but for fiction, I mostly I write on a sofa (feet up!) or in bed. Not sure what I'd do without a laptop.
How long have you been published or is this your first sale? I've been writing non-fiction for years, but RiverTime, published by Carina Press, is my first work of fiction, and it was so incredibly fun. Makin' stuff up…can't beat it.
What comes first—characters or the plot? I tend to write stories in successive approximations, so the first thing up is usually a mental sketch of a situation, then I fit a character to the situation, and then come up with a plot around these two elements. For example, in RiverTime, I thought of a woman being swept away by a flash flood and stranded in the middle of the inaccessible Grand Canyon, where she meets an equally inaccessible man. Then I went back and created the main character, Casey, to be inquisitive and upbeat, but terrified of publicity.
Who’s your favourite hero? Too many to name (and, of course, one of the great things about being a writer is you get to make up your own favorite heroes!), but for romantic heroes, I like Jamie Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. He's unassuming but thoroughly heroic, and so easy to fall in love with.
Who’s on your auto-buy list for authors? I'm an omnivore when it comes to reading, but I'll buy anything by Elizabeth Peters, Shana Abe, Colin Cotterill, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins, Martha Grimes, Isabel Allende, Steve Hockensmith, Lois McMaster Bujold to name a few.
If you were a millionaire would you still write? If I were a millionaire, I would write more! (because, as a debut author, at this point I am still supporting my writing habit with a full time job).
Cat or dog person? Love them both. Have them both. Just read a fascinating book called Inside of a Dog, written by cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz. Wish someone would write a similar one about cats (and horses, cows, foxes, pigs, birds, etc.)

***
Rae Renzi took a convoluted path to writerhood, with stops along the way in field biology, genetics, and cognitive neuroscience. She has authored numerous articles in domains of science, but RiverTime, published by Carina Press, is her debut work of fiction. She loves reading, loves writing, and is always happy to hear from like-minded peeps at www.raerenzi.com.  
RiverTime can be purchased at Carina Press: http://bit.ly/nvbvaT or Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/oAsGJP.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Garden

In Bloom...
 

 
 
 
 
 I grew all the Morning Glory (above) from seed :)
 
 
 
Excuse the photographic posts. Bottom line is summer is short here and I love seeing all this color after facing monochrome white/gray for 6 months of the year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guatemalan Corn Cake


Recipe from one of daughter's former Grade 5 classmates. Uncooked mix looks and smells like baby vomit, but the results (see above photo) are delicious!!

1 yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (8 1/2 oz) can of cream-style corn, mashed and strained, then add milk to corn to make one cup
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients for 2 mins
2. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan
3. Bake at 350 F for 55 mins
4. Cool for 15 mins, then turn out of pan
5. Dust with powdered sugar

Enjoy!

Friday, July 08, 2011

My Summer So Far

I'm writing :) When I'm not writing, I'm ferrying kids to swimming lessons. When I'm not ferrying kids to swimming lessons, I'm walking the dog. When I'm not walking the dog, I'm watering and weeding the garden. When I'm not watering and weeding, I'm feeding people. When I'm not feeding people, I'm theoretically cleaning the house. When I'm not doing any of those other things I'm on the internet.
And I'm reading.
And I'm sleeping, but not as much as I'd like :)

Wow, I sound busy. How's your summer treating you?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Guest Author: Debra Kayn

Thanks for having me here today, Toni!

For those of us in the United States, we’re preparing for the 4th of July. Families get together and barbeque, friends meet at the lake for the fireworks display, and towns everywhere are putting on a parade in celebration. Around my area, NW Oregon, it means summer finally arrives on July 5th. Most years are outdoor plans have been rained out, but you can almost bet that on the 5th, the elusive sun will finally starting showing up.

In my book, Chantilly’s Cowboy, it’s a McDougal tradition to host the yearly picnic and fireworks display on the ranch. This year, Jack is helping out. He didn’t have the greatest childhood growing up, and seeing the community and other families coming together for a good time touches him in a way he never expected. And, it’s a good thing Jack’s around. Chantilly will need him more than ever before…

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Do you shoot off fireworks? Get together with family and friends?

Here at the Kayn farm, we live in a rural, old growth forestry area, and fireworks are prohibited. That doesn’t stop us from turning on the barbeque and having a good time. I just hope it doesn’t rain!

If you’re interested in reading more about what happens on the 4th of July in Chantilly’s Cowboy, you can buy a copy at Carina Press and most 3rd party ebook stores. Don’t forget that Val’s Rancher, book 2 in the Sisters of McDougal Ranch series, comes out Oct. 17th!

If you like series,  The Chromes and Wheels Gang series. Book 1, Biker Babe in Black, was released yesterday. Think of bikers as Cowboys on iron horses!

___________________________________________________________
Multipublished Romance author, Debra Kayn, is not only a writer, she's a wife and Mom to four great kids. When she's not staying up late dreaming of new stories to write, she enjoys riding motorcycles, gardening, playing tennis, and spending time with a fishing pole in her hands.

She lives in the beautiful Coastal Mountains of Oregon on a hobby farm. Her love of animals includes dogs, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys, geese, and yes...pigs. The peacefulness of a flowing creek across her property provides an excellent spot to read a book on a summer day, go swimming, and catch the ever elusive fish.

You can visit Debra’s website here www.debrakayn.com
Follow her on Twitter here www.twitter.com/DebraKayn
Like her Facebook Page here www.facebook.com/DebraKaynFanPage

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

And naturally on Canada Day I got up early and...bleached the sink. Sigh. I really know how to party ;)