Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Release Jitters

Josh Stewart
Here we go again. Next Tuesday, THE TWINS (Epitaph 2) enters the real world. I get so nervous! Will you like reading it as much as I loved writing it? (If you do, please leave me a review! And even if you didn't...) I have to tell you I had a ball writing Jared (the hero). Have you ever seen Criminal Minds? JJ's husband, Will? I love the way he talks. Oh, yeah. Back to the book.

Want another little snippet to whet your appetite? (Have you ordered your copy yet? Links are on the web page.)

   Jared pushed to his feet once more, retrieved the remaining tools on the dining room table and stuck them in his pocket, then crutched to his chair. As he resumed his seat, his phone rang with Celine Dion’s My Angel—the  lovely Siobhan McCormick. He knew her last name now.
   “Hallo?” he answered.
   “Sorry I missed your call.”
   “I was worried I might have scared you off, with all my bruises and bandages and scars.”
   She was silent a moment.
   “I’m here,” she said softly.
   “Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”
   “How did you know it was me?”
   He smiled. “Well, I didn’t place your voice at first, but that silly nickname you used was close enough to put it all together. If you’d have said your name was Miss McCormick, then I might have had a more difficult time.”
   “Shevy’s not a silly nickname. My brother calls me that. And my sister.”
   “Sounds more like a car, and darlin’, you don’t look anything like a car.” He closed his eyes to picture her. No, she was sweet, and pretty and he sensed a bit of feisty that would make things interesting, but best not to go there right now, not while his bones were still mending. “So you want to buy my house?”
   “I haven’t decided if I’m ready to take that step.”
   “I noticed you lingering in the bedroom. Something about that appeal to you?” Nope, nothing wrong with his circulation. Jared shook his head, frustrated once more by his injuries.
   “The closet didn’t look very big,” she said, but her voice held a teasing tone.
   “I’ll make it bigger for you,” he said.
   She laughed. “I think I already told you I’m not having phone sex with you.”
   He opened his eyes wide, then chuckled. “Well, that one’s on you, ma’am. I was actually referring to the closet. I’m a carpenter by trade. What were you referring to?” Not so Frankenstein-ish after all if her mind was going to those places.
   “The closet, of course,” she replied, that breathy hitch in her voice.
   “You want to have sex in the closet?” he asked. Say yes.
   She giggled. “You’re a terrible flirt.”
   “Tell me what else you liked about the house, because you know I can’t have sex for another month, and you’re killing me here.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Here, have a Snickers"

As many of you know, I work a seasonal day job, and we are currently in the midst of March Mayhem. What this means to me is that the job takes over my life. While I try to maintain my writing schedule, and have had moderate success balancing in the past, it isn't working this year. After a full day (which often runs up to 12 hours) of staring at my computer screen or proofreading or what-have-you, by the end of the day, I can't bear the thought of looking at my computer for another couple of hours, not to mention the fact my brain is so overworked that when I tap my imagination to kick in, it gives me that "are you kidding?" look.

I had an email from one of my very first critique partners, a friend for more than 15 years, in which she told me, "I've noticed you get very cranky when you don't have time to write.  It's almost like withdrawal for you. It could be detrimental to your health!" Don't you know it, sistah!

And then there was my sister, who said "Why are you releasing a book in the middle of busy season?" Well the answer to that one is a little easier. The book is on autopilot. It requires very little from me at this stage of the game and it's "due." Epitaph 2: THE TWINS is cued up, everything is scheduled ahead of time, so other than try to remind people that it's available for pre-order and send out teasers (which can also be pre-scheduled), the release requires minimal effort on my part. The hard part is done. Speaking of which, look what I got last week!

In the meantime - anyone got a Snickers bar so I don't turn into some villainous actor/actress?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Books that alter your life

Have you ever read a book that changed the course of your life?

Raising my hand. I can think of one that I read at exactly that point in my life when I was at a crossroads. It moved me to action, sent me on a journey to an imaginary place. I've read that book at least three times, and could probably read it again.

Many books have deeply impacted me. Some have introduced provocative subjects that made me think. I saw recently that they made The Shack into a movie. I found that book to be very profound. I wouldn't say I agree with it anymore than I do the Dan Brown books (many of which I have also found very thought provoking), but it does make you stop and think. These authors have a platform to express their thoughts and feelings and beliefs in a fictional format. One man's journey. I can't say they challenge my belief systems, more like they enhance them. How often do you stop and wonder if something like that could really be true? For instance, The Inferno. Biological warfare. Overpopulation. It could happen. And that's what makes for compelling fiction.

Which brings me to our world of conspiracy theories. We live in an interesting time in history. So much so that I'm considering writing a conspiracy theorist in my next book. When coincidence steps in and lends a hand to troubling times, imagination takes over and invents reasons for these things to happen. We've had computer programming issues at the day job with some of the tools we use on a regular basis. I have a program on my home computer that has decided to stop functioning properly. In a world filled with cyber criminals, it is an easy leap to theories these gremlins in the machines are more than they appear.

But I digress. 

Maybe your reading list hasn't changed your life, but it has spurred you on to a course of action. A trip to a faraway place that you read about. Trying something you've never tried before. What books have you read that have spurred you to a course of action?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Read an E-Book Week

When the technology was new, my sister beat me to the punch. She got a Kindle and told me if I got one to let her know, she'd include me on her account and we could share books. Of course, my dear husband didn't know about her offer (not that I would have shared an account with her anyway) and bought me one for Christmas. He's that kind of guy, always wanting me to have the latest tech gadgets. Me? I tend to drag my feet. I'm often behind the trends.

When I got my Kindle, I still wasn't sure I was going to like reading a book without holding the pages in my hand. As a test run, I downloaded the classics, largely because they were free, but also because I happen to like some of them and wanted to read others I hadn't yet read. It didn't take long before I started buying e-books. As much as I love reading a "flesh and blood" book, when I'm traveling, you can't beat the convenience of e-books. I could load up my Kindle and it was the equivalent of taking a suitcase full of books.

This week is "Read an e-Book week." Did you know you can even borrow e-books from the library? (and yes, I have.)

This week, +Smashwords is running their annual coupon week, where you can pick from a list of books offered from authors at a discount using the coupon codes found along with the books' descriptions. I'm offering EPITAPH, COOKIE THERAPY and THE MIST TRILOGY at a discount, so feel free to pop over and get one or all of them for half off, this week only.

What was the first e-book you read?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Indulging Oneself

I saw a fun post recently that bears repeating. The Muse posted 10 ways to pamper yourself (and you can read that here). Not sure "Whiten your teeth" ranks up there on ways to pamper myself, but it did make me stop to consider those things that we should do for ourselves and often don't.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is a hectic time of year for me. Having passed the first of three major deadlines, I DO stop to consider ways to indulge myself as a way of saying "good job, well done." So here are a couple of things I'd add to the list from The Muse.

11. Go to the salon
... or to a spa. Get a mani or a pedi, as is your preference, or both! Even if you don't need a cut, let the stylist wash and style your hair. Nothing like a nice head massage or, for that matter, a body massage.

12. Call your best friend
When is the last time you spent an hour on the phone just chatting with someone you love to talk to? Invite them to dinner if you don't want to talk on the phone. Spend time catching up with someone near and dear to you.

13. Star gaze
Weather permitting (and the climate has certainly given us a mild winter where I live), go outside after the sun has set, or when the sun is setting and take in the wonder of the spectrum of colors only nature provides. Then check the indigo blanket for the twinkling of stars and planets. Like when you were a kid--did you lie on your back and watch the sky for hours?

14. Visit the bakery
I don't bake very much anymore, mostly because I have a habit of eating those things that I bake. A trip to the bakery gives you portion control! Get a donut, buy a cookie, have a piece of cake or a slice of pie. Or, if you don't want to indulge, window shop and smell...

15. Take a walk
Exercise is good for the soul! Look for things you haven't noticed before. Maybe, like me, you'll discover two conjoined trees or critters in the wild. Last fall I took pictures of the leaves on the sidewalk--a kaleidoscope of colors under my feet! If the weather isn't cooperative, go to your favorite mall or store and window shop.

What are your favorite things to do when you want to treat yourself?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Where should I take my vacation?

It's busy season at the day job - and that means I'm planning my escape for when its over. But where to go?

As DH and I were relaxing in front of the television, unwinding, I asked him "don't you ever get tired of watching television?" That's his favored method of relaxation, but me, not so much. You see, I'd just finished EPITAPH 2: THE TWINS and released it into the world (Release date is April 4), so I was restless, excited to do SOMETHING. Turns out he wasn't really watching either (Kindle in hand), and so I invited him to help me plan our escape.

So many destinations, so difficult to decide. Among the front runners, another cruise (he loves cruises), New Orleans, Montreal, Scotland--but I'm one of those people who, when given too many choices, throws her hands up. The more choices, the harder it is to decide. But then, something will click and I'll say, "There! I want to go There!"

How do you decide where to go on vacation? Have you been somewhere that you'd recommend?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A preview of Epitaph 2

Working on edits to Epitaph 2: The Twins. Thought I'd share a piece of it for you.

     Siobhan set the new charts on her desk and checked on her virtual patients, reviewing incision photos, making sure their word clouds were within appropriate positive/negative parameters, checking for patient-added notes or other triggers that required attention. Most patients didn’t bother sending anything more than the app requested. Answer the questions and be done with it. One patient left daily notes, thinking she had to chart the way doctors did. She detailed her food and water intake every day and the amount of time she spent doing her physical therapy. Siobhan sent push notifications acknowledging “nice job.”
     And then there was this new guy. Released from rehab this morning. He’d been keeping up with his progress, but Siobhan hadn’t done much with his file while he was in-patient. He’d added words to his “how are you feeling?” cloud like “aggravated by maternal attention” and “planning a jailbreak.” He was good for a laugh, but she pictured a grown man-child who spent his days playing computer games. From the way he used his app, Siobhan judged Jared Pierce to be a grumpy patient. Some people didn’t do well with slowing the pace of their lives while they recovered. While she checked his progress, she found he’d written a note.

     “Who the hell cares if I have an erection when I wake up? Isn’t that kind of personal? You going to send a nurse over to jump into bed with me?”
Siobhan laughed out loud and checked his word cloud. He’d highlighted that yes, he indeed had an early morning erection. She sent a push notification through the app. “An erection indicates good circulation and is normal and healthy. If you didn’t have one, that would be an indication of a problem.”
     She continued through her charts and checked off three more of her patients when another note appeared from Jared Pierce.
     “You mean there’s a real person on the other end of this godforsaken app?”
     She laughed again. Definitely a grumpy patient. Behind the technology, her job was to monitor and report. Despite years of coddling patients face to face, in her present position, Siobhan was instructed to point them to their primary physicians with any questions. Personal involvement with the PHM users would diminish her ability to do the rest of her job, and yet she couldn’t ignore his question.
     “I will be monitoring your recovery and coordinating with your primary physician.” As soon as she sent the message, the cell phone dedicated to PHM [Patient Health Monitoring] rang.
     The number was the one associated with Jared Pierce. “And who, exactly, are you?” His voice was deep, with a hint of New Orleans.
     Credit him for reading through the app screens and finding the number. “My name is Siobhan. I’ll be checking your progress a couple of times each day,” she told him in her most officious voice.
     “So I can call you anytime I start feeling lonesome?” His voice reverberated like a cat’s purr.
     “I’m a transition care nurse. If you have any critical health issues, you should call 911,” she said.   “Do you have family helping you during your recovery?”
     “Well, now, they’ve just left me on my own for the remainder of my recuperation period. I feel at a disadvantage, Miss Siobhan. You sound like a pretty girl, and you already know more about me than I know about you. That hardly seems fair.”
     She’d dealt with flirty patients before, but it concerned her that he had no help for the next couple of weeks. “Are you in contact with your primary physician? Do you need help coordinating home health care?”
     “It’s all good. I’m fine by myself. I’ve got a visiting nurse coming tomorrow, and at-home physical therapy, but I am a long way from home and they tell me I can’t travel until I’m healed. Sure would be nice to have a friendly voice say hello every now and then.”
This was new territory for her. Was it unprofessional to call the app patients? Her contact was supposed to be minimal. “But you do have family?”
     “Well, sure…”
     “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” she asked.
     He chuckled softly, a sound that woke up long dormant nerve endings. “I do apologize for my crass note, Miss Siobhan. Knee jerk reaction. Not too many people ask me if I wake up with morning wood, and I guess I responded poorly.”
     “It’s a standard question,” she said, growing uncomfortably warm. She was a nurse, used to clinical discussions about bodily functions. So why was she flustered talking to Mr. Pierce? She cleared her throat. “The words in the cloud are typical symptoms that accompany both your condition and your medications and are designed to ferret out any potential issues that might hamper your recovery.”
     “Understood. But I do like the sound of your voice, ma’am. I believe it might go a long way toward speeding my recovery.”
     “This is a business phone, Mr. Pierce, and you may not always get an answer.”
     “Fair enough. I thank you for your time, ma’am, and I do believe my meds are kicking in so I’ll say goodbye and close my eyes now. It’s been a pleasure.”
     “Have a good day.” Siobhan disconnected the call with a cheek splitting grin. Pain meds did funny things to patients. Jared Pierce would likely wake from his nap and forget all about their phone call, but she wouldn’t. The timbre in his voice was well suited to a phone sex operator, although the way he drawled his folksy Southern “ma’ams” was a bit much. Still, it was good of him to apologize for requesting a nurse in his bed.

When two trees grow together...