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Glad you stopped by. I hope you'll stop by again for Monday Morning Musings, Meet the Author Thursday, Who's For Dinner Fridays, and Saturday Sampler.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#8Sunday - Weekend Writing Warriors


I haven't posted an 8-sentence excerpt in a long time. Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today. It's a great way to sample new books and find new authors! 

This is from my sci-fi romance novella, MISSION TO NEW EARTH:


Marsh strode toward me with determination—so different from that easy-going swagger that caught my eye the first time I saw him four years ago at the White Sands Training Center. I never believed in love at first sight, but oh, mama. With dark-haired, dark-eyed Marsh, I fell hard. I must’ve done a great job hiding my feelings back then. He said he never knew—until a year later I pinned him on the exercise mat and kissed him. Yep, I took the initiative and planted a toe-curling smooch on his delectable lips. Not to be outdone, he kissed back. Holy smoke. 

The story:


Earth’s overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. When new crises ensue—a giant tsunami and the threat of nuclear winter—the timeline changes. Eight years of training crammed into four. Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, but are they ready for the one-way trip? Will the Goldilocks planet prove just right for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.


MISSION TO NEW EARTH will be released on August 31st. It's available for pre-order at Amazon for 99 cents.  https://amzn.com/B01JXZR0AK

Check out other 8-sentence excerpts by visiting Weekend Writing Warriors central page  or the Facebook page. Come back next Sunday for more from MISSION TO NEW EARTH.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Who's For Dinner? with Marilyn Baron


Who’s For Dinner? 

I’d like to have dinner with Pioneer Aviator Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and solve one of the biggest mysteries of the last century.


Amelia Earhart was attempting to become the first female pilot to circle the globe, when her when her twin-engine Lockheed Electra disappeared on July 2, 1937, almost 80 years ago. Although people have attempted to solve the mystery of her disappearance, and new clues have surfaced, there are theories galore but no proof of Earhart’s fate. Did she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, survive the apparent crash of the plane in the South Pacific? Before she left on her fateful trip, she said, “I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it.”

According to Earhart’s official website, “On June 1, Earhart and Noonan departed from Miami (my hometown) and began the 29,000-mile journey. By June 29, when they landed in Lae, New Guinea, all but 7,000 miles had been completed. Their next hop was to Howland Island, a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide.  The U.S. Coast Guard cutter ITASCA, their radio contact, was stationed just offshore of Howland Island. Two other U.S. ships, ordered to burn every light on board, were positioned along the flight route. When they lost contact with her, a rescue attempt began and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history. In 1938, a lighthouse was built on Howland Island in her memory and U.S. streets, schools and airports are named after her.”
I’ve always felt an affinity, a psychic connection somehow, with the 39-year-old American aviatrix even though I have no desire to fly a plane or have no earthly reason why I should feel this way, except that I admire her pioneering spirit and courage. I’ve read books and articles and seen movies about her. When I went off to college, I asked for a set of Amelia Earhart luggage. And I named one of the characters in my book, Landlocked, Amelia.

Aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator, Fred Noonan, in 1937 in Los Angeles prior to their historic flight.


What would we talk about? First, I would ask if she and her co-pilot Fred Noonan survived the crash and how long she lived after that. Did she hold out hope that help was coming? Where was the site of the crash? Did she realize the world was at war? Was she captured by the Japanese and held throughout the war? If so, why wasn’t she returned? Did she meet her death as a castaway on another uninhabited island? When did she die? Why haven’t we found her remains? If she had been returned to the U.S., what would be the first thing she’d do? I imagined a tearful reunion between Amelia and her husband, book publisher and publicist George P. Putnam. In a letter to her husband, written in case the flight proved to be her last, she said, “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

You can read more about the life and travels of this fascinating woman on the official Amelia Earhart website at http://www.ameliaearhart.com/.

Title of my latest release: Stumble Stones: A Novel

Blurb
Hallelujah Weiss, writer for the steamy sudser As the Planet Spins, gets a second chance at love when she flees to Italy to get over her recent divorce, courtesy of her cheating ex-husband’s credit card. A woman scorned, Hallelujah has sworn off men and is determined to reinvent herself. The new Hallelujah is eager to live life on the edge, more like Polly, a character she writes and idolizes.
Lonely Berlin hedge fund manager Alexander Stone, a number cruncher who puts his faith in numerical data, still believes in destiny, despite the fact his fiancée just dumped him. Always a man with a plan, Alexander did not plan on Hallelujah.
After a chance encounter on a flight to Rome, the unlikely pair faces danger when they team up to return to their rightful owner a stash of WW II vintage jewels. The hidden diamonds hold the key to an unsolved mystery and a promise of love. 


Marilyn Baron
Author Bio

Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres, from humorous coming-of-middle age women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. Stumble Stones is her 11th novel published with The Wild Rose Press. She’s also published five short stories with TWB Press and self-published three books, including a musical about Alzheimer’s called Memory Lane. AmazonEncore republished her book Sixth Sense on September 15, 2015. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel With Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal//Fantasy Romance. She is a Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) Maggie Award winner, a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and GRW and winner of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn graduated with a BS in Journalism and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. She worked in Public Relations for AT&T in Atlanta for 13 years before starting her own PR firm. She serves on the 2016 Roswell Reads Steering Committee.

Author Media Links


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Meet Author Elizabeth Meyette

I'm so happy to introduce you to my friend and Michigander author Elizabeth Meyette. She is a charming lady, always willing to help fellow writers. Without further ado, let's get to know her.


Welcome, Elizabeth.

Thanks for inviting me to visit with you today, Diane.

Tell us about yourself.

I would love to regale you with tales of my mysterious life in exotic places, but my life has been pretty ordinary. Perhaps that is why my imagination fires with lives of danger and romance—although I do have a wonderful romance in real life with my husband, Rich. Last year, we moved to west Michigan to be near our kids, and near an airport that will transport us to our daughter and grandkids in Texas. We love the beauty of summers in Michigan, but like to get away from the winters for a couple weeks come February. I taught secondary English and journalism with a stint as a media specialist in elementary and middle school. I left my teaching career a few years early to pursue writing full time, and thus, my books were born.

I am a serious chocoholic and must have at least one Dove dark chocolate a day or I get grumpy. I also get grumpy when I’m not writing, and Rich has sent me to my office to write (and cheer up) more than once. He is my biggest supporter. We love to travel and have visited several countries in Europe and have cruised the Caribbean. I love to swim, like to hike, and attempt to golf. And read. I love to read.

Readers can find me at:



How long does it take you to write a book?

Wow. That varies from book to book. My first historical romance, LOVE’S DESTINY, took thirty years from inception to publication because I was teaching and didn’t have time to polish it. Its sequel, LOVE’S COURAGE, probably took only six months to write, I’m sure, in part, because the characters and setting were already established. My mystery, THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE, took about a year. My upcoming book, BURIED SECRETS has been a difficult labor, having taken two years. I am nearing delivery. (breathe, breathe)

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

My ideal work schedule is to go straight from the breakfast table to my office. I set a timer for 30 minutes so I remember to get up and move around. (If the words are really flowing, sometimes I ignore it.) I like to do yoga and meditate in the morning during one of those breaks. After a little break—back to work. This goes on throughout the day. When I’m drafting a new book, I could work for hours and it would seem like minutes had passed.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I get ideas from so many places! Recently, I was at a concert, and a new artist, Brennin, was performing one of his songs. Through his lyrics, I got a clear image of a scene to include in EXPOSED, a contemporary romance I’ve been working on. I whipped out my iPhone and started taking notes furiously. Rich thought I was texting LOL.

My idea for THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE came to me unbidden as I was driving through an extremely busy city. Fortunately, I remembered all the images that sparked the story idea and was able to write them out later. LOVE’S DESTINY was conceived after a dare. A friend kept insisting I read romances she enjoyed, but I kept saying romance wasn’t my genre. When I finally gave in and read several Kathleen Woodiwiss novels, I had to admit to myself that I enjoyed them…but not to my friend—I didn’t want her to “win.”! So I said, “These were good, but I could probably write a romance.” She said, “Then do it!” I said, “Okay, I will.” Gulp. So I did, and thirty years later it was published LOL

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

My fourth book is BURIED SECRETS and will be available in September 2016. It’s the sequel to THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE. I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite child, but I have to admit THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE is my favorite—so far.

I am currently working on LOVE’S COURAGE, the third book in the LOVE’S DESTINY series. Long before AMC produced the series TuRN, I had planned a historical romance based on George Washington’s citizen spy network. I just wasn’t fast enough LOL.

Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?

I am a “pantser” so I start with an idea and begin to write. The story unfolds through the lives and interaction of my characters. I research as I go along, usually using only one-tenth of what I research in my book, but knowing I have a solid knowledge basis for the time in which my book takes place. I have tried to outline, but my brain doesn’t work that way because often I don’t see where things are going. It’s like looking up a dark staircase, you can see the bottom steps, but what lurks at the top? I have to climb those steps and discover as I write.

Once I’ve begun the story, I will use Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet from SAVE THE CAT to ensure my story has a direction and focus. That’s about as structured as I get. During the editing process, I may transpose scenes to tighten the plot or make more sense. As I told my students, writing is a recursive process.

How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?

I have to acknowledge my muse, Boris, here. I often feel like a court reporter simply typing out what I see and hear. I read my writing from the previous day aloud before I continue writing, and sometimes as I’m reading, I think, I don’t remember writing that. It truly is a transcendent experience for me.

How do I balance writing and life? Not easily. As I said, I get grumpy when I’m not writing, so if “life” requires a break from writing, I have to make a conscious effort to put aside my desire to write and deal with whatever life is handing out at the moment. It’s like taking off one hat and putting on another—a paradigm shift to what I need to focus on at the moment.

Tell us about your latest release. 


BURIED SECRETS is the sequel to THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE, so it is a paranormal mystery set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Jesse is a “ghost empath,” and again, a ghost helps her solve the mystery, putting it in the paranormal realm. The romance between Jesse Graham and Joe Riley that began in THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE continues in the sequel, but with a little competition for Joe. Because Jesse and Joe are separated for part of the book, my editor says it’s more women’s fiction and less romance than THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE. I love the combination of mystery and romance.

Blurb for BURIED SECRETS:

When Jesse Graham almost runs over a “body” in the road one night, she is plunged into a labyrinth of secrets, lies and murder. All Jesse wants is a simple life teaching at St. Bart’s… and a chance at love with Joe Riley. She realizes that plan has been thwarted when puzzling occurrences at St. Bartholomew Academy for Girls get increasingly dangerous. The danger doesn’t just spring from the ghost who haunts the grounds of St. Bart’s, but from a sinister presence that is not ghostly at all. As she digs into the mystery, threats on her life and the life of her student escalate.

Also in danger is her blossoming romance with Joe, owner of the construction company providing upgrades at the school. Jesse’s discovery that she is heir to the Wyndham fortune complicates their relationship. Joe’s resistance to involvement with the Wyndham family, founders of St. Bart’s, threatens to push Jesse into the arms of Scott Stanton, the new equestrian coach.


Which danger threatens her life the most? The ghost haunting her student or the secrets buried in the school?


Elizabeth’s book are available at:

Amazon (Kindle, audiobook, and print)

Barnes & Noble (print only)

Walmart (THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE print only)


Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today, Diane. I’ve had a delightful time visiting with you and your readers.

You are very welcome, Elizabeth. It's great to get to know you better.




Monday, August 22, 2016

Setting the Hook

Fishing is not my thing. But it’s a good analogy for story writing. We want to hook the readers then reel them in. As a reader, I want that. Get my attention with the cover and the blurb, but hook me with the first sentence.


The idea for this post came from the program at my writers’ meeting (Mid-Michigan RWA chapter) on Saturday. About once a year, we critique. This time, members sent in three-page beginnings to be read aloud then critiqued. Some stories were pretty rough, but others grabbed our interest from the first sentence.



That first sentence sets the tone for the book and should make the reader ask questions. Here’s an example from Marilyn Baron’s Sixth Sense:  Beauregard Lee Jackson Hale was a shit magnet.

My first question is why does he attract shit? My second is who would saddle anyone with such a long name? Considering the name, the setting has to be in the south.


Here’s another example from Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie: Sophie Dempsey didn’t like Temptation even before the Garveys smashed into her ’86 Civic, broke her sister’s sunglasses, and confirmed all her worst suspicions about people from small towns who drove beige Cadillacs.

If I hadn’t read anything by Ms. Crusie, I’d get a good idea from that first sentence that the story will be humorous with a sarcastic bent. Considering the cars, I know the story is contemporary. My question: why did the narrator dislike the town before the accident?

This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever done as assistant planetary agent for Loxton Galactic Trading—standing in as a bridesmaid in a borrowed puce dress because some other girl failed to show up. ~ Escape From Zulaire by Veronica Scott

The word puce gets me right away. Something about that word conjures up Regency or Victorian times. Yet, “planetary agent” and “Galactic Trading” tells me the story takes place in the future. My questions: why does she have to stand in for a bridesmaid? Is it part of her job (since she mentions it)? And why is it the most absurd thing she’s ever done? That doesn’t sound very absurd. Is her life that mundane?

I saved the best (and most recognizable) first sentence for last. From Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier:  Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

What or where is Manderley? Why would the narrator dream about going there? What significance does Manderley have?

A first sentence sets the tone of the story. It reveals the author’s voice. It can give the location or time period or both. Most importantly, it piques the reader’s interest enough to keep reading.

Check out the first sentences of your favorite books. Do they do that? Share with the rest of us.

*book cover images from Amazon.com



Monday, August 15, 2016

Mish Mash Musing

What a week!

The Olympics dominated our TV, as it did much of the country. Swimming and gymnastics. Wow. My friend and fellow writer Maris Soule compared the Olympics to writing on her blog. Practice makes perfect. How true. Everything we write is practice. 


I felt bad for the divers who had dive into that green water. It reminded me too much of the scummy pond behind our house. Yuck. On a more positive note, my 6-year-old grandson walked around declaring Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky were the best swimmers in the world. How true!


Speaking of the 6-year-old, he and his 9-year-old sister introduced me to sushi rolls last Friday. They thought it was funny I’d never had them. I thought it was amazing they had. (They knew better than to invite Hubs along. He doesn’t do “strange” foods.) I am so proud of my daughter for introducing them to a wide variety of foods. Following lunch, we attended a fantastic performance of “The Cat in the Hat” at the Hope (College) Summer Repertory Theater. Afterward, the kids stayed overnight while their mom and dad had date night. Summer is the time when you can stay up all night reading in bed. Until Grandpa says turn out the light.





Hubs and I saw the newest Star Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond. It was enjoyable but (IMO) not as good as the two previous movies. It seemed to start slow before getting into the action. As usual, at least for our theater, the music overpowered the dialogue at times. Can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch with closed captioning. Going to the show is a painful reminder that my hearing isn’t what it used to be.


I read a couple of great books last week. The Daydreamer Detective Braves the Winter (Miso Cozy Mysteries Book 2) is a great follow up to Book 1. S.J. Pajonas gives the reader a glimpse into everyday life in rural Japan, along with a murder to solve. I enjoyed the first book in this series so much I had to read the second. I wasn’t disappointed. Now I’m reading Veronica Scott’s Wreck of the Nebula Dream—the Titanic in space. Talk about reading all night. Both books kept me reading way too long. At least, Hubs didn’t tell me to turn out the light.



Last week wasn’t all fun and games. I wrote two articles for "Novel Notes" (the newsletter four authors and I produce each month) then realized I only needed to write one. Hey, I get a month off. If you haven’t signed up for "Novel Notes" click here. Each month, we give away a $25 gift card to a lucky reader. How's that for an incentive?

For my post on Paranormal Romantics Saturday, I shared how I came up with the title and worked out some glitches in Mission to New Earth. I love it when I can multi-task. LOL



My freelance editor sent back the edits for Mission to New Earth. Usually, I groan. Not this time. A few continuity errors and a whole lot of missing or misplaced commas. I hate commas. I finished the edits in no time. Now for one more read through before formatting it for the other online venues in time for the August 31st release. Right now, the novella is available for pre-order at Amazon.


Three more weeks of summer before school starts. Although retirement means our lives don’t revolve around the school year, Labor Day means the crowds of tourists will leave and restaurants won’t have long wait times. I’m looking forward to trying out some new places. If they have lines coming out the door, they must be good. Right? If not, there's always Captain Sundae.



Have a great week. Do something fun.




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Meet Debut Author Jeremy Higley


Jeremy Higley was born in California but now lives in Arizona. As of 2016 he’s a graduate student working on a master’s degree in English. He’s also an instructional aide at a local elementary school, a novelist, and a contributing editor for a nonprofit student success company called LifeBound.


The Son of Dark, Book 1 of The Darksome Thorn, is his first novel.

I started writing The Son of Dark during my senior year of college. It took me about three years to finish. Now that it’s done, I still struggle to summarize the story properly without feeling like I’m leaving things out.

The main character, Skel, is a wizard in training and the foster son of an elephant herder who resents him. At the age of 14, his world falls apart when his master leaves unexpectedly, and his true father shows up to tell him about the prophecy that led to his birth. The same night his infant foster brother is kidnapped by a magical dream cult called the Dun Ko.

The book also follows the journey of a former pirate turned merchant whose wife has been possessed by a dragon. As Skel searches for the Dun Ko and the lost child, he gets tangled up in the man’s quest to find a cure for his wife's enchantment. Meanwhile, the good and evil wizards from an age before are becoming active again as the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, the same prophecy without which Skel would never have been born, is weaving the past and the present together in preparation for a dark threat approaching from beyond the horizon.

Skel is not so much an accidental hero as a reluctant one. He wants to do the right thing, and he would like to help everybody, but he hates being the center of attention. He’s like a main character who wants to take the role of a supporting character, but Fate won’t let him. The most fascinating part of his journey, for me, is his development into a leader. He certainly isn’t there by the end of the first book. He likely will have an awkward relationship with his role for a while yet.

Indeed, I think I’ll always see Skel as an unassuming soul whose greatness is thrust upon him by forces beyond his control.



BLURB: 

A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa  failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age. 

Now, the Darksome Thorn has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.

Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent...

...and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything. Will Skel's newly developing powers be a help or a hindrance...


EXCERPT:

Marga pointed to the south. Zar didn’t turn, but he heard a gasp of recognition from Skel.
“Aja-aja,” he said with concern. “Three of them, about two miles away.”

Zar sighed in trepidation. The aja-aja were rare, enormous snakes prowling the Eltar plains, preying on elephants and any herders foolish enough to attack them. They had three heads each and stocky, powerful bodies to match, and could grow to over forty feet long. They killed and then predigested their prey by spitting streams of corrosive poison from their mouths.

“The aja-aja will be no problem,” he bluffed, staring into Marga’s eyes. “I have two magic-users with me now, a wizard and a Phage. They’re perfectly capable of dispatching a few overgrown snakes.”

“If so, then I’ll simply have to wait longer to be reunited with my precious one,”
the Wyvern said, eyeing the flattened snake corpses around her.

Something inside Zar began to burn like a fuse at the words “precious one.”

“You knew her before, I presume,” he continued, his voice much quieter. “Before you kidnapped her, I mean, and took over her mind.”

“She was mine to take,” the Wyvern retorted through Marga’s lips. “She was always mine to take.”
The last words hissed from Marga’s mouth like a challenge. Zar’s fingers wrapped around his sword’s hilt. He wanted nothing more at this moment than a way to strike at
his enemy, but the Wyvern was far, far away.

“If you want her,” Zar said, “you’ll have to kill me.”

“Too risky,” the Wyvern replied. “You crave nothing more than to die for her. To kill you might break my grip.”

“If you don’t kill me she will never truly be yours,” Zar said. He walked to within an arm’s length of her. “As long as there’s breath in me, I will always be fighting to free
her.”

“I’m sure you mean that,” the Wyvern said. “Once you’re dead, there’s nothing to stop me from singing her back to me.”

TRAILER: To watch the trailer, click on this link https://www.youtube.com/embed/svt6n7Rv2Lw

Buy Links:  






Social Media:


                   https://www.facebook.com/darksomethorn/





Monday, August 8, 2016

MISSION TO NEW EARTH Pre-order

 I am thrilled to announce that my science fiction novella is now available for pre-order.



Earth's overpopulation and dwindling resources force the United Earth Space Agency to expedite exploration of new planets for a possible new home. As Sara Grenard and her team prepare for launch, are they ready for a one-way trip?

No one expected the timeline to change. Eight years of training crammed into four. The astronauts, led by Sara Grenard, aren’t prepared to be the only pioneers. They were supposed to lead hundreds of scientists and experts, not be them. But a major crisis ramps up the search for New Earth. Will the Goldilocks planet prove good enough for Earth’s inhabitants? Before time runs out.


Publication date: August 31, 2016
Genre: science fiction novella
Length: 22,000 words (approx.. 88 pages)
On sale for pre-order at 99 cents; $1.99 after release