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Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Mistress, Less Maria

I had hoped by now my knee would've healed enough for me to return to yoga, but it's still not strong enough. I really slammed hard on it this time. Worse yet, I never found my relocated orthopedist. I know he lives in a city pretty far from me, so my guess is he probably restarted his practice there. Too far for me, I'm afraid.

Mistress of the Stone got off to a rousing start and I'm so grateful for your tweets, posts, reviews and 'Likes'.

LD Masterson is still holding a contest and is buying one commenter a copy of Mistress of the Stone. She didn't tell me how long she's holding the contest open, but I'm sure she'll leave it up at least a week--especially since we're in a holiday weekend in the states.  Thank you, Linda for the generous offer! Go over there and enter. Then be a pal and follow Linda. She's one of the good guys--and she has a cute dog too.

Angelina Rain also slipped in a mention of Mistress of the Stone. Angelina has published quite a bit recently and she just announced a new anthology coming out with a few other authors called, Cauldron of Tales. Great title and great cover too. Check her out!

Angela Brown has been a blogging tornado since the day she started. And she was kind enough to let Tank and Iko shanghai her blog for the day. Do pop over and give my pirate dogs a bone. --a meaty bone, please. They are rather particular.

Jackie Burris, book blogger and long time fan posted her review of Mistress of the Stone. Does it get any better than to have a book blogger also be a fan? Book reviewers are inundated with requests so I'm always grateful when they take the time to read one of my books.

Giacomo Giammatteo has been sharing my posts on Facebook and Tweeting like crazy. Thank you, Jim! If we lived closer, I'd make you Mexican lasagna. (I already know I can't compete with Mikki's Italian lasagna.)

Go and add Jim to your blog reading. His posts are wonderful. 

I'm serious. They're really good. Go.

*****

I plan on giving a more complete report on how this release went, but there have been a couple of curious side notes I wanted to mention.

Aside from a few emails that smelled a little spammish, there's been an increase in friend requests on Facebook and Goodreads and several new Twitter followers. I've also had an increase in guest post requests, including one request that offered PAYMENT. All this without me ever asking for anything. Not bad.

My email box is overflowing so I'm reading and researching each request before I respond. I've been away from home a lot the last couple of days, thanks to Greg and his evil plot to keep me from working on the homestead. But Greg has returned to places south and I'll be staying put now. I had to give my solemn promise to rest my bum leg. :grumble:

I've had companies offer to pay me for my blog posts before, but it always seemed like a hassle to collect funds so I've declined. Do any of you have any experience with paid posts? How do you handle transactions of this sort? Is it worth it?

We're expecting triple digits later this week, but the nights are getting cooler. Fall can't be too far away. How's the weather by you? Anyone live near Mississippi or Louisiana?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mistress of the Stone

Deciding not to do a blog tour is a bit of an experiment for me with lots of uncertainty. I'll let you know what I learned along the way.

But what's this? I had several very wonderful people offer to show off my cover or tweet some snippets. I was so touched by the response. 

Some of you are posting today, but others will be stretching out the party. More air time for me! Woot!


About Mistress of the Stone: I really liked this story. There is a pretty hot romance involved, but it's really more about relationships with friends, family, and enemies in a setting of mythos and history. It was tricky to meld these elements, but I think I pulled it off.

The only thing that really changed was the ending. My editor wanted me to change the 'open ending' to something with more closure. I was okay with the decision, but I'm still fond of leaving things with an air of mystery.

If you like paranormal stories with a twist, this might be up your alley. If you read it, I hope you'll leave a review somewhere--or better yet, tell your friends. 

Love you guys. Thanks for all your support. I won't forget it.

Here are a few people who have graciously offered to mention Mistress of the Stone. You already know I read a lot of blogs, but what you may not know is that I only read blogs I enjoy. The blogs below are a few of my favorites.
 
Stop by and say, howdy then tell them I sent ya. If you're not already following these bloggers, definitely put them on your list. They're some of the good ones.
 
Angela Felsted: Boy, was I surprised when I saw this post! Angela was one of the few people who asked to read the ARC. I've always considered Angela a tough reviewer so I was on tenterhooks when the post showed up on my reader. I don't think I started breathing again until I finished her review. LOL. Check it out.
 
Shelley Munro: From down under. Shelley is the consummate professional and someone I deeply admire. She may not know it, but I used her as my mentor when I started blogging. She does it so well.
 
Melissa McClone: My regular supplier of LOL cats. Melissa is a veteran of Harlequin, so you know she's good. Melissa is also an animal advocate, regularly fostering or adopting kitties in need.

Nadja Notariani: Nadja only recently burst onto the publishing scene, but she has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the work, sweat, and tears involved to make it in this business. When she talks about food, my mouth waters.
 
Ronda Tutt: One of the few book bloggers who actually writes me with regular funnies! There's a guest post at her place where I talk about the Not-So-True Story Behind the Mistress of Stone.

Barbara Wright: A fellow Texan, Barbara will be here in September to celebrate her debut novel. She is a little bit strange with her Barbie fetish, but I don't hold that against her. Everybody needs a hobby. \o/

Samhain Publishing: My one obligatory post to my publisher. Today I posted 12 Truths and 1 Lie about Mistress of the Stone. Get the inside scoop about this story.

LD Masterson: Linda is a long time fan of mine and it didn't surprise me when she offered to BUY one lucky winner a copy of Mistress of the Stone. Definitely, stop by her blog, leave a comment, and add yourself to her follower list. I love her blog. It's funny, bright and uplifting, just like Linda.


There might be other blogs mentioning Mistress of the Stone today but I'll post later this week and let you know where they are so you can meet some new people. For now, I need to spend an hour brushing my teeth before I go to the dentist.

See ya around the web. I'll be popping in at all these blogs as soon as I get home today.



Monday, August 27, 2012

You Can't Fix Clumsy

It's release week for Mistress of the Stone. But today it's strictly a blatant plea for pity. Over the weekend I hurt my knee badly (and after all the progress I made with yoga). It's so not fair.

I tripped over a tree root and landed hard on my bad leg to keep from falling. Well, you know the rest. Ice, bed rest, no work, and no yoga. At least Greg is here to do most of my chores.

The injury is bad enough that I might have to see a doc--only he recently relocated his office. I'm hoping he didn't move too far or I'll be forced to find another orthopedist. I hate having to break in a whole new doctor.


Anyway, pop in tomorrow to see where I'll be appearing. And admire my pirate dogs wherever they show up. I love showing them off!

Mistress of the Stone releases tomorrow. I'll also be in a dentist's chair tomorrow at 10am. Guess which one I'll enjoy more.

What's new? Busted anything lately? Kids off to school? --Yeah, I heard all that jubilant screaming. You're not kidding anyone.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh, Boy



No blog tour this time. :cue collective gasp:

I know. This smacks against the very nature of book promotion, but, hey, you knew I was a maverick when you met me.

Captain Tank and First Mate Iko will be appearing at Ronda Tutt's blog on release day so you can read what they have to say about Mistress of the Stone. (Apparently, we have a difference of opinion on how the story should've gone.)

In the meantime, if you'd like to do me a favor and post the cover, blurb, or a very short tweetable excerpt, email me and I'll send you everything you'll need.

From me and my pirate dogs, big hugs and thank you.

***
Several months ago, I picked up this very ergonomic mouse pad. It has a most attractive male butt, the buttocks themselves raised and serving as a comfortable rest for your weary wrist. The buttocks are soft and malleable--I mean ergonomic. Not that I've sampled them (too much).

I wanted to offer this as a prize in some future contest, and what better opportunity than the release of Mistress of the Stone.

So friends, peers and naughty neighbors I give you the man-butt mouse pad (picture since removed) and a digital copy of Mistress of the Stone. All you have to do is mention the book (with the buy link) on Twitter, Facebook or your blog any day between August 28th and September 4th.






Monday, August 20, 2012

Yoga For Mules

There's a reason Greg calls me, Mule. Oh, sure. I can lift, tote, and work all day without a break. But I'm also as stubborn as that proverbial beast of burden.

Two months ago, I would've bet cash money that yoga would be another failed attempt to relieve the pain in my knee and back. I was so wrong.

Yoga is not a miracle cure. It didn't give me instant mobility or relief, but I noticed improvement within two sessions. By the end of the week, I was sleeping all night--something I've not been able to do in FIVE years. My knee is also stronger and doesn't fatigue as quickly. It's still grinding bone on bone, but the muscles have grown so strong, they support the joint almost effortlessly.

I go 5-6 days a week. Only once did I miss a week when we had several catastrophes on the home front that required my attention.

I am a terrible student. That's no exaggeration. I really am bad. This is not for lack of trying, but because my brain is wired backward when it comes to body mechanics and I have no balance whatsoever.

I persevere because I've seen such dramatic improvement that drugs, surgeries, or therapy have not given me. Even when I don't want to go, I know it'll make me feel better if I do.

Despite how it looks, yoga is very difficult to do well. And as soon as you master one posture, there's always an advanced posture that will put that ego on the curb.

Probably the thing I like best about yoga is that for at least one hour, it's all about me. It's about my body and how far I want to push it. For sixty whole minutes I am the only person that matters. It wasn't until I started training that I realized how far down on the list I had put myself.

That's sad. We're always doing for others. How often do we think of ourselves first?

Try yoga if:

• You have injuries. There are no jarring moves. Every posture is done slowly and with control. You go as far as you feel you are able. No one judges you.

• You need alone time. Even though it's a group class, you really are alone with your thoughts and focus. In the beginning I used to notice how everyone else was doing. Now they all disappear when I concentrate on myself.

• You're not afraid to work hard. Yoga is a journey. Master one posture and there'll always be something new to challenge you. Me, I'd be happy if I can balance on one foot without falling over.

• You're under stress. Believe this from a dyed-in-the-wool, Type A personality. No matter how much stress I'm under, it literally dissolves when I spend an hour in practice.

Yoga has improved my posture, breathing, pain, and stress level. Oh, and I'm losing weight too.

So that's my testimony. Many of you have been with me through countless surgeries and physical therapies, but this is the only thing that truly helped. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's not for everyone, but give it a full week of practice before you make a decision.

It changed my life.

What form of exercise do you like to do? How long have you been doing it?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Spam Fix and Indie Thoughts

This week got away from me, but mostly because I'm doing my massive one room a day clean-up as mentioned on Back to Basics.

I'm taking one room a day and cleaning it down to the baseboards. It's been slow going but cathartic. It makes me feel like I'm retaking control of my house.

In the meantime, Cate Masters was nice enough to email me a cure for spam comments. While it's true that Blogger keeps spam from appearing on the blog, they still show up on my email (and yours too if you subscribe to comments).

If you use Blogger, simply go to your Settings. Go to Comments tab. Under "Who Can Comment?", choose the second one "Registered Users". 

I have not had a single spam comment since I turned this feature on. As far as I can tell it hasn't prohibited anyone from commenting either. If you find that it does stop you from commenting, please email me and let me know.

Thank you, Cate!

***
I normally do book shout-outs only once a month, but my buddy, Marshall Payne missed the last one. He's got two books out that you might want to check out. They're free for Amazon Prime members.

There's Petrol Queen,
and 

Check them out if they're up your alley. 

***

You've probably already heard about a pretty good article in Forbes that breaks down the traditional versus indie argument. If you haven't, you can read it here.

The one thing the article mentioned that has plagued my noodle since this whole indie thing came out of the closet is how cliquish the camps are in book publishing. In no other art do you see this much mud-slinging. 

As a matter of fact, in music, film-making, dance, and the fine arts, the mainstream artists of each of these fields HELP and ENCOURAGE indie artists. Not so in book publishing. Some traditionally published authors are openly hostile and disparaging of indies. 

I've been trying to fathom the reason for years but have yet to reach a solid  conclusion. What do you think? Why is the publishing industry so volatile and angry? Why can't we all play nice like the other arts?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Reviews & Blurbing

A couple of years ago I offered a free copy of my latest release in exchange for reviews. I wanted to give the book a proper welcome and since I felt like a total unknown, I thought getting enough reviews would help.

It was a great turnout. People SWAMPED me with requests, but when it came time to pony up, only two people were good enough to post a review. I would've blamed it on the book, but this was for True Believers, winner of TWO "Best of the Year" lists.

Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'm going to try it again. I will give away ten copies of Mistress of the Stone. All I ask is that you post an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. The book releases on August 28. If you can post a review the last week of August or the first couple of weeks of September, that would be awesome.

Mistress of the Stone is a paranormal romance set in the early 16th century. If that's your cup of tea, email me. I'd be proud and pleased to have you read it.

***

Do we ever get over the fear of being unknown? Last week, an author approached me to blurb her book. I was overwhelmed and honored by the invitation but I had to turn it down. I could not in good conscience blurb her book no matter how highly she thought of me.

Blurbing a book is supposed to help the author SELL books. I honestly don't think my name carries that kind of clout. I would've been wasting her valuable space.

My regret doubled when I read the synopsis. It was the BEST synopsis I had ever read. I can't wait to read this book.

It's true that if I recommend something on this blog or Facebook, the people who regularly read me trust me not to steer them wrong. If I say something is good, they believe me because I don't heap false praise on anyone or anything. It's a responsibility I take seriously. You guys trust me not to screw you over.

But out in the open market, I'm still an unknown. Strangers have no reason to trust me. Even if they read my books, I'm no better qualified. That respect is bestowed only by the people who know me--at least as much as you can know someone on the internet.

Nonetheless, I felt privileged to be asked. It's a huge compliment to be so well considered.

How do you feel about book blurbs? 



Thursday, August 9, 2012

State of the Homestead

The heat is back and we've been roasting down here. Despite the triple digits, it's still not as bad as the drought we had last year.

I find it interesting that the media has been harping that the price of food will skyrocket because of the drought, yet our drought was worse last year and the only thing it affected was the cost of hay.

By the way, food prices were supposed to go up late fall. Yet, grocers (and feed stores) are already charging more for the same products. Can we say price gouging?

Consumers just can't catch a break.

Scorpions and Snakes, oh my! They've been awful lately. Greg dragged a giant snake out of the chicken yard. (That's him on the right--the snake, not Greg.)

I found a smaller snake in my studio. Why the heck was it in my studio--and more importantly, how the heck did it get inside? 


Full disclosure: When I found that snake, I used more colorful language than "heck".

We've been using sticky pads and have been catching scorpions on a regular basis. I even caught a husband once, but it was a 'catch and release'.

Chickens: I won't show the picture here, (I know some of you have weak stomachs) but we butchered most of the Buff Orphingtons. I'm replacing them with the Maran. The picture I wanted to post was the inside of a hen with eggs in various stages of development. It was fascinating. The hen is a true egg machine.

But as a breed, the Orphingtons were not very good chickens. They ate a lot. Got fat. And didn't produce near as many eggs as the other birds. Worse yet, when I free-ranged them, they were the only birds that insisted on getting into my garden. They wanted a free meal, rather than hunt for their food. They had to go. On this homestead everyone must work for their keep.

The Maran is a new breed of chicken for me. They lay dark brown eggs which is a bit of a novelty. See the picture to the left. The green and light brown eggs are from the Americaunas. The dark brown eggs are from the Maran. Pretty cool, huh?

I found a rooster and two hens locally. Everything looked good in the beginning. The hens laid small but nice dark brown eggs. But then I moved them to their permanent pen, and all production stopped.

Update: It's been 3 weeks since I wrote this and one of the hens is starting to produce again.

They are very skittish--especially the rooster. I have a feeling he's going to be invited to dinner as soon as I can find his replacement. He refuses to mate with his hens! I've never heard of such a thing.

Everyone always asks for pictures of newborn chicks, so here's a short video.

video

Gardens: My regular garden is nearly done. There are a few peppers and eggplants producing, but it's time to put it to bed.

My new garden is still going strong. The tomatoes are especially nice looking there. The sweet potatoes, mangels, and loofahs are beautiful and robust. Grasshoppers decimated my sunflowers and corn though. I harvested some corn, but those darn hoppers took out ALL my sunflowers. I didn't get a single one.

The tomatoes in my new garden tasted better and were meatier. We had a little problem early on with blossom end rot (you gardeners know what that is) but when I started flooding the rows and sprinkling each plant with crushed eggshells, they snapped out of it and produced beautifully.

Our onions are fantastic too. Very sweet. I am eating them as treats in between store-bought onions because I want them to last as long as possible.

Peppers took a long time to produce this year. The bell peppers came early, but the hot peppers are just now making an appearance. Too late for a completely organic salsa so I had to improvise.

Mangels and beets were so-so. I'm only growing them for livestock feed but I'm a little disappointed they weren't as robust as I was told. Right now I'm not sure if it's the soil, too much sun, or not enough water. Has anyone grown beets? Any suggestions?

We were very pleased overall with the quality of the produce in the new garden. I'd like to convince Greg to let me rest the old garden in 2013 and just use the new garden.

Homestead chores are winding down to a less breakneck speed. I'll be glad for the slower lifestyle in the winter. Whoever thinks living in the country is carefree and tranquil does not live here.

I'm ready for my break.

What's new in your neck of the woods? Books, kids, gardens, Olympics?

NOTE: I'm experimenting and recently changed the Comment Options on this blog and Back to Basics. If you can't comment for any reason, would you email me and let me know? Thanks!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Bookmark These Books

My book, Mistress of the Stone isn't out until August 28th, but if you pre-order, you can get it for cheap! Only $3.85. I don't know how long Samhain will leave it at this price, but if you buy from Samhain regularly, you know this is a great price for a novel this length.

If you do buy it, I hope you'll leave a review somewhere. Thanks!

Pre-order here.

I've only seen one review so far, but it sounds like I did pretty good. Keeping my fingers crossed.



My friends have books too. Check out these new releases.


RESCUED LOVE, by Angelina Rain

Can the doctor, who made a life out of helping animals, heal a human?

One by one, household dogs disappear only to come back after senseless abuse. Veterinarian Jordan Powell will stop at nothing to ensure her patients' safety. Even if that means seeking help from ex-boyfriend, police officer Nate Thrillson, the man whose heart she once broke. 

(Novella) Buy it now at Breathless Press.


 
DEATH IS A BITCH, by Cate Masters

Eternity can suck when it’s all work, work, work. Death harvests souls even when they stack up faster than pancakes in an all-you-can-eat-buffet.

(Novella) From Decadent Press. Buy it here.





ULTIMATE SACRIFICE by Madeleine Sara

When Lyndsay hears the terrible news about her soldier boyfriend, Ben, she knows she must be strong; but just how strong, she is yet to discover…






DANCE ON FIRE,  by James Garcia Jr.
Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for making Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. 

Buy it at Amazon now. 


LIGHTING CANDLES IN THE SNOW by Karen Jones Gowen. 

This book isn't out until September 18, but you can still pre-order at WiDo Publishing.

Newly divorced Karoline London needs to heal and find her normal again, as older sister Suzie keeps reminding her. But what does Suzie know about divorce? She has the perfect husband and seven gorgeous children, while Karoline had six years married to a man tormented by addictions.



If I missed you, forgive me. I only jotted down whatever books came up on my radar last week. If you have something that released recently, let me know in the comments and don't forget to leave your "buy links".


***
Interesting observation about covers
It's no secret that none of us have dibs on cover art (unless we hire a photographer and model ourselves) so occasionally I will see the same cover model used on other books.

Recently, I spied two covers using the models I used for Chain of Souls and The Devil to Pay. I could tell by looking at the other covers that the artists didn't do anything more than slap the art on the page--which is kind of sad because it's an opportunity to make it unique.

For The Devil to Pay, I did a lot of photo retouching, including giving the model more hair (she had mousy hair) and giving her an ethereal glow.

For the Chain of Souls cover, the original model was bone-china white. In the story, this particular character's skin color was supposed to be caramel brown. So I gave her a tan and added the ruby chain (also integral to the story).

If you use stock art, consider modifying it when possible. That way it'll always carry a little bit of you.

Authors: Do you customize your art for your indie books?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events, but then there was Beer

It's been insane around here. We've been hemorrhaging money on repairs and replacements. Poor Greg had to do two brake jobs in as many days. Thank goodness he has the know-how. I'd hate to think what it would've cost us otherwise.

We've literally been running from fire to fire trying to fix things before they get worse. It's a little too early to tell, but I think we finally turned the corner.

There was one bright spot that landed in our email box. My niece sent me a video her husband and his partners created for their new megatron idea. My nephew-in-law is a brew master and he's teamed up with two other guys to start a micro brewery.

They created a Kickstarter program to raise funding for their brewery. If you're a beer lover, or know someone who is passionate about his brewski, send them this link to see how they can be a part of beer history.

The marketing is clever. The logo is excellent. And the video was amazingly well done. I'm not even a beer connoisseur and I felt smarter just watching this video.



Check it out and pass this on to anyone who might be interested. You'll be helping these young fellas get a leg up in the business.

Do you know your beers? I had no idea they could be so complex and layered.

***
I promise I'll do the homestead update next week. I just need some time to recover. 

PS  Pop over to Back to Basics to see if you won one of the prizes. Thanks to everyone who participated!