Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wine and Sign

The El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce sponsored a “Wine and Sign” event, the first one they’d ever had. I’m hoping that future ones attract more people. There were three authors featured and, I think, four wineries. In my opinion, they could have gone with three wineries and four authors instead, but that’s just me. The room was small and moving from booth to booth was fairly easy.

Of the three authors present, I visited with two of them. The one I didn’t talk to, Debbi Preston, is the author of 48 Dog-Friendly Trails in California’s Foothills and the Sierra Nevada. However, my husband spoke with her for at least thirty minutes. He had purchased her book at one of the local wineries last year and he’s the one all excited about hiking around the area. I was too, until we came across that rattlesnake last year. If you know me, you know I hate snakes.

I chatted with Cindy Sample, author of Dying for a Date and fellow RWA member. I purchased her book because I’m a sucker for romantic suspense and the cover of her book is simply scrumptious with a picture of a chocolate chip cookie—yummy –beside a gun sitting on top of a broken red heart. I mean, who can resist that? She gave me some great advice and suggested I check out the local RWA Sacramento chapter, which she said meets once a month. Sounds like fun. I will check it out. Thanks, Cindy.

The third author was an interesting surprise. Turns out Gaelyn Whitley Keith, author of The Father of Hollywood, is a distant relative by marriage, way back in the days of Betsy Ross, to my husband. So of course, they had a nice long conversation. I purchased her book also, a true story based on the life of her great-grandfather, H. J. Whitley, “The Father of Hollywood.” Using her great-grandmother’s journal and memoir, Ms. Keith recreates the story of H.J’s life. I was drawn to the book because of a story I had started with a friend about the kidnapping of a young heiress in Hollywood back in 1933. Maybe someday we’ll finish that story, but I thought it would be interesting to read about the man who created Hollywood and took part in building the film capital of the world.

I ended my tour of the event booths with another surprise meeting—an author not participating in the book signings, but pouring wine for one of the local wineries. When I told him about my book, he said he also wrote a book. I was instantly intrigued and asked him his name. I blinked in surprise when he told me. Jeff Hamilton. You see, my previous married name was Hamilton. So naturally, I had to find out more about this writer. He told me he wasn’t a writer, or at least didn’t think he was very good, (Don’t we all feel that way? Well, maybe not all, but I know self-doubt is a big part of my day) but he wanted to write a book about his time spent in Rwanda and a boy he met there named Momomba. (sp?) He gave up writing the story, but his agent decided the story needed to be told, and with the help of editors, his book was picked up by Random House. He gave me his website and, of course, I looked it up. But unfortunately, he must have left something out of the address, because I couldn’t find anything about him or his photography. I did give him my card, and maybe if he visits my blog and reads this, he will offer the correct website address.

So, that was my evening at the first EDH Chamber of Commerce “Wine and Sign” event. I’m so glad I went. I got two awesome reads and tasted some great wine and most of all, I got to see what to expect when it’s my turn, which should be in a few months. I can’t wait.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I sat at my computer most of the morning pretending to write, but realized soon enough that it wasn’t going to work as I kept skimming website after website looking for something interesting. I couldn’t write, I had an ear infection and the last thing I wanted to do was sit at my computer and think. I read a book outside for a while, but it got too hot, so I came in, a little antsy and needing something mindless to do. Sometimes when I’m down in the dumps I like to bake. Well, last week Bud and I went cherry and berry picking with the grandkids. We picked about four pounds of cherries and about two pounds of blueberries. Had a blast too!

Well, what do you do with four pounds of cherries and two pounds of blueberries? I went to my daughter’s over the weekend and took her half of the cherries. When I came home, my house smelled suspiciously like burnt sugar or something. My ever-caring, always thoughtful husband wanted to surprise me, so he made a blueberry cobbler—a dark brown hard as stone blueberry cobbler. Too bad, we had to throw it away. He was sad and heartbroken. But I was thrilled that he actually tried it.

Right about now, you’re asking me what does this have to do with writing?

The answer, my friends, is nothing!

That’s right. I couldn’t write today, and I had all these cherries, so I thought, what do you do when you have too many lemons? You make lemonade. What do you do when you have too many cherries? You make a cherry pie.

I had never made a cherry pie from fresh picked-cherries before and let me tell you, it is a very messy and tedious process. I think the tips of my fingers are permanently stained black, especially under my fingernails. I stood in the kitchen pulling pits out of each cherry, staring out the window, thankful that my ear stopped hurting—thank God for Tylenol—and thinking about this past year, the friends I’ve made here on WWW and other groups I belong to and how they have touched my heart. Some more than others, of course, but none-the-less, all have made some impression on me and have helped me be who I am today. It is strange to think how some people entered my life like a ship coming into port and sailing off again with the next new dawn. Okay, that sounds corny and a bit clich├ęd, but you get the picture. I didn’t like the empty feeling I got thinking about the sailing away part. As I looked down at the pot full of cherries cooking on top of my stove I smiled, remembering something I think my mom used to say when she was happy, “Life is a bowl of cherries,” and I thought, yes, it is, if we make it so.

By the way, the pie was delicious!!

I think I'll have another slice.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Makes a Bestseller?

Whisper Cape comes out tomorrow, and I won’t pretend to be calm. I am not, being my first I would say there is not a calm bone in my body. So in order to direct some of that nervous energy somewhere I decided to ask the question … what makes a bestseller?
Everyone has an opinion about this. Here’s mine.
 What makes series like J.R. Ward’s sexy and dangerous Black Dagger Brotherhood, Suzanne Collin’s deadly Hunger Games series, J.K. Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books or even Stephanie Meyer’s seemingly ever-popular Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle, best sellers?
Please don’t tell me it’s plain old simple luck at hitting the market at the right time. I suppose that has something to do with it, but there is something about these series that entices readers to the point of obsession.
 New and different worlds. One thing all of these series have in common is the worlds which their characters inhabit, all different and carefully constructed by the writers to sustain their characters and their situations. Let’s take the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, for example. A world with vampires, but not just your ordinary blood-sucking variety that either kill their prey or make them into vampires, too. These are not your mother's vamps but a new and different species entirely populates this world, where vampires are born and not made, though they don't begin to look the part until they're the right age. They can even die during their transformation if not given the proper nourishment from a vampire of the opposite sex. But surely, this different world alone wasn’t what brought this particular series such success. I believe it had to be the "brothers" themselves. All of them are huge, fighting-machine-type males capable of love and tenderness with their own set of problems and failures to overcome before attaining the life and love they all so badly desire. The fact that they are all gorgeous helped too, I’m sure.
 Conflict would also be at the top of the list of what makes a book a bestseller. The authors of these series were very good at filling scenes with action/adventure, change, and conflict. The conflict maybe small, but it is still there. Take Harry Potter for instance. Harry, Hermione, and Ron all changed and grew with each new conflict, making them more mature, seasoned, wary and courageous.  Over the course of seven books, the three became like family members, always facing new and exciting challenges.
I won’t bother going into the success of “Twilight.” That was simple, girl loves boy, boy loves girl, but also desperately wants to suck her blood until there is no more. Then throw in the other boy loves (the same) girl and we have our teen love triangle. These are major conflicts, in my opinion, and many young girls can relate to much of it-minus the PN aspects--in their own love lives. Sometimes that boy is just so unattainable he might as well be a vampire.
In the Hunger Games series, there is a continuing stream of conflict consisting of possible death and injury. Where killing to stay alive is the norm and danger escalates with every turn, Katniss and Peeta are so busy running for their lives they barely have time to kiss. But let’s be real. Of course they kiss.
Failure and success. In any great novel, the protagonist’s story must be interesting and include at least one major goal that the hero/heroine is filled with a desire to attain. It’s the antagonist’s job, of course, to see that he or she fails. Strong heroes and heroines are made, not born, and can only be as strong as fighting their villain makes them. So, if the bad guy or gal isn’t virtually inviolable, there is no challenge for the hero, which can make for a very boring book.
I’m sure there is more to a book being a bestseller, but these stick out to me. Please feel free to comment and add any information you may have as I am very eager to learn. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Whisper Cape, release date, July 8th.

My debut paranormal romance, Whipser Cape, will be available Friday, July 8th.

WHISPER CAPE is a town of secrets and Addison MacKenna soon discovers she's tangled in a web of them. Cael Sheridan joins Addison's quest to find the truth. These two extraordinary individuals are brought together by destiny and supernatural events all leading to the possible demise of an ancient organization known as the Sectorium, a safe haven for all beings with paranormal gifts. As they fight together to protect their sanctuary, they struggle to resist their attraction, which leads to some steamy situations, complicating their efforts in this sensual and loving tale of good versus evil.