Kindle in my Life

Tomorrow, I will be at the hospital for a gall bladder removal. Everyone, doctor, nurses, friends, relatives have assured me it’s a simple procedure. So I am very calm, completely reassured, but since I hate general anesthesia I keep telling them, “Just say a little prayer for me.

Okay, I’m totally reassured, but… but I’m a bit too nervous to accomplish anything worthwhile today. So I’m deleting old files, emails, cleaning my desk, organizing my Kindle, since the only things I will take for my overnight at the hospital are my Kindle and my smart phone. No need to lose contact with the world because of a stupid stone that decided to block my goal bladder and made my life miserable for years.

To organize my Kindle, I copied from my computer the list of ebooks on my ‘Manage Your Kindle’, printed the file and carefully examined it. Can you believe I bought or downloaded 215 ebooks since October 2011? And I read and reviewed 65 books during last year! I was the first surprised to discover these numbers.

The Kindle really made a difference in my life. I always carry it with me, and read at the gym, doctors’ and hospital waiting rooms, at the beach, pool, before sleeping,… I adjust the font and read.

There is always room on my Kindle for more books to enjoy. If you have more room on your Kindle take a look at these 99 cents books that ranked as bestsellers at Amazon and make a goal bladder-suffering author happy.

NEIGHBORS and MORE Suspense and romance in a Floridian high rise on the beach

SAILING WITH YOU A Grecian Romeo forgets his family feud when he meets the American Juliette in his paradise island.

NO MORE LIES A lie that brings a smile or a truth drawing tears. Secrets and second chances with humor.

RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN, What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN ER and Gray’s Anatomy in the NICU. Winner of 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL, Preditors& Editors Readers Poll; Winner of 2009 BEST ROMANCE, Readers Favorite, and dozen 58 stars reviews from official review sites.

The Ocean and Writing

Home may be where our heart is, but I left my heart in Florida this weekend. If you like Crab cakes, then Louis Louis, in Santa Rosa, is the place to dine. Seaside, Fl area is one of my favorite places to vacation, and never fails expectations of a peaceful visit. The Great American Cafe has some of the tastiest Shrimp and Grits you can get. Grits married with Gouda cheese, surrounded with perfectly grilled shrimp, then topped with a sweet potato nest. Simply to die for.

After my friend bought out the book store next door to the cafe, we strolled through the streets to walk off brunch. Local artists, among others, art work line the streets and makes me salivate. One painting in particular caught my eye, and I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing the piece. A simple painting of nothing but stunning, subdued blues and trees. Painted on three wide, jagged attached boards, the scene drew me in and almost had me dragging out the plastic.

The harmony of rough hewn boards and the final beauty, reminded me of how much a painting resembles other art, whether it’s a painting, a song, acting or a story writers flush out. Stories are drafted, rewritten, several times most of the time, until it connects with your heart and you hope its meaning links with a readers anticipation.

The gloomiest part of the day over an ocean is just before sunset. The sky darkens for a short few minutes, then a glorious sunset colors the horizon. Like a story that hasn’t quite jelled, then inspiration settles over the writer and somehow magic finds its way to their fingertips. That’s  powerful.

I’m working on my next novel and praying that special moment tingles my own fingertips.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website, here.

These are a few of my favorite things…reviews! by Stephanie Queen

When the dog bites, when the bee stings…well maybe not then. Recognize the words from the song in The Sound of Music?  I haven’t been bitten by a dog, or any other animal lately, but definitely when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite reviews!  And then I don’t feel so bad—I feel pretty darn good. Or at lest mildly amused.

Romantic comedy suspense would make a “cute movie”

Here’s a few of my favorite gems that you night not expect me to feel so “not sad” about, but they all stir me, or some stir my funny bone.

How about the fan who thought my romantic comedy suspense, The Throwbacks would make a “cute movie”? Surely that rave would take the sting out of any author’s day—except it was accompanied by three stars and the caveat that it was “not necessarily the kind of book I enjoy”.  But still.  Another “not so bad” 3 star review I received for Playing the Game:  “I couldn’t put it down…I kept reading and reading and reading.” I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the reviewer to say something bad, but this lovely reader kept writing “not so bad” things.

What makes me laugh most are reviews that say the exact opposite things about the same book. For Between a Rock and a Mad Woman, a romantic intrigue, two readers disagreed emphatically. One said, “very slow moving” and the other said “quick pace story”.  Makes me smile every time.

Let’s face it, readers may not realize it, but authors love to get feed back, and as long as it’s not snarky or mean, it’s good. Sometimes we learn from it. Sometimes we laugh about it. And when we’re real lucky, the kind of review we return to for the ultimate lift of spirits, is the kind of review where we can tell the reader really gets us.

My all time favorite review is for Playing the Game, not because of the number of exclamation points, but because the reader knew what the story was about, expressed it fabulously—an loved it. Here’s what she said: “Fans of Gone With the Wind will appreciate this updated telling of Rhett and Scarlet’s story…If you want cookie-cutter, quasi-perfect heroines, and noble heroes who do the right thing, this is not your book. Like Rhett and Scarlett, Barry and Roxy are flawed characters with real, serious obstacles to overcome on their personal journeys before they can be together in a meaningful way. The book is all the better because of this.”

Next time you read a book that stirs you, write a review for the author. In the mean time, what are some of your favorite reviews that you’ve read or written?

ART IMITATES LIFE EVERY DAMNED TIME (Or: Art doesn’t exist without life to give it context.)

Has any life experience made you so angry you said to yourself, that’s going in a book? How about a joyous experience you couldn’t wait to journal about? Or, better yet, has something very real happened to you, no matter how small or inconsequential at the time, that made you want to change the world or at least your small part of it?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes and you then wrote about it, took a photograph or painted a picture, made up a song, a dirty limerick, or even the perfect FaceBook quip or Pinterest post, then I think you’ve experienced art imitating life. Oscar Wilde famously said: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” This may seem chicken and eggish in the premise it sets out to prove, and to some extent it is, but I believe the distinction merits a look.

I make a lot of stuff up when I write. Gallery photographers use different lenses to generate and saturate color, to shadow and show effect. Painters experiment with light and shading. Musicians and poets play with meter and rhyme. What they and I can’t make up, and I believe this to be true of others as well, is the emotional content. Artists of every stripe, even mimes and sidewalk shell-game artists, have to draw on and connect with emotion, or their art falls flat.

I used my grandmother’s name in the second book I wrote for a character who otherwise was a compilation of women I admired as well as the product of my imagination. When it came time for that character to die, the emotion was very real. That scene rings true. I cry every time I read it because I let a piece of my life bleed into my art. The character wasn’t real, not wholly anyway. The emotion was.

That same story has part of its genesis in a visit I made to a long term care and rehabilitation facility. My client, an elderly woman with no family and a large estate, was recovering from a hip injury. She was also being billed $6,000 a month to share a room and drink Ensure. She didn’t even have a walker that worked. Needless to say, I was a little pissed off. I got her out of there, but not before she was billed $12,000  for a  60 day stay. That little adventure spurred the creation of Potter’s Woods, a wholistic healthcare facility. I made it up. I created a way to pay for it in my story – it helps to have a spare billionaire – and I felt better. Now, Mr. Wilde will be right if said billionaire reads my story and Potter’s Woods becomes a reality.

I can only hope.

My point is that artists, paid, unpaid, known and unknown, universally pour their life experience and the emotion that imbeds itself on the psyche as a result, into their art, even if all that comes out on the canvas is the representation of a soup can. It resonates with some people. It leaves others cold. Yet, the emotion is real whether it paints a rich and textured picture or it wounds with its starkness.

That’s life, baby. And it creates art.

So, my friends, does life’s emotion influence the way you create or the way you enjoy art? I bring my own experience to my reading and often I read a great story a little differently than friends who read the same words. How does your life experience influence your reading, your art, your enjoyment of others’ art? I can’t wait to hear from you.

My your life always be filled with art that adds to it and emotion that nurtures it.

Leigh Morgan

Like a Fine Wine …

… does a woman improve with age?

The hero being slightly older than the heroine has long been the norm in romance novels—but as that convention has waned in society, it’s become more popular to switch the scenario around. For years I thought about incorporating a relationship between an older woman and a younger man in one of my novels. Finally I found the right fit with Wine & Roses.

We live in a society where youth and beauty are highly prized, particularly for women. The messages we see on television and in magazines make it difficult to value ourselves as we age. Even as women have achieved independence and a measure of equality, the double standard persists. Women who pursue younger men are known as “cougars”, while there’s no equivalent nickname for men who date younger women.

I enjoyed exploring this theme with my characters, Abby and Jason. Although I’m happily married, as I get older I can relate to the anxiety felt by Abby, a widow after twenty years of marriage, as she considers dating again in her forties—and the man she’s attracted to is nine years her junior. Abby worries not only about her appearance, but also about her fertility—will a young man stay with her for long if she can’t give him a family?

I think we need to give men a little more credit; despite what the advertisers tell us, I believe men are able to recognize the allure of warmth, wit and self-assurance, in a woman of any age. In Wine & Roses, Jason appreciates these qualities in Abby, and her age matters little to him as he falls head over heels in love with her. Of course, at the core is a love story between two people that transcends their age difference, as they face the challenges common to any couple forging a new relationship.

What do you think—does an age difference make a difference?

This Day In History – Jill James

I have one of those This Day In History calendars and I love seeing the strange and wonderful, and sometimes sad things that happened in history.

September 14, 1982: Grace Kelly, Hollywood star and princess, dies.

This was the year after I graduated high school and I remember it well. Then they did a movie about her life. I was in awe that a woman, at the pinnacle of her career in Hollywood, would turn her back on it all to be a princess. But long before Diana, there was Princess Grace of Monaco, helping the needy and the poor, doing what she could with worldwide charities. She was loved by her people and many others around the world. A hero to all who knew her. I couldn’t believe when I heard she had died. I loved watching her old movies on late night TV or Saturday matinee. The Country Girl, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and High Noon

Jill James, author of Dangerous Shift – now in print and eBook.

Heroes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Yesterday we as a nation honored the heroes of 9/11/2001. The brave men and women who risked their lives to save others, the ones who lost their lives at the hands of people who had no regard for the value of human life, the ones who lost loved ones in the worst attack against America in our short existence. 

In our books, our heroes are usually tall, dark, and handsome. They are good, kind, extraordinary men. Or at least they are by the end of the book. But real heroes aren’t always the hunks you see on a book cover. Sometimes they’re short and bald, sometimes they’re young or old, sometimes they’re female or even furry. They might be law enforcement, laborers, or accountants. They might be shy and quiet or loud and gregarious. 

So that made me think. What is a hero? 

Typically we think of a hero as someone who risks, and sometimes gives, his life to save others. But it can also be someone who stares death in the face and stands firm, refusing to give in to overwhelming fear. Someone who continues on in spite of impossible odds, like a mother dying of cancer who keeps her family on an even keel even while her world is falling apart. A child with a terminal illness, or a debilitating one, who is determined to get every moment of joy they can. A soldier horribly wounded in battle who refuses to let his wounds define him. It can even be an animal who risks its life to save the ones he loves or to find those buried in the rubble of destruction.

A hero can be someone you know, or a total stranger. Either way, they are always someone you wish you knew, someone you can admire, even if only for a period of time. If we don’t have any real heroes in our own lives, we can find them in the pages of a book, learn about them, grow with them, and hope for them. We can be there when they are struggling, rejoice when they find what they are looking for. 

In romance novels, our hero’s journey is what makes or breaks a book for us. If a hero doesn’t grow and discover things about themselves that need to change, and have the courage to make those changes, we’ll leave the book dissatisfied. Maybe even throw the book against the wall. And we might not even realize why we didn’t like the book. We just know it left us feeling deflated instead of sighing.

Think of it like the passengers on that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. They were normal people, just like you and I. People traveling for business or to see family and friends. Until they learned from phone calls what had happened to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they were afraid and confused and compliant with the terrorists’ demands. But something changed. They realized they were going to die, and a lot of other people were going to die with them. The moment they made the decision to try to stop the terrorists from killing a lot of other people, they became heroes, willing to die to save others. And they made a difference. 

If I were writing a novel about that fateful flight, I’d pick one person and show their inner struggle from the moment they kissed their wife and children goodbye that morning to the moment that plane hit the ground. From their ordinary life to the moment their life changed. I’d show their desire to fade into the background and not draw the terrorists’ attention. The thought processes and conversations that changed them into a person who decided to take action, to say “let’s rock and roll”, right through to those last moments before the plane hit the ground. That’s the hero’s journey. 


Do you know any real heroes? For me, I’ve known several. Not heroes who made headlines, but quiet ones like my husband who stood between two drug-crazed men trying to break into our house and me and my children, standing firm with a shotgun in his hands while police on the phone ordered him to put the gun down. He refused until police arrived and had the men in custody. My father who joined the Merchant Marines at sixteen because his father refused to sign the papers that would allow him to join the army during World War II. He sacrificed any chance at benefits, he was exposed to asbestos that eventually took his life with lung cancer, all because he wanted to do his part. My two brothers-in-law who worked as police officers for many years. My friend Edna who bravely fought the good fight against breast cancer, continuing to work with children right up to the very end. My dog Blue who nearly gave his life to save my kids when he thought they were in danger and would have given his life for me at any time if I’d been in danger.

Tell us about the heroes in your life. And never forget to honor those who continue to fight, to struggle, to have courage no matter what the circumstances.