Egg Knocking in Louisiana

egg knocking

There are two towns in our parish (county to the rest of America) that hold a yearly egg knocking for Easter.

Here’s a fantastic article on the event, that will give you more information. Lots of information, even stuff I didn’t know.

Local residents go to great lengths to find the ‘perfect’ egg. Some have special nutrients to produce the hardest egg shell that they can find in order to win.

One year my eldest daughter won the top prize. She’s really into it and actually owns chickens.

As you look at the picture, you can see that any age can play.

It’s great fun. You might want to introduce it to your family after your egg hunt.

Series or Single

Readers seek holiday books all year round, but never more than November and December, though I’ve had impressive sales throughout other months also. I, too, love a great Christmas story anytime. I look for a great plot, good writing, and lovable characters regardless of what time of year it is.

My heroine, Tina in “A Smoky Mountain Christmas,” offered her next installment “A Smoky Mountain Wedding.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a sequel to my humorous book, so I put the heroine off for months. Book number one, was the first Romantic Comedy I’d written, and I expected it to be my last attempt at humor or comedy. Finally I gave in and Tina simply won’t stop whispering in my ear. That gal has a lot of story to leave behind.

Over the past year, several readers have pleasantly surprised me by asking if there would be a sequel, or that they’d like to see Tom’s (a convict from Book One) story. The more I thought about it the more I decided the story wasn’t finished. I wanted to read Tom’s story too.

So now I have plot points and several scene set-ups. Oh, I’m itching to get started on the next book and find out what happens. 🙂 It really is hard to give up lovable characters when you spend so many months in their heads.

After the Wedding book, will be a Baby book. Can’t wait to get started on either book. I had several chapters outlined and a few paragraphs written, but for some odd reason, it’s nowhere on my computer. I think Word ate it, at least that’s my excuse. Ha!

At any rate, a Christmas series has definitely whetted my appetite.

How many readers love sequels? I do. Do you have a favorite series?

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

You can find links on my website, here. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.

A Glimpse of The Writer’s Life by Stephanie Queen, Writer

How-are-you-writing“What’s it like to be a writer?” The fans ask relentlessly with wonderment in their eyes and voices filled with reverence.  Let’s pretend for a moment that this has happened to me dozens, hundreds, no—millions of times—as I sat at book fairs mobbed for my autograph on my latest bestseller…

Snapping out of my trance, I realize, having imagined the scenario above, that it may be a mystery for the uninitiated, what exactly a writer’s life is like.  Putting aside the realistic notion that every writer’s life is different, I decided to share a glimpse today—another glimpse.  (okay, so I couldn’t think of anything else to write about—and I’m NOT writing about writer’s block again!)

Have you ever been so absorbed in something—not on TV—that you didn’t realize the room was filled with smoke and the hard-wired smoke alarm blared until the banging on the door startled you. And when you answered the door the fireman stood there and said, “What were you cooking for dinner tonight Ms. Queen?”  Then after he put the fire out and installed a padlock on your oven, on his way out the door he handed you a take out menu.  So you said, “Are you trying to starve me to death?” And he said, “Don’t worry—your cat will save you from starving—she’ll remind you to feed her…”  And you said, “You want me to eat cat food?” Then he didn’t say anything for a minute and so you slammed the door on him in a huff.

Has that ever happened to you? (I wouldn’t mind, but I’d only written 73 words that day.)

Next Glimpse

Have you ever realized as the sun was setting at around eight o’clock at night that you’d forgot to get out of your pajamas that day and so you jumped from your chair—and almost fell because you had no feeling in your feet and the pins and needles made you scream—and threw on some clothes—okay, so you threw on a coat over your pajamas and slipped into some flip-flops and dashed out the door—whistling for your chauffeur (who’s name was probably something other than Myren) and said to him, “Take me somewhere where there’s people who I can interact with—fast—It’s an emergency! I’ve forgotten what dialogue sounds like!” And he doesn’t blink an eye, but answers, “You realize I’m not a mute, right?”

(Of course I knew, but I’d forgotten for a minute and anyway he generally avoids me and tends to talk more to the kitten).  But this isn’t about me. It’s about the writer’s life.

To recap:

Absorbed

Solitary

Doesn’t this sound like an exciting life?!  (I know you’re jumping up and down right now asking “Where do I sign up?”)

If I were a Pollyanna (which I am), I’d tell you “We’re just getting started—there’s lots more fun and exciting glimpses I could share!”putting the patented positive spin on charred dinner and chatting up strangers at the grocery store—but really, I’m not spinning. It is fun, because in between all this scintillating action there’s a whole other world going on—inside my head.

To find out what goes on in there, all you need to do is read my books.

Balance in Life

My husband often asks me to balance my time. To prove his point he showed me an article about the value of balance. According to that article, most of our troubles are due to imbalances, to which my husband strongly agrees.

We should divide our day in such a way we can balance work, family time, socializing, exercise, spiritual time, an???????????????????????????????d fun time.

Let’s do some calculation: If a person works eight hours a day, drives half an hour each way to work, breaks at lunch for an hour, exercises for an hour, and sleeps seven hours, this adds up to a total of eighteen hours. I assume the remaining six hours are used for family time, fun, socializing and spiritual time.

I am not sure in which category I can fit cooking, dinner, cleaning and laundry. Reading should go under the hour or two of fun time. And what about writing?

I am writing full time– or to be more accurate I sit in front of my computer full time. I can manage an hour to exercise or walk every day. I can cook twice a week and freeze, socialize two or three times a week. I don’t know if this is a balanced life. Considering there is so much more I want to do, I’m still faced with the same problem of balancing my time.

In theory, I think balancing one’s time is wonderful. Unfortunately I don’t believe you can be successful while dividing your time in multiple activities. I have always learned that to be successful you ought to give your main goal your 101%.

How do I do it? Instead of balancing my day, I try to balance my week. The weekend is for errands, grocery shopping, socializing, church. Monday is my cleaning day, advert???????????????????????????????izing, catching up on emails and blogs. On Tuesday I meet with my critique partners. Tuesday afternoon is dedicated to editing and revision. Serious writing continues on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Of course, this is an ideal schedule. But schedules are seldom followed and rules are made to be broken.

Yet some people manage to multitask and be successful at everything they do. If you are one of these fortunate people, how do you do it? How do you handle a full-time job, family responsibilities, and writing?

Mw-ValentineBabies

VALENTINE BABIES: Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby?

Karate, Storytelling & Life…it’s ALL Art, Baby!

Have you ever wanted to be really good at something? Have you ever worked your tail off getting really good and then worked harder to be great? I’m guessing that for most of you the answer is a resounding, “YES!”.

For me, I want to be good at everything I do, great at the things I love, and truly excel whenever I can. But, as my grandmother still says in my head whenever illusions of grandeur pop up, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I never knew what that meant growing up.

I do now.

“Seek perfection, and you just might achieve excellence.” Sensei Daniel Schroeder, 9th Dan Okinawan Shorin-Ryu. (center below)

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Sensei Schroeder is my teacher. He has been for the past 22 years. This Saturday, I will test before him for my 5th Dan (5th degree black-belt). Preparing for Saturday’s test is scary, thrilling and exhilarating; it’s also taken continuous training for almost half of my life to get here. I’m happy to say, no matter what happens Saturday, it’s been worth every sweat-filled-muscle-screaming day.

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The physicality of the journey is important. It’s also the most obvious aspect ~ it’s what the outside world sees. Karate is much like writing in that respect (many other respects too ~ the corollaries abound). The outside world sees the finished book and the author is judged on the product of her work…Does the cover grab the reader…Do the characters resonate long after the last line…Is the plot compelling…Is the writing fresh…?

These judgments are made of the finished product ~ the book ~ and rightly so as this is what the reader sees.

What is NOT seen in Karate or in Writing (and yes here I believe writers earn the capital “W”) is the blood and guts and sweat of the process. That is where the soul lies, in the pursuit of perfection. That is also the personal, spiritual journey.

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Karate is physical, mental and spiritual. So is writing. All three aspects of the art need to be present in order to form a harmonious and fluid whole. Physically we produce a product. To produce a great physical product, mentally we have to make it so. Mental discipline keeps bottoms in chairs and fingers tapping out words. Without mental discipline the practice and the product wouldn’t happen. The mental aspect of writing also involves research and craft. Both can be learned and both are necessary for storytellers.

Spirit can’t be taught. It’s not learned. It’s a gift, unique to each of us, given before we take our fist breath and I hope with us after our last. It’s that intangible bit of magic that makes our art sing. Spirit breathes life into everything we do. Writing is real and tugs at our hearts when it taps into our own spirit…when everything else is solid and then the spirit rises up, tails are kicked and names are taken. It’s a beautiful thing, in and out of print. 🙂

So, as I gear up to release my fourth book (DEFENDING DESTINY) and as I kick my training up a notch or ten in anticipation of Saturday’s test, my heart is pounding, my throat is dry and I’m focusing on what I can control on these paths I’ve chosen.

can control how hard I work. I can strive for perfection with each new chapter and be satisfied with excellence. I can take a breath and enjoy the journey along the way. No matter what happens on Saturday…no matter what happens on Defending Destiny’s release day…the journey so far has been worth the trip. And the day after…well then, I’ll get back to work!

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It’s taken 22 years to prepare me for Saturday’s test. So far, it’s taken three years for me to release four books. I can’t wait to see where my writing path to perfection (hoping for some bits of greatness) leads me in 18 years. One thing I do know, is that when I hit 22 years as an author, I’ll still be training in Karate and weapons! Hopefully with a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, all three of these arts.

So, my friends, no matter what your journey is, may you seek perfection, find excellence and enjoy the rollicking waves of life along the way. Peace be the Journey!  🙂

Leigh.

(Leigh Morgan writes sensual, sassy romance with a kick! Her Warrior series features authentic martial arts scenes. Come laugh, love and spar with Leigh’s quirky characters. Leigh’s book are available at all major e-book retailers including: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple. Look for: SPARRING PARTNERS, FIGHTING FATE, SECOND CHANCES and soon to be released, DEFENDING DESTINY)

True Love by Susan R. Hughes

weddingEvery romance novel is about one thing—finding true love. There are a million routes to get you there, but the destination is always the same. Typically the story ends with a wedding, a happily-ever-after moment. In real life, this is where the adventure starts, but it’s not all tender words and longing glances. The years that follow bring the toughest challenges.

I remember only one part of the speech I gave at my wedding. I turned to my new husband and said, “You are my best friend and my true love.” Fifteen years later, I can still look at him and say that with sincerity.

We’ve been through a lot together. It seems there have been more downs than ups. We’ve weathered stresses that neither of us could have anticipated. But at the end of the day, I can curl up next to him on the couch and feel just as cherished as the day he slid the wedding band onto my finger. He knows me better than anyone, and sees qualities in me that I can’t see in myself. I can tell him just about anything without fear of judgment or rejection.

I am still passionate about him. Over the years, the strain of paying bills and raising children can sap the heat out of a relationship, but as long as you’ve still got a spark you can always rekindle the fire. In those quiet moments together, a look or a touch from him still makes me tingle the way it did when we first met.

Is this what true love is, ever after? I think so.

Visit  me at susanrhughes.weebly.com

How To Recognize An Author by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

Just this week I finally uploaded my long-awaited romantic comedy SCENTS and SENSUALITY. It’s live on Amazon now and will be on All Romance eBooks, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords any moment now.

This morning, as I looked around my office, I was struck by how…messy and cluttered it was.

There are stacks of printouts about perfume and the science of sex appeal and smell because Amanda, the heroine of Scents and Sensuality, is a perfumer.

More stacks of printouts about computer science and computer languages because Harrison, the hero, is a computer expert. Photographs that represent the characters taped to the closet doors, receipts to file, bills to pay, books on tables and the floor – and so much more.

Instead of launching a major clean-up campaign – shudder – I decided to write about it instead. After all, it’s more fun to write about cleaning than to actually clean!

Set Priorities

In truth, my office is a representation of my entire life when I’m immersed in writing a book. Lest you think I’m just slovenly, let me tell you about a visit I made, years ago, to a successful published author whose name is withheld to prevent embarrassment. When we walked into her house, she laughingly said, “Don’t mind the mess. I’m working on a book.”

Wide-eyed, I looked around. There probably wasn’t a clean dish in the kitchen; it seemed every dish in the house was dirty and stacked in the sink and on the counter. There were piles of clothes in the hallway. Sheets were half on and half off the bed. To me, it looked as if the house had been ransacked by experts intent on finding hidden treasure. At the time, I can remember thinking, “No matter how busy I get, my house will never look like this.”

Fast Forward

Pardon me while I hold my sides laughing at my hubris on that long ago day. Actually, my house doesn’t look that bad, but it won’t win any clean house awards. Ever. There is a lot of truth in the advice: “To be successful, you must focus on your primary goal.”

My author friend’s primary goal was to support her family by writing books. Today, my primary goal is the same. Since there are only so many hours in the day – 24 at last count – and only so much energy in me, some things fall by the wayside.

10 Ways To Recognize A Working Writer

1. Her house looks as if you’d need a shovel and a rake to clear a path.

2. Her yard is sandwiched between Yard of the Month contenders with hers looking as if it should have a sign planted in front that says, “Loser.”

3. Dishes are retrieved from the dishwasher until it’s empty then they’re stacked in again and washed without ever having made the journey to the cabinet.

4. Everyone knows to go to the laundry room and dig through the basket to find clean clothes – they hope.

5. Her husband whines when he sees the red Stouffer box on the counter.

6. Her kids don’t recognize her voice when she calls.

7. She spends no money at the gas station because she never goes anywhere.

8. Every morning she thinks about going outside for a walk in hopes of conquering the spreading derriere, but then she starts writing.

9. When someone comes over and starts talking about current events, like the new Pope, she says, “There’s a new Pope?”

10. When she becomes delirious with joy, puts on makeup, dresses in something other than sweats, and styles her hair, her husband says, “I see you finished the book.”

Thus is the life of a writer.

Post Script

In Scents and Sensuality, Amanda knows the Science of Smell. Harrison knows the Science of Computers. But what about the Science of Sex Appeal? Pulsing, throbbing, will-no-be-denied sex appeal! They discover first-hand that Desire leads to Sex… Passion… LOVE!

(Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.)

I’m Late, I’m Late For a Very Important Date!

Daylight Savings Time is kicking my butt this year. I normally have my blog post done and ready to post at midnight on my blog day, but not this time. You’d think since I’m now a full-time writer who can set her own hours that the time change wouldn’t affect me, but for some reason, this year it’s throwing everything off.

My normal work schedule is to start writing around midnight and write until 3 or 4 a.m. With the time change, the hubby is staying up later, which messes up my evening schedule of promo, putting my writing start time off until 1 a.m. And then I end up writing until around 5 a.m. Which means I sleep until 11. I find myself scrambling to get his lunch fixed before my eyes are even open.

Tomorrow it all gets worse. That’s when the roofers will arrive at 7:30 a.m. to begin the total roof replacement. That means I either have to go to bed by midnight or just forget about sleep all together. The noise will mean no nap in the afternoon. And then there’s the matter of no internet and no TV for several days since they have to take off the satellite dishes to put the roof over my office.

My skin is already crawling. No internet? For what could be up to a week? No way.

I have this little thing called OCD. No, I don’t wash my hands over and over or do repetitive stuff. But I do have to check my Amazon numbers multiple times a day. And my email. And Facebook. Not being able to do this is likely to throw me into a tail spin.

How am I going to handle it? I’m planning to throw myself into my writing. With no internet for days, I’ll have no excuse not to buckle down and write. If the muse gives her blessing, I could actually finish the current book by the time the roof is done. And get it edited by the time they finish repairing the living room ceiling and painting the whole living room.  And hey, that living room really needs painting and I won’t have to do it myself.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Panic is throwing me off my game and making me late–for everything.

What about you? What do you do when life throws you a curve ball? Do you find a way around the obstacles, or do they tend to stop you in your tracks for a while?

When I wrote Lean on Me, I wrote nearly non-stop for five weeks, ignoring the internet, never watching the TV. I’m hoping for that kind of concentration again this time, if only for a week. My heroine Sandy had all kinds of things thrown at her all at once, but she had a little help from her next door neighbor, Hunter. Help she needed, but didn’t want. Maybe I can talk the current hunky hero into stepping up and helping me out here.

Lean on Me New copy

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas

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Probably the most common question people ask me about writing is where I get my ideas. Generally, I tell them my ideas come from living a full life. Recently, I got an idea from death.

My husband’s brother’s wife died from bone cancer on Saturday. The diagnosis came just after the first of the year, giving her and her family very little time to grasp the new reality.

A few days before Vickie died, I had a death dream. One moment I was driving a car around a bend and the next I was floating above a field. Immediately I realized that although I was outside above a frost covered the field—I wasn’t cold. Wind moved the trees, but I felt nothing as I watched the scene of the accident. A few minutes later all sounds disappeared and everything around me became eerily quiet.

I thought of my husband and suddenly I was where he was. I watched him receive the news of my death. I had the same experience with each of my children.

I woke before dawn and I did what I often do when I’m upset. I put on my running shoes, plugged in my IPod and headed outside. The world was covered with frost (I was in Washington, visiting my family—the world in California, where I live, is rarely covered in frost) but unlike in my dream, my feet were firmly planted on the ground.

As I ran I thought about my dream and related it to writing. In my dream I was able to watch my loved ones receive the news of my death, but what if a writer was able to watch readers read her books? How would that change the writer and her work?

This is just one example of how one writer (me) gets her (my) ideas. To see the ideas that became books, please visit my blog at kristystories.blogspot.com

There is no Sure Thing by Jill James

pile of booksEspecially in publishing. If this week has taught me anything, it is that nothing is for sure. Allegedly, an author had Amazon taking all her royalties from one book against returns of another book. At Amazon’s request and with an email to purchasers. Then, rumors started flying that it was a conspiracy against her for choosing to go from self-publishing to traditional publishing. Then, fuel was added to the fire with allegations of the entire song lyrics from a Rolling Stones song had been in her previously self-published book. Whew!! It is enough to make your head spin.

Next, it turns out that Random House didn’t just go digital first with new imprints, but straight to vanity publishing. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) took RH to task for a craptastic contract that made writers not eligible for membership in their organization if they published with the science fiction imprint of RH. With terms that have the writer responsible for all costs to put out a book; editing, covers, production, and more. Turns out the mystery and romance imprint contract are equally “onerous and unconscionable” according to SFWA President John Scalzi.

There are no sure things in life or life in publishing. You have to be on your toes at all times. Publishers and self-publishing vendors write contracts and Terms of Service that benefit themselves. If writers were doing the contract writing we would do it to benefit ourselves as well. Knowledge is power. Don’t give it away. Don’t lose it.

On top of all the amazing things that have come from the self-publishing revolution, the best is knowledge. Writers are no longer gagged by non-disclosure orders. We are sharing the good news and the bad, the sales that get you on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and the information that a vendor is down for the day. Information about new vendors opening up or the helpful hints about formatting and editing.

There may be no sure thing, except that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor anymore.

LoveintheTimeofZombies 200x300–Jill James, author of contemporary and paranormal romance
and the upcoming Love in the Time of Zombies