Friday, April 25, 2014

#AtoZChallenge - The Vigilant P31 Woman



Vigilant - keenly watchful; alert and awake

17.  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

Sometimes getting our work done is not pretty, or not convenient.  We may have to work at a time of day that is contrary to our internal time clock.  We may have to cram for a test at school.  So we put on the coffee, splash our faces with cool water and get to it.

Parents are (or should be) experts at this practice.  Nobody starts out perfect at vigilance either, so don't freak out.  We put child-safe locks on cabinets so our little helpers can learn to walk before they learn to mix the mop water.  

Drivers are (or should be) experts at this practice.  If you are old enough and skilled enough to get behind the wheel of a heavy piece of metal, vigilance should be on your skills list.  When we lived in Fort Worth, I was driving I-30 westbound one day when a beautiful German Shepherd jumped a retaining wall and ran onto the road right in front of me.  It did not end as well as it could have, but on the other hand it could have been a lot worse, too.  This was before I even had a cell phone.  Please, for the for the sake of all you hold dear, please do not attempt to operate a motor vehicle and a cell phone at the same time!

18.  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good:  her candle goeth not out by night.

Most people reading this will consider themselves either a writer, or a reader, or both.  When we are in the zone with our writing, energy soars and we can spend all kinds of time on the craft.  We pay attention to grammar, spelling, setting, characterization and a million other details in order to exhibit due diligence to our work.

And readers?  How many times have you got caught up reading something that you "could not put down"?  Well, maybe life intrudes (it likes to do that), but in my own case, I found 'extra bits' of time' that may have otherwise been frittered away and put them to good use.  
Something just occurred to me.  Normally, I have been asking a question at the end of my A to Z posts, but neglected to do so on the last three (in my 'rush' to have the week's posts done on Sunday, 4/20).  Hmmm...looks like I'm still working on vigilance.  How about you?

~~~oOo~~~

(thanks to Jeremy @ Being Retro for the original button design, to dictionary.com for the definitions, and to picmonkey.com for the ability to customize the graphics.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW/REVIEW: Burnout by Teresa Trent



(click this banner for the tour page and access to a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card.  In addition, several days are left in the tour where Burnout will be available free.  Check out the author's website (see link below)  for the dates.  There is a cute cryptogram puzzle to figure out the dates!)


SYNOPSIS

It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.




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AUTHOR INFORMATION


1. When you started the Pecan Bayou books, did you know there would be a 5th title in the series?

Actually, yes I did.  I plotted from the first book what I wanted to happen to Betsy in the next five books.  That means...yes there will be a sixth and final book. 


2.  What was the hardest book for you to write? Why?

Probably the first book in the series, A Dash of Murder because I had to research and create all the characters who live in Pecan Bayou.  I knew what story I wanted to tell, but I am a visual writer and would search out pictures of what I would think each character and each setting looked like.  With every new book, I change Zach and Tyler because they have to be older and there are always new settings and characters.  For Burnout I had to learn about fire, but luckily I have a cousin who is a volunteer fireman who let me ask plenty of silly questions.  Betsy's flu was easy because as luck would have it,  I came down with the worst case of stomach flu I've had in years.  It was ironic I was writing about the flu and then experienced it in such detail.


3. Does one of your books hold a special place in your heart?

Probably A Dash of Murder, my first book, because that was when I met this cast of characters who became such a part of my life.  Aunt Maggie who is part me and part my own mother, Judd, the dad who always shows up with either a kind word or a drawn gun, Leo who stands by Betsy through all of her body-finding mishaps, the kids, the people at the diner and the Best Little Hairhouse in Texas and of course my dear Danny.   My husband and I just watched Saving Mr. Banks, and I was so struck by the line P.L. Travers tells Walt Disney about her character Mary Poppins.  "Mary is family."  What she says is absolutely true.   These characters I created evolved somewhere in all of their entrances and exits and became family.  Sometimes it's as if they write themselves.   


4. Does the writing life get easier or harder? 

Parts of it get easier.  You get to the point where you know what you need to do to write a book.  There are other parts of writing and publishing that are always changing.  Staying up to date on the industry and studying the craft of writing is important and can never stop. 


5. What are your hobbies?

I love to crochet, sing, read and binge-watch NetFlix with my husband.


6. What's the craziest thing you've ever done? 

Waking a homeless person in San Francisco to ask directions.   I was eighteen. It was three in the morning and my friend Becky had driven over from another state and couldn't find our hotel.  We decided to go to a hospital to get directions and there was a man sleeping in the glassed in area between to sets of sliding doors.  He jumped and so did we.  You would think that was the scariest part, but then we found ourselves in the middle of two gangs who had been brought into the emergency room because of a street fight.   Thanks to the police we ended up unhurt and in the right place.   Angels were definitely watching over us that night.


7. If you had to start your writing career over again, would you do anything differently?

I would have buckled down and started writing seriously sooner.  Youth is wasted on the young, right? If you are an aspiring writer, don't waste any more time.  Write, write, write.


8. Do you have any writing rituals? Music, food and drink, lucky socks, etc?

I drink green tea which is probably why my characters drink so much ice tea.   I write on the couch with two book-end dogs, and I love to listen to New Age piano like George Winston. 


9. How do you get your writing ideas?   

Each day I watch the news and read the paper.  Every once in awhile something will just stick in my mind and I start plugging in the characters from Pecan Bayou.  I create my characters when I see or hear a funny sounding name. I can remember following some sort of service truck through traffic one day with the guy's name written on the back.  It was such a goofy name, that I ran home and put it in my computer.   There will never be a Bob Jones in my stories.  Gertrude Fortbottom has a much better chance of making it. 


10. What is your favorite holiday?

That would have to be Christmas.  Someday I want to write a Christmas novel and have written several short stories that take place at that time.

~~~oOo~~~

REVIEW

Burnout, the 5th installment in the Pecan Bayou Series (aka the Betsy Livingston Mysteries), by Teresa Trent, was a pleasure to read.  I almost felt like a lifelong resident of the little town in Texas.  Betsy writes a column for the local paper and at the beginning of the book, she is standing outside of the burning newspaper building.  The bad news is no one has seen the editor/publisher "Rocky" since the start of the blaze and it becomes apparent that the fire claimed a life.

This is just the first example of how Ms. Trent draws us into the story.  I really wanted to know what would happen.  I, like most readers felt sorry for Betsy when she steadfastly refused to allow herself to believe that Rocky was gone.

And there was no shortage of people in the small town whose feathers Rocky had not ruffled - from the tax man with a gambling problem, to the head of the middle school PTA, to the pet rescuer who had been convicted of running a puppy mill in years past.

Add to this the fact that Betsy seems to have caught the flu that seems to be spreading like wildfire through the town, her realization that her 'flu' might be something else and a hilarious episode of trying to keep the purchase of a home pregnancy test secret just adds fuel to the fire of this book's assets.

I want to go back now and read the first four installments, read Burnout over again, and then tap my foot until the 6th (and final) installment of this series is published!

~~~oOo~~~

(Disclaimer:  I received an e-copy of Burnout from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was offered, requested or received.)

#AtoZChallenge - Unselfishness and Proverbs 31


Unselfish - not selfish or greedy; generous

13.  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

An unselfish woman realizes that life is not all about her.  If we are living a righteous life, most of the work we ever do will be for the benefit of other people.  Sure, we earn money and we buy things for ourselves.  But we buy food for our families, support school fund-raisers, buy a minivan instead of a sports car because it's hard to pack the family and possessions into a two-seater convertible for a vacation.

20.  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

We don't all have the financial resources of a Gates or a Buffet, and doubtless we cannot help everybody.  But we can support those in need with what we have.  It may be money, it may be clothing, or furniture, or time.  Sure, most of us a fairly busy individuals, but do I really need to see that NCIS rerun (and it's my favorite show) again, or do I have time to drive one of my in-laws to a doctor's appointment, or to help out in a child's classroom.  

Sometimes we spend a lot of time worrying whether or not the recipient is 'worthy' of our donations.  The inscription on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor includes the words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  It does not say, "so long as they are productive, have no substance abuse issues, mental health issues or criminal background. (see also section V, subsections 14-27)"  Assuming there is no safety issue involved, a recipient's "worthiness" should not be a deal-breaker when it comes to us being unselfish.

~~~oOo~~~

(thanks to Jeremy @ Being Retro for the original button design, to dictionary.com for the definitions, and to picmonkey.com for the ability to customize the graphics.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#AtoZChallenge - Trustworthiness and Proverbs 31


Trustworthy - deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable

11.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

Trust is an extremely important characteristic of relationship, no matter if they are in marriage, family, friendships, businesses, and others.  To be considered worthy of someone's trust is just about the highest compliment they could give you.  In my opinion, one measure of trustworthiness in marriage is that you do not seek physical or emotional intimacy outside of that relationship.  In a business setting, it could mean that when you accept an assignment, that assignment will be completed satisfactorily and on time.

27.  She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

In the setting and Proverbs 31, and in many cultures today, the household is the purview of the woman or wife.  (Please note I am making no judgment whether it looks that way in your family or not.)  When I was growing up, my father worked as a PhD in Chemical Engineering to provide the means for our family to thrive.  My mother stayed home and kept the household running smoothly by cooking, cleaning and the like.  He provided the 'investment' and she managed the same; neither would last without the other.  Both my mother and father trusted the other to fulfill their part of the agreement, and trustworthily fulfilled their own duties.

~~~oOo~~~

(thanks to Jeremy @ Being Retro for the original button design, to dictionary.com for the definitions, and to picmonkey.com for the ability to customize the graphics.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

#AtoZChallenge - Success and Proverbs 31



Successful - having attained wealth, position, honors, or the like.

20.  She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

What better measure of success is there than when we can say, "You know what?  I have enough.  I am happy.  Let me help others find their miracle."  There are as many different roads to happiness as there are people:  a full belly, a pair of glasses, a well-timed hug, help mastering a subject or technique.  (Note to self:  A-Z Blessings would be a GREAT topic for the 2015 Blogging from A to Z Challenge!) :O)

28.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

OK.  Maybe this one isn't necessarily 'better' than the previous example, but it's pretty dang nice to receive kudos from those closest to us, be they family or friends (or associates).  Our first year in Kentucky, I worked four 10-hour night shifts a week during the Christmas season at the Amazon warehouse in Lexington.  When I came home (close to 7:00 AM) I could barely move.  But when I opened the door, my (then) 2 YO daughter would run through the house towards me, arms flung wide and shout, smiling, "MOMMY!"  I will have a tough time achieving more success than that.

~~~oOo~~~

(thanks to Jeremy @ Being Retro for the original button design, to dictionary.com for the definitions, and to picmonkey.com for the ability to customize the graphics.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

BOOK TOUR: Love, Life and Happiness I & II by Sheena Binkley







Riana:
I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone when I arrived at Shaw University. After my last stint at love, the only thing I wanted to focus on is getting through my first semester of college without any drama. That was my intentions, until I met Shawn Walker. At first I didn’t like him. He was arrogant and cocky; someone that I could easily despised, if he wasn’t so damn sexy. But one night changed my thoughts about him. I was able to let down my guard and be myself. Now, I have a second chance at love. Will I let myself love again, or will I continue to live in the past?

Shawn:
After my last girlfriend cheated on me, love was not on my agenda. I tried to escape it at all costs, until I met Riana Robertson. After thinking she was like every other girl, I easily avoided being around her, but that night, when I saw what happened to her, I had to help her. I had to protect her. That night changed the way I felt about her and I realized I could fall hard for her. But will our relationship survive once she finds out the truth about me. Or will I lose her forever…
~~~oOo~~~


Cheryl:
Falling in love is something I’d never imagined. I didn’t think love existed, mainly because of the way I was raised. Relationships were never in the cards, especially since I gave a chance on one, and it nearly destroyed me.
When I met Marcus Walker, I was only looking for a fling, nothing more; but the more time I spent with him, the more I realized he could be so much more. Not only has he helped me through my family drama but also with a situation I thought was way behind me. Now, I understand what love is and how powerful it can be. But will I let myself be loved, or will I continue to believe that love is not for me?

Marcus:
One thing I said I will never do in my life is fall in love. Being in love is great for some people, but not for me. That all changed when I met Cheryl Thompson.
At first, I thought she would be like the rest, just a one-night stand, but when I saw what she was going through, I realized she was much more than a fling; she was someone I wanted to commit to. Will I be able to trust myself and give her what she needs, or will I end up destroying her even more?
~~~oOo~~~



Sheena Binkley first discovered her love for storytelling when writing her first story for a class project at the tender age of nine. Since then, she has composed several short stories and numerous tales that are not only engaging, but simply entertaining. She is also a freelance writer, penning articles on various topics including education and entertainment. Besides writing, she loves reading, shopping, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Houston (where the weather is always unpredictable) with her husband and son.



1. In five words, describe you as a writer?
Entertaining, exciting, unpredictable, quirky, romantic, and drama

2. What is your inspiration for writing?
I have a vivid imagination, so I think that’s the inspiration I need to come up with storylines, characters, etc.  But I also think it’s my love for writing and being a reader that makes me want to create stories that are interesting and engaging.

3. What are some things that you have to have while writing?
My laptop or iPad (when I don’t feel like turning on my computer), food, and music. Music is the most important element, because that is how I set-up scenes for my stories. Most of the scenes in my stories are based off of songs that I was listening to while writing. That is also why I have playlists for all of my books.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your writing career?
Even though I love the fact that I’m an indie author, I would love to be with a publishing company. Also, I would love to see one of my books on either The New York Times or USA Today best-sellers list.

5. Name five things that are on your bucket list?
1. To be a New York Times best-seller
2. Go to Disney World (which I plan on doing with my family next year)
3. Go to New York
4. Visit Vegas
5. Try zip-lining (which would be an accomplishment since I’m terrified of heights)
~~~oOo~~~

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RELEASE DAY BLITZ: Love's Sorrow by Terri Rochenski


Happy Book Birthday to Love's Sorrow!

Today marks the kick-off of Love's Sorrow blog tour AND part one of ...
 a sneak peak at the entire first chapter!
Follow along during the tour for parts two through ten, and be sure to check out the rafflecopter below for some Love's Sorrow goodies!

~~~oOo~~~


Love's Sorrow
Means of Mercy #1
Historical Romance
Release Date: April 21, 2014
Publisher: Roane Publishing

Synopsis
Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.

Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow's unrelenting waves of grief.


Print:
CreateSpace (best option) * Amazon

E-book:

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Chapter 1 / Excerpt 1
With a loud grind and clanking, the train came to rest at King’s Cross Station. The engine car let out a hiss like the sigh that escaped my lips every night when I laid on my pallet after a long day’s work.

Pressing my face to the window, I stared in amazement at the mass of moving people. When boarding the train in Birmingham, excitement kept me from giving the well-to-do folks more than a mere glance, but I sat captivated as my fellow passengers disembarked around me.
Lavish bonnets and bright-coloured dresses of silky material made me ashamed of the threadbare gingham frock and tattered straw hat I wore.

Aunt Martha and Mary always tried to keep up with the latest fashions by ripping and sewing old dresses—garments beyond repair became an extra flounce or two, and the nicer threads unwoven and made into lace collars or cuffs. I hadn’t ever been allowed time for such frivolous activities, so I made myself content with proper skirt length and suitable patches for worn elbows.

Content, until I gazed upon the ladies of London in all their finery. Aunt Martha would say those folks sinned by squandering their money in such a way.

For about the tenth time, I imagined my aunt’s kitchen minus its scullery maid and target for hurled objects. I choked back a giggle for what must have been the fifth time that morning. My days of being a slave were over, for I had been offered employment.

Fingers trembling, I stood and wrapped my thin shawl tight around my shoulders, clutched my bundle closer, and walked the train’s narrow aisle. I stepped onto the platform and peered around the sea of faces for Joanna Telford.

I had never met my cousin from London. Until a few weeks earlier, I wasn’t even aware I had family beyond Uncle Edward and Aunt Martha. Mrs. Telford wrote to tell me she and her husband were in need of a nanny and governess for their two young sons, and being the merciful guardian he was, Uncle Edward decided to send me away from his wife.

Without her knowing.

Another smile lifted my lips, and I shifted on my feet, moving my tied bundle from one hand to the other. I grimaced as a whiff of body odour rose. Aunt Martha allowed me to bathe once a week, which would have been on the morrow, but asking to do so early certainly would have aroused suspicion. Sneaking away from her house before sunrise as I did would never have occurred with success.

No one spared the poor farm girl a second glance, and insides buzzing like a honey bee, I stood unmoving, a white-knuckled grip on my worldly possessions.

Minutes moved passed slower than a lazy stream and the surrounding crowd began to disperse. I waited. Despair crept closer with every passing heartbeat.

A stooped man in black livery made eye contact with me, and a pleasant smile lit his face as he started my way.

“Miss Tearle?” His voice rasped like a rusty barn door hinge.

“Yes. I am Anne Tearle.” I was grateful to my aunt for one thing. My accent matched almost perfectly with those buzzing around me. Aunt Martha's hatred of the Black Country we lived in and the cane across the back of my legs every time I slipped into the bouncing regional lilt had eradicated all but the barest traces of it.

The elderly gentleman removed his hat, tucked it under one arm, and dipped his head. "Welcome to London, missy.” His smile widened and the skin around his watery blue eyes crinkled. “I’m the Telfords’ coachman, Emanuel. The missus has sent me to collect you.” 

~~~oOo~~~

About Terri Rochenski
Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

Tour Schedule

Book Blitz and Tour-wide Giveaway
Signed paperback copy of Love's Sorrow, 
$10 Amazon gift card, & swag package.
Ends 5/16/2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code.  No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing's marketing department.

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