(DISCLAIMER: This blog post originally appeared on Cathy McRae’s Bits & Bobs on Feb 11, 2015.)

Fleshing out Stoker Smith, hero of my new release, AND JERICHO BURNED, was a bit of a challenge. You see, he’s a werewolf. And werewolves, as opposed to the general population, are very alpha. Stoker is intimidating, dominating, and confident: all signs of alpha maleness. And yet, he’s not an alpha male. At least, not in his pack. He’s delta. A real middle of the pack kind of guy.

He has no desire to lead anything, mostly because leading would involve thinking and making decisions, and he has many more important things to do than clutter his brain with details other people are more qualified to ponder. Mostly he likes to compose music. He co-writes most of the songs performed by Toke Lobo & The Pack, the country band his pack alpha started. When he meets Lucy Callahan, heroine of the book, even making music takes a backseat to wanting to take her home and start making babies with her. His ultimate bliss is within reach–except for one or two things.

First of all, there’s Lucy. Lucy thinks. She plots and strategizes, and even failure doesn’t stop her from doing it again. Stoker knows he should be flattered when the pack alphas listen to her, because that’s an honor, but he and Lucy are delta. Deltas don’t think. His mate needs to learn that.

Then there’s her sister, Michelle, who is now part of his family. He promised Lucy he’d get Michelle away from that heavily-armed religious cult she joined. The pack alphas don’t want to hear that, so he has to deal with it himself. And while he’s capable, he’d much rather be led.

Except when someone hurts Lucy. Revenge is his and his alone. And that’s what makes it a romance.

19
Apr

February of 2015 was the most brutal February on record for the city in which I live. Brutal cold, brutal snow. In the top 5 of the worst winter sites in the nation. Is it any wonder my neighbors, family, and friends are rejoicing in blue skies (when they peek through), sunshine and warmth?

Here are my spring flowers in bloom. I honestly never thought I get to see them due to the snow cover.

APRIL 2015 CROCUSAPRIL 2015 BLUE FLOWERSAPR 2015 CROCII

Next spring, I want a field of daffodils where the backyard pool once stood.

If you’re one of my newsletter subscribers, this isn’t news. But for followers who don’t receive my newsletter, I have a major announcement.

I sold another book, this time to Loose Id. Summer Fling is one of my contemporary baseball romances. It’s scheduled for a May 5 release. Check it out here.

I am beyond excited about this.

And here’s the cover, by talented artist Mina Carter. Isn’t it gorgeous?MJC_Summer Fling

12
Apr

Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed. Too much to do and not enough time. Every day I murmur a prayer of thanksgiving because my children are grown and gone. If I were still doing the mom thing . . . I can’t even contemplate it.

It’s not all bad. I’m realizing my lifelong dream/ambition of being a published author. It’s the peripheral obligations that are getting me down.

One of my goals for this calendar year is a monthly date with myself. Too bad I haven’t had time to do that. I barely have time to get in a weekly session of yoga. My second quarter goal is to add another half hour of exercise into my week. But exercise isn’t me time. It’s a peripheral obligation that takes away from the writing time.

I’m in serious need of not only a date with myself, but some substantial me time.

  • I’d like to go to a baseball game.
  • I’d like to do some real cooking on the weekend.
  • I’d love to go to a movie with my husband.
  • I have several ideas for custom music mixes I’d like to work on.
  • Reading without guilt would be so nice!
  • I’d like to sip a glass of wine and relax when I get home from Day Job.

I would also like writing time. Writing is my dream. Something has to give.

Another one of my goals this year is “say no.” Don’t be surprised when you start hearing me say it more often.

Woke up this morning to the great news that And Jericho Burned was reviewed by Night Owl Reviews and is a Reviewer Top Pick!

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The second half of the final season (I hate that marketing ploy) of Mad Men premieres tonight. I will watch it, although with great reluctance.

Several years ago, my husband and a co-worker each insisted I needed to watch the program. Eventually I relented, and TV Stevie cued up the DVDs. We binge watched together (his third time).

From the beginning, the show made me uncomfortable. Hideously so. Although I started working in local TV a good 10 or so years after the time frame of Mad Men , the depiction was realistic. Too realistic.

After I caught up on the story, TV & I watched the show every Sunday night. I would see comments on social media about how well written the show was. I suppressed a shudder. A friend asked me who thought the program was written well. Men? Of course. But that wasn’t my issue. If the program wasn’t well written, it wouldn’t evoke the negative reaction.

A few weeks ago, I finally figured out why I hate the show. Entertainment is about the fantasy. That’s what romance book editors tell their writers all the time: people read romance for the fantasy. Escapism. Mad Men is about the reality, and I didn’t like those times when I lived them. Why would I want to revisit something so awful?

In December, TV Stevie and I binge-watched True Blood, which is about the fantasy. I loved it so much more than Mad Men. What woman wouldn’t want to be irresistible to hunky men?

Will I watch part two of the final season of Mad Men? Probably, but it has more to do with doing something with my husband than it does watching because I want to know what happens to Don Draper. I really don’t care.

Today I’d like to welcome an long-time friend and fellow author, Linda Mooney.

Linda, April is National Humor Month. Do you like in infuse humor in your books? Can you share an example?

LM: The majority of my “humorous” books are my naughtier ones, which I write under the pseudonym of Carolyn Gregg. The humor itself is not the “ha-ha, laugh out loud” variety. Instead, it’s little incidents, thoughts, and dialect which make the story funny.

For example, in Chicken Fried Beefcake, the heroine is a klutz.

            “I… It’s late.  You’re right.  I need to get back to my room and try and get some sleep before tomorrow.”  Pulling her feet out of the water, Beth rose to her feet and turned to quickly leave, when her toes got caught in the sodden hem of her pajama bottoms.  She instinctively tried to kick herself free, when she lost her balance.

With nothing to grab onto to keep herself from falling, Beth could only flail her arms helplessly as she fell backwards off the pier and into the tank.  Straight into Billy’s embrace.

In Fits Like a Glove, the main male lead is in desperate need of cash, so he agrees to model “designer condoms”.

“It’s our new holiday line.”

“It says it’s the ‘Dress Your Dick’ line. Don’t tell me you’re serious.”

“Aww, I think they would be cute. Have you tried one on yet?”

Guy chuckled. “Actually, I was sort of waiting for you to show up before I did. I read that they’re meant for decoration only.”

“Yeah. That’s exactly what the intent is. To get lovers to have a little fun. Play around. You know. Kind of like foreplay. Put one on.”

Inside each box was a cardboard dildo dressed for a specific holiday. There was a St. Patrick’s leprechaun and a Valentine edition covered with little glittery hearts. Two were for Easter. One multi-colored version was meant to represent an egg. It even had little ball sacks. The other one was a rabbit, complete with little ears.

MJ: LOL!  If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

LM: There were several years when I gave up writing. Most of that was when I was caring for my husband, who had a heart transplant. At that time, I made Christmas ornaments out of vintage spoons. But I’ve always felt the need to create. When I was a Kindergarten teacher, I was constantly making games and lessons for them. But writing has always been my number one outlet since I was five years old.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job? Why?

LM: I would love to be a travel agent and get to visit the world. Especially overseas to places like Ireland and the UK. I’m getting hit by the wanderlust big time.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

LM: I have it! Or pretty much so. It’s a spare bedroom where I can spread out, now that my son has moved out on his own. My walls are covered with all sorts of paraphernalia that either relate to a book I’ve written, or to an idea I have for a story. The only thing missing is an actual fireplace. I’d love to have one. My best mindset is when it’s quiet except for the crackling of the flames. If I had the money, I’d install an electric or gas one in the room. In the meantime, I have a DVD of a fireplace that I often play when I’m writing.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

LM: He’s willing to compromise, even when he’s given direct orders not to. Rather than blindly obey his commander, he knows the only way his people will survive is to join forces with the enemy. He’s not happy with that option, but life is sacred to him. The heroine sees that in him, and it’s part of what changes her mind about the kind of creature he is. You see, he’s not human, but humanoid.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

LM: She’s human. She’s also headstrong and more likely to react on impulse instead of thinking things out first. But sometimes one has to rely more on gut instinct and fast action, rather than sit and discuss possible solutions. She obviously wouldn’t make a good diplomat.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

LM: It’s a sci-fi romance.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

LM: Believe it or not, I discovered them in movies. They’re real first names of actors. The last names I pulled out of thin air.

MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?

LM: I came across a photo of a world that simply ended. It was like a huge, cosmic knife had sliced away part of the planet. From there, I thought of the subtitle, The Rim of the World, and the rest just sort of blossomed in bits and pieces until it formed a cohesive storyline.

MJ: Can you tell us a bit about your current release?

LM: The title of my current release is Neverwylde, The Rim of the World, Book 1

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Here’s an excerpt:

“Pour on the juice, Lieutenant! Don’t let them get away!”
“Aye, sir!”
Lt. Kelen Chambliss pressed down on the sensitive touchpad in front of her, her eyes glued to the screen in front of her. The Seneecian ship continued to bob and weave as it tried to evade them. Behind her, she could hear Captain Arvey barking orders.
“Fullgrath! Where the hell are our cannons?”

“Almost at full strength, sir!” The weapons master sounded tinny above the roar of the engines as the pursuit continued.

Kelen rolled the fingers of her right hand up the slide, increasing their speed another quarter urg, and hoped it would be enough. It was quickly becoming too difficult to concentrate on trying to overtake the sleek enemy vessel, with the way it undulated through the nebula like an oiled snake.

MJ: Sounds wonderful! How can readers purchase your books?

LM: Each book has its own buy links. Once readers go to my website and click on a book, the links for to purchase are located there. I have my books in about 9 different venues.

MJ: And how can readers keep track of what’s going on with you?

 LM: I have a website, a blog for my Linda books, a blog for my Carolyn Gregg books, and a Facebook page. I’m also on Twitter, Goodreads, PinterestInstagram, Tumblr, and LinkdIn.

 MJ: Thanks again for stopping by, and good luck!

 

 

 

 

The snow is finally melting. I saw tulips peeking up next to the edge of the snow crust. I still can’t see any crocus.

lawn March 01 lawn March 02

Part of that is because the landmarks in my back yard have changed since last spring. The pool is finally gone, the patio extension was in progress when the weather turned to . . . standard stuff for this part of the world, and I have a mud pit waiting for wallowing. . . under the snow.

Now that April is nearly upon us, I’m thinking about that space again.

One thing I know I want is herbs. Basil, parsley, chives, and cilantro at the minimum. TV Stevie would probably like a tomato plant. I think a container garden is the way to go. I don’t want just a low-maintenance space, I want a no-maintenance space. I want to take my laptop outside and write. I want to sip fruity ice tea and bask in the heat and light. (Yes, I ordered my Celestial Seasonings Cool Brew Iced Teas on Monday; they arrived on Wednesday. I am all set there!)

“Only to the timid is April the cruelest month.” ~Amanda Vail, Love Me Little.

I think April is filled with possibilities.

Authors live for reviews. Especially new authors. I check my Amazon and Goodread pages every day, looking for reviews. (And if you’ve read my books and haven’t left a review, why not?)

So imagine my delight when I opened my email a few weeks ago and learned Night Owl Reviews had reviewed my first book, Moonlight Serenade. The review is now up. You can read it here. If you don’t want to do that, here’s what the reviewer wrote:

The scenes and details are well written and capture the imagination and the intriguing events certainly arouse the reader’s curiosity. The author has created a fascinating setting full of intriguing and sexy characters with some interesting elements. I was completely caught up in the story from the very beginning and I am looking forward to visiting with the Toke Lobo and the Pack band again.

Doesn’t that just put a smile on this face.

mybookwasreviewedonnorsm

It’s NCAA Basketball Tournament time again. In years past, I would take the afternoons off from work; I would have a tuna sandwich bar party; I would watch men’s college basketball until I dropped.

That habit gradually changed. The tournament was no longer exclusively on broadcast TV (and Superman help you if you refuse to pay your local cable monopoly for the higher tier channels, and I’m cable-challenged anyway.) Last year, my team left the beloved conference (ruined by football), so that dampened my spirit. And this year, my “home team” isn’t in any post-season at all.

This year, all the madness of March means to me is . . . baseball is right around the corner!

I watched college basketball—it’s practically a law in Syracuse—but it was tiring. There was no space or time to breathe the way there was in baseball. Baseball was spiritual, like yoga.

I could really use some spirituality right about now.