If you read my blog at all, you know I’m a bit of a Toby Keith fan.

I was stunned when Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill opened in the local mall.

toby keith bar and grill 2The chain doesn’t have that many locations, and my poor, rust-belt city isn’t exactly the kind of market I would expect a place like this.

I’d heard rumors about tax issues–as in, the restaurant isn’t paying its taxes and isn’t long for this world here.* So one night, I convinced TV Steve (not a country music fan) to go there for dinner. I mean, I had to experience the place once. Right? Actually, I think TV & I negotiated the outing, with him probably bribing me along the lines of: “If you’ll go to the mall with me, I’ll buy you dinner at Toby Keith’s.”

So we went. It was a Tuesday night. The mall was dead. The restaurant was dead. It’s a huge, echoing barn of a place. Texas line-dancing lessons were happening over by the stage. No one sat at the bar. Only one small section of the dining room was open. It was about half full. There was a twenty minute wait for a table. So we waited. 

Once we were seated, another ten minutes passed before anyone asked if we’d like something to drink. I ordered Purple Cowboy wine because of its name. We read the menu. Several times. Another ten minutes passed. Someone asked if we’d been waited on. Um, no. Finally our drinks were delivered and someone–not our assigned waitress–took our food order.

We made the mistake of ordering pulled pork sandwiches. Why was that a mistake? We live in Dinosaur country, home of one of the top barbecue places in the USA. Why did we bother?

Our assigned server eventually found us, but was too late to change our impression that it’s a restaurant on a downhill slide.

Toby Keith: I don’t love your bar & grill. Sorry.

*Rumors only. I have NO idea if they are true or not.

Today I am delighted to have Anna Steffl join me here on Work in Progress Wednesday. Anna lives in Athens, Georgia, home of the New World gods of football and alternative music. She has held a string of wildly unrelated jobs, from frying chicken to one that required applying for a Department of Defense security clearance.  She is a past president of Georgia Romance Writers and a Golden Heart Award finalist. Welcome Anna! Share a life memory you recall frequently and tell us why you think about it.

AS: I was 13 and an excellent swimmer. I swam out to a dock in the middle of lake, and then noticed small fish were circling the dock. Having a raging fish phobia, I refused to swim back to shore. An older girl had to carry me back in. Is it any wonder I feature big, scary lake creatures in my stories?  Well, even the little lakes creatures are scary.

MJ: Wow! What are your top three dream destinations and why?

AS: Iceland, New Zealand, Yellowstone. Why? They all have amazing thermal features.

MJ: Name one thing most people don’t know about you.

AS: I’m a libertarian, so some of my answers will not conform.

MJ: LOL! What’s your secret talent?

AS:  I play the accordion

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

AS: An ARC of the Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick, whenever she gives it to me.

MJ: Do you have any recurring dreams? If so, will you share one with us?

AS: I’m always in a house that has hidden, scary rooms and the kitchen contains odd things—like a toilet just sitting there.

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

AS: A song writer.

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

AS: Architect. I studied architecture for three years in college.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

AS: Beer Barrel Polka

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

AS: My glasses and cat hair on my clothes. That’s two, but they are always on my person, and I warned you about the libertarian thing.

MJ: Yes, you did! If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

AS: A Buddhist monk so I’d know what it would be like to really meditate.

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

AS: Babe.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

AS: A good quality bagel, like Masada, and lots of coffee.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

AS: A locked room with no food.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

AS: Eat bagel. Drink coffee. Walk. Write.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

AS: Wikipedia.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

AS: War and Peace.

MJ: Plotter or Pantser?

AS: A little of both

MJ: What romance convention/cliche most sets your teeth on edge?

AS: The words for the lady bits and gentlemen bits.

MJ: Do you believe in writer’s block?

AS: Granite or marble? Mine is just a chunk of concrete from a cracked driveway.

MJ: Name 3 things on your desk right now.

AS: Beer. Pill bottle. Nylon Strapping. OMG—I am a freak.

MJ: Love and true love – what is the difference and what do your characters believe about LOVE?

AS: With true love, you become willing to set your best interests aside for the higher good of the relationship. For some of my characters, like Arvana and Degarius, that means honoring pledges that may destroy the relationship—but otherwise, the relationship would be doomed by their guilt. Plain old love? You are attracted to the idea of the person, rather than the reality, and how that person reflects on you. Chane Lerouge…cough, cough.

MJ: Would you consider self-publishing?

AS: Yes.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

AS: Mostly Brahms.  He believed in inspiration and craftsmanship. He also burned anything he thought unworthy. I’ve had my own bonfires.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

AS: No. That would complicate my desk even more.

MJ:  Synopses: love them or hate them?

AS: Is there a stronger word than hate?

MJ: Ready for the lightning round? Addams Family or Munsters?

AS: The Simpsons.

MJ: Ha! Wine–red or white?

AS: Dirty martini.

MJ: Beer–can or bottle?

AS: Both.

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

AS: Tiffany Black.

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St Patrick’s Day?

AS: St. Joseph’s Day — I’m Polish.

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

AS: How to Train Your Dragon II

MJ: Favorite TV show?

AS: Sherlock Holmes.

MJ: Paper or e-books?

AS: E-book.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count).

AS: The Church

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

AS: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

AS: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

AS: Ma Po Tofu.

MJ: And now what we’ve all been waiting for: Can you share the first few lines of your current work in progress?

AS: Of course! This is from The Unchosen:

Mariel, following her father’s lead, pressed a handkerchief over her nose. The wind was lofting the ashes. The floating ash might have been beautiful, like the first snowfall, but instead of smelling fresh and clean, it carried the stomach turning scent of the burned flesh of their fellow villagers of Caraquet. It was forbidden to enter a hant, even one that had once been home. But, they had to find her mother’s necklace. It was why the draeden had punished them, had incinerated Caraquet.

MJ: And that is a hook! Do you have any books out now? If so, how can people find them?

AS: The Solace Trilogy is available through Amazon. Click on the covers for the buy links.

The first book in the Solace trilogy follows Arvana, the only Solacian capable of seeing the Blue Eye’s revelations, as she reluctantly leaves her cloistered refuge to seek a champion to wield a relic against the resurrected draeden. The obvious champion is the charismatic Prince Chane Lerouge, who possesses the one remaining sword the ancestors used to end the Reckoning. But the unknown warrior, Captain Degarius, unrelentingly pursues a rumored lake monster with a blade whispered to be blessed. Will Arvana’s mission earn her the elusive solace she seeks or spiral her heart—and the world—into a second Reckoning if she chooses the wrong man? Downplaying magic in favor of romance and fantasy, Arvana’s adventure boasts strong characters in an immersive, realistic new realm.

AnnaSteffl_SeekingSolace_800px

 

One relic is lost in an act of fidelity when Paulus’s blessed sword falls into undeserving hands. One relic is won by testing the strength, endurance, and mercy of the champion who proves himself worthy of the Blue Eye. But two souls are shattered in the process. Though Arvana serves her penance by choosing a champion, the pure joy of a shacra evades her until a forbidden moment of tenderness. Will the single kiss endanger the fate of the world and destroy her heart’s longing for solace? This fascinating trilogy continues with greater stakes and deeper romance in an unforgettable fantasy world.

AnnaSteffl_SolaceShattered_800px

 

This final installment of the Solace Trilogy finds Arvana contending with the choices she’s made and the fate of the world on her shoulders. In the depths of winter, the Scyon releases the powers of Hell to bring forth a second Reckoning that will overturn world order. But from the deepest desperation, the fugitive outcasts reluctantly embark on an impossible quest. Armed only with a single blessed sword, a dangerous relic, and the remnants of a shattered love, will solace arise?

AnnaSteffl_SolaceArisen_800px

MJ: Gorgeous covers! And are you on social media?

AS: Yes. I have a website – www.Annasteffl.com

I’m on Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/annasteffl

I’m on Twitter — @Solace Trilogy -or- @AnnaKurtzSteffl

Pinterest –  http://www.pinterest.com/annasteffl/

LinkdIn – https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=45348994&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic  Anna Kurtz Steffl

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AnnaSteffl/posts  Anna Steffl

MJ: Thanks again for joining me for Work In Progress Wednesday, and good luck!

 

24
Aug

Toke Lobo

I’ve been waiting to hear from my editor at Soul Mate Publishing about the second werewolf book The timing of my submission could have been better: my editor was on her way out the door to San Antonio for the RWA National Conference when I sent her the manuscript.

But the wait is over. Stoker Smith, keyboard player for Toke Lobo & The Pack, gets his own story, And Jericho Burned. And if you’re not sure who or what Toke Lobo & The Pack is, check out Moonlight Serenade.

Category: Writing  Leave a Comment

This week’s WIP Wednesday guest is Nancy Henderson, multi-published author in historical and paranormal fiction. Welcome, Nancy! Can you tell us something most people don’t know about you?

NH:  Hmmm…tough one.  Oh, I know!  I like dogs just as much as cats.  But everyone who knows me calls me the crazy cat lady!

MJ: What is your secret talent?

NH:  I can train a housecat to fetch a milk ring usually in a single afternoon.  (Milk rings = those plastic rings around the top of the milk cartons.)  Hey I never said it was a good talent! LOL!

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

NH: I’d probably do clay pottery, or do more with gardening.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

NH: A tote bag.  I have to have it loaded with books, something I’m writing at the moment, and pens.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

NH: Coffee.  That’s about it during the week.  On weekends I go to the local diner with my husband.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

NH: A writing room that’s decorated with Adirondack/rustic furniture, a fireplace, a large window looking out over a remote body of water.  Sigh…

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

NH: I wish I had a process!  I write in brief moments when I can.  I have a day job, so I write before work, during lunch hours, etc.  I usually don’t write on weeknights because my brain is fried. I write a lot on weekends, especially in the morning.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

NH: Comptonplations — www.mjcompton.com

MJ: ::blushing:: Plotter or pantser?

NH: Pantster. I’ve tried to plot and it never works for me.

MJ: Do you believe in writer’s block?

NH:  No.  For me, it’s plain laziness.  Or being overwhelmed.  When I’m overwhelmed, I freeze up and do nothing.  That’s when I need to take things one day at a time.

MJ: Would you consider self-publishing?

NH: Yes, I’m both small press and self published. I love, love, love the freedom of self publishing and plan to do a lot more of it.

MJ: Thanks, Nancy. Now it’s time for the lightning round. Addams Family or Munsters?

NH: Munsters!

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

NH: Tammy.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

NH: Don’t currently have one.

MJ: Paper or e-books?

NH: Both!

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

NH: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

NH: Extrovert.

MJ: Now it’s time for the real meat of the blog. Tell us about your current work in progress.

NH: The title is Bounty:  hero is paid to escort heroine to her betrothed.  But will he lose his heart on the journey?

                 He slapped her hard enough to make her head spin.

                Delilah Van Allen opened her eyes.  Her father was enraged, and she could have done nothing to avoid the blow.  She did not back away, for self-protection was a sign of defiance, something Papa had little tolerance for.  Instead she met his hard pale eyes, refusing to look away.

 

MJ: Wow. That was  definitely a hook!   Do you have a current release?

NH: Yes. Stranger in Her Bed  is available on Amazon (Click on the title for the link).

MJ: Do you engage in social media?

NH: Yes. Website – http://www.always-a-story.com

Blog – http://www.always-a-story.com/blog

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/nancyhendersonauthor

Twitter –  https://twitter.com/nancyehenderson

MJ: Thanks again for joining me today. Good luck!

 

 

capitol organTV Stevie and I attended Capitolfest this past weekend. We love the Capitol Theatre in Rome, NY, and their annual three-day, silent/early talky movie marathon is always a high point in our year. The above photo is of the theatre’s 1928 original installation Moller organ. This beautiful instrument more than earns its keep over the film festival weekend.

The very first movie of this year’s event was a 1922 silent western, Partners of the SunsetWithin the first few minutes of the film, I found myself grinning. Some aspects of story never change. Ninety two years ago, the story started with two “poor relation” sisters inheriting a ranch out west, from a distant uncle, with the stipulation they must live there for one year in order to inherit. The movie was a romance novel on the big screen. I loved every second.

Miscellaneous observations: George Bancroft and Alec Baldwin share a certain look at times (and camera angle), as do William Powell and Tom Hiddleston.

One of my favorite movies of the weekend was something called High Treason, a dreadful 1929 “futuristic” pic that contained precognitive flashes of both the Holocaust and 9/11. If I had known about this movie back when I was producing my bad movie TV show, I would have tried like crazy to get my hands on a copy. It was so bad, it was good, like Plan 9 From Outer Space. 

The best movies of the weekend were three dramas:

  • Ladies Man (1931)
  • Forgotten Faces (1928) (silent)
  • Laughter in Hell (1933)

Good story telling doesn’t rely on gimmicks, and these three movies prove that. I did, however, think the HEA ending of Laughter in Hell was a bit abrupt, but many movies this festival had the same issue, like rock songs before the Beatles started composing specific endings.

One more miscellaneous observation: I had a “tiffany” this weekend. If you read my blog, you know I hate special effects used for the sake of using special effects. I loathed The Dark Knight for that reason alone. Bang-bang-blow-em-up makes me crazy. This weekend I realized I don’t like a lot of 1930s movies for a similar reason. But special effects weren’t the new toy in that era. Sound was. And far too many movies have a gratuitous scene of a woman singing. Frequently, she’s not even a particularly good singer. But we have sound, by gum, we’re going to put a song in the movie. Most often, the singing-scene could be cut and the story would lose absolutely nothing.

And that’s a wrap.

 

 

 
 
Category: Movies  Leave a Comment

I am absolutely delighted to have Em Kaye join me on Comptonplations today. When I first joined my local RWA chapter, Em was one of the very first people to speak to me, and that’s a lovely memory.

Em! So glad you’re here. I just shared one of my life memories, now it’s your turn.

EK: I was always designated to do yard work – shoveling, weeding, etc. – instead of housework. I think it re-enforced that I was less feminine because of my given name (Michaele – pronounced like a boy’s name with an added ‘e’ that I would say was the only thing that made me a girl).

MJ: Wow. What are your top three dream destinations and why?

EK: Scotland (grandmother born there); London (I want to ride the Eye!); Paris (I want to see the Eiffel Tower at night – maybe with a new love)

MJ: What is your secret talent?

EK: I can look at an issue and find an efficient way to deal with it. As an example -  at a job once, we had to stamp our office’s address in the top left-hand corner of envelopes.  Since we had boxes and boxes of them, I turned them and the stamp upside down and stamped them quickly. It wasn’t the norm but it got done faster.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

EK: The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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

EK: Kept woman/Princess.

MJ: BWAH! Great answer!  If you had a theme song, what would it be?

EK: “I Will Always Love You,” by Whitney Houston

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

EK: Now it’s my cell phone

MJ:  If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

EK: Julia Roberts because I love her laugh, and she’s so talented.

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

EK: No, because the movies have to leave so much out that’s in the book. Sometimes you don’t get the true impact of what the character is feeling and why.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

EK: English muffin with jam and probably a diet soda (diet A&W is my choice at this point in time).

MJ:Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

EK: An office attached to my home where everyone would know to leave me alone.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

EK: I’m retired and a night owl, so the bulk of my writing is done at night, but if I’m working on a scene, I’ll write anytime.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

EK: Fifty Shades of Grey

MJ: Plotter or pantser?

EK: Pantser.

MJ: What romance convention/cliche most sets your teeth on edge?

EK: When you are talking to someone and answering their question and they say ‘oh…’ in that tone that makes me feel like I’m not on their level. Everyone should feel that other people are interesting and want to learn more about them.

MJ: Do you believe in writer’s block?

EK: Not as such. Sometimes I will ‘get stuck’ and then I have to walk away – sometimes for even a day or two – before the answer to my issue presents itself in my head.

MJ: Name three things on your desk right now.

EK: Papers, papers, papers

MJ: Love and true love – what is the difference and what do your characters believe about LOVE?

EK: You can love someone, but that’s not really true love. With true love you accept and overlook the faults of the other person and love them anyway. With just love, you don’t always have to like the person.

MJ: Would you consider self-publishing?

EK: Not at this time.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

EK: I usually put in a movie I’ve seen (so I already know what happens). I do need background noise.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

EK: No, not yet. Again it’s the ‘I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before the characters do’ syndrome.

MJ: Synopses: love them or hate them?

EK: Hate is a strong word, but I really, really don’t love or even like them.

MJ: Okay, now it’s time for the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

EK: Addams Family.

MJ: Wine-red or white?

EK: White.

MJ: Beer-bottle or can?

EK: Neither.

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

EK: It’s a toss up.

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

EK: St. Patrick’s Day.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

EK: Scandal.

MJ: Paper or e-books?

EK: I was a diehard ‘have to feel the book in my hand’ person, but have been using my Kindle so much now, it’s probably a tie.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

EK: The Beatles – I remember the Sunday they were first on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Shocking how long their hair was!

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

EK: Like Pepsi, but you can’t beat a vanilla Coke (made with syrup). Since I drink diet soda now, I guess either is okay.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

EK: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

EK: Good pizza.

MJ: And now! What we’ve all be waiting for! Can you share the first few sentences of your current work-in-progress?

EK: From Is It Really You?

‘Tell me – what are you wearing?’

Tris swallowed hard and thought, Is this what I really want? She was taking a big step here by putting herself on display, not physically, of course, but orally. The person on the other end of the conversation, Cal McAlaster, a lonely soldier overseas – at least that’s what he’d told her – was asking her to bare herself to him. Could she really do this?

Taking a big breath, she squared her shoulders before typing, ‘I’ve got my baby doll pajamas on. They’re pink with tiny roses on them.’ There, she’d done it. She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans.

‘Tell me more. Take off your top.’

MJ: Oh my. Now, you have a new book out, At Your Service. 

atyourservice200x300That’s a great cover! Where can we buy the book?

EK: http://www.amazon.com/At-Your-Service-EM-Kaye-ebook/dp/B00MGCAXUC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1407360897&sr=8-6&keywords=at+your+service

MJ: And how can readers follow your career on social media?

EK: Through my website–www.emkaye.net

or Facebook–www.facebook.em.kaye.author.com

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

 

Twenty-six years ago, I was on my honeymoon in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State.

With 6.1 million acres, the Adirondacks comprise the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark (copied from Wikipedia, but it’s all true). This, not Manhattan ( 22.96 square miles ), is the true New York.

Lake Placid, where we honeymooned, has been the site of not one, but two Winter Olympics. The Adirondacks were also once the summer destination of such people as the Vanderbilts, Oppenheimers, Rockefellers and other wealthy folks who built their Great Camps looking to escape the heat of the cities.

Twenty-six years ago, my new husband and I did the same thing. So did a certain physician and his wife. I never learned their names, but I will never forget them. As we drove home on the serpentine roads, up hill and down, we passed lakes and small towns. When we came to White Lake, we stopped. The evening before, there had been a seaplane accident on the lake. The physician and his wife were both killed.

The plane was still in the lake. Suitcases had popped open, and the contents drifted on the water.  A straw sunhat with a gaily flowered band floated as if it had not a care in the world. That hat got to me in a way the other articles of clothing or the half-submerged plane did not. The doctor’s wife had planned to wear that hat while she puttered in her garden, while she relaxed on their boat, while she enjoyed cocktails on the porch with her neighbors. Now, it was just a piece of detritus bobbing in the ebb and flow of the waves.

Every once in a while, that memory comes back, sharp and poignant.

And that is one of things in this writer’s mind.

It’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday, and my guest today is Ryan Jo Summers

Welcome, Ryan Jo!

MJ: What are your top three dream destinations and why?

RJS:  Ireland, because I’ve been there a few times and it’s lovely. I want to see more of it. And my dad lives there. Alaska because it seems so beautiful, cooler then where I live and the wildlife. Italy because of the canals and food.

MJ: Name one thing most people don’t know about you.

RJS: I was born with no sense of smell, still that way. Also, I am ambidextrous.

MJ: What is your secret talent?

RJS:  Two– I draw cartoons, usually with dry humor captions. And most of my cats have started out as totally wild and unapproachable. Now they lay on my belly and purr like kittens. It just takes time and patience to sooth a savage beast.

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

RJS:  Painting and drawing. I do the cartoons to give voice to my frustrations in life. Hence the dry humor and sarcasm. I love to paint ceramics, on canvas, on plain paper if need be. Objects d’ art that inspire me and remind me of places or things that mean something special. I also write poetry, not for publication, but to work through hard spots in life.

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

RJS: I miss being a veterinary technician, and I miss working around animals, usually the homeless ones, working to get them good homes. If I could do anything without real life concerns, I’d return to maybe a shelter director or something in the animal welfare field again. Now, if I were really dreaming, a storm chaser sounds pretty good too.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

RJS: Water bottle.
MJ: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

RJS:  Someone who is out on the water all day, in an exciting way. I miss being on the water and would love to magically be transported into the shoes of someone who is lucky enough to spend every day doing something they love out on the water.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

RJS: Coffee to start, loaded with milk and sugar. Check emails and social media. Then breakfast is normally eggs, (love eggs) a meat (bacon, sausage, etc..) and hash browns. I share the eggs and hash browns with my bird, Taz. He’s had so many eggs by now, I am surprised he hasn’t lain an egg himself. If I am running late, cereal is perfectly fine. Shared with Taz of course. Then shower, clean up the house a bit and off to work with more coffee. I can usually get between 5 to 8 hours in before it’s time for the day job.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space

RJS: I dream of a spacious room, with lots of windows for natural daylight and numerous plants. A tiled floor because it remains cooler then carpeting. Dolphin blue walls because a soft blue-gray is soothing and encourages the creativity that comes with being relaxed and comfortable. Framed pictures of all my book covers lining the walls. I have one now, soon to be more, but we can dream of multiple covers, right? A desk large enough to hold everything I need in all the nooks and crannies. And a couple dogs, preferably collies, to lay at my feet again. Probably another large fish aquarium to stare at when I need to rest my eyes from the computer screen and take that mental break we sometimes need.

MJ: That sounds lovely! Are you a plotter or a pantser?

RJS: Both. I plot initially, testing the story for strength and building characters, setting, conflict, etc… the major highlights. Then once I have a direction and key points, it’s a lot of fly by the seat of my pants. I have been known to write myself into a corner, then I have to stop and reevaluate where I was going and how to get out of the corner.

MJ: Do you believe in writer’s block?

RJS: Not in the sense some people use it as an excuse for not writing. I have writer’s block, so I’m going to lark around for weeks or months until it goes away. That’s not writer’s block, that’s not being serious about being a writer. I believe we can get off track and a bit lost. Like I said earlier, I can write myself into corners and need to stop. For hours. Maybe a day at the most. We can, I know from personal experience, combat writer’s block by developing the discipline to show up every day and make an honest attempt to put words down on paper. Two words, two hundred, two thousand, it’s the effort that counted. Do they have to be sterling quality? Nope. Just the effort will break the block and we can now move forward. Writing is like any other creative endeavor, in that it takes a discipline and desire to just show up and try. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now.

MJ: Name 3 things on your desk right now

RJS: My cat, Kryshnah. Sometimes it’s a cat or two or three. Often times it’s my macaw, Taz, helping out. So usually an animal of some sort. A blown glass egg paperweight my ex-father-in-law gave me years ago. It’s a lovely piece of glass, with bubbles and rainbow strings inside that reflect the light so well. He and I remained quite close despite the fact his son and I divorced a decade ago. I lost him earlier this year and the paperweight helps keep his memory alive. Two ceramics I’ve painted years ago, one a horse and one a Native American vase. A few pictures of pets I want to remember, some cats, a dog and a horse.

MJ: Would you consider self-publishing?

RJS:  Yes, I would. I have a non-fiction inspirational novella I have had poor luck submitting for traditional publication. The rejections are encouraging but not accepting. So I know it has some value, but I am at a loss what to do with it. I have seriously considered having some beta readers take it, revise what might need altering and then self publish it myself. It will most likely be my only non-fiction work, at least as far as I plan now.

MJ: Synopses: love them or hate them?

RJS: Oh, hate them. I have a terrible time explaining what the book is about, whether it’s writing it down in a condensed query or synopsis or talking to someone in person. How much do you say to build interest without giving the whole story away or making someone bored? I struggle with finding that balance. I always second guess myself on synopses– should I mention that scene or not?

MJ: Now it’s time for the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

RJS:  Addams Family. I liked Cousin It. When my hair was long, I could do a good impersonation of Cousin It by draping my hair over my face, letting it hang to my chest, and placing my glasses over top the hair. A hat was a bonus. It was a quick, easy and cheap Halloween costume. Plus the other characters were interesting, like Lurch.

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St Patrick’s Day?

RJS: St Patrick’s Day, simply because of my links to Ireland. I don’t do anything really to celebrate it, no wearing of the green or dying one of my pets green. No special food or traditions. But I reflect on my time spent in Ireland and the stories I have heard of the many saints they treasure and a few statues I’ve seen of Saint Patrick.

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theatre

RJS: War Horse, back I think in 2009 or 2010. What a splendid movie. I cried at several scenes, even though I knew a lot of it was Hollywood magic. But I also know the true accounts of how horses were used and treated during the wars when they played an integral role. Dogs as well in many wars, and they still do. So I watched it from an entertainment point of view, just going to the movies, and from the factual and historical point of view.

MJ: Paper or e-books?

RJS: Paper. I love feel, especially of old books. I don’t even own a Kindle or Nook or e-reader devise. Very traditional.

MJ: Introvert or Extrovert?

RJS: Both. Mostly introvert. I am shy and quiet by nature. However, in the right setting, with the right people, I can come out of my shell and be extremely extroverted and outgoing. Not the norm, but it does happen.

MJ: Favorite Ethnic Food
RJS: Italian, I love the pastas and cheeses and herbs, with very little spice. Other than that, I am pretty much a meat-and-potatoes person or seafood of any type. Not a lot of variety or adventure for my palate.

MJ: Now for the fun part. Will you share the first sentences of your current Work In Progress?

RJS: This is from Part One and Part Two of a three part trilogy under one cover. It is the story of three high spirited and independent sisters, River, Storm and Raine, who find love in a small North Carolina coastal town. The entire volume is called ‘Winds of Destiny’.

RIVER’S JOURNEY:

            The old man was dying. He knew it without the solemn stares coming from the doctor and the nurses. Before he parted, he had one more bit of unfinished business left, one he should have attended to a long time ago. Looking now into the worried faces of his two friends and neighbors of the last thirty-two years, he smiled grimly. It was time.

“Call my son,” he requested simply, the underlying urgency belying his simple wish.

Muriel and Cordell Gallagher exchanged uneasy glances. It was Muriel who spoke first, clearing her throat. “And what of River?” she asked, reaching for Cordell’s hand.

“Call for her too. Nothing changes for her, but I need to discuss some things.” He blew out a shaky breath. “Then call for Calder.”

“As you wish, Frank,” Cordell promised, lifting an eyebrow. “If you are sure.”

“I’m sure.” Looking across the room at an abstract painting of reds and yellows, he murmured, musing aloud, “It will be hard to tell where this will lead.”

STORM’S WARNING:

             She knew they were following her, the two guys about fifty feet behind her. And she just bet she knew why they were on her now. She had not noticed them during her flight, but they most certainly were following her.

She needed to ditch them, and quick. She had worked too hard to gather this data, just to let two goons like them take it from her. If they thought she was just going to hand it over to them like a lollypop to bullies on the playground, they were in for a surprise.

What she needed was a distraction, a way to throw them off her backside, slip off to her gate and safely make the last leg of her journey. Once she made it home, she would be safe, along with her important data.

Now, as for the diversion, Storm looked around the groups and clusters of people as she slowly made her way to gate B-6. Suddenly a smile split her lips. Perfect, he would do nicely. Reaching into her carry-on bag, she approached the man as he exited the restroom and moved to the drinking fountain.

Touching his shoulder, she whispered, “Play along with me, there’s twenty bucks in it for you,” Flinging herself against the wall by the fountain, she took him along, pressing her lips to his.

And from a YA/NA novel, FLASHES OF LIGHTNING:

     Her name was Tabitha McGowan. Soon she would be turning seventeen. Looking in the mirror, waiting by the front door, she reflected on her reflection. Average without being boring. Or worse, mousey like some of the girls at school were. Compared to mousey, she supposed average was okay. Although gorgeous would have been nice. Like the cheerleaders. Like her sister.

     But had she always been like this? Even now, hovering on the edge between teenager and young woman, she had a sense there had been something more. Something else. She just didn’t know what. It was like getting two-thirds through a movie and having to walk out, not knowing the rest of story. Or maybe it was more like walking into a movie already two-thirds into the action, she decided. Either way, there was something missing. So she felt about her life, it had a big piece missing.

MJ: Wow! You’ve been one busy author! I understand you have a book coming out in September, Shimmers of Stardust.

shimmers of stardust

MJ: Gorgeous cover! How will people know to find this release?

RJS: I’ll have it all over social media.

Website-www.ryanjosummers.com

Blog-http:summersrye.wordpress.com

Facebook-https:www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Jo-Summers-author-page/312875648810797

Twitter-ryanjosummers@ryanjosummers

Amazon Author Page-https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ACOBJ90 

Goodreads-https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6604705.Ryan_Jo_Summers 

MJ: Well, good luck, and thanks for stopping by!


				

I’m a klutz. I can’t seem to find an electronic/on-line/computer based organization system that works for my writing. Works for me.  Back when I worked in local TV, I had a Day-Runner, and that book managed my entire life–my broadcasting responsibilities, my children’s social lives, school-related stuff. Thank goodness I never lost that book. I would have been up the creek without a paddle. And you know which creek I mean, too.

So I started looking on-line for refills for my Day-Runner. And guess what? No one makes them anymore. Oh, you can buy calendar refills, telephone/address refills, and generic blank pages, but the forms I used to use to manage projects, finances, and a dozen other things no longer exist. I went into my local office supply store, and they went on line for me, too. Nada. Not from Day Runner, Day Timer, or Franklin Covey. FiloFax comes close.

Actually, I did find some amazing things–at Levenger. And you know what Levenger calls these lovely forms? Apps. I think that’s really funny. I’ve always loved Levenger product. Unfortunately, my wallet does not.

It seems the world has moved to electronics. Don’t they understand? Technology fails!

Today’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Elizabeth Preston. Welcome Elizabeth!  Can you share a life memory you recall frequently and tell us why you think about it?

EP: I was in a swimming pool in Lake Taupo with my two sons. Lake Taupo is a huge lake in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. We were splashing around when my hubby ran out of our motel room and called out,” Get out of the pool. We’ve got to drive home (to Auckland) then hurrying up and pack to move to Australia.” We had 3 miserly weeks to pack up our home, rent it out, find schools for the boys in a new country and move permanently to Australia – because of his job. That move changed my life.

MJ: I can’t imagine having only three weeks to uproot my entire life.  What are your top three dream destinations and why?

EP: 1) Alaska, because I love the novelty of the cold. It’s hot in Australia. 2) Canada, because I want to see a bear in the wilds – other than a Koala bear. 3) A little Scottish village, because I love little villages, especially ones with cute pubs and quaint sweet shops.

MJ: Name one thing most people don’t know about you.

EP: I was a monstrously, badly behaved six year old – for my parents anyway. I had numerable temper tantrums and sulked often. I still remember doing it. I was a brat at home and an angel out. Fortunately, I outgrew my bad behavoiur. My husband might disagree!

MJ: LOL! What’s your secret talent?

EP:  Growing big fat vegetables. I dream up scenes while I thin out the carrots and string up the beans.

MJ: That’s a useful talent to have. What is the top book on your TBR pile?

EP: Soul Mate Publishing writer Larynn Ford’s book Rescued.

MJ: Do you have any recurring dreams? If so, will you share one with us? 

EP: I’ve had the same dream twice lately. I’m locked in a car with a child who keeps poking me in the back. Both times I’ve woken up and found that my small dog has gotten up onto my bed and is asleep pressed tight against me.

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

EP: I’d sew dog clothes.

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

EP:  Working in a zoo or a wildlife park.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

EP:  I’m happy, happy, happy.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

EP: My dog.

MJ: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

EP:  Angelina Jolie, and not just because of Brad Pitt. The girl does great charity work too.

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

EP:  No. I always like the book better.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, of do you skip it and get straight to work?

EP:  One piece of toast with Vegemite and one cup of peppermint tea.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space

EP: I’m a log cabin person. I want the crisp morning, the hot coffee and the sun streaming in.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process

EP: First up, read emails on the Soul Mate Publishing author loop. Next, comment on blogs. Then walk the dog and dream up the scene I’ll write that day. I only write for a couple of hours – got other life things I have to squeeze into the day too.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

EP: Fiction University

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

EP:  Either Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte or Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

MJ: Plotter or pantser?

EP:  Bit of both. I’m bored with my story is I plan too much and run a muck if I pants it completely. I use an outline.

MJ: What romance convention/cliche most sets your teeth on edge?

EP:  …and a tear rolled down her cheek.

MJ: Do you believe in writer’s block?

EP: Yes. When I can’t picture a scene, or a character then I read instead. Eventually the answer comes. 

MJ: Name three things on your desk right now.

EP: My lucky elephant from Thailand. A framed print-off of my ebook cover, my debut. A small pot of violets that my son gave me.

MJ: Love and true love – what is the difference and what do your characters believe about LOVE?

EP: Hunter and Alice believe that you risk your life for true love. Undying love is what they’ll give their children.

MJ: Would you consider self-publishing?

EP: Absolutely. Some of the top sellers are self pubs.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

EP: No. I prefer the sounds around me: birds, wind in the trees, builders working in the distance. I try to hear background noise and use it in my stories.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

EP: If it is an historical story, then yes. I cut out pictures of clothing in the era, buildings, types of food, the insides of their kitchens.

MJ: Synopses: love them or hate them?

EP:  Synopses are fine. Two line hooks are harder.

MJ: Ready for the lightning round? Addams Family or Munsters?

EP: Addams Family. They remind me of my own.

MJ: Wine-red or white?

EP: Red, and Champagne

MJ: Oh yeah. Love that bubbly! Beer: Can or bottle?

EP: Neither

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

EP:  St Patrick’s Day because we get that one in Australia

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

EP: Captain Phillips.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

EP: Orange is the New Black.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

EP: Elton John or Deep Purple. They can fight it out for top spot.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi:

EP: Both go well with rum

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

EP: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

EP: Japanese.

MJ: And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Can you share the first few lines of your current work in progress?

EP: Of course!

I watched it happen. I had my driving glasses on so I saw it all in great detail. There is much I could tell the police, if I wanted to. But I’ve never been one for involving the authorities. Don’t go thinking I’ll forget what I saw; I won’t. That accident will live inside my head forever, no matter how hard I try to push it out.

I’d parked myself in the rest area at the side of the road; it’s the perfect place to stop if you need a break from driving or if you want to take in the sights. From there, you get a view of the entire gorge, all the way down to the river.

It was no surprise then when I saw the little yellow Suzuki car hurtling along. Anyone wanting to drive from one side of Galston Gorge to the other had to follow that wiggly road and be seen by me.

MJ: Very nice! How can people purchase your current release?

EP:   http://www.amazon.com/Outcasts-Elizabeth-Preston-ebook/dp/B00LMNZD60/

MJ: And how can they follow you on social media?

EP: I have a blog – elizabethpreston.wordpress.com

MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and good luck with your writing!