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.

 

Image credit: andrejad / 123RF Stock Photo

Image credit: andrejad / 123RF Stock Photo

Writing is hard work. When you’re trying to fit it around a Day Job and family, it’s easy to lose track of the story.

Here are some of my tricks for staying in the story.

  • My Day Job computer passwords are story related. Whether it’s the subject, the working title, or character names, every time I open a new program, I have to think about the story.
  • I create a sound track for every book I write. It’s on a CD in my car, it’s on my mp3 player. Listening to those particular songs remind me of story nuances.
  • I listen to RWA Conference Workshops on my mp3 player at Day Job. You’d be surprised how much a Chat with Nora Roberts can be inspiring.
  • Sticky notes. I have pads of little sticky notes and when something strikes me, I jot it down and stick it to the back of my cell phone (I don’t have a smart phone). When I get home, I transfer the note from my phone to my desk or open up the Scrivener file and type in the idea.

Do you have any favorite tricks for keeping in the story when you can’t be at your desk?

My brother and his family frequently make comments about the Compton girls or the Compton sisters, referring to his three daughters.

nieces

 

Please. While they are lovely young women, they didn’t invent being the Compton sisters. That honor belongs to my sister and me.

julieBut then I realized my father’s siblings were the original Compton sisters. I was lucky enough to get a photo of them together (with my sister and me) a few years ago. That’s Aunt Arlene on the left and Aunt Leona on the right.

COMPTON GIRLS 2

Apologies to Uncle Roy’s daughters Denise & Erika, the only other Compton girls/sisters of our generation.

The next generation continues the Compton sisters tradition (in addition to my nieces): my cousin Bill’s daughters Jennifer & Jessica, my cousin Mike’s daughters Sarah & Nicole, and my cousin Gordon’s daughters Patience & Pearl. Also Kevin’s daughter Elaine, Pete’s daughter Rose, and Gerhart’s daughter Marisha.

Beyond that generation, I am clueless.

There are a lot of us “Compton Girls” around. We rock.

(Further apologies to anyone I missed.)

 

A few months ago, one of my friend’s teenage daughter watched While You Were Sleeping and snorted in disbelief because the heroine married someone she’d known for only a week.

One criticism I often hear about romance novels is the “unreality” of how quickly romantic relationships develop.

Short courtships don’t bother me. I believe in them. My parents knew each other 3 months before they got married–nearly 61 years ago. I started dating TV Stevie at the end of March; our wedding was August 8 of the same year. That was 27 years ago. But those were long relationships . . . compared to my sister.

On August 5, my sister met the roommate of a cousin’s boyfriend. On August 29, she married him. That’s twenty-four days.

While that is amazing enough in itself, you also need to know that in 1976, there was a ten-day waiting period from the time you bought your marriage license until the time you could actually get married in this state.

She lost him last month, suddenly and terribly. After 38 years of marriage, she loved him as much as she had the day she married him, if not more. The depth of her grief is unimaginable to me.

But the depth of their love for each other is the reason I firmly believe in love at first sight.

So to all the naysayers out there who don’t believe a week is enough time for love to take root , I give you this proof.

 

Here’s an update on my lawn reclamation project. 2015-02-24 18.27.36As you can see, there isn’t much reclamation going on.

But it’s March now.

Somewhere, under all that snow, I know my crocuses (crocii?) are trying to sprout.

This month’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Danica St. Como.

Welcome Danica!

Today is National Grammar Day. What are your top 3 grammatical pet peeves?

DSC: While I don’t profess to be a grammar maven, my own bugbears include:

Homophones: I get a little nuts when I read a passage in which words are used incorrectly—even “big name” authors who one would assume have topnotch editors. Words such as rein, rain, reign. Your and you’re (you are). They seem like simple issues, but the wrong word can definitely take the reader out of the moment.

Word combinations such as had had and have to. “She’d [she had] had to make the trip.”  Why not simply, “She had to make the trip.”? Have to… What does “I have to go shopping” really mean? “I must go, I need to go, I should go, I want to go…” To have something means possession, in a sense: “I have a dollar.”

The ubiquitous “and.” In truth, my sentences tend to run on—it’s something I need to rein in. However, some authors seem to believe that if they add an “and” every so often, that seventeen-line sentence will be just fine. I’m not referring to doing it on purpose, for effect, but to adding the little “and” bugger everywhere.

MJ: MARCH is also National Literacy Month. Do you take literacy levels into account when you write?

DSC: Not necessarily literacy levels, as such. However, if my beta readers have an issue with a passage, I take a second look to see if my wording might be out of place/time for my targeted audience—my responses (silly TV commercials from times gone by, movie quotes from less-than-blockbuster movies, etc.) may not be understood by a younger crowd. Phrases from childhood that are really made-up words with no association to the rest of humanity (or readers), may cause a reader to think, “huh?”

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

DSC: I was a freelance ceramist, years ago. I would be tempted to work with clay and paint again.

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

DSC: Traveling, and being paid for it. I love to drive.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

DSC: If it weren’t for the books and boxes and stacks of paper crowding me, I actually have the most wonderful, open, airy office, with four large windows. My daughter’s suggestion for “rearranging” my office requires the use of a snow shovel, an open window, and a Dumpster on the other side that open window. What do you think she’s trying to say?

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

DSC: He’s a realist, but also hopeful that he can have a future with the woman he loves. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince her.

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

DSC: She can be somewhat snarky on occasion.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

DSC: Contemporary erotic romance/suspense.

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

DSC: When I develop a character, first I decide on a “look,” and an ethnic ancestry. Then I begin to research names until I find one that calls to me. I look up the meaning of that name, decide whether it suits the character. I’d decided early in the story’s development that my heroine was Irish, Abigail O’Connell, my hero Italian, Niccolo “Nico” Ferrari. The Irish gal, Abigail O’Connell, was introduced in earlier books. She was a pivotal character in Above the Law, but needed her own story.

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

DSC: Saving Nico is the sixth book of the Men of Sanctuary series. All the stories revolve around a training camp, Sanctuary, located in western Maine, run by two retired Marines and their woman, a federal agent. Maine can be unbelievably beautiful, but also rugged and dangerous. I thought it was a suitable setting for a training camp that caters to military and civilian clients.

MJ: Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

DSC: Here’s the blurb for Saving Nico [Men of Sanctuary 6: Saving Nico]

Game Warden Abigail O’Connell moved from upstate New York to Maine after the death of her fiancé, Marine spotter Pietro Galletti. While babysitting at the Sanctuary lodge for her friends, Marine scout sniper Nico Ferrari arrives under secretive circumstances. Hot lust blooms, throwing the pair together—but Nico can’t, won’t, admit to Abby that her fiancé was his spotter, and he watched him die in Iraq. He also won’t admit that he fell in love with Abigail through Pietro’s letters and photos, and never expected to find her in western omigod Maine. When the truth does come out, Abby is devastated for more than one reason.

MJ: And what is the title of your current release, and where can readers purchase it?

DSC: Aloha Man [Men of Sanctuary 5: Aloha Man] can be purchased at the Loose Id website or from Amazon.

AlohaMan_Cover

MJ: And how can readers keep up with your busy publishing schedule?

DSC: I have a website, a blog, and a Facebook page.

MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and best of luck with your books!

I grew up in the country: not suburbia, not truly rural, but somewhere in between. It was a “neighborhood” where everyone showed up to play ball, hide-and-go-seek, or whatever at our house. After 6pm, every night, my mom fielded phone calls from parents asking her to send their children home for supper.

There was a bit of woo-woo, though. My birthday is February 20. So was Terri’s–she lived in the next house down the road. And Brenda’s–she lived 7 houses up the road. And Sharon, who lived 7 more houses up the road, also was a February 20 baby.

None of us were born the same year. But four girls, in a one mile stretch, celebrating the same day was kind of weird.

The high points:

  • And Jericho Burned is out!
  • Author copies of Moonlight Serenade received!
  • Moonlight Serenade is now available in paperback from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble (see links in middle column).
  • additional steps taken on finding a home for my baseball books.

I’ve had a Fabulous February, career-wise.

 

A former co-worker posted a comment on Facebook that baffled me. He wrote, “Straight up Compton style.” While I liked his post (which was a video), I didn’t understand what Compton style had to do with the content. He explained: “. . . went rouge, gangsta or Compton . . .”

How cool is that!

I immediately posted this to the Compton Family Facebook page. So next time someone irritates me to the end of my patience, I can say, “Watch it or I’ll go Compton on you!”