Three in a Box!

When I set out to write my first book, I always knew I wanted it to be the first of a trilogy. Earlier this year, the trilogy was completed. The Corral series, as I call it based on the bar where many of the scenes in all three books take place, includes: This Time for Always, This Can’t Be Love, and This Feels Like Home. At that point, I figured my dream had pretty much come true. I’d written my series, and it was probably time to move on to something new. (Or continue with some spin off stories, but that’s another story in itself!)

Then I remembered that earlier in the year the marketing rep at TWRP sent an e-mail asking about authors with books in a series in order to put together boxed sets on the site. I told her about mine. At the time, Home was still very new, and she said she wanted to give it some time to be a stand-alone before boxing it up with the others. I let that sit on the back burner for most of the year. A couple of months ago I looked back in my archived e-mails and found the original one. I e-mailed the rep and asked if enough time had passed so that we could get the set going.

From there things went quickly. We sent a few ideas back and forth and came up with a blurb:

A small town where good friends gather and rugged cowboys fall in love.

She sent me a couple ideas for cover art, and I chose the one I liked best.

Finally she asked when I wanted the set to be released. I could pick a Thursday. Any Thursday. So I chose last week.

And wa la…I now have a boxed set of my series available in e-book format at TWRP, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel.

To say I’m tickled pink and thrilled is an understatement. It’s like that Brad Paisley song about him thinking life can’t get any better…and then it does.

I’m a boxed set!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Scary Movies Old and New

‘Tis the season of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. And for those of us who love a good story, that can mean only one thing: scary movies!

I have a love-hate with the horror genre. I hate getting scared, but I love a good story. Horror teaches writers about raising stakes, sudden twists, and how people respond to fear. And don’t forget the parodies! Here are some of my favorite movies to watch during the haunting season, from earliest to most recent.

1943: The Phantom of the Opera – I first watched this on a late show with two older cousins when I was about nine or ten. Claude Rains unmasking as the Phantom scarred me for life. If only I’d known Andrew Lloyd Weber was going to turn it into a musical.

1961: The Innocents – Deborah Kerr as a governess to two young children who may be possessed by ghosts. Or she could just be crazy. One of my all-time faves.

1963: The Birds – ‘Psycho’ gets more press, but showers never made me as nervous as birds did after seeing this movie. It was another late show, and I think I watched it for the first time with those same cousins!

1974: Young Frankenstein – Oh, the clichés! Gene Wilder’s bad marcel waves! The double entendres! Frau Blucher! Thank you, Mel Brooks.

1979 was a bumper year for fear. All three of the following movies came out then.

Dracula, starring Frank Langella: If you consider vampires sexy, you probably have Frank to thank for it. Reprising a role he created onstage, he was the first truly seductive, charming vampire. And he didn’t sparkle. Or stalk. He didn’t need to.

Love at First Bite: A spoof of Dracula that stood up well on its own comedic merits. Drac moves to New York City after his castle is sold for back taxes.

Alien: Sigourney Weaver kicking alien butt. Nuff said.

1984: An American Werewolf in London – A legitimate werewolf movie, but with lines like “Mummy, a naked man stole my balloon.” James Naughton is my gold standard were-guy.

2004: Shaun of the Dead: Simon Pegg makes the best zombie movie ever.

2007: The Mist – Back in the land of true horror here. Thick fog still creeps me out, and the ending is brilliant. Horrifying, but brilliant.

2013: Warm Bodies – It’s not Shaun of the Dead, but what is? How can a romance writer resist a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with zombies?

What scary movies, or spoofs of them, do you watch this time of year? Do you have any recommendations to add to this list?

Holding on to the fun in life

I remember when I was a teenager, I couldn’t WAIT to be a “grown-up.”

Which meant, of course, having grown-up privileges. Not having grown-up responsibilities. I already had most of those, as I was the oldest daughter in a household with a single father. He worked hard to keep food on the table, and I was the one who cooked it and put it there.  And the laundry, and the cleaning, and the rest. On top of a part-time job.

NOT me

But I wanted to stay out late and have my own car and just go shopping and blow off time and do what the rest of the adults did–have money and spend it and do what they wanted.

Ha!

What a shocker that was, coming of age and finding out there was never time to do all that because you had to do GROWN-UP things. Whoa.

Nice practical joke, life. Well played. :)

There ensued a whole stack of years where we hardly had time to breathe as we were going through college and having families and working jobs and doctor visits and school concerts and sports practices and…well, you know the routine.

But now that I’m a bit older, I have become a bit more selfish. I gave up a marriage that was eating away my soul and the house that generated more worry than comfort, and moved with my daughter into a nice apartment, where the water always works, the windows don’t leak, and there’s no squirrels in the ceilings.

Furthermore, to encourage my sense of relief and moving on, I’ve added bits of whimsy to the apartment, to bring back the youthful outlook I always used to have, but had somehow lost. So I wanted to share with you bits of that fun and games, in hopes it will brighten your day and perhaps inspire you to add a little fun to your own world:

Our bath, Under the Sea

Assorted "wildlife"

Our guard iguana

More friends, and our indoor jungle

Not one, not two, not three but Four chameleons. Can you find them all? They camouflage to match their surroundings...

Just....because you need bugs sometimes.

And yes, we like books, can you tell? :)

What decor or traditions do you have in your places that remind you to have some fun?

Keeping The Plates Spinning

Not that I’m asking anyone to admit their age… but do you remember The Ed Sullivan Show? I can remember watching a juggling act where a person kept multiple plates spinning on multiple sticks or poles. Maybe they were in a line or was it a circle? Hey, I was a toddler so the details are fuzzy. (snicker) I remember the man would start a plate at the end of the line, have to run back and give the first one a tweak to keep it going, and progress down the line. Funny, I don’t remember a woman performing this feat but that’s kind of funny because we all know women are better multi-taskers. Until we push ourselves to the limit…

That’s how I feel this month. Being tardy with a post is the result of having projects dog-pile when you really should have seen the result coming. Early in the year, I looked at my workload and thought “yikes, I don’t have any releases scheduled for 2014.” Sure, I’ve been working to revise a full-length manuscript that I wrote many years ago but that task is daunting. Looking at a manuscript I wrote in 2002 or so is painful, but I love the characters and the story. I just wish I’d been a better writer back them. I hate to admit the fact but lately, I go for the quick rewards that writing shorter lengths can achieve.

On with the actions that led to “bountiful October” as I’m calling this month. So I did finish and receive a contract in April for an October-set novella.  That assured me of one new release, and I knew I’d revise and re-release a  title under my pen name for which I’d received my rights back. I breathed a bit easier, but only two novellas? Not too greedy, right?

Then hubby and I had that wonderful trip in early May to Ireland. So advance planning occupied some time and a post-vacation glow that lasted for a while afterward. Then around the first of June, panic hit and I scurried around looking for publishers’ call for submissions, which left me with two publishers seeking Halloween-themed stories. I wrote an 8K story one month and a 15K the next, submitted and was accepted to both anthologies! Then I found out a short story I submitted in 2013 would be released in an anthology in October.

So this is my bountiful month of releases and the resulting promotion that goes along with them. Plus I always teach my online self-editing class this month, and my freelance editing boomed this month. And we bought a small used RV (19’) and are headed out this weekend on our inaugural trip. That’s the update on Linda as an author and also a very long-winded apology for being a day late with my post.

For the curious, here are my releases:

Wanderer, Come Home, a western historical novella in Cowboys, Creatures and Calico, Vol 1 from Prairie Rose Publications released on October 2

Unlocked Treasure, a contemporary novella set in Rhode Island, from The Wild Rose Press releases on October 20

Bewitching Gypsy, a western historical short story with paranormal elements, Spooktacular Seductions from Roane Publishing releases on October 31

I will gift an ebook to one person selected from those who leaves a comment (please include your email address in the comment) here at the blog. Winner announced at noon on Sunday, October 12.

The Mystique of the Owl!

Happy October! Happy Halloween!

The other night shortly before dusk, when I was heading out to finish up chores, our resident Great Horned Owl was who-hoo-ho-ooing away in a nearby tree along the creek. How eerily appropriate with Halloween only weeks away. I quick grabbed the camera and went searching for him, hoping I could snap a few pix of this majestic bird. Unfortunately, the leaves were still too thick and he was well hidden. I didn’t see him until me and the herd of barn cats following along spooked him from his branch and sent him flying south.

Harry, yes, I named him Harry because, well, he looks like a Harry, and because his big round eyes remind me of Harry Potter’s glasses. Anyway, Harry the owl took up residence around our farm a couple of years ago and we often see him sitting on the cross bucks of the power poles lining our road. One night late last autumn or early winter, I happened to go outside for something, the moon was full and amazingly gorgeous, and I saw him perched on the pole right at the end of our driveway! It was so cool, like a scene from a movie or dream. But before I could fetch my camera he took off. Darn, another photo opp missed.

I love owls, especially the Great Horned Owl, so I decided to do some research to satisfy my curiosity and interest. Why have owls long been associated with witches and Halloween? Well, that’s a long story, but first, a few notes of interest from a proven fact perspective.

The Great Horned Owl is common in the Americas, and is a native bird to this land. But did you know his eyes are amongst the largest and most powerfully acute in the animal kingdom? Hmm. With those big golden eyes so reminiscent of a full moon, no wonder we believe him to be so wise and mysterious.

Owls are carnivorous, helping to control the rodent and amphibian populations. As for me, I hope Harry’s preferred meal is snake! I loath snakes. And come to think of it, I didn’t see as many snakes around our place this year. Thank you, Harry!

Horned Owls are monogamous. Awww! In North America their courtship runs from October to December, this is why you hear owls hooting a lot at this time of year—they are courting, not trying to spook us with a prediction of death like so many stories and myths led us to believe. By January the Horned Owl has their mate selected and they are ready to get down to business. They are the earliest nesting birds of the season, laying eggs weeks before any other bird. Horned Owls are also the most adaptable of owls or the bird species, and owls never build their own nests, but take over abandoned nests made by other large birds or animals. They will spruce up or reinforce a nest, but no owl species has ever been known to build one from scratch. Gee, they are wise, why go to so much work when another critter has already done it for you?!

They say the average lifespan for an owl in the wild is 13 years, but some have been documented to live well into their twenties. One owl held in captivity supposedly lived to the ripe old age of 68. He was a wise old bird! Literally!

So, why are owls so associated with Halloween and witches? Well, for centuries the owl has been seen as a creature of secrecy and stealth. Folks feared what they didn’t understand. Superstition abounded and the fledgling United States was no exception, especially amongst the Puritans and Victorians. To really understand this, do a little reading of the origination of Halloween in the United States. It’s very interesting and amazing how the Victorians, as superstitious as they were, loved Halloween and were responsible for setting Halloween on course to be the major holiday it is today.

Because the owl could turn its head almost 360 degrees, people saw it as evil and as work of the devil. Owls are nocturnal. And their hoot time is at night, prime hours are during the witching hour of midnight and later, although, I often hear Harry at dusk. Again, the reason an owl’s hoot is more prevalent in the autumn is because this is their courting season and it is how they attract a mate—autumn, a time when darkness increases, the growing season is done and the land goes to sleep, easily lends itself to tales of eeriness and fear.

You do have to admit, that low, soulful hoot on a dark, chilly night can send an extra chill down your spine and make you think someone or something is out to get you! Legend says if you heard the hoot of an owl it meant a witch would appear. Owls have long since been familiars of witches. Perhaps she sends her owl out before her to scout for unsuspecting fools she can trick. Ha! But, I have yet to come face to face with a haggard old witch after hearing Harry’s hoot!

However, Native Americans admired the owl for their strength, courage and beauty. And some Indian nations regarded the owl as a friendly spirit who could aid with matters of love. Maybe that’s because they understood the courting rituals of the owl where others did not and instead chose to see the owl as evil.

Like Native Americans, I see the owl as a magnificent and fascinating creature.

But I’ll leave you with this little tidbit to put you in the Halloween spirit. Did you know owls are the only creatures that can live with ghosts?  If an owl is found nesting in an abandoned house that house must be haunted! Boo! I love it. I’m going to use that in a book somewhere!

Have a great Autumn Season. I hope you are blessed with treats and spared the tricks! See you back here in November.

Sherry James
www.sherryjames.com

All images purchased through www.123rf.com

We Had a Word for It–In 1914

This year of 2014 commemorates the beginning of World War I, also called The Great War, the War to End Wars, and a number of less polite phrases. Fascinated with the period, I’ve been doing some rambling research to fill in the details of a story I’ve been playing with for a decade or so. One of the sources I ran across is a little book called Trench Talk by Peter Doyle and Julian Walker.  I had no idea how many words and expressions we carried forward from the period. The authors point out that war always brings a new vocabulary back from the battlefields, but I hadn’t appreciated how much the time of Ypres, the Somme, and Verdun had colored our conversation. Take a look at some of the examples Doyle and Walker explore.

Loop hole–small hole or gap cut into a wall to allow observation of the enemy

Camouflage–originally from the slang of the vivid Parisians ‘camoufler’, to disguise

Pals– a group of friends who joined the army together, a term coined by Lord Darby in 1914

Thingumyjig–used to describe unfamiliar military paraphernalia (also thingummy, oojah, oojiboo among others)

Burberry–”trench coat”–waterproofed gabardine coat with many pockets and straps for equipment worn “in the trenches”

Tank–originally called landships or land cruisers, “tank” was a code name used to disguise the purpose of the machines, at first suggesting they were water tanks for the British troops in Mesopotamia.

Fag–cigarette, also referred to as cancer stick, yellow peril, or gasper

Three on a match–wartime superstition that lingering over a match was dangerous, the third man likely to be the recipient of a sniper’s bullet

Cooties–lice–also called greybacks, crabs, and bosom chums

Scrounging–appropriation of anything useful from anywhere

Wangling–getting something for nothing

Barrage–concentrated fire on a section of the line, originally a French word meaning “barring the way”

Dud–a shell that failed to explode

Pip-squeak– high explosive, high velocity shell fired from a field gun

Conk out–airplane engine failure

Blind spot–area below and behind the airplane where the pilot couldn’t see an attacker

A century has passed since the first Tommies (British soldiers) and poilu (French troops) took on the Boche (German forces) in the waterlogged trenches of the Western Front, but we’re still using the terms they  invented to describe that war. It’s interesting to see how many of those make-do words, terms adopted to explain the incomprehensible, are still part of our conversation. We’ve adapted the meaning, possibly changed it entirely, but the source is easily traced. A trench coat is a standard garment for both men and women. A cootie is something your ten-year-old thinks he’ll get from the pushy little girl down the street. We’re probably still“wangling” to get something free or at a better price.  And pals still join together to meet an emergency or celebrate a victory. If you speak of a dud or look for a loop hole, or search for the real name of that thingumyjig, remember where that everyday term came from. English is a living language, always growing and adapting to fit the lives of the people who speak and write it. And those of us who pen stories for a living are indebted to the people who make it so.

Fleeta Cunningham

It’s My 10 Year Anniversary!!!

Must be true love . . . we haven’t strangled each other yet!

Today is my 10 year anniversary to a wonderful man, who puts up with me. I’m not the easiest person to live with, haha! I’m opinionated, head strong, and I have a shoe addiction. While some people back to deal with stress, and others get a massage, I go out shoe shopping. I have a closet full of shoes, some I’ve never warn, and he never complains. Of course, I never complain about all the toys he thinks he needs out in his shop, so that makes us even, right???

My husband is my muse, he just doesn’t know it.  Much of the humor in my books can be attributed to him, and I constantly find myself rushing to my office or the nearest scrap of paper to jot down something he’s said. If you visit my blog, you’ll see some of our conversations. This one is probably one of my favorites…

http://www.nieceyroy.com/aliens-love-a-luscious-big-booty/

I fell in love with him when I was 15 . . . Okay, I was too young to know what love was back then, but I had a whopper of a crush! He was a senior and thought I was too young, I was a freshman and absolutely annoyed by his ability to be the hot senior who flirted but wouldn’t commit. haha!!! We both went our separate ways. He sailed away on a big Navy ship, and I got my heart broken a few times by less deserving men. We ended up together when he returned from the Navy, and we’ve been happily driving each other crazy ever since :)

He’s the reason I believe in fairy tales and happily-ever-afters.

What about you??? Have you found your soul mate? If not, finding him/her and falling hard, butterflies in the tummy love, is something to look forward to, believe me! I’d love to hear some of your stories :)

Here are some #dreamcast graphics for a couple of the happily-ever-afters I’ve written…

Another Shot At Love, a What's Love??? novel ~ Dream Cast

~~ Links ~~

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveKINDLE

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveNOOK

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveKOBO

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveIBOOKS

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveARe

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveSmashwords

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyanothershotatloveGoodreads

Done With Love, a What's Love??? novel ~ Dream Cast

~~ Links ~~

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveKINDLE

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveibooks

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithlovekobo

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveNOOK

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveARe

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveSmashwords

http://bit.ly/nieceyroydonewithloveGoodreads

Fender Bender Blues ~ Contemporary Romance ~ Dream Cast

~~ Links ~~

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesKINDLE

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesNOOK

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesIBOOKS

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesKOBO

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesARe

http://bit.ly/nieceyroyfenderbenderbluesWildRosePress

Thank you for stopping by!

Smooches!

Niecey Roy

writing

Sexy Smooches & Happily-Ever-Afters

nieceyroy@gmail.com

www.nieceyroy.com

www.nieceyroy.com/blog/

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Fall into Autumn

You’ve probably heard me say it before, but fall is my favorite time of year. It’s so sensory: the smells, the colors, even the tastes.

We’ve already sampled some of Fall’s delights. Last week I made my first batch of pumpkin bread. This weekend I headed to my local Starbucks for a cup of their Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Soon there will be caramel apples and apple crisp. And of course let’s not forget the pies: pumpkin and apple.

My fall decs have gone up. Colorful garland is draped around the door. My table cloths and runners all display the brilliant hues of orange, red, and yellow.

Yesterday I went shopping for the new ‘flavors’ of hand soaps. We’re good to go with Pumpkin Cupcake, Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, and Pumpkin Spice Latte. Just for fun I also grabbed a Brown Sugar and Carrots.

Outside a few of the trees are starting to hint at the beautiful colors that will soon burst forth. And even the weather is cooperating. There’s just the slightest hint of a chill in the air.

Autumn makes a great setting for stories as well. Three of mine are set in the fall. This Feels Like Home, The Vampire and the Vixen (a Halloween novella), and An Unexpected Blessing (A Thanksgiving novella) all feature fall settings. It’s so much fun to have characters that crunch through the fall leaves on a walk through the woods or eat gooey S’mores straight from the campfire or carve pumpkins into grinning jack-o-lanterns.

Yep. Fall is here, and I couldn’t be happier!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

You Never Stop Learning

Happy September, Readers!

Wow. Another month has zipped by. Last month I mentioned a weekend vacation down to Topeka, Kansas. The reason for the short trip was to attend Clinton Anderson’s Walkabout Tour Horsemanship Clinic. Now, if you aren’t a horsey person, or never watch RFD-TV and catch his TV show, you most likely don’t know who Clinton is. That’s okay. I’ll just give you a quick rundown!

In a nutshell Clinton Anderson is a horse trainer from Australia who has done extremely well for himself here in the states. And I mean extremely well! For years he’s worked to develop a surefire horse training method, aptly known as The Method that is simple to understand and apply, yet achieves results.You can watch a short video on his web site to learn more.

Since my husband and I are avid watchers of his show, have been for years, have read his books, Philosophy, and Down Under Horsemanship, and a member of his No Worries Club, I couldn’t wait to attend one of his clinics and see the man and The Method up close and personal. Yes, I’ve been using pieces of his Method for years, but I was eager to see it all live to make sure I was doing things right! I’m a firm believer that when it comes to horses, no matter how long you’ve been working with them, no matter how much you know—or think you know—there is always something new to learn. And if you think you know it all you need to pack it up and get out of Dodge because you’re lying! When it comes to horses you can never know it all! Even though I was very familiar with the majority of what Clinton was saying—because I watch him so much, I was still a sponge, soaking it all in as if I couldn’t get enough.  If you haven’t guessed it, horses are my passion!

And did I mention prizes? Clinton gave away a ton of prizes, including a saddle, but darn it, none of us won a thing, but it was still fun to have the chance, and shop Clinton’s store. I was like a kid in a candy store. I had a terrible time restraining myself! If you are a horse person, you know what I’m talking about when it comes to horse tack. Let’s just say that to a horse person a tack store is like Macy’s to others!

I won’t bore you with any more horsey details, but I will say we had a wonderful time. We were joined by two fellow 4-H families from our horse club who have become great friends over the last couple of years. We all had a wonderful time hanging out together, learning and improving our horsemanship skills, and giving our kids some time to have fun after a hectic week at the county fair—like doing synchronized swimming in the hotel pool each day after the clinic!

Will I attend another Clinton Anderson clinic? In a heartbeat! And I’m willing to save the bucks needed to take a trip down do his ranch in Stephenville, TX for one of his 10 day, hands on clinics. Wish I would win the lottery! In the meantime I will keep riding and writing!

How about you? Is there a skill you’d like to learn or improve upon? Or a trip you’d give your right arm to take? Remember, it’s never too late to learn. If something interests you, inspires you, go for it. Learning keeps you young!

Enjoy the transition of the seasons and we’ll see you all back here in October!

Sherry James

www.sherryjames.com

Irish Pride

My husband and I weren’t on Irish soil long during our trip in May of this year before we got a sense of Irish pride. In the same visit to Trinity College when we viewed the Book of Kells, we learned about Brian Boru, Ireland’s most famous king. Seems all people want to know that through their ancestors they can be linked to the Battle of Clontarf that occurred in 1014CE at a location several kilometers north of current-day Dublin. For those of Irish blood, this was a fateful battle. The fierce warrior king Brian Boru is hailed as the country’s most famous warrior because he was the Vikings most prominent opponent.

High King of Ireland

Boru became king of Munster in 976CE when his brother, Mathgamain, died. Boru worked over the next three decades to extend his power and draw the clans together under his rule.  He is recognized as being the High King of Ireland from 1002-1014, and a note in the Book Of Armagh in 1005 claims him to be the Emperor of Ireland.(a title given no other man) Although the Viking influence had been diminishing for years through intermarriage and Viking soldiers becoming farmers of Irish soil, the Battle at Clontarf is recognized as the event that banished the Vikings from Irish soil for good. The battle also marked Boru’s death on April 23, 1014, and during our visit the country was commemorating the centennial of his death. Imagine, he was 73 years old when he died.

Death of a King (note the flaming Viking ship in harbor past the Dublin gate)

A study of my paternal line of Clan Carroll (O’Caerbhal in Gaelic) indicates a connection to ancestors who fought at Clontarf. My quandary is that my maternal line is Scandinavian (mostly Norwegian) so probably I have ancestors that were being vanquished. Oh, how I love genealogy!

The Ring That Binds, my western historical novella set in 1880s Aspen, features an Irish heroine.

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