Monday, December 29, 2014

An Early Happy New Year

No posts this week. I'm taking a small break to get my writing and other life goals set before the new year actually begins. I'll be back on 1/5/15 with a new post. In the meantime, I wish everyone a wonderful and prosperous 2015.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!
I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Christmas Tradition Revisited

With all the craziness of the upcoming Christmas holiday, I haven't had time to think of a subject for today's post. Here's a post I wrote about holiday traditions in 2011.
Everyone I know has at least one holiday tradition they look forward to every year from Black Friday shopping to family gatherings to attending that one special holiday party every year. 
I have two traditions I look forward to.  One is to watch Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  I’m well past the age of believing in Santa Claus and flying reindeer, but it’s just not Christmas if I don’t watch Rudolph.  Every year, the night it’s on, I get in bed, prop up my pillows, and snuggle under my big fluffy comforter and watch the cartoon while my cat curls up at my feet.  Of course, there’s always a cup of hot chocolate involved too.
The most important tradition though is making Christmas cookies with my mom.  She started teaching me to cook when I was four years old.  Every December we would make cut out cookies in various holiday shapes.  She would mix the dough on a Friday evening and put it in the refrigerator over night.   My brothers and sisters and I would take turns peering into the refrigerator at the bowl of dough and asking when it would be ready for baking.
Finally, Saturday afternoon would come and she’d pronounce it ready.  She would roll it out and place the cutters on the dough.  Each one of my siblings and I would get a turn to push the cutters down into the dough.  My mom would peel away the excess, put the cut out pieces onto a baking sheet and into the oven.  We’d repeat the process over and over until every scrap of dough had been formed into a cookie.
Rows and rows of angels, reindeers, snowmen, Christmas trees, holly leaves, tree ornaments, and Santa Claus cookies would fill one end of the table to cool then be packed away until the next day, the most important day of all – the day we would frost them. 
My mom would make the frosting and allow each one of us to stir drops of food coloring into bowls of white icing.  We’d have a rainbow of colors and little bottles of colored sugar to decorate the cookies with.  We’d spend the afternoon decorating the cookies, making sure the Santa cookies were frosted red and white to represent his suit, the snowmen white with a strip of yellow around his neck and down his stomach to represent his scarf.  Christmas trees had brown frosting for the trunk and green frosting for the leaves and a dot of yellow at the top for the star just to describe a few.  When we were finished, my mom would lay them on wax paper to set.  We would ooh and ah over them like they were the most magnificent cookies ever made.
My brothers and sisters are all married with children now and building their own holiday traditions but for two days every December my siblings and I gather together and make Christmas cut out cookies with my mom.  It’s a tradition I hope we’re able to continue for many years to come.

Friday, December 19, 2014

This I know for sure...

A little business before today's post - I'd like to announce the winner of the PDF giveaway of Leath's Legacy by Anne Ashby. The winner is Joanne Guidoccio!

There's nothing like the scents of the holidays. I love the way my house smells at this time of the year. The pine smell from the Christmas tree, the smell of baking cookies, sweet rolls, and  breads. I wish there was a way to bottle the scents so I can enjoy them all year round.

I know there are pine/Christmas scented candles, but they just don't smell the same. I also found a Christmas sugar cookie scented candle, but it smells more like vanilla than cookie to me. And the smell of freshly baked bread and/or rolls...well, I haven't found anything close to that wonderful aroma.

I make homemade bread and cookies throughout the year when the mood strikes, but for some reason they just smell better at this time of the year. Maybe it's because of the memories of growing up making these every Christmas with my mom. Or maybe it's knowing I'll be giving the treats away to family and friends who love eating them as much as I love baking them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, Melissa Snark. Here are some fast facts about Melissa.

·       Melissa Snark is published with The Wild Rose Press & as an Indie author with five unique titles: A CAT'S TALE, THE MATING GAME, LEARNING TO FLY, THE CHILD THIEF, and HUNGER MOON.

·       Her Loki's Wolves series includes THE CHILD THIEF, HUNGER MOON and BATTLE CRY.

·       She lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, three children and a glaring of cats. She is a professional cat herder and unrepentant satirist who blogs about books and writing on The Snarkology.

Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

I'm a huge science fiction fan. My interest in Scifi started at three with the original Star Trek series. As a child I read Asimov and Clarke, and watched a wide range of movies and television series in the genre.

Do you have a writing routine?  Where do you usually do your writing?

Most of my writing is done in the late morning to early afternoon while my daughter is in school. I'm a stickler for keeping to a schedule and mornings are always my most productive time.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I went kayaking on the Monterrey Bay with my husband because I wanted to be able to vividly describe the experience. Ironically, the scene didn't make it into the final draft of the book, but it was a beautiful experience. (And incredibly romantic.) I cherish the memory.

Sounds like a great time. What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

Ready for a cliché?  Show, don't tell.

Great advice. What do you like to do in your leisure time?

When I'm not spending time with family or friends, I spend a lot of time reading. I love science fiction and fantasy stories as well as a great many non-fiction craft books.

Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.

Battle Cry is the sequel to Hunger Moon. In book 2, the story focus really shifts from Victoria Storm to the Barrett men, Sawyer and Jake, as they seek to save the soul of murdered member of their family.

Wow! Sounds like a great book. Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I'm working on a revised and expanded version of The Child Thief, book #0 in my Loki's Wolves series. I've more than doubled the word count to 30K and vastly improved the story line. The story is currently undergoing revision.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Hunger Moon, Book #1 in the Loki's Wolves series, is on sale for 99 cents through Dec. 26th. You can learn more on my site:

Survival demands sacrifices; healing requires forgiveness.

Men revere him; monsters fear him. Jake Barrett, the notorious Hunter King, values loyalty to family and followers above all else. When the daughter of his closest ally murders Daniel, his oldest son, it sets off a chain reaction of violence and destruction that claims the lives of both wolves and hunters. Determined to avenge his son, Jake seeks the truth at any cost.

After losing her lover and then her mate, Victoria Storm simply wants to get on with building a new life in Sierra Pines, California. A vengeful Jake Barrett and his organization aren't going to make that easy, especially with the unwelcome attraction between her and the Hunter King's second son. Perils beyond the mortal coil plague Victoria. When the Norse Fates predict Victoria will destroy the world, her duties as a priestess of Freya come into conflict with her responsibilities as a Valkyrie of Odin. When they tell her she will do it to save her unborn child, she's not so sure they are wrong.

Sawyer Barrett has been trying to kill Victoria for so long, he doesn't know whether he loves her or hates her. Desperate to end the war, he's willing to take chances with everything–except his heart. The hunter harbors a deadly secret he can't reveal without risking the ceasefire and his life. At Sawyer's urging, Victoria agrees to peace talks with Jake. All the while, an ancient vampire plots the destruction of wolves and hunters alike. If the embittered rivalry between hunters and wolves doesn't end—and fast—there is no hope for Victoria's pack... or for their world.
Shade enshrouded Skuld, and her voice manifested upon the air, thick and oppressive, closing in from all sides. "Your daughter will not grow to adulthood in Midgard."
Victoria's heart slammed against her breastbone. Her breath expelled in a horrified gust. The bowl dropped from her hands and flew to protect her abdomen. "What do you mean?"
"Your daughter will be taken from you on the eve of her third birthday," Skuld said. "The one you trust most, a member of your own pack, will give the child over to your greatest enemy."
A growl trembled in Victoria's throat, and her entire body shook under the dual assault of fear and rage. The suggestion of betrayal from within her own pack filled her with disbelief to the core of her being. It was unthinkable. Gritting her teeth, she sought a solution, refusing to dwell on it. "How am I to prevent this?"
"We speak of what will come to pass," Verðandi said in a sympathetic tone.
"Your predictions are not carved in stone," Victoria said. Arguing with Fate was a foolish endeavor, but she refused to accept their prophecy.
The old woman, Urðr, smiled with a frightening gleam in her eyes. "Predictions, carved into the trunk of the World Tree, carved into the spiritual fabric of the world."
Stubborn determination settled over Victoria like armor. Her mother had taught her there was no absolute fate, just as there was no absolute free will. Life consisted of a wide range of possibilities between the two extremes. She refused to allow her daughter to die at three years of age. She would move worlds, alter fate, slay gods.
Whatever it took.
"Do you wish to save your child?" Skuld asked.
Victoria answered without thought. "Yes. I'll do anything. Tell me. Please."
"The final days are upon us," Verðandi said.
Skuld took over speaking. "To save your daughter, you will side with Loki against the Aesir. You will use your enchanted dagger to cut the binding of the great wolf Fenrir. You will be responsible for freeing the beast that kills Odin."
Victoria's stomach turned. Her head shook in automatic denial. "When the gods imprisoned Fenrir, my people pledged fealty to the Aesir. We have served them loyally ever since. Even when we were driven from the homeland, almost a millennium ago, we remained faithful. I will never cut Fenrir's bonds. To do so would end the world we live in and doom us all."
Skuld's gaze held steady. "You will."
Victoria snarled her denial. "No. I will never become the servant of the Trickster or willingly take part in bringing about Odin's death."
Skuld turned her head and pinned Victoria with one black eye that rolled in its socket like a liquid marble. "To save your daughter, you will."

BATTLE CRY to be released on Dec. 18th, 2014
Book #2 in the Loki's Wolves series
Melissa Snark
Genre: Norse folklore fantasy
Word Count: 96,000 approx.

ISBN-10: 1942193025
ISBN-13: 978-1-942193-02-9


Battle Cry is available for pre-order from Amazon

Connect with Melissa Snark:
Email: melissasnark at
Twitter: @MelissaSnark

Monday, December 15, 2014

Please Welcome My Guest

Please welcome my guest, contemporary romance author, Anne Ashby. Anne grew up in a very small coastal town in Southland, New Zealand. An eagerness to travel, fostered by her mother, led her to join the Royal NZ Navy where she enjoyed a very satisfying career. She has traveled extensively and lived in Singapore and Maryland USA. Anne likes to bring something of her beautiful country to romance readers everywhere by using New Zealand as the setting for most of her clean/sweet contemporary stories.  If not set in NZ, Anne has kiwi characters filling her books. Anne has a keen interest in genealogy, an obsession for rugby and a definite dislike of housework. When not reading or writing, Anne finds plenty to occupy her time with her family commitments and her role as the National President of the Royal NZ Navalwomen's Association. She currently lives in Auckland with her husband and one of their four children. She's blessed to have her four grandchildren living close by.

Kia Ora Katherine, thanks so much for inviting me to visit with you today.

Good morning, Anne. Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

I guess I can say that writing is the third career I’ve undertaken. At eighteen I left my very quiet seaside home of less than 50 residents and moved to New Zealand’s “big city” Auckland to join the Royal NZ Navy. Intending to stay for only the initial engagement period of three years, instead I retired 21 years later. Within a couple of years of that retirement, I became conscious of not bringing any income into our family, which now numbered four kids, so I purchased some vending machines. I then spent about ten years whizzing around factories and businesses topping up the supplies initially with my two youngest strapped into their car seats. Then I found the courage to try something new, something I’d dreamed of doing but never really considered would ever be anything but a dream. I began my writing journey.

I’d like to add that while these might have been the careers I have undertaken, my calling to be a mother will always be the highlight of my life. I don’t include this role as a “career” as rewards are not financial but come in hugs and kisses.

Do you have a writing routine? Where do you usually do your writing?

 I can be very self-disciplined when I choose and developed a routine early in my writing career. I went into my office when my children left for school each day and stayed there until they were due home again.  This was my routine and I stuck to it rigidly. I never worked (writing) in the evenings, weekends or school holidays. I found this allowed me ample time for writing but did not disrupt our family life.  It is only over the last couple of years (my youngest is now 20) that I’m becoming less rigid with my time. I do sometimes sneak away to my computer in the evenings or at weekends if the mood strikes me.

I try not to write on the weekend for the same reason. Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do? Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

My writing career began as I attended a “romance writing” course run by Harlequin writer Loree Lough. On the introductory night, in a class of about 20 women, she soon told us all, there was only one person there who already knew what sub genre she would write in. Me! I’d never realised how dominant your reading preference could be to your writing. I write contemporary sweet/clean romance because it’s the only genre I read.

The only sub-genre change I would consider is a shift to more humorous writing. I begin each new story with the idea of making it light hearted and funny. But somehow my characters take over and to date I’ve ended up with some reasonably heavy duty problems facing them. Maybe one day I’ll manage that comedy.

How do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?

Ahh, this is a major problem of mine and I don’t cope with it that well. I sometimes use these moments (or days or even weeks at the worst) for research, but with writing contemporary stories research is not that extensive.  I’ve been known to start a completely new story. Or I edit what I’ve already written of the story. Or I re-edit stories I’ve completed (I like to put aside a story for at least a couple of months. Then I feel I can look at it with clearer vision before final editing). Failing this, I shut my office door, try to forget all about my blockage, and do something unrelated to writing. While I find this frustrating, especially if it takes days, my muse has always jumped back onto my shoulder eventually.

I agree that setting aside a story for a few months does allow you to see it with new eyes. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Research for a contemporary is minimal, particularly if you set the stories in your own “back yard” as I like to do. So I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I can recall any research that I could term “strange”. I could suggest I’ve attempted some weird and exotic intimate research in the name of producing authentic prose, but I’d be lying. Clean romance doesn’t do that level of intimacy. Regardless, I refuse to admit or deny whether such research has ever been carried out.

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given?

“ Don’t give up” – I was very fortunate my mentor (Loree Lough) gave me this advice. Many times during submissions (and rejections) of my first story I would recall her words. “Don’t give up. This book will be published.” It took about four years of snail mailing proposals, partials and full manuscripts of “Worlds Apart” around and around the world, but she was right. Without those words, I would have given up on the story, and quite possibly given up on writing for publication as well.

That's great advice that everyone should take to heart no matter what they're trying to accomplish. What do you like to do in your leisure time?

I can’t include reading as a leisure pursuit, as reading has to be a large part of a writer’s life. Family is very important to me, while occasionally calls to help with grandchildren might arrive at inconvenient times I love spending time with my family. I’m also a family history buff, one day I’ll get all my family research collated into something readable for those who follow me. I’m heavily involved as the National President of the Royal NZ Navalwomen’s Association, a social and welfare group of serving and ex-serving Commonwealth Navy women. Beyond that I enjoy watching sport, particularly rugby and can’t wait until my two 3 year old grandsons are old enough to play.

My nephew plays rugby on his college team. It definitely isn't a sport for the faint of heart. Tell us about your current release in a couple of sentences.

“Leath’s Legacy” has a genealogy bent. A mystery woman leaves Leath and her younger brother a substantial property near a beautiful cove in New Zealand’s Northland. After years of financial hardship they see security on the horizon. But a neighbour rejects their refusal to part with the land. Kirk needs the property to assuage his guilt. He’ll do anything necessary to acquire it.

Sounds great. Can you tell us a little about your next project?
I’m very excited about my next story, “Worlds Collide” due out early next year. It is about a secondary character from my very first story, “Worlds Apart”. It’s neither a sequel nor a prequel as it happens in the same time frame as “Worlds Apart”. I’ve returned to East Coast USA  to set this story about a New Zealander tradesman and his very rich nemesis.  I’ve included a smattering of New Zealand Maori culture which confuses and bewilders the American heroine.

The first chapter appears at the end of “Leath’s Legacy” – I hope my readers will be intrigued enough after reading this to be on the lookout for the release date of “Worlds Collide” (early half of 2015).

I'm intrigued and will be on the lookout for it. Anything else you’d like to share?

I enjoyed writing “Worlds Collide” so much, incorporating events from “Worlds Apart” into Justin’s story, that I’m doing similar with my current work in progress. I’m returning to Riversleigh where a large portion of “The CEO Gets Her Man” is set. Because this fictional area is where I grew up, I’m enjoying setting another story there. I can’t say I’m into the idea of writing a series, but I do like the idea of having previous characters pop into another story.  Debra and Jase have already played a little role in this next, as yet unnamed, adventure of mine. 

I look forward to responding to any comments, but please be aware of the time zone differences between wherever you might be and New Zealand. Be assured, I will respond, but those responses may come at what appears to be odd hours to readers.


After years of financial struggle Leath Robson and her brother are ecstatic when they’re willed a property in northern New Zealand. It gives them some much needed/highly sought after security. But who was this old lady who’d left them so much? Leath struggles with guilt when discovering their benefactor had spent her last years in a nursing home.

Kirk Buchanan had left the family farm years ago to make his fortune. Summoned home he’s devastated to find his father suffering from Alzheimers. Hearing his dad likes to visit his childhood home, Kirk resolves to buy the place to ensure his safety. It’s not much but he has to do something.

Unfortunately the property has new owners who keep refusing his generous offers. He must have his father’s birthplace. Obviously a more personal approach is called for. 


“What do you want?” he demanded. “Name your price and I’ll match it.”
Her eyes boggled and her eyebrows rose. Was he serious? Yes, it appeared he was, from the way he waved an agitated arm around.
“Come on. Name it,” he snapped. “Everyone has their price. What’s yours?” His Machiavellian smirk conveyed his certainty.
Frowning, Leath stared up at him. “You mean if we asked for, what, ten million dollars, you’d give it to us?” She shook her head. “You’re crazy.”
She didn’t believe for a moment he’d seriously consider that sort of amount and gasped when he replied almost immediately.
“That’s your price, ten million?”
“No, Mr. Buchanan, that’s not our price!” Leath feared he might reach for his cheque book. “That was just a stupid figure plucked out of the air. We’ve already given you our answer, twice.”
Seeing a very slight slump in his shoulders and something odd in his expression, Leath softened the blow. “I’m sorry if you’re disappointed.” She even smiled up at him, “but it’s not going to change. We like the place.”
“But you have to sell it to me!”
Stepping back at the ferociousness in his voice, Leath bit her lip.
“I have to have it.”
His apparent desperation caused a sympathetic response from her. “I’m sorry.” She felt compelled to soften her voice. “We’re not selling.”
“But you must.” He stretched out and would have grabbed her arms if she hadn’t stepped back once more. “It’s ours and I mean to have it back.”

 Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

Anne is giving away a PDF copy of Leath's Legacy to one random person who leaves a comment so be sure to do so.

Thank you, Anne, for being my guest today.

Friday, December 12, 2014

This I know for sure...

Although I'm nearly done with my Christmas shopping (hurray!), I'm having a hard time finding any holiday spirit this year. Instead of enjoying the shopping and decorating, everything seems like a chore that needs to be done instead of being savored or a way to make new memories.

In an effort to find my missing Christmas cheer, I watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Tuesday night while writing out the holiday cards I send out to friends and family. (I've always said it's not Christmas unless we watch Rudolph at least once.) I think it helped a bit. I'm actually looking forward to putting up the tree this weekend. Then it'll be time to start the baking of the numerous types of cookies, sweet rolls, and breads that are given away as gifts and to family members with their gifts.

We had a winter storm this past Wednesday thru this morning with about 12 inches of snow. As much as I hate driving in the snow, I'm hoping the "winter wonderland" look will also help me find my less than enthusiastic holiday spirit.

Are you feeling overwhelmed or spiritless, or are you loving the season?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  Still struggling to get any measurable writing done. I'm blaming it on the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

News from the publishing world:  The happenings at the National Book Awards that took place last month. Link: National Book Award Winners

Quote of the week:  "Failure hurts. Challenges hurt. To get yourself through it, you've got to be your own cheerleader. ~ Roland Williams.

Health news:  Sorry, no health news this week. I haven't had a chance to do any medical related reading.

Random things:  My mother and I went to our local floral conservatory last week. The last time we went was years and years ago. It doesn't take very long to walk through, but it was fun to see how they decorated for the Christmas season.

Random photo of the week: 
 A Poinsettia "tree" inside the main part of the conservatory.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Vision Boards

Some writers use vision boards or collages to help in the pre-writing stage of their novels or as a source of inspiration or to help them visualize characters, setting, etc. Many writers who use vision boards/collages swear they help keep them on track, help them get the words down on paper, and/or help them stay inspired. The most well-known (that I'm aware of) writer who advocates the use of collages or vision boards is Jennifer Cruisie.  (Here's a link to her blog where she talks about them - Collages as Prewriting and Inspiration )

I've never done a vision board or collage for a book, but at any given time I've always collected pictures or things that remind me of the book I was writing at the time. I've just stuck them in a folder and would go through them from time to time - mainly when I got stuck on a plot point or needed some inspiration.

As I've been thinking about the goals I want to set and meet for the upcoming year, I keep coming back to the idea of a vision board. I'm considering doing one for my writing in general with pictures, words of inspiration, writing quotes, etc. I have a picture of the Rita (the equivalent of an Oscar award in the Romance Writing community) that I think I'm going to include.  While I may not win a Rita in 2015, it'll be something to strive for. I'm going to hang the board where I'll see it every day so it'll keep me inspired and moving forward in my writing career.

Have you ever done a vision board or collage for a book or for something you wanted to accomplish?

Friday, December 5, 2014

This I know for sure...

As the year draws to a close and we're all consumed with the hustle and bustle of the upcoming Christmas and Hanukkah holidays, I decided to take a look back at the last few months or so.

In doing so, I realized I wish I had 20/20 foresight instead of 20/20 hindsight. If I'd known some of the things that have occurred would be happening, maybe I could have done things to prevent them. I also realized that sometimes I feel like I don't know anything for sure.

Have you ever felt that way?  Tell me what you know for sure. This is open to any subject you want to post about (except religion and politics).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Other than the 100 word a day challenge I'm continuing, (up to day 79), I didn't manage to do any revisions on the finished book. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I hope to get back to the revisions.

News from the publishing world: I thought this was an interesting article about Amazon publishing. Link: The perks, pitfalls, and paradoxes of Amazon publishing

Quote of the week: "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." ~ Confucius.  This quote is pretty apt considering how slow my revision process is going.

Health news: According to research from Northwestern University, late risers are more likely to have trouble sticking to a new fitness routine. I'm an early riser myself - between 5:00 and 5:30am most days for work, but I still have a hard time fitting in exercise on a consistent basis. 

Random things: We had a much smaller number of  guests for Thanksgiving this year. A total of eight people instead of the usual 15 or so. After years of having the larger group, I found this year's gathering much nicer. I felt like I had time to spend with everyone instead of a quick minute here and there in the bigger group.

Random photo of the week:

 Here's the apple butter I made with my mom. It was an all day event and a lot of fun.