Monday, January 23, 2012

A Novella Book Club Blog and I Quit

I quit this blog. No really, I have found that blogging about trials and tribulations is not my thing. I barely have time to write, let alone write about writing. I'm glad I'm quitting, cause I don't miss it!

But, the one thing I've had to quit that I really hate are my book clubs. I just don't have the time for a full length novel of their choice, then take a night off to attend a meeting.

So, my awesome friend and writing partner, Becky Lees, and I have decided to start our own online book club - for novellas only. Yes, in three weeks I can get a novella read, then I can spend an entire week posting for discussion. Lots of time, lots of freedom, lots more fun than me droning on and on about my writing woes.

We'd love for you to join us! No pressure, there's enough of that out there. If you wanna read what we are reading, pop in, if you don't, catch us next month.

Here's the link and we hope to see you there:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Book Week from Carina Press

Geesh! I just wiped three inches of dust off of my blog. That's a shame!

But, I have some great information to share, so it was worth the cleaning.

First, visit Christine Bell's Blog for her contest and more information on free book week.

Then, all week long go to Carina and download the following books for free with the links (hover over the book titles) and codes:

Every weekday, all week, Carina is offering a spectacular title for free download. And when they say free, they mean ACTUALLY free. Not “sorta free”, or “free with a $50 purchase” free, but actually, totally, no strings attached FREE! So, get thee to Carina press to download a free book every day! Here are the books being offered, and the links and promo codes for your free download:

Monday’s FREE BOOK is:
The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady
Just type in the promo code DEBUTANTEFREE at checkout

Tuesday’s FREE BOOK is:
Demon’s Fall by Karalynn Lee
Just type in the promo code DEMONFREE at checkout

Wednesday’s FREE BOOK is:
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell
Just type in the promo code TWISTEDFREE at checkout

Thursday’s FREE BOOK is:
Blue Galaxy by Diane Dooley
Just type in the promo code GALAXYFREE at checkout

Friday’s FREE BOOK is:
Friendly Fire by Megan Hart
Just type in the promo code FRIENDLYFREE at checkout

Thanks!!! And see you soon, I promise.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed Welcomes Ju Dimello

I hope everyone is busy with attending the Savvy Authors DigiCon E-Pub Conference, but I hope you'll take a few minutes to welcome our next warrior guest Ju Dimello.

Thanks to our hostess Melinda for coming up with this unique theme for budding writers to congregate and share a part of ourselves. Without much ado, here I go, spilling all my secrets in a colorful journey...
Hey, a warrior's gotta have some memorable roots..So here's mine :

Born and brought up in South India, I hadn't stumbled across romantic novels until my early twenties. Twenty-two to be more exact...and I should thank my hostel mate for 'loaning' me my first ever Mills and Boon! I've been hooked ever since.. And "the rest they say is history"? No way!
Reading and me :

Well, here I can shout and claim that I don’t remember a time I wasn't fascinated by stories—either in the form of comics or listening to the various epics from my grandmother or nagging my uncle (who, btw is an English Literature Prof) to narrate some stories.

My maternal uncle gifted me some of his earliest paper-backs : those of Irwing Wallace even before I entered my teen years.. and boy, did I struggle?
You bet !

But I couldn't stop reading after I got my hands on BOOKS... In school, I lost myself in mythology, Dr Who, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes etc.

One thing I came to realize was that - books were my companion through hard times and happiest moments.. A good book always had the power to pull me out of the dumps and they made my day complete, satisfied.

From the moment I had my hands on the romance, I couldn't get enough of them. I am addicted and I love being addicted :) Should I iterate that Happily Ever After's are a must for me now? The spicier the better ;)

Transition to writer :

Totally unlike most of the wonderful authors out there who wrote since their childhood, I feel like a fish out of water when I think of how odd my writing journey began....

The golden days of my story telling days began with an idea of my first story when I was about 8 yrs old. It was about a girl who had been injected with some drug that would make her listen to everything the villan says. Obviously she didn't have a hero to help her out of it..but her cousins - who were a part of a secret organization of rich-spies helped her. Any guesses who were those rich-spy cousins? Who else but our cousins gang - Myself Lucy (English names sounding exotic to our ears, were a must for us to get that drama feeling), my sister was named Dany, cousins respectively named Miranda and Shiela. Every day we enacted a new episode with some case we cracked using our crime solving skills.

Then I ran into some stints with poetry.. One day I had lost my favorite pen (ahem, coughs), and I wrote an ode to it.. Ah, my fish out of water feeling is now almost I'm realizing - I am not that different either.. Who said we writers are normal :)

The actual muse of writing descended on me in February 2009 when I landed flat on my back when chucked out of my job. Recession and all that jazz. Sleepless nights, hair-pulling moments..and bham! Suddenly a story took hold in my mind. I think it was an escapism in itself..or probably my mind's way of preserving its sanity.And the it was as if right time came into effect by itself. And I've been thankful ever since. Strange but true. For that gave me the exact momentum not only to dream, but the courage to follow them thorough even after I got another job.

Happy days yet? I wish. My husband encouraged me to follow my desires, which is the greatest support I could get.. and well, it also means, I have to wholeheartedly support his - which was to pursue academics. So, I quit my job a couple of months ago to move to Canada....And I'm sitting in this freezing weather, staring out to the 4-5 feet of snow as I type this post, wondering about life. I know that I must be filling the walls (er..documents) with my creativity in the long, blissful days that stretch ahead without interruptions. But I miss going for a job and the steady income it provided :) Miss the mundane days to fuel my characters's steamy nights.. I worry about my parents and in-laws who depend on our financial and moral support..And trying hard not to feel worthless.. I thought I was prepared for this move, but I’m still adjusting..

The most confusing thing is, when I sit to write, the fact that I'm not applying for jobs hover in the back of my mind...and when I try to apply, the characters turn their backs to me and refuse to talk! Grrrr... Talk about the proverbial caught between rock and hard place...And is it any wonder that I named my blog as "Dreams and realities"?

My journey so far :
After numerous MS's shelved under various stages of completion, I subbed the story I thought was my strongest (early 2010) to spice briefs and my second strongest one to noc bite.. (after winning a pitch). Got the quickest R's in history (within 2 weeks) and that was the hardest.. to realize that I wasn't yet ready.. and then to believe that my story wasn't all crap.

After moping, crying and a lot of kicking (both given and taken), I jumped back into the wagon with a wee bit thicker skin and an open mind to learn. On my later submissions, I garnered a few feedback and nibbles....I have a line of medals and proud badges I wear on my sleeve (aka R's) for all my attempts so far and I'm still learning, writing and subbing and hoping :)

And what I've found so far is that I'm a through and through novella girl. I love to start my stories with a bang! And my characters are out of this world, literally, since they're all paranormals ;) and they're rearing to get down and dirty right from page one ;) Rest assured, it is like controlling a herd of wild bulls to do some farming (ie, story writing).. I know every parent (writer) is in love with their child (stories), but I hope when mine does get released, I can refer back to these words of mine :)

A few closet revelations :
I am an introvert. Until I started my blog, I never had any online presence (except emails)! I shied away from it until I decided to bite the bullet sometime in late 2009! Don't you dare think that I am the same in person or one-on-one conversations. As my DH says, I have the unique ability to either convince someone or confuse someone, no matter how confident they are ;) And that’s his polite way of saying I literally eat everyone’s brains! Ugh!

Hey, but that doesn't mean my writing was/is all that crappy.. To prove it, let me write you a poetry which I had written sometime in my high school.. I lost the original paper, but I can recall it pretty decently..

LIFE (A contrast)
What a horrid life is this,
When what you want is amiss!
When you want to be free,
And just go to watch the sea,
None agrees to your proposal,
And nothing is at your disposal.
Life, life, how bad,
The worst we've ever had!
What a wonderful life is this,
What you want is at your fingertips.
If you know only to sing,
It’s like trying to fly with only one wing.
Learn to dance as well,
Be happy as a bluebell.
Life, life, how beautiful,
Even though it must be dutiful!

Ah - there you have it ;) ::ducks head and hides:: before someone throws something at me ...

Happy reading and happy writing to all ! So bring on your best. This warrior is here to stay!!!

It's been cathartic to share my battle scars with you and I want to thank Melinda once again for hosting such a wonderful event where we can meet every Wednesday. I also want to thank Nas Dean for pointing me towards this blog :) And thanks to each one of you for being there as role models, friends and supporters in this journey.

Y'all rock!

Don’t hesitate to drop me a line whenever you feel like or you’re always welcome to pop in my blog:
And I'm going to borrow the following line to end my post..You haven't yet seen the last of me yet. I'll be back! (Hopefully soon and as an author).


Thank you so much for guest blogging today! Everyone make sure you follow the link above to Ju's blog to continue to follow her on her journey to publication.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Norway is the new Scotland. Spread the word.

My ancestors hail from Scotland, and I love romance books with a kilt wearing Highland warrior. So, when I first saw Kris Tualla's tagline about Norway being the new Scotland, I was intrigued. Really, I thought? Convince me.

She does!

Please welcome the talented and original Kris Tualla as my guest today. Let's see if she can convince you as she has convinced me. Leave a comment with your email addy for a chance to win an e-copy of the book A Woman of Choice.

When I first decided to write an historical romance novel, I didn't know anything about the romance market. But I did know there are a mega-zillion "kilted warrior" stories already published. That sub-genre has been going strong for decades. When I went to Amazon and searched book titles for "highlander" there were 2,976 results…

I didn't want to write more of those.

So, what DID I want to write? Well, they say write what you know. I was already going to need to research my time period… (I may be old, but "Historical" still precedes my lifetime… barely.) I chose the Missouri Territory because I spent my childhood in Kansas City. The terrain and the weather are familiar to me.

One thing I knew - the hero would not be Scots. What else is sexy? Vikings! So my hero became Norwegian: big, blond, buff, blue-eyed and beautiful. Strong. Stoic. Spectacular.

I was driving past IKEA when I heard a hyped-up commercial on the radio: H&M was coming soon! "Hmm," I thought. "These are both Scandinavian stores… I guess that's the next big thing."

And then it hit me. My hook. My brand. My big, blond, buff, beautiful heroes with oceanic eyes! Norwegian men are the next big thing.

And I'll tell everyone that Norway is the NEW Scotland! I even made a video about it:
Ta-daaaaaaa! Now I needed some history:

After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, the Danish Prince, Christian Frederick, convened the National Assembly in Norway, where he was elected as King. But the triumphant nations refused to accept this attempt by Norway to become independent, with the Danish prince as their new king.

Following a brief show of strength by Sweden, King Christian Frederick caved, renounced all claims to Norway's throne, and fled the country.

When I created the setting for "A Prince of Norway" I backed up a couple of generations to King Christian VI. His son, Frederick V had seventeen children by 2 wives and a mistress - and one short-lived sister. So I gave Frederick a stronger, fictional sister.

My Marit Christiansen married and escaped her brother's lifestyle by emigrating to the New World. Settled in Philadelphia, she birthed a daughter, the princess Kirsten Sven. Kirsten's life was saved during the Revolutionary War by a handsome American soldier of Norse heritage - Reidar Magnus Hansen.

These are Nicolas Hansen's parents.

Before I could see which of the seventeen descendents of King Frederick might be involved in the 1814 switch of regents, they needed to be charted, tracked, and fictionalized if they fell off the radar, which almost all of then did. That was fun. (And the family tree is posted on my website:

So in 1818, the oldest and most powerful of these fictionalized descendents sent Nicolas a letter, strongly requesting that he return to Norway (he went there in 1806 at age 19) to candidate for a reclaimed throne. The times being what they were, the letter didn't reach him until 1820, at which point he had remarried and had a second child.

This is the set-up for A Prince of Norway.

Intrigued? Is it time you found a new brand of hero? Please allow me to help.

For every 10 people who comment here, I will give away one free e-copy of A Woman of Choice - the beginning of the trilogy. And, yes. Commenter #11 warrants 2 copies! Comment #21? I'll give away three.


In February at the end of my blog tour, I'll give away one SIGNED PAPERBACK SET of the trilogy. Here's how you can get in on that deal:
1. Go to and find the "Secret Word" on my home page.
2. Send an email to with "Signed Trilogy Giveaway" in the subject line. Put the secret word in the body.
3. Comment on any blog at any time in the tour to activate your entry. Each day's blog location is listed at

A Woman of Choice, A Prince of Norway, and A Matter of Principle are all available at

A Woman of Choice - Missouri Territory, 1819
A woman is viciously betrayed and abandoned by her unfaithful husband. She is rescued by a widower uninterested in love. In desperation, she becomes engaged to his best friend. One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

A Prince of Norway - Christiania, Norway, 1820
American-born Nicolas Hansen has been asked to candidate for his great-grandfather's throne. His new wife Sydney isn't about to let him go to Norway and face that possibility alone. The moment they arrive at Akershus Castle, the political intrigue and maneuvering begin. Can Sydney trust anyone? Will Nicolas resist the seduction of power? Or will he claim the throne for himself? Most importantly: will their young marriage survive the malicious mischief of the ambitious royal family?

A Matter of Principle - St. Louis, State of Missouri, 1821
Nicolas Hansen has returned from Norway determined to change the world. But when he runs for State Legislator in the brand-new state of Missouri, the enemies he made over the past two years aren't about to step quietly aside. Sydney has made enemies of her own, both by marrying Nicolas and by practicing midwifery. When a newspaper reporter makes it his goal to destroy them, Nicolas must rethink his path once again. But this time, it's a matter of principle.

Thank you Kris for joining us today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales of the Unpubbed Welcomes Calisa Lewis

Hi All! Welcome to another segment of Warrior Wednesday. I am tickled pink to introduce to you my critique partner Calisa Lewis.

Thank you for having me here Melinda.

I’m Calisa Lewis. I’ve been reading the other Warrior posts each week and nodding my head so much my husband thought I had a crucial screw loose! Man can I relate with the others when it comes to the long road to publication.

I don’t have a tall stack of rejection letters yet, but I have my share. The thing is- if you don’t finish a manuscript, if you never send it in and get those painful scars racked up- you won’t learn. What’s that saying? If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.

My writing began very early though, and pain free. Picture it. 10 years old, Mr. Matthew’s fifth grade class, Connell elementary in Washington State. I was bored in class one day and decided to write instead of listening to lessons. On plain note paper I wrote my first book. I think it was only eight to ten pages about bubblegum—with pictures drawn by yours truly. I took that book to the school library and donated it. I was thrilled that the librarian actually put the book on a shelf as a loner! I checked it out one day just because I could!

I got to thinking about that little ‘book’ a couple of weeks ago and looked up the school and called them. Cathleen, the woman I spoke with, agreed to research and see if my little book has somehow survived the years somewhere on school property. I don’t hold much hope, but if it is still there she agreed to help me retrieve it, or at least a copy.

I’ve always loved horses, ranches and cowboys…yum! But when I was younger those things were nothing more than a part of life. The cowboys I hung out with were more pest than hero because I was ‘one of them’ and knew who they really were. Or so I thought. So back in my early writing days I wrote poetry that had nothing to do with heroes and heroines, or even love. Then I graduated when I discovered boys. Love entered the poems and I found music in a deep way. Moreover, I discovered the cute men who sang. I started writing again because of those cuties. All of my stories then revolved around musicians on summer vacations and long weekends.

Then my cowboys had resurgence. I realized a very important fact- I was no longer ‘one of them’. They are hot, sexy men who no longer seemed pesky—and now do sinful things to a pair of Levis!

I still have those early pathetic efforts in my office. I pull them out now and then and read just for the pure joy of it. I don’t cringe over the horrendousness of non-craft or head hopping (I do have to close my eyes to those things though). I go back in time to when my writing bug hatched. Will I ever revise those into ‘real’ manuscripts? Probably never happen. I will move forward.

My first attempt to ‘really write’ took a year from a thought I’d had once, and after my daughters were all mostly grown. I had scratched a beginning and that was it. I pulled out those scratchings and wrote Contract For Love. I found authors Brenda Nyveld and Robbie Grady (before Robyn agented up or sold her first Modern Heat or Desire) on eHqn when they offered to become my first critique partners. I can’t tell you how much I learned from those two literary angels during that year of edits! On July 3rd, 2005 I mailed my first ever 3-chapter partial, with synopsis and query letter, to Silhouette Desire. I received a request from the editor to send a partial to Silhouette Special Edition and then, also to send the full to Desire. Within 3 weeks I received my first rejection letter from SSE. I called the Desire editor almost 2 years later and was told that she’d ‘passed the full to another genre editor’. I never got a rejection from Desire because somewhere along the way the full was actually lost and not passed on.

Heads up Warriors- it happens. One thing I learned about that is to follow up after a reasonable amount of time. You may need to resubmit a lost submission. I currently have a second cowboy story partial with SSE, and will soon be sending a follow up query since it’s been seven months with no word.

In August 2010 Melinda came to my new and wonderful CBC crit group with a challenge. HQ Medicals was running a fast track special event. Why don’t we write a chapter and submit just to see what happens. I struggled for two weeks and came up with one chapter. Two days later the editor asked for the first three chapters…as yet unwritten. I spent a month writing two chapters that shouldn’t have taken me a week to write. I sent those off. Two weeks and one day later the editor emailed. When I get the full ms written, she wants it!! I spent the next two months writing Perfect Doctor Viv. On Dec. 18th I sent it to her. I was shocked when just five weeks (Jan 24th) she sent me a five page revision letter! So I struggle now, not just to write, but to make this promising story sell. Melinda has asked me to remember the spelling of her name. I won’t forget Mel!

I am determined this is my year to leave the ranks of struggling, aspiring writer as a graduate to still struggling, published author! Can you imagine how much my little Bubblegum book might one day be worth when I’m a NYT bestselling author!?! Wooot

Thank you Calisa so much for guest blogging! To continue to follow Calisa on her journey to publication, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mystery Monday Musings

A mystery is just a mystery, right? Wrong! This is something I've learned over the past couple of weeks. I've told everyone that I was writing a cozy mystery, easily defined in my mind. Small town, amateur sleuth (well, one of them anyway), murder happens off the page, sexy smexy stuff happens off the page and everything has a Jessica Fletcher feel to it.

Alas, it is not to be. There are some darker moments in my mystery plot which moves it out of the cozy realm.

I was then introduced to two additional types of mysteries. The hard-boiled and the soft-boiled.

The hard-boiled mystery is just that. Hard. It has a tougher edge to it, and could possibly showcase the violence and sex.

Nope, mine isn't that either.

On to a soft-boiled mystery. Ahh...this sounds more like it. Although some may say the cozy and soft-boiled are the same, I'm going to go with the popular belief that they are different. But, barely. Soft-boiled mysteries are a softer, gentler type of mystery. Oh, don't worry, still a murder in there, still a sleuth, but the mystery can take a few dark turns and a few light ones. Like coloring outside the lines.

I think the moral to this rather short story is, know your genre. And if you are blending genres, know that too.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mystery Monday Musings

Mystery Monday Musings... say that three times real fast! I am currently enrolled in Misa Ramirez's SavvyU Course - Building a Mystery from Back to Front. I'm very excited about this six month journey and I want to take you all along for the ride. Now, it is a paid course, so I won't be sharing the details of the classes, but I'd love to share with you the process I'm going through to create my mystery on Mondays.

For my first Mystery Monday post, I'm going to introduce you to my two main characters. To do this, I'd like to share a little excercise I did called the WalMart Q&A. Please meet Aiden and Lottie:

Me: When was the last time you stood in a long line at Walmart, and how did you react to the wait?

Aiden O'Reilly:

Walmart? *scoffs* You’re kidding, right? I can’t stand to drive by one, let alone go in. The packed parking lots, the swarms of shoppers, the malodor of the store, the shoppers with too much time on their hands and not enough checkout clerks. My ex used to disappear in there for hours. Tell me she was going to one section, and an hour and fifty laps later, I’d find her in the dog food department. We didn’t own a dog. And she wouldn’t even be close to finished.

You can keep your Walmart. I drive right past and down to Gus’s Grocer on 2nd Ave. Yeah, it’s still open, and Gus still cuts the meat with a cigarette hanging from between his lips. I can get everything I need right there. The cashier always has a smile on her face and the bag boy offers to take out your groceries.

Huh, Walmart. *grumbles and looks back down to the stack of papers he was grading*

Lottie Hendricks:

*smiles and looks down at her clasped hands sitting on her lap* I don’t mind waiting in line. Somebody has to be last. Just the other day, Ms. Mirna Fields asked the woman in front of me if she could cut in line. She’d be late for her doctor’s appointment if she didn’t. The younger woman was terribly rude. I can’t stand to see the elderly treated that way. So, I stepped in and told Ms. Mirna she could go in front of me. And her granddaughter was with her, with a separate cart. I let her go too, because they probably needed to leave at the same time. Then, Ms. Rose Etheridge needed to be somewhere. I’m not even sure she’d been standing in the same line as us, but I let her go ahead too. It took me a while to get out of the store that day. But, I did help the others by letting them go first.

*her hands smooth her skirt, and she finally meets my gaze* Nice talking to you, but it’s my day to volunteer down at the animal shelter before helping with spaghetti dinner at the VFW hall, and Lucille is out sick, again, so I have to change the sheets at the B&B myself because Katie has a date.

I hope you get a giggle out of this short interviews! And please, tell me how you react to long lines in WalMart.