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Merry Christmas from me… and Pax Tate!

25 Dec

Merry Christmas!

I sit here in my office, staring at my laptop as my children play with their new gadgets and my husband has holed himself up to watch his new Star Wars box set.  I thought it would be a perfect time to wish you a happy holiday!

This year has brought me so many blessings.  I can’t begin to count them all, but please know that YOU are among them.   You have read my work, supported me, encouraged me, written me notes, tweeted me, Facebooked me…. your support and encouragement has been incredible and I am thankful for you every minute.

If you didn’t see it already, I wrote a little short story featuring Pax.  One of the questions that I am asked the most frequently is… “When will we see Pax again??”

I don’t know if he will ever get another book.  I haven’t decided yet.  Half of me wants to leave his happy ending the way it was.  But the other half of me misses him (and Mila!) so much that I’m tempted to re-open his story.  Hmmm.  We’ll see.

What do YOU think?  Would you like for Pax’s HEA to stay perfect?  Or would you like to read more about him?

For now though, if you want a little Christmas glimpse of him, you can find his short story HERE on Autumn Review.  :)

I’m going to be taking the next week or so off of social media.  I’ll be spending time with my family and writing a bit, so you won’t hear from me much. But I do want you to know that I wish you the very best for 2014.  I hope you have a fabulous holiday and that you enjoy every second with your families.  Hug them tight and count your blessings.  That’s part of what this holiday is all about.

I’ll see you next year, folks!  :)

A Christmas Giveaway and My reorganized release schedule

27 Nov

Happy Tuesday! :)

So, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be doing a Christmas giveaway of some sort in December. I’m still thinking about the details. I’m thinking maybe a twelve hotties of Christmas or something. I’m thinking that 12 hot characters from my books will give away a prize on the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure on the details, but it will definitely be something. And I’ll definitely announce the details here on my blog soon. Just as soon as I come up with them. :)

Also, my release schedule has changed a bit. Because my muse is a fickle, fickle thing, I’ve been working on an entirely new project. It will release next. I’ll announce details as I have them. It’s a raw, visceral project that I really hope you love.

After that, this winter, the second Cougar Chronicles will be released, but also the finale of The Moonstone Saga. I’ve had tons of questions about that final book, so we’ve pushed it up on the release schedule. It’s coming soon folks– this winter. :)

That means that the second book in the Minaldi Legacy will be pushed back until early spring. But it’s coming, too. No worries!

So, I just wanted to keep you guys apprised of my schedule. Oh– one more thing, while I’m thinking of it. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I just want to mention it again. The sequel to Princess has been indefinitely put on hold. It may or may not get written and released. I have it all planned, but I’m not sure when it will ever come to pass.

That about wraps it up with my announcements. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that you are looking forward to Christmas as much as I am! :)

HUGE YA Book Sale for Black Friday!

23 Nov

Tired of the malls and the stores? Looking for gifts without breaking the bank? How about 20 Young Adult books each priced at 99 cents now through Monday on Amazon? Buy some books for yourself. Gift books for others. Books are still the biggest entertainment bang for the buck, and there’s SO many great titles to choose from.

Like romance, adventure, humor, or contemporary? How about Sci-fi, fantasy, or mythology? We’ve got you covered!

Asylum by K.A. Tucker

Awaken by Sarah M. Ross

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

The Childe by C.A. Kunz

Dead Heat by Lisa Nowak

Echo of an Earth Angel by Sarah M. Ross

Fairy Metal Thunder by J.L. Bryan

Forever Me by Thomas Amo

Here by Ella James

How to Date an Alien by Magan Vernon

Inheritance by Willow Cross

Masquerade by Cambria Hebert

Natural Selection by Elizabeth Sharp

Perception by Lee Strauss

Prey & Magic (Book 5 of the Blood & Snow Series) by RasShelle Workman

Soul Kissed by Courtney Cole

Soul Quest (Book 1 of the Soul Quest Trilogy) by Amy Mauer Jones

Transfer Student by Laura Elliott

The Truth About Faking by Leigh Talbert

Whisper – Heather Hildenbrand


Utter Randomness: The Best Iced Coffee Recipe- EVER

6 May

Happy Sunday!!

I’m supposed to be writing right now… while my house is serene and quiet (because all of the monsters are still asleep.  My daughter used to take offense at being referred to as a monster, but she’s gotten used to it….) but I felt the need to share this recipe with you first.  Because it’s awesome.

So, I love iced coffee.  LOVE it.   And while cruising around on Pinterest the other day wasting time, when again I should have been writing, I came across a link to this iced coffee recipe.  After I read the blog entry, I was surprised to learn that I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time!

You aren’t supposed to brew hot coffee and refrigerate it– you are supposed to COLD-BREW the coffee with a LOT more coffee than you normally would use.   At first, I was a little skeptical and I thought, ‘Is this really going to make enough of a difference to warrant the extra work?”

Um, the answer is YES.  Yes, it is just that delicious.  And honestly, it’s not extra work.  It’s easy.

You can find step-by-step instructions here on The Pioneer Woman’s blog (which I just subscribed to.  If she can totally change my life with this iced coffee recipe, who knows what other magical tidbits she’ll have up her sleeve?  Well, I for one, want to find out!)

But.  The gist is:  You dump an entire bag of your favorite ground coffee into a huge bowl.  Fill with a gallon of water and cover overnight.  In the morning, line a strainer with either cheesecloth or coffee filters.  (I used the filters because I don’t have any cheesecloth).  Dump the coffee mixture through the strainer into a clean container.  I did this process twice to make sure that I got all of the grounds out.  Then, pour it into a pitcher.  It can stay in the fridge that way for a month or so.

The Pioneer Woman lists a recipe of condensed milk to use in the coffee, but I haven’t tried that yet.  For me, I fill my glass with ice, fill it 3/4 full with the coffee, use 4 packs Splenda, then dump Sweet Italian Cream creamer into it.  OMGosh.  It’s the best iced coffee I’ve ever had.   My husband didn’t believe me that it was so much better than normal, so he took a dubious sip of mine- and I swear to you.  His eyes glazed over and he practically ran to the fridge to make his own.  Seriously.  It’s good.

So good that I wanted to share it with you.  :)  Since I start my morning every day in the Spring, Summer and Fall with iced coffee (I usually drink hot coffee when it’s snowy), this recipe has seriously changed my mornings.   Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

Okay.  Enough of my random musings.  I’ve gotta get to writing while I still have peace and quiet around here.  Have a great Sunday everyone!

Sealed With a Kiss!

8 Feb

Since it is so close to Valentine’s Day, a group of the Paranormal Plumes and I decided to take turns writing about our first kiss… or the first one that really mattered, anyway.

Obviously, the first one that counts for me anymore is my first kiss with my husband…so I figured I’d share that with you. It’s not a super-exciting story, but it’s mine.  :)

I was introduced to my husband by a mutual friend after I moved to Indiana from Kansas.  Before we ever met face to face, he and I  emailed back and forth for a good two months.  I think I fell in love with his sense of humor long before I even saw his face.  For me, a great sense of humor is absolutely essential-the most important thing.  I love to laugh.

The night that I met him, we decided to have dinner.  I told him what I would be wearing and he told me the same.  We met at the restaurant and sat and talked for hours…instantly clicking.  He was tall, handsome and I loved his smile.  When it was time to go home, he walked me to my car.

But he didn’t kiss me.   In fact, he didn’t even ask me for my phone number!  I was totally astounded since I thought the date had been awesome.

Puzzled, I asked him, “Do you want my number?”   He very hurriedly took it- cramming the number into his phone as fast as he could.  I couldn’t figure it out- because like I said, I totally thought we had had an awesome time.  (I learned later that it was because he had a horribly upset stomach- and he didn’t want to be sick all over me.  Nice!)

So we didn’t kiss that night. But he did email me the next day to tell me what a great time he’d had and asked, “When do I get to see you again?”  I thought it was a sweet question and we got together the next weekend.

We went to eat at a great local Mexican place and then went back to his apartment for a movie.  He sat on his end of the couch and I sat on mine, never touching… and the entire time I was thinking… what is the deal here?  We were hitting it off perfectly, we were clearly attracted to each other.  Why is this guy not making a move?  Am I misreading this?  Am I a total idiot and can no longer speak a fluent dating language?

After the movie ended (and to this day, I can’t even tell you what it was), I got up to leave.  He started joking about something… something about hearing voices.  I laughed and asked him what the voices were telling him.  And he said, “They want me to kiss you.”

So he did.  And it was amazing.  He was absolutely, without a doubt, the best kisser ever.  Hands down, end of story.   I apologize to the other guys in the world who I have kissed… truly.  But my husband has that one won.

Anyway.  Here we are, over a decade later, and I still think that is true.  My husband is the best kisser in the world and he is still making me laugh.

Happy early Valentine’s Day, everyone!

It’s my friend Nichole Chase’s turn to dish about her first kiss tomorrow.  Check her out!

Why Do We Love Vampires Soooo Much?

16 Jan

I was thinking about this on the way to the grocery store earlier.  (I know… random thoughts by Courtney Cole…)

What was I thinking of, you might ask?       Oh, this…this…. and this.  :)

      

Why do we have such a love affair with vampires?  In theory, we should be disgusted.  Cold, dead vampire skin should be repulsive… and let’s not even think about the…um, private vampire parts… which would/should be cold and dead, too.  Eew.

But these guys don’t look cold and dead, do they?

Sigh.  Man, is Eric like the hottest thing on the face of the planet or what?  And I don’t usually even go for blondes.  And therein, I rest my point.   There’s something so inordinately sexy and romantic about the fact that vampires are immortal.  The sheer thought that they have been around for hundreds of years, gleaning experience as they go… is just tantalizing.  They are forbidden, mythical, magical.  Total sexiness.

And because the thought is so sexy, we tend to gloss over what the physical reality would be.  Drinking blood?  Eew.   Sleeping Underground like in Trueblood?  Eew.   Never being able to go out in sunlight?   No thanks.   Cold, creepy vampire skin?  Eew.

But the romantic thoughts in my head… well, they don’t include any of those icky things.  In my head, they are warm, vibrant and real.  And very, very romantic.   Of course, in my head, I alter quite a lot of reality.  For instance, in my head, Taylor Lautner is a bit taller and is 29.  :)  But we won’t go there.

I was thinking about this fascination with vampires because I was thinking about my new book, Soul Kissed.  I had always said that I wouldn’t write a vampire book- not because I didn’t like them, but because there is already so much good vampire stuff out there. The market doesn’t need my take on the subject.    And Soul Kissed toes that vampire border, but doesn’t exactly cross it.

The main character Em, is the daughter of the goddess of witchcraft and she’s been cursed as a soul-sucking blood-drinker. But she’s not a vampire.   Really. She’s not- just ask her.   And her love interest may or may not end up being immortal- but he’s definitely not a vampire and he’s certainly not dead.  He’s warm and vibrant- the total opposite of a vampire.  I hope you find him as sexy as I do.   (Yes, Brennan actually exists in my mind.  Hey, my mind is a very colorful place…)

Anyway, Soul Kissed is available now on Amazon here.  And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free.  :)

Anyway, this ends my totally random and pointless musings about why vampires are so sexy.    If you’d like to chime in the comments section about why YOU think vampires are sexy, feel free.  I’m curious about what other people’s thoughts are on this subject.  :)

Have a great day, everyone!

Free e-books!!! Yayyy!!

16 Nov

Hi everyone,

I know that everyone loves getting free stuff.  And in the spirit of the season, several authors that I know have e-books priced at free.  Woohoo!  So, I thought I would post a few of them.   You can load your e-readers up and curl up and read when it starts getting snowy. 

First, my book Every Last Kiss (book one in The Bloodstone Saga) is free on Smashwords for a limited time.  You can find it here.

Then, my awesomesauce friend J.L. Bryan’s book, Jenny Pox (book one of the Paranormals sereis) is free on Amazon for a while.  Woohoo!  You can find it here. 

My lovely friend M. Leighton’s fab book Madly is free on Smashwords.  You can find it here.  I highly recommend it- it’s a charming, fun read. 

T.R. Graves wants to give her book, Warriors of the Cross, away as a gift to honor the Thanksgiving season.  It’s listed here on Smashwords, but you’ll need to enter this coupon (LY87N) in order to get it for free.  That coupon will be good until 12/20/11.

Tracy Lee Campbell’s book, Starcrossed: Perigee is free on Amazon right now.  Look for it here.

This one is not YA, but I’m listing it anyway because it looks like it might be good.  (I don’t personally know this author).  Lauren Dane’s Triad (Book one of the Witches Knot series) is free on Amazon here.   I personally just downloaded it onto my iPad and I’m going to check it out.

 This one is not YA either, but with a title like Heart of a Knight, I had to include it. (Because I’ve got a weakness for medieval knights…) This book by Barbara Samuel is free on Amazon right now and you can find it here.

Ooh-oohh- a classic!  Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is freeeeeee on Amazon.  Whoohoo!  You can find it here.

 Grey Eyes (book one in the Forever Trilogy) by Brandon Alston and Quinteria Ramey is free right now on Amazon.  You can find it here.

Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams is free right now on Amazon.  You can find it here. 

 Anyway, there are enough free e-books here to keep you reading for quite a few dark, snowy, winter nights.  So, get the hot chocolate and roaring fireplace ready.  You’re going to be in it for the long haul.  :)   Have a great Wednesday!!

 

Happy Halloween!!

31 Oct

 

Happy Halloween!  

I love Halloween.  Luuuuuuurve!!  As in hot, sticky, pumpkin spice latte kind of love.  I’m not sure why, but I always have.  I think it’s the magic in the air- the full moons, witches, candy and fun.   I love the dressing up, the Halloween parties, the magic. 

My daughter, Bella (named well before the Twilight craze, thank you very much),  is dressing up as a punk rock fairy this year– she was inspired by J.L. Bryan’s newest fairy book, Songs of Magic, Book One.   She recently read that book and loved it.  In fact, she’ll be reviewing it soon.  But I digress.

We’ve had fun figuring out what a punk rock fairy would actually wear.  She already broke her wings at a Halloween party, so we’re on set number two.    We settled on leg warmers, a black body suit under her fairy costume, bright pink hair streaks(which you can’t see in the picture very well) and face paint.  She looks adorable and I’m totally eating it up- I know it won’t be long (maybe next year?) when she decides that she’s too old to trick-or-treat.  Gulp.

 

Here’s something else cool.  I was a guest blogger on BelleBooks today– so if you go here, you can read a letter that Cadmus recently wrote to Harmonia.  It includes a Halloween warning that can easily apply to all of us- so don’t miss it!

I hope that you all have a spooktacular day on this, my most favorite of holidays.  Eat a lot of candy, watch a scary movie, read a spooky book.   Halloween only comes once a year, so ENJOY! 

 

Random Post: Irrational Fears

13 Jun

Okay, so my friend Wren Emerson did a post and a Listopia list of her irrational fears the other day, which I thought was cool.  And then yesterday, I went to the lake and faced a couple of my irrational fears, so I thought that I would write a post about them, too.   Yes, I know.   Very random and unwriter-ly.  But it’s Monday and I’ve only had ONE cup of coffee so far, so cut me some slack.  :)

My irrational fears:

  • Topping this list by far and away is my crippling fear of buoys.  Oh, yes, I said buoys… the dingy, nasty things that float on the water.  YUCK.  I have no idea why I am scared of them, but I can tell you that if I get anywhere close to them, I get instantly hysterical.  This includes the floating line that stretches across the swimming pool.  I know. I’m a nut. I can’t help it.  This fear also encompasses pretty much anything that floats in the water… floating logs/sticks, beach balls, BOATS, etc.   Which is very strange, because I like to ride in boats or on tubes, but there is NO WAY in this world that I could swim up to a boat or a tube floating in the water. NO WAY.  I think I would rather drown.
  • Second biggest fear is birds.  Any birds.  I think they are probably the spawn of satan with their flat black eyes and sharp beaks and they always seem to fly directly at your face.  So, no thank you on the birds.  Although, I’m not scared of owls.  My son pointed out to me yesterday that I’m incredibly weird for not being afraid of something that can rotate its head 360 degrees, but I’m scared of every other aviary creature on the planet.  So be it, I’m weird.
  • Wren and I share a weird fear– I don’t like to hang my feet over the edge of the bed- because somewhere, deep down, I’m afraid that someone is  hiding under my bed and is going to jump up and slash through my achilles tendons. 
  • Black toilet seats.  I have no idea why, but I have had this fear ever since I was a little girl. They scare me.
  • And speaking of toilets… I’m scared of public bathrooms in seasonal areas like beaches or amusement parks.  For some reason, when I am in there, I start thinking about how scary these bathrooms must seem in the off-season when no one is there.  
  • Also, I am afraid to reach into the tank of a toilet.  The floating thing in there reminds me of a buoy.  So, if my toilet starts running, too bad. It has to wait until my husband gets home to reach in and jiggle the little lever.
  • Pool drains.  Absolutely terrified of pool drains.  I cannot come within one foot of one. 
  • Okay, so this one isn’t a crippling, debilitating fear, but it is definitely a strong concern. I have a fear of being impaled while driving.   You know, if I am ever following a logging truck or something (because that is so common in Indiana, um, not) and the thin, sharpened logs come loose and one might spear through my chest.  Yeah.  It could happen.
  • I don’t like my closet doors open while I sleep. They need to be tightly closed.  I think deep down, I am afraid that something paranormal is hidden in my closet and will come out in the middle of the night. But of course, the flimsy little latch on my door will definitely keep it contained.  (Hey- I told you my fears are irrational).

And if we’re going to talk about how strange I am, I might as well mention my odd compulsions.  I have a couple of them. 

  • For some reason, and I don’t know why, but I strongly prefer my car radio to be set at number 8.  If not number 8, then it defintely should be an even number.  I don’t think that something bad will happen to me if it isn’t, but I still strongly prefer it. 
  • I need to have my bedroom doors wide open at night.  I don’t know why, but I don’t like it if it is half shut. 

So, there you have it.  My strange, unexplainable, irrational fears.  But I know that I’m not the only one… the guy at the pier yesterday (right after making fun of me for being afraid of buoys) told me that he’s afraid of peanut butter.  Peanut butter!  He’s deathly afraid that he will choke on it and die a horrible death of strangulation. 

So, obviously, there are some weird fears floating around out there. Feel free to chime in and tell me some of yours… If you do, I might start feeling a little more normal because after reading this list, I have to admit.  My son might be right.  I might be abnormally weird. 

 

My Opinion on Ratings and Reviews

10 Jun

For some reason, and I don’t know exactly why, I feel the need to talk about ratings and reviews today.   Maybe because as writers, we obsessively check our ratings, reviews and rankings every day. All of us do it… we can’t help it.  It’s a compulsive need that comes bursting out the moment that we are published. 

Because writers put so much of themselves into their work, they (we!) tend to take it very personally when someone doesn’t like their work, or worse, when someone HATES it.  What I want to say today, to my fellow writers, is that you shouldn’t.  Don’t take it personally.  Every once in a while, there is someone out there (a crazy person or two) who does make it personal and they hate your work so much for some strange reason, that they literally stalk you with bad reviews on everything you do.  I’ve seen that happen to people, unfortunately, including a personal friend a while back.  There are crazies out there.

But for the most part, reviewers are readers who take time out of their busy days not only to buy your work and read your work, but they take time to tell other people about it.  And that’s a great thing- even if they don’t love your ‘baby’ as much as you do.  Ratings and reviews, as my friend Wren has pointed out many times, are like currency to writers.  Word of mouth is our bread and butter- our most effective marketing tool.

I’ve been lucky so far.  I haven’t gotten a really hateful review (knock on wood!!).  So far, I’ve gotten one 3-star rating and one 1-star rating on Goodreads, but neither person said anything negative.   The rest have all been 4’s and 5’s with glowing, awesome, amazing reviews and I feel so blessed.  

At the same time, I know that I will get worse reviews at some time in the future, because reading and writing is subjective.  Different people like different things.  And that’s okay.  (Easy for me to say right now, right?  Please remind me of this in the future when I am crying because of a bad review….)  When you get a random bad rating or review, just grit your teeth and go on with life. 

In my opinion, and no, you didn’t ask for it, but this is my opinion anyway… this is how I interpret the 5-star rating system.

  • 5Star= Your work is so breathtakingly awesome that there is no way the reader can think of that you could have improved upon it- it was just THAT good.
  • 4Star= Your work was super good and they totally loved it.
  • 3star= Your work was..’eh’ to them. They didn’t love it, they didn’t hate it.  It was okay.
  • 2Star= Your work was really not good for them.  Something about it was totally not working and wasn’t hitting their buttons. Or if it was, it was pushing the wrong ones.
  • 1Star= They thought your work was total crap.  Or they really hated your topic.  Or they hated your writing style.  They definitely hated something.

But this is my mindset.  You should pay attention to what you get the MOST of.  If you get mainly 4’s and 5’s, you’re okay.  You cannot please the entire world- if you try, you really aren’t pleasing anyone, because your work will be so lukewarm and vanilla that it won’t be appealing.  

If you start getting tons of 3’s, you might want to doublecheck your work and see how you can make it better.  Maybe your plot doesn’t carry enough of a punch or your voice just isn’t definitive enough.  Check it out and find what isn’t clicking.  

And if you start getting more 2’s and 1’s then anything else, you really should reevaluate your work and it might not be a bad idea to have other people evaluate too.  You’ll need to determine if the plot need revamped, or if it need editing, etc.

But if only a few people rate it badly, try to put it out of your mind.  Those people are in the minority of the readers who have read your work. Everyone else loved it, so focus on that.  Keep your chin up, keep doing what you do— which is writing because you love it.  Because you can’t imagine going through life without it. 

And to the readers… the lovely, amazing, wonderful people who take time out of your busy days to read our work and comment on it… THANK YOU.  Seriously, thank you.  We do notice and we do appreciate it.  In fact,  the first thing I do every morning (well, after I get a cup of super strong coffee, that is) is check my rankings, ratings and reviews.  I know. That’s pathetic.  But as writers, we can’t seem to help ourselves.  We’re neurotic like that. 

But you, our readers, are the main reason why we frantically get out of bed and sprint for our computers at 2:00am when we think of a better plot twist.. or why we mull over storylines during a church sermon or when the rest of our families are swimming and having fun in the lake and we’re sitting on the beach with a laptop… or why we stay home from a dinner out in order to re-write chapter four… or… well, you get the picture.  Our readers are a big reason why we do what we do.

But also, we write because it’s like breathing to us.  We love it and we can’t imagine life without it.  We’re writers, that’s what we do.  We do it for ourselves, we do it for our readers, particularly the ones who  love what we write as much as we do.  Remember these things the next time you get down-in-the-mouth about a bad review.   Don’t take it personally and whatever you do… Just. Keep. Writing. 

 

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