Friday, November 21

It's Friday--Question Day!

Whoa, Friday sneaked up on us, so we've spent the morning coming up with a question and some answers. Since we are all serious writers, it seemed necessary that we have a profound question. Much brow-sweating going on...and here we go...

How do YOU cook a turkey?

Kristi (who cooks hers upside down and started this whole quest for the perfect turkey cooking method): I don't use a bag, I use a disposable roasting pan, but yeah: turkey is breast-side down for moisture and I put a tinfoil 'tent' over it for all but the last hour(that also helps with moisture). Baste every 30 minutes or so and YUM! 

Nan: When I make a turkey, I use a bag—it makes such a tender and delicious turkey, I’ve just always done it that way. My kid brines his turkey, which is interesting, but feels like a lot of work! My sister, which is where we go on Thanksgiving, puts hers in one of those big stand-alone turkey roasters. Pretty tasty, too! I’m in charge of rolls because I make killer crescent rolls, and I also bring an awesome sweet potato casserole that includes pineapple, pecans, brown sugar and butter, but no marshmallows. It’s fab!! And I also make sugar-free pies for diabetics in my family. Hubs is severely lactose-intolerant, so he’s in charge of the sugar-free pumpkin pie. He makes it with soymilk—it gets rave reviews, even from the non-diabetics. Thanksgiving at Sister’s house always includes a wine-tasting—this year it’s cabernet sauvignons. ;-)

Liz: I cook mine in a bag. I salt and pepper it and spray it with some butter or rub some lovely flavored olive oil over it. However, I am stepping down from the head of the cooking table a lot this days and enjoying it. My girls and I do join Nan in the wine-tasting tradition--however, ours looks a little more like wine-gulping from whatever bottle anyone opens.

Margie: I don't cook a turkey. I wouldn't know what to do if you sat one down in front of me. Seriously. My dad always cooked holiday dinners when I was growing up and we'd go see a movie. Or play games before we set the table.  After my dad passed away, my youngest sister,Wendy, took over the bird duties--although last year, Mom and KB's friend Daniel took a stab at it. But this year, Wendy's doing it again and I'll probably whip up some whipping cream for the pies and whatever else she asks me to bring--Olives, maybe?

For now, thanks for coming by and, before you go, please tell us how you cook your turkey--or drink your wine.

Thursday, November 20

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...


I don't know what to write. I have no idea. So, you know what that means?

Hodge-Podge!

Last night, my girls and I went to an early premiere of Mockingjay, the third movie in the Hunger Games series. 

It was my first time sitting in Cinetopia's Parlor Room. And it was super comfy. We were part of a special event screening put together by a friend of KB's. 

 I devoured the Hunger Games books and look forward to each movie with great anticipation and they have yet to let me down.

When we got home, KB, Mike, and I watched The 100. So, it was bit of a dystopian theme last night.

 I love Dystopian, especially when it's done right. 

My house still has Halloween up. Mostly Peanuts and a little graveyard. I figure I'll get it down next week when I put up my Christmas decor.

Christmas--can you believe that it's only weeks away?? Craziness!

I had my first Saturday off this last weekend and was finally able to go to a craft bazaar--or four. I found a pair of mistletoe earrings that I bought. Not so much because I plan to wear them, but because of that mistletoe book I'm pining to write. It's something I do--collect things that reminds me of my books.
 
I think it's unfair that The Voice has a save feature this year but being on the West Coast, we have no chance to get our vote in to count. I especially think this will be unfair if the Portland boy, Taylor John Williams, ends up in the bottom three. Because we won't get the chance to save him. Just saying...

And lastly, I want to give a shout out to our own Liz Flaherty. I finally got around to reading Back to McGuffey's. I can't say enough about this book--I loved it! She writes characters I want to be friends with. And isn't that the best kind of book to read? If you haven't taken the time to read it--the weekend's just around the corner. Indulge in a great book.

 

 
 

Wednesday, November 19

First Snows and Getting Started

Our first snowfall of the season began Sunday night around 9PM. That picture was what we woke up to Monday morning. I'm positive this isn't the earliest it has ever snowed in our area...but it is the earliest we've had snow since RadioMan and I moved up here. It wasn't much, just over a n inch. Enough to cover the ground and bring down a lot more leaves.

bebe, of course, squealed around the house all morning, excited to play with her friends at school.  They didn't get to play in it, though, because it was too cold outside.

For me, I'm enjoying the sight, even though there is grass peeking through the ground cover and a few leaves lying on top or at the curb. I love the first few snowfalls of each season. That first blizzard? Makes me inordinately happy.

As me again in February if I'm still excited about snow and cold and my answer will be different, but for the first few snows and the chilly toes and bundling up and I'll always tell you I love it. Because I do.

A couple of weeks ago I finished a new project and sent it off to my agent for her input. Yesterday she gave me her notes and I'll dive into revisions in a week or so. She also gave me a huge compliment - she told me how much growth she has seen in my writing over the past year that we've been working together. That made me incredibly happy because this project was a hard one to write. It was hard in the beginning and harder in the middle and by the end I was positive it was dreck. But at the same time, I would find a phrase or a paragraph and think, 'I wrote that? How did I write that?'

The snow this morning reminded me that I'm excited and happy about a lot of things in my life, even the things are aren't 'firsts'. I'm excited about the first character sketches of a new project and am having serious love for the hero in my current book. I'm thrilled to sit with bebe and let her read a book to me and I get a little teary when she asks me to read to her because I know it's not going to be long before she only wants to read on her own. I reconnected with a couple of writer friends and I am loving their camaraderie. I'm over-the-moon that my first Harlequin SuperRomance is coming out in - gah! - six weeks. And the other day, running errands with RadioMan, he grabbed my hand and held on to it for a while. That made my heart happy.

What is making your heart happy today?

Tuesday, November 18

Welcome Liz Kelly!



Today, our guest is writer Liz Kelly, whose books are fun rom-com romps with a southern flair. Her new book releases today, so we're celebrating with her! Enjoy her post about the small North Carolina town that is the setting for her Heroes of Henderson series and then click the links to buy her books--they are a treat, I promise!  Take it away, Liz!


My Not So Fictional, Fictional Town


My Heroes of Henderson series takes place in the small town of Henderson, North Carolina. Henderson actually exists. In fact, my summertime best friend, Pam, grew up there. I lived in Baltimore, and since half of Pam’s relatives also lived in Baltimore, I hitched a ride with them to Henderson every Thanksgiving for an off-season visit. And then Henderson became my home away from home while attending college in North Carolina.

Pam’s family was social, and a lot of fun. I got to know all of Pam’s friends during the course of my visits. The girls, in turn, would visit us in our summer community near Annapolis, Maryland during the summers. The guys were just too adorable with their Southern drawl. I even got to know all of their parents through the social gatherings that occurred while I was visiting. I attended the girls’ collective debutante party held at a private airstrip in an airplane hanger. I ended up going to college, and becoming sorority sisters with three girls from Henderson.

Some of my best memories, and most romantic dates happened in Henderson. Which is why I can so easily fictionalize it in my brain, in my stories, and imagine the most perfect heroes stationing themselves there, trying to save their dying town.

The Henderson I write about is based on my experiences years and years ago. How it looked to me as an outsider, as a teenager and twenty-something. And it looked like a whole lot of fun.

So my Henderson is that. Fun. A small gossipy town with social tiers. A little too big to know everybody, a little too small to get away with anything. Where romance awaits at every turn. Where the heroes are perfect—they just don’t know it yet.

The first full-length novel in my series, Good Cop is about Brooks and Vance, two best friends who bonded during high school playing together on a state championship winning baseball team, and then again in college at N.C State where they won the College World Series. The two of them are turning thirty and eager to team up once again to revitalize their dying hometown. They’re also eager to revitalize their love lives and seek the advice of a young, pony-tailed firecracker to do it. I characterize this story as a romance, a bromance, and a love triangle. Lots of laughs along with a steamy secondary romance to boot. (Right now you can get a great deal on Good Cop as it’s part of the Passionate Kisses Boxed Set - 10 full length romances for only $0.99. This deal ends soon.)

Bad Cop is the second book in the series (because you know only one of them can get the girl in Good Cop,) and Top Dog has just been released. (Blurb and excerpt to follow.)
All my novels and novellas (Playin’ Cop and Taming Molly) are complete romances and can be read in any order. However, it is more fun to start at the beginning as the characters continue to live in subsequent books. You can read excerpts from them all at my website: www.lizkellybooks.com

Here’s a little tidbit from my latest release, Top Dog.

Crain Carraway slipped inside the luxurious bathroom of his Las Vegas suite and shut the door quietly. Even though he couldn’t sleep, it seemed that his beautiful bride was out cold after a very lengthy, highly energetic, totally off the charts, roll-me-over-and-do-that-again consummation of their marriage. God, she was something. Something fine looking and brilliant and just as sweet as the cherry on top of his old-fashioned. He couldn’t believe she was his. All his. And he couldn't sleep because he wanted the world to know it.

Starting with his parents.

He dialed their number, checking the time on his watch. Dallas was two hours ahead of Vegas and, on a weekday morning, his parents should be up and at ’em. No doubt this would get their day started with a bang.

“Honey Bear!” his momma said in greeting, as if he wasn’t thirty-five years old.

“Momma Bear,” he said back, playing her game. “Put me on speaker and round up Papa Bear. I have big news.”

“Big news?”

“Texas-sized news.”

His mother laughed. “Bigger than when you started CC Dallas, Inc.? Lucius,” his mother shouted. “Your son has Texas-sized news he wants us to hear together.”

“May as well grab a bottle of champagne while you’re at it, Ma. You’re gonna need it,” Crain said.

“I'll bet that luxury suite at Cowboys Stadium came through,” his father’s voice echoed over the phone.

“Even better than that,” Crain grinned at himself in the bathroom mirror. “Dad, do you remember that statuesque blonde I pointed out when you stopped in the office a month ago? The one trying to hide all that beauty under those smart-girl glasses?”

“Do I? That pretty, little gal had you drooling like a bluetick coonhound.”

Crain chuckled. “Guilty as charged. Well, it took some doing, but I finally got that pretty, little gal to agree to a dinner date. I took her to Nick & Sam’s.”

“Best steakhouse in Dallas,” his dad said.

“And she loved it. In fact, the date went so well she agreed to meet me for drinks at the Ice House the next night. One thing led to another very good night, and although I will admit she was a little bit tipsy when I asked her to accompany me to Las Vegas, I assure you she was completely sober when I asked her to marry me.”

“You’re engaged?” his mother exclaimed.

“Better than that. We’re married.”

“Married?” Papa Bear sounded astonished.

“We eloped. Last night. It was just…right. Everything about it was perfect. And I’m sorry you weren’t here, but I know you’re gonna forgive me when you meet my bride.”
“Wha…ah…well of course we’ll forgive you,” his mother stuttered. “But darlin’ boy, this is all so quick. So sudden.”

Crain smiled, softening his voice in an effort to soothe his momma. “I know it seems that way, I truly do. But you know I’ve dated a lot of wonderful women over the years. And every time I figured out what I didn’t want, I knew better what I did want. And this one, this one is the complete package. Underneath her bright and engaging business persona, there’s a bewitching temptress just as sweet as praline pie. She’s the one I’ve been looking for all my life, Momma. She’s the one I want.”

“You sound so certain.”

“Because I am. I was certain the first time we met, and after date number two, all I could think was ‘how fast can I get this girl to the altar?’”

“Any faster and you’d catch up to yesterday,” his father said.

“And now I’m burning daylight, so let me get back to my bride,” Crain countered.

“Wait,” his mother cried. “What’s her name? Who are her people?”

“Well, I don’t exactly know who her people are, Momma, because I’ve been solely focused on sweeping her off her feet. But I’ll tell you what. Anybody who can raise a woman like her can’t be all bad. Now I’ve got to go and talk my bride into a nice long honeymoon in Hawaii, so if you two don’t hear from me for a couple weeks, don’t fret. And in the meantime, Momma, you can start planning whatever extravaganza you’ve got in mind to introduce my bride to our people.”

“I can tell you one thing,” his momma scolded. “It’s gonna look a whole lot like a church wedding and a big fat reception. You tell my new daughter-in-law the first thing I plan to do is to take her shopping for a wedding dress. I love you, but I am not particularly happy about this.”

“Oh, come on,” he goaded. “You know you’re a little happy about this.”

“I’m very happy you’re happy, darlin’ boy. But I sure don’t like missing my own son’s wedding. Now bring that girl home, so I can hug her neck.”

“Will do, Momma. Will do. Papa Bear, I am signing off.”

“I’ll take care of your momma. You go take care of your bride.”

“Over and out.”

Crain hung up. And then he did what turned out to be about the dumbest thing a man with a Texas A&M degree could do. He took the time to text everybody he knew, telling them he had married the cutest Ole Miss Hotty Toddy ever found in Dallas. Yep, he was one happy groom. Right up until he made his bride a cup of coffee just the way she liked it—with a whole lot of cream and sugar—and carried it into the bedroom.

“Sweetheart,” he whispered, until he realized the bed was empty. “Sugar?” he yelled, looking around the room, his eyes coming to rest on the note written with her preferred red Sharpie. “Honey?” he said, moving forward to pick up the note.

Four little words. Four little words Crain Carraway had no idea what to do with. Four little words that left him certain of absolutely nothing.

I’m sorry – cold feet.



Top Dog


Crain Carraway, Dallas business tycoon and sports fanatic, is not from Henderson. But his wife is. No one knows that though, because she managed to get cold feet after their impromptu Vegas wedding. Hiding out in her hometown, she’s sicced her lawyer on him, doing her best to buy his silence and a quickie divorce.

Like hell.

It’s taken him way too long to find the perfect Mrs. Carraway, and now that he’s had the fortuitous luck to stumble into Henderson and his bride, he’s not about to let her go.

Top Dog is available wherever e-books are sold. Here is the link to Amazon.

Monday, November 17

Finding the connection

My husband—that’s him, the cute one on the right—is a music guy. He writes some and sings a lot.
He plays the guitar on a daily basis and has for all the years I’ve known him. Just as I salivate over new laptops and sewing machines, he can stand and look at a new guitar long enough to memorize the grain in the wood before picking it up and playing it. When he finds one with a good tone and a neck that feels good under his fingers, I may as well go shopping elsewhere and come back later to pick him up; chances are good he’s forgotten I’m alive.

But sometimes nothing sounds good to him. There are no songs he wants to sing, no chords trying to find their way out of his fingers—the music just isn’t there. On days like this, he picks up the guitar and puts it down. He plays but doesn’t really enjoy it. His mood is often...moody.

And so he waits.

Then one day it will be back. He’ll be asking me to print out lyrics or buy sheet music from an online retailer. When he learns the song, it will sound wonderful to me on the third time through, but he will not be satisfied even on the 103rd. He’ll be enthralled by the learning, though, by whatever it is that makes the connection between a musician’s fingers, ears, and heart.

It’s the same way with writing, isn’t it? Sometimes the words are just gathered up in a big pile in the corner and won’t come out. When you go looking for goal, motivation, or conflict (oh, yes, conflict—does anyone have some I can use?) they’re among the missing—probably buried in the corner under the pile of words. Even when you write your pages because...well, because you have to if you’re contracted, hoping to be contracted, or a disciplined indie writer—even then the music isn’t there (see above metaphor).

However, when Duane isn’t “feeling it,” I still hear the music in what he plays. His voice is mellow, the chords he plays complicated and exciting to an ear that can do nothing more musical than listen.

Oh. Yes. There it is.

I forget it all the time, and I don’t think I’m the only one. When a book is done, when it’s been read and re-read, edited and re-edited, the reader doesn’t know which days you were dragging the words out of the pile in the corner. She doesn’t know your process of elimination for choosing conflict was eeny, meeny, miny, mo. She doesn’t know about that three days six months ago when all you got written were the profound words “Chapter 7.” Chances are good that the scene in Chapter 13 that never felt right to you sounds just fine to her reading ear.

Only I will know how great the days are when the connection between my writer’s fingers, ears, and heart is strong and clear. Only I will know how seldom those days really come around. The truth is, when I read over a completed project, I often don’t remember which days were good ones and which ones were awful.

I love my husband for all kinds of reasons, I like him for even more. And I admire him and his talent, most of all when he has those days that he doesn’t feel it, that nothing sounds right or thrills his musical soul. I say most of all because even then he picks up the guitar and plays and sings. He is still a music guy.

It reminds me that on this day when I’m not feeling it and that conflict is hiding so way deep in the pile in the corner I think I’ll never find it, I’m still a writer and I’m still going to keep digging. Maybe today will be awful or maybe I’ll find the connection. The important thing is that I keep looking. Because I’m still a writer.