Thursday, April 16

A DAY OF FREEDOM

Today is an anomaly. 

It is my day off and I have nothing that I have to do. Oh, don't get me wrong--I have plenty of chores that I could--that I should do--but nothing that I have to do.

It's kind of mind-blowing how good that feels. Freedom. Unadulterated freedom.

Of course, if you stopped by my house and glanced at my yard, you might disagree with me. So far, the weather hasn't cooperated with my work schedule--raining on my days off, sunny while I'm working--so that I can get the lawn mowed. And now, it's pretty much a jungle out there.

I interrupt this post to explain, the top picture is what I want my garden to look like.


And this other picture is what my garden actually looks like. Although I don't think this picture gives the horrific justice that I need to relay.

Back to the post.

I walked out this morning and discovered that bluebells are are now mixed in with the grass along my flower bed. Mmmm. Do I mow them down, try to move them, or just let them be and expand the flower bed?

I noticed a flower I didn't know I had but it's tangled up with a blackberry vine that I need to destroy. Last year the blackberries tried to stage a coup in my patio beds, darn near succeeding. And now they just have random vines around the patio--one creeping into my clematis, another winding around a tree and honeysuckle bush--that I need to stop now before they get a foothold. I don't care if they want to take over the brush pile, where a opossum may or may not live.  But, they need to stay away from the patio.


Today, it is supposed to be 70. But, not yet. Right now, the lawn is soaked in dew and residual rain from the past week.

So, this morning, I have nothing to do. 
 
 So, today I will write. Because last night my characters were talking to me. 

And because I have nothing I HAVE to do. Except write.

Take that, blackberry vines!

Oh, wait. Does that mean the blackberry vines win? Because they probably don't want me out there killing them. 

But, maybe I'll go write now. And kill them this afternoon when it gets to be warmer. Yes. That could be the plan. Insert evil cackle here.

NOW, onto my day of nothing to do, except what I want to do.....

Wednesday, April 15

#WriterWednesday - Interview with Gemma Brocato

Hiya, WordWrangler Readers! We're super excited to have Gemma Brocato in the round corral today, answering our questions and giving us a little peek into her latest contemporary romance, Bed of Roses! Here we go!

Liz: You're going to be running between appointments all day, with lots of hurry-up-and-wait time. You're going to read while you wait. What writer will keep you sane and entertained all day?

Gemma: First, thank you for inviting me over today. I’ve been looking forward to visiting for several weeks now! Laura Griffin is my go to writer lately. She writes high tech romantic suspense a la CSI. Her writing is tight, solid and draws me in like nobody’s business.

Nan: Sounds like a winner! Look back and choose a life-changing moment you'd like to tell us about.

Gemma: When my kids were in high school, I decided it was important for me to be at home after school for them. So I quit my full time job. But I needed something to fill the hours they were in school, so I began writing.

Kristina: I love your books, Gemma, so I'm glad you found writing!! What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?

Gemma: The importance of being a friend. Maya Angelou said it best… “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Margie: This is very true. If you could interview anyone from your life living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?

Gemma: My grandmother, Gemma. When I was young, my father interviewed her on tape about her life. We found the tape when I was visiting him once and converted it to cd. Hearing her voice after so many years moved both of us to tears. I’d like to find out more about her life and what my dad was like as a kid.

Liz: What a great memory! Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence on your life? Tell me about them.

Gemma: I’d have to say my high school algebra teacher, but not because I loved math. Truly, I suck at all things number-wise. When I was in her class, she frightened me and consequently, I didn’t like her. But I worked at a grocery store that she frequented and got to know her outside the school environment and found I really liked her. I let my fear rule me when here was a woman intent only on helping me learn. I try very hard to not let that happen anymore.

Nan: Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing and if so, what were they?

Gemma: I’ve been very fortunate that my family supports my career, so I have to say no, I haven’t made many sacrifices.

Kristina: Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

Gemma: Gosh, that’s a hard question. I’d probably go with the poorly written, excellent story book. I’m all about the plot.

Margie: Do you believe a writer should write every day?

Gemma: Not at all. I believe you need to allow yourself time to recharge your creative batteries. Now, if the need to write on any given day is strong, your Muse must be speaking to you and you should listen. But I typically will not write daily.

Liz: And now for my favorite question: Name three people, living or dead, you’d love to have dinner with. Where would go and what would you ask them?

Gemma: First, Madonna. I’d like to meet her at Claridge’s or the Ritz in London  I’d ask her what the heck she was thinking when she agreed to the Sex coffee table book back in 1992. Second, I’d love to meet Abraham Lincoln in Springfield Illinois to talk about race equality and relations. And third, I’d take George R.R. Martin out to the woodshed to make him tell me why he is compelled to kill all my favorite characters.

Thanks for hosting me today. I really enjoyed answering your questions. I’m curious about your followers answer to question #8. That is really intriguing to me.

All right, readers, you can answer Gemma's question (would you rather read a book that is poorly written but with an excellent story or a book with weak content but that is well written?) in the comments...and now for a sneak peek into Bed of Roses:

Blurb: 

With the right amount of nurturing, love will bloom
This close to Valentine’s Day Malin Eckert’s flower shop is entering their busiest season. As if the added work isn’t enough, her father’s drinking has spiraled out of control and Mal discovers she’s been named guardian of a fifteen-year-old sibling she never knew about. To make matters worse, Mal’s crushing on a customer, a serial dater who drops by the shop with alarming regularity to send flowers to other women.

Gunnar Sims never had the best luck with women, a fact that doesn’t stop his growing attraction to his florist. His new business is losing money and he should be concentrating on that, but instead finds Mal an enticing distraction.

In spite of her best intentions to keep Gunnar firmly in the friend zone, Mal finds herself falling for the classically handsome gym owner. As her affection for Gunnar and her sister, Gabriella, grows, Mal’s heart hangs in the balance when it appears both could be taken away from her.


Content Warning: Hard bodies, spoiled princesses, and a levelheaded woman who knows how to smell the roses.

Excerpt: 

Malin squinted her eyes at him. “I beg your pardon?” 
Gunnar had seen that look on his sister’s face enough times to know he’d said the wrong thing. But the way the society bitch had treated the shopkeeper rankled him. “What the hell is her problem? Who does the old broad think she is?”
“Gunnar, Mrs. Aubrey-Smith is the customer. That means she is always right. She knows it and doesn’t hold back making sure I know, too. I’m used to her ways.” Malin crossed her arms and rested her hip against the counter.
Aubrey-Smith? He knew that name. He’d had an interest in Ashleigh, the old bat’s daughter. Until he’d learned she was engaged. Ashleigh’s promise to another man apparently wasn’t enough to keep her from flirting with every other male in sight. Thankfully, he’d dodged that bullet. He shook his head, then turned his attention back to Malin.
He liked the way Malin looked at him. Even when she was angry. Her ice blue, almond-shaped eyes, fringed with thick black eyelashes, were direct and curious, as if she’d found a new specimen of flower that required closer examination. As he stared at her, she reached up and tucked her chin-length white-blond hair behind her ear. How the hell had he not realized before how pretty she was?
Malin possessed the peaches-and-cream complexion many of his female relatives shared. Her skin was flawless except for the angry red scratch just below the apple of her cheek. He’d be willing to bet if he touched her face, he’d feel satin. He tucked his hand into his pocket, a paltry effort to curb the urge. Touching someone the way he wanted to touch her went beyond being just friends. And he’d like this woman as a friend. For now. It was entirely possible that sentiment would evolve if his body’s reaction could be trusted.
Gunnar shifted his weight onto one leg, bumping his knee against the wooden panel of the cash wrap. “Being the customer is no excuse for bad manners. And she could win a gold medal in the Bad Manners Olympics. That witch owes you an apology.”
Malin’s fast grin dazzled him. “Can I tell you something? She was on her best behavior today, but you should have kept your mouth shut. I had her eating out of my hand until you butted in.”
“I suppose if your hand was her lunch maybe. It didn’t look like it was under control to me. I was trying to help.”
“You failed miserably, buttercup. But, no harm, no foul. I got what I wanted in the end. I proposed the alternative bouquet to the bride months ago, and she loved it. But Mama vetoed it because it wasn’t her original idea.”
Buttercup? Yeah, well, two could play that game. “I thought mentioning Princess Di’s wedding shoes was a stroke of genius, Daisy Mae.”
She tipped her head back and laughed. A shot of lust speared lodged just south of his belt buckle. He shifted to ease the sudden constriction in his trousers.
“I have moments of brilliance, and the shoes were just one of them.” She fiddled with the strings of her apron, but her eyes remained on his face. “What’s up? How can I help you today?”
Damn, talk about a loaded question. For the life of him, he could only think of one way she could help him. He gave a mental groan and focused. “Um…I need a dozen roses. Do you have any in orange?”

Buy Bed of Roses: Amazon   B&N  iBooks  Kobo  

All About Gemma: 

Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to 'Dear Author' were gratifying.
After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue a vocation as a romance author.

Follow Gemma Online: Facebook  Twitter Google+  GoodReads  WattPad  Website  

Tuesday, April 14

I Got Nothin'...



So generally, I write these blog several days in advance, but I’m behind in everything this week already, so I’m here now…about 10 hours before it needs to be up. I sat down tonight to write and my mind was suddenly a blank slate. Seriously. Nothing. And I wasn't even waiting for perfection--I was just waiting for...anything...anything at all.

While I waited, called my friend Dee, mostly because I hadn’t talked to her in a couple of days, and told her I needed a topic for the Word Wranglers blog. She said, “I dunno…I’m a reader, not a writer.” 

So I asked Husband, “If you could ask an author anything in the world, what would you ask?” 

His response? “Are you getting rich?” “Is it glamorous?” “Have you met any stars?”

Cripes. Really?  No, no, and no. So he was helpful. (Not!)

Then I called my next-door neighbor here at the lake, my good pal, Harlene, who can always be depended upon to give me a great answer to any question, and put the same query to her. 

She said, “How do you do it?” and “Where do you get your ideas?” 

Ah, okay! Something I can sorta work with, thank you, Harlene! <rubs hands together in glee>

So…ummmm…how do I do it? <tapping nails on the edge of the laptop> How do I do it? Well, hell…I don’t know. I just do it. And sometimes (ahem…), I don’t do it. I think mostly, it’s that the people in my head get so noisy, I have to let them out.

And the second part, where do I get my ideas? Well, I think my book ideas always start with characters (you know those noisy people in my head) and usually with a conversation between two characters. And then a “what if…” What if this happily married woman who has a fantastic life suddenly becomes a widow? That’s a workable idea. Okay, but then what? Well, what if she discovers her dead husband had a secret life? Okay, so now we’re getting interesting. And what if, as she’s coping with the knowledge that her marriage, the last 30 years of her life wasn’t as perfect as she’d always believed, she meets a handsome younger man, who’s ready to show her a whole new kind of life? What then? 

There…see how that works? That was the beginning of Sex and the Widow Miles—Novel 2 in the Women of Willow Bay series, which by the way, is on sale for only 99 cents at an e-retailer near you. Oh, damn—shameless self-promotion—that’s what happens when you got…well…you know…nothin’. 

But as long as you’re here, tell me, “How do you do it?” “Where do you get your ideas?”

Monday, April 13

A Golden Sky

Spring on the Nickel Plate Trail
There’s a gloss of gold out there this morning. I don’t know what creates it—something to do with how the sun comes up, I guess—but I think it is so beautiful. Duane’s asleep in the house, the cats have been fed and the dishwasher emptied. The laundry’s done. Spring breaks are over and all my family members that were traveling are home safe. I have started a new story that is fun and interesting because I don’t know it yet. I am almost frightened by the level of my contentment. I have a tendency, even though I consider myself an optimist (to the point that I annoy people with it), to worry about the other shoe dropping soon.

I don’t have anything to ask this morning—oh, yes, I do! Just think about this a little and tell me what you think.

My story—the one in its first stages—is, while sweet, not an inspirational one. There is no spiritual or Christian journey involved. But the male protagonist thinks he might be a retired minister. I’ve read several books—yay, Teresa Hill—where this has worked out fine. I’m not—and he’s not—proselytizing, but church is a part of the lives of people I write about. My question is, does it bother anyone when the people in a secular romance are quite obviously Christians or otherwise spiritual? I don’t plan on changing anything, but I’m just curious.

Thanks for checking in. While I’m at it, thanks for supporting the Wranglers—we all appreciate it. Have a great week—no, have a golden week. I wish you contentment, with no dropping shoes.

Saturday, April 11

Heartwarming Spring Fling Giveaway



EXCITING NEWS! 
Here's what we have planned to warm your heart and chase away any lingering winter blahs. All eight Heartwarming authors with April and May releases have teamed up to offer two prize packs of four books each. We will also give away one grand prize consisting of all eight books and . . . wait for it . . . a stunning mix of “ever-blooming” spring garden flowers, for use indoors or out. These are gifts you can enjoy time and again, as you can read our books over and over, and the flowers won’t fade when winter threatens, since they’re steel, painted in bright colors.

Now if that wasn’t enough, we have a bonus book for each prize pack. Harlequin MIRA and Harlequin Intrigue author Elizabeth Heiter will include one of her recent releases—winner’s choice—in each of the prize packs.
 
There are three exciting prize packs waiting to be won. The contest runs from April 12th to April 25thVisit the Harlequin Heartwarming blog on April 12th for the giveaway kick-off, and to learn about the ways you can enter. The more often you enter, the better your chances of winning!


Happy spring . . . and happy reading!