Thank you!

On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
The authors thank you for your readership and hope you will come visit them at their personal sites via the links to the left.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Love Bottle


Current mood: blustery
Category: Life
Currently listening: Hepfidelity By Diesel Release date: 2007-02-12

One of my dearest, closest friends (let’s call him Steve) works for a millionaire who gave his employees a Christmas gift of a Love Bottle. My friend Steve was devastated. He’s worked just over a year for this guy, working long hours but earning a low salary in a job in which he can progress.
Steve feels lucky to have the job considering the current climate. He showed me the Love Bottle and asked me what I thought.
It’s an empty milk bottle with a lid and one of those rubber bracelets charities are so fond of, dangling around the neck. A small card attached read that a donation had been made in Steve’s name to a charity in Haiti that provides food for hungry people.
That’s nice. But there are hungry people right here in the US.
Steve being one of them. Forget Haiti. Forget Katrina.
There are people secretly starving all over our country not from natural disasters, but man-made ones.
People like Steve are the secret victims. His boss has no way of knowing that Steve is struggling to pay his bills. So much so that he has spent the last three weeks eating hot dogs and buns purchased at the 99 Cent Store. Three times a day.
He landed in the hospital a few days ago when he became so severely ill from his poor diet that he collapsed in his apartment building hallway.
“I have to tell you, I didn’t mind what I was eating. I liked the hot dogs,” Steve told me when I visited him in the hospital yesterday.
“But the doctors here told me that hot dogs have such high sodium it sent my organs and blood sugar reeling. I was constipated, but I was still hungry. Then I started to feel really, really sick one day. That was the day I collapsed.”
Steve’s sister thinks he probably felt bad long before the day he collapsed but said nothing out of his secret shame.He’s got so many bills, food became the last priority. His family feels terrible that they didn’t know and yesterday, they filled his fridge with food in preparation for his return home.
“I fed my cat every day,” he said with pride. “I fed her before I even fed myself.”
Steve is not the only person I know living this way. We have another mutual friend who confessed he was eating Top Ramen every day and became so sick his wife had him hospitalized. Both of these men are good, decent, hard-working individuals with JOBS!
In both cases, they’ve had to take severe pay cuts to stay employed. Their income decreased, their work load and financial responsibilities have not.
When Steve became ill, many of his friends came forward with similar stories. Steve and I both lived on pita bread and salad for months until I swallowed a bit of crushed glass one time. Steve hasn’t bought bagged lettuce since. Besides, he confessed, when he purchased his hot dogs, there were more dogs in the bag than there was lettuce in the lettuce bag.
He was trying to shop smart and nearly died.
I know making donations in people’s names is a fashionable thing, but I believe it’s a bogus gift. Why? Nine times out of ten, the really rich people doing this are making the donations anyway and are given bottles, badges or whatever to give to employees and friends as a token.
Give them a gift card or gift certificate instead. Something legitimately useful.
Now that Steve is better, he finds his Love Bottle humorous.
“I got an empty bottle for Christmas,” he said. “That’s the story of my life.”

Aloha oe,
A.J.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ending With A Bang

I’ve thought more and more about the ending of my books. Some are a stepping stone to other stories and some end nicely or so I thought. But here recently, I’ve found myself more and more disappointed with how some stories I have purchased are ending. To be great, a novel needs a great ending and it all makes me a little more critical of my own work.


On Christmas, I received one of the best gifts an author can get when I got $100 Borders card. Now, I could have gone a thousand ways with this but was extremely happy when I decided to get a few books for pleasure reading only. I already had some discounts and freebies coming to me and was glad when I only spent a third of my card. That means I can go back to pick up more when I don’t have the men with me pushing me to hurry.

The other place I’ve been buying a lot of books has been Wal-Mart. And while some of you might not like that scenario because they deeply discount their books, it is a mecca for someone looking at category books. You can pick up almost every historical and Harlequin category romance there the very day it comes out.

So, I’ve been a reading a lot of books this vacation and as of this writing, I have read almost five novels. I have interwoven these readings with my own writing in other genres as well as doing some critiquing. Pretty amazing considering I have two men who are trying to take up 100% of my time. LOL!

So far, I haven’t been impressed with the endings to most of these novels.

Now, I’m not talking about having a happily ever after (HEA) or even a happily for now (HFN) either. Of course in some of the books I’ve read that is a requirement. No, two of these books just ended but implied a HEA and one of the others had an ending I didn’t even understand in the least as it didn't even seem to belong to the book I had in my hands.

In one book, the hero and heroine had separated because the woman had previously been married to a schmuck who told her that she ruined his life over and over. Never mind that he was the one who had asked her to marry him, had a baby with her then refused to touch her after that baby was born. I can understand just how a man can undermine a woman’s self-confidence immensely but not quite to that extent. I guess I have a better survival instinct than this woman. And while she wasn't a too-stupid-to-live heroine, she didn't seem to represent the norm either.

Now, what I thought was dumb was the fact that the hero got mad and ran just because the heroine told him to go. As if that would happen. But the truly amazing part is that he drove from a small town in the east to another small town in Arizona and back in less than two days. The round trip would have taken about forty-eight hours of straight driving to get it done. The way there he had a passenger who could help out but coming home, he was alone. Not a good idea in my book as he had zero rest between drives. Then the man doesn’t even kiss the heroine or anything because all she did was open the door and let him into her house and supposedly her heart. I understand, the ending was symbolic but have the guy kiss the woman at least then it would have been a little more satisfying.

It took me all of two minutes to get my frustrations out when it dawned on me that this book was safe. I’m sure you wonder what I mean by safe. This book didn’t push any of the limits of human endurance, thought process or of a sexual nature. Although there was sex, it was very safe as was the whole book. It probably gave others a warm fuzzy and once I had that in my mind, I could do the ‘ah’ thing and try to make myself not gag.

To me, endings need to be big, that satisfying moment when everything comes together and make sense. If the hero and heroine were destined to be together, we need to glimpse into their forever after even if it is only a sentence that references there will be one. And so far, in all the books I've read, there has only been just one of those moments where I slowly put the book down and grinned from ear to ear, wanting to pick up another book from that particular author.

Again, I’m sure you’re wondering just what the heck I’m doing. One of the things I have put on my goal list for next year is to get published by a NYC publisher. Since the pool is limited, I knew I would have to study these books and study them I have. I’ve picked a few lines of Harlequin which I thought I might submit to as well as some other publishers like Sourcebooks and Dorchester as well as TOR and Bantam in the coming year. Also high on that list is getting an agent as well. I figure if I can accomplish all those things next year, it will be a great year.

But as this year draws to a close, I realize that this year too is ending with a bang. Last year, I was the head of an organization which ate almost all of my time, leaving me little to write. Still, I managed to finish four books, get another group sold and move generally forward in my already decent writing career. I had accomplished as much as I could. My hope is to do even more next year.

Now for the announcement you’ve all been waiting for...the winner of this year’s Christmas giveaway is... Ashley A.! Ashley, email me at lynncrain@cox.net and we’ll discuss the particulars! Congratulations!

Here’s wishing you and yours the most fabulous New Year ever! See you then!

Lynn

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Publication bliss and time flies

I am happy to announce I received my seventh publishing contract right before Christmas. Talk about a great Christmas gift! I know 7 may not seem like a big number to some, but for me it's huge. My first big writing career goal is 20 published stories. Five years ago, that number seemed unreachable. And while I still have 13 contracts to land, I feel that goal is obtainable now more than ever. Do I have 13 stories ready to sell? Well of course not. Now why would I do that? I have twice that many started and sitting in various stages of completion, but I'm not too worried. In the next week I plan to finish my 2nd full length novel, and by the end of January I'm hitting the big time submission trail. Watch out agents, here I come! Yes, I know, I can see you scurrying away in fear. :)

Can you guys believe it's already the end of December? Crazy, right? It seems like just yesterday I was saying I'll have my story finished by the end of August. Then August got pushed back to October, which soon became the end of December. God willing, the end of December won't get pushed off to the end of March, because I've got another 20k story that needs to be finished between now and February 14. Eek!

I wish you all a happy and safe New Year! May all our goals/resolutions for the New Year come to fruition.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Soothing Bath

The Art of Bathing ~ Simple Recipes to Soothe Mind and Body

From bubble baths to essential oils to Dead Sea salts, prepared bath products are designed to enhance a bathing experience, but they can be expensive.
Instead of spending the extra money on special bath products, try one of these natural, simple bath recipes with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard or refrigerator.
~ Epsom Salts ~
Add 2 cups Epsom salts to bath water. Magnesium sulfate, or Epsom salts, has been used for centuries as a folk remedy, and research now confirms its numerous benefits. The second most abundant element in human cells and a crucial component for bone health, magnesium is also needed for muscle control, energy production, and the elimination of toxins. Magnesium eases stress, aids sleep, and improves concentration while reducing inflammation, joint pain, and muscle cramps. Sulfates help to flush toxins from the body, prevent or reduce headaches, and even improve brain function.
Most American diets are deficient in magnesium. However, one of the best ways to boost dietary intake is by bathing in Epsom salts, which are readily absorbed through the skin.
~ Milk ~
Add 2-4 cups milk or buttermilk to bath water. Rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins, milk replenishes the skin, while lactic acid found in milk acts as a natural exfoliant. A member of the alpha hydroxy acid family, lactic acid breaks the glue-like bonds between the outer layer of dead skin cells. Soak in a milk bath for 20 minutes, then gently scrub skin with a loofah or washcloth.
~ Honey ~
Add 1/4 cup honey to bath water. A fragrant, natural humectant, honey helps skin attract and retain moisture. Its antibacterial and anti-irritant properties make it an ideal cleansing and soothing additive to a warm bath.


This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose and/or treat any conditions. Please check with your physician to make sure it’s all right to use new products and/or change your regimen.
Newsletter article courtesy of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, can you believe it. It's almost the end of another year. A whole 365 days have gone by once more. I swear i don't know where the time goes. Is it because I'm getting older, or just not noticing things the same way I used to do. Whichever, as always it's time to take stock in what I've accomplished and what's up for the coming year.

My career is going well, though not as fast as I would like it to. I signed a whopping 14 contracts in 2009 and am writing my way to 2010 (G). I have partials out with two agents at present and a partial with Harlequin at Silhouette Desire, thanks to the generosity of two very special ladies, Maureen Child and Susan Mallery. I can't thank them enough for helping me to end up on the desk of Senior Editor Krista Stroever. I received an email from Krista last week telling me we will be in touch in January regarding revisions to my partial. I have wanted to be a Silhouette Desire author for as far back as I can remember. So I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that dream come true.

And for the holidays, my hubby surprised me with a check to cover the cost of the RWA conference this coming July. I knew money was tight and it might not be in the cards for this year, but nestled among my dish towels (which I ask for every year) was the check. I think I floated on air for the entire day.

So what about the rest of you? Did you get what you wanted for the holidays this year? I certainly hope so. I know you were all good girls and boys (G). Well, except for you over there in the corner. You, I'm not so sure about. But we'll let it slide this time! But I've got my eye on you, so you better play it straight for the coming year.

To each and everyone of you, I wish you joy, peace and love. Have a wonderful New Year! Till next year. Patti

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Morning After Christmas


Twas the morning after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a guest. The stockings were flung by the rocking chair because their time of use was already vamoose.


The relatives were snuggled all warm in my bed, while visions of nocturnal activities danced in my head. And mama in her new robe and I in my old, had just woken up for a large breakfast I'm told.


When down in the basement there rose such a rattle, I slunk from my chair to see which kind of cattle. Away to the staircase I drug my feet fast, leaned through the doorway and listened as time passed.


The crush of wrappings, ribbons and bows gave the look of confetti far below, when what to my dreading eyes should appear, but an in law of mama and eight more near.


With a little old grandpa not lively nor quick, I knew in a moment I must be in hell. More rabid than cujo, up they came, I whispered and cursed them by name.


"Not Peter, not Skeeter. Not Pauly and Talen. Not Cody, not Cindy. Not Donald and Tatem. Up the top of the stairs. To the rest of the house. Wish they would go away, go away, go away all."


As zombies before fresh brains do grumble, when they see a clean kitchen, moan and mumble, so off to the showers they fly super fast with arms full of my towels and my new loofah too.


And then in a blinking I heard from above, the stomping and jumping of Dr. Love. As I turn from the crowd amassed about, down the stairs more came with a shout.


She was dressed all in plaid, from bedraggled head to foot pad, and her clothes were all twisted from playing the slut. A tag from a toy still stuck on his back, and he looked like a user still looking for smack.


Their eyes--how they wrinkled. Their cheeks how they sagged. Their skin was all blotchy their noses all runny. Their chapped little mouths drawn up in a smirk, and the beard on his chin was as filthy as dirt. A morning cigar already stuck in his teeth and thoughts of punching him out circled my head with relief. She had a guilty face and a fat little belly, which peaked out when she stretched like chunky jelly.


The kids were chubby and plump, a right sorry old family, and I clenched my teeth tight to keep the thoughts under stump. A wink at my wife and nod of the head soon gave me the knowledge there was much more to dread.


She spoke not a word but went straight to her work, and filled all the cups then served with a jerk. And laying a finger on the side of his hand and giving a look before turning away from the jerk.


She sprang into cooking to herself gave a whistle, and away the rest flew like I was a thistle. But I heard her whisper ere he was out of sight.


"It was Christmas you know, not something for every night."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

For the Love of Sean

By A.J. Llewellyn

I love children and the nieces, nephews and assorted godchildren I have in my life are very important to me. As an author, they have inspired both Baby Kimo and the twins Kamaha and Keli'i in the Phantom Lover books (13 and counting). My niece is the model for Baby Daphne in the Black Point books I co-author with D.J. Manly.
When D.J. first suggested that our red-hot Black Point husbands Thomas and Matt should have their own child, I was all over the idea. However, I felt there should be a tug of war with the surrogate mom, an idea D.J. ran with.
I've seen this situation happen over and over again with friends where surrogate mothers and even sperm-donor dads have fought for custody rights.
Watching the dreadful circus that unfolded in Rio de Janeiro this morning with the long custody battle over 9-year old Sean Goldman, I realized how lucky Kimo and Lopaka were that they managed to get custody of their son Baby Kimo pretty easily. But that's fiction.
If you haven't been following this case the bare facts are this: A Brazilian woman, Bruna Bianchi married New Jersey resident David Goldman. They had a son, Sean. When Sean was four, she took an alleged two-week vacation to Brazil with her son.
And never came back.
She divorced Goldman, married another man and fought, with her powerful attorney husband Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, any efforts her former husband made to even see his son.
For five years, David Goldman has petitioned the courts for visitation and for a custody order to be enforced. And then Bianchi died in childbirth.
Up until the last month, this drama has played out privately. Like many custody battles, the details are shocking and cruel.
Both Bianchi's mother and her widower fought Sean's return to his father until they ran out of options this week.
What disturbed me today was how some newshounds supported the family that abducted Sean Goldman and kept his father from even seeing him for 5 long years.
In my Phantom Lover books. Kimo has magical powers. He was able to fight wrong with the help of his ancestors.
David Goldman isn't so lucky.
It isn't the first time a high-profile US child abduction case has hit international headlines (remember Elian Gonzalez?) but what disturbed me in this emotional tug-of-war was how the Brazilian family who profess to love Sean Goldman behaved this morning.
Forced by the courts to return Sean to his father, Lins e Silva, who has been able to use his legal and financial clout to prevent David Goldman from having contact with his son - in spite of several Brazilian court rulings in Goldman's favor - chose to parade the child he claims to love through the streets, the boy crying and frightened all the way to the US Embassy.
I've read all the reports and watched extensive coverage of this case and it is clear that if Joao Paulo Lins e Silva truly loved his dead wife's little boy, he would never have put him through such public trauma.
He was given much more private means of returning Sean. In the end, it is apparent that his motives are not for the love of Sean, but for the love of winning.
In spite all the hoopla, New Jersey rep Chris Smith who has helped David Goldman in his quest for justice since the beginning and was present this morning when they were reunited, said that once Sean was over his terror of the crowds, he and his dad were thrilled to be together.
"They were calm, smiling, they started talking about basketball."
Smith was also present the first and last time David Goldman got to see his son in February and said that visit too, showed the father and son adored each other.
I am certain that once the dust settles and Sean is comfortable and safe, David Goldman will allow Sean's maternal grandma to see the boy again.
All of this heartache - on both sides - could have been avoided if the child hadn't been stolen in the first place.
I feel strongly that David Goldman should not have just forgotten his kid or given up on him as some in the media suggest. He loves his son and the photos of them together from five years ago show a loving bond.
This is a story of love and I for one, am impressed that David Goldman never gave up on his kid like so many dads do. He is no deadbeat. He hasn't moved on and fathered a bunch of other kids by a bunch of other women.
He is a man who loves his son.
I hope they get to cement that bond in peace and without further interference from the family in Brazil. I heard this morning that they don't plan to contest this arrangement anymore.
Perhaps they have finally woken up and realized their only resource is to make peace with the man they denied for so long.
I am not sure how merry this Christmas will be for either side, but I think Sean's return to the father who loves him devotedly might just mean that for him, it is a very happy day indeed.
What do you think?
Aloha oe,

A.J.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twenty-Five Interesting Christmas Facts



I apologize for being late. In case you didn’t realize, late should be my middle name. LOL!. There was gift wrapping, shopping, critiquing and writing, oh, my! And don’t even ask me what’s going on with the Christmas pie. I asked if the DH is I could bake and since he doesn’t want me around knives, it takes the fun out of the whole scenario. So as you can tell, I’m getting ready, or trying to, for Christmas.

While I have to agree Christmas can be very politically incorrect, I do find the holiday season the best time of year. During the rest of the year, all of us are bound by our own daily lives leaving us little time to pay attention to everything around us with the detail we seem to lavish upon the season. It is at this time we think of others: family, friends, underprivileged people, what’s happening in the rest of the world and kids.

But for me, I also love all the shows and the history that seems to abound. I am always finding something new out about the season. With that in mind, I have prepared this list of interesting facts.

1. An Ukrainian folk tale tells us about a woman who was so poor that she couldn’t afford decorations for her family. Being very sad, she went to bed that night to awake in the morning to find that spiders had trimmed her children’s tree with their shiny beautiful webs which shone silver and gold in the bright sun. So, if you’re ever in the Ukraine for Christmas, look for that spider web in the tree, it is believed to be the harbinger of good luck. Today, an artificial spider and web is often included in the decorations. This is more than likely the source of tinsel on the tree.

2. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which grows on other trees. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe may come from ancient Scandinavia where mistletoe was associated with peace and friendship. If enemies happened to meet under a tree laden with mistletoe, they would be required to declare a truce for a day then seal it with the kiss of peace. Another theory is that it started in England with the Druids who believed mistletoe sacred and a charm against evil. It is said, they used golden sickles to harvest it and kept it from touching the ground. It was caught it in the folds of their priestly garments as it dropped from the trees above.

3. In India, they decorate banana trees at Christmas time.

4. According to tradition, giving a lump of coal in the stockings of naughty children comes from Italy.

5. Frumenty was a spiced porridge, enjoyed by both rich and poor. It was a forerunner of modern Christmas puddings. It is linked in legend to the Celtic god Dagda, who stirred a porridge made up of all the good things of the earth.

6. The poinsettia is a traditional Christmas flower. In Mexico (its original birthplace), the poinsettia is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night."

7. In Italy, the Urn of Fate is brought out on Christmas Eve. In it there is one wrapped gift for every family member. The first to try her luck is the matriach of the family, followed by the rest. If you get the present with your name on it, you get to keep it, otherwise you return the gift to the Urn and try again until you succeed.

8. Alabama was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday in 1836. Oklahoma was the last state to do so in 1907.

9. In England, during the years between 1649 and 1690, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas Carols as well as other celebrations because he thought that Christmas should be a very solemn day. The only celebration allowed was by a sermon and a prayer service.

10. The actual gift givers are different in various countries:
England: Father Christmas
France: Pere Noel (Father Christmas)
Germany: Christkind (angelic messenger from Jesus), she is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles.
Holland: St Nicholas.
Russia: In some parts - Babouschka (a grandmotherly figure), other parts it is Grandfather Frost.
Scandinavia: A variety of Christmas gnomes. One is called Julenisse.
Spain and South America: The Three Kings
Italy: La Befana (a kindly old witch)

11. December 26 was traditionally known as St. Stephen's Day, but is more commonly known as Boxing Day. This expression came about because money was collected in alms-boxes placed in churches during the festive season. This money was then distributed to the poor and needy after Christmas.

12. Some people connect modern traditions related to Father Christmas to ancient Celtic or pagan religion. Santa' elves are considered to be the modernization of the Nature folk while reindeers are believed to represent the Horned God, which was one of the Pagan deities.

13. In the Middle Ages, Boar's head used to be a traditional Christmas dish. This custom started when a bear attacked a university student and he saved himself by ramming a book of Aristotle's writings down its throat. The bear choked to death and then he cut off its head and brought it back to his college.

14. Handed down from Druids, burning Yule Log as a good luck charm was part of the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration.

15. During the years from 1887 to 1933, a fishing schooner called the 'Christmas Ship' used to sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.

16. Mark Carr of New York started first Christmas tree retail lot in the United States, in 1851.

17. The Christmas tree was decorated for the first time in Riga, Latvia, in the year 1510.

18. The origin of celebrating on December 25 didn’t start with Christians, it actually started with the Romans as they celebrated the birth of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun. Also celebrated during the time of the winter solstice was Juvenalia, a feast to honor the children of Rome and Saturnalia to honor the god Saturn who was over all agricultural things. The birth of Jesus was not celebrated on this day until the fourth century when Pope Julius I chose this day to celebrate. It is thought that the Catholic church chose this day to absorb the pagan holidays into their own.

19. Until the turkey, a goose was the most popular fare served at a Christmas meal.

20. The popular Christmas carol Silent Night was written by an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr in 1818 as a result of a broken church organ.

21. Santa has a calculated 31 hours to thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west. US scientists calculated that Santa would have to visit 822 homes a second to deliver all the world's presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

22. Poet Clark Moore is credited with naming Santa’s reindeer; Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.

23. The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

24. There is no reference to angels singing anywhere in the Bible.

25. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.

And my favorite, making the total actually twenty-six, the chances of a white Christmas are just 1 in 10 for England and Wales, and 1 in 6 for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I’ve always pictured a home in the Highlands with snow around it at Christmas. Another hope dashed. Sigh.

No matter what you celebrate, be you Jewish, Christian, Native American, Islamic, Pagan, or any other religion of the world...enjoy the season...it only comes once a year. Family and friends are important no matter what you’re believe and that’s all you have to remember.

Have a great one! Next week, I’ll be posting the winner of my Christmas promotion here!

Lynn

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Celebrating the Season

I'm am completely un-politically correct so I would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

When I was growing up, Christmas was my all-time favorite holiday. We would wake up early and open presents, then our entire family would gather at my grandma's house. My dad would pile we three kids into our sometimes working Volkswagon bus--which had no heat in the back so my brothers and I had to bundle up under sleeping backs for warmth--and we'd make the 3-hour drive to Erie, PA. Of course we kids would argue, but we'd also play games together. Those hours were quality family time that I feel so blessed to have shared.

My middle brother has been gone for 9.5 years and my dad 6. Both of them would have celebrated birthdays this past week. For a while I dreaded the Christmas season, couldn't stand to celebrate, couldn't buy presents, and wouldn't go out in public the entire birthday week. But now I feel their love around so vibrantly, and I know they are here with me during Christmas.

I know there are many people out there who have to go through the holidays without a family member. Holidays in general can be hard as we struggle to go on with our lives. But I believe the best gift we can give them is to live, to honor their memories in all that we do, and to hold them tightly in our hearts. And while they may not be with us in body, they are our own personal guardian angels forever watching over us.

Merry Christmas, Dad and Matt, and happy birthday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ideas to stay fit this winter

Hibernating is for the Bears ~ Plan to Stay Fit This Winter

Winter's here, and you've moved your running shoes to the back of the closet until April. Yet that piece of pumpkin pie has your name on it.
With the onset of colder weather, shorter days, and snow-covered streets, we eat more and exercise less, waiting for the spring thaw to get back in shape. Instead of having to make New Year's resolutions to lose holiday weight and join a health club, why not set goals to stay fit this winter?
Move Fitness Indoors
Winter is the perfect time to start a weight-training program. When it's sunny and warm in summer, you'd rather be outside cycling or rock climbing. When it's snowing, why not lift weights for 30 minutes during lunch? Statistics show that more people suffer heart attacks in winter from shoveling snow, often because they're out of shape. With regular strength training, you'll be able to shovel that snow and get a head start with outdoor sports when spring comes around.
Walk Outside on Weekends
Going for a jog or walk during mid-day when the sun is high is a great time to get outside and catch a few rays. Be sure to dress warmly, wear sunscreen, and drink plenty of water. Dehydration is most common in colder months when you're less aware of fluid loss.
Take a Dance Class
Accept that invitation to the New Year's Eve celebration and take a class in ballroom dancing. While you're dancing, you're not hanging around the buffet table or the bar, and your waistline will thank you for it.
Rediscover Ice Skating
Whether it's on a frozen pond or at a rink, ice skating provides seasonal exercise opportunities, especially good for the legs. And it's great fun, bringing out the kid in all of us.
Consider Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is just a matter of strapping snowshoes onto your boots and walking. Snowshoes make hiking trails and snowy city parks accessible and can be rented from sporting goods stores at a relatively inexpensive price.


This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose and/or treat any conditions. Please check with your physician to make sure it’s all right to use new products and/or change your regimen.
Newsletter article courtesy of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Week Before Christmas

Happy Sunday everyone! I am running around frantic trying to get ready for the holidays. This year is going to be totally different for my family. I am the one who hosts the Christmas Day get together for family and friends. Unfortunately about a month ago my grandparents decided they were not going to be going out to anyones house anymore for the holidays. Soon after that, my aunt and uncle decided they wouldn't be coming over either. Then on top of it all was the realization that my son, who is in the Army and stationed in Iraq is not going to be home either. This drops the gathering down to my hubby, my daughter Amanda, her fiance and myself. Ok, then Amanda announces she has to work the afternoon shift on Christmas Day and we will only be able to see her in the a.m. to open presents. Talk about a tear jerk week for me!

I understand that times change, things have to change and life goes on. But it is upsetting. For the first time in 29 years, I don't have to make a big traditional turkey dinner. I love leftovers! So, now what??? Well, I'm thinking it's going to be a small ham, au gratin potatoes, green bean casserole, and a cherry pie. I still get leftovers out of it, but not on such a grand scale.

Sigh. Next up finish the holiday shopping. Tomorrow will be my final get the groceries, get the gifts and bring them home day. Then it's time to wrap and arrange gifts under the tree, bake the cookies and spike the egg nog.

I hope whatever you do for the holidays will be safe and cheerful. Enjoy your loved ones and please keep in mind those who not able to be home with their families.

Take care, Patti

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Hanukkah Remembrance

I sat in front of my blank computer monitor trying to think of something special to say as the holidays approach, but the truth is, that I’m not much of a holiday person. I never have been.

But lo and behold, I received an email that touched me. Now, I know what you're thinking and yes, Hanukkah is almost over, but I wanted to share this anyways. Tonight, when you light your Hanukkah candles for the last time this year, if you so feel inclined please read the emial I received.

This was from the National Shomrim (jewish police org); Permit me to share with you part of an article written by Rabbi Daniel S. Brenner, entitled "Celebration" - "Light Eight Candles to Honor our Heroes."

FIRST NIGHT:
Fire fighters, police officers and everyday citizens who gave their lives to save others.

SECOND NIGHT:
Doctors, counselors, chaplains, volunteers with the Red Cross and Salvation Army who were called on to heal, comfort and support those individuals and families who have suffered unbearable loss.

THIRD NIGHT:
Government and community leaders who transcended ideological differences to build national strength and unity.

FOUTH NIGHT:
Parents and teachers, who with calm and empathy, helped children cope with new fears.

FIFTH NIGHT:
Rabbis, priests, ministers, imams and other religious leaders who used their traditions to bring people together to affirm our common humanity, and to nurture life.

SIXTH NIGHT:
Men and women who have been called up to national service, who will not be with their families this year so that they may protect us all.

SEVENTH NIGHT:
Allies around the world, who have been outspoken in their condemnation of terror.

EIGHTH NIGHT:
All of us who, through our daily actions, have insisted that we will valiantly move on, strengthening America’s commitment to diversity and pluralism, ensuring that the religious freedoms that we have fought for will continue to be a light unto all nations.

On this Hanukkah festival O God, send thy blessings of peace to all the members of Shomrim, both near and far, and may this season of Hanukkah illuminate all of our lives with the blessings of hope, love and courage.
Chaplain Alan Edwards


HAPPY HANUKKAH EVERYONE!


See you next year!

Annie

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon...


By A.J. Llewellyn

Current mood: adventurous
Category: Writing and Poetry

A little over a year ago, I went to meet my editor Heather, who is a huge Sherrilyn Kenyon fan when she came to Los Angeles to attend Sherrilyn's book signing. It seemed a great time to finally meet the woman with whom I had wrestled over edits of my literary babies. She came armed with friends, I supposed, in case I punched her lights out, but a real friendship was forged over pie and coffee.
I formed my strongest and truly cherished friendship with Heather's sister-in-law Rosie, who not only reads all my books but has a true understanding of story. We have spent many hours over dinner and lunch together since then discussing stories - not just mine, but her observations are always acute - and one rainy afternoon, she'd just bought my book Hanalei Moon and told me that she loved it.
It was a non-series book and one of which I was proud, because the idea came to me many years ago. The premise was this: a world champion surfer takes his dog to the beach for a surf after an argument with his boyfriend. He wipes out badly, comes back to the surface after fighting the ocean for survival.
His dog, his car keys and his car are all gone. Gaby soon finds out these are the least of his worries...he has somehow, inexplicably lost 12 years of his life.
I loved writing this paranormal, erotic, romantic adventure and Rosie, who is a great critic as well as a fan of M/M stories suggested a sequel.
"Why don't you make Gaby wipe out again and he finds himself back at the starting point, 12 years ago, knowing everything that he knows now?"
Wow.
I could hardly concentrate on my mother lode chocolate cake after that. My brain was firing with ideas.
In truth, the sequel, Blue Moon, which came out today is a much better book than Hanalei Moon. As I cross-referenced the original in writing the sequel, I saw so many places where the original could have been so much better. I wrote it over a year ago and like to think I have improved since then. But I also think, giving a character I love the chance to go back and love his dog, his mother, to maybe prevent his best friend's battle with cancer...and to reunite with the love of his life kept me on the edge of my seat as I wrote.
I feel it's a stand-alone title in spite of being a sequel, but I also feel I got to address some issues I often think about - that maybe we ALL think about. Can we change the future? Can Gaby, who jumps back 12 years change the things he knows will happen?
Would anyone listen if he told them JFK's plane would crash or that terrorists will fly planes right into the World Trade Center towers?
Once in a blue moon, writers have conversations that inspire better work and better stories and I will forever be grateful that I battled the rain one afternoon to drive all the way to Valencia to have lunch with my lovely Rosie.
She gave me so much to think about and I hope, a book my readers will enjoy.
Aloha oe,
A.J.

Currently listening: Ki Ho'alu Christmas: Hawaiian Slack Key GuitarBy Keola Beamer;Ledward Kaapana;Moses Kahumoku;Cyril Pahinui;James "Bla"Pahinui;Barney Isaacs & George Kuo;Dennis Kamakahi;Ozzie Kotani;George Kahumoku;George Kuo;Cindy Combs;Joanie KomatsuRelease date: 1996-09-19

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Art of Rejection

This time of year, I start thinking about my goals and wonder just how many I’ve completed over the course of twelve months. Each year as a writer, an author should set some goals for the coming year. They can be as simple as Write a chapter a day or as hard as Finish fifty books this year. And believe me, I’ve been somewhere in between every year for the last seven or eight years.


So as usual, I started to look at my mission statement: To bring readers the best in erotic romantic fiction, to provide readers with a happy ending and to write every day to bring about this goal. Not bad but definitely needs some revamping for this coming year. I plan to post it early next year so all of you can see just how I’ve lined it all up.

Then I went on to what I call my business plan. It’s just ten simple statements of what I plan to do this year. And while I won’t got into complete detail as that is another blog, I can say it started out with the statement of be the best writer you can be and ended with take care of yourself because if there ain’t no you, there ain’t no this. In between those two lines were things about branding, agents and the total number of books I wanted to publish as well as conferences, sales and a host of other things.

In retrospect, it was a big plan, an ambitious plan and I feel good that I accomplished about 50% of it this year. I should have accomplished 100% but that too is speculation for another blog. But in all this planning and thought, there was one thing I kept away from my mind totally. And that was any thoughts about rejection.

Now, rejection is perceived as bad. And in some ways it is and others it isn’t. Rejection isn’t meant to be a smack in the face or a I’m going stop this crazy life kind of thing. No rejection really just means for whatever reason, that work is not liked by that person at that moment. Still, as I get ready to put forth my foot in the ring for an agent and all that encompasses, I thought I should remind myself just what it means to be rejected.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know what it means to be rejected. I’ve been rejected a lot over the years by people who requested my work, by agents and publishers alike. Overall, I’ve had very few items rejected in the epublishing world in the last four or five years. This is good and this is bad as well. While it does give me a confidence boost, it doesn’t prepare me for when it does happen. I’ve also been rejected by a couple of agents and a NYC publisher in this past year as well all of which left me feeling somewhat out of my element.

So, with all this in mind, I started looking at my email this morning and wondered what the heck I would write about for today’s blog. Yeah, I had a basic idea but it really didn’t get cemented in my mind until I read this on an agents blog. Agent Jenny Bent was interviewing a young author who had racked up 20+ rejections and nine rewrites on a particular piece which sold. You should go read it:

http://jennybent.blogspot.com/2009/12/meet-mandy-author-and-agent-who-never.html

Wow, what a lesson in humility and the art of rejection. But the one thing this girl never did was give up. She never gave up on her story or her dream. Nor did her agent. And suddenly, my insides got all soft and I could feel this author’s joy as she finally achieved her dream. So I’m back to holding my dreams in my hands for all to see. This is a scary thought but as I go into the new year, I know this is what I need to do, what I must do.

And I have to say thank you to Mandy the author, thank you for giving me back a little portion of the dream I must have lost somewhere along the way. I’ve tucked it neatly inside and will cherish it always.

So as Christmas approaches, my wish for every author is that they have a well planned, long career ahead of them complete with successes and rejections, joys and passions for the writing you so love. For my readers, I sincerely hope I have brought you some of the best in erotic romantic fiction this year and to continue to do so throughout the next.

Now for the winner this week of An Elf’s Love, my new Christmas book...Sherry...come on down! Just email me at lynncrain@cox.net and I’ll get you your copy!

This is my last giveaway of the year. If you are interested in my Christmas giveaway, details are on my yahoogroup XtraOrdinary Romance. You can join here:

XtraOrdinaryRomance-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

The contest is easy...just join one of my groups or become a follower...and you get an entry to get a gift basket which is full of goodies and chocolate! LOL! Post on XtraOrdinary Romance and you’ll get more entries tossed into the hat. I’ll occassionally ask a question...you answer...another entry. If you bring a friend, you’ll get two entries. The contest starts today and runs through Christmas Eve with the winner being announced on Christmas. Have fun! And don’t forget to invite your buddies!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Lynn

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Joys of Work Spouses

Be honest. How many of you have work spouses? You know what I'm talking about--that guy/girl coworker who becomes your sounding board, your support. Scarily enough, my work spouse is eerily similar to my hubby. They are exactly one year apart in age, had the same illness/surgery as infants, and their personalities are way too similar. Thankfully they don't look alike, other than both being handsome. Of course they are good friends with each other, so I can't get away with anything. I mean not at all. If I do something stupid at work, WS is on the phone saying "Do you know what our wife did today?"


I know some people think having a work spouse is strange, and some might consider it cheating. I can only imagine what my critique group thought when I started talking about the surrogate husband. If I were a less confident person I would be incredibly intimidated (and worried!) about my husband's work spouse who is tall, thin, blonde and beautiful. But thankfully she and I have a great friendship, and there are no worries.


While my work spouse is good looking, there are no friends with benefits in our relationship. No, you know what, there are benefits. HUGE benefits. WS is a bottomless pit of knowledge on the male psyche. If there is anything I need to know about men (anything my husband won't tell me for whatever reason) I can ask WS. Since meeting WS, I have learned more about Viagra, male extensions and all sorts of diseases than I ever wanted to know. I have created some of my favorite secondary characters because of work spouse, and real hubby gets credit for all my awesome heros.


Can you imagine the story potential here? The story could easily turn erotic, or it could be a sweet story with a twisted love triangle. Ooh, or even a slasher story--jealous spouse out for revenge. No?

Ok, so why am I rambling about a guy I'm not intimate with? Well, I'm curious to know how many others have work spouses, and how that relationship is perceived by the real spouse. And upon closer inspection, how many of those work spouses actually have traits your real spouse does?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking a Breather

The Scoop on Meditation ~ A Simple Practice with Profound Benefits

People who meditate regularly appear internally and externally five to 10 years younger than their non-meditating peers, according to author Deepak Chopra. That's good news for the estimated 10 million people who practice meditation on an ongoing basis and experience the resulting calm it cultivates.
The rich benefits come from doing something that looks like nothing: Sitting still, being quiet, and breathing deeply. Meditation works simply but profoundly by defusing the onslaughts of life -- a racing mind, busyness, deadlines, commutes, all of which have physiological effects on well-being.
Meditation calms the nervous system, decreases metabolic rate, heart rate, and blood pressure, and lowers levels of cholesterol, stress hormones, and free radicals. It also has a direct effect on breathing, slowing and deepening respiration so more oxygen circulates throughout the body. Not only that, meditation is said to lessen feelings of anxiety and depression and improve memory and concentration. And all of this culminates in slowing the aging process, as Chopra notes.
There are many meditation techniques, including focusing on a mantra, a sacred word or phrase, or your breath. But the basic intent of all meditation is focus and attention. And it doesn't take hours a day in an ashram to meditate effectively. Benefits kick in with even a short period of devoted time.
How to begin? Wear comfortable, unrestrictive clothes, sit on a cushion or chair with your back straight (think once again, comfort), rest your hands on your legs, let your eyes go soft and out of focus or close them, breathe slowly and deeply, and -- the hardest part -- attempt to empty your mind of thoughts and quiet the internal dialogue.
When thoughts flit through your mind, let them pass without judging them and come back to your focus (your mantra, counting, etc.) and breathing. Start with this sitting meditation technique for five minutes a day, and add on time as you get more at ease with the process. For more information on techniques and benefits, check out
www.abc-of-meditation.com.

This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose and/or treat any conditions. Please check with your physician to make sure it’s all right to use new products and/or change your regimen.
Newsletter article courtesy of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Believing In Santa


Its the Christmas season and there is merry everywhere you look. I love it! I am a Christmas fanatic. I am the type who puts up the decorations the day after Thanksgiving if I can. I love buying gifts, I love wrapping gifts and I absolutely love the look on my daughter's faces when they see their stockings filled from Santa Clause.


My oldest daughter is 11 this year and she still believes in Santa thankfully. I am sure she is starting to have major doubts and I am convinced that she only believes because she is ignoring that she knows its false. I figure this is our last year with her believing and I am soaking it up. I have taken them to see Santa at the mall and made them write their letters to Santa.


I wish it could be like this forever.


My other daughter is 4 and i am sure she won't believe for as long as her sister. She has a very quick mind and asks questions already about the Santas she sees in the malls. She tells me that those are not the real Santa, and I tell her that they are Santa's helpers. I don't remember my older daughter ever questioning that, not out loud anyway until she was much older. I would hate for my youngest to stop believing in only a couple years.


Its so much more magical when there is a Santa. I know that when I stopped believing I was probably 7 or so, and I was so proud of the fact that I knew. But remembering back I think my mother was quite disappointed that I knew. Having your children believe makes it so much more fun for you as well as them.


After I knew there really wasn't much of a change though, we still had our stockings stuffed at night. Although I think that there was less left from Santa, just stockings instead of stockings and a gift or two under the tree. I suppose it just doesn't make sense to try and hide gifts when the belief is gone.


Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful season and whether you get to be Santa or not that you enjoy the time with those you love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Aussie Bashing


By A.J. Llewellyn

It ain't easy being an ex-patriate Australian. In 1988 when I went to the Department of Immigration to complete the last stage of my Green Card application, the guy behind the desk thought he was being hilarious by asking me how I planned to celebrate actually getting the cherished, hard-won card.
"I suppose you'll throw a shrimp on the barbie, right, mate?"
Considering this man held my entire future in his hands, I pasted a smile on my face and laughed. I should have won a bloody Oscar as well as my green card because I acted a) as if I'd never heard this joke before and b) bit down on the urge to scream that we don't call them shrimp in Australia. We call them prawns.
By and large, being Australian has helped me in the US, I will admit. People ask me where my cute accent is from and they always ask me questions, such as what language do we speak [English] but the misconceptions are still there.
And from what I saw last night, likely to remain indefinitely.
I watched the Nia Vardalos comedy "My Life in Ruins" and cringed at the stereotypical portrayal of an Aussie couple traveling through Greece.
They swilled Fosters beer night and day in the movie. I'd like to know where and how they managed to get all this beer since it's not actually available in Greece.
I've always managed to shock new friends by NOT ordering beer for breakfast. Visitors are stunned when they open my fridge and don't find crates of Fosters...or empties in the bathroom. Surely I bathe in the stuff, right?
Wrong.
As I sipped my late night tea, I silently seethed as I watched "My Life in Ruins" but I'll admit, Americans, British and Canadians all got jabbed too, but at least none of them were portrayed as mindless drunks.
I'd also like to know why REAL Australian actors couldn't have been found to play these doped dingbats, but that's by the by...I'd also like to know where the screenwriters came up with their Aussie slang. I'd never heard ANY of the expressions used in this movie.
Aussie bashing is sort of fun for Aussies themselves, but just once I'd like people NOT to act surprised when I tell them Australia isn't just one gigantic beach with a bit of desert in the middle.
I've had people refute my claims of Australia's great snow skiing - FACT - and also that our criminal past as a penile colony is over 200 years ago - FACT - and that we have four seasons too - FACT.
I love my origins, I really do. I have to say though that in spite of the fact many of us do enjoy a beer, some of us, ahem, prefer a Mai Tai.
What about you? What misconceptions about your own country or culture bother you the most?

Crikey Mate!

A.J,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Selling On Spec

This past month has been hard for me to figure out just what I’m going to write here at The Many Shades. This is not withstanding the fact that each blogger here brings a new perspective of writing, research or a writer's life information to this blog. To put it bluntly, I learn things here and this is a very good aspect of any blog as it’s my feeling if you can’t learn something from what you read, what’s the point.


I’m not talking about what you read for pleasure because usually those readings are for entertainment purposes only. Meaning, I don’t read those books to learn something even though many times I do. Now sometimes I do read a book with the idea of dissecting it to see why such and such a person was such a good author and therefore published by NYC.

So this morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a few things in my email box. One was an invitation to speak at my local writers group’s conference in a day. This is where they try to get some of the best local people to speak regarding writing and a writer’s life. I’ve been part of the program before but was surprised this time on what they wanted me to do. I was to go over the submission process and include the topics of researching agents, researching publishers, choosing the right agent or publisher for you, writing a synopsis and writing a query letter.

Wow...lots of stuff...big stuff for a writer. Sigh. Yeah, I know this stuff but since I’m with a few houses already, my submission process is quite different. When you are a publisher’s author, you usually just submit to your editor and go from there. Very few things in the last five years have been rejected by any of my current publishers. I’ve been asked to tweak, rearranged and do overhauls on pieces but none have been rejected. And this is great but these are my epublishers not NYC publishers.

As for my foray this past year with NYC publishers, my luck hasn’t been so good. But I’m getting close. And part of the reason for this is because I present a decent proposal package. Still, I’ve decided once my current contracts are completed, I don’t want to write on spec any more as it makes me crazy. Basically, what writing on spec is that your publisher is making the speculation that you will complete the proposed novel and turn it in on time. What I do when I sell on spec is submit a package consisting of, but not always, a synopsis, a sample chapter and a complete outline of where the book is headed but I don’t necessarily have the book complete. With NYC, you can get an advance, but usually only a portion of the full amount, then finish the book. It all depends upon how the contract is written. I want to have everything I submit complete, meaning ready to go to an editor, as this cuts down on my stress level as an author.

I hear what you all are saying...but every author writes on spec...and this is true. Almost every writer does. I currently have twenty-two books sold on spec and right now am writing on six of them at the same time. Here’s how many deadlines I have scheduled for the next year: January – 1, February – 6, March – 2, April – 1, May – 1, June – 2, July – 1, August – 2, September – 1, October – 1, November – 1, December – 1. This leaves one last book on spec due in 2011. Then, I’ll be all done with spec unless I’m stupid. And as everyone knows, I can have hoof and mouth disease at the drop of a hat. LOL!

Now the real reason I would like to stop writing on spec is the fact I have found that writing this way can stymie my creative process. And it doesn’t matter if you are writing something in one of your beloved series. Point in case was my recently completed Christmas novel, An Elf’s Love from my Santa’s Elves series. The first book is a true stand-alone while the rest of the series has pretty much has been decided by the epilogue of the previous book. But I altered what I had originally planned for this latest book by sticking in an August release in the series called Giselle’s Elf. This addition to the group, while necessary in the story arc, totally threw off what I had originally sold on spec.

At this point, I had to explain to my editor what happened and curse the fact I had sold to her this Christmas story on spec. Imagine trying to do this with an NYC publisher whose deadlines are normally in stone. With my epublishers, I have a little latitude on where and how I go, so if I screw up something, they at least have a little wiggle room where they can have another book step right to take another’s place and maybe I’m able to take that person’s slot. But with a seasonal book, or a themed one, it’s a little harder. After all, Christmas does only come once a year. Thank god...LOL!

But here’s the real kicker: I could not wrap my head around what I needed to do. For almost a full week, I was paralyzed with nothing coming in regards to this story. So, to make sure I wrote every day, I went back to other stories where the deadlines weren’t so close and looming or one of my uncontracted pieces. Finally, something in a show kick-started the process for me and I was off, writing a 38K story in only eight days. This is not something I recommend for anyone. Not that it isn’t possible, obviously it is since I completed it, but if I had done things differently I wouldn’t have been in such a crunch at the end, no matter if my muse left me or not.

Knowing this will color how I put together my presentation for this mini-conference. Never have I told a group to have the book complete before submitting. This time I would. Right now, along with all those contracted books, I am working on one or two which aren’t contracted by any one. These I’m completing at a more leisurely pace and once of them I am actually going to pass through both the agent and NYC circuit. It is a good solid story written from the heart.

Now each of my stories have been written from the heart and are good but something is different when you don’t have it already sold. I don’t write a story I don’t have an investment in or don’t like. I’ll never do that although I know authors who do. They write to the market and not what their heart tells them. Even the ones I sold on spec have a piece of me in them.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am only writing a chapter a week or that I’ve taken longer to plot it out or that I now have a wonderful critique group to bounce things off of regarding this story. But something feels different and right and oh so good that I’m not getting with any other book.

This whole experience has made me think about my plans for my portion of the blog next year. Next year there will be more articles on the actual process, like a submission process, and what a new writer can or should do. I’ll talk about contracts as well as other portions of what a writer should really know when coming into this business. I’ll even talk about royalty statements and how the different publishers do them. I plan to use some connections and get some interviews with well known editors, publishers and other writers to share here. There will be a few give aways but only once a month max as sharing my knowledge is more important to me than giving my books away. I do that anyway...I rarely have to opportunity to share what I know.

And that to me is a writer’s true legacy.

So...you all have probably been waiting to learn who this week’s winner of An Elf’s Desire is...SiNn! Email me and I’ll send you a copy of this eBook!

Next week...I’m giving away a copy of my new book...An Elf’s Love! Hope you drop by to get your name in the hat!

See you all then!

Lynn

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tea Time for Health

High Time for Tea ~ Discover the Healing Properties of Taking Tea

The health research is enough to make you forego the latte for strong brewed tea instead. Name your color -- black, white, green, even red -- teas are packed with disease-preventing antioxidants (more than some fruits and vegetables) and contain vitamins, minerals, and at least half the caffeine of coffee.
Fortified with free radical-fighting polyphenols, tea drinkers have a reduced risk of many different cancers, in particular stomach, colorectal, and even skin cancer. Tea drinkers also have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol. Containing anti-inflammatory and arthritis-preventing properties, tea also helps stimulate the immune system and protect the liver against toxins.
But you have to drink up. Most research points to five or so cups of brewed tea each day to reap the health benefits. Decaf tea loses some but not much of its health punch, due to extra processing.
All traditional tea -- white, green, oolong, and black -- is derived from the leaves of an evergreen tree called the Camellia sinensis, and all contain the health-promoting polyphenols. White tea is made from young tea leaves, dried in the sun without fermentation or processing. Green tea is dried with hot air after picking, so it retains its color but is not fermented. Oolong tea, sometimes referred to as "brown" tea, is fermented but not processed to the point of black tea. Black tea, on the other hand, is fully fermented, which accounts for the color of the leaves and its stronger flavor.
Rooibos, or red tea, is naturally caffeine-free and from the Aspalathus linearis, a shrub that grows only at high altitude near Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Herbal teas are made from a variety of plants, roots, bark, seeds, and flowers and are technically herbal infusions rather than tea. Though they don't contain the same antioxidants and haven't received the same research-based accolades as traditional tea, the herbs in these infusions have certain healing properties that have been used for centuries to treat many common health issues.


This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose and/or treat any conditions. Please check with your physician to make sure it’s all right to use new products and/or change your regimen.
Newsletter article courtesy of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interview with Charles Griemsman

Permission granted by debut historical author Cheryl Ann Smith.

1-Hello Charles! Welcome! Can you please start us off with a bit about yourself? Where you grew up? Favorite vices? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share?

I’m a Pisces from the D.C. suburbs who escaped to the concrete jungle quite a bit ago. I live in Brooklyn now and can’t complain. I’m squeaky clean—no vices whatsoever! The same goes for deep dark secrets—none. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell ya.

So I guess I choose to remain a man of mystery where your latter two questions are concerned.

2-Other than living the exciting life of a NY editor, what do you enjoy doing on your off time?

The exciting life of a NY editor, huh? Who have you been talking to? I need some pointers for jazzing up my routine! J

I LOVE swimming—I guess it’s the Pisces thing. As for culture, I’ve been hanging out with a lot of video artists lately and have somehow been roped into performing in videos here and there. The trouble is, I’m not really a performer. So, for example, coming up in November, I’m in a dance show (videotaped before a live audience)—and I can’t dance!

I’ve also been trying to cook more elaborate dishes lately. Let’s just say the results have been indescribable.

3- Have you always wanted to be an editor and what drew you to the romance publishing field?

I’ve always been intense about books. But it hadn’t occurred to me to try to make a living out of this obsession, until I heard about the opportunity to join Harlequin. I guess I was in denial. Not anymore—I’m hooked on what I do.

I came to romance by chance but have stayed by design. People tend to put genre fiction down, but I think it has unique possibilities for revealing great truths in unexpected ways. (Without beating readers over the head with said truths, the way some high-falutin literary creations tend to do.) As for romance specifically—I like a happy ending, it’s human nature to like a happy ending, and I am human.

4-Romance publishing is widely thought of as a female oriented field as most (but not all) authors and editors in the genre seem to be women. What unique prospective, as a man, do you bring to this business and Silhouette Desire in particular?

I don’t want to discount the validity of this question by saying that being a guy makes no difference whatsoever. But my experience has been that it makes very little difference—in fact, my being a male editor, with a man’s POV, came up exactly once with respect to one specific sentence in a book I was editing three or four years ago.

Ultimately, these books are about male and female characters, told from the heroes’ and heroines’ points of view. A full range of human, loving feelings is being expressed. So by extension there’s room in the field for male and female writers and editors. And everybody appreciates a good story well told—that’s the bottom line.

As far as Silhouette Desire goes, the line is more passionate, yes, but passion doesn’t shock me. Passion is natural, passion is fun, and passion makes the stakes in a story even higher.

5- We sometimes hear stories about strange submissions, such as confetti falling out of envelopes or manuscripts written on colored paper in white type. Have you ever had an unusual submission cross your desk?

Why, yes, I have—some of the illustrated material that has come through has been very—interesting? Intriguing? Words fail to describe it…trust me! Ultimately, confetti sounds fun, but it’s best to stick with the more standard modes of manuscript delivery and confine the party to the great writing one submits.

6-Since the Desire line focuses on wealthy heroes, is there a certain type of hero that is your favorite; such as CEOs, Princes, or Cattle Barons?

I’m fickle. Right now I’m not feeling royalty so much but that can change. As for businessmen and wealthy ranchers, I like them as heroes, especially when they are part of a family business dynasty. And let’s not forget the billionaires with babies, secret or otherwise—I’m loving that combo at the moment.

7-It’s common for Silhouette authors write multiple books per year. Is there a preferred minimum or maximum amount of books you’d like to see your authors write yearly?

Well…when your readers are wanting more, it’s good to keep them getting more. When you sell your first book, sometimes it can take some time to get the second one out there. That’s natural. But once you’ve established a publishing track record, to get up to three or more series books published a year is a very nice pace—one that keeps the fans very engaged.

8-What can an author do to make his/her manuscript stand out in a slush pile? Contest wins? Previous publication?

Previous publication and contest wins certainly help. Short to-the-point cover letters, without too many gimmicky come-ons really work, too.

9- What are some common mistakes new authors make with submitting a manuscript to you? Do cash bribes, Rolexes, chocolate or gold doubloons help get an author noticed or does their work have to stand on its own?

The worst mistakes are to target the wrong line and get the word count wrong. Doing the homework and making sure the story fits the imprint is crucial.

As for bribes, what are you trying to do, get me in trouble? J The best bribe is great writing—end of story.

10-What is the best part of discovering new talent?

When the senior editor says buy it, my heart leaps. Sharing the news with the author, establishing a rapport, bonding over a book—it’s all magical.

11-What is your turn around time on a submission? If an author hasn’t heard back in that time frame, how should they check back? E-mail? Phone call?

We aim to respond to submissions within a three-month window, but if you don’t hear back, it’s good to call.

Charles Griemsman
Associate Editor, Silhouette Desire

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Interview With One of My Men

I've got a nice holiday treat for you all. My personal interview with my latest fictional Hero--Max Jensen. Max appears in The Drakhom Taboo III, available at eXtasy books. He's not your regular guy, because Max is a Drakhom: half human-half vampire, and exotically virile. Needless to say, I'm head over heels in love with all the Drakhom men.















CJ: Max, thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share a little bit of you with readers.

MJ: It's my pleasure, Celia.

CJ: Tell me about your life in the exciting city of Manhattan.

MJ: Well, I own a few successful restaurants which demand my attention and keep me busy. It's a revolving door of interesting challenges and all kinds of people. I'm pretty tight with my family and friends and I attend several cultural events each year.

CJ: Surely, a man with your looks must have a full dating calendar, lol.

MJ: Lately, I only make time for one woman.

CJ: Would that be Ellen Sanders?

MJ: Of course. Although, I'm afraid I've scared her off a bit.

CJ: How so?

MJ: Ellen has been hurt in the past. She shuns marriage and any serious relationships to avoid heartache. Thing is, she knows I'm looking for a wife. I don't want an affair. We share an incredible connection and I couldn't fathom not spending the rest of my life with her.

CJ: Are you planning on changing her mind?

MJ: I'm determined to change her mind. She's pretty adamant--even turned me down once--but she's left an opening.

CJ: Really?

MJ: Yes. She told me she's open to casual dating.

CJ: But that goes against the grain for you.

MJ: It does, but it's the only chance I have of proving that I'm the man for her. Show her that we belong together. I don't want to lose her.

CJ: So, you're going to propose an affair.

MJ: Exactly. The physical chemistry is off the walls. I doubt she'll be able to resist.

CJ: You sound sure of yourself. Aren't you risking getting hurt--I mean--what if she ends the affair for fear of getting attached?

MJ: It's a risk I'm willing to take. As you know, I can be pretty determined and convincing. Ellen belongs with me...she just doesn't know it yet.

CJ: Well, I praise your determination and courage, Max. It takes a strong man to pursue a woman like Ellen with all his heart. I do hope it works out for you both.

MJ: It will. I've never wanted anything more in my life.

CJ: I was planning on asking you what you'd like for Christmas, but I have a feeling I know, lol. Thank you for your time, my dearest Max.


To find out how Max fares with the lovely and reluctant Ellen, follow the link here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Colors of Death


By A.J. Llewellyn
Many authors depict death in their works and since I am an erotic fiction author I think long and hard before killing off ANY character. I have done it a few times now, the first with Kimo, my hot Hawaiian Kahuna killing off his ex-wife by returning her own death-curse to her in My Hawaiian Song of Love and secondly, well, I've offed a few bad guys - always bad guys in my Waikiki Vampire books and my Blood Eclipse books with D.J. Manly.
I never linger over the killings, I don't glory in death. But it's a subject that interests me, especially since witnessing the passing of a friend this week.
He had been diagnosed with Stage-4 colon cancer and his sister, one of my dearest friends flew him to Los Angeles to be with her once he was given three months to live.
It's been anguishing to see his rapid decline, especially in view of the fact that this is the same disease that killed my mother.
My friend was in Hospice in the final weeks of his life. The staff were wonderful and very loving They kept him heavily medicated so that he was comfortable, but when I went to see him, he'd stopped eating and drinking and refused to lie in his bed.
He was sitting in an armchair and smelled terrible. I won't go into details but he wasn't taking trips to the bathroom...
"If I lie down, it will mean death," he said.
He began to hallucinate after 72 hours of no sleep and the heavy drugs to control the pain of the disease eating away at him.
His sister called me, frantic, saying he appeared to be talking to himself. "He's waving to somebody," she said.
"The angels have come for him," I said. "Maybe he sees your mother."
My friend became hysterical and I went to the Hospice and her brother, looking absolutely skeletal, but strangely at peace, lay perfectly still, only his hand rising from the bed. He was so out of it at this point that the staff were able to put him to bed and monitor him.
"I see colors, such beautiful colors," he said and I nodded. My mother had told me the same thing. Only she fought to stay on this planet because she had three small children.
My friend's brother never fought until the very end. He feared death until it claimed him at 5.03 PM when he saw his mother and grandfather waiting for him.
"I'm going home," he said.
I have thought about his passing since it occurred two days ago. I don't know if I can convey the horror and heartbreak, and yet the mysticism of what he saw in his final hours.
I wonder if I will be ever able to put this scene in a book. Do writers really think about the emptional weight of their death scenes? I know I've resisted overt and gratuitous dispatches and I feel now that it's unlikely I will write one again in a lets-get-this-over with way.
Death, when witnessed is a profoundly upsetting experience. I've yet to read a single book that pinpoints the sheer horror.
Nothing in life prepares us for the moment. Nothing anyone writes can do that. I don't wish this experience on anyone. I do know though that this encounter with the colors of the benevolence of 'the other side' has convinced me more than ever that only love is real because it is so much stronger than death.
Aloha oe,
A.J.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Dreaded Deadline


Okay, so I missed all my deadlines this week, both personal and professional. Like this blog. Normally, it posts automatically at midnight but for some reason, my muse had left me yesterday on writing it.

Which is very strange considering I was able to put up my weight loss blog yesterday...but it too was a day late...LOL! For those of you who are interested, go to http://caseyschallenge.blogspot.com where I normally post on Monday and to http://journeyfromfat2fit.blogspot.com where I’m going to repost basically the same blog every Tuesday. This documents my weight loss journey will tips and things that work for me. Not that any of you need to lose weight, but I do...LOL!

Now, being late is something I usually am but I’m trying to get better with my never-on-time issue. And things can snowball if you don’t get a grip on them quickly. So today is the day where I’m organizing deadlines, writing and my calendar so I can start being more consistently on time.

And I know it’s just me. I used to tell people it’s because I was born late but in reality it’s because I let myself get distracted with life or procrastination overtakes me. The majority of the time, I am good to go but November for some reason was a horrible month for keeping on task and schedule.

First, my muse decided to leave me the majority of the month. Do you know what it’s like to be a writer who can’t write? Horrible, I tell you, just horrible! What was left was a devil-may-care I-always-get-it-done attitude which has served me well in the past. And the only reason I’m talking about it is to smack myself and remind me NOT to do it again. LOL!

So, do you all have deadlines and time issues you deal with? Tell me what you all have done and the best one this week will get a copy of my book, An Elf’s Desire.

Next week, I unveil my Christmas Contest...and direct you to the one my publisher is having...goodie for you all as there are prizes galore at both! 

The winner of last week’s book, The Thing About Elves, is Tamsyn! eMail me at lynncrain@cox.net and I’ll get your ebook to you right away!

Thanks all...and have a great week...see ya next one!


Lynn

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Little Things Do Inspire

I stressed over the weekend for a blog topic. I had no idea what to write about, but then while watching New Moon (yes, I admit I went to the theater to see the show—twice!—and enjoyed staring at a well-defined almost legal male :} ) I got inspired. No, not to leave my husband and prey on younger men. I got inspired to write. There are a few things that Taylor Lautner (or Jacob if you will) does that simply made my muse stand up and say “Hey, get off your arse and write!” Like that little half-smile, the way he leans his head on Bella when she snuggles up to him (stupid girl should have picked the shape-shifter!)

I am just amazed at where our muses find inspiration to give us that kick in the backside. I find that if I’m having a bad writing day I can turn on my iPod and shuffle the songs. My muse tends to pick the perfect songs during the shuffle play to help keep my writing juices flowing. I have found that my muse gets inspired by the Phantom of the Opera and Twilights (both) soundtracks, Nickelback, Josh Groban, Taylor Swift and 98 Degrees. At least that’s what’s working for her right now.

While the music is great, I find that having the pictures of my characters plastered all over my wall help add fuel to the fire. Ooh, there’s nothing that keeps you motivated like pictures of half-naked muscle men... unless of course it’s a REAL half-naked muscle man, but then I wouldn’t be doing much writing if he were in the room.

Did you know that one can get tons of writing done simply by turning on the XBox, placing husband on couch with game remote in his hand and telling him to waste as much time as he wants? Oh yeah, works like a charm! I’m talking 3000 words in a little over an hour. So that might not be a big number for some, but for me that’s a huge number! I thank the gaming Gods for creating Modern Warfare!

But I digress. My whole point today is take that inspiration where you can get it. Keep a notebook with you at all times because you never know where that flashbulb will appear.
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