Friday, April 18, 2014

Braving the Fall


This is the year of courage for me, as a writer and an athlete. I teach a group fitness class called BodyFlow. It’s a mixture of Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates from Les Mills International.
 
During the balance track, which I’m giving tips for today on my blog, the instructors often say “Fall” when what they mean is lower your chest closer to the floor while standing on one leg. Scary? Yes. Often, the program developers present the choreography and offer a line of encouragement like this: “It’s just like falling in love. You have to be brave.”
My ex once told me I was in love with the idea of love. At the time, I was insulted. I read between the lines and heard him saying I had no idea what love was. Funny how we do that, isn’t it? Now, I’m no longer insulted. He was right, which is why writing romance is the perfect fit for me.
I like to create characters and take them to that place right on the edge of love. They’re falling, but will they put down a toehold to stall, or will they be brave and fly? Our heroes and heroines can be stubborn sometimes, but it’s fun to walk with them as they grow. Fear turns to courage and eventually they spread their wings to find their happily-ever-after waiting for them.
I braved the fall when I met Hubba-luv. It was scary since I had a heartbreaking divorce and swore I’d never marry again. Never say never, huh?

Tell me about a time you were brave in love.

 

For information about my new adult novella, visit MedaWhite.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

NEW RELEASE!

I've held off for the perfect time to reveal the cover for my new release Rescued. Realizing there really is no such thing as the perfect time, I chose my spot on our Romance Magicians Blog to tell the world more about my new book.

In a nutshell:

Rose Baxter is a petite woman, a bit touchy about her size but determined to overcome her shortcomings. She is well aware of her inner strength but must keep her other life as a were cougar a secret from a world that wouldn't understand.

A private investigator hired to find young people who have disappeared from the streets, she reluctantly joins forces with another PI, Marty Brown, to accelerate the progress on the case and put an end to these disappearances.

Little does she know her other nature has decided she should spend the rest of her life with this man, another were cougar, as his mate. Sparks fly. She doesn't have time to devote to a mate, she has a job to do. Can she fight it?


Release date coming up soon. 
So, it's time to reveal. 
Let me know what you think.




Friday, April 11, 2014

So... What are we mad at Facebook for again?

Up Front Disclaimer: Many of you will NOT like this post. That's okay and I understand but please! Let’s keep our discussion cordial. 
Thank you and have a nice day.


Once upon a time there was a young lad named Mark Zuckerberg who went to an Ivy League University where he received an extravagantly expensive education. Mr.Zuckerberg invented (some would say tweaked) a newfangled online social networking program that caught on with the college kids. Legalities, morals, ethics, and all that other stuff aside, he blazed a trail for the way 95.99% (my made up number) of people use their computers and became the youngest multimillionaire on earth, undoubtedly making his parents very proud and relieved that they wouldn’t have to sell any of their organs on the black market to pay off their son’s college loans.
The program...? Facebook.

Ah Facebook! Who can remain neutral when your name pops up in conversation as so often happens? It has been said that Facebook is like the refrigerator – we know what's in it already but still we stand before it, peering inside and hoping for something fresh and delicious to reveal itself. Facebook has usurped our vocabulary, nibbled away our free time and spawned industries and careers and conferences: Social Media Managers, Online Promotions, Facebook Fixer programs, Page Developers, Page Managers, and lidded coffee cups to name but a few. 
She who invents a spew - screen protector will make a fortune.

I like Facebook; I am not ashamed to admit it.

However, not everyone does, and that’s okay. There are enough networks out there on the interwebz for everybody to enjoy. We who are moms of teens and young adults know this, wink wink. 
But let’s just stick with Facebook for today, because I have something to say. Something of vital importance. Something that desperately needs to be said, heard and understood.
Are you still with me?
Okay, good. ‘Cos this is gonna
blow
  your
      minds.

Facebook… that fun place where we post baby pictures and joke about our cats and shame our doggies and brag on our children and ogle beautiful shirtless people and cowboys in tight jeans and listen for gossip and news and find recipes and the newest miracle cure for splotchy complexions…?

Facebook is… A Business.

I’ll wait while you digest that. Take your time. It’s a revolutionary thought and it’s going to take some getting used to the concept.

How's that Pamela? you ask. Facebook? A business? 

Dial your minds to ten (ok,twenty-mmph for me) years ago.... You had a cute computer in your toy box and you learned how everything works watching Mr.Rogers and Sesame Street. You moved on to Pokemon and Japanese anime,then graduated to personal GameBoys and Nintendo DS and PC gaming and World of Warcraft until Wii came knocking on your door. Your MySpace page rocked Britney Spears and sparkly winged horse pictures. You got carpal tunnel from texting on your flipphone/sliderphone/smartphone and now… texting is so 2013. You take Vines and post to Tumblr. If only your college professors would do the same, because that would save you from renting and cluttering your tablet/ereader/Ipad with textbooks. Watch? Alarm clock? What are those?

So, Miss/Mr. Computer World Sophisticate…

How does the world sell you yoga pants or breakfast cereal or womens’ fiction or DragonCon tickets when you’re online all the time?

Facebook. (I know... Amazon too. But we’re sticking to Facebook for today.)

 Not so long ago SMMs (Social Media Managers) told us to Make a Facebook Page! Be a Brand! Write a blog! and Engage! Engage! Engage!

And so we did... do.
We post pictures of our fun times at conferences. We share BuzzFeed quizzes to find out your alien Princess name. We congratulate our friends on their publishing contracts and new releases. 
We wage ManWar.

We support our friends' signing appearances and Kindle rankings and blogs. We discover our friends' friends' jewelry businesses. We share our organizations' contests and conferences and parties.

We sell our products - and others' products -    ourselves.

Remember how Facebook used to post ads on the sidebar saying "Pamela Mason 'likes' Dreamland BBQ", with the subtle suggestion that you, as Pamela's friend, should 'like' Dreamland BBQ too? Now Facebook's taken off the gloves. 

It's not so subtle anymore.

Facebook has changed up the rules (for the two hundredth eleveneth time) “Say what…?! You want money to promote my post?" "My page’s organic reach is down to three, besides my own mom?” 

“Yep,” Facebook answers.  

 And in the cold light of the business world, Facebook has every right to do so because- gasp! - Facebook is a publicly held business listed on the NASDAQ and trading at $59.16 at the time of this writing.

Facebook’s shareholders want to see a return on their investment - kinda like we all hope to see a return on our kids’ college degrees. Yeah… don’t think I haven’t pitched some crazy computer program app ideas to my own sons majoring in IT. 
Crazy thought here but YOU and I can buy shares and invest in Facebook too if we want to cough up $59.16 + fees! And not only can us little people who post about puppy-pharts (yes, that was me… I mean- my dog!) own Facebook shares, but big companies, like Pillsbury, Clairol, Starbucks, Mashable, Macy’s, Dell, Microsoft…
Yes. More than likely they all own Facebook stock - lots of stock. Enough so they’re probably on  Facebook's board and calling the shots.

So… extrapolating what we have here - Facebook on the Nasdaq stock exchange, NYT Bestselling author of Lean In Sheryl Sandberg as Facebook COO, and the fact that over half of Facebook’s users are US females with 24% in the 25 - 34 age bracket, and a whopping 31.1% (!) (raising my hand here) in the 35 - 54 age bracket... *
I have to ask:
Why are we mad at Facebook for acting like any other business?
Why are we wondering why Facebook is trying to make money off of us?
Why, Fellow Women Facebook-Users, are we complaining about this?

Call me a Glass-Half-Full kinda girl, but this is what I think:

1. Money makes the world go ‘round. Women are being marketed to by the Pillsbury Doughboy via social network, and that same network wants US to pay THEM to use it for our own marketing. 
2. Ergo, We women have Power. Women who are Entrepeneurs, Authors, Bloggers and Business Owners have... say it with me...  Power!
3. Being a Brand is what all of us writers and authors MUST work our little tushies off to master, because our work is a tangible, marketable PRODUCT to sell. For money. Hopefully lots of it.
4. We will be seeing more and more ‘virtual’ marketing opportunities for selling our products, and social networks are vehicles to get started. Think Google+ Hangouts. YouTube. Vine.
         Visual * Short * Fun

5. In the next five years, women WILL rule the world.

‘Sokay, one more thing and I’ll sign off and that thing is spelled
M E T A D A T A

Yes, Metadata...about YOU! That’s what Facebook shareholders are paying for. It’s what Amazon and the Jolly Green Giant wants. It’s why you have ads showing up on the sidebar of your newstream for Romance novels by... 
NoraRobertsCherryAdairNaimaSimoneCarlaSwaffordJuliaQuinnKristanHiggans

Every time you click a link, share a post, or “Like” somebody’s status (especially if that somebody is a Brand, like say… Martha Stewart or Nora Roberts) little nuggets of your information is sent by the tiny green diode-men inside your computer to tell Facebook's shareholders what you looked at, how long you looked at it, what time of day you looked at it, what you looked like when you looked at it....
 Wait… no, not really that last one! Did I scare ya?

Look at “IT” - whatever “IT” may be - and what happens? Amazon hits your email with something like this: “Best Selling Romance Novels on Kindle Today!” 

I dunno about you all, but I'm going to start looking at A L L of my friends' books.... 

We can outsmart Facebook, people...  
we just have to learn how to play their game. 

*(source: ibtimes.com- iStrategyLabs Jan.2014)


P.S.Did you know that technology is being tested that allows you to watch television and purchase goods off commercials WITH THE PUSH OF A BUTTON ON YOUR REMOTE?
 Now drone delivery doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore, does it?
 Think about it.




Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Welcome Avon and Harlequin Author Kay Thomas!


Yes, another ONE of THOSE ladies!  An Avon lady who loves to party like I do.  See. I have evidence. That’s Kay at the top right and going clockwise, me, Lizbeth Selvig, and Lena Diaz. We had so much fun!

Anyway, I wanted to share and let you meet her too. She writes romantic suspense for Avon and Harlequin, and such a sweetheart.

Thanks so much for having me, Carla!

Who are your top five authors to read?
This list changes a lot. I tend to go on “binges” and read a lot of the same author one book after the other, much more than I used to thanks to my ereader. Lately, these are the authors I’ve been reading: Veronica Roth, Alexandra Sokoloff, Anne Lowell, Lorraine Heath and Julia Quinn

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
I can only pick one? That’s hard. If I think about how many times I’ve read each of them over and over again, it’s a toss up between BLACK ICE by Anne Stuart and OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon.

[OMG!  Love BLACK ICE.  Of course, everyone certainly knows I believe Anne's awesome.]

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?
A teacher I had in college, Dr Joe Stockwell, was the biggest influence on my writing. He required one-page only papers in his assignments. You could write all over the page, even in the margins, but it could only be on one side of one page.

You had to understand your topic and thesis completely to do that. (There’s no bluffing your way to a conclusion in a one-page paper on Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS.) I learned to “write tight” in Joe’s class and fell in love with that kind of writing. We’ve kept in touch with since graduation. (28 years ago)

When I finished my first manuscript, Joe read my work and helped me with editing and revisions before I submitted to agents and editors. He helped with my second manuscript, too. He turned 88 this year and I dedicated HARD TARGET (the first installment in the Elite Ops series) to him.

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.
I’m most productive at my office desk at home with Pandora playing, instrumental only, to cover up the noise from lawnmowers outside and my family inside. My husband works from home, too, and his office shares an air vent with mine. I can hear every word he says on the speakerphone unless I crank up the music. The upside is that several of the men he works with have incredibly awesome voices, like radio announcers. So listening is not such a bad thing, even when they’re talking about technical telecom stuff, I don’t understand.


Tells us a little about your current book?
Can I share the back cover copy for PERSONAL TARGET? [Of course! Please!] My editor and I just nailed it down a week ago.

AEGIS – an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. They get the job done when no one else can.

A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him, or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend…a woman from Nick’s past.

One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she is abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now as they race for their lives, passion reignites as old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?

Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
~~Jennifer and Nick are “discussing” her travel plans for a paleontology dig in Niger. In this scene, they discover a bigger issue than either of them suspected.~~

     “Why in the world would they care about me?” Jennifer walked away from him, climbing the porch steps and moving to open the front door to her house. “I’m not anyone important.”
     Nick sighed. “A person’s supposed influence whether great or small doesn’t matter. You’re an American. That makes you newsworthy and a target for a robbery, a kidnapping, publicity for their ‘cause’, or for human trafficking.”
     She crossed her arms and stood at the front door, glaring at him. She couldn’t back down, not now, even if everything he’d said was true. She’d just be extremely careful. Paleo-Niger and the Foundation had excellent safety protocols in place. She’d be fine.
     “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I just want to get inside my house and get into my own clothes. I appreciate your flying me out of Mexico, really, I do. But your work is done now. Go spend the holiday with your family. I don’t want you in my life.” That last seemed harsh. And yes, it was a bald-faced lie, but she was going with it.
     “I’m back, I’m home. I’m safe. I’m fine. And I’m leaving, so I won’t be any more trouble to you. I’m starting a new life, just like you did when you joined the Navy. Can’t you let me go?” She hadn’t meant to say that. Hadn’t meant to reveal quite so much.
     “No, I can’t. I never wanted-“ He stopped talking abruptly, as if to keep himself from saying more.
     “I still think you’re just trying to scare me,” she muttered under her breath, deliberately misunderstanding him.
     She was not having this conversation. She couldn’t. Not now when she was so close to a clean getaway. Talking about this would lead to her telling him everything, when she was moments from never having to tell him anything.
     She put her key in the lock, determined to go inside and shut the door behind her. But a key wasn’t necessary. The door swung open of its own accord.
     Had the landlord left her door unlocked as they repaired the water heater? Dammit, she’d fuss. She could have been robbed blind.
     Still clutching her keys, she stepped inside and froze. The house was trashed. Granted she’d left it messy when the hot water heater had leaked. Her living room and bedroom had been so thoroughly flooded, she’d had to move stuff around—stacking things on the sofa and almost every other flat surface. But this was different. She moved past the sofa to her bedroom.
     Someone had been here besides the plumber and her landlord. They’d dumped every drawer onto the floor and stripped her bed, gouging holes in the mattress. She rushed through the rooms, even as Nick shouted at her to stop.
     Her walk-in closet had been ransacked—clothing was strewn about and torn, cut with scissors or a knife—she wasn’t sure which. Why would someone do that?
     Her fury began to override the shock. This was too damn much. After all that had happened to her in the past three days, why would someone systematically destroy everything she owned?

What do you believe makes a man sexy?
The number one thing that makes a man sexy to me is a sense of humor. My husband has kept me laughing for 26 years. I believe the ability to laugh together has been one of the most important ingredients in our marriage.

Kay will be giving away a copy of HARD TARGET to one lucky commenter.  Be sure to come by and tell us what is your favorite romantic suspense ever!  And yes, romantic suspense can be a historical romance.

Be sure to visit Kay at the following places.
Website
FaceBook
Twitter: @kaythomaswrites
Goodreads

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Interview by
Carla Swafford
The Circle Trilogy
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Monday, April 07, 2014

"Go Then. There are Other Worlds Than These."--Jake to Roland in The Dark Tower

Apologies in advance. I’m going to be serious. I promise to be especially funny next month to make up for it.

I returned home yesterday after spending the past five days in New Orleans (my “real” hometown) and coming to a jarring revelation about myself and my life.

See, the thing that took me back to NOLA was a conference related to my day job. I make a lot of jokes about my day job, but in reality, it has never been a “job,” per se. It has been my career for the past 35 years. (Yeah, here’s where you make jokes about how I must have begun this career when I was an infant, right? Because I’m not really older than dirt, right? Right?)

I mean, you don’t spend 35 years doing something unless you love it. I guess there’s also the argument that you could stay because you aren’t fit to do anything else, but for argument’s sake, let’s say I’ve been a magazine editor in higher ed for that long because I love it.

It has, on the whole, treated me well. It’s taken me around the country to live in Illinois, Texas, California and Louisiana, as well as Alabama. It has afforded me the chance to travel to Europe, Mexico, Central America, Canada, the Caribbean, and quite a few of the U.S. states. (You haven’t lived until you’ve accompanied a bunch of elderly university alumni to Austria in the dead of winter.) I’ve gotten to meet two presidents and broadcaster Brian Williams, with whose producer I shared a picnic lunch, as well as assorted minor celebrities. I’ve covered a G8 summit, been privileged to be on the front lines in helping a fine university and a city I love rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, and spent several glorious summer days in Americus, Georgia, with the big-hearted, inspirational founder of Habitat for Humanity, the late Millard Fuller.

So here I am this past week, sitting among more than 300 university editors, listening to great speakers like the president/CEO of the Atlantic Monthly talk about the value of what we do. Talking shop with folks from other parts of the country I’ve known as colleagues for, in some cases, decades. Trading war stories about crazy administrators past and present.

Sometime during the third day of the conference, I realized something that almost knocked me off my feet: the reason why I’d been restless and dissatisfied all week.

This isn’t my world anymore. Unlike years past when I’d attend these annual conferences, I didn’t feel as if I were coming home or attending a family reunion. These are no longer the people who are my peers, except in a superficial sense, because we no longer share a passion. They haven’t changed; I have. My day job has become just that—a day job. Do I still care about it? Sure. You don’t do something for 35 years and suddenly stop caring altogether. But my passion has shifted in a way, and to a degree, I hadn’t realized.

When I head back to NOLA in three or four weeks for the RT Booklovers Convention, there I will see my new peers. I will share five amazing days in my favorite city in the world, talking about my passion: books, and writing, and publishing, and meeting readers.

It’s still a new and exciting world for me, this writing and publishing life. I didn’t realize until I spent a week immersed in the best of my old life that I had embraced this new one so thoroughly.

In his Dark Tower series, Stephen King talks about the passage of time in a way I couldn’t help but think about this week, not just the line I used in the title of this blog post, but this one: “The world has moved on.”


Or, in this case, maybe, it’s not the world that moved on, but me.