Tuesday, April 29, 2014

R - E - S - P - E - C - T

Sing it, Aretha !

Everyone has their own definition of "respect" just as everyone has their own gauge of and desire for it. Much of what I hear connected to the word "respect" these days makes me want to smack young people in the back of the head and say if you want respect, earn it!

 And the initial step to earning respect is to respect yourself first.

Let's face it, romance writers are often seen as the Rodney Dangerfields of the book world. (For those of you too young to know who Rodney is, Google him. Or watch an old but funny movie - Caddyshack.)

We've made a great deal of progress, but in many quarters of the literary world we are still seen as our readers' dirty little secret. E readers are touted as a way to indulge in an addiction to romance without flaunting THOSE covers for all the world to see. You can be a closet "bodice ripper" fan and tell your friends you are reading the latest John Grisham novel or perhaps The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (it just won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.) They all look the same on an E reader.

The romance genre DOMINATES the book market and has done so for a number of years. Romance is projected to take in 17% to 19% of the market in 2014. The next genre in profitability, Mystery, will take half as much. And guess what? Some of those mystery authors happen to write romance as well. So there!!

Do these facts get us the respect we deserve? Not so much. We're still seen as the chick who shows up at the debutante ball in lingerie and thigh highs. (Hey, I'll bet we go home with more than just a wrinkled dress and a droopy corsage!) Our books are seen as candy for lonely, frustrated women who are either unhappy in their marriage or can't get a date in the first place. SNORT! If only they knew! Today's romance novels are read by smart young adults, ambitious teens, happily married women, lawyers who eat Wall Street types for lunch before dancing the night away with handsome young studs, and every type of woman with which God has decided to grace the Earth. 

Yes, they are also read by lonely women who have experienced heartache or perhaps have never even had a date. And some of those women are doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, EMT's and soldiers defending our country.


Romance readers don't fit a mold, because baby, we break it at every turn. Those literary critics and uber-feminists, and comedians who make fun of romance novels, who put them down as formulaic, unrealistic junk food for readers have no idea who reads our work. What they have is a complete lack of respect for the three things romance readers have in abundance.


In spite of everything they see in this world on a daily basis, romance readers have a deep abiding faith that love can change things, can make the world a better place, can make us better people. And they have hope - if their lives are good they have hope they will always be so, no matter what life throws at them. If their lives aren't good, they have hope that if they persevere things will get to good, that good is always possible. 

And they have self respect. A famous talk show host was once asked why she never featured a romance novel as her book club selection. Her response? "They give women unrealistic expectations when it comes to romance." EXCUSE ME?  Who made her the arbitrator of what I have a right to expect from romance? You remember at the beginning of this post I talked about the first step in earning respect? Well here it is, sisters.

A hero who loves me enough to let me be myself. - I deserve that.

A hero who loves only me and will until his last breath. - I deserve that.

A hero who will take care of me and my children, but isn't afraid to share that responsibility with me. - I deserve that.

To be swept off my feet by a man who cannot live without me. - I deserve that.

Great sex with a man who sees me as an equal and for whom sex is a spiritual as well as physical experience. - I deserve that. 

Happily. Ever. After. with a man who will ride out life's troubles with me because I make the ride worthwhile. - I deserve that. 

Unrealistic expectations? No, ma'am. I expect nothing less than I deserve. Every woman should because her self respect demands it. Because she has too much damned self respect to settle for anything less. Romance novels don't teach women to believe in fantasy. They teach women to set the bar for a better reality, for the reality they deserve. They enable women to spot a hero when they see one. Not because he's incredibly handsome or ripped like a cover model. These critics must think we're really stupid. Heroes, like romance readers, come in all shapes and sizes. Romance novels enable us to measure a man by the conduct of his character, by the little things he does and says, by the way he treats us every single day.

Romance readers and writers are smart, capable women who know the difference between reality and fantasy. We choose to read and write romance novels because they entertain us, empower us, teach us, make us laugh and cry and believe. We are the keepers of hope, faith and self respect. We believe in the power of love. We believe in the power of forgiveness.

"Of course she'll forgive you. The future of the human race depends completely on the ability of a woman's heart to forgive. Always has. Always will."

In case you're wondering this quote is from a romance novel. I know. I wrote it. I am a romance writer. I write the stuff dreams are made of and I make no apologies for it. I write about faith, hope, love, triumph and tragedy, sex and romance, adventure and danger, elegance and grace, power and self respect and the belief we all deserve the very best life has to offer.


Have you ever experienced as a reader or writer of romance novels disrespect, derision or even subtle teasing by those who don't understand or even those who completely disregard romance novels as "real" books? What has been your response? Do you prefer to read on an E reader because people can't see THOSE covers? Are you a proud reader or writer of romance? Lets talk! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lunch with Eloisa James? Yes, please.

PEOPLE! Did you know the amazing Eloisa James will be at the 17th annual Heart of Dixie Reader's Luncheon in Huntsville on June 14? HOW CAN YOU NOT GO? (Seriously - I challenge you in the comments section to articulate a reason because I cannot find one).

Today, Heart of Dixie's president, the incredible Stephanie Jones (and she has the bona fides to prove it) is dropping by to give us the down-low on the Reader's Luncheon.  If you haven't been to this event, it is amazing.  From the goodie bag each attendee gets to the fun at the table with an author or authors that share with you their writing process and inspiration, this is an incredible event.  There is no shortage of smiles and laughter. 

Stephanie was willing to answer a few questions I had about the event.

What can attendees expect at this year's Heart of Dixie Reader's Luncheon?

This year the attendees can expect the same high quality of event they have experienced at our luncheon.  We are so excited about our speaker, Eloisa James, and have designed our decorating theme around the period of many of Ms. James books.  The room will have the feel of being dropped right into a tea party/luncheon setting from times gone by.  It should be an extraordinary experience!
We will also have over thirty baskets that will be available for raffle prizes and about thirty more baskets that will be created by sponsoring authors and given away to attendees only.  Hosting authors will note be eligible to win these baskets this year, just our guests attendees.

You've attended the luncheon both as a reader and as an author hosting a table.  What is your favorite memory as a reader?

Hmmm, that is a great question. There are so many great memories of the luncheon.  Probably one of my favorites is the year that I got to help Beverly Barton with her author basket.  I grew up knowing Beverly and occasionally playing with her children long before she was THE Beverly Barton. I had read her books from the first one she ever published so it was quite the fan girl moment when I asked her if she needed help and she said yes.That year she had her door prize put together  in a huge bird cage full of really great prizes and books.  I would have never thought of anything like that. She was such a wonderful person and a talented author!

Jean Hovey and Stephanie Jones writing as Alicia Hunter Pace.
What is your favorite memory as an author?  

Last year when my writing partner, Jean Hovey, and I got to host our first table as Alicia Hunter Pace. It was so wonderful! We were celebrating the first release in our Gone South series, Sweet Gone South.  We gave our guests aprons and got to meet some of our fans for the first time.  It was so wonderful to hear how much other people loved the characters in the world we created!  

(on a side note - there was chocolate - I (Heather )was at another table, and heard the whispers of the fabulous chocolate at the Alicia Hunter Pace table - if you are trying to pick a table for the HOD Luncheon, just giving you the heads up - great stories AND chocolate)

What advice do you have for first time attendees?

Be prepared to be overwhelmed.  Seriously, the event is held in a large open ballroom and when you get 200 excited women in one place it can be loud.  It can also be very exciting to see authors who you are a big fan of so that can be super cool.  One last piece of advice would be to bring some cash.  The raffle baskets are always so great that most attendees want to participate in that and then the literacy signing allows the attendees to purchase books from authors then have a personalized autograph added to their book.  That is such a fun thing to do because you get to interact with the author a bit as they are signing your book.  This year our charity is the Cullman County Library who is still trying to rebuild their collection after the tornado a few years ago.

Seating is limited and tickets are going fast, so buy yours today.  Heart of Dixie has a Facebook events page at https://www.facebook.com/events/569851206444279/ if you want to share the word, but you can buy your tickets here  This is a once in a lifetime event where you can meet some of your favorite Southern Magic authors.  Hope to see you there.  Please comment, because I will buy a ticket to the HOD luncheon for one commenter.  To be eligible, please leave your email address in your comment as well as a suggestion as to something or someone you would like to see at the luncheon

Friday, April 25, 2014

Welcome Avon Author, Lizbeth Selvig! Plus Book Giveaway!

Yeah, that's me and Lizbeth "acting" goofy for the camera. We didn't have to try hard. Talk about having so much fun, she's got a great sense of humor and so kind. She even made me an honorary Minnesotan. You betcha! By the way, hiding behind us are Lena Diaz and Kay Thomas. The chickens!
I've made some great friends through Avon, and I'm so proud of Lizbeth. She's a Rita nominee. For those who don't know, the Rita is romance writing's Oscars, presented by the Romance Writers of America.
Be sure to tell her congratulations.  I will be giving away a copy of her Rita nominated book, RESCUED BY A STRANGER to a lucky commenter.  Love that cover!

Who are your top five authors to read?
I've been hooked on contemporary romance since I started reading them too many years ago to count! My favorite contemporary authors are also my “heroines.”  Five of my top picks: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lori Wilde, Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgans, and Susan Anderson.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?
I have to be honest here and give an admission that makes me an anomaly among romance readers. I rarely re-read books. I have such an enormous TBR pile and no time to read books once much less again. BUT, having said that, I do have an old favorite:  "Hummingbird," by LaVyrle Spencer. It’s an 80’s gem and had/has one of the best sensual love/sex scenes I've ever read. To this day I will re-read that for inspiration!

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?

This is the easiest question always for me to answer—my writing heroine is LaVyrle Spencer who probably influenced more budding romance writers in the '80s and '90s than anyone else. I devoured her books, I read them over and over, and I used them in my very first classes on how to write a romance novel. I don’t think I write like she did, but to this day I can’t shake my love of gentle, beautiful, descriptive, lyrical writing—even though today’s reader has less patience for that kind of a novel.

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.

I have an office in my house and that SHOULD be where I write best. But, truthfully, I am the most productive at a coffee shop or place where I’m stuck in one spot and can’t be distracted by my house, the internet, or the ability to get up and wander as soon as a scene gets sticky. I have a critique partner I write with once a week and those are my most productive days.

Tells us a little about your current book?

I have two new books coming out from Avon Impulse this fall and winter. The most current one, the one that needs to be turned in by today(!) is about a minor character from my first three books—a mechanic named Duane “Dewey” Mitchell. Dewey has lived in the small town
of Kennison Falls, Minnesota (the setting for my Avon series) all his life and is beloved by everyone. He’s a former football hero and now the go-to guy for anything that needs fixing or doing. If Dewey can’t get it done, nobody can. But the hardships in his past have left him wounded, and in some ways he’s the loneliest guy in town.

(Up until now Rose and Dewey have had a contentious attraction to each other. Now, after hearing that her son Jesse is having trouble his first day of school, Rose gets the very first inkling that Dewey isn't really the aloof jackass she thinks he is.)

Until the new town librarian shows up. Rose is smart and pretty—and she has a son with Asperger's syndrome. The ten-year-old is friendly and smart like his mother—but he definitely has quirks. And he falls in love with Dewey almost as fast his mom does. Dewey knows he isn't good father material for a geeky kid with awkward social and absolutely zero athletic skills. But as he finds himself less and less able to curb his attraction to Rose—he learns a lot about what he’s made of. And a lot about what love really is.
Show us your one favorite scene of dialogue from that book.
Rose hung up and stared around her seat in a haze of anxiety, her brain racing, thrust into the very mode she and Dewey had been discussing—how to plan the immediate future. Call the high school principal, call Kate . . .
“Is everything all right?”
His voice short-circuited the whirling, and she caught her breath, surprised—again—to see concern newly etched into the lines beside Dewey’s eyes.
“My son got into a scrape at school.”
She regretted telling him the instant the words were out. Clearly her mind wasn't planning all that well.
“My my. Young Jesse Loren Hanrehan?” His broad smile wiped out all the good will they’d built the previous ten minutes.
“If you think this is remotely humorous—” She tried desperately to soften the steel in her voice.
"Hey, now, I didn't say that."
"That idiotic grin said it plenty loudly enough."
“C'mon, look. You have a son. I have three brothers. I remember what it was like to be a boy at school. My mom came to haul us home by the scruffs of our necks for fighting more than a few times.”
“Excuse me.” Indignation burned a hole in her atom of remaining self-control. The man was a complete ass when it came to kids. “My son does not get into fights. And I have no intention of hauling him anywhere.” She gathered her purse and scooted sideways on the booth seat. “For your information, he’s been punched in the nose hard enough to make it bleed, and he’s terrified.”
“This really isn't any of your business, Mr. Mitchell.”
The calm-but-stern tone that wrapped itself around her name forced her to stop. When she allowed herself to meet his gaze, the teasing had been replaced by calm self-assurance. She wanted to find arrogance there, too, but she found something that looked more like understanding.
“Dewey?” She glared, unwilling to forgive his earlier insensitivity, and perched, ready for flight, on the edge of the booth seat.
He leaned forward, forearms on the table. “Do you always go off to him in such an agitated state?”
“What on Earth is that supposed to mean? Do I go off worried sick? Of course. You've never been a mother; I wouldn't expect you to understand.”
She swore he blanched slightly, but he swallowed and leaned a little further across the tabletop. “Just wait for two minutes. You don’t do a kid who’s upset any favors by running into the room panicked. Take a deep breath and tell me what happened. I won’t say anything, but you can sort it out and calm down.”
He dared tell her to calm down? Where did the man find—
He kept saying her name with that compelling force, yet his deep baritone softly reached something within her pounding heart that eased her low-level alarm.
“What do want? Why do you care?”
“I don’t.” He wiggled his brows. “I just don’t want to have to fix your sweet little Mustang when you crunch it up because you’re upset and distracted.”
Her mouth opened of its own volition to berate him again, but she stopped. Her brain engaged. He wasn't serious. The tension left her shoulders and she relaxed back into the seat.
“You’re a pain, you know that?”
“I do. You aren't the first to say so. But tell me. What happened to Jesse Loren Hanrehan at school? Maybe it’ll help to tell someone.”
What do you believe makes a man sexy?
To me, the sexiest thing a man can be is gentle and caring. And funny!  I’m a total beta hero girl, which is a little unusual in this day of popular hot alpha heroes. But a man who’s strong yet doesn't know it, who’s not afraid to let a woman help and heal him, and who can make her laugh—he’s got all the right stuff for me.

Of course, a sexy pair of hands and a nice strong chest doesn't hurt a bit!!
Lizbeth Selvig writes fun, heartwarming contemporary romantic fiction for Avon books. Her debut novel, The Rancher and the Rock Star, was released in 2012. Her second, Rescued By A Stranger is a 2014 RWA RITA® Award nominee. Liz lives in Minnesota with her best friend (aka her husband), a hyperactive border collie named Magic and a gray Arabian gelding named Jedi.  After working as a newspaper journalist and magazine editor, and raising an equine veterinarian daughter and a talented musician son, Lizbeth entered Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest in 2010 with The Rancher and the Rock Star (then titled Songbird) and won the Single Title Contemporary category. In her spare time, she loves to hike, quilt, read, horseback ride, and play with her four-legged grandchildren, of which there are nearly twenty, including a wallaby, an alpaca, a donkey, a pig, two sugar gliders, and many dogs, cats and horses (pics of all appear on her website www.lizbethselvig.com). She loves connecting with readers! Find her on Facebook (LizbethSelvigAuthor) and Twitter (@lizbethselvig).

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."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Admiral Nelson, Pirates & Payin' It Forward!

"Jack, a door closes. What do you do?"

"That's easy, m'dear. I shamboozle it for the draperies, hoist myself onto the sill, take a swig of rum then dive out the window." Jack smacks his hands together and grins his charming half-smile as if to say, "And that's without any rum."

Struggling to get through a closed door isn't always easy, is it? When doors close, the suffocating effects within a room magnify making escape appear non-existent. Have you ever felt like all your options were gone?

I've been pondering this week. Most people know that when I ponder... metaphors happen. Nike has a saying I quote frequently, "Just do it." Today, I ask you to Nike swoosh, "Just go with it." (Meaning my pondering, of course! Pirate!)

Easter = rebirth, renewal, resurrection. Birds return to their nests, rebuild, and lay eggs. Animals venture out into the wild and bear young. Flowers bolt up from the earth to bloom a beautiful spectrum of color. On land, spring cleaning begins. At sea, and in a tavern near you, pirates pilfer their weasely guts out. ;)

Like you and me any given day of the week, pirates were once men and women who felt hemmed in by circumstances, blocked by doors that slammed shut on their dreams and goals. Escape took them away from rules and drab society to decks swabbed with grit and determination. The sea held the promise of adventure, new horizons, and the salty spray of the divine. No wonder pirates broke the chains of normalcy and put to sea in search of new beginnings. Nature's example proved that it could be done! Huzzah! 

A prime example of this kind of bravado resided in Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, the founding member of my Nelson's Tea Series. In 1793, Calvi, Corsica, Nelson was wounded in his right eye. He refused medical attention in order to lead his men. As a result, he lost sight in that eye. In 1797, Santa Cruz, Tenrife, Canary Islands, the humerus bone in Nelson's right arm was shattered by a musketball. When his men tried to carry him to his surgeon, Thomas Eshelby, Nelson said, "Let me alone! I have got my legs left and one arm." While Eshelby prepared his surgical instruments, Nelson impatiently ordered, "The sooner it is off, the better." Within thirty minutes of the amputation of his right arm, Nelson resumed command of his men. 

If Admiral Nelson had the strength and fortitude to find another door/window in order to accomplish his goals in 1797 and eventually became the most celebrated Admiral in English history after both of those set-backs, we CAN do anything! 

History is filled with men and women whose dreams were redirected by an event or individual that created spiritual, physical, or intellectual beginnings far different than those they'd previously imagined. Jobs go away. People choose not to love or they pass away. Promising futures of the young are cut down. But life, magical, miraculous once we leave our mother's womb, defrosts blustery winter with the promising radiance of spring. 

Admiral Nelson experienced sea-sickness from a young Mid-shipman to Admiral of the White. Throughout his travails of recurring malaria and battle wounds, he found a way to succeed. Life always finds a way. You CAN always find a way. When you're stuck in a room without rum, be brave. Shamboozle it to the draperies and hoist yourself onto the sill. You WILL make it through that door/window. You WILL experience renewal of spirit, motivation, and empowerment when times are at their worst. You CAN achieve your dreams even when others try to pull you back.

"Never, never, never, never, never give up." ~ Winston Churchill

Pay it forward today. What quote, poem, advice sticks with you when times get rough, me hearties?

Katherine Bone

Monday, April 21, 2014

Are You A Fashion Outlaw?

Alicia Hunter Pace (Jean & Stephanie)
Easter was yesterday which sets our minds toward thinking of rebirth. Even if you aren’t religious (I am) thoughts turn to baby birds, blooming flowers, and a fresh wardrobe.

Ah, yes the wardrobe. Did you grow up with the seasonal fashion rules? I did. My mama laid down the law early on and I believed her. Given that we’ve had a cold spring, it hasn’t been hard to abide by the rules this year. I was in sweat pants and flannel pajamas last week. And I might be this week, too. Hard to tell.

But the years it has been 85 degrees weeks prior to Easter, the white sandals and straw purses always cried out, “It’s time! Come and get me!” And I’ve thought about it—hard. I’ve told myself those silly rules are pass√©.

Yet, I’ve never been able to bring myself to break those rules.

    The Seasonal Fashion Rules, According to My Mama
·    No white shoes, purses, pants, or skirts before Easter or after Labor Day.
(Except tennis shoes. Also, cream is acceptable. Cream wool pants are a staple.)
·    No straw hats or purses before Easter or after Labor Day.
·    No suede after Easter until Labor Day.
·    No velvet before Labor Day or after Valentine's Day.
How about you? Did your mama have rules?  Do you still keep them?

Give me a seasonal fashion rule that isn’t on my list for a chance to win an autographed copy of Scrimmage Gone South, where the heroine Tolly, would never break the rules!

Alicia Hunter Pace - Jean

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


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

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

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... 

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.
Twitter: @kaythomaswrites

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.