Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blog Tour

The Blog tour contest winner of the virtual gift of PDF books will be drawn on August 31. Everyone who posted a comment on any of the ten blog tour participant blogs is eligible to win. But I drew the name of my winner (from names of those who comment on my blog alone) this morning. The name I drew was none other than Rebecca Booth! She wins the $20 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press. I know Rebecca's a book reviewer, so I hope she'll post a nice review for whichever book she buys from TWRP. I supposed Becky won because she posted on 3 of the 4 blogs. But then, So did Sue B. So, as a consolation prize, I'm giving Sue a PDF copy of Out of the Darkness.

Congratulations Rebecca and Sue! I hope you both enjoy your prizes. And remember, you are still eligible to win the Blog Tour prize of a virtual gift basket of PDF Books.

I'll be contacting the winners by the email address provided shortly!


Friday, August 27, 2010

I posted my earlier blog too soon!

Cha Cha's at it again. As I was reading follow up comments to my previous blog, (see earlier post on Wild Kingdom) I heard Cha Cha scrambling in the kitchen. I left the computer to check on him and he was "guarding" the refrigerator. A moment later, Titi jumped off the futon and ran into the kitchen. I heard a squeak. Dreading what I would find, I ventured back into the kitchen and found this:

There's a field behind my house and a pasture across the street. Prime hunting ground for a feline on the prowl.

Thank God, Titi is such a got mouser and now...a great rat killer!

 Shiver.....

Wild Kingdom

I don't need to subscribe to the cable network, Animal Planet. I have my own little wild kingdom right here at home. But it hasn't always been that way.

Over the years, we've had several cats and a couple of big, outdoor dogs. But big dogs smell if you don't bathe them and they're just too hard to bathe in winter. So, I've mostly been a cat person. 

Our favorite and longest living cat was Daisy, a smart, lovable domestic long-hair. She shed and coughed up nasty hairballs, but she wasn't a lot of trouble. My youngest daughter even taught her to do tricks. She would chase laser lights and flashlight beams and jump up to hang from my daughter's arm. Then about six years ago, we adopted Titi.

Titi is a Malti-Poo. She was nine months old when we got her. Daisy didn't like her much, but she tolerated her. Titi learned to sit, play dead, and shake "hands." But mostly, she's just a lapdog. She sits beside me for hours and follows me where ever I go. And she's become my writing muse. When I write, Titi curls up on the futon in my office and waits patiently. She even helps me keep a writing schedule. At the same time every morning and every evening, Titi looks at me and goes into my office. If I don't follow, she comes to check on me.

Titi and Daisy became pals until Daisy died of renal failure at thirteen. And I swore I'd never have another cat.

Titi was alone for awhile with just people companions. Then my oldest daughter left home to go to college. She moved into a house and adopted a three year old Lhasa Apso named Scooter. A year later, my daughter transferred to a university and couldn't take Scooter so he stayed with us. We thought we'd have Scooter for awhile, but my daughter got married less than a year later and took Scooter with her to Alabama. But after her husband completed his basic training, the army sent him to Germany. And Scooter came to live with us a bit longer.

During that time, my youngest daughter got a kitten. And our house turned into wild kingdom.
Cha Cha is a short-haired black male. Titi and the cat bonded. Scooter was terrified of the kitten. For awhile, Cha Cha thought Titi was his mother. And let me tell you, it freaked my husband out to see a kitten trying to nurse a dog. Especially a dog that never had puppies.

Scooter eventually came to an understanding with Cha Cha and the two tolerated one another. Until Cha Cha started climbing into Scooter's crate. For awhile there was a battle for dominance between Cha Cha and Scooter. I think Cha Cha won. And eventually, we put Scooter on a plane and sent him to my daughter in Germany.

And that's when the fun really began.



My nephew had taught Cha Cha how to use the doggie door and he eventually grew big enough to jump the fence and venture out into the big bad world. At first, Cha Cha would bring in baby birds. We'd take them out of his mouth and set them free. Then he started bringing in dead mice and dead birds, leaving them as "gifts" on my daughter's bedroom floor. When we didn't appreciate his "gifts," he brought us another live bird and this time, he turned it loose in the house.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to catch a wren that doesn't want to be caught? I finally captured the little bird and tossed it out the front door.

Next, there was a live mouse. The cat dropped it in the kitchen while I was cooking and refused to catch it or kill it as it scurried under the dinging room table. I stood with spatula in hand, yelling at the cat to get the mouse. The cat laid in the floor an began casually licking his paws, looking at me as if I were a nuisance. Before I could grab a shoe and kill the thing myself, Titi ran under the table and killed it for me. And that's when I learned my dog is a champion mouser. But Cha Cha is a mini panther and he likes to hunt.

I came home one day to find a dead blue jay in my dining room. Cha Cha faked innocence but I'd had enough. I wanted to get rid of the cat, but Lauren loves that evil beast my husband nicknamed Satan. And I love my daughter. So, Cha Cha stayed.
video



After the blue jay incident, Cha Cha brought in a baby rabbit and turned it loose in my office while I was trying to write. I had a time catching it. When I picked up the little fellow, his little back legs were just a pumping,his heart a pounding. Talking to him in soft tones, I carried him outside and set him free while my husband held the cat hostage in the house until the rabbit got away. Or so we thought...

The next day, Cha Cha brought me a rabbit's foot--a bloody baby rabbit's foot. He left the mutilated bunny carcass, in the yard.

We're always finding dead, brids, mice, rats, moles, and voles in the yard. Cha Cha is quite the hunter. He once brought in a live squirrel and turned it loose in my bathroom.

I tried to catch the squirrel but it ran down the hall and into my daughter's room. My husband came at it with a baseball bat, wanting to bash it's little head in. I yelled at him and threw him out the room so I could catch the squirrel. Hubby yelled at me, telling me squirrels had sharp teeth and claws and would, "tear me up."

But the squirrel just looked scared. He was sitting on my daughter's pillow, his little chest heaving. The cat circled my feet, growling low and deep in his throat. I talked calmly to the squirrel, trying to gain its trust so I could pick him up. My husband raised the bat and told me to stay back.

"You can't catch a squirrel," he said. "It's a wild animal."

Naturally, I had to prove him wrong.

So, I picked up the baby squirrel, talking softly to it and stroking its tiny head. He curled sharp claws around my index finger and gave me a look of desperation. His claws tightened as if to say he'd fight to the finish if I harmed him, but the cat was growling and the Squirrel was terrified.

I carried the squirrel outside and placed him high up in a tree. He didn't bite or scratch and looked down as if to say, "Thank-you," before scampering off into the branches. My daughter said I was an idiot but started calling me the Squirrell whisperer. My husband asked me if I thought I was Ellie Mae.

I was feeling rather cocky about it so when the cat brought in a flying squirrel, I thought I could use my animal talents to rescue that little critter too. The cat cornered the squirrel in the bathroom, so I kicked the cat out and shut the door. I squatted on my haunches and spoke calmly to the critter. It sat huffing and puffing beside the toilet, eying me with suspicion.

I approached slowly, as I had with the tree squirrel, talking softly. Moving cautiously, I reached for the little fellow with my right hand and cupped his bottom with my left hand.

And that's when he bit me.

He clamped down on my index finger and started gnawing me like an overcooked sirloin. I screamed and tried to pull him off but he dug down deeper. I tried shaking him off like a sticky booger, but he held on tight.

Finally, I lowered my hand to the floor until his feet touched the tile. And that's when he finally let go...and flew over my shoulder, scaring ten years off my life!

Now I was trapped in the bathroom with a vicious attack squirrel no bigger than my palm, but that little sucker could fly! And he was between me and the door.

My first instinct was to grab something and kill it. But he looked so scared. And vulnerable. He sat beside the laundry hamper, chest heaving, eyes glued to me, his little body quivering. So, I picked up a hand towel and threw it over his head. Then I wrapped him up so he couldn't bite me again. He squealed as I took him down the hall, the cat stalking me as if I'd rung the dinner bell. Then I opened the front door and tossed him out. I've never seen something so small move so fast! I had a time keeping the cat inside.

Now, some people would say, "Just close off the doggie door so the cat can't get out." In fact, I've been told that alot. But Titi loves the freedom the doggie door gives her so the doggie door stays. I've threatened to get rid of Cha Cha, but my daughter loves him. And as much as I claim to hate that cat, he kind of grows on you. But just when I thought Cha Cha and I had made our peace, he decided to get even with me for releasing the squirrels.

I came home from work one afternoon and rushed to the bathroom. It was a bit of an emergency so I didn't take time to shut the door. Then Cha Cha walked in and dropped a full grown rat--not mouse--at my feet. I screamed and picked up my feet and the rat ran to the corner and looked at me with red beady eyes. I yelled at the cat to kill it, but he just sprawled out on the bathroom rug and started grooming himself. So, I screamed for Titi.

Titi came running but stopped at the doorway. The rat huddled in the corner. I sat on the john with my feet off the floor, yelling, "Get the rat, Titi! Kill it!"

Titi whimpered but didn't enter. She started in and backed out. My bathroom is small and apparently, my dog is claustrophobic. So I was on my own.

The rat started looking around for an avenue of escape and I couldn't just jump up and shut the door. Let's just say it wasn't possible for me to stand up and leave at the moment. So, I grabed the plunger sitting beside the toilet, thinking I could cover the rat long enough to finish my business and pull up my pants. But the rat was so big, it wouldn't fit under the plunger. It's head and tail stuck out. So, there I sat, pants around my ankles, holding a rat hostage under a toilet plunger.

Not my finest moment.

But the rat had to die. So I raised the plunger and started beating it to death. Not a noble or quick death, but I can assure you, at that particular moment, I didn't care.

As soon as the rat stopped twitching, I pulled up my pants, washed my hands, and ran to the kitchen for the broom and dust pan. Once I tossed out the rat, I tossed out the cat. I closed off the doggie door and left the cat outside until the next day. But did Cha Cha learn his lesson? Oh no.

A couple of months went by without him bringing anything into the house. He was actually sort of sweet. But then he brought in a live bird with a long beak. He set it free in Lauren's room. Now, she wasn't happy.

I tried catching the bird with my hands the way I did the wren, but the bird tried to peck my eyes out! And it wouldn't just fly out the window either. So, I got a broom and knocked the bird off the ceiling fan and into the trashcan. Then I threw a blanket over the trashcan and tossed the bird out the window. Lauren yelled at the cat and he immediately started snuggling her. And she forgave him. I still haven't.

He's been good lately. He hasn't brought in any live animals, but he's still hunting. He seems to think the foam noodles we use in the pool are prey. He attacks them, bites them, shreds them, and drags them in through the doggie door. We find them all over the house, along with a trail of pink, blue and purple chunks of foam. 

But hey, it could be worse. He could be bringing snakes in. Right? Instead, he cornered a groundhog in my basement stairwell. I didn't try to pick this critter up. I snapped his picture to prove what a menace the cat is and chased the ground hog up the steps with a broom.

Cha Cha stretched out on the kitchen counter, where he knows he isn't supposed to be, and laughed at me.






Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wild Roses Blog Tour--The Final Blog


Or at least it’s the last blog in August and your last chance to post a comment to become eligible to win a $20 Wild Rose Press gift certificate and/or a virtual basket filled with e-books from our blog participants.

My guest today is writer, Lauri Robinson.

Lauri lives in Minnesota, in a house that is now empty except for she and her husband. Their youngest of three sons married his best friend this summer, and when he moved out, so did his dog. Lauri misses them both (especially the dog at times.) All three of Lauri’s sons and their families live close by and she and her husband spend every spare moment with their three granddaughters, two step grandsons, and two granddogs. Lauri’s first book was published in 2005 and she now has 15 novels, novellas, and anthology stories on the market.

Lilly-
That's a lot of books in ten years. Can you tell us more about them?
Lauri-
I have seven full length novels, six shorter novellas, and two stories in anthologies. Another full length will be released in October, and another short story will be released in November. I also have one more full length that I don’t have a release date for yet, and a Japanese publisher purchased the Japanese rights to Mail Order Husband. I’ve been told it will be released early in 2011 in trade paperback in Japan.

Lilly-
Wow! That’s wonderful. Congratulations. With all those books and all that writing, do you have a non-writing job?

Lauri-
Yes, I work for the local United Way program. I’ve worked in the non-profit field for over twenty years and believe they are an integral part of our society. They provide a balance for causes and situations that are often overlooked.

Lilly-
What do you write?

Lauri-
I’d call it evolution. For years I read romance novels as a stress release. Working in the human services field, I’ve seen a lot of the ‘real world’, and reading once upon a time and happily ever after was a way to rejuvenate myself before going back to work on Monday. I also believe this is why I enjoy western historicals. My first book was a contemporary, and when I started the second one, I found myself writing about issues and conflicts I see families dealing with in the day job. I put that story aside and since I’ve always loved the old west, decided to write an historical one. There I found myself fully imbedded in once upon a time. Every time I start a new story, I’m filled with excitement to meet the characters and watch their tale evolve into happily every after.

Lilly-
I know what you mean. I love happily ever after endings.  I guess that’s why I write romance novels. So, how do you get ideas for your stories? Do they just come to you? Or does something in your personal life trigger ideas for your story?

Lauri-
Ideas come from many sources. I saw an advertisement about quantum jumping and wrote Wish Craft. My husband and I were on a riverboat in Memphis when I learned about the 1865 Riverboat The Sultana. I came home to write An April to Remember. My dad told me I should write a book about Minnesota, so I wrote A Wife for Big John. The Quinter Bride Series came about after a family reunion and I was thinking about how different each of my sisters-in-law is and how perfect they are for each of my brothers. Kendra’s Choice came about while researching for another book and I stumbled across an article that had supposedly been written back in the 1800’s about what new brides should expect. That’s probably enough examples…I could go on and on. Each book has a unique beginning.

 Lilly-
Don’t you just love it when research on one book leads you to ideas for another one? I got the idea for one of my unpublished historicals while doing research on the London sewer system. And the idea for another came about while looking through an old Montgomery Ward’s catalogue. I’m editing those stories now. What are you working on?

 Lauri-
I have several stories in the making. A series about three Texas Rangers, as well as one about a mail order bride. I also want to continue to build my profile it Harlequin, Mills and Boon’s UNDONE line, so I have a couple of those I’m playing around with.

 Lilly-
Do you work on more than one story at a time?

Lauri-

Yes, I have to work on more than one at a time. When a story slows down, or I need to contemplate what’s happening, I find working on another one gives me the opportunity to go back and look at the first one with fresh eyes and ideas.

 Lilly-
I do that too, but sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in edits and rewrites and forget to put new words to paper. I’m working on finishing every manuscript I start, but it seems I’m always going back to older manuscripts to edit them for this editor or that in the hopes of getting published with multiple publishers. So far, Out of the Darkness is my only published novel. It’s available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Digibooks. Tell us about your latest release and how we can buy it.

Lauri-
My latest release is actually a re-release in a different format. The e-book version of Kendra’s Choice was released last fall by The Wild Rose Press, but in June the audio version was released by Audio Lark. http://www.audiolark.com/books/kendras-choice/

Lilly-
Whoa! That's one hot cowboy on the cover. So, tell me about the book.

Lauri-
Here’s a blurb and excerpt from Kendra’s Choice~

Blurb: Kendra Parker needs a man—it’s research for Widow Swanson’s article, “What Every Woman Needs to Know about Her Marriage Bed.” But the sparse population of Eastern Colorado in 1883 doesn’t offer many choices, until Major Marlow arrives.

Sterling Marlow rode into the Parker farm in time to celebrate the wedding of one of Kincaid Parker’s daughters. But it was the Pastor’s older daughter, Kendra, who caught his attention. Her seductive body wanted him, and who was he to deny the needs of a young woman?

Excerpt:

Kendra Parker lowered her hand from her hair and held it out to him.

It took every ounce of control not to grab her hand, pull her against his chest, and kiss the hell out of her. He'd never met a more beautiful woman, nor had one made love to him with her eyes before. Damn! He was wound tighter than a diamond back. Exhaling low and slow, he reached for her hand.

 "Miss Parker," he greeted, wincing at how his tone was a good three notes higher than normal.

"Major." Her voice was as lovely as the rest of her—soft, sweet, and more provocative than any saloon girl could ever hope to mimic.

 She didn't try to pull her hand away, just let her supple, smooth palm rest against his. Their matching heat mingled, danced. Those blue eyes, still locked onto his, smoldered with enough heat to spark a fire all the way down in Texas. His toes curled inside his boots.

Kincaid's voice broke through the buzzing in his ears. "Kendra, your mother needs your help."

 The fingers wrapped around his hand tightened for a split second, and the long lashes over her eyes lowered. Her lips pursed as she let out a long breath before she said, "Yes, Papa."

 Sterling told his hand to let go, but it was another second or two before his fingers listened and lessened the hold he had on her. Slowly, sensuously, her fingers slipped away. A trail of heat bolted up his arm hotter than venom from a snake bite.

 Lilly-
Well now, that's pretty hot stuff. I think I need a drink. lol! So, now that you've shared this smoking excerpt, how can we get a copy of  Kendra's Choice?

Lauri-
All of my books are listed on my blog www.laurirobinson.blogspot.com along with links to where they can be found.


Lilly-
You can find Lauri's books at:
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/a27142/Lauri-Robinson/?

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/lauri-robinson-m-175.html

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Lauri%20Robinson

Lauri-
Thanks, Lilly for inviting me to blog with you today, I’ve really enjoyed it. 

Lilly-
Thanks for stopping by and spending time with me.