Friday, December 28, 2012

The Long Night Moon



Humans have been naming the phases of the moon since there were people. Even before the Native Americans assigned names and meanings to the full moons, the Celtics did it as did the ancient Chinese.
The last full moon of 2012 began last night (Thursday 12/27/12) and peaked at 5:21 am this morning, but it will still be visible tonight. Last night and again tonight, the full moon will follow the sun's path, rising around sunset and setting around sunrise on Saturday. Around midnight, the moon will be in a similar position as the sun during the summer solstice.

In areas where the sky is clear, the moon will be visible from dusk until dawn all over the world. It will be a full moon on a long night in the Northern Hemisphere and will ride low in the sky like the sun in winter in the Southern Hemisphere. North and South of the Arctic Circle where the sun stays below the horizon or there is no sun at all, the moon will mimic the position of the summer sun, hovering just above or below the horizon.

NThe December full moon shines in the center of a star formation known as the Winter Circle, a promise of where the sun will reside six months from now—a promise of longer days and warmer temperatures—a moon for wishes and dreams.

Each year, the Winter Circle is visible around the time of the Winter solstice. But this year, Jupiter is also visible near the star circle. It should be visible near the lower left of the full moon. It will be brighter than Sirius, the brightest star of the nighttime sky.

Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, this is the closest full moon to the December solstice, the longest night of the year. The Native Americans who lived in the United States named the recurring full moons to keep track of the seasons. Colonial Americans called December's full moon The Christmas Moon while others followed Native American customs, calling it the Full Cold Moon or more commonly, the Long Night Moon.

The Long Night Moon was so named because it falls soon after the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. It was a great night to attack the enemy. And if you believe in the supernatural, a great night for werewolves, shape shifters, and vampires.

The Long Night Moon shines longer than any other full Moon of the year, brightening the sky as clearly as the sun for those with supernatural vision. And the further north one lives in the Northern Hemisphere, the more dramatic  the moon will be. In some areas, there will be three hours and 45 minutes more moonlight than sunlight. So beware! It will be a perfect evening for creatures of the night.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Take a moment this holiday season to remember the reason we celebrate.

Merry Christmas and God bless.
Lilly

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Time For the Apocalypse

Well, today is supposed to be the end of the world, but it's after nine in the morning here in North Carolina and the sun is still shining. I feel a bit like one of the Who's in Whoville shouting to Horton in Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who.  "We're here! We're here!"

Instead of shouting to an elephant, I'm whispering to the universe. "We're still here. We're still here!"

It's not as if I believed the Mayan calendar but so far, today, there have been no horrific storms.

And no zombie apocalypse.

For some,  today was a day to dread. A day to fear. For me, today and this whole month are a reason to celebrate.

Today, I celebrate a milestone in my life. It's my five year anniversary of beating breast cancer. Today, I am a five year survivor.

November and December have been great months for me. Not counting the unexpected $500 dollar repair cost of my Chevy Equinox that left us stranded at a gas station in Zebulon as we were headed home from a Thanksgiving visit with my husband's family or the spare car, a 1997 Jeep that left me stranded at work when the battery died, I'm still counting my blessings.

My youngest daughter, Lauren moved out at the beginning of November. She has a fantastic, rewarding job as a radiation therapist, she bought her own car, and she now has her own apartment. I'm so incredibly proud of her. Then to top that, on Thanksgiving Day, my youngest brought a surprise with her to Thanksgiving dinner. She brought her sister!

Jennifer has been living in Germany for the past 6 years with her soldier husband, Mike. Jennifer hasn't been home for Thanksgiving since 2005. And she hasn't been home for Christmas since 2008. So, it's been fun around here having her home. And Lauren has visited more often since her sister's been here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of both my girls and I'm so happy for their independence. I had a handicapped sister, Cindy, who never had true independence. So, I know how important it is to a child and a mother to see their children living productive lives. God bless Cindy, she wanted her independence so badly. She died last February. And now, she is truly free.

If the world is going to end tragically today, I'm glad she missed it. But I just don't have time for the apocalypse now. My son in law arrived in the states on Tuesday to join my daughter for Christmas.So, I'm really looking forward to celebrating the birth of Christ with my entire family.

So glad to have Jennifer and Michael home this year.

The world might be falling into chaos, but I don't think it's going to end today. Despite all the evil in the world, there is still goodness here as well.

I can't imagine what those families in Connecticut must be going through. It must have seemed as if their worlds had ended last Friday, December 14.  I pray for those affected by that tragedy and hope that one day, they might find peace.

The apocalypse may well be near, but I'm still looking for the beauty in this world. I truly believe that if you seek love and happiness, you will find it. And right now, I'm pretty damn happy.

May you all find the peace, love, and happiness you seek. And may you all have a blessed holiday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One Step Closer!


Embrace the Darkness the sequel to my 2010 paranormal/vampire release is one step close to publication. Tonight, I got approval on my blurb:

An experimental vaccine gives vampire Gerard Delaroache hope for the first time in two centuries--until two people are brutally murdered, and he suspects a conspiracy between vampires and mortals. To solve the crime, he must put his trust in a beautiful detective. But is former soldier and MP turned detective, Amber Buckley, a threat to his existence? Or the answer to his prayers?

Amber Buckley and her partner are assigned to do follow up interviews in the Lifeblood of America slayings. Amber believes she and Reid are just new eyes on a cold case.  That is until she meets Gerard Delaroache. Something about him teases long-buried memories Amber would rather not chase. However, the two join together, falling into more than resolution of a murder case. It seems Amber has some dark secrets of her own.

 To find their way into the light, Amber and Gerard must first EMBRACE THE DARKNESS.

Hope the blurb will tempt you all to buy the book when it comes out in 2013!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hectic and Surprising Holidays

The holidays are such a busy time of year. For me, this year is especially hectic. My self-pubbed book, Helpless Hearts was just released in October, and I'm finding it harder to promote than the books I've published with The Wild Rose Press. I don't have a "support group" with my self-published title.

About the same time Helpless Hearts came out, my youngest daughter, Lauren, moved into her own apartment. There was the move and then the clean up of her old room following the move. Then, I signed a contract with TWRP for Embrace the Darkness , the long-awaited sequel to Out of the Darkness. http://www.amazon.com/Out-of-the-Darkness-ebook/dp/B003O86NR4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1354290131&sr=8-5&keywords=lilly+gayle

I was working on those edits when my youngest daughter elected me to have Thanksgiving at my house.

I wasn't all that keen on the idea. I had a book to promote, another to edit, and I wanted to get the house decorated for Christmas before my oldest daughter and her soldier husband came home for the holidays.

Mike's in the army and stationed in Germany. He and  Jennifer haven't been home for Christmas since 2008. And Jennifer hasn't been home for Thanksgiving since 2005. Jennifer told me they were flying home just before Christmas. And Lauren's room was still purple. So, after Lauren drafted me to host Thanksgiving, she got her boyfriend to paint her old bedroom.

It's now a soothing color called "beach."


Lauren even promised to come over to help clean the morning before or family Thanksgiving luncheon, but she overslept...or so she said.

No problem. I got the house cleaned, got the food cooked, and was ready for my guests when Lauren called to say she was running late--not at all unusual for my youngest. She's always running late.

The rest of my family arrived on time and were sitting in the living room talking when I saw Lauren's car pull up in the front yard. I figured the driveway was too packed for her to park in her usual place. So,I went to the front door to open it before she knocked. I figured she'd have her hands full with the food she was bringing for our Thanksgiving feast. But when I opened the door, I found my oldest daughter, Jennifer. The daughter who was supposed to still be in Germany until December 23.

Lauren had been hiding her away in her apartment for three days.

I've never been so surprised in my life." target="_blank">
my beautiful daughters

But now Thanksgiving is over and Jen is still here. I love having her, and her husband will be joining us a couple of days before Christmas. But visiting with her put me behind on my edits. Which, I finally completed late last night. Now, I'm patiently waiting for the art department to create the cover for Embrace the Darkness. And I'm trying to get ready for Christmas.

Then there's the day job. I work as a mammographer in a local hospital and everyone wants to get everything done before the end of the year when their deductibles start over. So, I've worked late almost every night since Jennifer's been home.

Life is hectic right now. And expensive. Besides holiday shopping, I had to spend over $500 on my car when it stranded us at a gas station as we were heading home from visiting my husband's family for Thanksgiving. Luckily, I have towing on my insurance policy and Lauren's boyfriend had driven separately so he could go to a race after church. The race was just a 1/2 hour drive from where my car stranded us. So, we didn't have to wait long to get rescued and we had bathrooms and coffee. Everything I needed for a cold November night stuck in a car with my husband and 2 grown daughters. We even played Monopoly on Jennifer's I-phone while we waited.

And now, the plumber is at my house, fixing a leak under my sink. There goes another couple hundred bucks! But I don't want to get so caught up with money, or the lack there of, that I can't give people meaningful gifts--even if I have to spend a little less this year. And I don't want to get so caught up in making holiday plans that I forget to enjoy the season.


Christmas shouldn't be so stressful. Hectic yes. Stressful, no. So I just need to slow down, take time to smell the Christmas tree (even if it is fake!) and enjoy my daughters' company. Life is too short. And Christmas 2013 will be here before you know it...unless the Mayans are right and the world ends on 12/21/12.

Then, none of us will be here for this Christmas. So, why am I even stressing? Time to enjoy the most hectic, chaotic, wonderful time of the year.

So, before the world ends, share your most surprising holiday story for a chance to win an e-book of Helpless Hearts.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Have Vonnie and She's Talking About Paris!


That's right, y'all. I have none other than Vonnie Davis on my blog today. Vonnie is a sister rose and a wonderful story teller. I fell in love with her novel, Storm's Interlude. And now, she has a new release that is definitely going on my TBR list. So, I'm just going to turn my blog over to her today...Vonnie?

 There’s a delightful bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. It sits on the Left Bank, within steps of the Seine and in view of the Notre Dame Cathedral. When we were in Paris, Calvin insisted I had to see it. He claimed it was the most unusual bookstore in the City of Light. I wasn’t prepared for the maze of narrow hallways leading to more alcoves of dust-covered books.





This Paris institution has an interesting background. Shakespeare and Co. was first opened at another location by Sylvia Beach, an American expatriate, in 1918. During the 1920’s, it was the gathering place for writers of the “Lost Generation” -- Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray and Ezra Pound. During this period, the store was the epicenter of Anglo-American literary culture and modernism in Paris. It is featured in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris.”

When the Nazis occupied the city, the store was closed down and never re-opened until another American, George Whitman, opened a bookstore in 1951 in a building that was once a monastery.  Later he renamed his English-language bookstore Shakespeare and Company in tribute to Sylvia Beach. This store became a focal point for literary culture in bohemian Paris.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting to me. Whitman, in his youth, had hiked his way through Central and South America and was touched by the generosity of citizens who opened their humble homes to him and shared all they had. This universal-family-ideology stuck with him and, as a result, he opened his bookstore to starving artists and writers. The bookstore includes sleeping facilities, with 13 beds, and Whitman claimed as many as 40,000 people have slept in the shop over the years. His only requirements were that his guests, whom he called “tumbleweeds”, read, work at their art/writing and help out in the bookstore for two hours a day.

A delightful book, Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare and Co. by Jeremy Mercer, tells of a writer’s month living in the famed bookstore. Imagine! Free room and board in Paris. Granted one had little privacy. Bathroom privileges were on a scheduled basis. You had to be up and moving about when the store opened. But this is Paris, y’all!

Here’s the book’s description that reinforces what I’m sharing about the place. “Wandering through Paris's Left Bank one day, poor and unemployed, Canadian reporter Jeremy Mercer ducked into a little bookstore called Shakespeare & Co. Mercer bought a book, and the staff invited him up for tea. Within weeks, he was living above the store, working for the proprietor, George Whitman, patron saint of the city's down-and-out writers, and immersing himself in the love affairs and low-down watering holes of the shop's makeshift staff. Time Was Soft There is the story of a journey down a literary rabbit hole in the shadow of Notre Dame, to a place where a hidden bohemia still thrives.”

Regular activities that occur in the bookshop are Sunday tea, poetry readings and writers’ meetings. George Whitman died there at the age of 98, nearly a year ago. His daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman, now runs the shop and continues to allow young writers to live and work in the store.


So, of course, I had to include a scene at Shakespeare and Company in my romantic suspense, MONA LISA’S ROOM. Because my heroine Alyson Moore has unwittingly foiled a terrorist’s bombing attempt, she’s been placed under the protective custody of French agent, Niko Reynard. They’ve argued outside Shakespeare and Company and are now inside the store. Niko’s looking for a little gift as a making-up gesture to his charge, who is pretty upset with him…

“Where are you from?” Niko detected an Aussie accent.

“Australia. Brisbane. I’m here to experience Paris, study art and do a bit of poetry writin’.” Eddie’s eyes were scanning the shelves. “Ah, here we go, mate.” He climbed a stepstool to reach what he was after. Turning, he leaned down to hand the two books to Niko.

“Thanks. Sketches of Parisian Rooftops and Sketches of Gardens of Paris.” He quickly scanned through the pages. Aly would love these.

Eddie hailed a greeting at two men, dressed in suits, when they entered and ambled through the narrow store, quietly talking as they climbed the few wooden steps to the next section.

Niko briefly glanced at them before flipping the books over to check the prices. “I’ll take all three.” He waited for the total and paid his bill. “Wrap them please so my lady friend can’t see them. They’re a surprise.”

“Oh, lucky her. I just love…”

Suddenly, screams followed by loud thumping and books falling filled the bookstore. Niko sprinted in the direction of the high-pitched shrieking, gun in hand. He bounded up the steps and rounded the corner. “Aly! Aly! What the hell.”

He skidded to a halt. One of the well-dressed men he saw entering the store earlier was on the floor, books covering most of his body. His companion was staggering, holding his hands over his eye and screaming like a banshee as blood ran down his face.

In the corner stood a pale and trembling Aly, her frightened blue eyes dominated her face. “They…they grabbed me! Said they’d kill me if I resisted. I…I karate kicked them.” She swallowed, obviously trying to gain control. “Kung…kung-fooed the hell out of them, too. And…and…”—she pointed to the screaming man still on his feet—“I think I poked his eye out with one of my stilettos.”

Niko ran a hand down his face, keeping it over his mouth to hide the smile. What a piece of work. He wanted to laugh. He wanted to hug her. And damned if he didn’t want to shake the daylights out of her for stepping out of his sight. Hadn’t he told her to stay with him?

“You okay?” Niko’s gaze swept over her, looking for injuries. He fought the urge to pull her to him and embrace her until her trembling stopped. Frankly, if he were honest, his nerves weren’t the greatest right this moment, either. When he heard her scream earlier, cold fear did a free-fall straight through his system.
Some professional he was. While buying books, Aly had to defend herself. His gaze took in the shambles. By the looks of things, hell if she hadn’t done a damn fine job. “Answer me! Did one of these bastards hurt you? Are you okay?”

“I…I gotta pee.” She was shaking violently. No doubt going into shock. Today’s events finally took their toll.

“I’ll show her to the dunny,” came the Aussie accent behind him. “Ain’t no wonder she’s gotta use the loo. The woman beat the bullocks out of the blokes, she did. Gobsmacked ’em, I’ll wager. Shall I call the police or will you?”

“I am the police. Counterterrorism unit.”


View the Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/MonaTrailer
BUY LINKS:
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (digital) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisaDigital
THE WILD ROSE PRESS (paperback) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoom
AMAZON (paperback) -- http://amzn.to/QQZGyD
AMAZON (eBook) -- http://bit.ly/MonaLisasRoomeBook
FIND VONNIE ONLINE AT http://www.vonniedavis.com
BLOGGING AT http://www.vintagevonnie.blogspot.com

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have You Voted?

Have you cast your vote today? Oh not for the presidential elections. I voted in the early elections last week. (Though if you haven't voted, I encourage you to do so. It's your civic duty.) But what I'm talking about today is the Sizzling Hot Book Reviews Cover contest. The voting starts today and ends on Saturday. And my newest release, Helpless Hearts is up for cover of the month this month. How cool is that?

Helpless Hearts is my first Indie published book and the one with the awesome cover designed by my very talented younger brother. I'd love to win the contest, but I'm up against some fierce competition from some of my favorite Wild Rose Press authors. So, if you get a chance, stop by http://www.amazon.com/Lilly-Gayle/e/B003O5OC6G/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1351858992&sr=8-1 and vote for Helpless Hearts.

The "poll" is on the far right hand side of the page. Just click the box by my book title and name and then scroll down to click "vote."

Thanks in advance for your vote!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Helpless Hearts Book Trailer

My latest release, a western historical romance set in the 1870's is now available.

You can find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Helpless-Hearts-ebook/dp/B009PSQ4MQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351259841&sr=8-1&keywords=helpless+hearts

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/helpless-hearts-lilly-gayle/1113461519?ean=2940015572384

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/244573

Paperback available now at Amazon Createspace: http://www.amazon.com/Helpless-Hearts-1-Lilly-Gayle/dp/1480101796/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351260021&sr=1-1&keywords=helpless+hearts+on+createspace
Or through any other book vendor using ISBN: 10: 1480101796

But the best news of all? My brother designed a book trailer for Helpless Hearts and it's awesome! Take a look and let me know what you think:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Ghostly Tale from Kathryn Knight

My guest this week is sister TWRP author Kathryn Knight. When she asked what I wanted her to blog about, I asked if she had a blog post that would make a great Halloween story. Her reply curled my toes.

Not only is the following a true story, but it took place at the farm Stephen King used for his vampire novel Salem's Lot. And Kathryn knows the family who owns the farm. Can't get any spookier than that. So, I'm just going to turn my blog over to Kathryn and enjoy this chilling story.

Thanks Lilly!

True ghost stories are particularly eerie.  While I write about ghosts, I’ve never actually seen one.  However, our good friends have had quite a history with a ghost they call Granny Griffin.  Granny Griffin happens to reside on the farm Stephen King depicts in his novel Salem’s Lot, although he changed the name in the book to Griffen farm.  The farm is located in the Maine town of Durham, where King grew up.  His best friend, Randy, lived on the 200-acre dairy farm, which dates back to the 1860’s.

In the early 1970’s, Carlene Griffin was unable to care for the farm and had to walk away from it.  My friend’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. W., bought it, with all its furniture, treasures, and apparent ghosts.  As a child, my friend found photos from the Civil War while exploring the attic!  The first news of the ghost came when Mrs. W was approached by a medium in town, who insisted she had a message from the other side that needed to be delivered.  The medium wrote a note from Granny Griffin to her daughter Carlene, telling her not to worry about the fight they’d had before she died.  Mrs. W. was charged with delivering the note to Carlene, who was still living on the property in a renovated hen house.

My friend saw the ghost of Granny Griffin on several occasions, the first being one night when he was about 13.  A figure appeared in the doorway of his bedroom, wearing a long house coat.  He assumed it was his mother, but when he asked what she wanted, she did not answer.  As she turned away, her gray bun was clearly visible.  In the morning, Mrs. W. denied checking up on her son during the night—and he realized he had never, ever seen her wear her hair in a bun.

The father, Mr. W., remained skeptical.  Until the night he heard footsteps and rose to check the house.  He saw someone descending the stairs and followed the figure down the steps and into the kitchen, where she disappeared.  When he returned to the bedroom, Mrs. W awoke to ask what was wrong.  Mr. W. replied, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.  But let’s just say I believe you now.”


The ghost in Silver Lake has a message to share as well…and despite their painful past, Rain and Jason are forced to reunite to help the desperate spirit.  I hope you’ll check out the blurb and excerpt below!  Please leave a comment and contact info if you’d like to enter the giveaway drawing.  Happy Halloween!

Blurb:

Rain Anderson can't decide which is more unsettling—encountering the ghost of her missing friend, or reuniting with the man whose love she foolishly rejected. But one thing is certain: the past has come back to haunt her, quite literally.

Five years ago, Rain's tight-knit group of high school friends unraveled when one vanished during their senior year. Now, a parent's deathbed request has reunited the friends at Silver Lake, including Jason Lansing, the man Rain discarded. Rain and Jason discover the powerful attraction between them has survived, but though Jason is willing to forgive, he can't let himself forget. The possibility of falling for Rain again is too risky.

Slamming doors, crashing objects, flaring fires—clearly the ghost has a message to share. As Rain and Jason struggle to unravel the truth, they must face a desperate spirit in need of help…and a burning passion that refuses to die.

 Excerpt:

            “I saw...a figure.  A figure with dark hair, and I think it was Brandy.”  She shuddered and put her forehead back on his chest.

Reluctantly, he moved their bodies apart a bit and scanned her face.  He held on to her shoulders and asked calmly, “You saw Brandy?  Brandy is here?”

            She shook her head.  “No, I saw… like… an image of Brandy.  I woke up, because it was cold, and I saw something moving.  It was Brandy, I’m sure of it, although I didn’t see her face clearly.  And then she, um, disappeared.”

            “An image of Brandy?  Are you saying you saw a ghost, Rain?”  He was pretty sure she’d had another nightmare, but the way she had flown out of her room gave him the impression it had been an extremely vivid one.

            “I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But that’s what I saw.  And she sort of, well, went through the wall.  I’m sure you don’t believe me,” she added miserably, lifting her stormy eyes to his.

            He pulled her back into a hug before he could stop himself.  “I absolutely believe you.  Whether you were awake or asleep, you saw Brandy and that’s scary.  I don’t think we can deny that weird things are happening here.”

            Jason smoothed her hair and waited patiently for her trembling to subside.  If a ghost really was lurking in her bedroom, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot he could do about that.  A rare sense of powerlessness caused his jaw to clench in frustration.

He stopped watching the door and instead focused on the gorgeous woman in his arms.  She clung to him, and his body responded to hers with a familiar ache.  He knew he was losing the battle to keep his feelings platonic.

Amazon Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Lake-ebook/dp/B009AEE6DO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1345749376&sr=1-1

TWRP Buy Link:  http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=177_139&products_id=4973http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=177_139&products_id=4973

Oh. Wow! Great story, Kathryn. And great blurb for your ghostly romantic suspense, Silver Lake. I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list!

 More about Kathryn:

As a child, Kathryn Knight kept her parents on a constant quest to find enough reading material to last her through each week.  An early fondness for books about horses later gave way to a lasting preference for both love stories and ghost stories; as a writer, the paranormal romance genre is a perfect fit.  Silver Lake is Kathryn's first novel; her second novel, Gull Harbor, has also received a contract from The Wild Rose Press and will be released in 2013.  She lives in New England with her husband, her sons, and a number of rescued animals.  Please visit her at www.kathrynknightbooks.com,  http://kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com/, or on Facebook at Kathryn Knight books.

Kathryn Knight
~Passionate Romance with a Paranormal Twist~


Friday, October 5, 2012

Get Your Pink On!


It's October. That time of year when I once again remind ladies to 
As a registered x-ray technologist certified in mammography and a breast cancer survivor, I can't stress enough the importance of an annual screening mammogram. It's one of the few x-ray examinations that can save your life.

I know some women find them painful. Believe me. I hear it all the time. But a mammogram isn't nearly as painful as breast cancer. Trust me on this.

In June 2007, I had my screening mammogram. My friend and sister mammographer, Linda, "squeezed" me in after we'd finished our patients for the day. This was back when our hospital still had film screen, so the x-rays dropped from a processor. I pulled the curtain in the tech area and was standing in front of the view box in my pink floral cape when Linda began hanging the films. The Left CC (cranial-caudal--the film taken from the top of the breast) fell from the processor first. It looked fine. No different from the year before. Then the Right CC fell out. It looked--different from the mammogram I'd had 18 months earlier.

Yes, I was 6 months late getting my mammogram, but I had no pain, no lumps, no family history, and no reason to be concerned. Until I saw that Right CC. There, next to my chest wall on the inside of my right breast was a star-shaped lesion with a large calcification in the center. That same lesion was evident on the RMLO (right medial-lateral obligque image--the one taken from the side.) But it was the Friday before Father's Day and the radiologist had already gone home. So, I had all weekend to worry about that lesion. And suddenly, I had a BIG reason for concern. I'm not a doctor or radiologist, but I'd seen enough mammograms and enough cancers in my time to know that lesion didn't look good.

On Monday, the radiologist ordered additional images and an ultrasound. I had those procedures the following Friday. And the Friday after that, I had a biopsy. The results came back July 3, 2007. I had breast cancer. Stage 1, but on the cusp of being Stage 2 because the margins weren't clean and the cancer had a high proliferation rate...which meant is was aggressive and growing fast. I had DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma Insitu- an early cancer that is still contained in the ducts) and an invasive ductal carcinoma--a cancer in the duct that has spread to the surrounding tissue. And it was triple negative.


Triple-negative breast cancer doesn't express the genes for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) or Her2/neu. Prognosis for Triple Negative breast cancer is the same for other breast cancers at the same stage, but more aggressive treatment is require to achieve that prognosis.

Some types of triple negative breast cancer are known to be more aggressive with poor prognosis, while other types have a prognosis similar to or better than hormone receptor positive breast cancers. Studies of  triple negative breast cancers suggest that with optimal treatment, 20 year survival rates are close to those of hormone positive cancer.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple-negative_breast_cancer

Although my cancer was Stage 1, I had a lumpectomy where more tissue was removed from the breast to ensure "clean" margins and I had to have a lymph node biopsy to prove the cancer hadn't spread beyond the breast. Four nodes were removed and all four were negative. But because of my triple negative status, I had to have chemo and radiation. I had the chemo first.--two chemo drugs, Adriamycin and Cytoxan once every other week for eight weeks. Then after an MRI to prove there were no more lesions or DCIS, I was given the choice of a mastectomy and radiation, or radiation treatments five days a week for 6 weeks.

I chose to keep my breast, which meant mammograms every six months for 3 years and yearly MRI's for three. To this day, there are times when I second guess my decision to keep my breast. But, had I chosen a mastectomy, I'm sure I would have second-guessed that decision as well.

Triple negative breast cancer has a different recurrence rate and pattern than hormone-positive breast cancers. The risk of recurrence is much higher for the first 3-5 years but drops sharply and substantially below that of hormone-positive breast cancers after that.

On December 12 of this year, it will be five years since my last radiation treatment. I will officially reach the five year mark and my personal risk of a recurrence will drop to that of someone with hormone positive breast cancer. Which isn't to say that I'm no longer at risk, but by God, I still think I have a reason to celebrate!

So the next time you hear a woman complaining about how much a mammogram hurts, remind her that a few seconds of discomfort could save her life.

If she claims she doesn't need a mammogram because she isn't having any problems, remind her that most breast cancers are silent and painless. By the time a woman feels a lump, she already has an active disease.

Remind her that if she has extremely dense breast, a mammogram can miss a lobular carcinoma hiding within the glandular tissue. So, if she feels a lump and the mammogram is normal, she needs an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy.

If she claims she doesn't have a family history of breast cancer, remind her that 70% of all NEW breast cancers are in women with no family history.

Hey, someone in the family has to be the first to screw up the gene pool. In my family, I was that person.

Although breast cancer is rare in women under 40 and the risk increases with age, no woman who has breasts is immune. That includes trans-gendered women.

Are you at risk? Check out the breast cancer assessment tool.
http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/Default.aspx


And for more information on breast cancer, please visit http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/index?ssSourceSiteId=null






Friday, September 28, 2012

Back to school, my darlings!


Today I have sister Wild Rose Press author, the very British Rachel Brimble on my blog. Welcome to the south, Rachel.

Hi Lilly,

Until this last school holiday I always thought I was pretty good at time management…but how very wrong I was! Oh, lordy, lordy! Six long weeks of barely typing a word and when I did, it wasn’t very good – not a great recipe for producing something polished enough to submit to my agent come the Autumn.

I’m mum to two young daughters of thirteen and eleven – the age where I stupidly assumed they would be out with their friends playing in the sunshine. Remember when we did that? Yes? Well, as other writer mums out there reading this undoubtedly already know, such nonsense is laughable. I soon discovered kids don’t need to go out with friends when they have virtual ones all over the internet and TV, arrghh!!

Alas, the holidays are over and my little darlings are back to school so I am feverishly writing once more, hoping to finish a novella and another novel by the time they break up for Christmas…she says. The interruptions were mammoth this summer. The moaning and fighting worse than ever or maybe it was just my own frustration and naïve expectations that caused me to drink far too much wine and break out in hives.

Anyway, onwards and upwards! We are into September now and don’t have to think about the summer holidays again for another ten months….but of course, Christmas is just around the corner! ;)

Rachel’s latest release is “Love’s Debt”, available now from The Wild Rose Press.

Here’s the blurb & excerpt:

To keep herself from the depths of poverty, Milly Shepherd needs to be appointed manager of the Red Lion Tavern.  The elderly owner is in failing health and has promised her the job permanently if no one more suitable applies.  Milly will fight with her entire being to make the job her own.

Joseph Jacobs needs to supplement his income to pay off his father’s creditors and save him from debtor’s prison.  Though the job as manager of the local tavern looks promising, Milly is favored by both the owner and customers.  Instead, Joseph swallows his pride and agrees to tend bar.

As they work together, their attraction grows, their goals cross, and both Millie and Joseph find they must face their fears …the question is whether they face them alone or together?

Excerpt:

Joseph Jacobs closed the tavern door behind him and paused a moment to take in his surroundings. As a man used to looking over his shoulder and sensing trouble, experience taught him to be aware of others before they became aware of you. He narrowed his gaze. The meager number of patrons at the tables surprised him at an hour when he expected the bar to be fairly busy. He glanced at the clock; maybe it wasn’t time for the workers yet. He shifted his gaze to the woman standing beneath the clock and his heart kicked. Her green-gold eyes held him where he stood. She stared and Joseph swallowed, willing some words to come forth from his frozen tongue or at least a smile to curve his paralyzed lips.
She lifted her eyebrows and slowly pulled a cloth from her shoulders. Her hair was a mass of fire-tipped curls around her oval face, her skin creamy-white and her parted lips, a soft delicate pink. Joseph cleared his throat and belatedly removed his hat. “Good evening, miss.”
Her smile slipped easily into place. “Good evening to you, sir.” Her voice was smooth, clear and full of confidence. “Are you looking to quench your thirst or just planning on soaking up the atmosphere?”
Joseph inhaled a long breath through flared nostrils as if trying to smell her. Something told him she’d smell of lavender…or maybe musk. Something to throw a man off guard, to lower his defenses.   He stepped forward. “Neither. I am looking for the landlord. Would you happen to know if he’s available?” Her gaze lingered on his a moment longer before she looked to the four glasses at the table beside her. She grasped them expertly between her fingers and carried them behind the bar without answering his question.   Joseph couldn’t take his gaze from the natural sway of her hips beneath the deep burgundy dress she wore, the bustle a little too prominent for the current fashion showing her lack of money to afford better. Why else would a woman with the features of an artist’s model be working in a tavern unless necessity demanded it?
Buy Link:

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=176_138&products_id=4967

Rachel’s Links:

http://www.rachelbrimble.com/
http://rachelbrimble.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Brimble/181873201887441
https://twitter.com/RachelBrimble

Friday, September 7, 2012

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Nearly every cancer has a color and a month. Or at least, the BIG cancers do. October and the color pink represent breast cancer. September and teal belong to ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Sometimes, the symptoms are so subtle, women ignore them. What's a little bloating and abdominal cramping to a busy woman? And if the pap smear was normal, then there isn't a problem. Right? Wrong. Neither a routine pelvic exam nor pap smear will reveal ovarian cancer. And unless a woman is honest about all her symptoms, the doctor may not think to do an ultrasound-a test that can show ovarian cancer.

There's no chart or studies that can show if a woman is at risk for ovarian cancer. That's why it's so important for women to pay attention to their bodies. Know what's normal and what isn't. Discuss changes with your doctor, and know the warning signs and symptoms of gynecologic cancer. If you're concerned and your doctor brushes off those concerns, be aggressive. Or seek a second opinion.

If you have unusual vaginal bleeding or bleeding after intercourse, see a doctor. If you have abdominal pains and bloating that's unexplained or different that last longer than two weeks, see a doctor. These symptoms can be due to something other than cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see a doctor and have some tests.

Check out this website for important information on ovarian cancer. And see your doctor if you're concerned.
http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/gynecologic/basic_info/symptoms.htm

If you have ovarian cancer or know someone who does, support the research. Support the fight to stomp out all cancers. Tonight, celebrities will be joining the fight to Stand Up to Cancer.

http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/stand-up-to-cancer/379054

My local writing chapter is also raising money for the fight. Donate to Ovarian Cancer research at Duke University Medical Center and get a free book. https://www.facebook.com/notes/virginia-kantra/donate-to-ovarian-cancer-research-get-a-free-e-book/10151025989207181

But most importantly, if you are a woman and you have some or all of your female parts, make an appointment to see your doctor if you are having ANY unusual gynecologic symptoms. Don't assume it's normal if it isn't normal for you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Changing Face of Publishing


Writing a book isn’t what it used to be. The computer made the physical part of the process much easier. Now, Indie Publishing has added another convenience. It’s eliminated the need to find an agent or a publisher. 

But is this a good thing? Or is there a lot more poorly written crap out there? And why are so many authors blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking? What’s with all this self-promotion anyway? 
The publishing world is changing and authors have to adapt or change careers. For those of us still struggling to make a career, the changes can be daunting. 

What’s an author to do?

I’m not sure myself. So, I’ve asked recently published Wild Rose Press author, Linda Trout how she views this new world of publishing.


Welcome Linda!

Hi Lilly. I’m so glad to be here today. It’s very sweet of you to host me.

- Contests. Do you enter and why?

I do enter contests. As an unpubbed, I found it to be a good way to get my MS in front of an editor if I finaled. Also, if you final you have bragging rights. Always a plus.

I tried contests a couple of times. Some of the critiques were very helpful. A couple sounded like so much sour grapes to me, while others didn’t give a clue as to what was good or bad about the work. I tend to shy away from them. I guess I’m afraid of being told I suck. Lol!

- Do you keep up with your sales? What social media do you think generates the most sales for you and how do you keep up with the results.

Since my book is a recent release, I’m still new at keeping up with sales numbers. I don’t check every day, but probably should keep a closer tab on them. I always try to steer people to The Wild Rose Press site, but most people are more familiar with Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I love that TWRP pays quarterly. I checked my sales a few times on the authors’ website, but it just made me anxious. Now, opening that email that takes me to my paypal account is like opening a present. And since my sales very so widely, it’s like getting an unexpected gift. My December sales were steady. My sales went up in March and then dropped in July. Can’t wait to see what September brings.

- Do you do book signings. Do you think they're a thing of the past?

I LOVE book signings! I’ve done quite well at them. Of course, the one’s I’ve done so far have been with family, friends and former coworkers so it was a good way to reconnect. I think it may depend on where you live and your own social network. I come from a small town so it made sense to hold my first signing at the library there.

I’m a small town gal myself. I’ve had seven book signings. I made my most sales at the two held in a gift shop in my hometown. Thanks to all my friends, family, and co-workers. Lol! But you’re right. It was loads of fun and a great way to reconnect.

- Speaking of books, do you still read paperbacks? Or do you prefer digital readers? Do you see a future for paperbacks or do you think they're going the way of the dinosaur?

I have to admit I’m one of those dinosaurs. Don’t own an eReader (yet). My hubby and I both read paperbacks. A LOT! We drop in at the bookstore quite often to see what’s new. Don’t you just love the smell and the stacks of books when you walk in the door? Kinda like coming home. When we have too many books piled up, we donate them to the local library. It’s a win-win situation.

I felt the same way you do—until my husband bought me an e-reader two years ago. Now, I only buy/read research books. I still love browsing bookstores. I still buy old books and research books. But when I want to read for fun, I download it. I’m now on my second e-reader.

- Besides guest blogging, how do you promote your books?

I use Facebook and set up an Event when I have a signing, then invite all my friends that live close by. I’ll also have an announcement in the newspaper. I’m signed up on Twitter, but I’m still trying to learn my way around it. hehe. I also set up author profiles on Amazon and Goodreads. Not sure how those help me promote my book, though. Basically, I use word of mouth and tell everyone I know to tell everyone they know. Not that efficient, but I’m still getting the hang of this stuff. Remember, I’m a dinosaur. {snort}

I know what you mean. I get Facebook. I don’t quite get Twitter. But I am trying to Tweet more and respond to Tweets. I’ve run contests on Goodreads and I post reviews of books I’ve read on both Goodreads and Amazon. And, I too have an author page. I’ve also joined Pinterest. Another time suck. Lol!

- What's your take on self-publishing? Have you attempted it? Do you recommend it? And, have you read any self-published books? What was your take on them?

I think Indie Publishing is a great way to get your book out there that doesn’t necessarily fit in the parameters of the Big 6. However, too many people are simply throwing their work out there without it being ready. First and foremost, you have to have a good product! Which means hiring an editor. I know my book wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the help of my Wild Rose Press editor. If you’re going to go to all the effort to write a book, make it the best it can possibly be. Once you have a bad reputation for poor quality work, it’s hard to overcome it.

I couldn’t agree more! I think those who’re making the most money off Indie Publishing are previously published authors who’ve gotten their rights back and those authors published in other genres who decide to do something different—like trying their hand at Steam Punk. I’m flirting with the idea of Indie Publishing myself but haven’t taken the plunge yet. 

-And you have a new release from The Wild Rose Press. What’s it called? Can you tell us a little about it?

My debut novel, Grave Secrets is a romantic suspense.
Here’s a blurb:

When Sara Adams' infant daughter is abducted, she moves heaven and earth to find her. But six months later, time is running out and Sara turns to the one man she shouldn't—insurance investigator Morgan Daniels. Dangerously attractive, he's a threat to more than just her heart, and if she isn't careful, he'll unearth secrets better left buried.

Proving Sara murdered her husband is Morgan's top priority. Helping her find her child is the perfect opportunity to get the proof he needs. But when he starts to think of her as a woman rather than a suspect, she slips under his armor. He can't trust her. Worse, he can't trust himself around her.

All evidence points to Sara as a murderer, but Morgan's gut tells him the evidence is wrong. Is his obsession with her blinding him to the facts? Or is the real murderer still out there…stalking Sara?

Excerpt:

Sara’s sobs, the first he’d heard from her, broke through his stupor. Was this the reason behind those dark circles under her eyes? The logical side of his brain said to back out of the room and get the hell out of the house. He didn’t need another mental case in his life, didn’t need the responsibility, and later the guilt, when he failed them.
Instead, he gathered her in his arms, then pressed her head against his shoulder. She cried so hard, her entire body shook, and her keening touched him in places he’d thought long dead. He had the feeling this was the first time she’d truly cried since they’d dug up her husband’s body. No wonder there were so many tears.
His shirt was soaked. He didn’t care. He forgot about his mom, about how Sara could already be headed down the same road and simply held her close. When the tears had abated and she’d blown her nose on the handkerchief he’d offered, he kissed the top of her head, whispering it would be all right. She looked up at him, parting her lips. Remnants of tears still trailed down her cheeks. Without thinking, he lowered his head and gently pressed his lips to hers to comfort her.
Sara had been clinging to his shirt, but now moved her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. She opened for him, inviting. Am I out of my mind? He couldn’t get involved with a client. Or a suspect. Sara Adams fell into both categories.
He chuckled to himself. He was about to make the biggest mistake of his life, but right now he didn’t care. When she whimpered he scooped her into his arms, her weight a turn-on by itself, and strode across the hall to the nearest bed he could find.

Thanks for stopping by to chat today. Good luck with the new book. I think it’ll do great. Then again, I love good romantic suspense.

Thanks for having me today, Lilly! I’ve enjoyed visiting with you and sharing my viewpoints on some of the issues authors face in our ever-changing publishing world.

This is the tail end of my blog tour, so on Labor Day I’ll be drawing one lucky commenter’s name from the tour to receive a free digital copy of my book.

Who doesn’t love a chance to win a free book? Especially an award-winning book.

That’s right. Grave Secrets won the 5 Heart Sweetheart contest with The Romance Studio! http://www.theromancestudio.com/reviews/reviews/gravesecretstrout.htm{Yelling a little quiet ‘yah’ here. hehe}

Congratulations!

Thanks again for hosting me! You’re more than welcome to come on over to my site anytime. I’d love the company.

Buy Links for Grave Secrets:
TWRP: http://tinyurl.com/cann8jz
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/bvpysqf
Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/cnqz5ky

Friday, August 24, 2012

Donna Del Oro's The Delphi Bloodline

I love just about anything paranormal, but psychic powers and abilities have always fascinated me. So does the premise of Donna Del Oro's new novel, THE DELPHI BLOODLINE. And today, I'm going to interview Michael Drake, the tech tycoon who wants to control and enslave the Bloodline from Donna's novel, THE DELPHI BLOODLINE.


THE DELPHI BLOODLINE: A smart, romantic thriller about an ancient bloodline of psychic women, the ruthless tycoon who wants to enslave them, the mysterious man who wants to protect them, and the modern-day descendant who must fight to stay alive and free!


Lilly: You’re a billionaire, the owner of D.I.E., Drake International Enterprises. What does your corporation make?

Drake: All kinds of high-tech products, from cyborgs to unmanned aerial vehicles, military drones. You name it, we make it. Silicon Valley is the brain center of the high-tech industry.

Lilly: You’re a single man with more money than you need. Billions! Why haven’t you married? I’m sure lots of women would love to be married to a billionaire.

Drake: That’s the problem. I’m drawn to exceptional people. Who DON’T NEED ME.

Lilly: What made you think that true psychics would work for you?

Drake: Women in the Delphi Bloodline, as they call themselves, work for police departments for nothing. Why not work for me and make millions? There are governments and agencies all over the world that need their talents.

Lilly: Doing what?

Drake: Corporate spying, intelligence of all kinds. Those women can do what the men of the CIA’s Stargate Program couldn’t do. And a hundred times better.

Lilly: And if they don’t want to work as spies? What then?

Drake: Then I convince them they have no choice. You’ve heard this before, I make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Lilly: You’d go that far?

Drake: Whatever it takes. How do you think I got where I am today?  Just a matter of time and the Delphi Bloodline is mine.

THE DELFI BLOODLINE is available: MusaPublishing.com/Kindle/Nook/Apple

You can learn more about Donna and her writing at: www.donnadeloro.com

THE DELPHI BLOODLINE: Blurb:

Present day descendants of the ancient, psychically powerful Delphi bloodline face the threat of extinction when an evil tycoon hunts them for his own nefarious intent, a global spy network.

When artist Athena Butler, the modern-day descendant of a powerful, ancient bloodline of psychic women, realizes she’s the target of mysterious and dangerous kidnappers, she gets help from strange sources—the spirit of an ancient ancestor and a handsome man who claims to be one of her bloodline’s Guardians. Her mental powers and his brawny skills keep them one step ahead of the mastermind behind these kidnappers. Until the time when an FBI task force decides to use Athena as bait.

Excerpt-

Chapter One
Pyramid Valley, Nevada
Thursday AM
Athena Butler’s eyes blinked open and she sat up. 
Coming back from The Flow was always jolting. Emerging from the stream of spirits was like a water skier lurching out of the water, pulled by a strong, invisible force. The mind caught up later to the body as if it required a rough snap to break free.
Likewise, to go there was like jumping out of a plane and feeling the air rush to your face, your limbs weightless and wobbly. Most of the time, it was a joy to enter this world of unseen spirits. Athena welcomed her visits, especially at night when she found herself invariably alone.
When she was a child, she’d often emerge from The Flow with a fearful whimper and a cry. She’d wept and wanted to stay in The Flow. Now, at twenty-six, Athena had grown accustomed to her mental flights. They were no longer fear-inducing for she understood their purpose. But her exits were still mind-wrenching and she often lay in bed afterwards, disoriented.
This morning, fear clutched her heart and she could barely breathe. With a trembling hand, she reached for her phone.
Breathless, she raked her other hand through her hair and kicked her legs over the side of the bed.  Six AM, Nevada time. She punched her mother’s mobile numbers. It was nine o’clock in D.C.
“Thank God, Mama! Where are you?”
“I’m in Baltimore, near the—.”
“Mama, I had a dream about you. A Flow Dream. The spirits—they want me to warn you! Whatever you’re doing right now, get off the streets.  Go home and lock the door. Call the police!”
Her heart felt like a ticking bomb in her chest.  Athena could barely speak. But her mother knew her and understood her Flow dreams. They were seldom wrong though sometimes a little off in timing. Today, a threat was imminent. She knew it.
“Slow down, Thena. Take a deep breath and tell me slowly about your dream. I don’t doubt you but we must be able to interpret it correctly. You know how these Flow Dreams are. Sometimes the symbolism is strange and difficult to interpret.”
“Okay—just go home and lock the door. Now, Mama!”
Athena had to swallow hard and take big gulps of air in order to speak. Losing her mother was unthinkable. She’d already lost her father, and in a way, her brother.
“Where are you, Mama?” 
She inhaled and counted to five. Her mother wasn’t in Georgetown, where she lived with her second husband. Athena sensed water nearby, a large body of water. Her mind jumped ahead. The body of water in her terrifying dream was vast, a bay leading to the ocean. The Baltimore harbor—of course!
“Near downtown Baltimore. I’m heading toward a section of the city where I believe a little girl’s body was hidden. The police need the evidence from that location.  They think she was hidden somewhere, killed and then a day or two later dumped into the bay. I think I’ve found the monster’s hideout.”
“Mama—”
“I had a session with the homicide detective last night. I handled a few articles of the poor child’s clothing, what she was wearing when they found her. I got some visions so I drove up here to pinpoint the location. It’s not in a very nice part of town but I thought I’d drive around, and then call Detective Bonner when I got something.”
Athena groaned. Her mother was at it again.  Getting involved with homicide cases and trying to use her powers to bring killers to justice.
“Mama, get out of there, please! Go home—”
“I’ve had no sense of this danger, Athena, not to me personally,” her mother said. “Listen, we must talk soon. There are other dangers that I’ve seen…but don’t fret, my car doors are locked, I’m driving my big SUV. I’m in traffic, so relax.”
“Maybe you’re too focused on that homicide case,” Athena stressed. Her mother had no idea the danger she was putting herself in. First-hand experience had taught Athena that working with the cops was a dangerous business. Let them do their work and solve their own cases.
I’m done with all that.
Her mind darted back to the vision in her dream. She took a deep breath and steadied her voice.
“I saw you in your car, Mama. You stopped to get out. A black car pulled in front of you and another one—a long white one—blocked you in back. There was a woman driving the car in front and she was with men who had guns.  Someone grabbed you and carried you to the white car. I could smell salt water and then they took you away. Some place far away. And then I was in the mountains, the Sierras, searching for you.”
Athena bent over, clutching the cell phone, her lifeline to the one person she loved most in the world.  Her stomach cramped into a hard ball.
There was silence. “Mama, go home,” she repeated.
“Okay, Thena, I’m turning back toward the freeway. The harbor shops are on my left. Remember that eight-sided tower, the one with a great view of the harbor and breakwater. The octogon tower. You remember going there on your last visit here, don’t you?”
More silence followed then as an image sprang to Athena’s mind. Yes, they’d had lunch there…
Her mother gasped loudly.  A screech of brakes, metal crunching, glass breaking. Her mother cursing a blue streak in her native Italian.
“What happened, Mama? Are you all right?”
“Yes, dear. Just a stupid fender bender. Merda! Daniel’s going to throw a fit. My second one this year! I’m getting so distracted with these cases—not paying attention to what I’m doing. I swear this car pulled right in front of me, cut me off. It’s not my fault this time.”
More angry muttering followed.
“Dio, I really smashed up that rear end! Thena, I’ll call you right back as soon as I exchange insurance information with the driver. Be right back, Thena.”
“Mama, don’t get out of the—”
The line went dead.  With a cry, Athena sank to her knees on the cold, tile floor. Shivers of dread rippled through her. Her mind went numb with panic.
For God’s sake…Think! Get help!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Andrea Downing- author of Loveland


Happy Friday! Today I'm interviewing romance author Andrea Downing.
Welcome, Andrea!

1- When do you do your best writing? Morning? Evening? Or mid-day? And how do you organize your writing time?
I’ve never been a morning person and because I live in New York but am in touch with people in Mountain Time, 2 hours behind, I tend to stay up quite late at night.  So I don’t really warm up to writing until the caffeine has set in, in the afternoon.  I’m probably at my best early evening.  And because I travel a lot I have no organized writing time.  It’s a horrible thing to admit, I know, but I grab the time when I can.
2- Are you a reader as well as a writer? What have you read lately?
I’m an absolutely voracious reader.  I must have a book with me at all times, cannot bear to be sitting doing nothing in a waiting room or on the subway or whatever.  And I read just about everything from western and romance (which of course is what I write!) to biography and history.  I just finished Jenny Cockell’s Across Time and Death:  A Mother’s Search for Her Past Life Children.  Fascinating stuff and I recommend it.
3- How do you spend your free time when not reading or writing? Do you even have free time?
I make free time because I think it’s important to get away from the computer and get out.  After all, if you have no outside experiences, what do you know to write about?  As I said, I travel a lot.  These days it’s mostly out west where I visit ranches and go riding and do “western” things!
4- Since I love to travel and seldom do, I like to hear about other places. It’s one reason I love to read and write. I get to travel in my head. Much cheaper that way. Lol!  So, where do you live? What’s the it like?
I live most of the year in East Hampton, NY, and the rest of the time in NYC.  I guess everyone knows what New York City looks like.  East Hampton is near the very end of Long Island, about 100 miles from NYC.  The place I live is approximately 4 miles from the Long Island Sound with its harbors and boats, and a similar distance from the Atlantic Ocean beaches.  The town was incorporated in the 1600s and it has tried—not always successfully of course—to keep its Olde Worlde charm with a village pond, windmills and some of the original houses, all clapboard of course. Aside from the beach and the sand dunes there are Pine Barrens—it’s a very flat area. Nowadays, however, the roads are a huge traffic jam in the summer and the village has shops such as Tiffany’s, Ralph Lauren and Gucci.  I prefer it in the winter!   We get 4 seasons here but the winter is pretty mild being near the sea and the summer’s much cooler than in the city.


5- Where is the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Tough one, Lilly!  I lived in Nigeria for a while, in Kano near the sahel (just below the Sahara) so that was pretty exotic.  But so was Ecuador where I got out on Lake Titicaca (I believe it’s the highest lake in the world) and visited the Uros Islands, which were fantastic.  They are man-made, woven in fact—fascinating.  


6- Was it vacation, business, or research? And, have you ever combined travel and research?  Ecuador was vacation—my daughter’s university graduation present in fact-- but I have combined travel and research.  I went out to Loveland, CO for my book of the same name and visited that, as well as Cheyenne, WY and the Pawnee Nat’l Grasslands to get a feel for what the prairie was like.  


7-So, tell us something about your latest release set in Loveland, CO and aptly titled: Loveland
It’s a western historical romance, and the background is the ownership of the large cattle companies by British aristocrats.  My heroine, Lady Alex, returns to the ranch where she spent some happy years as a child.  She is trying to develop a career in art but loves life in Colorado and, more particularly, one of the top hands, Jesse Makepeace.  Unfortunately, her family places demands on her and the relationship between Alex and Jesse undergoes numerous complications while problems also beset the ranch.

8- Lastly, what are you working on now?
It’s a double romance—two for the price of one, folks! There’s a mother and a daughter, and a (separate) father and son.  The mother is a successful writer of romance who cannot let romance into her life; her daughter has just lost her fiancé to leukemia and is trying to get on with her life.  The father blames himself for the death of his oldest son in Afghanistan while his younger son holds a secret that can blow them all apart.  But it’s also about the relationships between parents and children. And about the lies we tell ourselves to get by each day and, of course, it’s about finding love where—and when—you least expect it. 

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
Get your copy at:

Sounds like a great story, Andrea. Thanks so much for sharing it today. I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list!

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's Still Summer and the Romances are HOT


Speaking of hot romances and summertime, let me welcome sister TWRP romance novelist, Nancy Jardine. Are you having a hot summer, Nancy?

Summer time?  We Scots are likely to say – please explain that term; I don’t know what you mean.

It’s the 10th of August, and it’s supposed to be our summer time here in Scotland. Have you heard of that phenomenon when there’s lots of lovely sunshine? Warmer temperatures when we can remove the heavy fleeces, and don the shorts and T-shirts? The occasional squirt of sun screen needed-maybe factor 10 will do because it isn’t very hot? Oh, I know, you’ll think that has to be a joke. Wait till you visit my country, because lovely as it undoubtedly is, sun screen isn’t bought in bulk hereabouts. And we can easily experience all four seasons in one day.

We do get a lot of rain, but the opposite side of that particular coin is I’m thankful not to have a problem with water supplies. Apologies, here, because some of you might live in Tornado country, or are close to horrendous out-of-control fires, or your landscape is parched dry. During 2012, we’ve already seen weather patterns-across the globe-which have been variations to the norm. In places where extreme conditions are not expected something devastating has occurred-drought parched land becomes a flooded quagmire bringing havoc and despair to the people who inhabit the areas. Controlling worldwide weather isn’t within man’s capabilities, yet.

Talking about weather may seem too mundane, but it can furnish a good scenario for action scenes in a novel. In my recent release, TAKE ME NOW, Aela and Nairn find themselves at the mercy of the weather a few times. Why is that a problem for them, and how do they overcome it? Since the story is largely based in a castle, on an island off the west coast of Scotland, weather conditions are pretty important for them. They have to get to the mainland, and there are only two ways to do that. Number one is to sail, and number two is to fly.

Either method presents problems when the weather is rough. You might well question why they set off in rough weather? It’s a very good question, but if you hung around in Scotland for a very good day you might have a long wait…though, the weather forecasters can give much better predictions nowadays, which sometimes gives you a ‘weather window’ to work in. But then, again, you might set off when the going is favourable and find that something unexpected delays your progress. This happens to Nairn and Aela as they fly above Loch Long.

I’ve gone through a couple of pretty bad storms over the European Alps in a British Airways Boeing Airbus (something like the 321-200 type) which can seat around 180 people. The high turbulence was, at first exciting, even thrilling in a roller coaster sort of way, but when the cabin lights started to flash off and on, and the jouncing around opened overhead lockers, setting debris to fly around inside the cabin…that’s when it got a little bit scarier. Not to mention the smell of fear that seemed to permeate the plane, though the passengers were eerily quite. No-one was in any way loudly vocal about the buffeting conditions, but the indrawn breaths were not as quiet as people intended them to be. The fierce lightening storm-jagged forks of bluish white in a lowering purplish darkened sky-outside the tiny window wasn’t so welcome either, as we flew over mountain tops, the pilot having dropped altitude to prepare for landing. Yet, in that larger plane, there was a much greater element of cocooning in the cabin. I’m very glad, though, that I wasn’t sitting next to the pilot in the cockpit while the controls were being adjusted constantly, viewing what was ahead, and all around the plane in a more panoramic view.

I’m not sure I’d want to be flying around in similar really rough weather in a tiny floatplane-as Aela and Nairn do in take me now. When I wrote the scene, in my mind, I revisited my own experience of flying in cloudy weather during my seaplane trip, though it wasn’t raining then, and was only marginally, and intermittently, windy. . Even in reasonable weather it feels as though all you need to do is reach down to touch the trees tops, or the top of the hillsides you’re flying over. Every noise, inside and out, is heard more acutely. The ground dipping up to meet you in severe turbulence would make memorable moments. To my own seaplane experience I added incidents of being in a small boat in rough conditions, in the same area they were travelling over, and merged the two in my imagination.

It’s early July in Scotland. Nairn’s already injured, and in some degree of pain, before he sets off on what becomes a hazardous flight, but his competent assistant, Aela, transports him with superb skill. Here’s how she saves the day:

 With incredible skill Aela landed on the far side of the island in heaving waters so high at times the waves sloshed over the wings, breakers he wasn’t convinced he’d tackle himself. Although only late afternoon the summer sky was so slate-dark it was like night; the angry grey-caps surging up and around them, their height dangerously close to submerging them. The rain battered the glass windshield, a momentary blocking of the way ahead till the wipers did their job.

“Brace again, Nairn!” she yelled over the horrendous noise. “This isn’t going to be smooth.” Her words were no sooner uttered than the floatplane lurched, a dangerous list in the high winds. “No worries, Nairn! I’ve got it under control!”

How Aela managed to keep it steady he hadn’t a clue, but it would have been beyond his own experience. The craft vibrated, a violent and relentless buffeting, as she taxied around the headland to Mariskay harbor. The storm lamented, the rain bombarding them with even more force from that direction. Having radioed ahead the automatic roller doors of the boatyard opened for them as Aela made the harbor entrance where she bumpily-bounced the little plane up the slip and inside out of the weather.

“You still with me, Nairn?” Aela grinned. He knew her adrenaline was pumping wild around her-for his was no different.

His smile was weak, his pain-wracked body having given in to the relief they were home. Not dry by any means…but home. And Aela was safe. “Jeeze! That beat the hell out of a boring ride, Aela.”

Thank you for allowing me to bring you some Scottish summer weather today, Lilly. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, but haven’t been put off learning about my part of the world.

**My-TAKE ME NOW-Tour Contest** 
To celebrate the launch of Take Me Now I’ll be giving away 2 e copies of Take Me Now, 2 e copies of Monogamy Twist, and 4 goodie bags of Scottish Castle Gift Cards and Tags to some lucky winners. At each tour stop I’ll be asking a different question. To be entered into the draw find the answer to the question set, at each tour stop, and send the answers to me at nan_jar@btinternet.com before Saturday the 11th August 2012. The more questions you answer, the better your chance will be! (ie send in four answers your name’s in the draw four times) The draw will take place at noon (GMT/ UK time) on Sunday 12th August.

For the URL details of the other tour stops (and special giveaways) please check the calendar on Nancy Jardine’s blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com

Quiz question for Friday 12th August: Which Scottish Loch is featured in the blog today?

Nancy can be found at:
Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com
Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com
FaceBook:  http://facebook.com/nancy.jardine.56
Twitter:  http://twitter.com@nansjar
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6166205-nancy


Books by Nancy Jardine:
TAKE ME NOW
The Wild Rose Press:
Print:  http://bit.ly/MrlI8x   E book formats: http://bit.ly/MQJXvw
Amazon: Print: http://amzn.to/LEUb1g
Take Me Now YouTube Trailer link - http://youtu.be/stDC4Yhm2r0


Also available:
MONOGAMY TWIST
Coming Soon:
THE BELTANE CHOICE will be available in ebook formats from Crooked{Cat}Publishing 31st August 2012. Print will follow.