Saturday, January 19, 2019

When Faced With the Truth, or Farewell to Chocolate

Let's face it: I have allergies. Sniffling, sneezing, 24/7 allergies. Even though I take three allergy meds a day. If you've ever attended a convention with me, at some point you've likely heard the rapid-fire, machine-gun sneezes that some describe as sounding like a cat.

The record is 75 in five minutes. Yes, I was tired afterward.

For years I've dealt with it, but finally broke down and had a sensitivity test. I'd only recently discovered an allergy to pineapple, but I already knew of mango and celery.

The test told me things I should avoid, supplements to take, etcetera. Many will be easy, like caffeine, red meat and shellfish, since I've been vegetarian for 38 years and gave up caffeine 10 years ago (except for trace amounts). Lentils was as surprise, as was citrus fruits and spinach.

By far the most horrifying, the item that will prove to be the hardest to live without, is chocolate. I love a good dark chocolate, a cup of hot cocoa, chocolate chip cookies...

Sugar is also on the "avoid" list, as is milk. No more ice cream, unless I get the vegan kind. Bear said it seemed like this test left me with little to eat, but to be honest, when presented on a list, I'm giving up very few items as opposed to friends who have to watch every mouthful. Most of my allergens are environmental: mold, tree and grass pollen, dust. I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so no easy answer there. I'm also allergic to yellow dye, but not gluten.

I'm happily surprised that "pet dander" isn't on the list, as we have two cats, two (massive) dogs, goats, and a llama.

So, I get to keep the pets, but I have to give up all the rich creamer I love in my morning coffee.

And chocolate! Baw!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

It Takes a Village to Raise... Suspicion

As the old saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." So, too, a successful novel, like my latest installment in the Diversion series: Suspicion. While I have millions of ideas I pour into my books, the first draft is a far cry from what the reader sees. A. Far. Cry.

Even the third or fourth draft is a jumbled mass of thoughts, not necessarily coherent, or understandable to anyone save the author.

Enter my crit partners. The partners who've been with me for a long time and whose words and opinions I've come to heed, are as follows:

Feliz Faber - Not only is she invested in the Diversion series, she helps me insure I write with international readers in mind. Let's face it folks, not all my Southernisms are understandable to someone living outside the Southern US.

T.D. O'Malley - She makes sure my characters are likable and relatable and that my situations and plots are believable.

Z. Allora - She wants the feels and the love story, and only accepts happy endings. If my story turns too dark, she'll let me know in a flat minute.

D.H. Starr- Doug asks, "Why is this here? What purpose does this scene have?" He's also one of the most romantic writers I know. Holding hands on the Brooklyn bridge at sunset? Yeah, that's him. I wind up cutting a lot of unnecessary words after he's seen my manuscript, and amping up the romance factor.

P.D. Singer - She also will question if something doesn't seem plausible. She's the technical genius who formats Rocky Ridge Books' work, and understands what will and what won't hold up to formatting. Truth be told, I owe her my writing career, for it's she who first suggested I write a book in the first place, and has been with me on every single step of this journey. She also has an incredible knack for stringing together words in such lovely ways. If you need proof, read her latest, Concierge Service.

Here I am, twenty novels after she challenged me to write...

Not only are they the folks I count on to make my writing the best it can be, they're also dear friends. We met online, bonding over our love of the genre. Two years ago today, three of them were part of my wedding, two flying here to share my special day.

All of them will call me out on autonomous body parts, telling instead of showing, and overused words. Without them, Suspicion wouldn't be half the book it is.

And I do the same for them....

Those who don't participate in the actual writing process play a role in make a book a success also. The folks who've written, asking me to please continue Bo and Lucky's story, or telling me how much a book meant to them. Yes, writers need encouragement.

I've even received requests, such as, "I wanna see Victor again!" Someone has even suggested writing a story for Loretta Johnson.

Then there's those who read the book, like it, and talk it up to their friends, in conversation, on their blogs, or on social media. Word of mouth is still the most effective advertising.

There's the faithful readers who keep coming back for each installment, wanting to continue the journey of Bo and Lucky's relationship.

So, a heartfelt thankful thanks to all of you who've supported the Diversion series and other of my works.

I couldn't do it without you.

Monday, January 7, 2019

New Release - Suspicion (Diversion 7)

At long last Suspicion is now available at your favorite e-tailers.

Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter left behind his criminal past to become one of the best agents in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. He’s found a committed partner in fellow agent Bo Schollenberger and built a life. 

Now, enemies within the SNB and a friend’s betrayal leave him nowhere to turn—not even to his mentor. 

His boss’s life, the future of the SNB, and Lucky’s career depend on him. With the help of his lover, an old enemy turned ally, and a man Lucky thought he’d seen the last of, he must stand and fight for what he believes in. 

Even if he has to step outside the law. 


What others are saying:

Find Suspicion at Amazon

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking Back on Ten Years of Writing....

Once upon a time I loved books. Don't get me wrong, I still do. Very much. Books are an essential part of my life. But I was someone who loved books and spent a lot of time, consciously or not, making up stories and "what ifs" in my head.

"Where does that road go?" or "Those two people holding hands. How'd they meet?" I even researched, finding topics that interested me and striving to learn all I could to the point of a friend calling these information gathering jaunts my "latest obsession." Yes, I heard those words in Dr. Frank-N-Furter's voice.

Anyway, while surrounding myself with books, I thought of writing my own. The people in my life at the time, who should have been supportive, laughed and told me I couldn't write because I wasn't smart enough, didn't hold a college degree, ecetera, ecetera. Trusting soul that I was, I believed them.

I made up stories for my children, some that are soon to see the light of day as kids' books, but otherwise I kept the stories in my head to myself.


The road to my writing destiny led me to a fanfiction site, and when I praised the work of a few of the authors, one asked why I didn't write. I explained that I was a reader, not a writer.


I started writing, dabbling on the site a bit. Due to my desire to help others, the administrators asked if I'd like to help moderate the site. I also became a beta reader and crit partner to the masses.

One of those administrators became the best friend I could ever hope to have. She told me the story of the lodgepole pine. The cones are sealed with resin. The only way to release the seeds is to apply heat. I mean serious heat. As in forest fires. Now, forest fires are deadly and destructive, but without them, there would be no new lodgepole pines. The newly released seeds quickly take root and repopulate burned areas. She even gave me a sprig of lodgepole pine dipped in silver, that became a symbol of some trying times.

You see, my life burned to the ground, leaving me shaking and crying, wondering what happened,  how I'd ever move forward--or if I even could. I've lived a lot of years and those were the darkest days of my life.

This same friend urged me to write, to get all those negative feelings out. I didn't so much write The Telling as cut myself open and bleed on the pages. Every self-doubt, every fear, every insecurity is in that book for all to see. I poured all my flaws into the characters, and each character but one is my attempt to evaluate where I've been and how to move forward.

A strange thing happened. As I wrote these imperfect characters, they began to show strengths, and I came to realize that, like the flaws, those were mine too. I learned to live again through the writing of that book.

Folks said to me of that time, "You always land on your feet." They couldn't be farther from the truth. But I've discovered that, no matter how far or fast you fall, if you get up quick enough only you'll know the true extent.

The Telling was too personal to sell. I published it chapter by chapter on different websites, and when I finally put it on Amazon, I tried to mark it free but for some reason they never did. Right now it makes .99 cents per copy, and I give the proceeds to PFLAG.

Anyway, I said all those characters were me but one: Jay. He was the steadfast person I wanted to be, who always knew what to do or say in any situation, the rock other people could always depend upon, and confident in himself. I was surprised when a reviewer called him "too perfect." However, they were right. I'd set unattainable goals for myself.

Still, like young pine trees, I thrived. One book turned into two, then three and four...

My work has won Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2012 Lambda Awards. Most importantly, I met people through The Telling, wonderful people, people who are fast friends to this day. I've chatted online with folks who said the story touched them, gave them hope...

I can't ask for a more important calling in life than to give other people hope.

It's been ten years since I wrote about that young soldier returning home, wounded and keeping secrets, and on January 5 I'll release my 20th novel, Suspicion (Diversion Book 7).  I'm no longer surrounded by negative people and I'm content. I've even had the great privilege of helping others obtain their writing dreams.

So to all of you out there who've been told you can't do or be what you want to, simply say, "Watch me."