Thursday, August 26, 2010

And the winner is...

Congrats, nikkibrandyberry, the paranormal prize pack is all yours! Thank you for your donation and for the many ways you got the word out about Johanna Faith's journey.

Please leave your email address in the comments and I'll contact you for the pertinent shipping info and whatnot. (I'll delete the comment after I have your info so it's not hanging out there for everyone in the world to see, no worries)

Thanks to everyone who participated, donated, blogged, tweeted, and generally contributed to helping CJ and her family bring Johanna home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Of Coffee and Caring

Anyone who believes writing is a solitary pursuit is obviously not a member of RWA. In the short amount of time I've been a member of RWA and my local chapter, MCRW, I've met some amazing people. People who are frank and funny and honest. People who encourage you through the first draft, push you out of your comfort zone, and make you laugh after a contest judge questions your understanding of the English language. People who support one another, in writing and life. People like CJ Redwine.

CJ Redwine is an urban fantasy author, a hilarious blogger, and a mom. More to the point, she's a mom who's missing one of her children. No one can tell CJ's story better than her, so here it is in her own words:

We had three biological boys in four years, and then I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I had a hysterectomy and while I mourned the fact that I couldn't have any more biological children, I was certain our family wasn't finished. My husband wasn't so sure. :) I'd talked about adopting and I always saw us with a little girl from China. He came up with a ton of reasons why now wasn't the right time to adopt. Then, on Mother's Day of 2005, he leaned over to me in church and said, "We have a daughter in China. We need to start the adoption proceedings to bring her home." I adjusted to this unexpected news (we hadn't discussed adoption for months) in about 15 seconds. :)

The next day, we began researching adoption and we picked out her name: Johanna Faith. Johanna means God's Gracious Gift and Faith is what it is taking to bring her home. We signed up with Chinese Children Adoption International agency based out of Colorado. We completed our stateside paperwork and homestudy within a few months, sent off our dossier to China with the understanding that it would be a 6-8 month wait, and eagerly planned to bring our daughter home.

Soon, though, we began to hear rumors that the wait time was extending. Then we heard that the government had cracked down on orphanages who were receiving money from the state but who weren't keeping all of their beds full and the wait slowed to a crawl. Our dreams of having her home for Christmas were dashed. And then our dreams for having her home in time for summer were dashed as well. Before we knew it, another Christmas had passed and we were still waiting. Meanwhile, the Olympics were coming to Beijing, and the word was most adoption processes would stop altogether.

As the wait stretched from 8 months to three years, I struggled with depression. I could hardly bear Christmas, because she wasn't yet there. I shut the door of her bedroom and left it closed because I couldn't bear to walk past it in the hall. It hurt to think about having a child out there whom I couldn't protect. Couldn't love. Couldn't save. Three years became four with no real change. Our homestudy expired. Our immigration petition expired. Three times. Our fingerprints expired. Four times. And China raised the orphanage and court fees by thousands while we waited. Suddenly, the cushion of money we'd raised at the start of this process was almost gone, and China was picking up speed in their child match program.

In September, it will be five years since we officially started our adoption process to bring Johanna home. We expect to receive her picture, information, and permission to travel sometime by the middle of September.

I opened her bedroom door for the first time in 3 1/2 years.

And went a little crazy ordering cute little hand-made hats and headbands on Etsy because I still don't know her size so can't buy her any clothes.

We're so excited to be able to travel soon to bring her home! But we still need to raise $8,000 to ransom her life from the orphanage. And that's where you come in!

It's time to unite Johanna Faith with her family, and here's how you can help. See the pretty pink and brown button? Click it. Click it and donate what you'd spend on a cup of coffee (or two...or three) to bringing a little girl home to the family who loves her and has been waiting years just to meet her.

Generosity may be its own reward when dealing with those less awesome than the Redwine's, but CJ has found a way to make donating to a fabulous and worthwhile cause beneficial for you. Seriously, how amazing is she? In addition to good karma and self satisfaction, you can win prizes. Many prizes. Serious prizes. Just for helping out and donating to a good cause. That's pretty freaking sweet, if you ask me. And CJ's not the only one offering prizes on her blog. A whole host of bloggers have joined in to help bring Johanna Faith home. Make a donation to Johanna Faith's fund, and you can enter to win prize packs of vampires, pirates or wizards (oh my!). No matter what your interest, there's something that will catch your eye.

Paranormal Prize Pack

I'm offering up a paranormal prize pack (try saying that 3 times fast) to one lucky commenter. There are two ways to enter:
  1. Make a donation at CJ's blog, then leave a comment on this blog.
  2. Get the word out about Johanna's journey. Tweet, blog, or facebook the link to CJ's post before 11 pm CST on Wednesday, August 25, then leave a comment on this blog with the link.
Want to enter multiple times? Donate and blog. Blog and Tweet. Facebook and donate. Mix and match, just leave a comment letting me know what you've been doing to help bring Johanna Faith home.

The winner will receive paperback copies of Katie MacAlister's Ain't Myth-Behaving, and the Over the Moon anthology, featuring stories by Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davidson, Virginia Kantra, and Sunny.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Of Ants and Antics

Two nights ago, in the midst of a sweet tooth attack, my Nicholas decided he wanted a chocolate chip cookie cake. Fortunately, Kroger has many varieties and Nick got to choose the one he wanted most. The cookie cake in question was designed to look like a watermelon covered in ants.

No, I'm not kidding.

Nothing says delicious like an ant infestation

As you can see, the cookie cake is decorated not just with any ants, but with giant, plastic ants the size of prehistoric bugs I can only imagine pestered the dinosaurs. Once home, these ants were quickly repurposed from cookie cake decoration to cat toy. Well, that was the intention at least. I have yet to see the cat approach said "toys."

Last night, sometime after midnight, I took the dog outside for his nightly walk. Upon reentering the house, a scream the likes of which I haven't emitted since riding the SkyCoaster tore itself from my vocal chords. Notice the verb tore, because I had no control over said scream. It's my body's natural reaction when I narrowly miss contact with what I believed to be a large, overturned roach on my living room floor.

I think you can see where this is going.

Sure, this may not look like a roach now,


but flip it upside down, where its little plastic legs are free to stick up the in the air, exposing its segmented plastic body.


Mix it in with a bunch of dog toys near the poorly lit back door where I'm going to stumble upon it, half asleep late at night, and you've produced a scream-worthy menace.

Of course, my hysterics quickly ended when I realized what the roach-like fiend actually was and Nick spent the next 10 minutes laughing at my expense.

Tell me I'm not the only one to mistake something harmless for something far more sinister.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Of Road Trips and Reading

With my family clustered around the Mason-Dixon, and the soon to be in-laws in Georgia, holidays are always spent traveling. I’ve grown accustomed to long hours spent in cars. At this point, even the dog and cat are tolerant, well versed travelers.

Brady occasionally uses Simon as a travel pillow

For me, the best thing about long car trips is the hours of unscheduled time when I’m allowed to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies without guilt. Of course I mean reading. What writer wasn’t first a reader? But, more often than not, I feel guilty when reading, like the time I spend reading should be put to outlining/writing/editing/revising my current writing project. Reading has become something of an elusive pleasure since I started writing professionally, one that I save for rewards and trips. This trip, I rewarded myself twice with a pair of books I thoroughly enjoyed.

First up is paranormal romance A Safe Harbor: Building Sanctuary Book #1 by Moira Rogers.

During the bite of the Great Depression, sole female dominant Joan Fuller struggles against the rise of cruelty among her alpha counterparts. The men tolerate her interference--until she breaks from the pack and allies with a witch and a vampire. Now the Boston alpha intends to bring them all forcibly back into the fold--and teach her a lesson she may not survive.

Seamus Whelan and his werewolf bootleggers intend to retire from smuggling and savor their fortune, but first they must do a favor for an old friend: escort some female wolves to safety. An easy job, if their leader wasn't a prim ex-debutante with enough power to challenge Seamus himself. Chance makes them allies; powerful need makes them lovers.

Together, they have the opportunity to build a sanctuary for their kind, but first they must free themselves from Joan's past, and the powerful man who would see her destroyed.


The second is a time travel romance set primarily in the old west, Desperado’s Gold by Linda Winstead Jones.

When her Mustang Convertible's blown gasket leaves Catalina Lane stranded in the Arizona desert, all she hopes for is a tow truck to carry her to the nearest gas station. After being left alone at the altar, Catalina certainly doesn't expect to be swept off her feet any time soon. But when Desperado Jackson Cady whisks her away into the sunset and leads her back in time to the Old West, Catalina joins him for the ride. After all, this infamous gunslinger better known as "Kid Creede" never dreamed of a lovely 20th century lady falling into his hands. But the longer they're together the more she finds herself paralyzed by his dangerous touches, and he hungering for much more than what they have.


Both were fantastic, quick reads I highly recommend. Now back to the grindstone, until my next road trip when I can lower the TBR pile just a bit more.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rebog: Kristin Tubb at The Last Word

Nashville author Kristin Tubb is at CJ Redwine's The Last Word today, unveiling the cover for her upcoming release Selling Hope. Fearless woman that she is, she's decided to be interviewed by the Spork of Doom. Go and partake of her bravery!

Check out the cover and blurb for Selling Hope:

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?

Did I mention she's giving away not one, not two, but THREE different prizes to lucky commenters? Well, what are you still doing here? Get over to The Last Word now!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of Sad Moments and American Icons

Some photos are iconic, capturing a particular mood, event, or time period. For example, who isn't familiar with this photo?

Photo credit to Alfred Esenstadtfor 
(Life Magazine, 1945)

This photo was taken by Alfred Esenstadtfor for Life Magazine on Aug 15, 1945, capturing the Times Square celebrations that marked the end of World War II.

I've adored this picture for years. I had a poster of it hanging in my apartment all through grad school. Not having lived during the time period, it communicates to me the sense of jubilation, pride, and relief that must have accompanied the end of WWII. There is something romantic about it. Not necessarily in the sense of romance between man and woman, but the romanticism of a time period that seems somehow nobler than the one in which we currently live.

So, why post about it now?

Today, Edith Shain passed away at age 91. For years, Ms Shain has claimed to be the nurse in this famed photo.

To read more about Ms Shain and the photo that has come to represent the end of WWII for so many, click here.

Rest in Peace, Edith Shain. Thank you for your contributions to our country.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Of Woods, Writing, and Weekend Escapes

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to run away for a writer's weekend to Fall Creek Falls with three friends from MCRW.

Trish posted a more in depth review of the weekend at her Healthy Writer's blog. Since I need to be working on revisions, I'm just going to direct you to Trish's post for more details (and pictures!) of our fun weekend away.

Gret, Trish, Lara, and Kim

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Of Covers and Craft Projects: A New Life for Old Books

I can't claim credit for the idea because I first saw it on etsy a few days ago. The seller, thelorestore, describes this item as a romance novel end table. What's in a name? The complete description of the item, in this instance. The top of this end table has been covered in old romance novel covers.

Photo credit to thelorestore

My first thought, what a cute idea!, was quickly followed by a second, I can totally do that.

Naturally, there was an issue. My biggest problem with recreating this cute table was the materials. I have a plain end table of the exact measurements, all purpose scissors that can cut through anything and a big jar of modge podge that hasn't been opened since 2005. What I didn't have were books.

Do I own old romance books? Of course. Do I own old romance books I'm willing to destroy? Erm, that's a no.

I have ideological issues with destroying books. Big, blatant, in-your-face ideological issues that apply to all books. Even books I hate, even books by people I don't admire, even books espousing ideas I'm fully against. It's the latent freedom fighter in me; books represent ideas and ideas are meant to be explored, not destroyed. So what to do?

I went to the Goodwill. The Goodwill is a waiting room for books ready to take that final push cart ride to the big library in the sky. In short, most of the books in the store are falling apart. Check it out for yourself sometime; the bindings are broken, the covers are creased, the pages are yellowed and loose. We're talking books that have been used, abused and all but recycled.  More to the point, exactly the type of book I needed for my project. I can't, in good conscious, destroy a book. But, if the book is already one accidental drop away from the trash receptacle, I can rescue it from certain doom and use it in another creative way.

And so, one Goodwill trip later, I had 6 beautiful, battered, barely-recognizable-as-books books for my decoupaging pleasure. I did take a different approach than thelorestore in creating my table. Instead of using only book covers, I used the actual pages to cover the table surface before using only a few covers to add a splash of color. Once I had everything as I wanted it and glued down, I spread two coats of mod podge over the surface to seal it, letting it dry and set for 20 minutes between each coat. I'm quite happy with the end results:
I also covered the entire top section of the table, instead of just the surface area.
Please ignore the cat toy, my animals dominate my life.

Here's another view of the end result.
Let's pretend the dachshund is pictured purposely for scale.

I tried to choose books that still had mostly intact covers.

I had a lot of fun with this project. It was quick, easy and I'm happy with the results. I'm also happy I was able to preserve what looked to be some interesting books in some small way.

*A few books were harmed in the making of this table. Rest in peace my friends, your cover lives on.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Of Hell Weeks and Redemption

Ever have one of those days? I've just had seven in a row. Yes, it's been one of those weeks, the kind when even getting up in the morning is depressing because you know it's all down hill the moment your feet hit the carpet (or in my case the cat, who doesn't seem to enjoy being stepped on first thing in the morning).

(With feet and life, Simon is unamused)

Maybe because it's been one of those weeks, or maybe because he's just wonderful, my DSTBH (darling soon to be hubby) Nick decided to surprise me with a one of my ultimate guilty pleasures. While gallivanting about this afternoon, he bought me a copy of New Moon on Blu-ray. He even got the one in the cool metal case. And this is on top of him surprising me last week with season 2 of True Blood on Blu-ray. I don't collect things (with the exception of books and movies that I love) and we aren't big gift-givers, but the thoughtfulness of these surprises has been both completely unexpected and really, really sweet. It's totally the little things that make even horrible weeks worthwhile, like an unexpected present from someone given for the sole purpose of making things seem a little better.

You know your guy is a good one when he listens enough to know the path to your heart is paved with vampire romance ;) 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Of Steampunk eBooks and Self-Bribery

I've had some good news befall me lately, so to celebrate I did what any book obsessed, research loving, anal retentive pararom writer would do; I treated myself to some shiny new steampunk ebooks.


Ahhh, they still have that new ebook smell.

While I'm loading my new books onto my trusty Nook, I thought I'd share my new pretties.

My first purchase is Avalon Revisited by O. M. Grey.

"Arthur has made his existence as a vampire bearable for over three hundred years by immersing himself in blood and debauchery. Aboard an airship gala, he meets Avalon, an aspiring vampire slayer who sparks fire into Arthur’s shriveled heart. Together they try to solve the mystery of several horrendous murders on the dark streets of London. Cultures clash and pressures rise in this sexy Steampunk Romance."

The second is Maeve Alpin's As Timeless as Stone.

"Though society stands in their way, can love transcend time with the aid of robotics and ritual? In peril for her life, the Priestess Seshat turns herself to stone in ancient Egypt. Centuries later, Ricard, a dashing nineteenth century Frenchman, repairs a broken statue and reads its incantation--unprepared for the gorgeous flesh and blood woman who steps forth. Seshat is drawn to the brass robots Ricard creates and the glamor of the Victorian age, and most of all to Ricard himself. But the society of his day cannot accept a woman like her. How far will Ricard go to secure her happiness? Is their love strong enough to transcend time itself?"

I can't wait to tear through both of these novels, just as soon as I finish polishing up my current manuscript. If this doesn't count as incentive, nothing does.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Of Launch Parties and YA Worlds: Sherrilyn Kenyon Edition

There are few things I love more than a book launch. The books, the fans, the discussions...the books. Yeah, my mind has several tracks, but all of them lead directly to the closest book repository. Fortunately, May has been literally littered with book signings and launch events. Earlier this evening Jody Wallace and I attended the release of Sherrilyn Kenyon's YA debut, Infinity: The Chronicles of Nick, at the Cool Springs Marriott in Franklin. 

And let me go on the record as saying, when Sherri launches a book, she does it right! Tonight's launch was fantastic. There were delicious (and healthy!) hors d'oeuvres, costumed attendees, and prizes galore. I even won a t-shirt, which is shocking considering my absolute lack of luck in the face of any raffle/lottery/diet/game of chance. What really set this launch apart? The level of attention and caring Sherri has for her fans. Tons of people, and every single fan got the opportunity to meet and speak with Sherri. It's inspiring, really, how in touch she is with her readers.

Good times, thanks to Sherri, event host Sherlock's Books, and my wonderful date for the evening.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reblog: Jeaniene Frost at The Last Word

Fantastic paranormal author Jeaniene Frost is at The Last Word, answering questions and disparaging Captain Jack Sparrow's occasionally wayward "compass." Stop by for fun, a look at blogmistress CJ Redwine's amazing husband-created cupcake, and a chance to win a signed copy of Frost's First Drop of Crimson. You don't want to miss out!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reblog: Trends in YA

Publishing Trends posted an interesting article about the current trend in the YA market towards series.

"Take a look at BookScan’s bestselling juvenile titles for the week ending April 25: an astounding 73% were titles from one of several series."

Read the full article here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of Book Signings and Brothers: JR Ward Edition

I was fortunate enough to attend JR Ward's book signing for her new release Lover Mine yesterday. Naturally my partners in BDB-related crime, Sherri and Lara, were with me. Can't go to a Brotherhood-fest alone. And I thought I'd share the tale of adventure, leaving out small details like driving a 30 miles out of our way because none of us are capable of reading road signs that aren't entirely relevant. Ahem.

Lover Mine is the 8th novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

(I ask you, do covers get any hotter than this? No, I didn't think so. )

Since JR does not fly, all of her signing locations are within driving distance of her Louisville, KY home. Yesterday's locale was The Book Store in Radcliff, KY. It's a quaint little shop that was bursting at the seams with fans of the BDB, each anxious to hear what JR had to say about the newest release. She did not disappoint.

These signings are notorious for spoilers, the primary culprit being JR herself, who always speaks with excitement about the latest book and where the series is heading. This book signing was no exception, and while it was standing room only, the wait was well worth it. It's been confirmed that the series has no planned end to it, she's going to keep on writing as long as the readership is there. She also confirmed some upcoming stories.

***Spoiler Alert***

Manny and Payne, unsurprisingly, are slated as the hero and heroine of the next BDB installment. Quinn and Blay have been confirmed as a future couple, though their story will likely be told in novella form as she doesn't want to alienate any of her readers who may feel uncomfortable with their relationship. Layla will receive her own book, as will Tohrment, No'One and Muhrder, though she has not confirmed whether or not any of these characters will be paired together. She also alluded to the Shadows, Trez and iAm, getting their own HEAs.

JR confirmed that she's sent her publisher 2 smaller novellas tracking the lives of some of the brothers who already had their own books. Wrath and Beth's story will be continued in one of the novellas, and Rhage and Mary will finally have a child in the second.

Great times were had by all and I'm already excited for the next Book Store signing, which will likely be for Crave, the second novel in her Fallen Angels series, set for release this fall. If you are a fan of JR's writing and ever get the chance to see her in person, I highly recommend you jump at the opportunity.