Friday, December 6, 2013
My Favorite Things
I'm a big fan of The Sound of Music. A really big fan.
I mean, I got engaged during the wedding scene of the original movie then later had my daughter sing the role of Mother Abbess in a stage production, so I clearly have pretty strong feelings about the show and its cast. Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer definitely did not fit my image of a proper cast.
Don't get me wrong, I had nothing against Carrie or Stephen. In fact, I took my daughter and son-in-law to see Carrie when she performed in concert here. I also like Stephen. He makes a wonderful vampire leader on Blood Ties. However, when I heard these two were cast as leads, all I could envision was Southern-fried "Jesus Take The Wheel" meets Louisiana vampire.
Boy, was I wrong!
Carrie Underwood pulled off the role of Maria with maturity, style, and barely a twinge of an accent, and Stephen Moyer owned the role of Captain Von Trapp. Who knew he could sing like that? Wow. The rest of the cast was just as amazing. The seven Von Trapp children were wonderful in their roles, and Christian Borle made a delightful Max. Audra McDonald as the Mother Abbess blew me away with her singing. What an incredible voice she has.
All in all, it was a fantastic three hours of entertainment tonight, and I have now added this show to my official list of Favorite Things!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Wendy Knight's Feudlings in Flames
Feudlings in Flames is Book Two in the Fate on Fire series, and it looks like it will be as just as exciting of a read as the initial book. Ms. Knight introduced Ari and Shane to us in Feudlings, and this book continues their story.
Although the Feudlings books are targeted to the teen reader, don't let that stop you from checking them out. Readers of all ages have turned the series into Best Sellers at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other eBook retailers.
Let's take a peek at Feudlings in Flames, shall we?
If you're like me, the front cover attracts you to a book (the boots and nail polish got my attention immediately) then you turn it over to read the back.
I'll virtually turn this one over so we can read the back blurb.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
New from Iris Blobel!
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Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.
"Clara Catherine Bellinger."
"Who is she?" Mia asked.
Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old. Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.
Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. "I wouldn’t have a clue." Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.
"I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details," he replied.
Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education? With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, "Why not?"
He stared at her. "Pardon me?"
Sitting up straight, she repeated, "Why not? Why aren’t there any further details?"
He looked uneasy, but she didn’t care. She needed to know. Sophie had received a call from the lawyer a week earlier, and he’d told her about an
inheritance. He’d given her details on where to pick up tickets to Hobart. Some legality, he had said. She needed to come in and sign documents for the transfer of ownership.
"Ms. Bellinger was one of the partner’s clients. I was only given the details shortly after the client’s death."
Sophie drew in her lips. Her eyes darted over to the window as she took a few deep breaths, inwardly calming herself. Nothing had ever been easy in her life. "Why isn’t the partner here?"
He took a deep breath. "Retired."
As she pondered on that for a moment, she began to think about what life could be like with this inheritance. Different. Better. Another sigh escaped as she returned her gaze to the man behind the desk. "You can’t just leave your assets to just anybody, can you?"
"Levesque," she helped him.
Their eyes met.
"Are you refusing the bequest?" he asked hesitantly, and she clearly noticed how one of his eyebrows arched upward.
Staring blankly with her mouth open, she could feel the panic running through her veins with every thump of her erratic heartbeat. An uncomfortable silence fell over them for a moment. Then she quickly said, "No. No, of course not. We’re accepting." She turned to look at her younger sister. "We’re actually looking forward to seeing it."
And with one swift movement, he stood and went to a little cupboard near the window and retrieved a bunch of keys. "Would you like me to take you there?"
Still feeling that rush within her, Sophie took Mia’s hand and inclined her head in answer. "Is it far?" Her voice sounded tired. Even to herself. It had been a long day already. She stood and thinking how tired she was, Sophie placed her arm around Mia, who was probably exhausted.
"No, not at all. Five to ten minute drive, I’d say."
"I still don’t understand. Why us?" Sophie asked quietly, meeting his gaze and, for the first time, actually taking in his icy-blue eyes. He was very attractive. Too attractive for a boring lawyer. His face was tanned by wind and sun, and there always seemed to be a hint of a smile on his face. His blond curling hair was cut short. Her gaze fixed back on his mouth. Blushing, she quickly looked away.
The attorney turned to them. He scratched the back of his head. "Ma’am, what I know is that both of you are in the will. What I know is that I was supposed to fly you down here to officially read you the will. What I know is that I’m supposed to hand over the keys to you, and to let you know that your expenses are covered for the next twenty-four months. I did not know Ms. Bellinger, as one of the retired partners wrote up the will. I do not know who she was or in which way she was connected to you. I assumed she was a distant relative."
Sophie took her sister’s hand as she thought about his last comment. Distant relative? Her mother would have at least mentioned her once. She sighed and tried to understand, not the circumstances that had brought her there, but the fact that the attorney just didn’t know. "Oh well, let’s go then."
He pinched his nose with his thumb and index finger and took a deep breath. "Okay. Look, Miss Lever—"
"Levesque," Sophie helped him again. This time somewhat more firmly.
Running his thumb over his eyebrow, he stepped closer, but not so close as to be intimidating. "I’m sorry. It’s been one extraordinary week," he said with his voice just above a whisper. "Once I get back I’ll check with the partners here to see whether anybody knows more about it."
One extraordinary week? His remark irked her. In fact it was downright annoying. Holding Mia even closer to her side, she lifted her finger and pointed at him. "No offence, Mr. O’Connor, but it has been quite a week for us as well, and I was prepared to answer all your questions. I have one simple question, and you don’t know. Wouldn’t there be something in the file?" Sophie was a kind person.
Kindness was her middle name, but she wouldn’t have got that far in life if she hadn’t watched some of those nasty actresses on television and copied them. And the stare. Sophie met his surprised frown dead-on.
He frowned and seemed taken aback by her words. "No offence taken." And then he let out a deep breath. "You’re right. I apologise. As I said, I’ll find out details and let you know."
"Thank you, Mr. O’Connor," she replied as she blew out a breath.
"What about our stuff?" Mia whispered to Sophie.
Sophie moved her head to look down at her sister, but before she had a chance to say anything, he beat her to it. "What stuff?" he asked as he opened the door.
"Considering what we inherited here, we brought all our things," Sophie explained without looking at him.
The attorney stopped in his tracks. "All, as in all your clothes?"
Sophie’s eyes met his. She emitted a small sigh, but tried to keep her composure. It was something she had learnt over the last few years. Standing straight, she corrected him. "All, as in all our belongings."
They stepped outside the building and followed Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to get the attention of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their hands and broke into giggles. Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself, and straightened up as she followed Mr. O’Connor.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Charity Delyle has lived in the shadow of her Prodigy cousin and his powerful Guard since the day she was born. And she doesn’t mind—really. Except that being in Hunter’s shadow means that he can’t see her. And she’d like that to change.
Hunter has one purpose in life: Protect the Prodigy, or die trying. That means a social life, school, and even Charity come last until the war is over. For the most part, he’s okay with that—he can lose everything if he has to…except his seer.
Starting at a new school should be much safer than living in a war-ravaged Carules headquarters. But this new school is different than the others. Friendships are forged and destinies are questioned, and Hunter’s decision could cost them all everything they’ve been hoping for.
Excerpt: “Okay, do you want to practice the ones we learned last week or just start new ones?” She had carefully color-coded the spell book with sticky tabs — spells they had mastered, spells they had practiced, spells that would come in handy one day — she was very organized. And if the Council ever found out she put sticky tabs in a book that was over three hundred years old, they would kill her completely dead.
“Learn as much as you can, Shane. Gonna be hard to find a place to practice in the mountains of Utah, surrounded by Normals.” Hunter idly traced spells in the air, letting them fizzle and die without igniting them.
“Well, alright.” Charity flipped to the red section — spells that would come in handy one day. She started at the top. “This one is called an Al-able.” The odd word rolled awkwardly off her tongue. “It’s like… it looks like it’s sort of a flat triangle of flames.”
Hunter and Shane both walked over, studying the spell in the book before tracing it slowly into the air. The spell wouldn’t actually ignite until they lit it with the flames roiling through their blood, but they both wanted to make sure they could do it correctly so as not to explode them all to pieces or something.
“No, no, Hunter. Less harsh lines. Softer.” Charity glanced down at the page and then up at Hunter’s disaster of an attempt. Sighing she laid the book on the metal next to her and pushed herself to her feet. She took Hunter’s hand, trying hard to ignore the way her own blood seemed to explode into flames. There’s no magic there, she told herself harshly. “Like this.” She led his hand through the spell until the air smoked and the image burned in front of them. She looked up, got caught in his gold eyes. He watched her, an unreadable look on his face.
It made her heart stutter in her chest. Before he could say anything she dropped his hand. “Now try it on your own. I can’t do everything for you, you know.” Charity grinned playfully, dodging out of the way as he tried to push her over. She rescued the book from the twisted metal and perched, watching them expectantly. “Go. Do something.”
Shane rolled his eyes. “Give the girl a book and she’s suddenly the boss.” He moved away several feet so he wouldn’t accidentally ignite her. He’d done it before, and Charity didn’t relish the idea of it happening again.
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Monday, July 15, 2013
Read Kiddo Read
His program Read, Kiddo, Read is geared at attracting readers at various age levels. He believes, as most of us do, that reading is critical and fundamental skill for success in school and life as well as a method of relaxation and enjoyment.
He encourages parents to keep their kids reading during the summer months, which is an important goal of mine, too. His website Read Kiddo Read offers a lot of wonderful books for kids and is broken down by tabs for Great Illustrated Books (for younger readers), Great Beginner Books (6 & Up), Great Page Turners (8 & up), and Great Advanced Books (10 & Up).
Patterson, however, hasn't really focused much on the slightly older reader, so this week, I am highlighting some young adult books by some wonderfully creative authors on a special YA Recommended Reads tab.
Why not click over there and check out this week's picks:
The Super Spies and the Pied Piper
by Karen King
And remember to Read, Kiddo, Read...no matter what your age is!
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Life on the Edge - Or How I Spent My Weekend
But what does being a klutz have to do with Life on the Edge? Well, my weak ankles have plagued me all my life, but I still used to love to figure skate as a kid. I had to lace my skates extra firmly to support my ankles, and I couldn't skate for long before they gave out, but I loved it. As an adult, I love to watch figure skating. I am awed by the speed and grace with which those athletes glide across the ice. For me, Figure Skating - Pairs, Dance, Men's, Women's - is the most important sport at the Olympics. I watch the other skating competitions, too, and probably watched the movie, The Cutting Edge, at least ten times. So, I was tickled when I learned one of my fellow Astraea Press authors, Jennifer Comeaux, has a series of romances set in the figure skating world.
As luck would have it, Life on the Edge and it's sequel Edge of the Past are on sale at Amazon for just 99 cents each -- a heck of a price for a big 400 page book! So I downloaded them and started to read. From page one, I was swept into the competitive and exciting behind the scene world of figure skating.
I stayed up until 3 A.M. in order to finish Life on the Edge, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance and figure skating. I started book two today, but had to share this one.
Life on the Edge
by Jennifer Comeaux
Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream -to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.
Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.
Astraea Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
You can check out Jennifer's other books at these booksellers, too.
Don't wait for a sprained ankle to do it -- the sale is still on!
Happy reading, happy writing,
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
So Many Books and So Little Time
I also tend to have my nose stuck in a book -- or more likely these days in my Kindle or iPad book app. It's great to be able to carry your library with you wherever you go. The downside to that is that I subscribe to several eBook sites whose goal in life seems to be to introduce me to new books and new authors. So, I always have dozens of books waiting to be read. They call to me when I should be sitting at my desk working on my next book.
Today, I'm being tempted by a new title from Astraea Press,
The Enchanted by Elizabeth Cantrell.
Prince Alan has been forced into a marriage he doesn't want. To top it off, he finds his bride isn't the sweet submissive creature he expected.
Morgane has the heart of a dragon and beauty beyond compare, and she's not to thrilled about the marriage either.
When black treachery threatens the kingdom, the pair must embark on a perilous journey that has an excellent chance of ending in failure and death.
Sounds like another book to add to the Kindle library, and one more excuse to keep from writing. Darn!
Have a great day -- I'll be over here reading!
Monday, April 22, 2013
There's Trouble in Paradise or, in This Case, Paradys
Trouble in Paradys, to be released in late June, isn't part of the Stitching Post romances (the next story in that series is still in process). My new story is a bit different. It's part fantasy, part comedy, and all romance.
Here's a bit about it:
Psychology professor, Peggy Oster intends to spend her summer vacation doing nothing more than watching classic sitcoms and reading her backlog of romance novels. Instead, she wakes up the first morning in a strange dimension where all the residents look like they were chosen for their roles by a Hollywood casting agent.
Xandro never planned to be wizard; he wants to be a chef. The inept magician can make a perfect soufflé, but his spells leave much to be desired. Still, he’s not ready to relinquish his Court position when a fiery-haired young woman shows up at the castle gate.
Can the unlikely pair put aside their differences in order to rescue the Royals, who have been abducted? If not, Peggy will be stuck in this strange world with no way back to Kansas.
Where are all the ruby slippers when a gal needs them?
Happy reading/happy writing!
Monday, March 4, 2013
Using Adverbs is a Mortal Sin - Ten Rules for Writers
Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, The Guardian, a British newspaper asked authors for their personal dos and don'ts for aspiring authors. I'm posting's Leonard's list below and will highlights some of the others in the days ahead. I'm also going to ask some of my fellow authors for their list, so check back and see what they have to say!
Hmmmm, Mr. Leonard sounds like a tough editor. What do you think?
My advice? Keep writing! (she said with an exclamation point)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Stop by and visit us!
Today, my co-author, Patricia Kiyono and I are guests on the blog of a fellow Astraea Press author, Lindsay Downs. Among Lindsay many titles is the Emily Dahill, CID, series about an Iraq veteran, who pursues a new career as a Criminal Investigation Department Special Agent.
It is such an honor for me to be on Lindsay's blog, and I'm very grateful for this opportunity to meet some of Lindsay's readers.
If you get a chance, Stop on by.
Joint interviews are fun to do. You'll get to learn a little bit about both of us, how we write, and a bit about our backgrounds.
To stop by for a visit, click below.
Lindsay Sands, Murders and Mysteries
Talk to you soon!
Friday, February 1, 2013
Happy 2nd Birthday, to Astraea Press!
Saturday, January 19, 2013
A Lovely New Blog award
Here are 7 Random Bits of Information about Stephanie Michels:
1- I wrote at least 6 plays that were produced by the various schools I attended from second grade to my junior year of high school. One play I wrote was based on "The Pardoner's Tale" from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I made it into a western called "The Padre's Tale".
2- I used to write a monthly software review column for Compute! Magazine.
3- My family is Slovak (Czechoslovakian) on both my parent's sides. In fact, all but 1 of my grandparents were born over there.
4- I absolutely love coffee! It's my go to drink. I also love Coca-Cola Classic, but I try to steer clear of it due to my perpetual dieting.
5- Everyone assumes my favorite color is pink because I have so much of it. However, it isn't. I love pink, but my actual favorite color is actually pale teal. Yes, I know my Blog is pink and so is this award...but now you know the truth.
6- My favorite actor is Sean Connery. He was smokin' hot as James Bond, but he was even better as King Arthur in First Knight. He makes bald look sexy, and his accent is very yummy, too.
7- I'm like the magpie in The Secret of Nimh...I love sparklies! At last count, I have more than 300 different pair of earrings!
To see some other great blogs and great reads, please visit:
Chris Allen Riley
Monday, January 14, 2013
The Calico Heart has Arrived!
It seems like it's been a long time coming, but in truth, it was only a few months since my friend and critique partner, Patricia Kiyono and I first started working on The Calico Heart.
Now, drum roll please -- it has been released in e-format by a wonderful publisher, Astraea Press. Astraea is known for providing good, clean, wholesome and entertaining books for readers. Not just romances but mysteries, paranormal, etc.
As for The Calico Heart, I can't begin to tell you what a high it was to see my name in print on the beautiful cover designed by Elaina Lee. And can you believe it, it's pink!! I'm sure I'll be even more excited when I have a print copy to hold and admire -- I have just the spot picked out for it on my bookshelf!
The Calico Heart is the first book in the Stitching Post Romance series. The stories all center around a group of women who meet in a quilt shop -- The Stitching Post -- to work on their projects once a week. They range in ages from early 20s to mid-80s, and are as different as the quilts they make. Each woman has a story to tell, and the romances are as heartwarming as your favorite quilt. Since I'm a sucker for happy endings, it was fun helping bring these characters to their Happily Ever After.
The first story in the series is a bit unusual since our hero and heroine are in their mid-fifties and facing retirement.
On the surface, Sylvia Miller has a perfect life. She’s married to her college sweetheart, has three great kids, a rewarding career, and wonderful friends. But beneath the appearances, Sylvia is restless. She loves her husband, but wants to see more of the world than their peaceful Michigan town. For years, she’s dreamed of the interesting places she wants to visit. Now, their youngest child is grown, and Sylvia is ready for adventure.
You can find this book at Amazon (where you can read the first chapter for free), Barnes and Nobel, or the Astraea Press website.
Patty's other books are available there, too. Her titles, all published by Astraea Press include:
The Legacy, July 2011
The Christmas Phoenix, November 2011
Aegean Intrigue, February 2012
Sunday, January 6, 2013
New Year's Resolutions
|Photo by David Moir/Reuters|
Every year, I make New Year's Resolutions; every year, I break them. This year, I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of making grandiose resolutions like "Finish my novel", I decided to chose baby step goals like "Write for an hour everyday."
All total, I made about a dozen of these baby step goals then put them in an Excel spreadsheet (I tend to use Excel for all sorts of list making tasks). I listed the days of the year in the left hand column and the goals across the top. I grouped like goals together: Personal, Professional, Home Organization. These columns are color-coded so I can check my progress.
When I finish my goal, I mark it as "done" with a smiley face. If I miss a goal for a day, I do not mark it with a frown or say "undone." I just leave it blank. I believe every positive thing we do should be an occasion for celebration. I want my chart to reflect this. After all, the world is filled with people who are more than happy to comment on our failures, so we should protect ourselves from the things that could drag us down by giving ourselves a pat on the back for everything we do accomplish.
So, my overall New Year's resolution can be summed up in two words: Celebrate Myself! I hope you do the same for yourself. You don't need to make lists, but give yourself credit for all the things you accomplish. You deserve it!
Have a wonderful 2013. I'll be posting again soon. Meanwhile, please enjoy an excerpt from my upcoming book with best-selling author Patricia Kiyono, The Calico Heart. It's the first book of our Stitching Post Romance series.
Sneak Preview Excerpt:
"It was such a beautiful wedding,ʺ Sylvia remarked as she sat at the bedroom vanity to tissue off her make-up later that evening. "The weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. This late in June, you never know what you’ll get.ʺ
ʺI’m just glad to finally get out of this blasted tuxedo,ʺ Dave replied, tugging loose his tie and starting on the button of his heavily starched shirt.
ʺYou looked very handsome.ʺ She met his eyes in the mirror and winked suggestively. "Sexy.ʺ
"I felt like a stuffed penguin. I don’t know why we had to have all the fuss.ʺ
ʺHoney, she’s our only daughter. We had to do things up right for her wedding.ʺ
ʺShe’d have been just as married with a simple ceremony and reception in our rose garden. Just think what we could have saved on the flowers alone.ʺ
"We would never have been able to fit all of our friends and co-workers – and Lynne and Ron’s – in our backyard,ʺ Sylvia said, repeating the same argument she’d given him when he’d first suggested a home wedding. ʺThe church hall was the perfect solution. And we didn’t have to worry about rain or having a guest fall in the pool. Besides, it’s not like we didn’t have money already saved.ʺ She grinned. "ʺI think you rushed to the bank straight from the hospital the day Lynne was born so you could set up a savings account for her wedding.ʺ
"Nah. I waited until the next day,ʺ he admitted, sheepishly. "But we still went over budget...ʺ
"A little,"ʺ Sylvia conceded, remembering a few bills she still hadn’t slipped into the pile of expenses on his desk. "But certainly nothing that will jeopardize our retirement plans.ʺ
Dave mumbled something, but with his head buried in their closet, she couldn’t hear his exact words.
"Look under your side of the bed,ʺ she called.
"Your slippers. That’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?ʺ She slathered a bit of extra moisturizer on her forehead where she’d noticed a few deep lines had recently appeared. ʺI think you left them under your side of the bed.ʺ
Her husband crossed to the bed, bent to look under it, then held up the missing slippers with a triumphant smile. ʺFound ‘em!ʺ
"Whatever would you do without me?"ʺ Sylvia deadpanned.
He pursed his lips and pretended to consider the idea. ʺGo barefooted?ʺ
ʺYou hate going barefoot. I guess you’d better keep me around.ʺ
"Oh, I don’t know,ʺ he said, coming to stand behind her chair. He leaned down and wrapped his arms around her then rested his chin on the top of her head. Meeting her eyes in the mirror, he smiled. ʺJust think how much I could save on your mascara alone.ʺ
She laughed and swatted his arm. ʺAs if you’d even know how much mascara costs. That’s one of the things my paycheck always covered.ʺ
"Are you going to miss it?ʺ
"Well, that and the students. I know how much you love teaching.ʺ
"I did love it. It was great being able to help kids understand math. The looks on their faces when they suddenly got it – when they went from struggling to understanding—" She paused and smiled. "ʺIt was priceless."ʺ
Talk to you soon,
The Stitching Post Romances with bestselling author Patricia Kiyono
Book One - The Calico Heart coming January 2013 from Astraea Press