Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year

Year in review: I don’t know about everyone else, but I am so relieved to put 2010 behind me. It was a really, really tough year, starting off with health issues that cost me my job, forcing me into early retirement and cutting my income by more than half. The first seven months of the year were filled with anxiety that bordered on panic. Oh my God! What am I going to do? How am I going to make it? How am I going to keep my bills paid and food on the table, not to mention pay for all the new prescriptions with the loss of my health insurance coverage? Needless to say, I had to cut expenses to the bare minimum and come up with an extremely tight budget. With the help of my children picking up the slack, the bills were paid and I was getting by . . . barely.

Then in August things started to turn around. The rights to all my previously published work reverted back to me and thanks to an old friend, Ellen Fisher, I discovered Amazon Kindle ebooks and self-publishing as an Indie author. There was finally a glimmer of light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel. By mid-November I had my re-releases up and running and to my relief, they were selling. Not in great numbers, but it was a start and at this point, every little bit to supplement my income helps. At a point where my life had been turned upside down, publishing with Kindle as an Indie author gave me control of a part of my life which was so important to me . . . my writing.

The silver lining began to shine through the dark clouds. My alter ego/muse, affectionately known as Cybill, who had gone into hiding, returned with a vengeance. I was writing again and loving every minute of it for the first time in a very long time. I was back!

While working to get some work finished so I can get something new up and running, most of October, November, and December were spent exploring what I call the Amazon Jungle - the Kindle Boards and their various threads, learning where to promote and where not to promote, finding new groups and loops receptive to the work of self-published, Indie authors. Each month has shown a rise in sales over the previous month. Still not great numbers by some authors’ standards but I’m aware that it takes time and I’m pleased with the response I’ve received so far.

What I’ve found interesting is that Detour’s sales have far exceeded all my other releases. Why? Is it due to the great 5 Star review I received from a Kindle reader? While I posted previously received reviews on my book information page, that 5 Star review showing below the cover image must have an impact on potential buyers. I’m well aware that the average reader isn’t inclined to write reviews and post them on Amazon. However, if you have purchased and enjoyed any of my releases, I would greatly appreciate any honest reviews you would be willing to post.

Or, maybe the fact that Detour features a mature hero and heroine, characters the majority of romances readers can relate to has influenced the sales? Maybe the readers have had their fill of young and beautiful heroines with perfect bodies, and the gorgeous, buff, hero. Maybe romance readers are ready for real people leading exciting lives and finding their happily ever after. It’s something to consider in my future releases.

So ends 2010 and begins 2011. I’m looking forward to the new year grateful to feel productive again with a renewed positive attitude and goals to achieve. As always - THANK YOU to those of you who have stood by me and supported me and to those of you who have purchased or at least taken the time to check out my work. Wishing each and every one of you a bright, happy, and prosperous new year.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Get A Headstart On Your Holiday Baking

As you can see, I now have all my back-list books up and running on Kindle (See cover links to the right). I’m happy to say that they are selling. Not as many as I’d like, but it’s early days and I’ve just started doing a bit of promoting to let readers know they are out there.

I’m currently working to complete two NEW books, Dream Stalker and Yours To Command that I’ve decided to put up on Kindle as an indie author. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.

With the holidays upon us, I’m all for finding quick yet yummy time saving solutions for holiday baking. Below is one of my favorite time saver recipes that I share each year with my readers. It’s my way of saying thank you to everyone who has supported me, purchased or at least taken the time to check out my books.

Chocolate Cake Caramel Chip Cookies


• 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup caramel chips (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, eggs and oil until well blended.

3. Fold in the caramel chips. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the cookies inches apart on the cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Frosting optional – In the photo above, I melted the remaining caramel chips over a double boiler then drizzled the melted caramel over the cooled cookies. You can also use premade cake frosting. Simply put a little frosting in a cup and microwave for a just a few seconds until melted, then using a spoon, drizzle over cooled cookies.

I’ve discovered that the consistency of this recipe tends to vary based on egg size, etc. I always bake one test cookie to see how it rises. This should be a thick, soft, cake type cookie. If it spreads out instead of rising, add a bit more flour.

Tips: You can use many variations on this cookie recipe; peanut-butter chips, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, nuts, etc. I also made the recipe using a spice cake with chopped pecans instead of chips. If you like a soft, cake type cookie, this one is fast and easy to make. Be creative. There are lots of types of cake mixes out there. (If you are planning to roll into logs and freeze, chill dough at least and hour or more, which will make it easier to work with).

This is just one of 8 to 10 types of cookies that I make for the Holidays. I roll all my cookie dough in to logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Then I simply slice and bake as needed for gifts, unexpected visitors, or when I have the urge for a cup of tea and a couple of cookies fresh and hot from the oven. Also, if you are a chocolate cake lover, you can keep a log in the freezer and have your cake in a few minutes without baking an entire cake that you feel must be eaten before it goes to waste.

If I come up with cool variations of the above recipe or other easy holiday treats, I’ll be sure to share.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Journey's End Now Available

Journey's End is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. Click on the cover to the right and you will be taken to the Journey's End page on

Only one Holiday Fantasy story remaining, Sold To The Lowest Bidder, and the entire collection will be up on Kindle as individual stories. I hope to have this one up sometime this week. I'll put the cover up as Coming Soon when I have it finished.

Considering the time of year, I have been in the mood for spooky, so I've been busy writing on one of the stories in my upcoming Legacy Of Shadows series - Medium. It feels really good to be working on something new.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Second Chances Now Available

Second Chances is now avalable on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. Click on the cover to the right and you will be taken to the Second Chances page.

Only two books in the Holiday Fantasies collection remaining and all my backlist will be up. Journey's End will be up in the next few days followed by Sold To The Lowest Bidder.

I can then focus totally on my current works in process. I hope to have something new up and running soon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Independence Day Now Available

Independence Day is now avaliable on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. If interested in learning more please click on the cover image to the right and you will be taken to the Independence Day page on Amazon. Or, you can read past reviews and a sample on my website by clicking the website image to the right.

As I stated in my previous post. Independence Day is one of my favorites in the collection because it deals with the subject of Domestic Violence, an issue that I feel strongly about.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Auld Lang Syne Now Available

Auld Lang Syne is now available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. If interested, please click on the cover image to the right and you'll be taken to the correct Kindle page.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. The issue of Domestic Violence has been hidden behind closed doors or swept under the rug for far too long. It can happen to anyone. For that reason, Independence Day will be up next. Hopefully available within the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Seduction Of The Senses Now Available

The revised, expanded version of Seduction Of The Senses is now available on Amazon Kindle. Click the cover on the panel to the right and you'll be taken to it.

Next up will be Auld Lang Syne followed by Independence Day. I'm currently working of finishing up Yours To Command, which will be my first new release for a while. I'll post the new Coming Soon covers as soon as I have them finished.

The Sense Of Hearing

She was lost somewhere in semi-darkness, surrounded by lush vegetation, its scent exotic to the point of being intoxicating. The heat and oppressive humidity caused her clothing to cling to her body like a second skin. All around her were the sound of jungle creatures preparing for night, animals calling to their mates ... and there was music. Not music exactly ... drums ... jungle drums. The evocative rhythm of the drums had an immediate effect on her senses, seeping through the pores of her overheated flesh and into her blood stream like an insidious drug. Her surroundings no longer seemed alien, the haunting call of the night creatures no longer frightening. She became one of them, another wild thing in search of its mate.

The blurb above is from a current WIP where the sound of jungle drums plays an important role. You have no idea how long it took me to find just the right CD of jungle drums with just the right sound to evoke the mood I was shooting for. When I’m working on a scene featuring the drums, that CD is playing in the background.

When writing a love scene, I play music to set the tone and the mood. I have a CD collection of Spanish love songs. I can’t understand a word but it doesn’t matter. The sexy voice and melody are all I need.

Music as well as specific sounds have the ability to influence mood either positively or negatively. How many listen to relaxation tapes? The sound of ocean waves, rain, etc?

I have a collection of various types of mood setting CD’s that I use when writing and if I don’t have just the right sound to fit a particular scene I’m creating, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll try to find it.

What sounds impact your mood? What sounds do you find soothing? What sounds have the ability to affect you in a negative fashion? We all have types of music that we don’t care for, but is there a particular sound that you have an unusual aversion to? What about an old favorite – the sound of the phone ringing in the middle of the night?

I admit it. I have a totally irrational aversion to the sound of wind chimes. Not all wind chimes, just the ones that have a tinkling crystal sound. I don’t have a clue why. I have no idea what or if any particular incident is behind my reaction to this particular sound, but I can tell you that when I hear that crystal tinkling, my heart rate kicks up and my fight or flight instincts kick in big time.

On the flip side, nothing has the ability to bring a smile to my lips or make me laugh outright like the sound of a child’s laughter. How many of you have seen clips on funniest videos of infants or toddlers laughing?

Exercise 1: LISTEN – This may sound easy but you might just be surprised. Go outside, maybe drive to someplace isolated in the country and park. Either get out of your vehicle or roll down the windows, close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? Anything? Nothing? Does the wind make a sound as it blows through the trees? If you’re in the country, what about the wind blowing dried corn husks in a field. What about birds? Can you recognize the type of bird by its call? Try to isolate and identify individual sounds. You may think you hear nothing, yet there is sound all around you.

Which again brings us to the importance of utilizing the senses as a writing tool to add depth and realism to a scene.

As the sun concluded its fireball descent, turning the sky to crimson and the surrounding hills to darkened silhouettes against the horizon, Mara couldn’t bring herself to go inside. She remained on the deck watching the stars come out, listening to the sound of the waves lap against the shore, and the distant hum of motors on the boats of night fishermen, watching as the their running lights glided across the lake. Gradually her senses became attuned to other sounds: the “gurump, gurump” from a bull frog, the answering croak from some distance away; the hoot of an owl; and the persistent the chirping of crickets and tree frogs. There was the occasional splash as a fish jumped, and just what she didn’t need, the buzzing near her ear of a pesky mosquito, her signal to go inside. On top of everything else, she didn’t need to find herself covered with itchy welts.

The scene above is from Independence Day, one of the stories in my Holiday Fantasies collection. For this scene, I sat outside at night, on a deck overlooking a lake, closed my eyes and listened (and had a tape player running), taking note of the individual sounds.

I’ve said it in other posts and will say it again - we have become such a fast pace society that I personally believe we tune out a lot and in the process, miss out on more than we realize.

Exercise 2: LISTEN - At night while in your home, turn off the television, the music, all the lights, just sit and listen. You may think you hear nothing, but there is a sound to the silence. Do you hear subtle noises you’ve never noticed? Do you maybe hear a sound that a house makes when settling? Do you have a fireplace and enjoy listening to the popping and crackling sounds the logs make? Is there a bush or tree outside that brushes against the side of the house or window? What about the sound of rain upon the roof or window? The sounds are there. You just have to open yourself to hearing them.

I don’t think I need to elaborate how sound influences making love and if we’re shooting for primal excitement, who doesn’t love having sex durning a thunderstorm? Bottom line, the sense of hearing is one of our most erotic senses. In real life, or the written word, the sighs, soft whimpers, and moans from your lover as you give them pleasure serve as a natural aphrodisiac. What a turn on!

On the flip side, I once dated a man who was a groaner. From the first kiss to climax, the same groaning sound continued non-stop, sounding much like a worn out fog horn with the switch stuck in the on position. Needless to say, the experience was not repeated.

I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring the five senses with me during the series.

As readers, I hope you discovered a few tips to heighten your senses and spice up your love life. As writers, I hope I’ve given you a few ideas you can use to add a bit more depth and realism to your writing by utilizing the senses.

Please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you.

“Listen to the sounds in the silence.”

Up next – Seduction Of The Senses, the story, soon to go “LIVE” on Amazon Kindle