Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Haunted Hotels

Happy Halloween!
I promised friends that I would
write about my ghostly experiences.
First, I should tell you I am a huge chicken.
When I was young I would make up scary
stories while washing my hair.
(Sign of a future suspense writer) I was
afraid to put my head under the faucet,
but did because I had to get the soap out.
When I left the bathroom, I ran down
the hall, then casually walked into the family room like nothing was wrong.
I still can't believe no one ever caught
me. Not that I couldn't come up with a good excuse.
Anyway, my fascination with ghosts outweighed my fear. (Sort of) Five years
ago I joined the Valley of the Sun Chapter of RWA and quickly turned their writer's retreat into a haunted one. Every October we stay at a haunted hotel.

The first two years we stayed in Prescott, AZ. Eighteen wild and crazy-
okay - mostly middle aged and bored women, invaded this bed and breakfast armed with laptops and liquor. We laughed, brainstormed, shopped, and shared ghostly stories. I'm convinced some of those were made up-Not mine, of course.

Every year I take my secret weapon; my sister. She is ten years younger and a whole lot braver. Most of our ghostly experiences happen to her, so we can keep going year after year. When we stayed in Prescott, about 15 of us were talking in the haunted room and the closet door suddenly closed by itself. You would think we would have been afraid. Mostly we looked at each other, trying to figure out how that happened. While in my room, I felt something push off my bed, like a cat. I turned, expecting my sister to be standing there. Nope. She was in her bed on the other side of the room. I can handle a ghostly cat, so I did manage to get some sleep. At least thirty minutes.

The last two years we stayed at the Grand Hotel in Jerome. It was once a thriving mining town. Now it's Arizona's infamous ghost town. The Grand is reported to have a lot of paranormal activity. One of our writers woke up to an apparition of a man standing at the foot of her bed. Too bad it wasn't George Clooney.

Last year a ghost pushed down on my sister's head during her sleep. We think it was because a worker there died when the elevator landed on his head. Talk about a migraine! This year, a ghost played with my sister's hair. She moved to the couch, hoping it would leave her alone, but it didn't. I snored through the whole thing. My sister brought a tape recorder to capture ghostly voices and soon realized that was pointless. The ghost would have to scream and basically throw a tantrum to be heard over my snoring.

My most fascinating ghostly moment happened to someone else. (Couldn't have planned it better.) Young teen aged boys were hanging around taking pictures with their cell phones. In one of the pictures, a ghost was standing next to one of the boys. At first, I thought I was seeing a man standing next to the boy. I did a double take when I realized I could see through the man. I walked around with my cell phone for hours, but couldn't capture any ghosts.

I spoke to a young lady who worked at the hotel restaurant. (She knows my daughter) She said she saw an apparition of a woman several times, and the ghosts constantly locked her in the dry storage room. She worked there longer a lot longer than I would have.
At the end of the weekend we all agreed it was another successful trip and we booked our rooms for next October. I'm ready. I have my camera, my nose strips and my younger sister.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Recipe

Just in time for those of you who want to make something special for your favorite trick-or-treaters.

Homemade Gourmet Caramel Apple Recipe

Heat caramel in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals to avoid scorching. Be careful! That is hot, boiling, sticky, sugar! Hot hot hot! Keep the caramel warm by placing the bowl on top of two towels that are laid on top of your frying pan, set on low heat.
Make a small cut in the apple where you would like the stick to go, and put the stick into the apple.

Dip 1 apple into about 150°F caramel, submerging it. Lift the apple out, allowing the excess caramel to drip back into the bowl. Turn the apple up and hold it for several seconds to help set the caramel around the apple. Place this coated apple on greased foil. Repeat with remaining apples and caramel, spacing apples apart (caramel will pool on foil).

Let the apples cool for about 5 minutes. Push the caramel that has pooled around the apple back up against the apple.

You can choose to decorate warm caramel with chocolate chips, red hot candies, nuts, toffee, sprinkles or other fun things.

Firmly press decorations into the caramel, then return each apple to the foil. Another option is to dip caramel-coated apples into melted chocolate, allowing the excess to drip off, and then rolling them in nuts or candy. For something different, take a candy painting bottle, and drizzle melted chocolate over caramel-coated apples and sprinkle with decorations.
Chill until decorations are set, about 1 hour. Cover. Chill up to 1 week.

Kim Watters

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What Type of Monster Would You Like To Be?

Okay, Halloween is fast approaching and witches, werewolves and things that go bump in the night are about to hit everyone's neighborhood. Since I write paranormal romance among other things, I started thinking of what type of monster I would like to be. A witch? Maybe, if I don't have to have a big wart on the end of my nose. After all, I might be able to change a frog into a prince.

Or would I prefer being a werewolf and howl at the moon? No. I don't think so. All that shaving would be too time consuming.

No I think I'd like to be a shape shifter. Just think of all those conversations I could overhear as a fly on the wall (yes, I know that's a cliche). Talk about reading fodder. As a shapshifter, I can be a cat and cuddle up to the neighbor across the street that I have this absolutely huge crush over. If it gets too cold, I can fly south for the winter. I can think of sooooo many possibilities.

What about you? What type of monster would you like to be?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quick Halloween Recipes

Ghoulish Hands

The kids will love these ghoulish hands. Wash a pair of surgical gloves and fill with either colored water or fruit punch. Tie the ends with banker clips or rubber bands and place them in the freezer with the fingers facing downward. You may want to make sure it a try is under to pick up any spillage. Make sure you do this a couple days before. It does take time for the gloves to completely freeze. Green hands look very eerie in the punch the year I did this, and the kids adored me for a least a week.

Deviled Eggs with Creepy Spiders

Anyone can do this added touch if you have black olives and a knife. Prepare deviled eggs as usual. Whole olives will do nicely. Cut them in half lengthwise. Keep one half and place it on the prepared egg, then cut 8 stripes from the other half for legs. Place 4 stripes on each side of the other half of the olive or body this is on the egg. I swear your kids--and adults--will get creeped out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fantastic Review for Liquid Hypnosis

5 Book Review from The Long and The Short of It
Sunflower says, “Liquid Hypnosis serves up a powerful brew of suspense, blazing sensuality, and the paranormal…”
“The twists and turns are constant; the reader is delightfully thrown
off-balance again and again. Each new twist is imaginative and serves
to further the plot.
LaVon’s characters, too, are revealed in bits and pieces – nothing feels forced or out of place. And they are characters that we care about deeply – LaVon has a true gift for writing sympathetically and insightfully. Even her villains are compelling and three-dimensional, a quality that I often
find lacking in suspense novels.”
“This book will be offered in print in March, and I, for one, would be the first in line to buy a copy…”
What does Sunflower have to say about the sexual tension between the hero and heroine? Read the full review at

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thoughts for the Day

When I first started writing, I’d hear people ask what my theme was. I hadn’t a clue. I was too focused on all the techniques to make my writing better. But now I see how much a theme is woven into a book, even if it isn’t intentional by the author. I’ve been doing it in my stories for years and not really realizing it.

Lately, whenever I start a book, I search for a quote to inspire me. It also always highlights the theme of my story.

One of my favorite quotes that I’m using for a book I’m working on right now is about being a hero. I’ll read the quote each time I start writing, and I think of my hero and how much those words relate to him.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe

I think theme is a natural extension of a writer as they try to get their story on paper. And as for being a hero… I have yet to find a better quote when I think of a hero.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Interview with Carrie Weaver

I’d like to welcome our guest author today, Carrie Weaver. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy/interview session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Temporary Nanny. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book for Harlequin Superromance?

Katy Garner is a struggling single mom, trying to balance her career with raising her son. Royce McIntyre is trying to find meaning in a life altered by an accident. When their lives intersect, they are challenged to find the courage to accept love on terms they never anticipated.

Temporary Nanny is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The hero, Royce McIntyre, is recovering from a welding accident and considering his career options when he starts receiving mysterious messages from his ten year-old upstairs neighbor, Jake Garner. Royce gets to know Jake’s mom, Katy, and offers to help her out of a bind by becoming Jake’s nanny on a temporary basis.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Since Royce was an expatriate living in Russia during the prologue, I wanted to know more about the expat lifestyle. Jack Swanson, father of fellow Super author, Jeannie Watt, lived and worked in Russia and was gracious enough to fill in some details. I also did online research regarding Royce’s injury.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Jake Garner was fun to write because he’s a kid and they’re by nature very egocentric. But my editor thought he initially came across as slightly, um, bratty, so I had to tone his attitude down a bit. As a single mom myself, I could totally relate to many of Katy Garner’s challenges.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Owen Wilson would be great.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

There are so many terrific authors who have given me a helping hand, especially in the Desert Rose Chapter of RWA. Roz Denny Fox and Linda Style were a great help in my early days getting published with Harlequin Superromance.

What do we have to look forward next?

I have a Harlequin NASCAR series book, A CHANCE WORTH TAKING, coming out in November. And in March, 2008, another Superromance entitled BABY, I’M YOURS. Both books are great fun!

Thanks, Carrie!

Carrie's Bio

Readers and reviewers alike praise Carrie Weaver’s books for their emotional depth and realistic characters. “Each page comes alive with joy and sadness,” says reviewer Pat Wilson, Rendezvous magazine. Her awards include nominations for the prestigious RITA Award, the Bookseller’s Best and the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers’ Choice.

Check out Carrie’s website at

What is BEBO?

What is BEBO you ask?

BEBO is a networking group like MySpace-only easier and more author friendly.

For more information go to

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Neurotic Writer Commits the Ultimate No-No

Welcome to another episode of THE NEUROTIC WRITER.

Therapist: “How was your week?”

Suzie Writer: “Good and bad. I attended my local conference. I have to admit I was a tad bit disappointed.”

Therapist: “Why is that?”

Suzie Writer: “My favorite editor was there. I rehearsed everything I was going to say to her, including my acceptance speech when she knelt before me and begged to see my manuscript.”

Therapist: “I gather it didn’t happen the way you anticipated?”

Suzie Writer: “Not at all. I followed her into the bathroom, hoping to catch her alone. I waited the appropriate amount of time after she entered the stall; before I slipped my manuscript so delicately under the door, making sure it tapped her leather pumps to capture her attention.”

Therapist: “And…”

Suzie Writer: “She slid it back with a rejection letter sloppily tied to it with toilet paper. Did you know you can make a bow with two-ply?”

Therapist: “How did that make you feel?”

Suzie Writer: “Horrible! My work is better than a form rejection letter. I deserve constructive praise. My characters are well thought-out and my conflict is unbeatable. The story is based on my childhood experiences playing with orphan children in Manhattan. That editor should have cried, and laughed, and screamed.”

Therapist: (Mumble,) “I’m sure she did.” (Cough) “Miss Writer, you do realize she didn’t read your manuscript, don’t you?”

Suzie Writer: “I don’t want to talk about her. Let’s talk about me. The whole weekend was a bust. The only other editor I wanted to see was running in the opposite direction when I spotted her. I didn’t know you could do the hundred yard dash in stilettos.” (Sigh) “Where’s the chocolate?”


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Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Neurotic Writer

Welcome to the first episode of

Therapist: “Good morning, Suzie. How are we doing today?”

Suzie Writer: “We are not doing well at all. I received another rejection. ‘It’s not for us.’ How are we supposed to know what they want if they won’t tell us?”

Therapist: “Have you asked what they want?”

Suzie Writer: (After 5 minutes of laughing.) “They want ‘a great book,’ but they can’t tell us what that means. It’s a secret they tell their best friends, so they will make The New York Times List and no one else.”

Therapist: “I hear famous writers were often rejected many times before selling.”

Suzie Writer: “That’s the rumor they spread to keep their secret.” (Eyes therapist speculatively) She thinks I’m a bad writer. I can tell by the way she’s taking notes. She thinks I stink. She thinks that editor rejected me because my writing sucks. How dare she? Who does she think she is? Why am I here? She knows nothing about the hell writers go through. She has no idea how many times I’ve sweat over the computer until my fingers bled. She knows nothing about the times I’ve cried for my heroine because of the suffering my muse put her through, or the number of times I started a fight with my ex-husband so I could get the dialogue just right in my story. She doesn’t know what it’s like to dress up in a nurse’s uniform and stalk doctors between changing hospital bedpans so you can get your medical facts straight. I bet she can't even name Nora's top ten selling novels for the month of August. Why I am I paying her to give me advice?

Therapist: “Our time is up. Would you like another piece of chocolate before you go?”

Suzie Writer: “Sure, thanks. See ya next Thursday.”


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Recommended Read - The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams

I’m halfway done this book from an author who specialized in screenwriting, but it’s amazing how much information a writer can glean and apply to writing the romance novel.

A story’s moral premise can also be the theme of the book. Many a time, writers have their premise interwoven into their story without realizing it. It comes as second nature. So this book is also a confirmation of what writers have been doing for centuries. The author goes on to give examples of moral premises through movies and television shows.

Examples are:

Die Hard: Hatred leads to death and destruction, but sacrificial love leads to life and celebration.
Bruce Almighty: Expecting a miracle leads to frustrations; but being a miracle leads to peace.

Also the subject of values is touched on. Some examples that I’ve found that can add conflict are:

humility vs. arrogance
independence vs. dependence
honor vs. dishonor
forgiveness vs. intolerance
loyalty vs. betrayal

See how by adding the opposite of a person’s value, you don’t have to go further for conflict?
Williams goes on to say that many craft books recommend that a person start with characterization first, but he recommends the opposite–starting with the moral premise of your story. That way you have the conflict and motivation already staged, and then working out the kinks of your characters becomes far easier.

This book will be on my shelf for years, and I won’t be lending it out.