Friday, December 31, 2010

History of New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is December 31 of every year. It is celebrated in countries that use the Gregorian calendar with the United States, Australia, British Isles, North & South America, Europe, Scandinavia and (the former) Soviet Union as the main regions in the world who welcome in a new year.

It is exactly at the stroke of midnight on December 31 of the current year that marks the transition to the New Year ahead. Celebrations may be wild parties or solemn times of prayer. Some participants will dress up in silly outfits and wear comical hats, drink champagne (or other liquors of their choice) and use traditional items called "noisemakers" to express their joy and hope for the new year ahead. Unfortunately, with some people this celebratory behavior gets taken a bit too far. Some people have been known to make improper advances to co-workers at parties, throw their arms around total strangers on the streets or in crowds and well perhaps to other things that would be considered totally unacceptable any other day of the year.

And yet, there are others who attend midnight masses at their church or synagogue; or, get together in large crowds such as New York City's Time Square to watch the "ball drop." In London crowds gather in Trafalgar Square to count down the closing of the old year and welcome in the new. In Atlanta, Georgia (USA) a giant Peach is dropped. This began as a competition with New York's Apple. However, today New York now drops a laser and hand-cut crystal ball.

Some historians feel that our New Year's Eve celebrations can be traced back to an ancient Roman observance around the time of the Winter Solstice in December called "Saturnalia." This pagan holiday was known for totally letting go all discipline and rules for behavior and was known to get out of hand (just like some New Year's Eve celebrations today).

In the 18th century, New Year's Eve revelry in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore often ended with street demonstrations, violence, and vandalism. Groups of men and boys were known to toot tin horns, shout, scream, yell, set off firecrackers, knock down barricades such as fences and gates, break windows and (in a few cases) burglarize the homes of some wealthy citizens in the area.

To help curb the problem of over-zealous celebrators on December 31, and to protect those who want to bring in the New Year quietly, many cities in the United States started a popular trend called "The First Night" celebrations. The first "First Night" was held in Boston in 1976 to replace the boisterous partying with cultural events, performances, and non-alcoholic beverages with food in an outdoor setting.

For those who prefer to have a very quiet New Year, many stay home and watch the "dropping ball" or fireworks offered on television stations both locally and/or nationally or worldwide simultaneously.

Auld Lang Syne is our midi. The custom of singing this song on New Years Eve goes back to the British Isles from the 18th century when guests ended a party standing in a circle and singing this song. The custom first was rooted in Scotland, because the lyrics were written in 1788 by Robert Burns, their favorite folk poet of the time. (Later on another version of this song was used in 1783 in the opera "Rosina" by William Shield.) But most musicologists feel that Auld Lang Syne came from a traditional Scottish folk melody.

What does this song mean? In the Scottish dialect, auld lang syne is "old long since" -- aka "the good old days." The traditional lyrics begin with, "Should old acquantance be forgot and never brought to mind..." And the entire song's message merely means to just forget about the past and look ahead to the new year with hope. Even the rowdiest of parties has often ended with quiet drunks singing this song as a tribute to the past year. But many of us sing it without really now what we are saying, we just sing it to be part of the the auld lang gang of the night! :)

Using noise to welcome in a new year goes back to ancient times when it was felt that noise scared off evil spirits. Imagine what our ancestors would have thought about all the high-tech speakers, amplifiers and such today? To them, the world would be pretty pure with all this noise! :) But vary few of us link New Years with evil spirits ( spirits that you drink perhaps but not any other kind), they still feel noisemakers are a must for New Year's parties. In Denmark, they "smash in the new year" by banging on the doors of their friends' homes and throwing pieces of broken pottery against the sides of the houses. Now if everyone is out doing this, then well...hey is anyone home to even notice? In Japan, dancers go from house to house at Oshogatsu making strange noises and rattling and pounding bamboo sticks and banging on drums. In many parts of the US, firecrackers are set off at midnight to mark the new year. This is also the main celebration in Viet Nam, Hawaii and South America.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bootcamp for Novelists January Courses

January 7th - February 4th

CONNIE'S BOOTCAMP
CREATING CHARACTERS
FEE: $28

LINDA'S BOOTCAMP
THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS
FEE: $28

SAVE $20 ON OUR FOUR COURSE PACKAGES
The Four Pillars of Structure
1B -Creating Characters
2B - Dynamic Plotting
3B - Scene Sculpting
4B - Conflicts That Sizzle


The Techniques of the Pros
1P - The First Three Chapters
2P - Deepening Characterization
3P - Escalating Consequences
4P - Strong Subplots

FEE: $92

You can enroll in any of the courses individually, but if you plan to take them all, why not save some money? The packages also make terrific holiday gifts, so if someone in your life is an aspiring writer here's a great chance to set them on that path.


For more information or to enroll in these courses, go to http://bootcampfornovelists.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writer U January On-Line Class

January 3-28, 2011

"Defeat Self-Defeating Behavior: Allow Writing Productivity and Creativity to Soar"

by Margie Lawson

$30 at www.WriterUniv.com


Check out the new, expanded version of DSDB. It's Margie Lawson's popular and successful course with five new topics: The Power of Sleep, Stretch Breaks, Blasting Writer's Block, Optimizing Productivity, and Simple Self-Hypnosis

What's preventing your success? Thoughts? Behavior? Low energy? Procrastination?Perfectionism? Overdoing? Counter-productivity? Negative self-talk? Disorganization? Time mismanagement? Unrealistic expectations? Defeat your self-defeating behaviors with this one-month mental boot-camp. You'll explore the new topics, plus the list below, and more!

* Address the three fears that paralyze writers

* Analyze yourself: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

* Challenge your internal dialogue

* Redirect resistance and manage your moods

* Duct-tape your inner Critic

* Protect your priorities

* Practice Conscious Competence

* Apply Margie's DUH Plan

Margie Lawson's resume includes counseling psychologist, college professor, hypnotherapist, and keynote speaker. Margie analyzes writing craft as well as the psyche of the writer. She presents 1) Empowering Character Emotions, 2) Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More, and 3) Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors in full-day master classes internationally.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Late but worth the wait...

Some new reviews for THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER:



“I’m happy to say that not only did this book exceed my expectations, it blew me away. Kennedy’s novel is so well written and her characters are so rich and captivating that I simply could not put it down.”~Reviewed by Jennifer Melville http://www.sanfranciscobookreview.com/romance/the-fire-lords-lover/


“Kathryne Kennedy creates a totally original, organic, captivating microcosm of insight into the heart in The Fire Lord’s Lover.”
http://gelatisscoop.blogspot.com/2010/12/romantic-wednesday-fire-lords-lover.html

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

History of gingerbread

Volumes exist on the origins of gingerbread. For these purposes, suffice it to say an early form of gingerbread can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes. Gingerbread made an appearance in Europe when 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for the rich folks' cooks to experiment with.

As ginger and other spices became more affordable to the masses, gingerbread caught on. An early European recipe consisted of ground almonds, stale breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and, naturally, ginger.

The resultant paste was pressed into wooden molds. These carved works of art served as a sort of story board that told the news of the day, bearing the likeness of new kings, emperors and queens, or religious symbols. The finished cookie might be decorated with edible gold paint (for those who could afford it) or flat white icing to bring out the details in relief.

In the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter product. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who knocked the socks off visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their own likeness. Gingerbread tied with ribbon was popular at fairs and, when exchanged, became a token of love. On a more practical note, before refrigeration was a twinkle in someone's eye, aromatic crumbled gingerbread was added to recipes to mask the odor of decaying meat.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

History of Mincemeat

Mincemeat developed as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking some 500 years ago in England, where mince pies are still considered an essential accompaniment to holiday dinners just like the traditional plum pudding. This pie is a remnant of a medieval tradition of spiced meat dishes, usually minced mutton, that have survived because of its association with Christmas. This pies have also been known as Christmas Pies. Mince pie as part of the Christmas table had long been an English custom.

Today, we are accustomed to eating mince pie as a dessert, but actually "minced" pie and its follow-up "mincemeat pie" began as a main course dish with with more meat than fruit (a mixture of meat, dried fruits, and spices). As fruits and spices became more plentiful in the 17th century, the spiciness of the pies increased accordingly.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sugar Plum Recipe

Sugar Plums
from Saveur Magazine




2 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for ten minutes. Set aside to cool and then finely chop. Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Mix almonds, apricots, dates and spice mix in a large bowl. Mix well. Pinch off rounded teaspoon-sized pieces and roll into balls. Dust the sugar plums with powdered sugar and refrigerate in single layers between sheets of wax paper in airtight containers for up to one month.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Read BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS over the holidays!

And see if you agree with these reviewers:


”First off, the world building in the book was incredible, amazing, fantastic. It was so good, I couldn't pick one word to describe it, so I had to use three.”
http://www.romfanreviews.com/2010/11/review-beneath-thirteen-moons-by.html

“With rapt attention not only to what was going on around the characters but also of their budding romantic relationship made me reluctant to put the book down to even sleep.”~Terra
http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/2010/11/beneath-thirteen-moons-by-kathryn.html

“Ms. Kennedy has once again given readers characters and a story they’ve not read before. She definitely has the magic touch.”~Sandy M.
http://goodbadandunread.com/2010/12/01/review-beneath-the-thirteen-moons-by-kathryne-kennedy-2/

“This story has the aura of the epic science fiction classic, DUNE by Frank Herbert…”
http://twimom227.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-beneath-thirteen-moons.html

“Beneath the Thirteen Moons is one part paranormal, one part magical, one part romance and one hundred percent delightful good reading!”
http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/2010/12/beneath-thirteen-moons-is-one-part.html

“This is the second book of hers that I have read now and once again her beautiful writing and superb world-building have captivated me. “~Anne
http://alainereading.blogspot.com/2010/12/beneath-thirteen-moons-by-kathryne.html

“With dazzling descriptions, nonstop action and searing romance, Kathryne Kennedy's Beneath The Thirteen Moons thrusts you headlong on a dangerous journey in an extraordinary world brimming with wonders and treachery.”
http://lindabanche.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-beneath-thirteen-moons-by.html

Ms. Kennedy has created one of the most detailed, fabulously rich cross genre stories I've read in a very long time.”~Lynda K. Scott
http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-beneath-thirteen-moons.html

“If you like fantasy romance and unique worlds - give yourself a magical treat and read this story.”
http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/2010/12/book-review-and-giveaway-beneath.html


There's one last opportunity to win a free copy! On 12/27, stop by the following blog and read about: The Inspiration for BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS

Where I answer the questions: What was your inspiration for this novel? Are you excited to see it in print again?


Leave a comment and you're entered to win!


Monday, December 20, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratulations Cara Marsi. You're the winner of CJ's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Character Building


Over the past few weeks I've been discussing character
development. Janet Evanovich is known for her
characters so, once again, I turned to her book
How I Write. (Also written by Ina Yalof)

Their advice includes:

1. The main character must want something.
2. Someone or something (nature, money, distance)
must stand in the way of his getting what he wants.
3. The choices a character makes in his efforts to
overcome obstacles and ultimately get what he wants
define the character.

If you remember nothing else about writing, remember that
advice. If the heroine in your romance gets her
man on page two and everything is wonderful
you don't have a compelling story.

Save the wonderful life for the end of the story,
but make sure she has obstacles to overcome
to earn that ending.

I like to think of it as a roller coaster;
the reader wants the ride. She wants her
pulse to race as she takes the journey
with the heroine. She knows there is a happy
ending waiting for them, but she doesn't know
which obstacles the heroine will encounter on
this particular ride.

The bigger the obstacle, the better the story.
I know when I write my heroine into a corner and have no
idea how I am going to get her out of that mess, I have done my
job well. Don't worry, in a day or two, the answer will come
and my heroine gets her happy ending. I'm sure it
will be the same for you as well.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon



Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview with CJ Lyons

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


I understand you have a new release out called CRITICAL CONDITION. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

CRITICAL CONDITION is the finale of the Angels of Mercy series, so it wraps up all four characters' storylines in a whiz-bang of a thriller ride...think Die Hard in a hospital.

The action takes place in real time, everything happens in less than five hours, which made it so tightly plotted (with four main characters and stories to tell) that I literally wrote the book backwards, starting with who was left alive at the end.

Followers of the series will be amply rewarded but newcomers should also enjoy the thrills and twists...can you tell, I had a great time writing this one?

What made you decide to write in this genre?


All of my books fall squarely in the thriller/suspense genre, with one exception, my second, WARNING SIGNS, which just won the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery. My editor, whose specialty is mysteries (and who is much, much more logical and more patient about plot-points, red herrings, etc than I am!) asked me to re-work it as a mystery to give readers a change of pace since LIFELINES was such a fast-paced thriller and the third in the series, URGENT CARE, was such a dark, intense suspense.

Writing a mystery was much harder for me than the thriller/suspense novels--I had to pay so much more attention to the plot rather than simply letting the characters drive everything.

My new series, co-written with Erin Brockovich, also has a touch of mystery in it, but it's really more of a women's fiction/thriller--hmmm....is that even a genre? Now you can see why I invented the label "Thriller with Heart," I love focusing on the characters rather than plot.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?


After the psychological intensity of URGENT CARE, the third book in the series, I knew I needed a finale that would not only answer all the questions but also let the reader vicariously experience the final growth of the characters. So I decided to write CRITICAL CONDITION in real-time, having the events unfold the same time the reader is reading about them. That meant finding a way to keep the action encapsulated, so what better than a hospital cut off from the outside world by a blizzard?

Funny thing was (well, maybe not so funny, depending on your point of view, lol!) is that the week after I turned in the manuscript, Pittsburgh actually did have a blizzard. And a lot of the events of my story, like the hospital losing power, ambulances and emergency vehicles being unable to respond, patients and staff huddling together in the hospital auditorium--all that really happened!

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?


Gosh, no! I'm a seat of the pants writer. In fact, all I knew when I started with CRITICAL CONDITION was who was alive at the end, so I wrote it scene by scene backwards, every scene asking myself how they got there. It was different than any book I've written before--and quite fun!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?


Since I was a pediatric ER doc for seventeen years, the only research I did involved fun facts about Galapagos penguins and clever ways to kill people inside a hospital...not sure I want to divulge my sources on that last subject, lol!

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


Lydia is always fun to write because she's just so black and white--she's all about doing, not a whole lot of angst or thinking. But Gina's character is the one I'm most proud of, she's come so very far over the course of the series. I think readers will be excited to see her finally earn her happy-ever-after.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?


None of that. I start with character, try to understand why they do what they do, then just let them take off running....I usually don't do a lot of research until after the first draft, that way the real world doesn't impact my fictional one more than it absolutely must.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?


Too many to count! But one of my favorites who I still turn to and have read since I was a kid is Ray Bradbury. A true poet!

What do we have to look forward next?


CRITICAL CONDITION came out November 30th, followed by the first in my new series co-written with Erin Brockovich, ROCK BOTTOM, due out March 1, 2011. I'm hard at work on the second in that series.

I've also released electronic versions of several works that I've gotten my rights back to, available on Kindle, Sony, and Nook. The latest of these is another women's fiction/thriller blend called BLIND FAITH.

My writing students have asked me to arrange my lectures into books, so I'm also working on those as well....in my spare time, lol!

Anyone who wants info on my books, feel free to check out my website at http://www.cjlyons.net

Thanks, CJ!

To celebrate her book release, CJ is offering a free copy of the first three books in the Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, and URGENT CARE) to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio.
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy and has worked in numerous trauma centers, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight. CJ credits her patients and their families for teaching her the art of medicine and giving her the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a novelist.

Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. LIFELINES also won a Readers' Choice Award for Best First Novel.

Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, URGENT CARE, and CRITICAL CONDITION) is available now. Her newest project as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich, starts with the release of ROCK BOTTOM in March, 2011. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to www.cjlyons.net.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Inspirational Quote

One way to get the most out of life is
to look upon it as an adventure.



William Feather

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

History of the Candy Cane

According to legend there was a candy maker who wanted to invent a candy that was a witness to Christ.

First of all, he used a hard candy because Christ is the rock of ages. This hard candy was shaped so that it would resemble a "J" for Jesus or, turned upside down, a shepherd's staff. He made it white to represent the purity of Christ.

Finally a red stripe was added to represent the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world, and thinner red stripes for the stripes He received on our behalf when the Roman soldiers whipped Him. Sometimes a green stripe is added as a reminder that Jesus is a gift from God.

The flavor of the cane is peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is in the mint family and was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice. Jesus is the pure Lamb of God, come to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More chances to win!

That's right! My blog tour continues, which means you have more chances to win a free copy of Beneath the Thirteen Moons (USA & Canada only). Here's where I'll be, and what I'll be blogging about:

TODAY! 12/14 The World of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Where I answer the question of how I come up with such imaginative worlds.
Bookalicious http://bookalicio.us/

12/15 Recipe for Building the World of Sea Forest
Just for fun.
Erin Quinn’s Blog http://quinnessentials.blogspot.com/

12/16 Interview!
Martha’s Bookshelf http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

12/20 Top 10 Reasons Why Readers Will Fall in Love with Korl, the Hero in BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Where I list the top ten reasons I hope readers will fall in love with my hero.
Readaholic http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

Stop by, leave a comment, and you're entered to win! Good luck!
My Magical Best,
Kathryne

Monday, December 13, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratulations Christa. You're the winner of Kathryne's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Character Development in Precious by Sapphire



I hadn't intended to watch the movie Precious
because I knew it dealt with child abuse.
I work in a school where I have had at least
four students removed from their families due
to abuse. I never find out what happens to them.
I can only pray and hope for the best. So you can probably
understand why I would rather watch movies that make me feel good,
but my significant other wanted to watch this movie,
and I'm glad we did.

The film is based on Sapphire's book, Push.
What struck me was the character development.
It dealt with more than this girl's abuse, it revealed
how she dealt with it, survived it. Every time this
child faced a horrifying experience, she escaped
in a dream world where she was a star.
As writers, we put our heroes and heroines through
tumultuous circumstances and we need to
]remember to let our readers know how these
characters handle these situations emotionally.

I always include in my stories why the bad guy
became the bad guy. It adds depth to the story.
I remind myself that every character is their own
hero in their own story. In Precious, the mother
rips apart every bit of self esteem this child has with
both her hands and her words. In the end, the
mother explains why she hates her daughter.
It was a powerful scene. Precious finally learns that
she wasn't beaten because she was worthless, but
because of her mother's own fears and lack of self esteem.
I don't think the movie would have been as good without
this moment. The heroine was able to summon her
inner strength and move on with her life. Her character
arc was complete and that is what we strive
for as writers.


Until next week,
Happy Writing!

Tina LaVon


Friday, December 10, 2010

Interview with Kathryne Kennedy

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kathryne Kennedy, one of our very own bloggers. It’s a pleasure having you answer some interview questions about your new release at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS is actually a re-release of the original hardcover novel in mass-market paperback. About a world that is covered in water, with enormous trees growing up from the ocean floor to support all life, it’s a story about how the love between one man and one woman changes the course of the world, and ultimately ensures the planet’s very survival.

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I swear the title must have been inspired from a song title somewhere, cause it sure sounds like it. :} But truly, there are thirteen moons circling my magical new world, and that’s how I derived the name for it.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

After a few years of writing fantasy short stories, this was my very first full-length manuscript, and I just combined everything that I loved. The creation of a new world, the fantasy of a root that gives humans magical powers, love at first sight, opposites attracting, and how true love has the power to change the world.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

For this one I started with the world, inspired by my love of the jungle, the ocean, and a bit of Venice thrown in.

What are your favorite fantasy research books, and why?

Hmm, I don’t use fantasy research books, per se. What I do is read a LOT of fantasy novels. I’m currently reading MASQUES by Patricia Briggs, one of several authors whose voices I love so much that I read whatever they write (Yes, I often search Amazon for their out of print books as well.) What I found truly coincidental is that MASQUES was also the first manuscript she’d written, and like MOONS, had been printed in a limited edition (you’d have to read her intro go get the humor here), and was a re-release in mm paperback. What are the odds?

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

Oh, my heroine, Mahri Zin, cause she’s so wild and free and independent. I would love nothing more than to have her take me on a journey through her dangerous swamplands.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and world affect your character development?

I don’t always create a book the same way. For MOONS, I developed the world first, and then created the characters based on the life they would live on this world. Their personalities are a result of their experiences, and although when I first started writing I did long involved character sheets, I realized I didn’t use half of what I outlined, that my characters developed with the story. So other than basic details, I don’t define my characters too strictly any more. I allow them to grow with the story.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

All of the above. But that’s just to keep track of particular details. Most of the time it grows in my imagination as a living and breathing character all of its own.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

So many! I’m an avid reader, and I visit different sections in the bookstore. Romance, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Mystery…but only occasionally Horror. I get freaked out too easily.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’ve answered this question many times before, and it’s still the same: my website. Any promo I do always directs my readers to it. They can email me through it, join my newsletter, read first chapters, get promo goodies, watch videos, and more. I want a strong connection with my readers, and I strive for that with whatever I do.

What do we have to look forward next?

The second book of THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE LADY OF THE STORM, is releasing in August of 2011. I’m currently hard at work on the third book, LOVING THE LORD OF ILLUSION. And as usual, I’m already in love with my hero. :}

Thanks, Kathryne!

To celebrate her book release, Kathryne’s publisher is offering a free copy of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS BY KATHRYNE KENNEDY—IN STORES DECEMBER 2010

He's a ruler in a divided world... In a magical watery world of the Sea Forest, the divide between the rulers and the people is an uncrossable chasm. Handsome, arrogant prince Korl Com'nder has lived a life of luxury that is nothing more than a fantasy to the people he rules. Until the day he is accidentally kidnapped by a beautiful outlaw smuggler and is forced to open his eyes to the world outside his palace walls. She's an outcast, but at least she has her independence... Mahri Zin would stop at nothing to save her village, and when they needed a healer she didn't think twice about kidnapping one. But when she realizes that the healer she so impulsively stole is none other than the crown prince of Sea Forest, Mahri knows that she has a chance to change the fate of her people...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathryne Kennedy is a multipublished, award-winning author of magical romances. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives in Arizona with her wonderful family—which includes two very tiny Chihuahuas. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at: www.KathryneKennedy.com.

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Thirteen-Moons-Kathryne-Kennedy/dp/1402236514/ref=cm_cr_pr_sims_t

Barnes & Noble
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Beneath-the-Thirteen-Moons/Kathryne-Kennedy/e/9781402236518/?itm=9

Borders
http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=1402236514

BooksAMillion
http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781402236518?id=4570858495031

ChaptersIndigo
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Beneath-the-Thirteen-Moons-Kathryne-Kennedy/9781402236518-item.html?ikwid=kathryne+kennedy&ikwsec=Books&cookieCheck=1

Kathryne's Bookseller Directory
http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/BooksellerDirectory.html

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The History of Eggnog

In getting with the Holiday spirit, we're going to post a few tidbits about the season for your enjoyment.

Many believe that eggnog is a tradition that was brought to America from Europe. This is partially true. Eggnog is related to various milk and wine punches that had been concocted long ago in the "Old World". However, in America a new twist was put on the theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, "egg-and-grog", which corrupted to egg'n'grog and soon to eggnog. At least this is one version...

Other experts would have it that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin". A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry" and milk. The English called this concoction "Dry sack posset". It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog. The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin". This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Inspiration for the day.

“Hugging is healthy: it helps the body's immune system; it wards off depression; it reduces stress; it induces sleep; it invigorates; it rejuvenates; and it has no unpleasant side effects.

Hugging is all natural: it is organic; it is naturally sweet; it contains no pesticides, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients; and it is 100% wholesome.

Hugging is practically perfect: there are no movable parts, no batteries to wear out, no periodic checkups; it has low energy consumption and high energy yield; it is inflation-proof; it is nonfattening; it requires no monthly payments and no insurance; it is theft-proof, nontaxable, nonpolluting and, of course, fully returnable.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS is in bookstores!

I’m pleased to announce that the paperback re-release of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS is now available on-line and in your favorite bookstores.

BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS BY KATHRYNE KENNEDY—IN STORES DECEMBER 2010

He's a ruler in a divided world...

In a magical watery world of the Sea Forest, the divide between the rulers and the people is an uncrossable chasm. Handsome, arrogant prince Korl Com'nder has lived a life of luxury that is nothing more than a fantasy to the people he rules. Until the day he is accidentally kidnapped by a beautiful outlaw smuggler and is forced to open his eyes to the world outside his palace walls.

She's an outcast, but at least she has her independence...
Mahri Zin would stop at nothing to save her village, and when they needed a healer she didn't think twice about kidnapping one. But when she realizes that the healer she so impulsively stole is none other than the crown prince of Sea Forest, Mahri knows that she has a chance to change the fate of her people...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathryne Kennedy is a multipublished, award-winning author of magical romances. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives in Arizona with her wonderful family—which includes two very tiny Chihuahuas. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/.

PURCHASE LINKS:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Borders
BooksAMillion
Chapters/Indigo.ca
Kathryne’s Bookseller Directory

WIN A FREE COPY!
Below is a list of sites I will be guest blogging at within the next few days (including right here!). Stop by, leave a comment, and you're entered to win. (USA & Canada only.)

12/8 Opposites Attract in BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Fresh Fiction http://freshfiction.com/pages.php?id=blog

12/9 Q & A with Kathryne
Author Suzanne Johnson http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com/

12/10 Interview!
Much Cheaper Than Therapy www.muchcheaperthantherapy.blogspot.com

12/13 Interview!
Star-Crossed Romance http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Laurie Schnebly Campbell. You're the winner of Carolyn's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com to claim your prize. Thaks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Interview with Carolyn Brown

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

Okay I’m settled down into this comfortable chair and there’s chocolate on my fingers. Wait a minute while I lick it off and we’ll get started. This is some seriously good chocolate. I wouldn’t want to be guilty of wasting a single slurp of it! Okay, I’m ready. First question?

I understand you have a new release out called Honky Tonk Christmas. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Oh, yes, I can talk about Honky Tonk Christmas all day. When I started writing the Honky Tonk Series, it was a trilogy, but then Sharlene started pitching a hissy fit to have her own book so it became a series. She had so much to tell and even more to overcome. The Army does not train women to be snipers but she had an aptitude and she worked black ops during two tours in Iraq. She brought home nightmares that refused to go away. Then she moved to Mingus and loved her busy life at the Honky Tonk. But it did not erase the nightmares. Nothing did but sleeping in Holt Jackson’s arms. And nothing could ever happen with Holt. He’s raising a set of twins since his sister died and Waylon and Judd keep him too busy to think about the spicy little red head who owns the Honky Tonk. Besides she’s his boss since he’s working for her adding an addition to the Honky Tonk. And Sharlene is determined to never let the Honky Tonk charm/curse affect her life. Somehow their hearts didn’t get the message, though and kept throwing speed bumps in their journey to the HEA!

Honky Tonk Christmas is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It fit so well with the storyline. Sharlene wants the Honky Tonk addition finished by Christmas since she’s invited all the past owners and quirky characters back to Mingus for a big Christmas party. Alan Jackson sings the song on the juke box in the Honky Tonk so that made it even more special. And who can resist kissing a cowboy that looks like Holt Jackson under the mistletoe?

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love westerns. Movies and books. From “Big Valley” to the modern day, “Justified.” From Louis L’Amour’s Sackett series to Joanne Kennedy’s Cowboy Trouble. Western is my love and it’s easy to write about what you love!

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’ve been asked this question many times. My best answer is that I’m neither. I plot and plot and then the characters take over and we go on amazing adventures. Put me into the pilot’s seat in an airplane and fill it with quirky characters. We’ll stay the course for a couple of chapters and then the heroine hijacks the plane and we’re off on a whole new route. I probably wouldn’t have taken that road but oh, my, it’s simply great and my readers like it so much better than the plans I had!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I’d already done research for the whole Honky Tonk Series so I knew the Honky Tonk and Mingus and even the Bahama Mama house that’s painted pink, turquoise and yellow with orange rockers on the front porch. But I did have to do some serious research about snipers. I could almost crawl into those nightmares with Sharlene.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Like I said, it started out as a trilogy. But Sharlene played such a strong part in My Give A Damn’s Busted that I really wanted to write her story. Then my agent called and said my fabulous editor, Deb Werksman, wanted a fourth book. I didn’t even hesitate when I agreed!

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

I loved all my characters in Honky Tonk Christmas, from the country music artists on the juke boxes to the hero, Holt Jackson, the heroine, Sharlene Jackson, her grandfather, her mother and the Honky Tonk patrons. But one of my favorites had to be Judd, Holt’s seven year old niece. She stole my heart! Bless her heart, she had a terrible time trying to keep from cussin’.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

My characters are so real to me that I don’t need character sheets or things like that. I do keep a recipe box with an index card on each character including secondary characters so I don’t forget eye color, hair color and specific scars or tattoos.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

How much room do we have for this interview? There are so many that have been an inspiration to me, who’ve helped me along the highway the past years. I’m an eclectic reader who likes romance, mystery and everything in-between. I love Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer, Carl Hiaason, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Margaret Mitchell, Leon Uris … I told you I was eclectic!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Word of mouth. If people love what they read they’ll stand on the top of the water tower and shout it out to everyone in town. They’ll tell their neighbor across the back yard fence and the waitress down at the local burger joint. They’ll whoop and holler and dance out of the library when a new book by that author comes out. I love getting a note from a reader I’ve never met who says that she heard about me from a friend and she can’t wait to go to the grocery store and tell everyone how much she loves my book!

What do we have to look forward next?

Spikes & Spurs starts in May, 2011 with Love Drunk Cowboy. It’s a series set on the Red River about women who give up their high heel shoes and high profile jobs for cowboy boots but they keep their kick-ass independence. And about those cowboys who find taming the women is tougher than hanging onto the back of a bucking bull for eight seconds.

Thanks, Carolyn!

Thanks goes to Much Cheaper Than Therapy for letting me stop by here today! Chocolate was wonderful. I’m leaving feelin’ like a queen with a diamond crown because I got to talk about my new release, Honky Tonk Christmas! But before I go, does anyone have any more questions?

To celebrate her book release, Carolyn is offering a free signed book of Honky Tonk Christmas to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see ifyou won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.) Good luck everyone and I hope whoever wins a copy loves it!

Carolyn will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Check out author’s website at www.carolynlbrown.com. Buy Honky Tonk Christmas at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Hastings or your favorite book stores!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HELPING ONE OF OUR OWN

I'm posting information about one of our friends and recent author interviewees, Tina Gerow aka Cassie Ryan. She could really use some help. Please consider doing so if you are able. Thank you.

Please help: Tina Gerow/Cassie Ryan has been taken suddenly and seriously ill. She has an affliction called Arteriovenous malformation or AVM in her brain which has led to multiple surgeries and an extended stay in ICU. No family is ever prepared for such a thing and Tina's is no exception. In times like this, every dollar helps and her friends in the writing community are banding together to ask you to open your hearts (and wallets) to help get Tina's family through this.

Tina is well known to readers and authors across the country who have embraced her books, most recently, (writing as Cassie Ryan) Seducing the Succubus (Berkley/October 2010) and coming in April 2011, The Demon and the Succubus.

Please send your prayers, positive energy and love out into the universe with Tina's name on it. Cards can be mailed to: Tina Gerow, c/o SBP PO BOX 42255, Phoenix, AZ 85080.

Any donations you would like to make to Tina Gerow/Cassie Ryan to help with the burden of mounting medical bills, can be given by visiting: https://sites.google.com/site/tinagerowandfamily or by sending a check to Tina Gerow, c/o SBP PO BOX 42255, Phoenix, AZ 85080.


Thank you! The gals at Much Cheaper Than Therapy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Published Author Contests

Golden Quill 2011: Published

Sponsor: Phoenix Desert Rose RWA

Fee: $30

Deadline: Received by Monday, January 10th, 2011

Eligibility: Romance novels authored by RWA members in good standing. Titles must have a copyright date, first North American printing/release date, OR electronic print release date between January and December 2010.Entry: Five autographed copies of each title. E-book submissions printed and bound OR (NEW)PDF readable format on five separate CD's. No ARCS (advanced reader copies) accepted. No entry limit.

Categories: Historical, Historical Romance Regency Period, Mainstream/Single Title, Long Contemporary, Short Contemporary, Traditional, Paranormal/Time Travel, Fantasy/Science Fiction/Futuristic, Inspirational, (NEW)Inspirational- Romantic Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Hot/Sexy/Sensuous, Erotic, Best First Book, Novella.

Judges: Romance readers, librarians, writers

Top Prizes: Plaques for winners in each category, Certificates for finalists. Representation in a full-page RWR ad, lapel pin, and website graphic.

FMI Contact: goldenquill@ desertroserwa. org or visit www.desertroserwa. org


2011 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence


The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and/or librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a bookmark engraved with the author's name and the book's title. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.

Eligibility: Participation is open to all published authors of novel-length or novella-length romance fiction. The earliest publication of the entry-regardless of format-must have an original copyright date or a first printing date (North American or otherwise) of 2010. Entries must be received by January 15, 2011. Electronic books may be entered provided they are printed and bound with a copyright page produced by the publisher.


Entry fee: $30 first book; $25 subsequent books.

Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned.

Finalists will be notified in March 2011.

All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive an engraved bookmark and inclusion in a full-page RWR ad. Authors may enter more than one novel; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants' books and entry fees will be returned.


Categories for entry: Contemporary (Single Title and Series)Romantic Suspense (Single Title and Series)Inspirational (Single Title and Series)Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel Historical Young Adult Novella (20,000 - 40,000 Words)


Judging: All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers and/or librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score. After the dropped low score is used, if there is still a tie for first place, authors will be asked to send two additional copies of the book to break the tie. Failure of the author to supply these copies in a timely manner will result in forfeiture of the win.


Books are given to the judges as a "thank you" for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.


PLEASE NOTE: We would like to make this contest electronic this year (as much as we can for a published contest). Entered books will go to an address different than the PO address listed below. The address (for books) will be sent later in an "Entry Confirmation" email. Send electronic entry forms and PayPal confirmation (preferred method) to:

Callie James athttp://groups./ yahoo.com/ group/SouthernMa gic/post? postID=Iu3ZuaMKF SM1tQQrdwI4Hug0merV2AP5Web5_ fmcfZ-dSwrO287Rx kun2e8Gs0C9EdhQO 4e9jTcQnWc6ZiDcU HgdwTfAuw>GWContest@southernm agic.org


-OR-Send paper entry forms (NO BOOKS) and checks to:

Callie James

Southern Magic Contest Coordinator

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence

PO Box 261

McCalla, AL 35111-0261

Make checks payable to Southern Magic, or by PayPal. When sending by PayPal, send funds tohttp://groups./ yahoo.com/ group/SouthernMa gic/post? postID=1mp237t8J _IWmek8LV-HH6eirj8W-h2dpW1TI9 wAHq9aX6plKuUVuB BFjn3VSqcgik3g- i3t2qk8qq- DHNacZrsI1qk5Qg>treasurer@southernm agic.org. Please type the category of your entry in the comment section of PayPal.

Questions? E-mail:http://groups./ yahoo.com/ group/SouthernMa gic/post? postID=Iu3ZuaMKF SM1tQQrdwI4Hug0merV2AP5Web5_ fmcfZ-dSwrO287Rx kun2e8Gs0C9EdhQO 4e9jTcQnWc6ZiDcU HgdwTfAuw>GWContest@southernmagic.org


The 2011 Write Touch Readers' Award Contest, sponsored by WisRWA (Wisconsin Romance Writers) is underway.


We've added a category, Young Adult (YA), and Short and Long Series Contemporaries are now two different categories. The judges are enthusiastic romance and women's fiction readers.


Enter: Novel-length romances w/2010 copyright, first printing, first North American printing date. Ten Categories: Short Series Contemporary, Long Series Contemporary,Contemporary Single Title, Romantic Suspense, Historical (includes Regency), Inspirational/ Traditional, Paranormal (includes fantasy, time-travel, futuristic, and so forth), Strong Romantic Elements, Erotic/Romantica, and Young Adult (YA)-added this year.


FMI, entry form, and rules, go to www.wisrwa.org http://www.wisrwa./ org/> or contact committee member Virginia Athey, vathey@centurylink. net

Fee: $25.00 (WisRWA members are entitled to one free entry as a benefit of membership.)Deadline: January 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Win Free Books during Kathryne Kennedy's Blog Tour

To celebrate the December re-release of Beneath the Thirteen Moons in mass market paperback, I'm guest blogging at the following and giving away copies of books to lucky commenters (USA & Canada only). So stop by, leave a comment, and you're entered to win!

BLOG TOUR schedule for BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS

12/1 Launch Party!
Casablanca Authors http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

12/2 Interview!
Queen of Happy Endings http://alainereading.blogspot.com/

12/6 Interview!
The Book Faery http://tbfreviews.net/

12/8 Opposites Attract in BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Fresh Fiction http://freshfiction.com/pages.php?id=blog

12/9 Q & A with Kathryne
Author Suzanne Johnson http://suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com/

12/10 Interview!
Much Cheaper Than Therapy www.muchcheaperthantherapy.blogspot.com

12/13 Interview!
Star-Crossed Romance http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com

12/14 The World of BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Where I answer the question of how I come up with such imaginative worlds.
Bookalicious http://bookalicio.us/

12/15 Recipe for Building the World of Sea Forest
Erin Quinn’s Blog http://quinnessentials.blogspot.com/

12/16 Interview!
Martha’s Bookshelf http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

12/20 Top 10 Reasons Why Readers Will Fall in Love with Korl, the Hero in BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Where I list the top ten reasons I hope readers will fall in love with my hero.
Readaholic http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

12/27 The Inspiration for BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS
Where I answer the questions: What was your inspiration for this novel? Are you excited to see it in print again?
A Moment with Mystee http://amomentwithmystee.blogspot.com/

Best of Luck!
Kathryne

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Character Development Review of Love and Other Drugs


(Spoil Alert - I will reveal plot points of the movie)


Character Development
Some writers are plot driven and some are character driven.
I admit I am plot driven because there is always some
sort of mystery in my story. I plot out, not only who did
it, but who might have done it, the red herrings, and the
clues to who did it along the way.
Although I am plot driven, I do know the value of
character development. The reader needs to care about
your hero/heroine before their pulse will rise when
you put your characters through the wringer.
Last night, I watched Love and Other Drugs starring
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. This movie tackles the
hard reality of loving someone with Parkinsons. In the
beginning of the movie, neither wants a real relationship.
Anne plays Maggie, a woman who doesn't want anyone to
have to take care of her when her condition worsens.
She does at times feel sorry for herself,
which she is entitled to. Mostly she is tough and
brave, yet vulnerable. From the start,
we have a well-rounded,
three-dimensional character.
Jake plays Jamie, a young man who doesn't believe in himself.
He plays women to make a sale and for a good time.
At first, there are no ties in their relationship,
but then Maggie sees through him. She sees he really is
a good man and even names off the qualities she sees
in him, that he doesn't even see in himself.
He then falls in love with her.
Since this is a romance, boy gets girl and then loses her.
She sees that he is afraid of what she might become with
her disease and breaks up with him. Of course, he comes
to realize he is a better man with her.
He would rather live with her and her disease than face
life without her because. Loving her helps him love himself.
In the end, she takes him back, which is difficult
because she has to allow him to one day take care of her.
He quits his job and goes to medical school to live up to his
true potential. In any romance, the characters must
be better people for knowing each other, than they
probably would have been otherwise.
This story is a true romance, a great example of
character development, and a tear jerker.
Take Keenix.
I suggest you rent it later and jot down
notes on the character development as
it is revealed. This is quite helpful in
spotting how the writer reveals all facets
of the character's personality as it changes.
Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday and A Bit of History

For millions of people Black Friday is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping --even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone! Black Black is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it's one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States -falling anywhere between November 23 and 29. While it's not recognized as an official US holiday, many employees have the day off -except those working in retail.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

In the 1960's, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” In a non-retail sense, it also describes a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe set off by gold spectators who tried and failed to corner the gold market, causing the market to collapse and stocks to plummet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!




Kim Watters here. Happy Thanksgiving. It's that time of year again when we all sit back and count our blessings. There are so many things to be thankful for: my family and friends, my health, my job, my editor, my readers, the beauty that surrounds me every day. List list could go on and on.

So what are you thankful for?


Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe

Ingredients
Crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inchspringform pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover withlastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sharing some brand new reviews for BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS...

which is releasing December 1st!

Desperate to save her people, but stung by the Healer's rebuff that cost the life of her child and lifemate, Mahri Zin travels dangerous routes of the Sea Forest to kidnap a Healer. Hoping for an apprentice whose knowledge of how to use the Power given through zabbaroot can supplement her own wild Master-level skills, Mahri gets more than she bargained for. Instead of a lowly apprentice, she ends up kidnapping the Crown Prince, an arrogantly beautiful man with enemies of his own. In order to save those she loves, Mahri has to decide whether her root-induced dreams are true and how much belief she places on the conspiracies of the Natives.


Prince Korl may be temporarily captured by the fierce water- rat, but the combination of his arrogance and her unwillingness to give of herself may doom their entire world, Royals, water-rats, Natives and all of the subterranean flora and fauna within.


BENEATH THE THIRTEEN MOONS is a fast-paced, elegantly written romance that reads almost like the best of fairy tales: the characters stay true to their original characterizations even as they learn and grow throughout the novel.
http://freshfiction.com/review.php?id=27570




"Anyone who enjoyed Avatar or liked the concept of it will surely enjoy this latest amazing adventure by the talented Ms. Kennedy.


I think the author's version is more along the lines of what would happen generations later to humans who settled a planet and forgot their origins. Over time they evolved into something new and magical but something cathartic needed to happen to set the metamorphosis in motion and in this story, that event is love between a man and a woman.


Mahri is the heroine who has trust issues. Not because of something diabolical that scarred her. It was based on her own experience of lost love and the complications of class structure among the society she lived in. She has good solid values of loyalty, duty, love of family but her drive and determination come from her refusal to fail. She's compelled to do the unthinkable in order to save those that she loves from a dreaded sickness and time is running out. The author did a good job of making me care for those that Mahri loves including the woman herself. I got a clear sense of her fears, her yearnings and her tentative hope. I understood her skittishness when something really positive and beautiful came into her life and her obstinate refusal to admit that it meant as much to her as it really did.


That something positive and beautiful is Korl, the hero. He doesn't exactly come into her life, she kidnaps him. I enjoyed watching this proud man, who was secluded from the realities of the people who live beyond the scope of his kingdom, come to grips with all that he saw and Mahri opened his eyes to a much bigger world than he realized. Because he is so sure of himself and his position in life is why I felt he was freer to recognize and verbalize his love for Mahri. Korl's character is full of strength, passion, and the will to fight for what he wants and what he believes to be right. His sense of what is right is challenged by Mahri in every step of his journey with her. The part in the boat with the cats was incredibly powerful. At that moment I understood just how strong a man Korl is, and how much more Mahri needed to grow within herself before she could accept the gift that he had already given her.


Another beautiful part of the journey while Mahri was fighting her attraction and growing love for Korl was her revelations. As much as she fought her feelings, she had emotional urges to share things with him that she'd shown no one before, even her first husband. Ms. Kennedy wowed me with the scope of her imagination. The visual pictures her words painted in my mind would have rivaled the movie Avatar if it were brought to the big screen. The creatures she has created to populate the planet include those in the air, on the ground and in the ocean. The world building alone blows my mind because the author paid attention to the littlest detail. Even Mahri's furry companion, Jaja was a delight. I liked how he'd whack either Mahri or Korl when they were being too dense about something or needed to pay attention. The critter didn't need to use words to get his point across. Not only that but the author has a surprise up her sleeve for readers as the story unfolds in which Jaja plays an integral role. It's not too often I read a book where a strong secondary character isn't even human. I liked the freshness of it.


The conflict, as you can well imagine, is primarily internal. But there are definitely external dangers and they plague both of them on and off throughout the story. The zabba root is the substance that makes good things and bad things happen and I found the concept fascinating. There's a revelation about that little herb that has powerful repercussions and actually plays into the plot throughout the book.


Watching the romance develop between Korl and Mahri was both entertaining and painful. The sensual buildup was seductive and the physical moments between the two characters were fraught with emotional tension. So much healing had to take place before their bonding was solid and unbreakable. Korl's eventual realization that to keep her he had to let her go was another touching moment that endeared his character to me all the more. For me, Ms. Kennedy didn't miss any of my emotional hot buttons to push. She found them all with the telling of this story. Not only that, but the last things that Korl says in the book just had me melting into a puddle of romantic happiness. What a hero. :::sigh:::


Beneath the Thirteen Moons is a wonderful epic of a romance taking place on a fantastical world with a hero and heroine sure to find a place in a reader's heart. Ms. Kennedy has another winner on her hands and her talent for words brings to life characters you can believe in and is what makes the happily ever after so powerful. This book is a must read for all sci-fi romance fans who seek quality writing full of heart, adventure and a world that will astound a reader with its vivid imagery. I hope Ms. Kennedy plans to visit with Korl and Mahri again someday because all that creative energy that went into the making of this book shouldn't be a one shot deal. It's too amazing and rich and I really want to learn more about the indigenous people of the planet. This book was total entertainment and I don't want it to end. I give this tale a big and loud five books."
http://longandshortreviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/beneath-thirteen-moons-by-kathryne.html

Author note: I wrote Beneath the Thirteen Moons way back in 2002. When I watched the movie Avatar, I had to wonder if the creator had been inspired by my book. :}

Monday, November 22, 2010

And the winner is.....

Congratulations Estella. You're the winner of Vijaya's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More People Watching


More People Watching

Janet Evanovich people watches and stores what she
sees and hears to help her create characters. Last week,
I first reported what I had discovered from my own
people watching. This week, I continued to people
watch, but took it a step further by trying to interpret
what I was seeing. Body language plays a huge role in
showing how we feel. Of course, our interpretations are
open to misinterpretation, but as fiction writers it doesn't
matter because we are creating characters from what
we see, not reporting facts.

This morning I watched a couple in church with their
special needs child. The girl was about three-years-old
and a handful. She was always in motion; always
climbing, crawling, talking. Her emotions appeared to
be up one moment and down the next. One minute she
was smiling and happy. The next she was crying in
her father's arms.

The parents looked tired. They tried to manage her and
and listen to the sermon at the same time.
I got the impression that they were used to her acting
up in public and didn't appear anxious or embarrassed
about what the other parishioners might think.
They did try to quiet her, but
weren't overly anxious about it.

I could imagine writing a story with parents like these.
They could be the hero or heroine, or perhaps the heroine
is a relative who steps in to give this tired couple a break.

People watching is indeed a great way to begin
developing characters.

I hope you give it a try.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Interview wih Vijaya Schartz

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Vijaya Schartz. 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 session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called BLACK JAGUAR. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
When Kahuel sails away from Yalta to explore a new world, it is in large part to escape his past. He also hopes to prove himself as a worthy prince. But when tragedy strikes, and the new continent proves to be inhabited, he discovers that the powerful Mutant of Kassouk who commandeered his expedition has an alternate purpose.

Princess Talina of the Chosen clan, a peaceful native tribe concealed and protected by a race of powerful aliens, believes she can never wed. But when foreigners land on her shores, and they bring with them the legendary Lost Daughter of the Chosen prophecy, she realizes her fate is about to change. But how strange that the foreigners cannot mind-talk, and why to the felines like them is a mystery.

The Estrell people, a galactic race with problems of their own, have a crucial use for the innocent Chosen, and they cannot let a bunch of explorers jeopardize decades of work intended to insure the survival of their dying race.

With the future of the entire planet at stake, the struggle for power and for survival will play on this virgin continent, away from civilization. Can Kahuel, with his warriors and felines, simple weapons and Human ingenuity, prevail against impossible odds?

BLACK JAGUAR is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

This title follows the series. In the world I created for THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK, large felines have been tamed as pets and trained for battle. The Human warriors of Kassouk also like to take nicknames of felines representing their fighting abilities. In Book One, WHITE TIGER is the warrior name of the heroine. In RED LEOPARD, the hero is nicknamed Red Leopard, and he also has a leopard as companion. BLACK JAGUAR is no exception. It's the hero's nickname, and he also has a black jaguar as a companion.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

Sci-Fi romance wasn't even a genre when I started writing it. I was lucky to find a publisher who believed there was a readership for it, and for the past ten years, I've been writing it. I love it. The readership is increasing steadily, especially since eBooks are becoming more popular.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I loosely plotted the entire series when the first book was published. But each book in the series can be read independently. If you are like me, however, you don't want any spoilers, so you will want to read them in the right order. The idea for BLACK JAGUAR came from history (as more often than not, even in sci-fi). The medieval society I created for the series, struggling against domination by technologically advanced races, has evolved to the point of ocean exploration of new continents. So this book brings explorers to the shores of unknown lands and people.

What are your favorite science fiction research books, and why?

Science is fascinating, and I follow its progress and try to determine the new directions, repercussions, and possibilities for the near and far future in space theories, health, genetics, etc. But I don't use books for that. By the time a book is published, the research is obsolete. Newspaper clippings, internet research, scientific television programs, research news (I love the Science channel). I also follow UFO investigations, and study ancient mythology (which could be based upon alien visitations in the far past) and History. All these areas are linked and full of information and inspiration for a sci-fi writer.

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

The character I like writing the most is the character I am writing at the time. Right now, it's the heroine of BLUE LIONESS, Book Four in the series, schedule to come out next year. New characters are full of surprises, and fascinating. You do not shape them, they shape you. They hold power over the writer. But I have to say I always had a soft spot for the tall, handsome, dark, sexy hero of WHITE TIGER. His name is Dragomir.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and world affect your character development?

If I am under stringent deadlines, I work from an outline, and I want to know my main characters before I start writing. So I use various techniques. Often, though, when I get to chapter three, I have to discard most of that work, because the character is not who I think he or she was in the beginning. So, I much prefer to start writing. I watch my character in action, and that tells me who he or she is. By the end of the story, I know my characters very well, so I go back to the beginning and flush them out to implement all the wonderful things I learned about them while writing the story.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

Yes, I use them, but only for myself. So I remember which way lies the Eastern Continent, or how long it takes to cross the ocean, and which way the suns rise (this planet revolves around a binary star, so they have twin suns). In book One, I had to chart for myself the landmarks of the continent. Only if it is clear in my mind can I make it clear to the reader.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to count. But my childhood was shaped reading the incredible adventures of Jules Vernes, although I never bought the world in the center of the Earth bit. It offended my knowledge of science, even as a child. Later, I loved Victor Hugo's realism and depth of characters. But I also loved Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask). Drama and adventure were my favorite staple at the library.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

That's a difficult question. It depends on what kinds of books. For paperbacks, definitely getting reviews from major magazines. When Archangel Checkmate's review came out in Publisher's Weekly forecast, and I signed three hundred copies in forty minutes at Book Expo America in Chicago, it gave all my books a great momentum in bookstore and library orders.

But that was before eBooks and all the wonderful opportunities now available to authors on the internet. Still the secret is to promote everywhere, all the time. Creating a buzz around your book is the best way to let the readers know, and remind them that your book is out.

What do we have to look forward next?

I'm writing two more books in THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK SERIES, Blue Lioness (August 2011) and Noah's Ark (April 2012). But I also have two new titles coming out from a Canadian eBook publisher at the beginning of next year SNATCHED, and KICKING BOTS, both sci-fi romance novels. The same publisher will also re-release in electronic format a number of my earlier paperback releases. So, lots of new releases to look forward to.

Thanks, Vijaya!

To celebrate her book release, Vijaya is offering a free paperback copy of Anaz-voohri, a sci-fi romance, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio.
With over a dozen novels published, Award-winning author Vijaya Schartz writes action romance in Sci-Fi, contemporary, paranormal, and historical settings. As a world traveler, she brings an exotic quality to her stories. Her books gathered three Golden Quill awards, one Independent Publishers Book Award, and numerous Reviewer’s Choice nominations and five-star reviews.

Check out author’s website at: http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Buy her paperbacks, Kindle, and audiobooks at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP7UJ4

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Inspirational Quote

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."

Erich Fromm

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A sneak peek at the cover for THE LADY OF THE STORM

I just had to share the preliminary cover for book 2 in THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE LADY OF THE STORM.



If you recall from book 1, THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER, Lady Cassandra and Thomas rescued a young girl named Cecily. This is her story, along with Giles Beaumont, a man twice cursed, once with a blood-hungry sword, and later...well, I'd like to keep that a surprise. Cecily is the elven half-breed daughter of Breden, the elven lord of Dewhame with the power of sea & sky, and she inherited those magical powers, although it will take her some time to come to terms with her abilities. But this is part of the reason I adore this cover, which captures the lightning she can command, the sparkles of magic, the ethereal feel of the images that capture the style of the story inside.



I only had a few recommendations: I'd love to see a pointed elven ear poking through Cecily's hair, Giles's hair must be the elven white, and I'm not sure about the color of my name, I think it captures attention but jars a bit. What do you think?



Anyhoo, I hope they don't change the cover too much, cause I really love it! And I hope you will love the story inside as well!



And I should note: the book doesn't release until August 2011...but I'm hard at work on book 3, LOVING THE LORD OF ILLUSION, so you won't have to wait as long for the next story. :}

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the winner is....

Congratulations Reba. You're the winner of Cassie's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters 21 (at) hotmail.com (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

People Watching



Last Week I discussed Janet Evanovich's book
on writing. She said she people watches to
help her create great characters. What she
sees and hears is filed away for her to play with later.

I gave myself a homework assignment.
This week I took several opportunities to
people watch.

I saw a man on a plane who seemed to be upset.
He looked intently around him. If I used
this man as a character I would make him serious
and upset because the day wasn't going his way.

There is a teacher at my school who is sweet and just
happens to sell jewelry. She doesn't bring it up often,
but I could make her a character and play it up.
She would constantly hold up her necklaces or
earrings in front of people in an attempt to sell her products.
"You would look smashing in this $300 turquoise necklace.
Lucky for you, I can get it for $150. "

While in a hotel room, I heard two men arguing next door.
As a writer, my imagination went wild. In a book, the
fight would escalate to violence, perhaps gunshots.

I met a woman on a shuttle bus who had
just spent time with her sister for the last time.
Her sister is dying. This woman had a wonderful
visit and made peace with what is to come. I filed
this away for a time when one of my characters needs
to say goodbye to someone they love.

Today in church I saw an older man who seemed sad.
He could be a grieving widower in a book.
I also saw a man who appeared to be near age forty.
He wore pressed tan slacks with a sweater top.
He kept his hands folded on his lap.
Next to him sat his stylishly dressed family.
If I were to put him in a book, he would be a man who
needs to be in control. He worries about appearances.
Of course, in our books he would encounter a situation
in which he cannot be in control.

People watching is indeed a great way to add to
your mental bank of characters.
Try it!

Until Next Week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon