I Hold Charles Dickens Completely Responsible

Decided to share this again. First published last holiday season. Since I was a child, I would watch countless adaptations of A Christmas Carol on TV and in the movies. I’ve seen variations of the character of Scrooge played by the likes of Alec Guinness, Susan Lucci, Jim Carrey, Vanessa Williams, and Scrooge McDuck. I even read the novel way back, when I was into a Reading the Classics Phase, which is a great phase to be in, frankly. We learn from the masters. In 25-words or less, A Christmas Carol is a story of a mean, hard-hearted person who hates Christmas and all it stands for i.e. love, charity, and warm fuzzy slippers. On that fateful Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge could have just as easily uttered, “Cripes! It was an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. Someone pass me a Tums.” Let’s face it, if antacids had been around then, it might have been a different story.  But being a genius writer, Dickens has Scrooge find his inner self, thanks to an unending supply of colorful and inventive ghosts who are out to show he doesn’t have to be the rat-fink he thinks himself to be. It is touch and go for awhile, but kindness and mercy win out. Love of fellowman scores a touchdown. And we, the readers, cheer from the sidelines. Yes, you can be a B&BP (bigger and better person) if only you try. Taking this story to heart since I was around five-years old, I was convinced it was possible to help change a person’s character. Yes, enlighten them as to the good in everyone, help them to see the gentler part of humankind, that which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and you’ve got something. Although, according to Lila Hamilton Alvarez, the matriarch…

Read more

Welcoming Penny Estelle and The Unwanted Christmas Guest

I remember Penny Estelle’s work with great joy. She writes wonderfully upbeat, charming stories. It is a pleasure to welcome her back to This and That.  Penny, please tell us a little about your newest release, a short story, which is just in time for Christmas! I can’t tell you how excited I am that my very first ever Christmas story is being released today.  The Unwanted Christmas Guest is a story about Elizabeth McMurphy, an up and coming high powered attorney, who is after vengeance.  Her sights are set on one of the richest and most powerful families in Colorado. Steve York is an obnoxious reporter that thinks the ice queen has gone too far and does all he can to get under her skin. When one of the worst blizzards in history, hits Colorado and leaves a hurt Steve York, stranded with Elizabeth in a mountain cabin, she must decide to either take care of him, or throw him out to fend for himself. Excerpt “What’s going on here? Where the hell are my pants?”       Elizabeth practically jumped out of her skin. Steve stood in the bedroom doorway, wearing only some tight fitting pink sweats. “I found you after your car went nose to nose with a tree.” She crossed her arms. “The question is, what were you doing up here in a snowstorm? Were you coming up here to spy on me?”       “Jesus, my head hurts.” Steve groaned and sat at the kitchen table. “And don’t flatter yourself.” He brought up his hands to rub his eyes and push on his temples. He started to say something when a giggle and a round of undistinguishable sounds caught his attention. Steve stared at the little girl, a whisper of a smile on his pale face. “You…

Read more

It Pays To Push

I’ve never met one fellow writer who enjoyed the marketing process as much as writing. Maybe they’re out there, but I haven’t met them. Most of us do it on one level or another. Some are pretty good at it. Some fight the process at every turn, saying they are a writer, not a sales person; they don’t have the knack, time, money or contacts. Fortunately/unfortunately, marketing it is a major part of being an author, because it attracts readers. And what are we without our readers? And don’t expect your publisher to do it for you. They have their own headaches. Unless you are a very major player in the publishing industry, it’s going to be up to you. So the sad/happy truth is, the more you blog, twitter, Facebook, email, do book readings, book signings, beat down the doors of independent bookstores, donate copies of your book to libraries, give-aways, drawings, etc. the more your books will sell. And sometimes you gotta spend money to make money. Painful stuff, but true. I just did that, and I would like to share the experience with my fellow writers…and anybody else to cares to read on. Bookbub is an email service that, among other things, notifies thousands of readers everyday about different books at a special price – often FREE – on Amazon.com. How they are tied to Amazon, I have no idea, other than the book is offered there. And you have to have a Kindle. Or a Kindle app. Or some such thing. Lots of authors buy into this triangulated service i.e. Amazon, Kindle, Bookbub. Maybe Bookbub does it with Barnes and Noble and the Nook. I have no idea. Anyway, the famous and not so famous, discount their books or offer them free on certain days. If…

Read more

Welcome Suzanne de Montigny, author of The Shadow of the Unicorn

Today, I’m interviewing Suzanne de Montigny, author of The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy, the first of a trilogy. Her novel is the pick of the week at Amazon and a top seller at Muse It Up Publishing. Leave a comment here and you might win a free eBook of The Shadow of the Unicorn!  Here’s the back cover blurb: A loud, hissing sound filled the air. The unicorns looked up, their eyes filled with horror. Azaria, a unicorn colt, is intrigued when the young, clairvoyant dinosaur, Darius, foresees a terrifying change to their world. When a giant fireball smashes into the earth, the unicorns struggle to survive the hurricanes and starvation that follow. But nothing compares to the danger when the creatures-that-walk-on-two-legs settle in the valley, and their leader discovers the healing power in the unicorns’ horns. Greedy and ruthless, Ishmael will stop at nothing in his pursuit of wealth – even the complete extinction of the herd. Azaria must find a way to outsmart Ishmael before it’s too late.        2.  How did you pick the genre you write in? I was an elementary music teacher for over 20 years. One day, I had five minutes left at the end of class and so asked the kids, “Do you want to hear a story?” Hands shot up. And so I ducked down behind the piano with lots of noise-making gadgets and I made up a tale on the spot about a mysterious creature in a small town that was killing folks. They loved it. After that, I had to tell stories at the end of every class. But not just that class, all of my classes. It got to the point where kids would stop my on the playground and ask for them. So how…

Read more

A Designer of Words

A friend of mine, Mary Wollesen, designs quilts. I mean, these are not your typical quilts made to throw over a bed, although she has some lovely ones doing just that. The below quilt Mary named ‘Rainy Days and Sundays’ looks perfectly at home on someone’s bed. However, most of Mary’s creations are one-of-a-kind treasures, made to hang on walls or drape over sofas or chairs. They are gorgeous works of art. People spend hours admiring, appreciating, and snuggling in them. It’s so win-win. A couple of days ago I was a writer lost in Mary’s field, out searching for fabrics. Mary’s always got a new project going and I wanted to rip apart a threadbare dress, use it as a pattern, and make a new one from it. So we lunched and zipped in and out of stores, talking about the creative process while sifting through stacks of cloth. Oddly enough,  the quilting and writing businesses have a lot of similarities. For instance: You need to first come up with an idea for the fabric/story. Then you need to pattern/plot it, followed by pinning/hanging it together, and finally, you need to have the skill, talent, and tenacity to get in there and make it whole. We also discussed the different daily approaches like: how comfortable is your work area (or just how long can you lean over fabric cutting it out or banging out words on a keyboard before your back freezes up)? How do you find time to get the work done with constant interruptions, such as life, love, and laundry? How do you get yourself to produce when you don’t feel like it? How can you love doing something, when it is such a pain in the butt much of the time? Hmmmm. No answer to the last question. So it comes to pass that all us artistic types are a little nutty. It’s just not writers. I was worried there for a spell. But doing what we do not only makes us happy, it…

Read more

Welcome John B. Rosenman, Author of Kingdom of the Jax

The mysterious yet wonderful John B. Rosenman joins us and we are delighted! I call him ‘mysterious’ because he says there is a deep and abiding mystery in his newest novel, Kingdom of the Jax. I have no doubt he speaks the truth. Neither will you when you read the blurb of his book and the short excerpt below. But first, let’s get to know this great guy a bit better with a little Q&A:   HH – What is your favorite book? There are so many. I will say the first three books of the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) series by George R. R. Martin are equal to the best I’ve ever read. Utterly engrossing and challenging. Multiple characters, realms, and storylines. After the first three books, the luster dims somewhat.   HH – When and how do you write? (typewriter? Mac, in a café, for four hours each morning, etc.)   There was a time long ago when I wrote in pen or pencil on long yellow legal pads. Now I just sit before my desktop PC and let fly. I’m a pantzer, make it up as I go. Run after the characters and type down what they say and do. Or sometimes they say and do nothing, and I have to make up their lives for them. If we both hit a snag, well, we’ve got trouble. On one novel which I published, I did write an outline. The outline helped, but I changed the novel so much from it, that I reverted to my old habits. I do need to write more hours a day. However, so many things get in the way these days. Promotion is one thing, a really big time eater. I’m also revising a novel I wrote over thirty years ago for…

Read more

TACOS AND MURDER, MY FAVORITE KINDA EVENING

On Tuesday evening, May 28th, I’m going to be jawing about my books, their content, the writing of them, and what it’s like to be a mystery writer to a women’s book club, hosted by Mhaire (Mary) Fraser and Karen Lesyna. Thank you, ladies! Mary and I go back to our writing classes days, studying with Ellen Sussman, teaching guru and a fabulous author in her own right i.e., Bad Girls, Dirty Words, On a Night Like This, the NY Times best seller, French Lessons, and the recent book, The Paradise Guest House. That she gives so much to her fellow writers, while, like the rest of us, struggles with the joys and sorrows of being a wordsmith speaks of her quality soul. But I digress. Mary  (or Mhaire – spelled differently but pronounced the same) and I, formed a bond during these classes, in no small part because we shared a common ground of childhood memories. She is a writer of lush words, deep feelings, and colorful phrases, describing the southern world she grew up in. Like so many of the writers in the Bay Area, she shares her talents and skills with the rest of her peers, and I think this is what helps all of us become better at our craft. I have been fortunate in knowing a lot of talented authors in the Bay Area and to have authored – so far – six published novels in the process. While I have no real complaints about the publishers of my six books – am in fact, grateful – I thought it was time to strike out on my own, to have exactly what I want in my books when I want it. Together with another talented writer and friend, Baird Nuckolls, I have created The Wives of Bath Press, and God look down and smile…

Read more

Traveling is Not For Sissies

We are in Europe, Germany to be exact, on the first leg of our vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Germans. They are a gregarious, charming lot. They are not my problem, travel is. I mean, I don’t like to complain, but getting from A to Zed ain’t what it used to be. First off, plane seats are smaller and I am not. Second, like me, British Airways isn’t what it used to be. That’s true for most of the airlines. However, ten hours of sitting up all night in a seat roughly the size of my Aunt Fannie’s girdle with about as much movability, is trying. Add to that ghastly food, wine labeled ‘drink by Thursday, 4 pm or pour over your salad’, and a stewardess with a hauty attitude, and thus shines my heading. In a way, I don’t blame the stewardess for being hauty. After all, we were flying steerage and most cowpokes – even ones with a British accent – don’t take any lip from the cattle. Get along little doggie and mind your manners. Asking if we can get a cocktail, is completely out of line for a heffer. And the bull better mind his p’s and q’s or he’s liable to get branded…. or worse. We arrived in Heathrow the next morning with a nine-hour layover in store for us. There is no free lunch and this is the price you pay for frequent flyer miles. Take note. So after one sleepless night of sitting up, we got to sit all day in an airport waiting for a flight to Munich that got delayed. We arrived in Munich late, but we had paid for a hotel room in advance and thought all was fine. We were wrong. There was and is a convention in town – very big – and at the last minute…

Read more

The Wives of Bath Press

The Wives of Bath Press. That’s us. Trying to starting your own book publishing business? Step close. So far, the technical stuff is killing us. The ‘us’ is my writing buddy and biz partner, Baird Nuckolls, and me. Or is it I? Once we claw our way out of the basement of the Learning Curve, we’ll be just fine! Meanwhile, two of our books are out. Death Runs in the Family – Book Three of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, This award-winning humorous series revolves around a Silicon Valley family that own a detective agency. Finalist in the EPIC Best eBook Mystery 2013. Results of that soon! The Dragons of Graham – Who knew dragons were so demanding? All the dragons at Graham want something. The band dragon is hoarding silver. The dragon in the girls’ locker room wants more water, and the library dragon wants his own library card. One even wants her sister, Rosie, as a snack. Blech! Katie has to learn how to navigate the halls of her new middle school, deal with the populars, and try not to lose her best friend, Maia, all while figuring out how to satisfy the members of a mythical race she didn’t even know existed. Show more Show less More to come! Check out what we have and come back for more.

Read more