Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"I'm dreaming of a..."

Anyone who knows me will be shocked SHOCKED that *I* of all people am writing about music. Usually I couldn’t care less about music in anyway, shape or form. Chalk that up to having been married to a composer for 13 less than stellar years, and I dare anyone else to feel differently. And just that fast I've gotten off topic.

Let's get back on track, shall we?

I do happen to love Christmas music. Well, some of it. And that shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, I am rather high maintenance from time to time. (Or always.)

So let’s get specific about Christmas music, shall we? I usually start to listen to holiday music the 1st or 2nd week of November. And no matter how many times I hear certain songs, I could always listen to them again:

White Christmas * Bing Crosby

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer * Gene Autry

Holly Jolly Christmas * Burl Ives

Blue Christmas * Elvis Presley

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree * Brenda Lee

Hanukkah Song * Adam Sandler

I could go on and on. Did you notice I didn't just list the song, but included the performer and the performance as well? There’s a reason for that.

Those songs are taken.

I don’t want to hear anyone other than Bing Crosby sing White Christmas. I just don’t. That song is spoken for. Gene Autry sings Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and he’s the only one who should.

I don’t want to hear Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, or Kid Rock sing any of those songs. I just don’t. Not now. Not ever.

These songs are classics. We all know them. We all sing along with… Bing and Gene and Burl. But these songs weren’t classics until these greats sang them (being loose with the term ‘great’ in regards to Adam Sandler – but no one else should sing his Hanukkah Song ever. It’s his! And it’s hilarious.)

I’d love to hear new classic holiday songs come to fruition by contemporary artists, something future generations will look back on with nostalgia. But there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, no reason to cover these classic songs. They’re perfectly fine the way they are.

What is your favorite holiday song? Do you like to hear covers of the old classics or do you like them the way they are?

Monday, November 7, 2011

An interview with the Whitton twins...

Today Emma and Isabel are being interviewed over at Lilia Birney's blog.

Stop by and comment or ask questions as the Whitton twins will be there all day. Comments or questions with email addresses will enter you into the drawing for the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza. Winners will be drawn December 15th at during the live chat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Interview With Lydia Dare... or is it?

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d take this opportunity to interview our very own Lydia Dare. Now everyone knows that Lydia is the pseudonym of the writing team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson. And today we are lucky to have the Jodie ½ talking with us.

Lydia/Jodie - Thank you so much for having me here today.

Jerrica – Anytime. Anytime. So I’ve lost count, how many books do you have on the shelves these days, Lydia?

Lydia/Jodie – Our seventh book, NEVER BEEN BIT, was released this September. It finished up our Gentlemen Vampyre trilogy and was the last book featuring a Còig witch.

Jerrica – Seven? Just seven?

Lydia/Jodie – Umm. Yes. Just seven. Of course, we have three more books contracted. These will feature Dash’s three half-brothers. The first THE WOLF WHO LOVED ME will be released April 2012.

Jerrica – Uh, huh. THAT’s all you have going on, Ms. Dare? Or should I call you, Ms. Stone?

Lydia/Jodie – (spews tea across the room) Uh, I’m sorr—I beg your—What did you call me?

Jerrica – Stone – Ava Stone, isn’t it?

Lydia/Jodie – Uh…

Jerrica – Speechless? A little birdie told me you’ve been moonlighting under a different name. Is there any truth to that?

Lydia/Jodie – How in the world do you know that?

Jerrica – A good reporter never reveals her sources.

Lydia/Jodie – You’re not a reporter. You’re a Regency Romance author.

Jerrica – Maybe you’re not the only one moonlighting. So, anywhoo, Ms. Stone – anything you want to say? Perhaps you could take the opportunity to come clean… publicly.

Jodie/Ava – Well, I guess, under the circumstance I’d better. Yes, over the last year I’ve also had four books and one novella (Scandalous Series) released under the name Ava Stone. And tomorrow an anthology collection I have a short story in will be released.

Jerrica – Really? Anything I’ve heard of?

Ava – (rolls her eyes) Uh, yeah, since you’re in one of the books, AND since my heroine and your heroine are twins I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of the collection.

Check out the release of Ava and Jerrica’s short stories as well as those of ten other wonderful authors in the REGENCY CHRISTMAS SUMMONS ANTHOLOGY COLLECTION, featuring:




All four books will be available tomorrow at Amazon and B&N. Over the next 6 weeks, there will be opportunities to win all sorts of prizes. Visit Ava Stone's website for all the details -

Since the Jodie 1/2 of Lydia has clearly been moonlighting as Ava Stone - have you ever worked more than one job?

Originally posted at LadyScribes October 31, 2011

Contact WIth the Other Side...?

Thanks to Jerrica Knight-Catania’s earlier blog this month about ghost stories and the mention of a Ouija board session she and a friend had years ago, one of my friends (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent) decided it was something we should do. However, neither of us really wanted to do so in our own homes. Yes, we’re chickens (or I’ve watched one too many “haunted” themed shows on A&E, Discovery and the Travel Channel over the years). Luckily, we were both headed to Washington DC last weekend and agreed that having a “session” at the hotel was preferable to having one where either of us live.

So we rounded up a couple friends who were also going to be in DC at the same time and planned our secret rendezvous. None of us owned a Ouija board. So the first thing we had to do was purchase one, which is easier said than done living in the Bible belt; but we persevered (even if the friend who made the purchase did get a lecture from the woman behind her in line and a dismissive once-over from the employee at the check-out register.)

I’m still a little bit of a chicken and even though I had a fairly good sized suite with a sitting room adjacent to my bedroom at the hotel, I wasn’t all that keen at having the “session” where I was going to sleep. Luckily, I had access to one of the meeting rooms at the hotel, so the six of us planned to meet there around midnight last Friday.

Yes, six women – all in our thirties. But things soon went awry. Two of our friends went to Georgetown for drinks and sent a text saying they “hoped” to make it back in time. And two of the others got in spat with each other and weren’t speaking. So we were down to only two of us who met at the appointed time and place. The meeting room we borrowed was dimly light with dark walls. Ambiance was certainly not a problem.

No. The problem was us. We’re completely silly with no idea what we’re doing. All of this was a lark more than anything else. So we unwrapped the “glow in the dark” Parker Bros. Ouija board and put the black rubber feet on the little plastic thingy. (Yes, thingy – we’re not terribly technical and I have no idea what to call the little device you put your fingers on. So “thingy” will have to suffice.)

And while we’re doing all of this… a hotel employee jiggled the handle to our borrowed space, nearly making us jump out of our skin. My friend managed to toss the box, board and thingy under the long tablecloth before the door was thrown open and exterior light poured inside the room. I made up some lame excuse for why we were sitting in the dark (I actually don’t remember what I said, but I remember my adrenaline racing). And the hotel staff shut the door to the room, leaving us alone.

Of course my friend and I then broke out in a peel of laughter and she said, “You know he thinks we’re in here making out.” And that only made us laugh harder. Finally, after bringing our levity back under control (somewhat), we actually started trying to use the board.

We were not terribly successful. It was either user error, it’s all bunk, or some other weirdness. We made contact with some entity. Maybe. Who knows? I mean what kind of name is Zazos?

Just as we were wrapping up and had decided we’d given it our best shot, our two friends who’d gone to Georgetown showed up. And we tried one more time. One of those girls made “contact” with her deceased aunt and had a very moving moment.

I don’t think anyone there moved the thingy on purpose, I truly don’t. If I was laying odds, I think it was a combination of a collective subconscious and tired arms that weren’t allowed to rest on the table that was responsible for making the thingy move across the board.

Still, my friend who had the “moment” with her aunt seemed very moved by the whole event; and if that brought her some peace, I’m glad she was able to experience it – even if she only has her own subconscious to thank/blame.

What do you think? Do you think making contact with “the other side” is bunk or reality? Have you ever experienced something other worldly that couldn’t be explained?

Originally posted at LadyScribes October 28, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I'm Sorry... What...?

Without going into too many details because (1) it’s just too bizarre to go into and because (2) this isn’t really the appropriate forum for it - yesterday I received the strangest piece of mail I may have ever received in my life. Essentially, it was a handwritten card from the least likely person in the world saying the most bizarre thing ever.

Totally a WTH moment.

Seriously! She sent a card that said THAT to me?

Is it April Fools Day? Am I being Punk’d?

Totally and completely bizarre.

As I read the card to my best friend over the phone – and after we cackled over the absurdity of it – she told me about a card her mother recently received that was also jaw-droppingly bizarre.

And that got us thinking about a completely untapped market out there – Apology Cards for Every Occasion:

* I know I’ve bled you dry over the years, but I think it’s time for you to forgive me.
* Yes, I ran over your sister with my car, but I think we can get past it.
* I know I got you fired, but I’m hoping we can let bygones by bygones. Aren’t you happier now anyway, with all of your free time?

*We're sorry we got greedy and upped your payment. In light of Amazon's Kindle Fire announcement and its ability to live stream, we at Netflix would like to say - Please don't leave us!

* I didn’t mean for your dog to eat my entire box of Godiva chocolates. I’m sorry for your loss, but we’re still cool, right?

* I know I broke up your marriage, but I hope you can forgive me.
* I am sorry we dumped pig's blood on you during prom. But did you really have to burn down the school? You might want to look into an anger management class.
* I am the one who spread that ugly rumor about you and the boss around the office. Sorry.
* I am sorry I robbed your convenience store, but I needed the money for drugs and alcohol.

* I didn’t mean to call your baby ugly in the middle of the church sermon. It just slipped out.

Seriously, an untapped market, right? What do you think would make the most bizarre apology card? I can’t wait to read these responses.

Originally posted at LadyScribes 9/30/11

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yada, Yada, Yada...

It’s my day to blog again?!? How did that happen?

In all seriousness, I knew my blog day was coming up. I even prepared for it. Well, kind of.

Last week I took my annual last hurrah summer vacation cruise with my son, my mother and my brother. Before I left on the trip, I figured something would happen on my vacation that I could blog about.

And things did happen. Like one day we got caught in a rainstorm in an open air jeep in St. Thomas, driving on the left on mountainous roads but were unable to stop because the lead jeep (driven by the tour guide) didn’t stop and we had no idea where we were going. Then the next day we had an amazing time in St. Maarten aboard the Lord Sheffield brigantine – complete with awesome drinks, good food and incredible snorkeling where I saw an actual octopus in the wild!!

But then I thought about it and decided that no one else really cares about my vacation. Even with pictures – blah! It’s like hearing about someone else’s dream – unless you have a starring role…Who cares?

So yesterday I had to travel to Orlando for work. Again – I thought inspiration would strike. I still had one day left before my blog post, after all. I left first thing in the morning and came back late at night. On the flight down there were two screaming babies who NEVER stopped crying. I felt bad for the poor things. If I screamed that long and that loud, I wouldn’t have a voice left.

But who wants to read a blog about crying babies or the parents who did NOTHING – and I mean NOTHING – to soothe their children? No one wants to read that blog. That’s just painful. Trust me.

So I kept thinking. I just finished my Christmas anthology short story, that I LOVE – but I blogged about that last month. I’ve been critiquing and beta reading chapters and manuscripts for my lovely critique partners – but only they care about my opinion on those matters.

So I thought some more. My son started 8th Grade yesterday (I flew to Florida after I dropped him at school). His last year of Middle School – it was Jr. High when I was his age, but his face turns red and his head spins around when I call it that. And that got me to thinking about how things have changed since I was his age. Who would have ever thought the 80s were quaint when they were happening? Probably everyone feels that way about their childhood. Who knows what the future holds…I mean how will this day and age of technology and “stranger danger” ever seem quaint to our children? I’m not sure, but I’m equally sure they’ll look back on these days and think things were old-fashioned.

But I didn’t think that topic would make a good blog post either. I'd just end up sounding like my grandmother. "Back in my day..." And I'm too young to sound like my grandmother. Next!

Hmm. Let’s see… Well, in North Carolina I felt the DC earthquake in my office this week. And tomorrow we’re expecting a hurricane. How often do you get an earthquake AND a hurricane in the same week?

But natural disaster blogs are so passé.

So here it is, almost midnight. My blog is due in less than half an hour and I’ve got…Nothing. Well, I guess I technically have a 600+ word rambling about nothing that doubles as a blog. Kind of like Seinfeld was a show about nothing.

That's PERFECT!!!

So without further ado… My blog about nothing in honor of Jerry Seinfeld’s old, quaint sitcom.

What did you all do this week?

*Originally posted at LadyScribes August 28, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Keeping it Fun

I have been writing most of my life. Short stories, the occasional poem, stage plays, screenplays and now novels. My first short story was in second grade, and I’ve been driven to write ever since. Writing has always been my passion, my escape from real life.

I could never have imagined it would become a chore. But deadlines, edits, PR, marketing, social networks, worrying about reviews, and every other detail that comes along with being an author slowly began to creep up on me. It happened so slowly, I didn’t even realize that writing had stopped being “fun” and had started being a “job”. And yet it had.

I know I’ve become a better author with each book I write, but somewhere along the way I lost a lot of the joy. I’d forgotten how fun it was to figure out where my story was going and what was going to happen next.

But this last week, I am happy to report, my muse slapped me upside the head. After suggesting to my critique group that we should consider writing an anthology together, the estimable Jane Charles took my idea and ran with it, creating a better idea than I could have ever come up with on my own.

So now there are 12 of us working on Christmas short stories that are all connected; and hearing about every one else’s stories and figuring how they relate to my short story has been the most fun ever. My muse is back in full force and I can’t wait to get back to working on my story.

How do you handle all the pressures that come along with writing? How do you keep it fun?

*Originally posted at LadyScribes July 29, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Winter Has Come...And Gone

If you follow me on Twitter, you knew this blog was inevitable.

I’m not sure how many of you have watched HBO’s Game of Thrones, but if you haven’t – you are clearly missing out. Anyone who knows me knows I can be a little finicky in all things – food, friends… Well, everything to be honest. And entertainment is no exception. I think when one tells stories for a living, no matter the medium or genre, one becomes more critical. It’s just a natural occurrence and comes with the territory. “I would have done this differently.” “Hmm. I wonder why they did that?” Or “That was a poor choice.” The days of enjoying movies, books, or television purely for entertainment really are in my past.

Game of Thrones is an exception to that rule. I cannot express how much I love this series. I cannot say it loud enough. Or tell enough people. I want everyone to experience this series and I’ve sort of become an unusual missionary of sorts, converting viewers as quickly as I can. And you know why…? Because I’m dying to talk about it with others. To dissect every well-crafted scene. To speculate on this side-long glance or that beleaguered sigh. In short - to revel in the greatness that is Game of Thrones, over and over and over again.

Last Sunday night, the season finale aired on HBO and I’m all ready going through withdrawals. (It was a fantastic episode, if you had any doubt.) But how will I possibly wait until Spring 2012 for winter to come again? Well, I have deadlines, naturally. And all of the other aspects of my life to attend to. …But…Spring 2012 is sooo very far away. I will miss it dreadfully.

To tide me over, temporarily, I have decided to host a Game-of-Thrones-athon at my house for a handful of my friends next month. I do have all the episodes still loaded on my DVR, after all. So we’ll pile into my living room for a 10 hour fun-filled, nail-biting, laughing, crying, cringing, cheering, gasping fest. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. We will probably take a break for lunch and maybe dinner to discuss what has happened thus far. And I can hardly wait to share this amazing series with my dear friends.

I can also spend many joyful hours on HBO’s viewer guide – looking at maps, family crests, and family trees. I can learn more about the main characters, and not-so main ones.

I can read Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. (But not the others in the series. Not yet, anyway. I want to see it on screen before I read the story. Don’t ask me why. I just do.)

What is the series about, you wonder? Martin has created a medieval/fantasy world based loosely on the War of the Roses with the families of Stark and Lannister standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. It sports a huge ensemble cast where the ideas of good vs. bad can seem very gray, depending on whose eyes you’re seeing the world through. And in the north, there is a great wall made of ice that keeps those south of the structure safe from the wildlings and more frightening creatures on the other side. (For me this screamed Hadrian’s Wall, though that Roman barrier could never have attained the height of Martin’s wall. The structure is so high, it would tower over the Empire State Building.) For a history lover – this series is the most amazing thing since… Well, nothing even compares.
If you’ve wondered why I’ve peppered this blog with “winter” references, the answer is simple. In the land of Westeros where the majority of our heroes and heroines live – summer and winter aren’t just your average seasons. They can last decades or generations. So now I must confess – since there are probably some of you reading this who HAVE watched the series – I do know that winter hasn’t officially come yet as far as the show is concerned. (They’ve been enjoying years and years of summer thus far.) But Winter Is Coming – and when it finally does arrive, I’ll be there to watch every single frame.

Have you watched this series? Are you planning on watching this series? Would you enjoy watching a Game-of-Thrones-athon? If you have watched, who is your most favorite character and why? The most despicable? (I really could ask question after question.) Give me all of your Game of Thrones thoughts. I want to hear them all.

*Originally posted at Lady Scribes June 24, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

There's Nothing Like a Great Cup of Coffee

In my experience, there are two kinds of writers in the world. No, I don’t mean pantsers vs. plotters. No, I don’t mean night people vs. morning people. No, no, no.

I mean those who drink coffee and those who don’t.

I think the typical image of a writer, is that of someone plugging away on the laptop in a darkly lit room with cigarette smoke swirling about on one side of the computer – and a cup of coffee on the other. For years – and I mean YEARS – I was part of the contingency of writers who never drank coffee. (And, yes, there are large numbers of them out there.) In fact, I found it to be vile stuff. Oh, I loved the smell of coffee, but the taste…? Bleck! I would have rather swallowed tar.

But over the last few years, that has changed. Somewhere along the way I became a coffee drinker. Don’t ask me how – actually that is a very long and drawn out story that I’m sure only I find interesting. However I will tell you that I was more surprised than anyone how much I have come to love the stuff. I’m getting closer and closer to the typical image of a writer, sans the cigarette smoke and the darkly lit room, of course.

In all things, however, I tend to be a bit spoiled. Therefore, I’ve never learned to make coffee. Ignorance is bliss, after all. If I learn how to make it, I’ll have to do so all the time. Heaven forbid. No - I much prefer to buy my coffee, so it’s just the way I want it. Usually I get a very complicated latte, tailor made just for me. But recently Starbucks started selling a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino. I was in HEAVEN! I mean serious HEAVEN. Mocha AND coconut?


Ok. I know that image of the writer plugging away on their laptop does NOT include a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino. But now that I’ve had one, I think I will throw a huge temper tantrum if they ever take it off the menu.

And don’t even get me started on their Cake Pops! Heavenly goodness on a stick. Three flavors – Birthday Cake, white cake with pink frosting; Tiramisu, exactly what it sounds like; Rocky Road, chocolate cake, nuts, marshmallows and chocolate frosting! I still can’t decide which is my favorite. I’ll have to keep testing them.

Are you a coffee person? What is your favorite coffee? Do you make it yourself, or buy it like me? But most importantly – no matter if you are a coffee person or not - have you tried a Cake Pop?

*Originally Posted at LadyScribes May 27, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Point of View

To me, the most fascinating part of writing or reading, for that matter, is a character’s point of view. I love getting in the head of a character and finding out what makes them tick. And realizing how the same scene and the same circumstance can seem vastly different to each of the characters in any particular scene. As people, we bring all the baggage of our upbringing and life’s experiences into any given situation. Characters are just the same, to my way of thinking. Just because a character is secondary or not the POV character during any particular scene doesn’t mean that those characters don’t have a POV that isn’t shown. But as authors we should know what it is to make our stories richer and more well rounded.

This summer I took my son to see Megamind. And adored the movie for showing us the villain’s point of view. He’d been belittled and mocked while growing up and eventually decided that if he couldn’t be good, he’d be bad. But he’s not bad and he never really was. It all depends on the lens in which the story is told. Remember that old quote from Jessica Rabbitt? “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

So this idea I had, about who is telling the story and how others have their own un-shown POV, was the catalyst for a pair of books I recently published. In both A Scandalous Wife and A Scandalous Charade, some of the same events transpire, but the reader’s takeaway is vastly different depending on the character whose eyes the story is seen through. A Scandalous Charade. The two books happen concurrently, and though the main plots of each have nothing to do with the other, at one point the two stories collide and readers have the chance to see a couple of scenes told through a different character’s point of view. As an author, this was amazingly satisfying to write as I got to explore both sides of the same story.

Is there a story you’d love to read or see through a different character’s eyes?

*Originally posted at LadyScribes February 4, 2011