Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

This will likely be my last blog post this year (unless something crazy-awesome happens to share with you guys). I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year! May you find lots of fabulous reads under your tree and may Santa bring you love and joy for your heart. I hope you get to spend time with your loved ones and friends, as I will be doing.

A peek into my Christmas...

When my kids were itty-bitty and thought ornaments were their play toys, I stopped using glass balls. Instead, my tree was decorated with homemade ornaments, memorabilia, red bows and colored lights. This year I decided to have three trees, including a grown-up one.

My pretty adult tree decorated in gold and silver and a splash of red.

This is what my big (and only) tree used to look like - bright colors and fun shapes.
And a purple angel tree for my office! What could be more perfect, right? That little candy cane hanging at the bottom? It's personalized for Alexis. =D

And since it's technically Foodie Friday, I have something else to share. Santa came early for me. Actually, his elves showed up in a truck at 8 this morning and The Man said, "That must be your stove." "My stove?!" I squealed. I hadn't been expecting it! I can't wait to bake cookies and cook Christmas dinner!
My old one cooked unevenly, baked even worse and wasn't a glass-top. I so missed the flatty I'd had for years before. And this one is a convection oven, too...which I'll be learning how to use.

Wishing you lots of smiles! See ya next year, lovelies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Release Prep - Calling All Bloggers

I know the blog has been extremely quiet lately...though, with all the holiday chaos, I'm sure you haven't noticed. But it's true and it's mostly because I'm trying to wrap up as much as possible with Devotion so I can take a few days off for Christmas. And then - and THEN! - maybe start on a Shiny New Idea for 2012.

I still have lots to do for Devotion, though. I seriously can't wait for its release! You get all the characters you love plus some new ones and a wickedly awesome story. Yeah, I just said that about my own book. I can't help it. There's a lot to love about this one.

If you review books on your blog, Facebook page, Amazon, B&N, iBooks and/or Goodreads and want to be part of Devotion's release bash, please let me know. You could win a Kindle Fire just for doing what you do - read and write reviews.

A KINDLE FIRE you guys!

Email me at kristie (at) kristiecook (dot) com for details. Now. Do it. And please let your blogger friends know about it, too. Thanks in advance! You're the bestest!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Congrats to Bestie Author Friend Brenda Pandos

The Onyx Talisman, the final installment of The Talisman Trilogy by bestselling author (and my bestest author friend) Brenda Pandos, releases today! This is Brenda's best book yet, definitely a grand slam for the series. If you haven't read this series, you have no excuse. The first book, The Emerald Talisman is still FREE on Kindle!

About The Onyx Talisman:

"Alora looked back and the corner of her lip turned up. “It’s always darkest before the dawn, Julia. Good luck.”  Her words sent chills up my spine as she vanished."

Unrest stirs deep in Scotts Valley. Filled with uncertainty, Julia anxiously awaits Nicholas’ return. Phil, hurt and unsure of his place as a sober vampire, holds the pieces of Julia’s fragile psyche together, secretly hoping Nicholas stays away forever. Scarlett bides her time, plotting for the perfect moment to prove herself and earn redemption. But somewhere in L.A., Alora conspires to reclaim her talisman and strip Julia of everything she holds dear.

Little do they know, a war is coming and more than one vampire would like to see the Prince of Vampires overthrown. As more and more vampires show up from nowhere, addicted to her scent, Julia must pick her allies carefully before it’s too late. Can Julia bargain with fate? When the time comes, will she even have a choice? Find out how it all ends in this explosive grand finale of The Talisman Trilogy.

Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble
Coming soon elsewhere!

Other info:
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Goodreads for Onyx:

Monday, December 12, 2011


I'm still working diligently on Devotion, hoping to get it wrapped up for the last round of critiques and the copy editor before Christmas so I can enjoy some time with the family. BUT, I wanted to share a couple of FREEBIE ebooks, including Promise!

That's right - Promise is FREE in ALL ebook formats!
And if you haven't read The Talisman Series by the awesome Brenda Pandos, get started now with The Emerald Talisman, which is also FREE! I just finished beta-reading The Onyx Talisman, the final book in the trilogy that releases this Friday, and it ROCKS! An excellent finale.
If you've read these but know someone looking for something good to read, please pass on the news. With everyone getting new ereaders, lots of peeps you know might be looking for some free and cheap ebooks.

And since I'm here running a shameless self-promotion, I just wanted to remind you that there are some great gifts plus PRE-ORDERS of Devotion at

Friday, December 9, 2011

Foodie Friday: Family Recipes

Christmas is the time for traditions and this includes traditions in the kitchen. Anyone who cooks (and even many who don't) have at least one recipe they make every year that has been handed down the generations. Whether it's for a pie, cookie, salad or entree, it's a family favorite and it just doesn't feel like Christmas without it.

My family honors its Portuguese heritage with a soup recipe that I make every year around this time. Kale is one of the primary ingredients and it begins showing up in the stores around Thanksgiving. My version of the soup is very hearty with roast beef, Italian sausage, chorizo and potatoes, along with the kale. Everyone who has ever tried it loves it. I've never heard one person say they didn't like it or even "it's okay."

So at Thanksgiving, my mom, my aunt and I were sitting at the table after dinner and Mom asked if either of us had made this soup yet this year. Then we got to talking about how she had been to Massachusetts once and was talking about the recipe with a cousin. When they delved into details, though, they realized they had two very different ways of making the same soup. And another cousin had even a different way. The recipe had come from the Azores from the same woman, but as it was passed down, each person apparently made their own tweaks.

My hearty recipe is similar to my mother's, I think - it's been so long since I've had hers and I may have made my own adjustments. But I know ours isn't quite like what my grandmother used to make - hers had less meat and didn't use chorizo, but linguica, a Portuguese sausage. Our cousins' versions had very little meat, but white beans. I remembered watching Emeril Lagasse make it once on TV and his was also different than ours, but more like our cousins'. Now, though, I see he has one similar to our recipe.

And what's even funnier, we've always called it "coivis" but I can't find that term anywhere on the Internet, spelled any kind of logical way. I know that's what Emeril called it, too, because that's what caught my attention at the time of the show, but now all his recipes simply say "kale soup." So even the name is being lost in the modern world.

How funny that everything, even our favorite hand-me-down recipes, change over time. Then again, you can have the situation I remember reading about one time:

A young woman was making a beef roast in the oven and she cut the ends off the roast before placing it in the pan. Her new husband asked why she did that because his mom never did. She said it was part of the recipe her mother gave her and that's how her mom "always did it." Curious, though, she asked her mother the reason for cutting off the ends and Mom said it was part of the recipe her mother gave her and that's just how her mom "always did it." So the young woman called Grandma and asked why she cut the ends off the roast. "Oh, well, honey, we had very small ovens back in my day. I had to cut off the ends so the roast would fit!"

So, even as some recipes may change drastically, others stay the same even when they don't have to because "that's how we've always done it."

Do you have any family favorites that have been handed down? Do you know if it's still the same as the original or has it been changed? Do you tweak recipes, even old family favorites, to give it your own touch?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Jessica Bell

Sorry I've been a little lame here and haven't posted much but it's all for a good reason - Devotion! I'm trying to get it all wrapped up nice and pretty for you for the beginning of February. In other words, it's sucking up all of my creativity, focus and time like a literary vampire. I'll bless haunt you with my presence more often soon enough and I'll even be able to bring back Teaser Tuesdays with some clips from Devotion. In the meantime...

Today we have a special guest post from the fabulously talented Jessica Bell, whose debut String Bridge just released last month. Jessica has been a great online writer friend who has helped me with some sticky spots during Genesis and Devotion. I'm so excited for her new release and can't wait until I have some downtime to read it.

About Jessica:
Jessica Bell is a literary women's fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist. Her debut novel, String Bridge, is slated for publication by Lucky Press, LLC, November, 2011.

She grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s. She spent much of her childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for Hellenic American Union, Cengage Learning, Pearson Education, Education First and Signature Manuscripts. Jessica Bell's poetry and short stories have been published in various anthologies and Literary Magazines. A full list can be found on her website. Additionally, she has written various English textbook materials and is also a singer/songwriter/guitarist. Ms. Bell's experience as an Australian living in Greece has greatly influenced her writing.

Jessica Bell has a Bachelor of Arts from Latrobe University, where she studied subjects such as modern English literature, fiction writing, nonfiction writing, screenplay writing, editing and publishing children's literature, myth and ideology, and 18th-century romanticism. 

About String Bridge:
Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits.

Jessica's guest post:

One thing I’ve noticed since my debut, String Bridge, was released (and is certainly hard to ignore) is the fact that readers often assume the book is about me (or, in a few instances, accuse me of it being autobiographical). And you know what my reaction is on the outside? “Of course it’s not.” And I politely explain why. But my reaction on the inside is, “F%#@! This is ridiculous!”

So, in response to this epic “accusation,” and the frustration I’m feeling, I’m going to set a few things straight. Let’s start with this:

String Bridge is not about me.

So where do I start? Do I start explaining why there are so many circumstantial similarities between me and Melody, my main character? Yes, I will start with that. The truth of the matter is, it was my first novel and I was lazy. I wanted to avoid the mist of research; to write my first novel with the knowledge I already possessed. The answer, really, is simple …

  • I gave Melody my job … because I know my job inside out and have 7 years experience of it.
  • I gave Melody the aspiration to be a musician … because I’m a musician also, and can thoroughly describe how music makes one feel.
  • I gave Melody my location, Athens, Greece … because I know it like the back of my own hand. (Not to mention that it’s a really interesting city to set a story in!)
  • I gave Melody’s parents a home on a Greek island … because mine live on a Greek island and I also know that like the back of my own hand.
  • I gave Melody’s husband the same job as my partner … because I know what that kind of work entails from an outsider’s perspective.

Okay … what do you notice about these similarities? They have nothing to do with the story. They are just surface elements of character and setting.

Isn’t it interesting that readers think that because of these aspects, the novel is autobiographical? Because I can’t imagine the same reaction if I were living in New York, USA, and the book was set in New York, USA. It becomes pretty far-fetched when you think about it like that, doesn’t it?

Having said that, I think every writer puts themselves into every character, but the similarities come through in waves which depend on various factors, such as mood, while writing. For example, I’m as emotional and passionate as Melody is. I’m as cheeky as Tessa is. Depending on the circumstances, I can get as cold and aggressive as Betty and Alex, and as passive and timid and obedient as James. I can sometimes be as boisterous as Heather and as caring and generous as Serena. I can even be quite selfish at times, which I think each and every character in String Bridge is as some point or another, and so is each and every person on this planet at some point in their lives. There is always going to be a piece of the author in every single book they write. But this is a good thing. If it didn’t happen like that, then the books we read wouldn't sound very realistic, would they?

What do you think? Do you think it’s reasonable to assume someone’s debut novel is autobiographical? Why/Why not? Have there ever been any books that made you wonder if they were about the authors themselves? How would you feel if someone thought this about your work?

To read more about String Bridge and its accompanying all-original soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written and performed by the author, please visit: 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Foodie Friday: Holiday Treats

I love to cook, but I'm not much of a baker. I make birthday cakes throughout the year, but that's pretty much it. And those start with a box mix. BUT, Christmas time is a different story. It's the one time of year I love to bake. Which is good, because I make so many scrumptious cookies and treats, we'd all be 20 pounds heavier if I did this more often.

I have some old standbys that I make every year, many of which my late sister-in-law, who passed at the young age of 34, used to make for the whole family. So they're a tribute to Sheree.

Last year, though, I kind of hit a wall of boredom. And I realized it's because almost every single thing I made consisted of chocolate and peanut butter. Now, don't get me wrong. What better combination is there, right? Chocolate and peanut butter wins in my household every.single.time.

Lately, though, I've noticed a lot of turtle-type treats. For years, everyone in my house, including a nephew for the last two years, asks for a turtle cake for their birthday. I have two boxes of turtle brownie mix in the cupboard this very moment. When we buy refrigerated cookie dough, it's almost always the turtle variety. (Oh, yeah, I guess I do that kind of "baking" a few times throughout the year, but that doesn't really count.)

So this year I'm on the lookout for new recipes that aren't just chocolate and peanut butter. Apparently, caramel is also a fave in my house, so here are a couple yummies I think I'll give a go this year, although I'll start out with my own dough so I don't feel like I'm cheating. That's what the rest of the year is for.

Hmm...still sticking with that chocolate and peanut butter trend, just adding in caramel, too. I'll be making these (and will let you know how they are), but I'm still on the lookout for new ideas.

What are your favorite cookies and treats you make at Christmas? Any trends in your family? Care to share any recipes? Is your mouth watering just looking at those? Mine is! *Hands out napkins for the drool*

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Jamie Magee

Today we have Jamie Magee, author of the Insight series that includes Insight, Embody and Image, as well as a new series coming 2012.

About Jamie:
Jamie Magee has always believed that each of us have a defining gift that sets us apart from the rest of the world, she has always envied those who have known from their first breath what their gift was. Not knowing hers, she began a career in the fast paced world of business. Raising a young family, and competing to rise higher in that field would drive some to the point of insanity, but she always found a moment of escape in a passing daydream. Her imagination would take her to places she’d never been, introduce her to people she’s never known. Insight, her debuting novel, is a result of that powerful imagination. Today, she is grateful that not knowing what defined her, led her on a path of discovery that would always be a part of her. 

About Insight (from Goodreads):
Some say that dreams are the doorway to the soul. Willow Haywood is no stranger to that doorway. Each night she shares a blissful, silent dream with a stunning blue-eyed boy. With each new moon she is haunted by a painful nightmare shared with a different boy, who’s always hidden by the shadows.

In her waking hours she must battle her sixth sense. The one that allows her to feel others emotions as if they were her own. This insight is exhausting and frustrating causing her to draw inward, only trusting her family and few close friends. Oddly, this sense also attracts ghostly images that seem to appear out of nowhere. With a touch, they take her to wherever they may be, allowing her to change their emotion. This alone would cause most to go insane, but Willow filters her aggression by painting, capturing the emotion she changed.

One August night a nightmare came days after the new moon. In this dream the shadowed boy marked her wrist with star, leaving her father no choice but to share a family secret that would tie all of the odd attributes of Willow’s life together. Now, she has no choice but to outrun the fate that is closing in around her.

In an attempt to lure her, the shadowed figure captures her closest friends. In order to save them, she must weave through broken myths, half truths, and the undeniable power of the Zodiac. With each step she takes Willow comes to realize that she has lived before, her path is one that she chose, and this trial is simply the beginning.

On to the interview!

Tell us about you in 10 words.
Classic Scorpio, obsessed with my daydreams, lover of alternative music!

So you had a birthday not too long ago. Happy Belated Birthday! If you tweeted about your latest release, what would it say (140 characters or less)?
They thought he was dead - defeated. They were wrong. The question now is who will be the ultimate sacrifice in the trail of Venus.~ Image

Oooh, sounds interesting. Nothing like someone you thought was dead to come along unexpectedly. And a sacrifice? Yikes! If you could spend the day with any of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
I’m going to choose a new character that my readers will meet when my next series comes out in the spring of 2012 – ‘See’. The character is Draven Michaels, an addictively gorgeous nineteen year old that not only has divine talent within the realm of music, but a talent that allows him to see everything within a soul, both living and dead. We would sit in his studio that is on the top floor of his home, a modern day castle. I would stare into is tantalizing emerald green eyes that are laced in black and listen to his hypnotic voice as he explains to me the pains his soul has witnessed. When words become useless, he will pick up his guitar and let the emotion that is tormenting his soul echo around us through the strings of a haunting guitar.

I have a feeling you're going to have an awesome playlist for this one. I hope you'll share. :) So, what’s your favorite part of being a writer?
Daydreaming. I love to slip away into a world that has yet to be discovered, to watch a story unfold before my very eyes. To listen to the whispers of my characters as they come to life.

Oh, yes. I totally relate. And, what’s the hardest part of being a writer?
Sharing my work, for me at least. I still find myself battling butterflies when someone mentions my debut, Insight.  I know no matter what anyone says about my novels, it will not change the way I feel about my story or my characters, but it still feels like you’re in high school waiting to know if you made the final cut for a team – waiting to see if others see a talent in you.

I get this, too. I don't think it ever goes away, but it makes us better writers. What do you wish you would have known before you became a writer?
Everything I do and do not know today. I know that is broad, but I doubt that I could have ever been fully prepared for this career.  Every day I not only meet amazing new people, but learn a new aspect to this art.

Yep, we must constantly be learning. Especially when we're indie, since there's all the publishing side to learn, too. What made you decide to go indie?
Honestly, I had no idea I had made that decision. You see, I had a different career, a different set of dreams I was chasing when I began to write. Writing was my escape from that fast-paced, stressful career choice. When Insight was completed, I found myself printing my MS out and placing it in three-ring notebook binders to pass it around to friends and friends of friends. When I sought out ways to present Insight in book or ebook form, I wasn’t considering  myself published, I was just trying to find an easier way to share the story with anyone who asked.

I’m sure I was the last one that discovered I had those beautiful people writers call readers. Once I saw that people I didn’t know, people that were not even in my country were reading the story I wrote in my free time on my couch, I took every step I could to understand the literary world.  Once I began to grasp it, I understood I was an indie, that I made a choice without knowing it. I have no regrets. I know that the path I stumbled on has not only a purpose but it will lead me to where I’m meant to be.

I did the three-ring binder thing, too. I still have those early copies, packed away somewhere. What do you like most about being indie?
I adore the personal connection I have with my readers. I love having my hands touch and approve every aspect of my book.  My novels are a part of me. If I ever sought the help of an agent I would have to be sure that they loved my story as much as I did – I would have to be sure that I could trust them with my life.

A lot of people say "control," but it's not always meant in a control-freak kind of way. Like you say, sometimes it's just about touching it, feeling a part of those aspects non-indies never get to be involved in, like cover design. I like how you put it. If a writer came to you asking advice about going indie, what’s the most important thing you would tell them?
Writing may look like a solitary field from the outside, but that idea could not be further from the truth. You need friends. Not just any friends. You need friends that share the same passion you do. You need to watch other indies, the ones that bring respect and honor to the title. Watch how they reach out to their readers, seek their advice, and thank them for the slightest insight. When you follow those simple steps, it doesn’t matter if your book sells or not, you’re already successful because you have brought people into your life that will constantly inspire you to push harder.

Other writers are truly inspiring, aren't they? Sometimes, it's just reading a status update that so-and-so is working on such-and-such book that motivates us to open our own file and get to work. Okay, let's talk about your reading life now. What’s the last book you read and what’s next?
I polished off the Hunger Games series in two days - still having nightmares. I think I may wait a while for my next read and fall into my own work for awhile…

One of my favorite series ever. Can't wait for the movie!!! Eek! Oops, sorry. Got distracted for a minute while I watched the trailer again. *wipes eyes* Where were we? Oh, yeah. What book or author can you read over and over again?
The Notebook – I love that story.

Ebooks or Dead Tree Books? Why?
Ebooks – I can carry way more books with me and my phone is never far away, so my kindle app is always there when I have a free moment.

Where can we connect with you?
Oh how I love the social networks! You can find me at any of these places I love to meet new people.

Here is my Facebook fan page

Thank you so much Kristie for having me hear today!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Shopping & Devotion Pre-Orders

I am proud to say I let another Black Friday go by unobserved. Well, at least by me. Older teens tend to think it's exciting to go out shopping in the middle of the night, even when they have no money to buy anything, so a couple members of The Herd did go out Thursday night/Friday morning. Whatever. I spent the day catching up on sleep, reading and going to see Breaking Dawn Part 1 (of which I'll keep my comments to myself).

My small publishing company did observe Small Business Saturday, though, and, truthfully, the whole weekend for holiday specials. In fact, today we're still celebrating Cyber Monday. I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I'm going to hop on a soap box and do a little preaching. Because here's the deal - we've allowed corporate America/corporate World to go a little too far. Corporations have way too much power and they're playing a huge role in controlling our economy. Our governments are bailing them out with our money (we pay the government after all!) only for them to turn around and ask for more. More, more, more. All they want are hand-outs. Want to talk about entitlements? Okay, neither do I. I don't want to get political on this blog. I specifically avoid politics for a reason.

But I do want to say this: Shopping local and/or small businesses this holiday season can make a huge difference in our local, national and global economies. It's time to take things small again. When you shop in big box stores, your money goes to another state and likely another country. When you shop locally and with small businesses, most of that money stays in your local economy. You're giving your friends jobs or allowing family members to keep the ones they have. You're keeping your neighbors from having to close their family businesses.

In times like these, we need to ban together as people. We need to reduce how much we spend on material "stuff" made, distributed and sold by the big corporations and think about the everyday things we need that we can get from our own friends and neighbors.

For example, instead of buying a new TV or computer for someone at the big box store, think about buying them a gift certificate for a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast, a day at the spa or a year's worth of housecleaning or car-washing services. Instead of video and computer games, think about gift certificates for a day out at the local zoo that includes lunch at a local restaurant and a trip to the ice cream shop. Everyone needs hair cuts throughout the year, pets need groomed, teeth need cleaned and whitened. Local gyms and personal trainers offer gift certificates. And don't forget that some of the "chains" are actually locally owned franchises - just find out which ones are owned by real people in your community and support them.

I'm still making my Christmas list (yeah, that means I haven't even started shopping yet), but I intend to make it a locally and/or small business shopped holiday season as much as possible this year. I'm making it a challenge for myself to see if I can do it. Wanna join me?

Now back to my small (as in teeny-tiny) business publishing company and holiday deals. Small Business Saturday is over, but on this Cyber Monday, I hope you'll consider checking out Ang'dora Productions' holiday specials. Through tonight, we're offering an extra 15% off all orders, including those already discounted, in addition to free shipping offers AND including pre-orders of Devotion. Just go here and use coupon code "happyholidays".

Did you catch that? We're taking pre-orders of Devotion! And through December 25, you can get it for $2 off the expected list price of $16.99. Buy it before midnight tonight and get an additional 15% discount. These are paperbacks personalized and signed by yours truly (um, that would be the author).

While you're there, check out the awesome packages we have for Soul Savers fans. Wouldn't a collection of signed books be a fabulous gift to give?

Well, even if we don't have anything for anyone on your list, I do hope you'll consider the challenge of shopping locally and/or small this year. Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope you are having a wonderful day with family, friends and delicious food. Besides wishing you a happy holiday, I just want to quickly say that today I am thankful for my life. I'm healthy and I have healthy kids. We live comfortably. We can go to work and school without struggles, we can learn and grow and improve. We have been blessed. I wouldn't want any other life.

Thank you, too, to our soldiers who protect us and give us the freedom to say what we want where and when we want without being imprisoned or even executed. Because of you, we have today. And tomorrow and the next day. Thank you, soldiers and your families, for everything you sacrifice for the rest of us.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writer Wednesday

Today I introduce to you Elizabeth Mueller and her debut novel, Darkspell. And after you meet Elizabeth, be sure to check out her blog, where I'm visiting her! Cool how that works, right?

One of the extra-awesome things about Elizabeth's book is that it contains Elizabeth! Want to see a sample of her work? She drew me a Lykora, my own make-believe creature where Tristan got his nickname for Alexis. Yes, she's unbelievably talented.

About Elizabeth (from her blog):

I'm a mother of four wonderful kidlets who, more often than not, drive me nuts. I'm very grateful that I can be home at the crossroads for my children and have been blessed with that privilege. I've been writing for as long as I can remember.

I've finished 8 novels, and 3 children's books and have tons more stories waiting to be told. I believe with all of my heart that it takes a lot of guts to be a writer--especially an aspiring author. There are so many rules to be learned, mountains to conquer, and many layers of skins to grow (yet, be teachable at the same time).

I have done most of my growing the past few years. I don't know what my Father in Heaven has planned for me, but I have no doubt that I am destined for great things. It is my desire to be a mentor to those who dream to reach beyond themselves.

If you ever need cheering, a friend, or anything at all--you can always count on me! ;)

About Darkspell (from Goodreads):

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magickal realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magick?

Now I bring you Elizabeth herself with a guest post:

So, which came first? My children, or my writing?

I’m a stay-at-home mom with four lively kids. There’s never a boring second. The house unravels the time they awaken—it’s nonstop fighting, whining, and messing. Aside from the headaches, I’ve learned so much from them. Patience, joy, love, and lots of humility.

So, what about my writing?

It has always been a part of my life. It was easy enough before kids, but when they started pouring in, I had to create time. I wrote right after I tucked them in, and pushed late into the mornings. I’ve actually completed 8 books of squeezing time!

Just 4 years ago, I decided to take my writing a step further. Publishing! I attended writers conferences, learned the rules, joined critique groups, critiqued for others, query writing and submitting. Needless to say, I’ve felt the sting of rejections. Ouch!

Guess what? It was not until late March of this year that I decided to take another chance and submit one of my novels.

Darkspell was accepted by TreasureLine Books! I was SO not expecting my book to be picked up. After 20 years of writing, I’ve finally reached my aspirations! So much to the point that I didn’t know what to do, like the car-chasing dog that has finally caught one.

What is your writing journey like?

Thank you, Elizabeth, for joining us today! Best wishes on your new release! Peeps, don't forget to visit her blog and leave us a comment over there, too.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Foodie Friday: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Best wishes from the staff at Michael's Genuine
The Man and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary in October and although we haven't done the big shindig we'd like to do (he still owes me a trip to Greece haha!), we did get to take a one-night trip to Miami. While there, we enjoyed dinner at Michael's Genuine.

If you're a fan of Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, you might have heard about Michael's Genuine. On their sweet tooth episode, three - 3!!! - big-name chefs said the best dessert they ever ate was at Michael's Genuine in Miami. During last year's Miami Book Fair International, the girls and I had to try it out and we fell in love.

So since we were going to Miami and Michael's Genuine is definitely a treat, I thought it would be a great place to celebrate our anniversary. Fortunately, The Man agreed. I was an epic-fail at taking pictures. The food looked so good that we just kept diving in before I even thought about it.

Crispy Sweet & Spicy Pork Belly - think best bacon ever.
Michael's Genuine's menu changes with the seasons - they use only fresh, organic ingredients. They offer an eclectic array of choices that includes dishes like wood oven roasted double yolk farm egg, house smoked bacon wrapped figs, crispy rice cake made with chorizo and shrimp, rack of lamb, a whole chicken and 24 oz ribeye. There are no appetizers and entrees, but, rather, different sized (small, medium, large and extra large) dishes that you can share (or not). They also offer a Cheese of the Week and delectable side dishes.

Macallan Brownie Sundae
And those highly recommended desserts? The chefs' faves on the show were Peanuts and Popcorn (pieces of Snickers-like candy bar and popcorn flavored ice cream), Tangerine Creamsicle Pot de Creme (warm doughnuts with blackberry tarragon jam) and homemade poptarts. My fave is probably the doughnuts.

As I said, Michael's Genuine is definitely a special treat. The food is delicious, yet rich, and the service is wonderful. If you ever get to Miami and want to splurge a little, I'd highly recommend it. After all, how often do you get to eat somewhere that three of the best chefs in the business recommend?

Have you had the chance to eat somewhere that's been featured on Food Network? Have a recommendation you think should be on Food Network? What is your The Best Place I Ever Ate pick? (Honestly, the best place I ever ate is not Michael's Genuine. It's Nikolai's Roof in Atlanta. OMG. That was 20 years ago and I still remember it!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Thanksgiving is next week! Woot! I love turkey day. I love all the cooking, the gathering, the stuffing of mouths and the bellies full of satisfaction afterward. I also love hearing what everyone is thankful for.

I'm grateful for so much in my life throughout the year and thank God every day, but I don't always get a chance to specifically say it aloud to the world. So in celebration of Thanksgiving, each Thursday in November here on the blog I'll be sharing some things I'm thankful for.

This week I am thankful for the material things I have been blessed with:
  • I have a home. It is by no means Better Homes & Gardens worthy - in fact, is not even guest worthy most of the time - but it is a roof over my and my family's heads. It isn't new with all the latest and greatest upgrades, but it is spacious enough for a family of five (sometimes six). It needs repairs and appliances have needed to be replaced, but I am grateful that I own it (well, I'm paying a mortgage on it anyway), that it gives us more than just a space to lay our heads, but a place to actually live.
  • I love my car! After years of driving the mom's requisite used minivans and SUV to fit all the soccer players, I have something I love to drive. And it's mine with room for only one other person. Of course, that means we still have a family vehicle, too, and the teens have what they need. They may not have the vehicles they would prefer, but what they have gets them from Point A to Point B safely and reliably, which is all a mom asks for. The insurance bill is painful, but I'm grateful for what it means each time we pay it. I'm also grateful we can afford the fuel for all the places we need to go.
  • Then there is The Man's Harley. This is a luxury that we're determined to hang onto as long as possible. We worked hard for it, waiting many years before allowing ourselves to indulge, and it has rewarded us in so many ways. Riding on the back allows my mind to roam free, which has done wonders for my writing. We've also met new people and made friends that we otherwise might not have made. This is one of those guilty pleasures I'm grateful to have.
  • We have clothes, dishes, food in the fridge and cabinets, comfortable furnishings, computers and cell phones and extra little gadgets. I love my Kindle even if it's old by today's standards and my iPad, especially because it was kind of free. We don't have every game system in the world and we don't even have television except what comes in on the airwaves, but we have so much more than many and I am so grateful for that.
  • Books! I have hardbacks and paperbacks, some even signed, overflowing my shelves, and ebooks stacked up on the Kindle. Each of these provides an opportunity to escape into another world, providing much more substance to my life than any of those electronic gadgets. God has given me so much and He can take it away in the blink of an eye. If He does, I hope He at least leaves me books. I can survive without the rest if I can have books to escape within.
Writing this has made me feel so spoiled. It's easy to wont for more and for better - the house needs this, the kids need that, I want this, we want to go there - but I really do have so much. I think of what Katniss would think if she saw how we lived - what people in our real world who don't have a home, food or even clean water would think and I become disgusted. But thinking about it also makes me that much more grateful because there's only one reason I have what I have - I'm blessed. I've been given a good life, full of opportunities and choices not everyone is offered. Yes, I've worked for it all, but only because I was born and put into places and situations where I even had that chance to work for it.

We can complain about the laundry, but at least we have clothes, a washer and dryer, water and electricity. We can complain about the dishes, but at least we have cooked and served food to our families. We can complain about grocery shopping, but at least we have the means to provide. We can complain about housecleaning, but at least we have four walls around us and a roof over our heads, beds to sleep in, places to clean our bodies. So many people would give what little they have to enjoy our complaints.

So what are you grateful for?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why the Potty Mouths?

Every now and then I get a reviewer who comments or complains about the profanity in my books. And there may even be others who comment on those reviews with appreciation to know because they don't want a book with cuss words, especially the f-bomb. what. My books aren't for everyone and I'm okay with that. *shrugs*

But I've also had a handful of readers ask me how my particular characters can cuss so much considering their background with angels. They've said it's not just my books, but others with angels, too. Now this is a good question...or discussion. I can only speak for my characters, though.

First, if you pay attention, you'll notice that Alexis doesn't cuss all that much in Promise except when she's really pissed off. Tristan's the only one who drops the f-bomb and he doesn't exactly have an angelic background. Sophia - the closest, so far, to the angels - doesn't cuss and admonishes Alexis whenever she lets one fly. Owen, Amadis his entire life, hasn't blurted out anything...yet anyway. So, really, it's just Alexis and Tristan (of the good guys, anyway) and even then it's not much.

Until you get to Purpose. In early drafts, nearly every other word out of Alexis's mouth was a cuss word and she particularly liked to drop the f-bomb. She's going through an emotional (and mental and physical) storm in this book, she's been through hell and she doesn't really care what anyone thinks of her potty mouth. She's in the habit, too, so even as things improve, she doesn't censor her words. Once again, though, if you pay attention, you'll notice a definite drop-off as soon as...well, something very good happens.

Still, even in Devotion, after she's changed over and living on the angels' island, she has a bit of a problem here. But I'm okay with that. Honestly, I think it makes her (and Tristan) more real. After all, neither of them are truly angelic. Yes, there's angel blood in their background, but there's also Daemonic blood. And alike are you to your ancestors of over 2,000 years ago? The Amadis may serve the angels, but they are not angels themselves. They have quite a bit of HUMAN in them.

And that's kind of the point of the books. One of the major themes of the entire series is that you don't have to be perfect to be on the good side. So why would I make my main characters perfect?

I'm sorry if the profanity offends some readers. I'm sorry they can't see beyond that for the people the characters really are. I'm sorry because if they judge characters and books based on profanity, I can only imagine how they judge real people in their lives. Because nobody's perfect. And even those closest to being perfect admit to getting a certain satisfaction that only the word "fuck" can provide.

Yes, I enjoy that satisfaction myself on occasion. Nearly every day. Go ahead and judge me. It's not your judgment I'm worried about.

Are you offended by profanity in books? If you know a book contains profanity, even just once or twice in 90,000 words, will you refuse to read it? Other thoughts? Have a favorite cuss word you'd like to share? Go ahead. It's Monday - a reason in itself to let one fly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Special Day for Author Friend Jessica Bell

I'm so excited! My virtual author-friend and supplier of first-hand knowledge of Greece and Australia for my books, Jessica Bell, has just released her debut novel! (Pst, Foodie Friday will return next week.)

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to:


She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are not familiar with String Bridge, check out the book trailer:

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Before I get into Thankful Thursday, I can't help myself from saying:

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

I don't know if he reads this blog, but it doesn't matter. I love my dad and am so very thankful to have him in my life.

Okay...back to our regularly scheduled program.

I'm grateful for so much in my life throughout the year and thank God every day, but I don't always get a chance to specifically say it aloud to the world. So in celebration of Thanksgiving, each Thursday in November here on the blog I'll be sharing some things I'm thankful for.

This week I am thankful for the sustenance in my life:
  • My two businesses that continue to thrive in this economy, providing income that may not yet be making me rich but has been just enough. This is especially true this past year. Ever since The Man lost his job of 21 years last December and our income was cut in half, I've been the sole provider in my household of five (six if you count the nephew who lived with us for half the year) (and that's three or four teenage boys who eat A LOT!). Even as The Man continues to be unemployed, we continue hanging on. And I haven't had to worry about looking for a job myself, thanks to my businesses.
  • Again, my business partner and our employee without whom I wouldn't have these two companies. Well, maybe one, but I'd feel very lonely in it and wouldn't be thriving nearly as well. They are proof that God loves me.
  • The ability to work and in many capacities - the mental and physical skills and capabilities that not everyone has. I can sit at a computer for hours on end with little discomfort. I can physically move objects with no pain. I can think critically, identify problems, create solutions and serve others. These are all things I can do for others in exchange for sustenance. Not everyone is blessed with one of these capabilities, let alone all of them. Of course, some are blessed with even more, but I have exactly what I need to provide at least the basics for myself and my family.
  • My special talents of writing and creativity that allow me to do what I enjoy and be able to support my family with it.
  • Our thousands of clients, past, present and future, who entrust us with their own futures, as well as our ability to deliver on that trust.
  • The 50,000+ people who have downloaded Promise on their Kindles and other ereaders. They may not all ever read it, since many of those got it for free, but I appreciate every single one of them because in their own way, they've still contributed to Promise's - and my - success.
  • The tens of thousands of readers who invested their precious time in reading Promise and enjoyed it enough to buy and read my other books. In other words, my fans. Managing a family and household and running one business are stressful enough. Writing was and still is my outlet. Adding the second business - the publishing company - however, might have thrown me into the asylum if it weren't for you, my fans. You seriously do keep me going. I appreciate every review, every piece of fan mail and every time you tell a friend about my books. Because of you, I can write and manage the publishing company full time. I appreciate each and every one of you.
It's easy to complain about everything we have to do, having to go to work, dealing with asinine bosses and co-workers and how little we get paid. But, especially in today's economy, we need to be grateful that we have jobs. Or if we don't, that we at least have the ability to work for when the right job does come along. Not everyone in this world is in the situation or has the physical and mental capabilities to work, to support themselves, to contribute to society in this way.

This year hasn't been easy, but it could have been a lot worse for my family if I didn't have all of these blessings. Thank you, God, for providing for us.

What blessings have you received in this area? Sure, we could always use and always seem to want for more, but take a peek at what you do have and tell me: How has God provided for you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Raine Thomas

Every Wednesday I like to introduce indie, self-pubbed and small press authors with the hope that you'll meet an author new to you and find some new favorite books. Today we have fellow contributor at The Writer's Voice Raine Thomas.

About Raine:

Raine Thomas is the author of the exciting and original series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy and the upcoming Firstborn trilogy. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer's Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

About Becoming:

Every three years, Amber Hopkins explodes. Okay, not a blown-to-smithereens explosion, but whatever it is always hurts like hell and leaves her life a shambles. She’s already worked her way through five foster placements, and she’s doing whatever she can to avoid getting blasted into a sixth.

As her eighteenth birthday approaches and she feels the strange and powerful energy building, disaster looms. When the inevitable explosion occurs, her life gets its biggest shakeup yet. She’ll not only learn how her fellow foster and best friend, Gabriel, really feels about her, but she’ll discover that she isn’t really without family.

To top it all off, she’ll finally find out why she’s having the power surges: she isn’t entirely human.

Amber must Become, transitioning to another plane of existence and risking the loss of the most important relationship she’s ever had. Her choice will impact the future of an entire race of beings, and will pit her against an enemy that will prey upon her doubt to try and take her very life.

Kind of makes the explosions now seem like a cakewalk.

Sounds awesome, right? Will have to check it out!
Raine (don't you love that name???) has a special post for us, so let's get to it. Hi, Raine! Thanks for coming!

Thanks so much, Kristie, for giving me the chance to take over your blog for the day. I’m excited to have this introduction to your amazing followers! Now, however, comes the pressure of finding a great topic. Hmm…

*Taps chin in thought*

*Watches Tristan—er, the Promise trailer—for the seventh time*

Inspiration strikes! I’ll make a writing confession: I love writing guys. By this I mean that I adore writing about guys and experiencing scenes through their perspective. I wonder what that says about me? *taps chin again**shrugs*

In the movie As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson plays an author who is asked by a female fan, “How do you write women so well?”

He replies, “I think of a man…and I take away reason and accountability.” An insult, yes, but impeccably delivered and straight to the point.

So, how does a female author writing in the third-person (my favored form of narration) put herself in the mind of a male? Does she “think like a woman and take away sensitivity and the desire to replace the toilet paper roll?”

Okay, okay…sorry! But this reiterates the point that men and women are just plain different, making it a challenge for one to fully understand (and write) the other. In my case, I grew up with three brothers and no sisters. My husband also has only brothers. Family gatherings are heavily laden with testosterone and the viewing of sports of one kind or another.

Thus, I find writing from the male perspective practically second nature. I get into a scene and ask myself, “What would my husband say here?” or “How would my brother act in this situation?” I also get feedback from guys regarding whether scenes from the male perspective are realistic, which certainly helps.

I thought I’d present you with a short blurb from Becoming, the first book in the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. This scene is written from the perspective of the male protagonist, Gabriel. Do you think I captured a realistic “male” moment here?

“So, who’s the chick?” Ethan asked when Gabriel approached. There were many ears tuned into their conversation.
Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “What—seriously?”
“Yeah, man.” Ethan glanced back at Amber. “She’s smokin—” He cut himself off. Tilted his head. Stared harder. “Holy—is that?” Now he looked stunned. “No way.”
Ignoring the comments around him, Gabriel glanced to his right and spotted Jason Harrison among the would-be volleyball players. Giving the other guy a nod, he said, “Hey, Jason, can I run something by you?”
Shrugging, he said, “Sure.” He looked wary, though.
They stepped away as the others began selecting teams. Staying within sight of Amber but out of hearing range of anyone else, Gabriel stopped beside a neatly-pruned rose bush. When Jason stopped beside him, he said without preamble, “Michelle dropped by yesterday.”
Jason frowned. His eyes were less friendly than usual, as was his tone. “Yeah. She already told me.”
“Told you what, exactly?”
Jason’s face flushed. Crossing his arms over his chest and shifting his gaze to Amber, he muttered, “Amber told Michelle she, uh, didn’t want to come to the party with me.”
“Michelle said that, did she?”
Perhaps gleaning something from Gabriel’s tone, Jason caught his gaze. He hadn’t been class valedictorian for nothing, and realization was quick to enter his eyes.
Gabriel continued, “I imagine she said that Amber laughed at the idea of coming to the party with you or something?”
Jason uncrossed his arms, running one hand across the back of his neck. “Essentially. She said Amber told her that she wouldn’t go out with me if I was the last guy alive—crap like that.”
“You know Amber,” Gabriel said, indicating their years together on the high school track team. “You know she isn’t like that. Everything you just said is complete B.S.”
Jason nodded in understanding and looked again toward Amber.
“Damn. What a bitch.”
Knowing he meant Michelle, Gabriel smiled dryly. “You have no idea.”
“Guess I should’ve known better, considering the source. I imagine you didn’t ask her to ask me to get Amber off your hands, right?”
Gabriel just raised an eyebrow.
“Figured. Well, screw it. At least I know. Thanks, man.” Now, he grinned. “Come on. Let me at least kick your ass at some V-ball if you get the girl.”
“You’re sure welcome to try.”
What do you think? Do you have other tips on writing the opposite gender? I’d love your comments!

Thanks for giving me a reason to view Tristan—er, the Promise trailer—for inspiration. If you’re interested in YA fantasy/romance featuring strong male and female characters, I hope you’ll check out my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, available in all e-bookstores, as well as in paperback on!

Haha! Yeah, I like to watch Tristan, too. I call it getting into character. Hehe. Thank you, Raine, for joining us!

Raine can be found at: