MAY

HAPPY 7TH BLOG-O-VERSARY

05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Balancing Fantasy and Reality

by M. L. Buchman

So, I'm a participant in a fantasy book bundle that launched just a few days ago. And before I wander off to the "reality" of my thoughts on romance that this triggered, I'll first take a moment to talk about where the thoughts came from.

The Myths and Legends Storybundle (https://storybundle.com/fantasy) is an awesome collection! Monk's Maze is one of my early books, but it's one I'm still very proud of. Frankly,  I'm a little startled to be included in such a lofty crowd of fantasy authors.

And that's what got my thoughts churning (if you're still with me rather than off buying that fantastic, limited time bundle--just 2 more weeks then gone forever). If you didn't jump right over, please go there and just look at the covers, even if you don't read fantasy. Myths and Legends. Fantasy. Gods, dragons, magic carpets...and then scroll down until you see my title. It will leap out at you.

Go ahead,,,I'll wait.

See what I mean?

Why does it stand out so much? Because it's the only one with a realistic cover image--a person rather than a drawing. That is what got me thinking about what I write and how I write. That image is true to the story. It's set at the end of the Second Dark Ages. During the First Dark Ages, the monks were the once who preserved art, music, and literature. In the Second, I had them move off planet to preserve technology. Upon their return, humanity has moved on in several ways. And one piece that the monk brings back is the key to a Druid maze of power. It throws control over the shape of the future into one woman's hands. In this story, she must come to face her own power and find a solution that is uniquely hers. (Even back then I was writing about strong women.)

So, even writing fantasy, I stay very realistic in every way I can...at least every way that fits the story. Yes, there are swords and magic, but there are also politics, romance, and hours of research on things like the view of Edinburgh from the tower's battlements and I even made a trip to the lonely island of Iona from which Christianity swept over the Celts back in the 700s CE in a single decade, converting all of Scotland (as if by magic it happened so fast--an observation which gave me one of the core elements of this story).

I do the same with my romances. I have a number of military fans who tell me they are fans because I got it close enough to right that they can feel it. I even wrote a paranormal romance title (The Sum Is Greater) and managed to make it military romantic suspense in a very, down-and-dirty, realistic world.

Another phrase that comes to mind as I think about this is "The Art of the Possible" from the musical Evita. I want everything in my books to be possible or at least to seem that way. When I wrote about the Devil in my Deities Anonymous series, she's merely the Devil because she got the update and delete privileges on the Universe's computer system, while God was given the create privilege. Of course, if they had gotten along, the Universe would probably be a much neater place than it currently is.

I have friends (a number of whom are in that fantasy bundle) who live out in wild, wacky, fantasy worlds that I love to wander through...those aren't me as a writer. I think that's important to know about yourself. Maybe you're someone who straddles the fence. And sure, sometimes I take a walk on the weird and silly side, but there is still a deep realism to even my more fantastic stories.

Magic Realism is perhaps the best way I've heard to describe it. (Of course, there are a number of variations in how writers interpret that.) For me, Magic Realism means that it could absolutely be happening all around you and you couldn't tell. Not the dangerously overlapping worlds of Harry Potter and us muggles. Rather that I have no way to know if there is one seriously cool computer program running the universe, so maybe it is. Or maybe, St. Columba converted the Celtic hordes to Christianity not with his great piety and political savvy, but rather with the power of a lost Druid's Maze of Power, buried beneath the depths of Iona, Scotland, just waiting to be rediscovered and change the course of history.

...I have mentioned before that I love this job, right?
---


Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

SHE'S GONE COUNTRY!


There’s an old saying: “Hindsight is 20-20.” Looking back on my family’s move to a fairytale-beautiful acreage in the country, I must agree that the view from four years on is not at all what we expected.
Four years ago, Chuck and I and Son 2 and his family moved onto four acres of woods and pasture thirty miles outside of Portland, Oregon. The property sits on a hillside overlooking a small valley in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. This is one of the most beautiful spots you could ever find!
The original plan was that Son 2 and his wife would finish college (both were returning students) and build a house on the property. Meanwhile they and their four kids would live with us in the big four-bedroom house. Son 2 worked for his dad in his home-based consulting business and attended classes at a nearby technical college. Our daughter-in-law commuted to PSU in downtown Portland.
Chuck was the only one of us with any livestock experience. Although he grew up in the city, as a teenager he had a horse and worked off  boarding fees cleaning stalls and doing odd jobs at the stables. He also worked in a nursery and was in Future Farmers of America in high school. Thank God for that!


I’d always wanted alpacas. Chuck bought me three for Mother’s Day. He and Son 2 built them a shed in the pasture during a week of pouring rain. (I’m sure it was an omen.) We rented a horse trailer and went to get them.
My first inkling that alpacas weren’t exactly the animals I thought they were came when the lady we bought them from put on a raincoat “because they won’t be happy about getting in the trailer, and when they’re not happy, they spit—a lot!” She wasn’t kidding! Suffice it to say it took four adults to get them into the trailer.
Alpacas look like friendly, cuddly animals. They are more like aloof cats. Sometimes crabby, seventy-pound cats that may kick or body-slam you when you least expect it!

FRONT OF OUR HOUSE
Soon we added free-range chickens and three baby goats to the livestock. The chickens were fun to watch and the eggs were wonderful, but they dug up the flowers and pooped all over the porch.
In fact, dealing with poop—alpaca, chicken and goat—occupied a lot of our time. It’s the hardest part of having livestock, in my opinion. The only thing harder for me was worrying about the livestock because to me, they were pets.
I worried about coyotes attacking the alpacas down in the pasture all the time. The only defense alpacas have is running away and bleating an alarm call. Put them in a pasture, and they can’t even run away. Luckily, the coyotes stayed away. But false “alarms” had me running down to the pasture every other day. They bleated at the neighbor using her walker to go down to her mailbox. They bleated at people walking and cycling on the main road. They bleated at the garbage truck. Never once did they bleat at anything dangerous!
I worried about the goats eating something poisonous, because the people who lived on the property before us had landscaped with trees, bushes and flowers that are poisonous to goats. At night, we kept the little goats in the barn in the woods above the house. The alpacas wouldn’t let them into their shed in the pasture. So every morning we had to walk the goats down to the pasture past all the tempting poisonous plants, and every evening we had to take them back up to the barn.
Galen’s family helped with chores, but he and his wife were gone most of the time and the kids soon tired of farm life. Before long they realized they are city folk at heart. They moved back to Portland.
VIEW DOWN TO PASTURE BY ROAD
Business took a downturn and we learned Chuck needed knee replacement surgery. Most of the livestock chores fell to me. I didn’t think we could hold onto the property financially, or that we could handle the work load. We sold the livestock and consulted a realtor. Our dream of life in the country was in tatters.
Luckily, we made it through the winter and Chuck recovered from surgery.
Then my disabled daughter and her husband and grown daughters moved out from Iowa. After a while, my daughter and her husband moved onto our property in their fifth-wheel trailer. They pay a little rent and our son-in-law helps a lot with chores. One of our granddaughters and her husband rented the basement from us for a year. We were able to refinance the house. We made it through!
Business is good again and we are even considering getting two goats to help clear out the brush in the woods. This time we will know what we are getting into! They will live and ‘work’ on the same area of the property. I true country fashion, we’ll re-purpose a playhouse to be their goat shed.

VIEW OF BARN AND TREE HOUSE 
Since “going country”, so much has happened that we never expected! We were city slickers for sure. But we have wonderful helpful neighbors, friends and family to support us as we learn to “live country.”
Have you ever moved from the city to the country, or visa-versa? What did you find most surprising?

I'm Sarah Raplee, Paranormal Romantic Suspense Author of Blindsight,Psychic Agents Book 1.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Preview of The Forgotten Heiress by Kristin Wallace

I'm very excited that the third book in The Heiress Games series debuts next week on Tuesday, June 5th. The Forgotten Heiress wraps up the 3-book installment, with some final reveals. I really love this book. Bailey Tenant is so fun and quirky, and Jackson Stone makes for a swoon-worthy hero.

What's it about?


Eccentric heiress, Victoria Armington, has died and left her vast fortune to her pet pig, Matilda. Now three Armington descendants have been chosen to compete for custody of the pig…and control of the money. Then there’s the lawyer in charge of overseeing the competition, and his two best friends, who arrive to make sure nothing goes wrong. 

Welcome to The Heiress Games…

Heiress #3: Bailey Tenant – The Forgotten Heiress

Once upon a time, songwriter Bailey Tenant’s mother was cut off from the Armington family for daring to love the wrong person. Bailey doesn’t want anything to do with them now, but she has a mountain of medical debt, and without that fortune her grandchildren could still be paying it off. When Grammy-winning singer Jackson Stone shows up to escort her to Palm Cove, she agrees to compete. She just never expected the most dangerous aspect of the competition would be losing her heart to Jackson.

Jackson Stone lost his fiancé in a fiery plane crash and then he lost the music. He has to find a way to reawaken the muse and helping his friend oversee The Heiress Games might work. Soon, Bailey Tenant is reviving his buried heart and tempting him to see forever again.

Bailey and Jackson have both vowed to avoid love, but sometimes there’s no choice but to surrender to the promise of a fortune in love.


ALERT! In Book 3 of The Heiress Games, you’ll see the same events unfold as in Books 1 (Least Likely Heiress) and 2 (Not Quite An Heiress), but now comes the conclusion of competition and the reveal of the saboteur. 

AMAZON      ITUNES      BARNES & NOBLE     KOBO


Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two best selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance). 

Sign up for Kristin’s newsletter and get a FREE book!




Saturday, May 19, 2018

BLOG-O-VERSARY RIFF ON 7 YEARS OF SPAM plus a GIVEAWAY by Sarah Raplee


Hi, I'm Sarah Raplee, one of the Blog Queens and the author of Blindsight, Psychic Agents Book 1. In honor of our 7th Blog-o-versary, I'm giving away a $7 Amazon E-Gift Card to one lucky reader who leaves their email address in a comment on this post by midnight PST on Monday, May 21st. I will not use your email addie for any other purpose.
 

Since it’s our Blog-o-versary Month, as one of the Blog Queens I thought it would be fun to riff on the evolution of SPAM comments. As writers, we are told to never annoy the reader. Although some SPAM comments are amusing, most are as annoying as a heroine who constantly swings her chestnut braid over her tanned shoulder. People are busy, and SPAM wastes our time.
Seven years ago, spammers were stupid and bold as hell. Unfortunately, SPAM filters on Blogger were also not real bright, so we occasionally had some stupid SPAM comments get through to the blog before we caught them. Luckily, Blogger’s SPAM filter was smart and learned from experience, so it improved quickly.
If you’ve been reading our blog since it began in May, 2011, you may have been startled by comments such as “Buy best Viagra online cheap at www.bestsexes .com” or “Male enhancement herb special 4U at www.longdong .com” or even “Best porn FREE at www.x-xxxxx .com.”
Apparently those early spammers thought Romance readers and writers must mostly be dumb, sex-crazed, inadequate men. They actually believed we’d click on their links, which had no relevance whatsoever to the posts. And they thought we didn’t know anybody can find free porn online.
FEMALE
Fast forward a couple years. Blogger’s SPAM filter got a lot smarter (THANK YOU, hard-working blog techs!), catching at least 95% of SPAM messages. We began to see fewer Viagra and male-enhancement spam messages caught in our spam filter, and more “Best vibrator best climax you like” or “Dildos, all sizes every female” messages.
Spammers had finally figured out most Romance writers and readers are female! (Snicker!)
Soon they also realized they could comment on old posts (many get paid for each “comment/ad” they post) and often bloggers wouldn’t know what to do to make them stop. Luckily, Judith and I know we have an option to show existing comments on a post but block new ones. Sometimes it’s a pain to have to update the setting in multiple posts, but well worth the effort because spammers move on easier pickings.
Notice that some comments were made in extremely questionable English, obviously done using a bad translator app. Some bloggers call the result "Spamglish".
Fast forward a few more years. Spammers began to try to disguise their nature by using general statements that mimic real comments. “This is the best blog I ever read on this subject! Thank you for sharing your expertise. I hope you will check out my blog at www.realperson.com
These are what I call ‘click bait comments’. The spammer is either being paid as some kind of affiliate and hoping you will click through their website to a company they are affiliated with (and paid by), or they are desperately trying to boost their pageviews to look impressive to visitors. In both cases, they are ‘fishing’ for their own gain and have no interest in your blog post.
Sometimes click-baiters try to play on your ego or your sympathy by claiming to need help with their own website and asking you to follow the link to it from their comment. Don’t be fooled!

TRAP CAM -  FOR PHOTOGRAPHING WILDLIFE

Fast forward to 2018. It seems the offspring of 2011’s stupid spammers have reached maturity. My post was titled THE JOY OF TRAP CAMS! Spammers’ tactics have circled back to bold and stupid!
THIS is what was caught in Blogger’s SPAM filter:
MY TESTIMONY ABOUT A GREAT SPELL CASTER CALLED (DR ALEKO) Your love spell has huge powers! I can’t believe what's happening to me! It's been only three weeks since you did that spell and Victor is already after me. Since the last week-end he phoned at least 5 times. I believe he seems to realize his mistakes. It's absolutely happening as you said!! Thank you! Your work is helping me so much…Without you I would feel so lonely and miserable…Thank you sir! Here is the Doctor contact in case you are passing through problem (followed by an email and What’s App phone number.)
Yeah, I’ll get right on it…after I check my Trap Camera for the cougar. I wonder if the Doctor has a spell to banish mountain lions?

Please share your SPAM stories below!!! 
Don't forget to leave your email addie in a comment to be eligible for the Amazon E-Gift Card drawing!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Seven Things I've Learned About Me In Seven Years #Authors4ALSA #ThinkBlue4ALSA #BlueCovers4ALS


Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of sci-fi and supernatural stories with a romantic soul. Since it's the 7th Blog-o-versary and we're blogging about things we've learned about ourselves in the past seven years, I thought I'd go one more seven and make a list of things that you may not know about me that I've discovered in those years, or at least not guess on meeting me in real life.

1. I'm addicted to chickens. What started out as a pet suggestion from hubs because I don't like dogs, we still remember the massive vet bills from our cats, we have no spare room for rats who like to be active at night, and neither of us are into rabbits or guinea pigs, has become a big obsession. I went from helping out but mostly leaving it to hubs to completely taking over, falling in love with, planning a massive run, hatching eggs and now collecting different breeds of bantams. I pretty much don't go a day without posting something about my little feathered fiends...I mean friends!
My newest babies, nine days old today!
2. Finishing a book is the hardest part but I can do it. I finished my first book when I was eighteen, prompted by the axing of Doctor Who. For three weeks coming up to Christmas I scribbled away at a DW story (I suppose it could be called fan fiction now, though I did submit it to the then publishers of the DW novels) and finished something for the first time ever at about 40K words. It took another twenty years before I was able to repeat that success, but I did it!

3. Music is my muse. I can't go a day without listening to it and have my mp3 on constantly when I'm alone. But I absolutely can't have anything on when editing.
My latest obsession, Starset, rock music with a definite scifi theme!

4. I love cosplay. I went to a couple of conventions dressed up as a teen, but it's not until my kids have got interested in conventions and cosplaying that I've taken it more seriously. Now I try to make everyone a new cosplay each year, although I've been stuck with the same one three years running...
Nor-Con last year, with a fellow Jedi.
5. I hate housework but I love it when it's done. I've never been particularly houseproud, but in recent years I've grown to hate it. It feels like such a time waste when within five minutes of the kids coming home the place is a mess again! But it is satisfying to sit down after a thorough session and look around a room to see it clean and tidy, however briefly!

6. Hubs is more romantic than me. That became very evident this particular year as our 25th wedding anniversary approached. Hubs suggested going away just the two of us (our monsters are now old enough for us to do that) but I was worried about the money. He insisted on going for a meal at the very least, and booked us a table at the pub we had a drink at on our first date (a fact he remembered but I didn't, oops!).

7. Don't be so hard on yourself. Last year I experienced burn out on the whole publishing process, and it's taken me a long time to recover, the more so because I felt I should be doing this, that and the other. I realize now that the guilt of not doing those things I felt I should only made the situation worse. Sometimes we really just need to give ourselves permission for time off, to give ourselves a break and focus on a little self care, even pampering. And we shouldn't feel bad about that. If we fall, we can't help anyone else so we need to help ourselves first, sometimes at least.

And speaking of helping others...May not only sees RTG's blogging anniversary and my wedding anniversary, but my anniversary as an author too. It's been six years since my debut novel Keir released, and this year my book is part of a special blue book event in support of ASLA.



Looking for Blue skies and smooth sailing to cure ALS
May is ALS Awareness Month and twelve sci-fi/paranormal/time-travel romance authors will be donating 25% of their May book sales to the National ALS Association (including me)! Help us raise money to support the ALSA in their mission to provide care for ALS patients and continue their research to find a cure for this heinous disease.

Look for these hashtags on Twitter to find and help support our efforts:

#ThinkBlue
#Authors4ALSA
#ThinkBlue4ALSA
#BlueCovers4ALS

Find more information and links to all the participating authors and their books on the landing page (Lea’s site):
http://www.leakirk.com/supporting-als.html

Or check out the Blue Book Cover Brigade Team Page on the ALSA Site (where you can also find more information on the condition, the association and their work, and more ways you could help):
http://webgw.alsa.org/site/TR/Endurance/GoldenWest?team_id=367681&pg=team&fr_id=12950
ALSA Twitter: https://twitter.com/napaALSride
ALSA Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/RidetoDefeatALS/?hc_location=group

Psst, if you buy any of my other blue cover books (like Gethyon, Keir's Fall, or Reboot, I'll add that money to my donation too). Happy reading, and may all your skies be blue!
And finally, in honour of our Blog-o-versary I'm also doing a giveaway. Comment below with something new you've discovered about yourself recently that the world may not know, and I'll pick one winner to receive a digital edition of my latest scifi romance release Unexpected, in whatever format the winner requires (to be chosen by random.org at the end of May).
Love can come when it’s least expected... 

When an injured alien crashes on her planet, Soraya follows her instinct to repair and restore it despite the challenge of their differing physiology. But as she gets closer to her patient and he recovers, Soraya confronts a whole new form of existence...and a desire that could destroy her completely. 

Yoran chose exile in order to release the woman he thought his soulmate from a marriage contract she had no wish to fulfill, and almost paid for it with his life. Now he finds himself drawn to his alien savior. But how can he ask her to give up the only existence she knows when he’s already suffered the consequences of such a sacrifice himself?