Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wonderful Reads: Superstition-Tori Scott

Wonderful Reads: Superstition-Tori Scott: Book Description When Caitlyn Deveraux's brother Gage is killed in Iraq, she receives a necklace as part of his personal effec...

Go read Layla's review! It's great!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

With Love to Boston

The events of April 15, 2013, shook our country once again. Shook, but didn't break, it. In the face of unspeakable tragedy, heroes arose as they always do in this country. While the coward who perpetrated the bombings might think himself some kind of hero, he/they is/are the worst kind of coward. Anyone who targets innocents is a coward.

The victims were children, women, and men who were there to watch friends and family members complete one of the hardest athletic competitions there is. They were there to cheer, to celebrate, to be a part of something wonderful. Now many are maimed for life, and three, including an eight year old boy, are dead. And to what end? 

To make us fear? We all have fears, but one thing cowards don't understand is that for most Americans, something like this only makes us stronger, more determined to live our lives in spite of fear. It brings us together and makes us put aside our differences to work together to make sure it doesn't happen again. It brings out the hero in the most ordinary person. Like the people who ran into the face of danger to help those who were hurt. They didn't know if another bomb would go off in their midst. Most likely they didn't even think about it. They just knew they had to help.

There were the runners who had just run 26.2 miles (I can't even begin to imagine that) who went on to give blood, to help however they could. The strangers who handed over their precious cell phones so others could call home. The people who gave the coats off their backs so others could be warm. Those who opened their homes to people they'd never met so they would have a place to sleep. 

There were our first responders, those brave men and women who put their lives at risk day after day to put a barrier between us and those who want to hurt us. They have families of their own, yet they risk their lives for ours. Police, fire fighters, EMS, doctors, nurses, volunteers or paid, they waded in and did what had to be done. The images will be forever fixed in their minds, images so horrible they couldn't be shown on television, yet they have to live with them. And they'll be there again, if they're ever needed.

This attack felt personal to me because I have a child who lives in Boston. And she's a runner. She wasn't at the marathon, thank God, but I didn't know that at first. Thankfully I was able to get through to her by text right away, before the phones went down, to find out she was safe. But this happened less than a mile from her school, a mile and a half from her home. It has to affect her in some way. And I hate that. I hate that some faceless coward has the ability to make my child look at strangers with suspicion, to make her weigh the risks when she wants to do something.

But like America, she's strong and she's a survivor. She'll make it, and most likely she'll help someone else to make it, too. That's what Americans do.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

kboards: "Blame it on Texas," by Tori Scott

kboards: "Blame it on Texas," by Tori Scott: There's nothing like a well-written western romance, and we have a good one today from Tori Scott. City slicker Megan has dreams of a sp...

Friday, April 05, 2013

Oh, How Life Can Change

Today would have been my father-in-law's 90th birthday. When he passed away in 2005, I thought my world had ended. My husband had worked with his dad in their concrete business for 35 years, and he was excellent at his job, but his father was the salesman. He was the one with contacts, lifelong friendships with patio company guys and contractors, and the ability to talk to anyone. Hubby, not so much. I was looking at a bleak future.

I ended up taking over my father-in-law's role, though not anywhere near as successfully as he would have done it. We lasted two years before the economy tanked and building ground to a halt. There's no worse feeling than closing down a business someone else had managed to keep going for 40 years. You feel like a failure, a traitor, so many emotions I can't even explain. But there wasn't much we could do about it. We had bills to pay and there were no jobs.

Hubby was an amateur photographer, just as a hobby, but I went in search of photography jobs that would allow us to work together as a team. We'd discovered in that two years of concrete work that we worked well as a team. Lifetouch gave us that opportunity. While there was much to dislike about the job over the 4 1/2 years we worked there, it carried us through and gave us opportunities to travel that we wouldn't have otherwise had. But by the end of the 4th year, we didn't think we could face many more months of the abuse we took from the customers. Things were looking bleak again. Then one of my Wet Noodle Posse (GH 2003 finalists and winners group) friends posted about their self-publishing journey.

The Wet Noodle Posse

I'd read a little about Amazon's self-publishing venture, but didn't know where to start until Delle Jacobs gave us some pointers. I had one book out with Red Sage that made me about $10 every 6 months, so I didn't really have high hopes for making much money, but Delle was making in the thousands per month so I figured I had nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain. At that point I had two complete manuscripts in addition to the one Red Sage owned and wouldn't release the rights to. I polished those two up, had my husband make me some very basic covers, and learned formatting. Up they went on Smashwords and Amazon.

Delle Jacobs

We were still working for Lifetouch at this point, traveling pretty much full-time, but after I got those two books up, I picked up my unfinished manuscripts and got to work. I put three more novels and two novellas up in the next six months, and my income shot up to a level that shocked me. I was able to pay off our sizable debts, and hubby and I both retired from the grueling life on the road. During the next six months, our income leveled off, but it was still enough to keep the bills paid and food on the table, though a couple of months were questionable. But I put out 6 more novels and novellas, including two very popular series, and that helped get us back up to a livable income.

On the road for Lifetouch

It's been twenty-one months since I put up that first book, and we're still making it. We aren't millionaires or even anywhere close to it like some of my friends are. I haven't been invited to join any of the popular clicks of authors, or added to any prestigious groups, but in my isolated little world I have fans I love and I'm surviving. And I'm still writing, something I'd nearly given up on before I embarked on this phase of my life. I've had some huge successes, and some small failures. I've made new friends, and rediscovered some old ones.

The moral is, not matter how bad things may look, how hopeless they may seem, trust in God and He will show you a new path. It might look scary and uncertain, but once you take the leap of faith to take the first step, He will help you take each additional step. And the future will look bright once again.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring about a transformation. At least it did for me.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Tori's Stories

Want to read an excerpt of one of my books? Click on the Tori's Stories link at the top of the blog. I finally got around to updating the page with all of my books.

Right now I'm working on Book Four of the Lone Star Cowboys series, which features Jean and Nick along with the whole gang from the previous books. Cooper finally gets his rodeo school going, and Jean and Nick join the staff. Both Nancy and Megan are pregnant, Carol and Jake have their hands full with the twins, Katie is beginning to fall in love, much to her father's dismay, and Mandy and Blake might be getting in over their heads.

Writing a series is a lot harder than writing stand alone books, but a lot more fun as well.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fool's Day

Just so you know, I don't do April Fool's Day. I never liked the practical jokes when I was in school, since so many of them were mean-spirited. I don't like seeing people made fools of, including myself.

Where did April Fool's Day originate? If you do a search, you'll find no one really knows. Some say it started with the advent of the Gregorian calendar, when Pope Gregory XIII changed the first day of the New Year from April 1 to January 1. Those who still went by the old calendar were referred to as April fools. Or it might be related to the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Iranian Sizdah Bedar, which is the oldest prank tradition in the world, dating back to 536 B.C.

Wherever it came from, it has become a time-honored tradition in this country. People try to fool others into believing wild stories, outlandish declarations, or they pester and annoy people with pranks. Prank phone calls, outright vandalism, fear-inducing actions. and attempts to make others look like fools. I don't understand the appeal. Then again, I despise movies, TV shows, and especially reality shows that attempt the same thing. I find nothing funny about it.

It's not that I don't have a sense of humor. I do. But to me, life is enough of a joke without adding more misery to it. I believe in letting others hang on to as much of their dignity as possible. So if you're expecting to see me announce that I've hit the New York Times best-seller list, or that I've won the lottery, you can quit watching for it. Those are things I seriously want, so I'm not going to joke about it.

All that said, I do enjoy hearing about really creative, non-hurtful, non-demeaning jokes others manage to pull off on their family and friends. So what are some of your favorite and most successful April Fool's jokes?