Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas is Coming....

In my series, Weddings by C & C, there are couples and weddings...but there's also a strong sense of family. Family plays a huge part in our lives. Never is family more important and the sense of family stronger than at the Holidays.

And by family...I mean the ones we're born with and the ones we create. Family isn't by Blood. Family is made by the Heart.

May you and your family have the most magical, joyous Holidays.


My strongest and earliest memories are of baking, people, and birthdays. I also recall a certain doll I pinned for and received in a doll bed when I was seven. And the first and only White Christmas I've ever known.

My birthday is 11 days before Christmas and my sole cousin on my paternal side is Christmas Eve. When our Grandfather lived, he made certain we December babies had our own gifts, our own birthday cake, and our own celebration with nothing to do with Christmas at all. I miss him and never more than at Christmas, when he would come to dinner, play with our toys, and tease my Northern born mother about her 'failure' to cook 'traditional' Southern style cornbread dressing. The year before he died, in fact what was only 3 weeks before we lost him, he told my mother, after twenty three years, she'd finally got the dressing 'right'. My mom beamed for days.

In our house, baking was king. The entire month of December was devoted to schedules of baking. My mom planned it better than any general in a military campaign. One Saturday was for cookies, another for candy, a third for pies, cakes, etc. We helped (or hindered) from my earliest recollections with the recipes passed down through several geberations of our family.

Christmas is for kids...of all ages and stages. My granddaughter and I read a Christmas book.

Like the Sugar Cookie recipe, where the cookies are colored and taste so light and like heaven (the green ones, for some reason, always tasted best). My great grandmother made this recipe and then stuffed the cookies with dates and figs. My mother divided the dough and made 4 colors.

And the Gingerbread...the Mexican Wedding cakes....the Candy Canes. Cookie factory USA (as we called Mom's house) made cookies by the dozens. 30, 40 or more... dozen. The kitchen would be filled with scents of butter and vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, baked cookies cooling and the sounds of my Mom telling my Dad for the upteenth time to leave the cookies alone or there'd be none.


My childhood home was open to everyone and anyone from Christmas Eve to New year's day. As the founding family of the local volunteer EMT and fire station, my parents gave an open invitation to every firefighter, solider (we lived near a huge military base), policemen, hosp. workers, EMTs, any and all who had to work the holiday to enjoy the Christmas buffet dinner. It officially began at 1 and ended at midnight, but since schedules and emergencies happen, anyone who dropped in anytime left full of hot food. Anyone with no where else to go was invited to stay the day, and even the night, at my childhood home. My parents never turned anyone away.

As I grew up, married, and had my own children, we began our own traditions. Such as using those ancient recipes to bake cookies for the charity Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner at the local church, open to everyone in the public who needed a meal. My kids learned Christmas is GIVING, not Getting, by making and delivering these treats for the dinner, by choosing an 'angel' from the angel tree and buying gifts, and by picking names of a sibling and buying a gift they'd really like. We have grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup on Christmas Eve and always end the night reading The Nativity. And my daughter now continues these traditions with her daughter, who can't wait for Cookie Day.

Learning early, my granddaughter and daughter create the perfect chocolate creame pie filling.

In Dec. of 2010, a RARE event occurred. Around 2AM, snow began to fall. Now I live in the Blue Ridge and while snow (the southern version that is...which anyone from the south can tell you, our snow is NOT the fluffy fun stuff of Christmas cards and movies, it's white ice with a dull hue) is common in Jan-March, Christmas snow is a once in a lifetime event. It started to snow...and snow...and snow. All through the night, morning, afternoon, and next night until 2.5 feet lay piled on the ground. My first ever White Christmas.

A WHITE Christmas!!!!!

However you and yours celebrate the holiday season, I  wish you all the best. Please never forget Christmas is a celebration of a birth, of giving, of praying for peace, and even, in some cases, recalling those we love even as they drive us half out of our minds.

May you and your family have the Merriest and Most Wonderful Holiday season.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Book Blurb:
Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It's her journey from being a simple, medical graduate belonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay's sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It's also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.

Author bio:
Dr.Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her first step in literary world. 
Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi having been associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires.

When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Movie Review

With the long holiday (Labor Day) weekend, I allow myself utter frivolous time to just veg out and watch movies on Netflix. I love movies and Netflix allows me to indulge in them at home, in my pjs, and while I fold laundry, sort email, etc. I admit I sometimes binge watch Doctor Who instead, but long weekends have long been the time my family and I set aside for movie viewing.
Below are some movies I watched (or tried to watch) this past holiday weekend. One of these I had seen in theater before; most I have just discovered because either Netflix recommended based on my previous viewing or the description caught my eye. Always, this is MY opinion only. I do not endorse anything except my own personal preferences and opinions. And I welcome comments, good, bad, indifferent, or the contrary.


1. TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD: 1962, NR, Black and White version, 2hr. 9 mins, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus, Mary Badham as Scout, Robert Duvall, William Windom & Alice Ghostley
First off, I adore black and white movies. The old age Hollywood glam time of 1930-1960 when movies were made for entertainment, fun, history and loads of other reasons is a magical time for me. Special effects weren't needed and character development was key to a movie success or failure.
Few movies actually do justice to the book. This is an exception and well earned the awards it received. Told entirely from the children's points of view, it shows 1930's life in a small southern town (which could be any southern town in the US). The children call their widowed father by his first name, something unique since everyone else is 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.", again exactly like small town southern life in the US even to this day. Atticus is a lawyer and receives a case to defend a black man against a charge of raping a white woman. (No I didn't use the political correct terms. This is how the movie description is, how it was advertized, and is called in the book. It IS true life and I refuse to bow to some misbegotten version of 'better terms'. Sorry.) Atticus is an upright man hiding some secrets but proves (at least to me) his case in court only to meet with small town southern prejudice. It could be said justice wins in the end; I certainly thought it did. He also deeply loves his children.
This is a hard movie to watch with its unapologetic use of the 'n' word (which was entirely approp to the time period and setting), how disabled people are called 'lunatics', and the large division between the races. The actors are some of the best in the business, especially the children. The way the movie is shot, showing things from a child's eye view, or shadows only adds to the dramatic effect.
Not rated, there's no violence shown, or curse words, or nudity, but the subject matter, even from a child's POV, is definitely for mature audiences. I'd rate it PG-13, and it could be a good way to discuss justice and diversity with older kids.
My rating: 5 stars for the excellent actors, scenes and descriptions

2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: 2008, PG-13, 1 hr. 32 mins, starring Amy Adams, Frances McDormand, Lee Pace, Tom Payne, Mark Strong
Another movie based on a book, this was supposed to be my 'total fluff' movie. It's largely fun and a little ridiculous, but I got caught up in the story and characters and rooted for the true love to win over all. It also shows a world innocent before another 'great war' sets in.
Set in London just before WW2, Miss Pettigrew is a straight laced woman who accidently falls into the job as 'social secretary' to flighty, wild partying, singer/actress Delysia. Told in the space of one day, some scenes are absolutely hysterical (Delysia's insistence on being seen as a 'dumb blonde' when she obviously is anything but) and Miss P's shock at some wild living. There's shopping, fashion shows, make over and a love triangle, um, square, as Delysia tries to decide on a romance between three men.
Much like the old black and white 1930's Hollywood glam screwball comedies, the pace is fast, furious, and a bit like trying to catch your breath after downing an entire glass of wine in a single gulp. There's even a secondary romance for Miss P. While I can't give spoilers to the end, I will say it's logical and follows the plot and character development to perfection.
This movie didn't win awards, but it's a cute romp for a rainy day when you want a few laughs and to watch true love win over all. And to see screwball romantic comedy.
My rating: 4 stars for pure throw away fun and laughs

3. The Patriot: 2000, R, 2 hrs. 44 mins, starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Issacs, Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, Rene Auberjonois
Filmed entirely in Charlestown, SC and told mainly from the American point of view during the Revolutionary War, this movie was critizised for its 'inaccurate' scenes and use of historic characters. I consider it 'fiction based on fact' and take it as such. Some scenes and characters are based on real life persons: there WAS a 'swamp fox' who terrorized the Brit soldiers and made their lives utter chaos and hell; the war is well documented with cruelty on BOTH sides, and no true historical fact (such as the great losses on both sides, the outcomes of battles, the methods of fighting, costumes, etc.) were changed. This is 'it could have happened this way'. I absolutely love the harbor and the way the huge ships are anchored right at the sidewalks. It's gorgeous.
Ben Martin is a widowed father of 7 who refuses to join the fight for independence, citing "I'm a parent; I don't have the luxury of principals". Yet after his son is unjustly killed, Ben leads a rag tag group of fighters who make it their job to drive the Brits out not through open fighting but misery. They largely succeed at extreme great personal cost. It's stressed the Brit 'made their own plague' in the way the swamp fox (although Ben is never called that in the film) is made.
There are vivid scenes of war and can be hard to watch, especially the injustices (again, on both sides). While not as descriptive as the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, it's still not for the faint hearted. One particular scene in the village church…well, that was especially difficult. I love the development of the characters, especially Ben and his eldest son. Their actions are entirely appropriately and not contrived, even the way-over-the-top sociopath Brit Colonel. The French Major is wonderfully portrayed, and even grudging admiration is given to General Cornwallis, the Brit leader.
The best line and one I wish the world could learn: "This war will not be fought in faraway lands or seas. It will be fought in our fields, in our homes, in our towns. Our children will learn of it first hand with their own eyes and will not be innocent any longer. There are none who will escape the ravages."
My rating: 4 stars for character development, scenes, costumes, and emotion

4. Anywhere but Here: 1999, PG 13, 1 hr. 53 mins., starring Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Shawn Hatosy, Bonnie Bedelia
If you are the mother of a teenage daughter, this film will make you say, "OMG! YES! That's just how I feel!" If you are a teenager, you will say, "OMG! YES! This mother is impossible!" A mother-daughter movie, it's at times funny, touching, and a bit slow paced.
Adele is a free spirit smothered in her small southern hometown and packs up unwilling teen age daughter Ann to drive to Beverly Hills. Adele is irresponsible, a bit nuts, and always seeks the best for her daughter with good intensions if not quite 'traditional' practices. The everyday struggle to pay bills and wish for 'better' is one every parent shares. The daughter's wishes her mom was actually 'normal' is also very true to life. The dynamics of family are also well played and while not 'hit you over the head' scenes, lesbian issues, love, sex, drugs and romance are all portrayed. POV is often through Ann's voice over observations.
There's no nudity or violence in this film, so it's 'safe' for 10 and up. It's not so much the plot that grabs your interest; it’s the characters, who are well acted and touch a note in you, whether you are mom or daughter. Watch it with your daughter, regardless how old she is.
My Rating: 3 stars for well acted, mom-dau relationships

5. Muffin Top: A Love Story: 2014, 1 hr. 36 mins, R, starring Cathryn Michon, David Arquette, Melissa Peterman
This is my 'fluff movie'. It drags in places with old jokes and slow pacing, but overall is good. I won't watch it again, because it's not something I want to watch over and over, but good for a rainy afternoon if nothing else is on.
Suzanne is a professor of women's studies whose class I'd love to take. Her personal life is a wreck: after a series of hormone shots designed to help the 40-something conceive and encouraged by her husband, on her 40th birthday he serves her with divorce papers and the fact his 20-something secretary is expecting his child. Suzanne sets out to lose her 'muffin top' of weight, although to be honest, she looks darn good to me, so I fear the stereotypical 'you can never be too thin'. There had to be some special effects to show her 3 rolls of waist fat because it's sure not visible anywhere else.
The 'diet guru' she consults is, unfortunately a true real representative of what fad diets are like, as are his recommendations and serves to show how 'body' obsessed our culture truly is. Her efforts to 'get rid of this awful fat' are funny except by those actually trying to lose actual weight. While poking fun at 'muffin tops', this does little to help the self esteem of women actually having to fight the 'battle of the fat' and does seem to point out only thin people are 'beautiful'.
My rating: 2 stars for some funny scenes and a happy ending

6. Survivor: 2015, 96 mins, R, starring Milla Jovovich, Pierce Bronsnan, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett
Need an action thriller? This is it. There's loads of twists and turns and the story seems largely without huge plot holes. Based on 'fact', including the 9/11 New York City attacks and subsequent 'terrorist' foiled attempts since, this movie is vivid in descriptions of violence, greed and the over whelming need to 'do the right thing' as according to personal beliefs.
There's no 'bashing' here of any religion or person, at least I didn't think so. The characters are shown to be acting according to their own conscious (or lack of one) and their own motives without dragging religion or country into it (one character does state a need to 'make the Americans pay', but there's dozens of other things he reveals as the reason for his actions). Seeing my 'Remington Steele' crush as an ultra bad guy was hard to swallow, but wow, he rocks that role. I truly couldn't keep up with all the plot angles, which make this movie one you have to sit, watch, and do nothing else. Miss even a second and you are behind the plot.
The London shot scenes are breathtaking, the bombing scenes heartbreaking, and the deaths of characters while furthering the plot and not for 'show' make your breath catch. It's supposed to be the security and threats of a post 9/11 world. It's not that clear cut, but anymore would be too unbelievable. This film provokes the thought: Who can we truly trust?
My rating: 3 stars for action and plot twists, would have liked to see a bit more character development

Now three I couldn't finish:
1. Area 51: Filmed like someone took out their smart phone and started the video, it's full of foul language and predictable characters. I lasted 15 mins and counted over 100 uses of the 'f' word before I hit 'browse' and turn it off.
2. Time Lapse: I fast forward through the middle of this and didn't lose a bit of the plot. Great premise, but the plot is slow, contrived and filled with predictable, one dimensional characters. Even the surprise twist at the end can't save it.
3. Red Lights: More fast forwarding, very slow plot and predictable characters. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't get past the predictability.

Friday, September 4, 2015


It's LABOR DAY WEEKEND and to celebrate a three day end of Summer blast, there's an awesome blog hop going on this holiday weekend only. Games, giveaways and FAB prizes. Come Join the FUN!

Comment below to win a copy of TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, the first book in the Weddings by C & C series!

#LaborDayHOP #AuthorBlogHOP #Giveaway

Celebrate the Labor Day weekend and enter some amazing giveaways from some awesome blogs & authors. There are 90 pages participating so make sure you enter them all for more chances to win!

Master LIST here:

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Tag Some friends

Follow this link to enter the next giveaway! 

Blue Fedora Book and Entertainment Reviews

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


 Tornado Giveaway 2: Book No. 67: TAKE A CHANCE ON ME by Mia Epsilon

Name of the Book: TAKE A CHANCE ON ME
Author: Mia Epsilon

Read some reviews:

1. Torie James
2. Krista Kelly 
3. Dawn Brower

The Story:

Friends and lovers rarely mix well with coworkers and embezzlement cases, just ask Christine and Charlie.
After a near fatal accident leads to one incredible night of amazing sex, Christine and Charlie take the leap from friends to lovers.
Christine has battled many demons in the last few years. Charlie has always been her confident and support. When Charlie refuses to answer emails or texts after an embezzling scheme arises at work, Christine must come to terms with not only losing a fabulous lover and her best friend but her job as well.
Charlie carries his own scars when it comes to women. Yet there's something about Christine which brings out his protective side and makes him hope for love he's wanted for years.
Christine and Charlie must work together to catch the thief before they can secure a love of a lifetime. Can they catch the embezzler before they lose not only their jobs and each other, but their lives as well?
You can also buy @

About The Author 

Mia Epsilon

Mia Epsilon is the author of the 'Weddings by C & C' contemporary romance series featuring a location wedding company and set in Hawaii. The first two books, Take a Chance on Me and Wedding Belle Blues, are available now with the third, fourth and fifth due out later this year. A feisty red head, Mia lives with her enduring hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains, USA. She's an avid reader of almost anything and loves to be curled up with a great book. She never misses an episode of Doctor Who or Sherlock and happily suffers coffee and chocolate addictions. She can most often be found at her computer spinning new stories or in a quiet padded nook with her e-reader.
Find her @
Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tornado Giveaway!!!

80 Authors (including me!) are participating. Here's your chance to get loads of free books AND enter to win prizes!

Author: Mia Epsilon

Read some reviews:

1. Christina Mcclellan
2. Kirsten 
3. Jen 

The Story:

Anna is planning the perfect wedding, but she doesn't anticipate her future mother-in-law's offer of help which translates into take over. Her groom-to-be avoids her and insists their growing problems are just 'bridal nerves'. Worst of all, her best friend, Robin, begins to act strange. Everyone around her has his or her own agenda. What's a girl to do when she begins to realize the perfect life she envisioned is all a lie?
Robin has two great loves in his life: his best friend Anna and his motorcycle. Not one to make a scene, he supports Anna in her plan to marry the wrong man and regrets she can't accept his 'dare devil' lifestyle. But when push comes to shove, he's more than willing to make the necessary sacrifice and prove he is the man she needs.
As the wedding date grows closer and plans shift into high gear, Robin and Anna grow closer and not just as friends. Each must decide what the perfect life truly means while trying to negotiate the maze of wedding plans, secrets, and hidden motives. Will someone be left singing the blues?
You can also buy @

About The Author 

Mia Epsilon 

Mia Epsilon is the author of the 'Weddings by C & C' contemporary romance series featuring a location wedding company and set in Hawaii. The first two books, Take a Chance on Me and Wedding Belle Blues, are available now with the third, fourth and fifth due out later this year. A feisty red head, Mia lives with her enduring hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains, USA. She's an avid reader of almost anything and loves to be curled up with a great book. She never misses an episode of Doctor Who or Sherlock and happily suffers coffee and chocolate addictions. She can most often be found at her computer spinning new stories or in a quiet padded nook with her e-reader.

Find her @
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

Sunday, August 23, 2015


This Review is my personal opinion. I was not paid for nor compensated in any way for this review.

First off, this is a MASSIVE huge book. I won the paperback version at a conference and couldn't believe how big it is. The paperback version is over 700 pages long! Most anthologies are short, short stories; these stories are almost 100 pages each and have fully developed story lines and characters.There are also NO cliffhanger endings or irritating 'this is a prequel you have to buy more' stories, either.  I love the concept: Each story is based on a song from Duran Duran, the wildly popular musical group  from the 80's and 90's and while each story has a song title and references the music or some of the lyrics, the reader isn't 'beaten over the head' with the theme.

There's a mix of stories and truly something here for ever reader. There's paranormal, contemporary, M/M, menage, every day heroes and heroines, and hysterically funny secondary characters. The sex scenes are steamy, steamy, steamy, but fit; there's no 'sex for sex sake', and each scene fits the plot. There's no historical but I would definitely put this in the 'romantic erotic' category.

A bit of a funny incident: I was reading this book while waiting for a flight at the airport, and the lady beside kept leaning closer and closer until she was all but hanging off my shoulder and telling me to 'read faster and turn the page'. I didn't get mad, though it was a bit disconcerting, but let her finish the story and then give my book back.

My personal favourites were 'Hungry like the Wolf' for it's OMG twist at the end and 'Rio' (which also happen to be my 2 favourite Duran Duran tunes) for its second chance at love theme. 'New Moon on Monday', 'Girls on Film' and 'Love Voodoo' also receive kudos for keeping me turning the pages quickly and leaving house chores undone because I couldn't put the book down! Which is probably why the name of the book, Come Undone, fits so well!

'Ordinary World' really tugs at your heartstrings. 'Before the Rain' gives a haunting view of what the world might someday be. 'Wild Boys' and 'Union of the Snake' aren't my genre (M/M) but still had well done plots.

If you are looking for short stories with a bit more 'meat' and substance to them, plus a bit of 80's memories, this is definitely the book for you. Even if you don't know (GASPS, how can you not know???) Duran Duran or their music, you will like these well plotted and written tales.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which Genre Sells Best in Self/Indie Publishing?

My amazing author friend DEVIKA FERNANDO posted this article first on her FaceBook page and gave me permission to report here on my blog. This is a great article!

 Self-Published Genres

You’re at the starting gate, ready to self-publish your book. But how do you know if you have a winner? While some genres seem to enjoy unbridled success when self-published, others fall behind in the race for sales. Take a look at the top-selling genres in self-publishing to find out where your book fits in:

Win: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Romance, science fiction, and fantasy books are the best-suited for self-publishing. In fact, half of the e-book bestsellers in the romance, science fiction, and fantasy genres on Amazon are self-published! Readers of these genres are more likely to share recommendations via blogs and community forums, and their clearly defined interests make it easier for authors in these genres to target their book sales marketing efforts.
Of these three genres, romance books make up a whopping 40% of the market share on Amazon e-book sales. And if you think romance sells so well because it’s erotica—not true. Only 1.2% of Kindle sales are erotica. The romance genre actually covers many other types of romance novels—even Christian romance. You’re in good company if you love writing romance novels, whether they’re steamy or not!

Place: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Of the Top 100 mystery and thriller Kindle sales, 11% are self-published books. While not as popular as the romance genre, self-published mystery, thriller, and crime books still sell extremely well.

Show: Nonfiction

Nonfiction books are also good choices for self-publishing. They make up a smaller percentage of the market, but readers are often happy to pay more for a nonfiction book. So even if you sell fewer books than fiction writers, you’ll still make a decent profit because you can charge more for each copy.
Self-published literary fiction doesn’t sell as well as genre fiction does: This category makes up only 2% of all Amazon e-book sales.

So is every non-romantic book destined to fail?

Don’t let generalizations about which books sell best discourage you from self-publishing your book, whether it’s a romance, a mystery, or even a western! It’s important to stay true to your unique writing style and vision—forcing yourself to write only for the market will show in your work, and disappointed readers will notice. Instead, you might want to consider adding a little more romance to your mystery novel to create some crossover appeal, or querying agents for a little longer before starting down the self-publishing route.
Remember: For any genre, the key to successfully selling your self-published book is to market it effectively. Even traditionally published books can end up in last place if they’re not marketed well. And in today’s publishing industry, more traditional publishers are putting the responsibility for marketing a book onto the author’s shoulders.

QUESTION: In which genre do you write?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Making the Most of a Conference

All views stated here are my own personal opinion and do not endorse nor reflect the thoughts and views of any other person or organization.

I just attended a conference and have returned with loads of new books and new author friends, plus a few reader friends who share my love of all things written. I did notice some things along the way which I plan to incorporate into the next conference I attend.

1. Socialize: It's hard for me (and many authors I know) to meet new people because we are, at heart, introverts. I'm shy (okay, people who know me, stop that laughing) until someone gets to know me, then I will talk your ears off. So it's hard for me to go up to a group of strangers and just start talking. BUT... The people in that group may be just as shy as you are! So be shy together and perhaps make new friends.

2. Push Your Comfort Zone: This pairs with the above. Attend a panel you really want to go to that isn't necessary your 'comfort' area. Always wanted to see what fetishes in BDSM are? Attend the panel! And speak up, too. There really are no 'dumb' questions. Seriously, there aren't. I found when I asked a question (heart pounding because people were looking at me) several others in the room nodded. They had the same question or one similar. I pushed my comfort zone to speak up, but it gave me the answer to something I really wanted to know.

3. Try Something New: Whether it's an author you've never read, speaking to people you don't know, trying a new food or attending a panel, go for the new and not the same. the only way to find a new favorite is to try it. This also pushes me to 'get out of the rut' and do something I may love...or not. The main goal is to try.

4. Don't Complain...Find a Solution: I heard several different negative things about the food, or the panels, the hotel, etc. Some things we can't change. Some we can. Don't like the food? Go find a restaurant close and eat what you like. Didn't like the panel? Find another! The hotel is way expensive? Of course it is! Try being a 'celebrity' in your mind and just enjoy the things we don't have everyday.

5. Get Out and Walk: I made the joke I walked 2,000 miles.(And have the song in my head to prove it)  And of course it felt like I did! We walked to the aquarium, saw the Olympic park and the torch holder, found a lovely 50's style diner, and a mystery dinner theater I would love to try! All from just going out and walking around.

Remember, a conference, like anything else in life, depends on what you put in on what you receive back.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Can EVERY Character Be Redeemed?

 The following post is expressively MY own opinion. I do not endorse any company or person with this post and state my own humble opinion.

As writers, we face the sometimes half impossible journey into making characters who 'leap from the screen and page' and are 'so real he/she could be your best friend'. As readers, we don't want the same ole same old character (good lord, that's boring) and we want to feel immersed in the story to the point we escape real life.

But what makes a 'bad' character good? How bad is too bad? And can EVERY character be redeemed?

I ask this because my lovely friend Jen Bradlee mentioned to me a controversy in the RITA Awards this year. The RITA Awards are, in case you didn't know, voted and judged on by published authors for published authors and sponsored by The Romance Writers of America (RWA). So groups of your peer and fellow writers vote on the books they feel is 'Best' in dozens of categories.

RITA Awards

The controversary involves a book nominated for the award in which the Hero is a Nazi Death Camp Supervisor and the Heroine is a Jewish almost inmate he rescues. I have NOT read the book so I refuse to comment on the theme or storyline since I really can't. But many groups felt this sort of plotline was in very bad taste and did not want it nomintaed for a top award. It didn't win the award, but it was nominated.

Now, to be honest, nominations are announced weeks ahead of the actual awards ceremony, so it was known the book was up for a top award. The controversy has erupted in the last few days, although the nominations and acual awards were weeks ago (the RITA award was given in late July)

The story is here for anyone who wishes to read it:

So CAN every character be redeemed? Should every Character be redeemed?

I'm a believer in the human spirit. A big believer. I want to think everyone can be redeemed even as my head knows some don't WANT to be redeemed. When I write a book with a 'bad' character, it's because each one of us has the capasity and I dare say every day choice to choose what our actions might be. We CHOOSE to be 'good' or 'bad'. It's not our character so much as our choices which define us. So my characters, good or bad, choose the way they want to be and make decisions based on their choices and vice versa.

In Wedding Belle Blues, I had one reviewer comment she didn't like the fact certain characters didn't "get theirs in the end". I had a whole blow up, knock down, drag it out scene planned, but Anna, my heroine, gently explained to me this is NOT the way she would handle the scene. I could write what I wanted, but I wasn't true to Anna's character planning a huge scene. It's not who Anna is. So I wrote the scene in Anna's way and it works (even without a cat fight...though believe you me, Anna has the ability to be a tiger when her loved ones are threatened, as you will soon read in a future book).

Anna in Wedding Belle Blues

And to be honest...the 'bad' character in Wedding Belle Blues...and there are two... does NOT want to change his/her circumstances. He/She is very happy the way things are. Why change when you are happy? They don't want to be redeemed. And so I didn't try to redeem them.

So can an author 'redeem' a bad character so a reader doesn't feel 'cheated'?

For me, it's the character, just as the person. Does the character WANT to change? Because frankly, I want to lose weight, but if I don't WANT it badly enough, I never will. See the difference? Saying you want to change and then actually DOING something to change are two separate things. If I eat junk food all day and never exercise, I probably won't lose weight even if I say I want to. 

When I have a 'bad' character in a book, (and let's face it, 'bad' is so so broad. What's 'bad' to me may not be 'bad' to you) I make him/her as 'real' as I can. No one is ALL bad nor is anyone ALL good. The surest way for me to metaphorically throw a book across the room is to give me an all bad or all good character. It's lazy, sloppy writing. And I hate it.

Take for instance, the character Loki in The Avengers movie. He's the 'bad guy'. He does some way bad things like killing people, opening a portal for an alien invasion, and trying to take over the world. But one thing I noticed about Loki. He did things for dramatic effect, for the 'grand scale'. And he showed moments of mercy and almost...dare I say it? tenderness, particularly taking to his brother. His character comes through even more so in Thor 2 when he mourns the death of the one person he's always loved (didn't want to give spoilers).

Can Loki be redeemed? Does Loki WANT to be redeemed?

So to redeem a character...don't TELL me why he/she wants to now be good. SHOW me. And make it part of his/her own nature.

I admit, the above mentioned Nazi Hero doesn't sound redeemable. I mean, yes, they were following orders, but millions of people died. Can anyone who helped commit such a horrible act be redeemed? Even with love?

I'm not sure. As a reader, I have strong doubts, based entirely on personal experience and friends who lost relatives in that mass murder. But I'm willing to give a character, just as I give people, the chance to prove to me he/she WANTS to change.

Maybe that's how we redeem ourselves. By wanting to change and then actually doing it. :)

So...what are you thoughts on how to redeem a character or even if one CAN be redeemed.

Friday, July 10, 2015


I have the extreme pleasure today to host the fab SAMANTHA HOLT and the cover of her next Cynfell Brothers book, Sinful Liaisons. These brothers are everything you want in a Hero and more. Add them to your Sinful thoughts and reading today!

Sinful Liaisons Cover Reveal

Book 3 of the Cynfell Brothers Series

Releasing August 12th 2015

Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The Cynfell brothers are the very embodiment of a sinful existence. But could the right woman change that?

It’s not every day a duchess comes across a naked man on the roadside. It’s not every day a duchess takes said naked man home with her. But Evelyn Chesworth can hardly leave the poor man in nought but his skin on the dangerous road to London. Particularly when he’s so attractive...
Lord Pierce Cynfell is in a world of trouble. With his brother threatening to cut him off and his gambling debts increasing, his beautiful rescuer couldn’t have come at a better time. He can’t help but be attracted to the worldly, mature woman.
So he certainly isn’t going to say no when she offers to write off his debts in return for one thing—his body.
However, it soon becomes clear more than his body is becoming involved. While everyone else might think he’s only there for the money, the beautiful widow slowly draws him deeper until he wants to unlock every secret buried beneath those tight corsets.
Evelyn might let Pierce beneath her corsets but she’s determined it will be no more than that. She has loved and lost twice in her life and won’t let that happen again. Meanwhile, she has too many other things to worry about—like the preservation of her son’s land.
When Pierce begins to show himself as more than a skilled lover, Evelyn has a choice—let herself be vulnerable again or send away the man who lights a fire in her body, heart and soul.

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