S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TUESDAY TALKS

SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR:   M A L C O L M      C A M P B E L L


Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing?

I usually tell people I was raised by hyenas or alligators. It doesn’t surprise them because they think that most writers grew up under strange circumstances or else belong in an institution. Years ago, I worked at an Illinois facility for the developmentally disabled. Though I was there for only a year, that job impacted me greatly because it showed me the hidden potential within everyone, often within people who had been written off by society. Had the circumstances been different, I would have gone back to school for a degree in psychology. My muse, I guess, knew better, and made sure that other than that job and three years as a college journalism instructor, my occupation never strayed outside of writing. I worked for many years as a technical writer in the computer industry.

Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

Definitely an introvert, though most people don’t realize this because I have a dual personality. I’m easily content spending most of my time with wine, music and a book (whether I’m writing it or reading it). But there’s a dark side to my personality that likes stirring things up and taking a trickster’s view of the world. People see the trickster more often than the writer because they think writers are crazy and that tricksters are less threatening.

Do you have any pets?

My wife Lesa and I have four indoor cats. The poufy orange kitty is simply named “OK” or “Orange Kitty.” The calico is named Katy, the black and white is named Duncan, and the grey and white is named Marlow. Duncan is the only male in the bunch.

 What are your favorite books to read?

I like books written by authors who push the envelope while remaining accessible and/or who do remarkable things with language. While many call his prose purple, I’m a fan of Pat Conroy’s novels, specially “The Prince of Tides.” Magical realism, stream of consciousness, and transcendent themes are very addictive, so the introvert side of me enjoys Virginia Woolf, Sunetra Gupta,  Isabelle Allende and Carlos Ruiz Zafon while the trickster side of me likes Italo Calvino and Douglas Adams.

Where is the most unique place you have traveled?

Hong Kong is a favorite, though I was only there once for a few days while serving in the Navy. I was fortunate in that a family friend worked there as a missionary and was able to take some time off and show me parts of the city that most sailors on liberty never knew existed. 


Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

Working as a manager of one of the group homes for the developmentally disabled within the Illinois mental health system.

 How many books have you written and how many of those are published? 

I’ve blocked out the numerous manuscripts that ended up going in the trash can. Three have been published, “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”

Do you have one particular genre that all your books fall under (i.e. suspense, romance, etc.)  or do you write in many different genres?

The idea of writing in a genre never occurs to me while I’m working on a book. For me, storytelling is storytelling. “Garden of Heaven” is magical realism, “The Sun Singer” is an adventure with elements of fantasy, and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire” is a comedy/satire. Or, so I am told.

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?

I try to plan absolutely nothing. There’s always a basic story that’s been beamed into my head by evil spirits, muses or aliens lurking behind the moon on the mother ship. Once that happens, all I can do is hang on for the ride and see where the whole shebang ends up.

 Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

10000000000000000. While the trickster side of me is convinced that rejections are evidence that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, the logical introvert side of my personality wonders whether I fell off the turnip wagon while I was writing the story or submitted the material to the wrong people at the wrong time. We can learn a lot from rejections, including some first-class profanity. Without them, our growth as writers would be much slower. 

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

Schedule? I think not. First, a schedule doesn’t mesh well with my talent for procrastination. Second, like outlines, rules and neat desks, schedules make me very claustrophobic, and that interferes with what the spirits, muses or aliens are trying to get me to write. Yes, I can call my muse, but things go much smoother when she calls me.

If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it.

Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey” came out in June. It tells the story of a man whose life was shattered when the woman he believed to be his soul mate left him while he was at war with himself for serving on a Navy ship during the Vietnam War. David and Anne lost each other because they were betrayed, though it took them years to discover that, and by the time they did, Anne couldn’t pull herself away from her focus on revenge.

 If you have many books already released, tell us which is your favorite and why.
 
“Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey” is my favorite because it pushes a mixture of magic and transcendent themes up against the realities of a pragmatic, technological world. I see magic everywhere, yet it’s very illusive. We are, I think, so much more than we seem to be, and my passion for exploring such things made the story of David and Anne a very tempting one to tell.

Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?

There’s too much of me in David Ward in “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey” for him to be my favorite. So, my best answer is Robert Adams in “The Sun Singer,” for he’s going through the rite of passage called “coming of age” or “being a teenager” where he is confronted with the task of figuring out just who he is and what he plans to do with his life. He’s na├»ve and pure and open to the world.

If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?

Today’s answer, which is different than what I might tell you tomorrow, is Daniel in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “Shadow in the Wind.” When Daniel is old enough, his father takes him to an infinite and ancient archive of books in Barcelona called “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.” Daniel’s job is to select one book out of the millions and then protect that book for the rest of his life. After he reads the book, the book and its author become intertwined with Daniels destiny.

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?

Begin with a good liberal arts education from college and/or life, and develop a sense of wonder about everything from history to science to reading. Then, follow your passions into the kinds of subjects, themes and characters you can’t help but tell stories about.

What's up next for you and your writing?

Right now, I’m working on “Sarabande,” a sequel to “The Sun Singer,” while pondering—with some amount of guile—whether the world is ready for another book about my ass-kicking, old-time reporter Jock Stewart.

Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?

Consider strongly the possibility that my answers to Susan’s questions are at least 37.5% fictional. But it was fun. Thanks for inviting me to Tuesday Talks. 

 Where can we read more about you and your work?




Friday, December 24, 2010

FANtastic Friday FAN

Since this Friday is Christmas Eve, I have decided to honor my most FANtastic Fan ever.  Actually, I am His fan. 

Through the years He has continually loved me, watched over me, supported me, encouraged me and never let me go. 

He has given me life, breath, strength, fulfillment, and love.  He has been my comfort in the face of rejection, my peace in the face of sorrow, and my hope when dreams were shattered. 

He is more than a father, more than a friend.  He is my saviour and my biggest fan. His name is Jesus and I owe everything to Him.

The Reason by S.R.Claridge

As Mary writhed with labor pains
and Joseph closed his eyes;
The Shepherds followed a bright star
they’d seen up in the skies.
And to a manger they all came
to see a blessed birth;
And honor baby Jesus
who had come to save the earth.
I wonder what went thru their minds?
What questions filled their souls?
Did chills run up and down their spines?
Did they feel the cold?
I’m sure their focus was on Him,
that child in the hay.
I’m sure they didn’t think about
reindeer or a sleigh.
No sugar plums danced in their heads,
there were no shiny bows …
Ironic how the greatest gift
came wrapped in swaddling clothes.

May we all remember the reason for the season.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sex is like Pizza

Sex is Like Pizza


I read an article where the writer made this statement:  “Sex is like pizza:  even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Sometimes we get into our heads that sex has to be magical or mind-blowing every time, but that’s not reality.  Lighting candles all over the room or sprinkling rose petals in a warm tub for two are great tactics for heightening romance, but it’s impossible to do them every time; and if you did, they would quickly lose their luster. 

Romance and sex do not always go hand-in-hand, despite what most soap operas will lead you to believe.  Sex is possible and even fun without the extra mood-setting and the mental pressure of striving for perfection.  Sometimes a simple wham-bam-thank-you-mam is exactly what’s needed.   

It’s nice once in a while to order your favorite specialty pizza, loaded with toppings and extra cheese, but most the time that plain ‘ol slice of pepperoni tastes pretty darn good. 

Have you had a piece today?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TUESDAY TALKS


 SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR:     D A W N E   P R O C H I L O

Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing? 

 I am a wife, a mother of three grown children and live in rural Michigan where there's more cows and corn than residents. It's a very serene piece of heaven where I live and when I can look out my kitchen window I can see wild geese and deer.

I am currently a full time writer. I freelance for a local newspaper, write SEO and web content for various websites and am the Administrative Editor of the WM Review Connection and a Contributing editor for the WM Freelance Writers' website. I also contribute to five blogs weekly and coordinate blog tours for two romance blogs. All in all, I don't have time for another career.

Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

 It depends on who you ask. I have a select group of friends that I can let loose with and be myself but when it comes to career and a professional setting I'm very refined and introverted.


What are your favorite books to read?

 I love suspense with a little bit of humor. Two examples are Janet Evanovich and Robert B. Parker. But of course, my heart lies with romance. I love that both authors add a humor to the story line and keep me guessing about what will happen next. 


Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

My children. I've raised three of the most responsible young adults that any parent would be proud to call their own. My facebook page is full of family pictures and praises towards my children and their accomplishments.

You write in the erotica genre.  How did you decide this was the best genre fit for you?

When I first really noticed erotic romance was when I was wrote my first sex scene in my novel Crape Myrtle. I was real hesitant to even write the scene. I actually finished the book but that one scene was left blank. I thought about the scene for months before I finally dove in head first and just let my mind wander and fill in the blanks.

Once I had the scene done I had my husband read it. He was impressed and I felt my confidence building. I started borrowing books from the library with heavy, sensual sex scenes and I developed a real love for the genre.

I write weekly erotic romance blogs so the thought of inviting readers into the bedroom with my characters in the scenes comes easier now.

When you’re painting an erotic scene in your novels, how do you keep your ideas fresh and different from what everyone else writes?

I find myself exploring the phrases and developing a better understanding of what readers thrive on. I will mix it up and test the phrases in my mind. Personally there are only so many phrases and words you can use but if you use them in the perfect place of the sentence or scene, it's yours...it's unique. I never repeat what I read and if I have it's never on purpose.

How many books have you written and how many of those are published?

Crape Myrtle July 2009
On Her Own- July 2009
Room 11- February 2011
Rachel's Desire- March 2011
When We Meet Again -  May 2011

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants) ?

Definitely not a panster. I am an outliner. I need structure. I need an outline of each chapter, every detail of the character from personal and physical attributes to the minor characters and their role. I'm note saying once the outline is done that I follow it perfectly. I make changes daily sometimes. When I wrote Crape Myrtle I changed the outline at least two dozen times before it was published.

Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

Well...I have shoe boxes full of rejections and an email folder filled with them too. Hundreds and hundreds if not thousands. This is a very tough market to break into. I learned how to perfect my query letter from those rejection letters and emails so they were a definite learning and teaching experience for me that I appreciate.

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

My muse is my schedule. Writing is not a nine to five job. You write when the mood strikes, whether it's two in the morning or seven in the evening. I'm always jotting down possible story lines, character names and phrases that pop into my head at any given time.

Tell us about your new release coming out.

Room 11 is scheduled for release on February 2, 2011 and is about two classmates from high school who haven't seen each other in over two decades. Both are single and not really looking for a commitment, just fun and playful times...yes, including sex. It’s a friends with benefits story line. They meet up and both get more than they thought possible.

If you have many books already released, tell us which is your favorite and why. 

My favorite is probably Crape Myrtle, my first release. I grew quite attached to the characters and based the hero and heroine on people I'm close with and admire. I know it sounds weird that I grew attached to the characters but that's something that happens when you spend five years developing them and actually seeing the world through their eyes.


If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?

Be persistent. Accept every one of those rejection letters with the positive determination to continue. Taking advice and being critiqued is normal- you just need to know how to handle it, let it roll off your shoulders and continue on.

What's up next for you and your writing?

 I'm currently working on two anthologies of short erotic romance stories. The theme for the first anthology is office or work place fantasies. The second is a genre mixture that I have never seen before- erotic old west. Mixing in a little sex with a lot of ranchers and cowboys from the 19th century through the early 1910's. I'm real excited about both of these anthologies and hope to have something available for publishing by early 2011.


Where can we read more about you and your work?
Both locations can lead readers to my other blogs and writing.



Thank you for being my spotlight author on TUESDAY TALKS.  Best Wishes and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

MILITARY MONDAY

Many people want to say thank you to the men and women actively serving our country, but aren't sure how.  Well, here's a quick and easy way to express your gratitude and it's free too!


http://www.letssaythanks.com/


All you have to do is go to the website, pick out a card, write a personal note and click send. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

VHP Author Dine-Around Blog Event

CRISPY COBB SALAD
Find out why Kate can’t finish her Crispy Cobb Salad in No Easy Way by S.R.Claridge



Ingredients:
  • 1 qt. torn assorted greens
  • 2 c. chopped turkey breast
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles (optional)
  • 1 (8 oz.) bottle Ranch dressing
Preparation:

Arrange greens, turkey, tomatoes, eggs, avocado and bacon in rows on large serving platter. Serve with dressing. Sprinkle with blue cheese.



NO EASY WAY by S.R.Claridge

Swerving with the kind of deliberate precision only blind rage can empower, the black pick-up crushes Kansas Oil Tycoon, Lou Martin Miller, leaving Miller’s widow with an impossible choice.  Cover the sin that lead to her husband’s death and conceal the identity of his killer, or risk the destruction of her family.  She carefully weaves a net of protection around her family, but the day she dies it begins to unravel, leaving her grandson, Tom and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Kate, in grave danger.  

Missing evidence, mistaken identity and manipulation leave private investigator, Stephen Braznovich trapped between white lies and dark lusts, as he races to piece together a family secret before the next victim falls prey to deep-rooted revenge.  The trouble is anyone who gets close to the truth winds up dead. 

On the verge of an unwanted divorce, Tom must decide between a confession that could save his marriage or lie to save himself.  Tension mounts as Tom and Kate’s lives hang in a twisted balance of crossed lines and misunderstood motives, all pointing to one simple truth.  There is No Easy Way.

Available at SPECIAL DISCOUNT for all Dine Around Blog Event Readers at:


____________________________________________________________________________

 AUTHOR DINE-AROUND FULL MENU

Thank you for stopping by and tantalizing your taste buds at the Vanilla Heart Publishing Author Dine-Around. I hope you enjoyed my Crisby Cobb Salad from No Easy Way.  Below is our full menu.  Please enjoy a delightfully delicious sampling from all the authors.

An Elegant Dinner Party
http://bit.ly/gklZbA   A complete menu from To Be Continuedby Charmaine Gordon

Main Dish recipes
http://tiny.cc/6ocas  Tranoc’s Lecho from Forest Song: Letting Goby  Vila Spiderhawk
http://bit.ly/g2ZWY3  OR  http://bit.ly/dXQoTn  Crispy Cobb Salad from
No Easy Way
by SR Claridge
http://bit.ly/hy7s5E  Chicken Pot Pie from Within the Law by Chelle Cordero
http://bit.ly/f6XQKH   Pot Roast from Appalachian Justice by Melinda Clayton
http://bit.ly/dgk2mD  Purple Platter Meatloaf from Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire by Malcolm Campbell

Dessert
http://bit.ly/glJHHT  Pecan Pie from Sabbath's House by Marilyn Celeste Morris
http://bit.ly/eoNgaF  Poppy Seed Cake from Opal Fire Barbra Annino
http://bit.ly/dMNNTS  Gingerbread from Frank, Incense And Murielby Anne K. Albert
http://bit.ly/i2bI0m  Creme Brulee from Conquering Venus by Collin Kelley

Beverage
http://bit.ly/gBBw4K  Russian Czar Drink from Bartlett’s Rule by Chelle Cordero

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FANtastic Friday FAN


Spotlight FANtastic Friday FAN
of the week is:

R O S E   A.   V A L E N T A


Rose A. Valenta is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. Her irreverent columns have been published in Senior Wire, Associated Content, Courier Post Online, NPR, Newsday, USA TODAY, the WSJ Online, and many other local news and radio websites.

She is the author of Rosie’s Renegade Humor Blog – http://www.rosevalenta.com; and the humor book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain.” Her book of humorous essays is available at Amazon, the Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble online, Better World Books, and Google Books. It will be featured in an Internet virtual book tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book, from January 3rd to February 25, 2011. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @rosevalenta.

Rose is an avid fan of author S R Claridge, regularly attends the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop at the University of Dayton, and is a member of the Robert Benchley Society and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC).

Thank you, Rose, for being my FANtastic Friday FAN!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

TUESDAY TALKS

Spotlight Author:  C H E L L E    C O R D E R O


Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from?  What is your occupation outside of writing?

I am very fortunate to be a full-time freelance writer, both fiction and non-fiction - both writing personae and as Chelle Cordero. I've written articles for many regional and national magazines and newspapers.

I'm also a wife, a mom (2 adult kids), and a volunteer NYS-EMT with my local ambulance corps. I grew up in the Bronx (NYC) and attended the High School of Art & Design and Fordham University at Lincoln Center. I married the love of my life in 1975 and we live in the scenic Hudson Valley in New York.


Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

I tend to be an introvert but I have learned to "act" like an extrovert when necessary.

 Do you have any pets?

I'm a cat person. Right now I have three amazing pussycats, Tigger, Mario and Luigi. Tigger likes to hang out on my desk and send emails and Luigi still thinks he is a baby and insists on being held. And Mario just likes stealing everyone's food.

What are your favorite books to read?

I love to read mysteries, romances and romantic-suspense. Not surprisingly, that is what I like to write as well.

 Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

My kids. They continue to amaze me everyday, I am so very proud of them. They are totally different from each other and yet they share many of the same values. My daughter is a paramedic and terrific at her job, she also teaches paramedic students and heads up our ambulance corps youth squad; she lives with her husband just a few towns away. My son is an EMT and treats his patients magnificently, he is also Captain of our volunteer ambulance corps and a total computer genius; he lives at home with his longtime steady girlfriend. 

 How many books have you written and how many of those are published? 

I've written ten books, nine are published. The only one that isn't published is called "More Than a Friend" and is a romantic-suspense.

Of the nine books one was just published as an e-book and it's a writing guide, Living, Breathing, Writing: A Lesson a Day. Seven are romantic suspense and are in print or e-book: Bartlett's Rule, His Lucky Charm (formerly Forgotten), Within the Law, Courage of the Heart, Hostage Heart, A Chance of Riches, and Common Bond, Tangled Hearts. The ninth book, Final Sin, is a murder-mystery.

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants)?

I'm definitely a "pantser" - I create my characters and throw them into a situation (or two) and let them make decisions about what they want to do.

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

Aside from writing when I have deadlines, I write when the mood strikes me - or when I can't sleep. Since my office is a mere three feet from my bedroom, it's easy to find my way in there at all hours. 

Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?

I tend to fall in love with all of my heroes, but I admit being partial to two of them; Tom from Within the Law and Be from A Chaunce of Riches. Both makes are a bit of gamma males, just a little bit of bad boy thrown into the mix.

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?

Never, ever give up.

What's up next for you and your writing?

I'm working on a murder-mystery starring a character who was in Final Sin.

Anything else you'd like to share with my blog readers?

I've also written several short stories in five antholoigies. Three anthologies are from Vanilla Heart: Arms Wide Open, Nature's Gifts and Passionate Hearts. One anthology is from Mandimam Press (edited by Shelagh Watkins), Forever Friends and one more from Shelagh will be coming out soon.


Where can we read more about you and your work?

My website is http://ChelleCordero.com and there are links there to info and buy-links for my books, history about me, and links to my blog and my writing business website.

Thank you so much for allowing me to speak to your readers today!

Thank you for being my Spotlight Author on TUESDAY TALKS.  It was a pleasure learning more about you and your books.

MILITARY MONDAYS - A tribute to all American Soldiers



I want to offer a special thanks to all our service-men and women and their families who sacrifice for our security and freedom.  May God bless all of you this holiday season.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

FANtastic Friday FLASH

My FANtastic Friday FAN of the week:      J A N E L     G R A D O W S K I



I am pleased to introduce a very creative writer, wife, mother and dog owner:  Janel Gradowski

Janel began her writing career in 2004, designing and writing beadwork patterns which have been published in several beadwork magazines.  She has a new pattern which will be published in 2011.

This year, Janel decided to actively pursue another writing dream she had put on the back burner since the fifth grade.  She dedicated herself to writing short fiction with a focus on micro and flash fiction and has had great success.  Several of Janel’s stories have been published in ebook and print.  

Janel also has an extensive blog, wherein she shares her journey not only as a writer, but as a mother.  It contains information from budgeting to beading and so much more.  I guarantee your visit to “Janel’s Jumble” will be well worth the time.


Thank you, Janel, for being my FANtastic Friday FAN.  I have enjoyed learning more about you and will continue to visit your blog.  Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world.  Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Soil of the Soul

When the foundational elements are in tact, marital success boils down to making the relationship a priority.   We must make a conscious effort every day to put the relationship first. 

First means above every viable excuse.  Run errands later.  The laundry can wait.  Leave work on time instead of two hours after everyone else has left.  If you’re too tired to even think about sex, drink a Red Bull or some cofee or tea to pep up.  Turn the television off.  Put your laptop away.  I know you want to Facebook or play Spider Solitaire, but those things can wait.  Putting your marriage first requires a commitment to remove the distractions and follow through by giving your partner your full attention
  
This is difficult in our culture.  We are a fast-paced, results-driven society.  We want everything done quickly and we want to reap the benefits before we even put in the work.  Our brains are comfortable in multi-tasking mode; thus, shutting down our minds to everything else and focusing only on intimacy with our spouse can be difficult … but it is necessary. 

I was at a restaurant and witnessed a couple out for a romantic dinner.  They were dressed to the nines, ordered a nice bottle of wine and had the waiter take their picture.  I don’t know the occasion, but they had obviously set this night apart as something special.  Before their salad arrived, the husband had taken two phone calls.  By the time the waiter brought the entree’ the husband had stepped outside twice and the phone call count was up to five.  The sparkle that danced in wife’s eyes upon arriving at the restaurant had dwindled to a sporadic flicker of hope amid a lonely stare.  Her shoulders drooped as each phone call he took sucked the romance from her. 

Now I ask myself, was she gung ho to jump in the sack when they got home?  Probably not.  

Careers are important.  Money is important.  Doing well at your job is imperative to survival in our economy.  But let me say this:  unless you are a top surgeon, wherein someone will die if you do not answer your phone during a romantic, special dinner with your spouse, then DO NOT ANSWER YOUR PHONE!   I am willing to bet that whatever business deal you have going down can wait until after dinner. 

Intimacy in marriage is an active CHOICE.  You choose to make your spouse feel important or you choose to make them feel insignificant.  So many of us try to blame our careers or blame or responsiblities, but the truth is those are mere excuses to hide our own inability to prioritize our relationship. 

When it comes to matters of the heart, we must make time to sow seeds and tenderly nourish the soil.  You cannot expect growth in a garden you do not nurture.  There are no fruits if there is no labor first.

“My husband knows I love him,” comes the voice of a forty year old woman, who makes-love with her husband once a week and openly confesses she would rather Facebook than talk to him.  Relational satisfaction doesn’t come from merely loving each other. Love must be present but it must also be constantly built upon. Hearts tire. Minds change.  Appearances wither. To keep the garden growing in spite of seasonal altercations, we must till the ground, pull the weeds, water, seed and nuture every day.

Gardens thrive when given the right nourishment, and they wither and die when ignored.  Human hearts are no different.  What have you planted in the soil of your spouse’s soul?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

TUESDAY TALKS Spotlight Author: ANNE K. ALBERT

I am happy to introduce a fellow VHP Author, Anne K. Albert.  Thank you, Anne, for being my Spotlight Author on TUESDAY TALKS.

Hi S.R. Thanks for having me here today.

Before we get started talking about your books, tell us a little about yourself. What is your occupation outside of writing? 

I’m an art college and university graduate who taught junior high and high school for seven years. I also sold display advertising for a small town weekly newspaper, again for seven years. I worked alongside my then self-employed hubby for seven more. Next, I worked at a national brand water company—again for seven years.

Do you see a pattern emerging here? While all of these various occupations were interesting and rewarding, none can hold a candle to writing. (I now write fulltime.) Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I surpassed the seven year mark as a writer more than seven years ago!
  
Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind and tell us their names.

We’re currently pet-less, but only because we used to drop off our cat at my mother’s whenever we left town for a few days. Mom fell in love with the little fur ball, and after a number of kitty-sitting episodes, suggested the cat stay with her. Permanently. We agreed, and the once wild and crazy feline who refused to let any human cuddle her, now sleeps in my 87-year old mother’s arms like a baby!

What are your favorite books to read?

Romantic suspense. I can’t resist a dead body, a puzzle to solve, a hunky hero, a spunky heroine, and a happily-ever-after.

Where is the most unique place you have traveled?

Probably Istanbul, but I also have to mention Machu Picchu, Cornwall’s Port Isaac, Ten Mile Lookout on Manitoulin Island, Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and the rugged Minnesota coastline along Lake Superior. Each hold a very special place in my heart.

Aside from your successes in the writing industry, what in your life has given you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

My relationship with my husband and my daughter. They’re amazing.


How many books have you written and how many of those are published? 

I’ve written five books so far. The first will never see the light of day, but the others placed or won various writing contests. DEFENDING GLORY, my debut novel, is actually book number four. Released last October in ebook format, it is now available in print. Book number five, FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, a romantic suspense with a delightful dash of humor that takes place the week before Christmas is also available in ebook format. The print edition will be released mid 2011.

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser” (fly by the seat of your pants)?

I’m a pantser…well, okay, make that an extreme pantser. I start with nothing more than a vague idea that someone is going to die. Who, how, and why are never clear. In DEFENDING GLORY, I began with the notion of who the villain would be, but before I’d completed the second chapter my hero found the guy’s dead body! Writing myself into a corner was not what I intended, but having done it I was forced to figure a way around it. I did, of course, and realized the great unknown is why I sit down at the computer each day. I write to find out what happens next.

Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

I’ve lost count, but I’ve probably been rejected by at least thirty agents and ten editors.

In the very beginning, it hurt, but I refused to give up. I entered writing contests for feedback. I wanted specifics of where and how to improve my work. Eventually, I moved up the contest ladder to final in the top five. No longer needing as much feedback, I entered contests with the soul intent to fast-track my way onto an editor or agent’s desk.

The rejections, however, continued.

On a plus note, they transformed from “form” rejections to personal notes and then full-fledged letters. The comments were encouraging. “You have a great imagination,” one agent wrote, “I love the premise.” “You’re a talented writer,” said another. But there were no offers of representation. No offers to publish my book.

That’s when I realized writing, like art, is subjective. As one agent explained in her rejection letter, it’s “why some people adore the book on the top of the NY Times bestseller list, and other’s don’t.”

Rejection is part of being an author.

Out of all the books you’ve written and the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite character and why?

I’m very partial to Val who is a secondary character in FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL. She’s an eccentric in her mid-sixties with a heart of gold. I admire her spunk.

If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?

I can’t choose just one, but I can narrow it down to two. I’d love to ogle Janet Evanovich’s Ranger from a safe distance (!) as much as I’d cherish a one-on-one conversation with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. One brains, the other brawn. Two utterly fascinating men.

I couldn’t agree more with you on the Ranger character…though I wouldn’t mind ogling Morelli either.   Whew!  Okay, now that you got me all hot and bothered, let’s get back to your writing career…

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published what would that advice be?

Keep writing. Take all advice and criticism to heart, but stay true to yourself. And never, ever give up.
  
What's up next for you and your writing?

I’ve always got a number of books on the go at any given moment, but my main focus right now is DEFENDING HOPE, the second book in the Piedmont Island series where troubles outnumber residents. The hero, Deputy Abbott, made an appearance in DEFENDING GLORY, and from the moment he walked onto the page, I knew he deserved a story of his own.

Next in line is VAL AND TYNE DAY’S MURDER, second book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries. As you might guess from the tongue-in-cheek title, a murder takes place before Valentine’s Day, and Val in smack dab in the middle of the action…much to Muriel and Frankie’s dismay.
 
Where can we read more about you and your work?


It has been a pleasure getting to learn more about you and your books, Anne.  Thank you for being my Spotlight Author on TUESDAY TALKS.