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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Novel Topics

Miriam asked, “how do you choose a topic for your novels?”

As I think many writers do, I choose topics that are of interest to me personally, or in which I feel I have some experience or base of knowledge to incorporate into the characters or the plot.  This is why I am a mystery/romantic suspense writer as opposed to an erotica or paranormal writer.   J   I’ve actually attempted to write erotica once and quickly realized I lack the creative vocabulary necessary to describe certain bodily images and encounters.

I have always been intrigued by Mafia families and particularly the loyalty with which they operate; thus, my Just Call Me Angel series is mob based.  The fourth book in the series will be released soon.

My first novel, No Easy Way, is a murder mystery with an underlying theme of the power of faith and forgiveness, and the challenges in marriage.  My faith in God has always been a predominant part of my life and it is due in part to that faith and the God-given power of forgiveness that my husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year.

I am currently writing a suspense thriller about a cult group with underlying political interests.  This book has been three years in the making and I have researched several religious cult groups throughout the United States.  It has been by far the most taxing book I’ve written because the story itself is fiction, but it is derived from a great amount of non-fiction data and stories of real-life individuals.  In essence, it’s a fiction book that holds a great deal of underlying truth.  It is my hope to have it released this year. 

Thank you for your question Miriam. I’ve emailed you a download code for a free copy of Tetterbaum’s Truth.  I hope I’ve answered your question adequately.  J

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Magic in Marital Sex

The question from Patti is:  "In your Bio you state that you believe marriage requires a lot of sex, what do you mean by this and why do you think it's so important?"

Years ago my husband and I conducted our own little marital experiment.  We had read about a couple that committed themselves to having sex every day for one year. They claimed it radically changed their marriage for the better.  So, we decided to commit ourselves to having sex every day for one month.  The experiment was so successful, we did it for another month and another and another and another.  Before we knew it we had indeed gone one full year. 

With my husband's travel schedule we were unable to have sex every day, but we managed to have it every day that he was in town for one full year.  It transformed our relationship and we are still reaping the benefits.  So, when I say sex is important in marriage, I'm speaking from our personal experience.

Sex opens the lines of communication, which is why I think it's so important in marriage.  It is a physical form of intimacy that strengthens the depth of the marital bond.  When you commit to consistently pleasuring one another on a physical level, you suddenly become closer on all levels and you find that your emotional needs are being met as well.  It ignites passion, blossoms friendship and deepens love. 

When couples stop making-love, their relationship can grow stagnant and stagnancy often leads to disaster.  

For more information on this topic, please visit my other blog at: www.DesireTheFire.wordpress.com

Thank you for your question, Patti.  I hope I've answered adequately.  :)

The Imperfect Process Toward Perfection

Jill wrote:  “I am interested in your process – the down and dirty discipline that you practice every day (e.g., schedule, duration, process) in order to ensure you feel like you’ve accomplished something with your writing on a daily basis.  Is there a certain time of day that you write? Do you shoot for a certain word count? What do you do to eliminate writer’s block? Do you formulate an outline before writing, and is it specific? Or do you create a more general framework of the plot and sequence of events, and let the writing fill in the details?  Where do you get your inspiration when you just don’t feel like doing it any longer on any particular day/week/month?”

Wow!  This is the longest question I’ve ever been asked.  I’m going to do my best to tackle each of these issues… so bear with me.

My “down and dirty discipline” on a daily basis varies because I’m not only a writer, but a mom and a wife as well.  My evenings and weekends are a crap shoot for writing…sometimes I’m productive and sometimes there’s just too much going on.  I accomplish the most during the weekdays between the hours of 8:00am and 2:30pm, which is when my kids are at school.  It is also not unusual to find me up between the hours of 2:00am and 4:00am rapidly typing away.

I don’t officially shoot for a particular word count, however, I am satisfied if I can knock out a minimum of 3,000 words during the day.  Sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more.

With regards to writer’s block…it’s never been an issue for me. (knock on wood)  That may sound crazy, but there are enough hours during the week when I am unable to write because of everything else going on; so by the time I am able to sit down and write again, I am chomping at the bit to get my thoughts on paper. 

I never make an outline before writing, nor do I frame up the plot or organize the events.  I usually start with a cup of coffee and one simple idea… either a place or a person and the story builds from there.  When I’m working on a novel I am thinking about it constantly.  In the shower, lying in bed, driving, cooking, switching loads of laundry…it is prevalent in my thoughts and I am always mulling through what I think might happen next.

Where does my inspiration come from?  Everywhere and everyone.  A name can inspire me, or a newspaper or magazine article.  Something I hear on the radio can prompt revelation and birth a new story.  Mostly, though, I give credit to God because, after all, He created the creativity that enables me to write in the first place.

I hope I’ve adequately answered your question.  If I haven’t, shoot me another email and I’ll try again.

Thanks Jill!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Clinging to Faith

The question is:  When you are at your lowest points in life, how do you pull yourself back up?

As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, I understand the black hole effect… that feeling of slipping into darkness and being utterly unable to see any way out. I understand the irrational onset of a depressive episode and the intense irritation that follows.  I understand the depths of undefinable sorrow and a sense of mourning for the unknown.  I know the horrible feeling of opening your eyes in the morning and realizing yet another day has been bestowed upon you.  I know the irony of fearing that you’ll be all alone and at the same time, wanting to be left all alone. I know the sadness that grips your heart until you think you can’t take one more moment of pain.

If you’ve never suffered from depression then you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

When you find yourself in the black hole, how do you get out?  I wish I had a magic answer.  What I can share with you are three promises that I cling to with a white-knuckled grip. 

  • The first one is in the Bible in Philippians 4:13 and it says:  “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

  • The second one is in the Bible in Romans 8:28 and it says:  “And we know that God makes all things work together for good for those that love Him.”

In both of these verses I focus on the word ALL, because to me that covers anything and everything I may be confronted with or involved in.  If I surrender it to God, He promises to strengthen me and somehow work it all out for good.  I don’t have to understand how… I only have to believe….and I do.

  • The third one is in the Bible in Hebrew 13:5 and it says:  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Even in my darkest hours, God is there and promises to always be with me.

The most powerful instrument that pulls me up when I am at my lowest is my faith...because I know God will never let me down.

Thanks for the question Elaine.  I hope I answered it adequately.  J  

A Silent Stance

I have a pet peeve... actually I have many pet peeves but I'm only going to address one in this blog.

Between my personal email account and my author email account, my facebook accounts, twitter and linkedin I receive anywhere from 70-120 emails every day.  A lot of these are spam and I delete them; but the majority are from individuals who are either asking me a question or sharing a tidbit of information with me.  I do my very, very best to respond to every personal email I receive.  Sometimes my response is a simple "thank you"... but it is a response nonetheless. It is at the very least an aknowledgment that I have received your email and appreciate the time you have taken to correspond with me.

I do this for two reasons:  first, because it is just plain polite.  Second, because it's a good business practice.  I want people to know that I am interested in what they have to say and that I do not take the fact that they have written me, lightly. 

SO... when I take the time to write to someone and ask a question, but receive zero response, it unnerves me.  It makes me feel unimportant and even a little hurt.  Honestly, how much effort does it take to hit reply and answer someone's question.  OR, if you haven't the time to answer, simply reply by saying you will respond at a later time.  At the very least, be polite enough to aknowledge that someone has contacted you instead of taking an aloof attitude of silence.   ~

Marriage: There is No Easy Way

The question was:  In one of your books a marriage survives an affair, do you believe this is possible in real life?

The book you’re referring to is called No Easy Way, and the entire premise of that book is that there is “no easy way” for a marriage to survive… there is no EASY way, but there is A way.  Wrapped in a suspenseful plot is the story of a man and a woman and how their marriage survives the seemingly impossible.                           

My husband and I have been married for almost twenty years.  We’ve had our ups and our downs just like anyone else.  There were moments when we both considered giving up…thankfully we never considered it at exactly the same time; otherwise our story might have been different.  

The point is, marriage is hard and when one person makes a mistake the other one suffers the fall out.
At that point you have two choices:   Stay or Leave
I’m not inclined to pass judgment on anyone’s life and the choices they have made.  I know couples who have divorced due to infidelity and I know couples who have remained together.  It’s a choice and each choice comes with its own complications.  Whether you stay or leave, you will still one day have to plot a course down a path of forgiveness.  There’s no escaping it.  If you are the person who cheated, you’ll have to learn to forgive yourself.  If you’re the one caught in the fall out, you’ll eventually have to learn to forgive the one who hurt you; otherwise the anger will destroy your life from the inside out.  The question then becomes... do you want to walk that path together or apart?

There are no easy answers when hearts are broken and nothing will take away the initial onset of pain. Infidelity rips through a marriage like a tornado in a trailer park and the damage and clean up is both extensive and lengthy.  

But let me say this… having the legal right to divorce doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right choic for you, your spouse or your family.  Some believe staying married to a spouse who cheated makes you weak.  It doesn’t.  Staying doesn’t make you weak any more than leaving makes you strong.  The affair itself casts everyone under a shadow of weakness and vulnerability.  Neither staying nor leaving removes that shadow from your heart. 

Human beings make mistakes and being married doesn't make you suddenly immune to temptation.  There is fall out and heartache in the world of "for better or for worse;" but if you choose (like the couple in my novel) to walk the road of healing together, I believe you can one day reap the benefits of a stronger, closer, more intimate marriage.  There is No Easy Way…but there is a way.

Thanks for your question Sherri.  I hope I answered adequately. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

True Freedom

One of my favorite songs, from a lyrical perspective, is We Shall Be Free by Garth Brooks.  Why?  I could go into a lengthy description of why, but I think you’ll understand once you read the lyrics and watch the powerful video.

This ain't comin' from no prophet, just an ordinary man
When I close my eyes I see the way this world shall be
When we all walk hand in hand

When the last child cries for a crust of bread
When the last man dies for just words that he said
When there's shelter over the poorest head
We shall be free

When the last thing we notice is the color of skin
And the first thing we look for is the beauty within
When the skies and the oceans are clean again
Then we shall be free

We shall be free
We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud
'Cause we shall be free

When we're free to love anyone we choose
When this world's big enough for all different views
When we all can worship from our own kind of pew
Then we shall be free

We shall be free
We shall be free
Have a little faith
Hold out
'Cause we shall be free
And when money talks for the very last time
And nobody walks a step behind
When there's only one race and that's mankind
Then we shall be free
We shall be free
We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith, hold out
We shall be free
We shall be free
We shall be free
Stand straight, have a little faith
We shall be free

New Review of Tetterbaum's Truth

I am excited to announce that a new review of Tetterbaum's Truth is now circulating.  Thank you to AllBookReviews.   You can check out the review at this link:


From Real Life to Fiction

The question was:  Are the characters and events in my novels based on real life experiences and real people in my life?

I’ve been asked this question many times.  In fact, every time I go to a book signing or speak to a book club or readers group, this is one of the first questions people ask.

The answer is:  Yes and No

My debut novel, No Easy Way, contains some real life experiences, though the situations are beefed up to add a greater fictional element of suspense and surprise.  The characters are derived from people in my life, but they are more like combinations of individuals.  I borrow one trait from one person and another trait from someone else and mesh them together to form the persona I want for that particular character. 

In the Just Call Me Angel suspense series, which centers around the Mafia, I am not writing from personal experience; thus I spend more time on research for this series because I having nothing else to draw from.  However, my main characters are still a dichotomy of people in my life, and when I can work in a personal experience I do it because it helps create depth and emotion in the scene.

When I’m writing a novel I find myself more in tune with the people around me, with their idiosyncrasies and habits.  I then use these mannerisms as persona definitions when I shape each individual character.

For example:  In the Just Call Me Angel series, Olga’s physical structure is based on a combination of two older woman who were in my life as a child.  One was my Serbian Aunt named Olga and the other was a family friend we fondly called, Granny Janny.   If you meshed their looks, how they walked and gestured with their hands when they talked, you would end up with Angel’s Aunt Olga in my books.

Just for fun, I add my Alma Mater (University of Missouri, Columbia) into every book I write.  It keeps my characters grounded when I, as the author, can relate to where they came from.  Into each novel I also write in secret numbers or names that only those closest to me will be able to reference as meaningful. It’s like my own little game of clue behind the scenes.   

I use people in my life to give me the creative inspiration that helps with character development and I believe that when characters are solidly built, they will write the story for you.  ~

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blog Q&A With a Prize Giveaway

I'll be honest...I'm not the best blogger in the world.  In fact, truth be known, I hate blogging.  Every time I sit down at my computer to blog, a wave of frustration rushes over me.  I stare at the blank screen, growing more and more edgy and irritated.  What should I write?  I mumble to myself.

Here's the problem:  I don't think my daily life is all that entertaining to think that anyone would want to engage in reading about it on a regular basis.  I realize blogging is all part of marketing-my-books, and that readers want to feel like they know the author better; but it seems like a waste of valuable novel-writing time, doesn't it? Wouldn't readers rather I finish the next novel than know that I got up this morning at 6:30am, took the kids to school, threw in a load of laundry and re-heated my coffee five times because I kept setting it down and walking away? Are my personal hygiene routines really blog-worthy or is it good enough to assume I shave my legs, color the gray from my hair and pluck my eyebrows, and leave it at that? 

Since I am in the process of writing two novels and one short story, and can't come up with good blogging ideas, I'm going to leave the blog topics to my readers.  Tell me what you'd like to know and I promise, unless it gives away a plot from one of my novels, I will blog about it and do my very best to answer your question.

You can either post your topic or question in the comment section below OR email me at:
AuthorSRClaridge@gmail.com   Put "Blog Q&A" in the subject line of your email.

I'll even go a step further.  The first ten people to comment or email will receive a free download of one of my books in any form you would like (pdf, ipad, sony, nook, kindle, etc.).  So, bring on the questions!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A copy of an Interview from RipeReviews Reporter, Justin Rentschler

The interview can be found at: www.RipeReviews.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Heart of A Writer

I had the privilage of interviewing Author S.R.Claridge and, with her permission, have transcribed our conversation here. There are many, many talented writers in the world, but few that have the open heart, tenacity and high-spirit of this woman. She'll make you laugh, she'll make you cry and she'll touch you in a way that can only be described as honest. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Why do you think you chose to write suspense novels?

I like mysteries and things I have to try and figure out. I enjoy reading suspense novels and I think it is somewhat natural for an author to write what they enjoy reading.

Have you ever considered writing another genre, like paranormal or erotica?

I’ve never considered paranormal because my mind just doesn’t work that way. I can’t seem to think that far outside the box. I have written erotica, but they are short stories that will never be seen by anyone other than my husband. <blushing> I’m actually quite bad at writing in the erotica genre. I don’t know why, but I think it’s because my vocabulary is lacking in terms of coming up with creative words for penis and breasts. Let’s be honest, how many times can you write “mammoth mounds of glory” or describe how he “thrusts his manhood”…. <laughing>…. See what I mean? I should stick to writing suspense novels.

Would you describe yourself as a conservative writer, then?

I don’t think any part of my life would ever be described as “conservative”… not on paper and not in the real world. In fact, those who know me best are probably laughing at the mere idea of defining me as conservative. I think I’ve definitely mellowed some with age, but am far from conservative.

So, how then would you define yourself? Who is S.R.Claridge, the author?
That’s a tough one. Well, my first name is Susan and my middle name is Renee’, which is where the S.R. comes from. I’m half Serbian and half German, so if you want to know where my hot-headed temper comes from just combine Milosevic and Hitler and there you have it. On the flip side my heart is pretty tender and I believe forgiveness is key in any relationship. I think marriage required a lot of sex and friendship requires a lot of love…put the two together and you’ve found your soul mate. I love Jesus and talk God’s ear off probably more than even He wants to hear from me. I used to be a drug-using, chain-smoking vegetarian; but now I’m a meat-eating, smoke-free, soccer-mom who knows first-hand that people can change. I believe no one has the right to judge anyone else, and it angers me when I see it being done. I think life is about maintaining balance and that beauty is found deep inside. I believe people are brought together for a purpose and that there really are no chance encounters or coincidences. I know that anything good in me comes from God, because on my own I am bound to mess things up. More than anything I have been richly blessed with an incredible husband of almost 20 years and two super kids who bring more joy into my heart than I ever dreamed possible.

I see that you used to write lyrics. What’s one of your favorite songs from a lyrical perspective?

The Heart of the Matter by Don Henley. I love the chorus. <she sings>“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter but I think it’s about forgiveness… forgiveness… even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

I also like Get Over It by the Eagles and Have A Nice Day by Bon Jovi. One of my all-time favorites is Everything by Michael Buble. I like too many songs to be able to answer this question.

You made a demo CD in Nashville. What was that like?

Oh my gosh, that was years ago and I can’t believe you even know about that! The CD was called, “Out of the Box” and it consisted of four songs that I had written: Live your Dream, Do Me, Good Time Girl and Come Into My Life. It was a great experience and I feel blessed to have had the chance to go through that process and work with some fabulous musicians. The problem was I’m a writer, not a singer so the demo really should have been made with a true-to-life singer.

You also have a CD released entitled, Open Your Eyes, and two singles called, Columbine and A Nation Under God.

You've done your homework! Open Your Eyes consists of 13 songs (I think) and they are more of a Christian tone. Columbine was a song I wrote after the Columbine High School shootings and A Nation Under God, I wrote after 911.

Do you still write songs?
I do, but no one hears them anymore. They're just sort of my own personal outlet now.

Back to your comment about not singing, you’ve sang on stage before. There are musicals on your resume.

True. I can sing, but that doesn’t make me a “singer.” I don’t have the type of voice that you would want to close your eyes and listen to; but if I have to get up on stage, playing a role, and sell a number I can do it. I’m not a “dancer” either, but I can dance on stage in a production if it’s part of the character I’m playing. Musicals aren’t my first preference when it comes to performing.

What would be your preference for performing then?

Shows that are a Dramatic/Comedic mix or that have an underlying meaning. I did a one-act type play on the topic of Sex&Marriage and I loved it. It touched people because it dealt with things to which every married couple could relate, but it also brought a comedic side to dealing with some of the challenges in marriage.

What made you fall in love with the stage?
When I was on stage I could be anybody I wanted. All the bad things about me disappeared. I was confident on stage in a way I couldn't be in life. I felt like I could breathe and nothing could hurt me while the spot lights were shining.

Let’s look at your entertainment background for a moment, do you think your experience on stage helps you write your novels?

I think every experience in life helps me write my novels. My experiences on stage are precious memories to me so there is a certain emotional element I can tap into and give to the characters in my books when needed. Some of the best times of my life have been on the stage.

Do you miss performing?
Yes…sometimes it feels like a raw aching in my chest. I do miss it, but I don’t know how I could fit it back into my life. Right now I pour my training and experience into my daughter, who lives to act and I get to be the Stage Mom who watches her shine. I’m often the teary-eyed one in the audience, especially during curtain calls…because I remember the wonderful feeling of the warmth of the lights, hearing the applause and those incredible chills of excitement.

You’re a mom of two children. What are your greatest challenges being a mother?

I think the answer to this question would vary depending on the age of the children, but for me, (my kids are 8 and 10 years old) the biggest challenge right now is in trying to steer them down the best path for where they need to and want to end up. I want to support their dreams and give them every opportunity toward success. They have more choices than we had growing up and everything they do starts when they’re so much younger than when we were kids. I want them to be balanced and make wise decisions. I also want to nurture their spirits so that they will stand on a strong foundation of faith and trust in God as they grow. Most of all, I want them to know that life can be hard, and we all make mistakes, but there is nothing we can’t tackle and get through together.

Your books are primarily about relationships between men and women and about the loyalty of Mafia families. Why did you choose these topics?

Relationships touch everyone. Everyone can relate to the difficulties and challenges of keeping a relationship going strong. It can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. The loyalty of Mafia families has always intrigued me because I think, despite some of their ideals on murder, they truly understand that blood is blood, a brother is a brother and you take care of your own. Period. It strikes a chord with me because I believe God puts you with certain people for a reason and it is your responsibility to care for, support and love the family He has given you; above all others. Baddah-Bing-Baddah-Boom.

I’ve had the privilege of reading several of your novels and reviewing them. I find your character interaction to be remarkably well-written to the point where I feel I am actually involved in the conversation. How do you do this?
Thank you. I think it stems from writing scripts and visualizing the scene in my head as if it is just that, a scene taking place in a movie or on a stage. I see the blockng and character movement before I write it.

I’m sorry to cut you off, but particularly in love scenes you are able to paint a clear picture without going into any graphic detail.

That’s because I’m not good at the graphic details, hence not writing erotica. <laughs> When I’m writing an intimate moment I envision what I would want to happen if I were living in that moment. Where would I want his hands to touch me? Would I be longing for a tender, sensual kiss that grows slowly deeper and more passionate? Or would I need a forceful, pushing against a wall and gripping me with desire moment? Do I need to see in his eyes that he wants me? Or am I unaware of it until I feel his lips closing in on mine? Just like being on stage, it’s the little things that make a scene work.
Real quick before we end our conversation, what do you think is the most important feature on a man?
I'm asked this question a lot and it always strikes me as odd. Whether it's a man or a woman, I think the most important feature are the eyes. The eyes tell you everything you need to know about someone... without sounding too cliche' the eyes truly are the window to the soul.
It has been a pleasure talking with you today and I wish you much success with your books. S.R.Claridge is currently writing the fourth novel in the Just Call Me Angel mafia suspense series and working on an independent novel, of which the topic she is keeping a secret for now. To pick up any one of S.R.Claridge’s novels, please visit Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords. Also, I understand Susan will be giving away a free download of one of her books to anyone who responds to this interview in the comment section. She has also graciously agreed to answer any questions readers post, as long as it doesn’t give away the plot in any of her novels. Thank you for being with us today.
Thank you for having me. It has been my pleasure to be here.

...And the Winner is...

I am happy to announce that the winner of the Friday the 13th Blog Hop drawing for a FREE Kindle is:

M i c h e l l e    B l e d s o e

Thank you Michelle, and everyone else who participated in the HOP.  Stop by my blog later this week for another chance to win some free books.

When Fiction and Reality Collide

One of the advantages of being a fiction writer is that you get to do things, at least on paper, that you'd never have the opportunity to do in real life. While writing my Mafia suspense series, Just Call Me Angel, I've had the chance to fire an Uzi, kill some bad guys, and lead a meeting of Mob Bosses.... things I obviously haven't done, nor would want to do, in real life.  (Well, maybe fire an Uzi, just once to know what it feels like.)

Today I got to blow up a Gulfstream 4 jet.  Before I blew it up I had to research its structure and basic fabrication, both interior and exterior.  I had to design the inside, choosing the color of the leather seats and couches and creating the overall aura of the space. I've never been on a G4 so it was fun to pretend it was mine, if only on the computer screen.

Once that was done I added in my characters, which is when the plot came to life.

For me, it is extra-exciting when fiction and reality collide because then I am truly writing from experience and the words flow from my fingertips at rapid speed. In the scene today I got to take my personal sky diving experience and apply it to one of the characters.  I was able to detail the fear I remember feeling and describe the pressure of the air, the tightening harness around me and the mental battle to try to relax and breathe as you plummet to the earth at 120 mph, 18,000 feet above sea level. Even as I typed my heart beat faster and adrenaline surged through me.

Then, I added in something I, thankfully, did not experience in real life.  As my characters fell toward the ground the jet exploded, sending a nauseating wave of heat over them.  Will they be able to control the chute and land safely?

My fingers perch in ready position on the keyboard.... we'll see.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Hop Follow-Up

I am busily sorting through the 200+ entry forms for the FREE Kindle drawing.  I will announce the prize winner tomorrow. 

The Friday the 13th Blog Hop was a success, bringing over 800 visitors to 30 author websites and/or blogs.  I hope everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did. 

To my fellow Author participants, I will send you the entry form information tomorrow so that you can contact those readers that specifically requested more information about your books.

To everyone who hopped with us, thank you and please come back and see us and bring your friends.

Love, Susan

All Things Are Possible

Have you ever fought with God?  I have, and I always lose the battle.  I don't know why I even fight Him anymore, but from time to time my stubbon human nature takes over and for a brief moment I think I know what I'm doing.  I don't; and He is always ready to show me the error in my ways.

I'm most obstinate with God when His plans don't mesh with MY plans.  It's a tricky walk, down a pathway lined with thorns.  There I stand at a crossroads.  His path leading to the left.  My path leading to what I believe is right.  All signs point to the left, and yet, it is often the scarier, more demanding, uncomfortable road; so I step to the right.  Red flags flash before my eyes.  Sirens ring.  A big neon sign blinks in my heart:  YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!  I try to stay on MY path, despite the winds that blow against me and the storm that rages in my midst.  I weaken with every stubborn step, until finally I fall flat on my face back at the crossroads and the begging begins. 

As I look in the direction He is pointing me, I plead, "God, I don't want to go down that path.  It's scary and hard and uncomfortable.  I don't know how to do it."

God answers lovingly, "I will direct your steps."  (Proverbs 3:5)

"But God," I cry out, "I don't have time. It's impossible."

God smiles, "All things are possible."  (Luke 18:27)

"What if I make a bigger fool out of myself than I've already made?  What if I fail?  I can't do it!"  I scream.

"You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you," He gently prods.  (Philippians 4:13)

"I'm scared," I sigh and drop my head down. 

"I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind," He whispers. 
(2 Timothy 1:7)

I finally hit my knees and surrender, knowing His will is always better than mine.  "Okay, God, I'll do whatever You want, just don't leave me hanging."

God grins and with a that-a-girl nudge, He prods me along, reminding me of His promise.  "I will never leave you or forsake you."   (Hebrews 13:5)

When we find ourselves at a crossroads in life, I think it's important to remember that God's path may not be the easy one, but it will be the best one.  His plan for us may not look like the plan we made for ourselves...but His way is always more fulfilling and more rewarding than we could have dreamt it would be.  The thought of it might make us uncomfortable at first, but isn't change always scary?  The one thing change teaches us is how to be flexible and how to grow; and if we're not growing then we're either falling backwards or stagnating.  I don't know about you, but I'm choosing to grow... even when it scares the crap out of me.

Black Flat Shoes

Have you ever had a dream that, even after you awaken, still haunts you? 

Last night I had such a dream and I'm still trying to shake it from my thoughts.  I woke up several times during the course of the night, but every time I went back to sleep I re-entered the same dream; and strangely enough, I re-entered almost exactly where I had left off. Even more odd is the fact that certain elements of my dream came from dreams I had had previously, but were now interwoven into this new climaxing plot.

Ever since I was a little girl I have always been a vivid dreamer.  My dreams, whether good or bad, are at the very least colorful and exciting.  I even have a couple re-occuring dreams that have lasted my lifetime, visiting me once every couple of years.  It is not odd for me to jolt up in the middle of the night sweating and screaming, or even laugh so loud in my sleep that it awakens my husband next to me.  The poor guy never knows what to expect when we go to bed.  (and I don't mean that in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of way) 

Here are just a few crazy elements from last night's dream:

1.  I was being given a tour of a theatre and the man asked me what the sides of the stage were called.  I said, "wings."  He smiled and said, "Because you answered, now you can fly."   With that we magically flew to the next level in the theatre.

2.  Still on the theatre tour, we came to another stage and he asked me to show him my blocking.  I told him I didn't have any blocking and he became angry.  "Look at your feet," he yelled at me and when I looked down, I was wearing black flat shoes; which was odd because I had arrived on the tour in heels and had never taken off my shoes.  "Where are MY shoes?"  I asked him.  We then magically appeared in front of a large, aluminum walk-in cooler.  He opened the door and my shoes were sitting on the floor of the cooler.  I picked them up and they were ice cold.

I know what you're thinking at this point because I thought it too:  Cold Feet.  It must be symbolic for the fact that I have cold feet about something going on in my life.  But there's more...

3.  The black flat shoes disappeared from my feet and he told me to put my shoes back on.  I tried and I tried and I tried but they wouldn't fit.  "The cold must have made them shrink," I said.  Then he took my chin in his hand and said, "no, the shoes have not changed; you have."

I could bore you all day with strange twists and turns from this dream.  There were demons and people with axes and elevators that opened into dimensions instead of rooms. At one point my beating heart was taken from my chest and I was holding it in my hands.  The tour guide was dressed as a surgeon and asked me, "Who do you trust more with your heart?  Me or you?"  Since he was a surgeon I carefully handed it to him.

The last thing I remember I was fighting someone on a roof top while the tour guide watched.  I yelled to him for help, but he said, "I cannot help you fight against yourself." 

I stopped fighting and looked back at him and asked, "Why am I fighting against myself?"

He said, "part of you wants your shoes back."

How silly, I thought, to be waging war over a pair of shoes.  "How do I stop the fight?" I asked.

"Give her the shoes," he said.  I threw my heels at this other me and she put them on and instantly disappeared.

The battle was over and  I was exhausted.  He put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Are you ready to stop fighting now?"  I nodded and the black flat shoes appeared on my feet and we magically appeared back at the first stage where we had started. 

"What do I do now?"  I asked him.

He smiled at me.  "You fly."

"How?"  I yelled to him as he walked up the aisle of the theatre and out the door.

He was gone and I stood alone on the stage with my black flat shoes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Welcome to my Friday the 13th Blog Hop Stop

Friday the 13th is all about FEAR.  At least it has been since the debut of the first Friday the 13th movie in 1980 when Jason and his hockey mask scared the crap out of every teenager in America. 

The only other movie to rival its lasting ramifications of fear-scarred adolescents was the debut of Jaws in 1975.  I was five when Jaws hit the theatres and was afraid to take a bath or swim in a pool for years.  I'd like to tell you I've overcome this fear, but even as an adult, I dare not dip a toe into the ocean without hearing that chilling, shark-approaching music in my head.

Duh-dun, duh-Dun, duh-DUn, duH-DUN, dUH-DUN.... faster and faster and louder and louder the music grows until panic grips me.

One year, while in the Bahamas, my husband and I took a Catamaran on a snorkeling expedition.  The boat was anchored in what I call the middle of the ocean, as there was no land to be seen.  The captain explained we would be snorkeling around a reef area known for it's beautiful coral and fish.  Every passenger was given fins, a snorkle and a mask and once we were all adorned in our gear, we lined up to descend the stairs and submerge ourselves into the beautiful, clear blue water.  My husband was in front of me and he gleefully plopped into the water and started looking for fish. I tentatively lowered myself into the ocean only to feel my chest tighten, my throat go dry and my breathing quicken until I sounded like Darth Vader through the snorkle tube.  Suddenly feeling like a floating appetizer for any shark that might be passing by, I shreiked aloud, thrashed my way back to the ladder and climbed over the fifteen people still on the staircase, trambling them with my big black fins.

This was not one of my prouder moments.  When I got to the top of the ladder, the last woman in line shook me by my shoulders and with wide-eyed concern, yelled, "What did you see?!"

I dropped my head in utter humiliation as I admitted to her I had seen nothing.  "I panicked," I sighed.

After I had stripped off my gear the Captain approached with a smirk and a island drink.  "Dis is for you," he said in his Bahamian accent.  "We call it da chicken drink."

I laughed, knowing there was no way to deny I was a chicken and deserving of the chicken drink.  "I'm afraid of sharks," I sheepishly smiled.

"I see dat," he grinned ear-to-ear.  "We all see dat."

We all experience fear.  Sometimes it's rational and sometimes, well, it's not.  It can be humiliating, frustrating and downright comical, but I think the important thing is that we learn to find the silver lining within even our greatest fears.  For me, I may not get to swim in the ocean, but I get to sit on the boat, enjoy a cocktail and look at the beautiful water.  Overcoming our fears sometimes means just being smart enough to remove ourselves from their chilling grip.

As a thank you for visiting my blog today and participating in the Friday the 13th Blog Hop, I'd like to send you a free download of one of my books.  You can download it in any form you like (kindle, nook, kobe, ipad, sony, .pdf, etc.).  All you have to do is write in the comment section below and tell me which book you would like to receive.  All my books are listed in the sidebar where you can watch the video trailers and decide which looks most interesting to you.

Thanks for dropping by and don't forget to Hop to the next Blog Stop and enter for a chance to win a FREE Kindle!

Write a comment in my comment section and then click on the picture below to automatically advance to the next HOT Bog HOP Stop!
 and she will display the link to the next stop in the Hop in her post.  Each blogger will do the same, so you'll be visiting every link in the Hop's chain. If that host is offering a giveaway on his/her blog, go ahead and enter to win their contest.  Tell your friends!

Friday the 13th Blog Hop - Almost Here!

The Hottest Blog HOP in town is coming tomorrow, Friday the 13th!  Don't miss out on your chance to win free books and even a FREE Kindle!  Be there or Beware!

Tune in tomorrow, Friday the 13th, when I'll post where you can start the HOP!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wisdom in His Ramblings

Have you ever met someone that changed your entire perspective?  Why is it that a stranger can make you see things in ways even those closest to you cannot?  Is it that their opinion matters more because somehow we deem it to be unbiased?  Maybe. 

I met an older gentlemen at one of my daughter's shows a few weeks ago.  His wife reads mystery novels and so I gave him one of my business cards.  Yesterday he emailed me from my website and told me how much his wife was enjoying my book.  He also remarked that he enjoyed our conversation at the theatre and called me "lovely and warm."  (I previously blogged about the effect those words had on my always-striving-to-be-vivacious-and-young psyche.)  I emailed back, thanking him for his kind words and offering his wife a free copy of one of my other books.  I assumed our contact, brief as it was, was over and the likelihood of me hearing from him again was slim.

To my surprise he emailed me back, only this time he talked about a past part of my life that was once near and dear to me.  He had gone to my website, read my bio and acting resume, my reviews and press releases; and wrote to me from an outsider's perspective, as a person who was taking a mere glimpse into someones soul.  His questions were poignant and yet sincere... and he got me thinking about things I haven't thought of in years.  Could I?  Dare I?  Yes. No. Maybe.

He ended his correspondence by stating there were no chance encounters and that there was often wisdom found in the ramblings of an old man. 

The truth is, had it all not played out in this very strangest of ways, I would have never even considered the possibility of opening that door in my life again.  Now, I must ask myself do I believe it was a chance encounter?  Could there be wisdom in his ramblings?  Has the stage been set and waiting until the precise moment in time when I was somehow subconsciously ready?

Is there wisdom in his ramblings?  I don't know, but of one thing I am sure...I have no choice now but to find out.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Lovely, Warm Blanket

Several weeks ago I met an older gentleman at one of my daughter's shows.  We engaged in small talk after the show while I waited for my daughter to change out of her costume so we could go home.  During our conversation he told me that his wife enjoyed reading mystery novels, so I explained I was an author of suspense novels and gave him one of my business cards.  My daughter and I then left and I haven't seen this man since.

Today, on my author website,  I received a sweet email from him in which he told me his wife was enjoying my books and how much he enjoyed our conversation.  He said I was "lovely and warm."

At first I tilted my head slightly to the left, smiled sheepishly and felt that "awwww" sensation fill me.  "Lovely and warm."  I'd never been called those things before.  Then, I read the sentence again, and again, and again.... and my smile fell downward and my shoulders slumped into a deep, deflated sigh.  I am lovely and warm... like a blanket....a big 'ol furry blanket.  At some point, while I was busy with life, time had sucked away vivacious and youth and replaced it with lovely and warmth.

Sigh.  He meant it as a compliment, I am sure of that; but to me it is yet one more reminder of my youthfulness quickly slipping away.

Tonight, I will apply an extra dose of my collagen eye lift cream in hopes of clinging to one more second of vivaciousness.  I will lie in bed awake and resolve to be perkier, more energetic, and more lively; and I will keep that promise to myself for a few days before the chaos of life wears me down and I flop once again onto my bed like a lovely, warm blanket. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A friend sent me this picture and I laughed out loud when I saw it; then promptly printed it and stuck it on the top of my laptop. 

See, whenever I feel uptight or extra-neurotic I indulge in a Grey Goose martini with bleu cheese olives and like magic, my stress disappears and my head becomes suddenly clear.

Many a night I have sipped on one of these as my fingers danced wildly across the keyboard creating my next novel.  Many a night I have typed into the wee hours of morning, with a martini on my desk and ideas spewing from my head.  By the time my glass is empty, the pages are full and I'm ready for bed.  :)