Tag: writer (page 1 of 21)

Introducing #Romance #Novella Laci & Del

Laci & Del by Staci TroiloStill celebrating romance during the month of February.

Today, I’m discussing the release of my first novella, Laci & Del: 12 Months, 12 Chances.

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you might recognize these characters. I wrote this novella as serialized shorts in 2014. One story installment, once a month, on the first Friday.

You might be inclined to say you’ve already read it. Well, I’ve made a few changes. And I added a bonus scene at the end. So even if you remember the story, there’s still new content for you.

The best part? It’s totally free!

Here’s a brief description:

It’s been a year, and Laci Marks still hasn’t gotten over her break up with Del Keegan. She attends a New Year’s Eve party hoping to snap out of her ever-present funk, but the frivolity only upsets her more. Unable to navigate the crowd and retreat to the sanctuary of home, she slips out onto the balcony to avoid watching all the couples kiss when the ball drops.

But her private moment is ruined by someone joining her outside—Del.

Laci wants nothing more than to escape, but Del has other things in mind. Soft words and softer lips convince her to stay. And to try again. Thus begins a tumultuous twelve months of love and laughter, fear and failure. They still have the passion, but they also still have all the same problems.

Twelve months from their reconciliation, and nothing is resolved. If anything, Laci feels worse than ever. How many chances can she give their relationship before just giving up? And how many chances is Del willing to take on her?

I was going to post about this on Friday, February 5, but I decided to wait and make sure the upload went smoothly. It took a while, but all the kinks are finally worked out. So, a little late (I missed my opening day blitz), but I’m sharing it now.

One last thing. If you haven’t already purchased Type and Cross or Bleeding Heart and would like to, my publisher is running a sale from Feb 5 to Feb 19. You can pick up either one of them for under a dollar! Other Oghma Creative Media books are on sale, too.

I hope you share this with your friends and take this opportunity to download and read it yourself. Happy Early Valentine’s Day!

Revisiting #PNR Bleeding Heart

bleeding heart 600So, as promised, Monday posts in February are devoted to my romance work. Today, I’d like to take another look at Bleeding Heart, Book 1 of the Medici Protectorate series.

The idea for the series came to me from my beloved grandfather, John Naccarato. The 30th anniversary of his passing was yesterday, February 7, so I think remembering him and his legacy is a fitting thing to do right now.

When I was young, I used to sit on my grandfather’s lap and ask him to tell me stories. One that really stuck with me was of his father’s birth. My great-grandfather never met his dad. He was the illegitimate son of Italian nobility. I used to dream that someone from that family would come and take us to Italy, would recognize my family as one of their own and welcome us into their country and their lives.

I guess it was my own version of the Princess Diaries. Only my version was steeped in reality but never came to fruition.

Italian Americans

My Great-Grandmother, My Grandfather, and His Siblings

Several years later, that story of my grandfather’s heritage still lingered on my mind. I was considering different story ideas, and my kids—who I’d told the story to—told me I should I begin with that premise. It sounded like a great idea. And because my kids suggested it, I wanted them to be part of the process. They both hold black belts in TaeKwonDo, and at the time were training heavily with weapons. So the concept of unbreakable daggers was born. And because my kids loved fantasy, a magical element was thrown in.

I’m currently writing the third installment of the Medici Protectorate series. The storyworld and plots have been developed for years. (Book 2, Mind Control, is complete and with the publisher. Expected release date is May 20, 2016.) And to me, even though it’s no longer my grandfather’s heritage story, I find it to be the perfect blend between my ancestors and my children. I think my grandfather—and hopefully his father—would love it.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

It was supposed to be a soft kiss, barely a tender caress. Just enough to whet his appetite and tease hers. But when his mouth met hers, a dark desire awakened in him. He fisted his hand in her hair and pulled her to him, claiming her with a deep, passionate kiss.

So, there you have it. A never before released excerpt from Bleeding Heart. If you’d like more information, you can find it on the Bleeding Heart page. If you want to read the first chapter (plus a little more), it is available for free in the sidebar. And if you’d like to read the whole novel, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks.

Oh, and a reminder. Type and Cross and Bleeding Heart are currently on sale, but the price will be going up after February 19. If you want them but haven’t purchased them yet, now’s your chance to get them for under a dollar a piece.

Anyway, I’d love to know what you think about Bleeding Heart, the premise, or about alchemy and powers. Let’s talk about it.

Happy to Announce Novels on Sale for Valentine’s Day

Staci Troilo book promoI know. I think I’ve set a record for posting this week. But I have exciting news, and it’s a limited time offer.

From today through February 19, my publisher, Oghma Creative Media, is running a sale on several novels: A Bride for Gil by Dusty Richards, Just Like Gravity by Sorchia Dubois, Beyond the Moon and The Tell-Tale Stone by Velda Brotherton, Noisy Creek by Pamela Foster, Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton, and Southern Seduction by Luna Zega. (I’ve included hyperlinks to their respective websites and to their Kindle eBooks on Amazon. You can also visit Oghma Creative Media’s website for more information on these authors, these novels, or on any of the other talented authors who write under the Oghma imprints.)

Oh, yeah—they’re running a sale on two of my novels, as well: Type and Cross and Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart is a paranormal romance (the supernatural element stemming from alchemy).

Type and Cross is a family drama, but at its heart, it’s a love story.

Both focus on the hero and heroine and whether they can reconcile their differences by the end.

And both are on sale. (Click on the link, and then select which book(s) you’d like to download. Amazon | iBooks | and we’re still waiting for Nook to price match.)

If you’ve already read one, some, or all of these, please help spread the word to your family and friends. And, if you haven’t already reviewed what you read, consider doing so. Reviews really help an author.

If you haven’t read these books, consider downloading one, some, or all of them before the price goes up. (And then, when you’re finished reading, please leave a review.) Thanks.

The Oghma Creative Media sale has something for everybody. There’s a western, a paranormal romance, a PTSD drama, a Poe-inspired mystery, a funny mainstream, a snarky romance, and for you adventurous readers, an erotic love story.

And, of course, there’s my supernatural romance and my family drama/love story.

Seriously, if you need a gift for Valentine’s Day, any of these would make a great one. And if you think of Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday, well, reading these will give you something to do on the 14th!

Thanks for checking these out. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and an early Happy Valentine’s Day!

Goodreads Book Giveaway: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair #mystery #suspense #Mothman

I’m happy to welcome Mae Clair back to my site today. We share a strange obsession of the mythological and cryptozoological, and not coincidentally, that’s what she’s here to discuss today. And she’s got a great offer for you. Take it away, Mae…


A Thousand YesteryearsA huge THANK YOU to Staci for allowing me blog space to share some exciting news. Kensington Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of my upcoming release, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. There will be two—count ‘em two—winners. The giveaway is open now through February 29th (how cool, a leap year). If you’re interested, you can enter here:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/172145-a-thousand-yesteryears

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is a tale of mystery and suspense centered around events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. You’ll discover a small river town plagued by tragic history and rumored sightings of the Mothman—a terrifying creature said to haunt an abandoned WWII munitions site.

The characters are everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances—secrets, betrayal, murder. I hope you find the blurb intriguing:

Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

~ooOOoo~

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS releases on April 26th, but the ebook version is already available from Amazon and all other major booksellers. If you’d like to pre-order you can find a complete list of links here.

In the meantime, I invite you sign up for the paperback giveaway at Goodreads and tell your friends! The Mothman Cometh! 🙂


So a great big thank you to Mae Clair for sharing this news and opportunity here. If’ you’d like to know more about her, here you go:

Mae ClairMae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a kid. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who factors into her latest release.

Mae pens tales of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and numbers cats, history and exploring old graveyards among her passions.

Look for Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter (@MaeClair1) | Google+

Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page

Goodreads | Pinterest

Sign up for Mae’s newsletter:

Newsletter Sign-Up

 

Introducing #PNR Love Set in Stone

love set in stone 18 green-page-001Because Valentine’s Day is in February, many people have romance on their minds. While I am a multi-genre author, I’m devoting my Monday posts this month to the work I’ve written in the romance genre.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Love Set in Stone, a paranormal romance releasing as part of a boxset in Spring 2016. This set includes many talented authors writing books about familiar supernatural creatures—ghosts, vampires, shifters, magicians. And some not so usual entities—like mummies and gargoyles.

Based on the cover art and the title, I’m guessing you figured out I wrote the gargoyle piece.

Love Set in Stone is inspired by the poem “God Bless the Gargoyles” by Dav Pilkey. It tells the story of Damien, a warrior who became a gargoyle to protect the innocent and, over the centuries, lost his purpose. Until he meets Rina, a down-on-her-luck woman he can’t help but try to protect. Will he be able to save her? Is their love strong enough to withstand the evils of this world?

Well, you’ll just have to read it and find out. But until it’s released, please enjoy this brief excerpt:

“Look,” she said, “I think maybe we just need to get something out of the way, then we can move on to other things.”

“What?” Her beauty blinded him. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t find the words or the willpower to walk away.

Then she walked toward him.

What was she doing? What did she want? What did they need to get out of the way? Details of his name? His occupation?

His thoughts reeled with panic, confusion, worst-case scenarios.

She stood toe-to-toe with him, looked up into his eyes. He saw the light dusting of freckles across her nose and cheekbones, heard her sharp intake of breath.

Was she as nervous as he? Why?

Then she kissed him.

And he couldn’t think at all.

So, there you have it. A brief glimpse at Love Set in Stone, coming this spring. I’d love to hear what you think. Does a gargoyle story intrigue you, or do you prefer the classic paranormal creatures? Do you read or write PNR? What are your favorite elements? Let’s talk about it.

Fiction Pet Peeves Part 2—Settings

winter landscapeIt’s wintertime. I think this is a popular season for reading, mostly because sitting under a blanket with a book and a cup of coffee sounds a lot better than going outside and shoveling snow. Summertime is great for being outside. Not winter. (To those of you who enjoy skiing, snowboarding, building snowmen, or making and throwing snowballs, I apologize. I just don’t get it. I hate being cold.)

But I digress.

I’ve been reading a lot, and thinking about some of the books I’ve read brings me to my next pet peeve. Settings in fiction. Please be patient with me on this one. I know setting a scene is necessary. But there is a right and a wrong way to do it.

1) I don’t like it when a description of the setting is the opening of a book.

Yes, there are some people who could describe the contents of my refrigerator and make it sound like a wonderland. (J.K. Rowling, I mean you. Herman Melville, I do NOT mean you.) But notice that the greats of our time start with something more exciting than the dirty gray brick of the bank the POV character is about to enter. I’m not a huge fan of in media res beginnings. I want to meet the character before the building explodes. That way I know how I should feel about the explosion. But given the choice between the soot-stained walls or the explosion that turns them to rubble, I’ll take the explosion. Every. Time.

2) Purple prose is pretty, but it’s out of place in contemporary fiction.

I know I’ve been guilty of writing like this in the past, so I almost hate to mention it. But descriptions that turn poetic just don’t fit in today’s genre work. We’ve all read probably every adjective possible to describe a sunrise or sunset. And shorelines. Forests. Mountains. Fields of wildflowers. Those descriptions had their day. Now, unless a writer can focus on an unusual detail or give me a reason why this area is unique—or at least important to the POV character—just saying where the character is probably is enough. Save the description for things we’re unfamiliar with. Or for things that are important to the characters.

3) Big blocks of writing to describe the setting can slow my reading pace.

Again, I know setting a scene is important. But it can be done with less intrusion. Do you want a description of the room written like a list? No. But if you have a character interact with things in the room, we’ll get the picture without the dictionary entry. I like it when setting is revealed by a character tripping over a red oriental rug, slamming her knee off the corner of an antique table, and knocking a Tiffany lamp onto the floor. That way, we see the action and we see the decor. And when that same character worries not that she might have chipped a bone in her leg (even as she limps to the camel-backed sofa to sit) but how she’ll pay for the damage she caused? Well, then we get character information, too. It’s a win-win.


So, there you have it. Things that bother me about poorly-handled settings in fiction. Yes, every scene should ground us in the space. But not to open a scene, not with dozens of useless details, and not as a boring list. I’ve read too many novels lately that fail one or more of these criteria, and that bothers me. New York should know better. We should expect better. (And yes, we, as writers, should strive to write these settings better.)

What about you? How do you feel about opening a book or scene with description? Purple prose? Lengthy lists of detail? Is there something I missed? Share this with other readers and writers, and let’s all talk about it.

Book Review—Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet

perf4.370x7.000.inddI recently took the time to read Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet. While I don’t typically write science fiction (I’ve written a short story or two, but not a novel—well, not yet, anyway), I do enjoy reading it. I’m often leery about an unknown author in this genre, because if the storyworld isn’t properly developed, if the details of the fiction aren’t well-thought out, then the story won’t seem real and it’s a disappointing read.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Gordon Bonnet or not, but if you haven’t, pay attention.

Last year, I read a book of his called Kill Switch, and from the first page I knew I’d want to read all of his work. So when Lock & Key came out, I immediately added it to my to-be-read list.

It didn’t disappoint. In fact, it thoroughly impressed me.

Lock & Key takes place in the present. Sort of. Well, that’s where it starts. Protagonist Darren Ault is an unassuming bookstore owner who, after an ordinary day, meets his best friend, Lee McCaskill (a brilliant scientist) for an ordinary dinner. Then the extraordinary happens.

Lee shoots Darren in the head.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Lock & Key Teaser 1Darren doesn’t die. Instead, he’s whisked to the Library of Timelines, where the Head Librarian and his administrative assistant are more than a little upset that things have transpired the way they have.

Not only did Darren survive the shooting, the rest of the world has vanished.

The Head Librarian researches the problem and discovers there were three places in the past where timelines diverged, possible places where Darren can make things right and reset the balance of humanity.

With seemingly no other choice, Darren begins a journey through time and history to right the wrongs of temporal disorder and bring humanity back into existence.

So, like I mentioned earlier, if the intricate details of the science fiction world aren’t thoroughly considered, the story can fall apart. But Bonnet did a wonderful job of thinking through all the possible problems and pitfalls (and we all know time travel presents a lot of them) and providing the reader with a story that not only logically flows, it thrills.

Each era and locale visited evokes images of what those times were really like. Readers smell the odoriferous scents, hear the sounds of nature, taste the bland local cuisine. We’re transported there right along with Darren. And when he’s back at the Library, we’re treated to witty banter and technological wonders. All this while seamlessly advancing a wonderful plot that keeps the reader rapidly turning pages.

I read the whole novel in one sitting.

Here’s an example of the confusing situation Darren finds himself in:

“Man, this stuff makes my head hurt.”

“You should complain,” Fischer said, a little bitterly. “You only have to keep track of yourself. I have to keep track of everybody who ever existed, and also all the ones who don’t. You want my job?”

“No. But still… I mean, that doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t?”

“If my grandma never existed, how can I be here?”

I thoroughly recommend Lock & Key by Gordon Bonnet. The characters are three-dimensional, the plot is well-developed, and the settings are rich and tangible. If you love sci-fi, you don’t want to miss this novel. And if you’re new to the genre, this is a great one to start with.

Writer Wednesday—Chatting with Gordon Bonnet

Every now and then, serendipity intervenes in my life. One of the days she was working overtime was the day I met Gordon Bonnet.

Gordon and I are both published by Oghma Creative Media. At the time I met him, I was the marketing director there, and I met him to discuss media kits, promotional materials, etc.

kill switchI didn’t often have time to read every word of every manuscript of every writer we represented, but in Gordon’s case, I made the time. His novel, Kill Switch, grabbed me by the throat. I couldn’t put it down. It was fabulous. Then I learned more about the guy. He not only wrote well, he wrote fast, and he offered Oghma several more manuscripts (which I’m so glad they snatched up). He has a fantastic skeptics blog, Skeptophilia. And not only was he hard-working, he was a joy to work with.

I’m pleased to introduce him to you today, where he talks about his latest release, Lock & Key. Please make him feel at home. Take it away, Gordon…


I was talking to my younger son about quantum physics, as one does, and the subject of the “Many Worlds interpretation” came up.

This is the idea that every time an event could have gone one of two different ways, it goes both—in different universes. Put another way, when there’s a decision to be made, every possible outcome occurs somewhere.

The physicists who take this idea seriously (and there are a few who do) believe that once these splits occur, the timelines become permanently walled off from each other, so that there is no way to slip into an alternate universe and find out how your life would have gone had you chosen differently. As C. S. Lewis put it in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, “‘To know what would have happened, child?’ Aslan said. ‘No, nobody is ever told that.'”

And that was when Nathan said, “Wouldn’t it be cool, though, even though we can’t see what would have happened, if there was a place that kept track of all of the possibilities?”

perf4.370x7.000.inddAnd that was the birth of the Library of Timelines, the setting for my recently-released novel Lock & Key.

In the opening pages, we meet Darren Ault, a mild-mannered Seattle bookstore owner, who is invited over to his friend Lee’s apartment for dinner. After the meal is over, though, Lee pulls out a pistol and shoots Darren in the head. Far from killing him, the gunshot makes the rest of humanity—Lee included—vanish. Somehow, Darren’s death has caused a temporal paradox, and the event has left only one person alive.

Darren himself.

Well, not just Darren. Also the staff of the Library of Timelines, including the Head Librarian, Archibald Fischer, and Fischer’s right-hand, his administrative assistant Maggie Carmichael.

After some inquiry, they decide to send Darren into the past to try to figure out what has happened and to attempt to repair the damage. This starts Darren on a journey careening through time and history, first to 11th century Scotland, followed by 14th century Norway and 19th century Kentucky, each time to a place and time the Master Computer of the Library has identified as a pivot point for the paradox. Along the way, he meets Vikings, a perennially-depressed Norwegian silversmith, an insane highwayman, a religious cult that believes the way to salvation is through pain, a beautiful red-haired Hebridean lass, a brilliant but unstable physicist, and an elderly peasant woman who couples smart advice with a talent for throwing dumplings at people she doesn’t like.

Darren is assured that on his travels, the Master Computer is looking out for him, and will make sure he is brought back to the Library if his life is in peril. It’s flawless, Fischer says. Darren will be fine, there’s nothing to worry about.

“And the computer always gets you out just in time?” Darren said.

Fischer nodded. “Always. Lightning-fast processor. Cutting-edge technology.”

“Well, there was Janowsky,” Maggie said.

“Oh, yeah,” Fischer said. “I’d forgotten about Janowsky.”

“Janowsky?” Darren said. “What happened to Janowsky?”

“Well…” Fischer acted a little reluctant to discuss the topic. “Janowsky was a Monitor who worked on our custodial staff. He was a bit of a thrill-seeker.”

“Morbid type, if you ask me.” Maggie’s round face radiated disapproval.

“He wanted to take a vacation back to the eighteenth century, and experience the French Revolution first-hand.” Fischer paused. “He got his wish, I guess.”

“He died? I thought you said your computer always kept track of where you were, and could pull you back to the Library!”

“Oh, he came back to the Library,” Maggie said. “Just in two separate chunks, as it were.”

“Took forever to get the stain out of the carpet,” Fischer said.

And with that reassurance, Darren is launched on the adventure of his life.

Lock & Key weaves together time travel with humor, history, and the question that all of us have considered from time to time—what would have happened had we chosen differently?

Just remember, next time you are faced with choices, the decision is yours to make. But everything is being monitored by Fischer and his computer. If you ever get a chance to visit the Library of Timelines, ask Fischer and Maggie if you can check on the Computer and see what would have happened had you made a different choice.

You never know. They might just let you.


Are you as intrigued as I am? How can you not be? I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s definitely on my list.

If you have any questions or comments for Gordon, please leave them below.

And to learn more about him, visit him via the following links:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

About Gordon:

Gordon BonnetGordon Bonnet is a writer, musician, teacher, and scuba diver, and currently lives in upstate New York. His love of fiction began when his story “Crazy Bird Bends His Beak” won critical acclaim in Mrs. Moore’s first grade class at Central Elementary School in St. Albans, West Virginia. His interest in the paranormal goes back almost that far. Introduced to speculative, fantasy, and science fiction by giants in the tradition, he was captivated by their abilities to take the reader to a fictional world and make it seem tangible, to breathe life and passion and personality into characters who were (sometimes) not even human. This fascination with the paranormal, however, has always been tempered by Gordon’s scientific training. This has led to a strange duality—his work as a skeptic and debunker on the popular blog Skeptophilia, while simultaneously writing paranormal and speculative novels, novellas, and short stories. Gordon explains this with a smile. “Well, I do know it’s fiction, after all.”

Fiction Pet Peeves Part 1—Cover Art

Do not judge a book by its cover.I know, I know.

Authors shouldn’t talk about writing and publishing. They should talk about the works they offer, their works-in-progress, and themes their stories cover.

Today, I’m trying something a bit different.

Out and About Front outlineI’ve been thinking a lot about covers lately. A lot. Out and About, Book 2 of my Cathedral Lake series, just released in December, and Mind Control, Book 2 of my Medici Protectorate series just shipped to my editor (set to release this spring). So, yeah, just with my own work I’ve been kind of cover-obsessed lately.

But then I saw a post in a forum about covers. And a post on a blog I follow. And emails from several people selling their services as cover designers or selling products that are supposed to make cover-design easier.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it. In today’s world, where tens of thousands of books hit the market each day and attention spans are at their all-time shortest, if you can’t snag someone’s attention with a kick-butt image, you’ve already lost the sale.

That said, I do have a couple pet peeves when it comes to covers.

1) As you’ve probably already surmised, I don’t think covers should be the first hurdle writers have to jump toward attracting readers. 

I’ve seen gorgeous covers on sub-par content. I’ve seen less-than-lovely covers on fabulous stories. I’d like to make the argument that some covers are ugly because many indie writers don’t have the money to hire good designers, but the fact is, I’ve seen terrible covers on NY-published books.The problem is, while there are “rules” for what makes a design good, in the end, covers aren’t judged by scientific algorithms. They’re judged by emotional people.

You can do everything by the book (sorry for that pun) and still have a crappy cover. You can break all the rules and knock it out of the park. But what it really comes down to is opinion. Yours and mine undoubtedly vary; what you love, I might hate. And vice versa.

So, I’m making a plea. Readers, please don’t judge a book by its cover. Read the back blurb and a sample before you make your decision.

2) Cover models that misrepresent the characters. 

I have a great publisher. Oghma Creative Media has a policy that the writers are allowed input on the cover design. Not total autonomy and final decision-making, but still, much more say than most publishers give writers.

That said, I have two very different cover styles. My mainstream novels (published by the Foyle Press imprint) focus on one vital image. My romance novels (published under the Lagan Press imprint) have people on the cover.

bleeding heart 600Apparently, the norm in the romance genre is at least one person, maybe the couple. Another trend is to show just parts of a body, often scantily clad. I was overruled on my romance covers. There are people on them. I’ve heard a lot of compliments on the cover of Bleeding Heart (which just goes to show that cover art is subjective), but I’d prefer an object or location instead. (Note: That’s not to say I don’t like this cover. I do. I just would like it better without the models who, in my opinion, do not look like my characters.)

So, maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t like that. I don’t want a cover to show me a model that I then need to picture as I read the book. I want the author’s words to paint me an image of the characters so I can “see” them the way that best appeals to me.

I especially hate it when the work is later made into a movie or television show. Then I have my impression of the characters, the cover art depicting them differently, and then the actors who play them on film. It annoys me.


So, there you have it. The things that bug me about covers. There are many more things when we get into the nitty-gritty details, but I don’t think anyone wants to delve into the minutiae of design right now.

I am, however, interested in your take on covers. Let’s hear from readers, writers, designers, publishers… What do you think? Who should have final say on the design? Should cover art even matter, or is content king? People or no people? Or just parts of people?

Share this with your friends and colleagues, invite them to weigh in. And please leave your thoughts below. I’m curious to see what others think.

Why New Years Are Special

happy-new-year-1097521_640Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day seems to be one of those holidays that people overlook. Sure, it’s a day off work for many of us, but other than that, it’s pretty much bowl games and hangover cures.

Not for me.

There is no other holiday better suited for wishing a happy one to not just family and friends, but to everyone we meet.

The best part about a new year is that it applies to everyone. It’s not a religious holiday. It’s not even a national holiday. This is the only holiday that every single person in the world marks. It’s the best time of year to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. And couldn’t we all benefit from more things that bring us together rather than divide us?

Pepperoni and onions in sauce. Photo via B. Smith.

For my family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are marked with tradition. We attend a vigil mass for the Solemnity of Mary on New Year’s Eve, followed by pepperoni sandwiches (thick cut pepperoni and sliced onions slowly simmered in tomato sauce until the onions are tender and the onions and meat have flavored the sauce) for dinner. When my kids were young, the pepperoni was a bit spicy for them, so we added hotdogs to the tradition. At midnight, after a toast with Asti Spumante (and several phone calls to family) we eat bagna cauda (tuna and anchovies simmered in olive oil and butter… with copious amounts of garlic) with bread and veggies. After a late night, we get up and tear down all the Christmas decorations. (Yes, I know it’s still the Christmas season in the church, but that’s what we do.) Then we watch football until the traditional dinner of pork roast in sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green beans, and applesauce. Again we toast in the new year, and then we wind down with Christmas cookies, tiramisu, and coffee. Any cookies left will become a cookie torte the next day.

Tradition is so important to us.

beach

Not tradition, but not a bad way to spend a holiday, either.

And this year we barely managed half of what we usually do. We were just coming back from a week at the beach (also not part of our usual tradition, but it was my in-laws’ 50th anniversary, so we took the party south), and the drive took a lot out of us. Bagna cauda and undecorating didn’t happen until the 2nd. Tiramisu and torte didn’t happen at all. And I fell asleep during football, so I guess that was a wash, too.

But that’s okay.

The most important part of tradition isn’t what the activity is, but who you do the activity with.

We weren’t with extended family this year. Haven’t been for several years, actually, as we just live too far away now and school and work resume right after the holiday. But we were with each other. And while our activities shifted or just didn’t happen at all, we were together. And that’s what matters most.

So if you know me, you know family time is important to me. And if you know my writing, you know family and tradition are important to my characters. Out and About just released in December, with more family drama for the Kellers. Book three of the series is already in process. Mind Control will be coming out a few months from now, with more Italian tradition from the Notaros and the Brotherhood. I’m so excited about both of these series, and I hope you are, too. I’m pretty sure the Kellers enjoyed a cocktail party with a few close friends and the Notaros and the Brotherhood definitely had pepperoni sandwiches and bagna cauda. Now they are all ready to see what 2016 will bring.

I’m ready, too. I’m looking forward to all the possibilities 2016 offers. So, I’m happy to wish you all—heck, I’m wishing the entire world—a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous new year.

Do you have any expectations for 2016? Let’s talk about it below.

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