Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DRUMROLL...Winners in the KidLit Blog week event are...

First off, I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment. Thank you for your input which helps us understand what parents/grandparents/readers would like to see more in our MuseItYoung/MuseItYA books.

And the first winner of  PACKAGE #1 is...

CHRISTINA MORLEY

And our second winner of PACKAGE #2 is...

E.S. IVY

Congratulations.

To receive your free downloads please send me an email to:

publisher AT museituppublishing DOT com

and make sure to post PACKAGE #1 or #2  on your subject heading, with a small note that you were our  winner during the KidLit event.

Once again, thanks go out to all and especially the organizers of this amazing event.

Lea Schizas
Publisher

Dear Reader, I Fell in Love with a Sleeping Prince

by Mary Waibel

When I began writing Quest of the Hart, I knew the prince was going to be asleep for most of the story. As a reverse Sleeping Beauty tale, there was no way I could avoid this. This posed two problems for me.
  1. I couldn't use his POV (Point of View) as he was asleep, and, more importantly,
  2. How was I going to show that the princess was falling in love with him?
The first issue was easily overcome. I'd tell part of the story from the POV of the villainess. This was a lot of fun, as I was able to delve into the inner thoughts of why Princess Arabella wanted her brother dead.

The second was more difficult, especially when I realized Prince Devlin and Princess Kaylee really didn't know each other well. In fact, they'd only met days before Devlin fell under the sleep spell. 

Kaylee never thought of herself as strong or adventurous, but she would never give up on Devlin. She knew if the tables were reversed, he'd do all he could to save her, not only because of love, but because it was the right thing to do. So how could she do any less? Besides, she'd felt a connection to him the moment she first laid eyes on him.

In the end, a few moments between Kaylee and Devlin before the spell, a dream (or nightmare, if you will) and discussions with Sabrina, work to give you a glimpse into Kaylee's growing love for the sleeping prince.




Excerpt:

Kaylee walked through the flower-filled garden, her face tipped up to the sunlight spilling down on her. Bees buzzed happily as they moved from flower to flower, the fragrant scent of the nectar they searched for filling the air. She closed her eyes, spread out her arms, and spun around in a circle, her laughter echoing off the stone walls.
“Open the gate, Kaylee. Let me in.”
She turned toward the voice and opened her eyes. Devlin stood beyond the gate, beckoning her over.
Kaylee skipped across the stone walkway, feet barely touching the ground. At the gate, she lifted the latch, but it was stuck. She tugged and tugged, but it wouldn’t open.
“Devlin! Why can’t I open the door?” Tears trickled down her cheek and splashed on the ground.
“Love holds the key.” He cupped her cheek in his hand and brushed her tears away with his thumb.
“The key to what? The gate?”
She knelt down and studied the lock. It was a simple padlock, shaped like a heart. The odd thing was, no matter what way she twisted it, she could find no keyhole.
“Love holds the key,” she whispered. “But how do I find it, and where does it go?”
Devlin smiled at her and suddenly Kaylee knew what she had to do. She leaned forward and brushed her lips over the heart-shaped lock. An image of Devlin shimmered on its surface then vanished as the lock clicked open and the gate swung wide.
Kaylee rushed forward, eager to be in Devlin’s embrace. But when he reached for her, his arms passed through her and faded into mist.
“Help me, Kaylee.” His voice echoed eerily around her. “Finish the quest. Only your kiss will wake me.”
“Devlin, I tried the kiss. It didn’t work.” She reached for his fading body, hands grasping nothing but air.
“You must finish the quest first. I love you!” His voice was barely a whisper. “Save me.”
“Devlin!” Kaylee lunged forward and the mist evaporated. “No! Wait!”
The sky dimmed and all sound in the garden ceased as a roiling black cloud rolled across the sky. Puffs of white swirled with every breath as the air turned icy and a bitter wind blew.
Kaylee turned. The gate was gone, and there was just a yawning black void where the garden had been.

Bio:
Mary lives with her husband, son and two cats. When she isn't twisting fairytales, she enjoys reading, playing games, watching hockey, and camping. Her debut novel, Quest of the Hart, released from MuseItUp Publishing April 19, 2013. Charmed Memories, a companion novel, will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in August 2013 

You can find Mary at:

http://marywaibel.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/authormarywaibel
@mewtweety14 (twitter)

Quest of the Hart is available at:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Reading Saved Me: A Travel Map to Acceptance


“Tomorrow, we’re wearing just our slips to school. If you want to be in our secret club, you have to come to school wearing only your slip, no dress,” my new fifth-grade classmate said, her eyes shifting back to the other girls standing behind her.
I mean, really! Who would believe this, even for a moment? But, I was naïve, gullible, and in a totally foreign environment. Luckily, after some disastrous interactions earlier in the week, my first-ever full-time week in an American elementary school, I was already on alert. Some basic instinct kicked in, and it slowly dawned on me that they might be bullying me, so, even though I longed desperately to be in their secret club, I did wear a dress over my slip the next day. Just imagine!
Update: I had been dropped down unceremoniously by my sweet, but equally-clueless, parents into a brand-new culture, nominally my “passport country,” with very little armor, but at least a dress to wear over my slip. This being decades ago (yes, I am that old — and yes, it still does seem like yesterday!), none of the kids in my school spoke more than one language, nor had any of them lived anywhere but in the U.S. for their entire lives. Because I pretty much looked like everyone else, (except for the very wrong European clothes, shoes, and haircut), I was expected to act like everyone else, which was so not happening. I had never dialed a phone, had never owned a TV, had no idea what a 45 rpm record was, was used to being driven around in a car with little American flags flying on the hood, and politely greeted every single person I saw, kid or adult, with a “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon.” Instant social death ensued! Being the quintessential “Third Culture Kid” (you can google this), I was totally different from everyone I knew – and did they ever know it. Not only was I in shock, but, honestly, they probably were, too.
Reading saved me. At first, it was my familiar European history books (you can whisper, “Nerd!” here). All my life, I’d seen castles and palazzos on a daily basis, so it was reassuring to read about the people who had lived in them, had fought their battles, and had come out unscathed on the other side. H.E. Marshall’s OUR ISLAND STORY still delights me today with the vivid stories from the history of the British Empire.
EL CID CAMPEADOR by Ramon Menendez Pidal was another favorite, and the story of the young cid and his adventures inspired me to tackle great obstacles. MARY POPPINS and MARY POPPINS IN THE PARK by P.L. Travers, recommended by our UK counterpart diplomatic families, soothed me with familiar settings of nannies and kids involved in their own worlds and entertained me with fantastical, whimsical humor and “Spit-spot, off to bed you go.”

MISTRESS MASHAM’S REPOSE by T.H. White transported me to the dilapidated palace of Malplaquet in England, with intrepid ten-year-old Maria trying to save her Lilliputians, a book I reviewed on June 14th’s Nerdy Book Club.
THE MYSTERY OF MONT SAINT-MICHEL by Michel Rouze enthralled me with its danger, mystery, and the resourcefulness of the young main characters, trapped by the tides in the ancient, magnificent abbey off the French coast.
Little by little, my reading life travel map was leading me through history and into the present day, although I admit it was still too heavily-vested in my European background.
As I began to settle tentatively into my new American existence, my reading journey expanded into books by American authors. My grandmother introduced me to the LITTLE COLONEL series by Annie Fellows Johnston, and the very Southern, and thus alien (!), setting enlarged my horizons once again, and I rejoiced with the Little Colonel at each step forward on her “Road of the Loving Heart.”

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott was another eye-opener for this newbie to American culture, and Jo endeared herself to me with her spirit, as I soaked up the American cultural references to daily living in the past. HITTY, HER FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, by Rachel Field, gave me a deeper historical understanding of my “new” country, and I read it over and over again.

Helen Wells’s CHERRY AMES, NURSE series engaged me with the main character’s all-American resilience, the girl who let nothing stand in her way.
Finally, Carolyn Keene’s NANCY DREW series and Nancy’s take-charge, no-nonsense attitude thrilled me, and I thought there could be no better goal than to solve mysteries no one else could. (If any of my editors are reading this, I hope they feel free to smile, since, as they well know, how to make revisions in my manuscripts has always been a big mystery for me to solve!)
Keeping my nose in a book helped bridge the chasm between my old life and my new existence, and reading about young, strong main characters enabled me to put those bullies in perspective. I am deeply grateful to those authors who spoke so clearly to my heart from the printed page, assuring me that, yes, I could make it in this new world.
The reading life and its travel map for my journey saved me, and as you might guess, reading continues to be a major part of my life to this day, as it most likely is for you who are reading these Nerdy Book Club posts. Just in case you’re wondering, although my family and friends assure me I am still naïve and gullible, I have yet to wear only a slip anywhere!
With her latest middle grade/tween novel TIME OF HONOR (MuseItUp Publishing) featuring a prep school debater catapulted into the middle ages to prevent a murder, Margo Sorenson continues to draw on her life’s experiences to write her twenty-eight books for young readers. A Minnesota Book Award Finalist in YA Fiction and Milken National Educator Award recipient, Margo can be found at www.margosorenson.com and on Twitter as @ipapaverison.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Youngest Angel




First and foremost, I would like to take a minute to thank all those folks who have given the ultimate sacrifice to allow me the freedoms I take for granted.  Happy Memorial Day!  You are not forgotten…..
 


Hey everybody.  My name is Penny Estelle and I am a grandmother of seven wonderful kids from thirteen to two.  All of them are different as night and day with their own little quirks and endearing qualities.  Let me just throw in here that with three brats of my own, two stepsons, and the seven grand kiddies, this is one of the reasons I write for the middle grades/tweens.  All one has to do is look and listen and you find material in every corner!

I would like to talk just about my youngest angel, Caitlyn.  She just turned two and she was born with Downs Syndrome.  My son and daughter-in-law knew before she came into this world of her condition and decided it didn’t make one bit of difference.    Sweet Caity had to have heart surgery at six months.  She was in the hospital for twenty-one days, and what a sucky twenty-one days those were.  Her mother, who is the picture of a cool head, never left her side and my son, who has never been know for his calm ways, was freaking out every day!  I thank God every day she came through the surgery great!

In my mind, she is about a year behind a normal 2 year old.  She is crawling and jabbers a lot, but besides mama and dada, words haven’t started.  The doctor wanted her legs to get stronger, so for her birthday I was trying to figure out some sort of contraption that would help strengthen her legs.  My hubby saw some specialized PVC pipe fittings for the making of a chicken coop, of all things, but he built her, what her mom refers to as her ballet bar, and she is standing and getting stronger everyday.  Thank goodness they put a mirror in front of it cause she either thinks she is one hot mama or she likes her new friend.  The jabbering doesn’t stop!



Caity's ballet bar
                                                                          
                                                                          * * * *

I will be forever grateful for MuseItUp for taking a chance on my series, the Wickware Sagas.  Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare is Book 1, and  Ride of a Lifetime, Book 2, will be out June 7.  

       
 A little insight on The Wickware Sagas

Miss Wickware is a 7/8 grade history teacher at Langdon Middle School.  Story on the street is real bazaar things happen in this classroom and fingers point to Miss Wickware, herself, as the prime suspect.  Is it witchcraft?  Is it magic?  Is she from another planet?

Most of her students think of her a nice old lady, passionate about history.  They say it’s just a bunch of bunk!  But there are some students who get nervous when the subject comes up.  They look everywhere but straight ahead.  They simply aren’t talking!





Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare

It’s Friday Afternoon.  Billy Cooper’s frustration grows minute, by agonizing, snail moving minute, as his last class of the day drags on. 

The last twenty minutes of class, old lady Wickware, his seventh grade history teacher, throws a wrench in his weekend plans.  Everybody in his class has to draw a name out of box and do an oral book report on the person or event drawn.

Billy has a full weekend planned that includes baseball practice and the new Matt Damon movie, but he isn’t too concerned.  Billy figures he will take ten minutes and get the scoop on this William Tell character, whoever that is, and that, as they say, will be that!  But when Billy finds himself outside of William Tell’s house, his attitude takes a whole different turn.






Ride of a Lifetime

Jim Abernathy is the new kid at Langdon Middle School - and a bully.  With the death of his mother and his father having to work two jobs, Jim has been on his own for the last year.  A new job in Phoenix is just what Jim and his dad need for a new start. 

His bullying is tested when he enters Miss Wickware’s history class.  The class must draw historical subjects out of a box and present oral reports on whom or what they have drawn. Jim draws Sybil Ludington.  “Great, another seamstress!”

Jim’s ideas about women in history take a whole new turn when he walks out of class and into the Eighteenth Century and the life of Sybil Ludington.


If you pre-order Ride of a Lifetime, you get a savings of 50 cents, PLUS a free copy of Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare.  TWO EBOOKS FOR $2.00!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Reader, today my French romance is published!

by Helena Fairfax

Today is a most exciting day for me.  It’s the day my first novel, The Silk Romance, is published, here at MuseItUp.  Everything about my journey to this day has been as thrilling as a ride on a roller coaster.



Where to begin with my story?  First of all, I’m a British author, and a long time ago I studied French at a university in England.  To improve my French, I spent a couple of wonderful months working as an au pair in the beautiful French city of Lyon.  I remember the time I spent there as amongst the happiest and most romantic of my life.   
Romantic Lyon

How different this hot and vibrant city was from the bleak northern English town I lived in.  In the bright southern sunshine, everything seemed to me intensely colourful: the two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, gliding through the city; the market stalls with their ripe fruits; the cypress trees; the street cafés and the night-life.  It was a unique experience which stayed with me long after I returned home.
The river Saône, and Lyon's old town

When I came to write my first romance novel, I knew Lyon had to be the setting.  And it was easy to picture my French hero.  As an au pair, I lived in with my family, in a centuries old stone building overlooking the river and the city’s old town.  In the apartment above mine, on the top floor, lived the most handsome young man I’d ever seen in my life.  Tall, tanned, with the most piercing blue eyes, a devastating smile and a confident way of talking to me whenever we bumped into each other on the shadowy stone stairs. Sadly, my handsome crush was engaged to be married, and so my teenage longing remained from afar!  But now I have brought my romantic Frenchman to life, and he has his own role in the form of Jean-Luc, the charming hero of my novel.

A woollen mill in Yorkshire
 As for the glamorous silk industry, which also plays a large part in my story, many years after I left university I took a job in a woollen mill in West Yorkshire, England.  The weaving industry once played a major role in both Yorkshire and Lyon, but is now sadly a dying trade.  I thought it would be wonderful to revive Lyon’s once thriving silk industry, and so I made my hero the owner of a silk mill, producing wonderful textiles for opera houses, theatres and fashionable people around the world.

So there we have the setting and the hero.  And my heroine?  Sophie is exactly the type of female character I like to write, and to read about.  A young woman who is self-reliant, who has seen her share of tragedy in this life, who is compassionate, but not afraid of letting the hero know exactly what she thinks.

Here is the blurb to The Silk Romance:

Jean-Luc Olivier is a devastatingly handsome racing-driver with the world before him.  Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London.  The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future.  She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London.   One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.

Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc.  He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie.  He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.

Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow.  But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness.  Jean-Luc has secrets of his own.  Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choicestay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this picture I’ve painted.  The Silk Romance is available now, today - yay!, in the Muse Bookstore and from Amazon, Kobo, Nook and other major e-tailers.

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books I love to read, please drop in at my blog, www.helenafairfax.com, or visit my Facebook page.  You can also follow me on Twitter, @helenafairfax.  I always love to meet new people! :) 

Thanks for calling in on the Muse blog and sharing my exciting day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Reader by Marsha R. West


DEAR READER,

Everyone asks an author, "How did you get started?" My story goes like this. I read romances and historicals from eighth grade on when I sat up until three in the morning to finish GONE WITH THE WIND. I cried buckets, and I was so mad at the way it ended. I continued reading through college, marriage, and the birth of two daughters. 

As they got older, I got busier. I went back to teaching. Didn’t read for fun for years. Then when my mother was ill, I picked up a Linda Howard book for escape. For the next several years, I inhaled romances. 

One day, I uttered those fateful words: “I think I can write a romantic suspense, but I don’t know what to write about.” My husband’s friend said, “You’ve been off the board a year, write about the embezzlement scandal in the school district.” Thus began my writing career, which spans almost seven years and six books. The ride has been an emotional rollercoaster as I’ve learned the craft and made fantastic friends.

Don’t let anyone tell you this is an easy business. A couple of negative contest judges cut out my heart and my will to write. The most important thing I’ve learned through all the ups and downs is to never, never, never give up. My theme for newsletter articles the year I was president of my local RWA chapter was “Keep On, Keeping On.” In retrospect, those early contest judges were correct. Even though receiving their feedback shredded my self-esteem, I’m grateful for their suggestions. I needed to take classes and improve my craft. I did that, and now I’ve sold a book! :)

The blurb for VERMONT ESCAPE, my fourth completed book, is: Jill Barlow flees Texas after her husband & father are murdered. The gambling syndicate will kill again for the damning evidence she possesses.One of the unique aspects about the characters in all my stories is their age. The heroes and heroines range in age from 40 to 55. (So far. :) ) Jill celebrates her 50th birthday in Woodstock. Younger characters are often the adult children of the hero and heroine. The parents of the H and H frequently play some part in the story, giving the story line an intergenerational flair.

The characters have suffered losses and aren’t looking for a second chance at love. That’s what they find after suffering through various dangers and setbacks and digging deep within for the strength to carry on. Just what we all have to do in real life. (Except, hopefully, no one is trying to kill us!)
It takes me just over a year to complete a book. I plan for a couple of months before I ever type one word of the story. 

After writing, about six months, I rewrite and edit for several months. I’m a plotter and use charts I’ve discovered in various on-line classes. Charts describe the characters, their goals, motivation, and external and internal conflicts.

Sometimes I find pictures in magazines to represent my characters. With all of that in place, I start writing with a fair idea of what is supposed to happen. Sometimes the characters take over and surprise me. :) A supporting character in VERMONT ESCAPE took such a hold of the story that I had to promise him his own book before he’d let me get back to what I’d planned. He’s the hero in my sixth book.

I’ve been fortunate to travel since retiring as an elementary school principal, and some of those locations find their way into my books. While writing is a solitary activity, no book comes out without lots of input from others: experts we question about certain facts, critique partners, beta readers, editors, and cover artists. This whole process is mind boggling. It helps to have a supportive family, which I’m fortunate to have.

Has anyone ever told you they thought they might write a book? Has it ever crossed your mind that you could write a book? What would it be about? With the idea, training, hard work, sticking it out through the hard times, and luck, you, too could be a published author. For those of you who've written and maybe even published, what's the hardest part for you?

Hope you like this excerpt from VERMONT ESCAPE.

Jill Barlow reached for her make-up kit and brushed against the one thing she’d been doing her damnedest to avoid. Her heart rate tripped into overtime.

The package she received days after her dad was murdered. One month ago, but she couldn’t face opening a reminder of the nightmare.

Pictures of her vigorous father mixed with recent images of his closed casket. Nausea hit. Again. Damn. Why would someone blow off her father’s head? She didn’t stay to find out. She ran.

She’d pushed herself on a four-day trip from Texas to Vermont. Emotionally and physically exhausted, all she wanted to do was unpack her pajamas and climb into bed. Habit required she clean and moisturize her face. Habit provided comfort when life was chaotic. Habit could get her through the worst. Or not.

Her hand trembled when she removed the package and dropped it onto the bed in her Woodstock Inn suite. It lay on the white coverlet like a scorpion.

She leaned over and with elbows propped on her knees drew in needed oxygen. A minute passed, and then she straightened.

“Okay, open this. Every time you’ve come across the thing, you implode, morphing into a quivering mass of mush.”

Please check out my web site and my blog Thoughts on Thursday at http://www.marsharwest.com/category/blogYou can follow me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/marsha.r.west Or Twitter www.twitter.com/Marsharwest. I’d love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dear Reader - why did that Place choose me?


Dear Reader, why did that place choose me?

Place is a big factor in my imagining of a story. Lots of other factors have to come together before I have a viable project. Theme and two characters who have need of each other are the main ones.

So what was the place that sparked Mariah’s Marriage, my historical romance published by MuseItUp this month? It was a school-room at the back of a big house in Scotland. The house is called Fasque and I visited it just when the family living there were beginning to welcome paying visitors to look round. It is a lovely house in beautiful countryside and so much about it lends itself to romance. An image that is still very clear in my mind’s eye is the schoolroom where children of estate workers were taught beside the children of the Big House. Over a decade later, Mariah Fox is ready to challenge Tobias about universal education.

Yes, the maturing of a project can take that long – or longer.



In the book, we don’t spend a lot of time inside Tobias’s grand house in Grosvenor Square and we never visit his country house, but the ghost of that school room invests the story for me. It brings aspiration and hopes; chalk dust and sweat and the love and labour of the thousands of pupil teachers who strove to raise awareness and competence among the urchins of the poor.

With humour and a dastardly villain in London, 1822 – enjoy.

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=585&category_id=69&manufacturer_id=278&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mariahs-Marriage-ebook/dp/B00CMAEKPM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368539581&sr=1-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/mariah-s-marriage?keyword=mariah%27s+marriage&store=ebook
You can contact me through my web address: mypostoffice@annestenhouse.co.uk
You can read all about my novel goings on at Novels Now http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Writing Challenge by J.Q. Rose


Dear Readers,

I know many of you love reading books from a series. I do too. I read and enjoyed Jan Karon’s Mitford series, many of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, and the first four of the hysterical Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Take some time and check out series from MuseItUp Publishing authors. You will discover entertaining stories in every genre.

I must confess writing a series would be a challenge for me because after I tell the story about my main character, I’m ready to move on to another group of characters and different situations. My first novella published by MuseItUp Publishing, Sunshine Boulevard, was an easy one to write because I actually was living the story as a snowbird in Florida. Well, yes, I did exaggerate a bit to make it a fun story to read.

Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community 
interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies.
There are more stories about Jim and Gloria Hart and the folks who live in the Citrus Ridge 55 plus Community, but instead of writing a series about them, I had a very different story far removed from the Senior scene in Sunshine Boulevard swirling in my brain, but it was a genre that would challenge my storytelling skills--romance. 

Believe me writing a romance scared me to death. Oh no, not a hot and spicy story. Even a sweet romance scared me. It took a lot of help from my critique partners to give me the courage to write all that mushy stuff. To make it a little easier for me, I decided to combine the romance with mystery, a more familiar genre.

I’m so glad I accepted the challenge because it was fun developing the romantic relationship between the characters in the mystery/romance about a female pastor.  MuseItUp Publishing released Pastor Christine’s story, Coda to Murder, last February.

Mystery/romance from MuseItUp Publishing
The next test of my story writing skills is to pen a paranormal story with a ghost. I have the plot simmering in my mind and plan to write the story this summer.

Perhaps my challenge in the future will be to develop a series. I could re-visit Jim and Gloria Hart and see what stories they want me to tell. It would be like chatting with old friends who get together to catch up over a cup of coffee at their kitchen table.  Gloria does make the best chocolate chip cookies ever! 

Do you prefer to read a series or stand-alone book? What series have hooked you into reading the next and the next and the next?

# # # #

Back of the cover from Coda to Murder

Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Detective Cole Stephens doesn't want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?


Connect with J.Q. Rose online at










Friday, May 17, 2013

Cake Decorating (Is Not For Me)


I like to decorate cakes. Too bad I suck at it.

Back in the day (read: pre-children), I had a lot of free time on my hands. I took an interest in cooking, watching cooking shows, and searching the internet for new recipes. I also took an interest in baking—so much so that I decided to take up cake decorating as a hobby.

For whatever reason, I wasn’t into decorating cakes with a pastry bag—you know, piping work. I was into baking a cake in the shape of something, or decorating a cake to make it look like a scene. Here are a few examples (Note: The bookmarks for the websites containing the directions to make these cakes went out the door with the computer I had ten years ago. I apologize I can’t give credit to the creative souls who came up with these ideas—but I will say it wasn’t me):

A graduation cake for my sister in the shape of a rolled up diploma
















A cake in the shape of a hot dog and fries












A cake in the shape of a castle












I taught elementary school before having children, and one summer, I attended technology camps during the day with other teachers. That same summer, I found a cake online called a Campout Cake, and I thought, how fitting! So I made this cake












For my fellow, grown-up, professional colleagues.


 













Yeah.

Do you see a common theme in all of my cakes? You’re right if you said none of them are very good.

You may wonder why I didn’t try decorating cakes with fondant, pastry bags, decorating tips, and buttercream frosting—you know, like most cake decorators do. Honestly, I don’t know. All I can figure is I was having too much fun with my way of “decorating”. In hindsight, though, I think it worked out just as well. I mean, if my Peppermint Forest cake looked like this












Why the hell would I go near a pastry bag?

I finally had the presence of mind to put this hobby aside and pursue another, more suitable interest: writing. I’ve always loved writing stories—and editing is pretty damn fun, too. In the last three years, I’ve spent my free time writing and researching the publishing industry. I’ve had five short stories and three magazine articles published—and last year, my dream came true when the manuscript for my first contemporary romance novel was accepted for publication.

While I’m on the subject of my debut novel, you want to guess what the heroine does for a living? Here’s a hint: she inherited Sullivan’s Cakery from her grandma.

That’s right! She’s a baker—but unlike me, she excels at cake decorating. 

To write the novel, Baking Love, I "filled-in-the-blanks" of what I knew with research. I studied online videos demonstrating cake decorating skills, read forum exchanges between bakers, and worked my way through dozens of websites about baking and cake decorating and assembling. The fruit of my labor releases today from MuseItUp Publishing. In fact, here’s the cover by Marion Sipe















Now that girl’s got artistic skills.

Baking Love is available from Muse It Up Publishing, Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com, and pretty much every other ebook vendor you can think of. It’s also available in paperback from Amazon.com.

Visit Lauren Boyd, Romance Novelist to find out how to connect with me via the usual suspects (Facebook, email, etc.) I’d love to hear from you—and I’d love to hear what you think of Baking Love!

(Incidentally, if you are good at decorating cakes, you amaze me. Seriously, I am in awe of you.)