Wednesday, February 29, 2012

News at Eleven

Last week, Claudia Del Balso tagged me for this latest 11-question meme thing going around.

Thanks for making me delve deep, Claudia :)

The Rules Are:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag eleven bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want. Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!
6. Have fun!

Claudia's Questions and My Answers:
1) What's your favorite classic (book)?
I'm answering this question last. Why? Because I'm one of those people who slogged through these books every time I had to read them. I started reading early with comic books, then kid books, and then my dad's paperbacks. By the time I learned about classics, I was hooked on genre and found the classics ho-hum and without the pace I favored because of the intricacies of style and language. I know. I'm horrible. And totally unredeemable. So picking a favorite from the bunch is difficult. Maybe Jane Eyre.

2) Whose writing style would you like to emulate?

3) Have you taken workshops to hone your writing?
Yes. I love attending workshops and seminars and conferences. I'm always inspired and totally energized when I get home, and can't wait to write. I don't do as well with online workshops, though.

4) Do you have a mentor?
Sadly, no. I wish I did.

5) Which is your favorite cuisine?
Mexican, in all its forms. No question.

6) Which is your favorite season?
Summer. Which surprises me because until a few years ago I would have said autumn or spring, or even winter. But now I prefer summer, and I have no idea why I changed. Maybe the light?

7) Which genre do you write/read?
I say I write Crime Fiction with a Kiss. All my fiction falls under the broad mystery umbrella, but little of it would be called a true mystery. It's much more suspense than mystery, but all of it involves a crime - except for two short fantasy stories. My work also falls under the broad romance umbrella - most of it includes a love story that may or may not involve a romance. If a story I write doesn't include a love story, it usually takes a dark turn into noir along the way. I read everything - including cereal boxes.

8) If you had the chance to run off with one of your favorite characters, who would it be?
I'm assuming this is someone else's character. Mine get testy if I play favorites. So I'll choose Stephanie Plum, created by Janet Evanovich. She and I could get into a lot of trouble ... and then Janet could get us out of it all safe and sound :)

9) Which song brings you to tears?

10) Have you used someone else's secret in one of your stories/books/poems?
Not that I know of. I hope not. Did I mention I write crime fiction - LOL.

11) Do you believe in soul mates?
Absolutely. I've found mine :)

And now I'm going to follow the lead of L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets. Luanne was tagged last week, and she placed the tag in quarantine. I'm doing the same. In honor of Leap Day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wanna Party?

My favorite reason for blogging is the opportunity to meet so many fun and interesting people. If you're reading this, count yourself in the above, even if I haven't met you yet.

One of my best bloggie buddies is Alex J. Cavanaugh. Somewhere around blogdom you may have heard the rumor that Alex has a new book coming out Tuesday, February 28 - CassaFire.

The big day is tomorrow, but since my normal post days don't include Tuesdays, I thought today is perfect for an appetizer.

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. 

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

To further whet your appetite for tomorrow's main course ... take a peek:

You may also have heard that Alex is going on a blog tour today through March 9 with chances for you to win books and prizes galore.

I have a secret. Come closer. Promise not to tell anyone?

Alex J. Cavanaugh will be my guest at the Tiki Hut NEXT MONDAY - March 5.

I'm so excited. Don't miss it - I peeked at his post already. It's great!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

The top ten ways to beat the blahs:

10. Read Dr. Seuss

  9. Aloud

  8. Visit Urban Dictionary

  7. And Pinterest

  6. And match words and pictures

  5. Write an online dating profile

  4. For the villain in your WIP

  3. Dance naked

  2. In front of a mirror

 And the #1 way to beat the blahs:

  1. Whatever you do, don't think about penguins

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Postcard from Texas

A couple of Saturdays ago, Live-In Handyman and I stopped for a burger.

Now a city the size of San Antonio has a lot of burger joints - almost as many places to get a burger as there are to get a taco. Almost.

But there aren't other burger spots like this one, just a mile or two past Rolling Oaks Mall going toward Garden Ridge:

The Bracken Store Cafe
Bracken, Texas
Outside, you're greeted by a friendly front porch that proudly proclaims the name of the place.


Inside, the Bracken Store Cafe is a tiny little place with booths around two walls, a few tables in the center, and a down-home funky decor. They have a sizable menu of lunch food, but I can only tell you about the burgers.

Best. Burgers. Ever.


And there's a Wurlitzer jukebox. While we were eating, I heard songs by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Jimmy Buffett.

And guess what?

Even the train stops for lunch.

If you're in the neighborhood, you can stop, too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gosh, Monday got here so quickly, I think it slipped into one of Stephen Tremp's wormholes. Or maybe I stepped into one.

I'd planned to spend more time reading this weekend than I did, but I did read more than I've read over the last few weekends. I'm reading one paper book and one book on my Kindle Fire. The Fire book is so much easier on my eyes, and I can read while I'm eating lunch. Or in the dark while Live-In Handyman is off in dreamland.

But I did accomplish a huge project - I organized my entire workspace. I'm pretty impressed with myself. I'm in the process of working on three separate manuscripts, in three separate stages.

  • In Name Only you've caught a glimpse of here and there. More news next week...I hope.
  • Solomon's Compass is edited and currently being read by my final reader for any typos or other glaring goofs. As soon as I get it back and read it aloud again, I will query. My list is made, query and synopsis are written. 
  • I'm getting ready to dive into drafting my WIP, Amazing Gracie. I'm hoping that actual real writing will begin next week. I love these characters, and I'm really excited about writing the story.

I don't want to make it easy to get papers from one manuscript mixed up with papers from another. I think I've Carol-proofed it. Time will tell.

It feels good to have a clear space to mess up once I start writing new words again.

How about you?

Do you clean house before beginning a new project?

Happy President's Day!

And Happy Monday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten song titles for the day after the breakup:

10. King of the Road - Roger Miller

  9. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival

  8. Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles

  7. Zombie - The Cranberries

  6. No More Mr. Nice Guy - Alice Cooper

  5. Desperado - The Eagles

  4. Get Off My Cloud - Rolling Stones

  3. Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell

  2. You're So Vain - Carly Simon

And the #1 song title for the day after the breakup:

  1. Mama Told Me Not to Come - Three Dog Night

And for inquiring minds - Live-In Handyman and I are still a team :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Bonds of Brotherhood

Okay, everybody, listen up.

That means you over there in the corner, too.

We have a guest. So play play nice. Buy her a drink. And have fun.

Today, I'm pleased to welcome Trish McCallan to Under the Tiki Hut. Trish is the author of FORGED IN FIRE, a novel about members of a U.S. Navy SEAL team.

Take it away, Trish!

- - -

I discovered a fantastic new television series earlier this week. Or, I should say, a new-to-me series. The show, which is called White Collar, has been on at least two seasons, but I don’t have cable and only recently stumbled across it on Netflix. The show is smart, with fantastic characters and dialogue. It also has a bit of a romantic subplot—or at least it does in the first season since one of the heroes of the series is hard at work trying to figure out why the love of his life has fled him and what it will take to get her back. Now I love a good romantic subplot, but what I love so much about White Collar isn’t the relationship between the men and their women— it’s the relationship between the men in the series. It’s the bonds of loyalty and trust, it’s the lengths they will go to help each other. It’s the phenomenal subtext in their dialog and their expressions and their actions. It’s the way they broadcast their feeling for each other through that dialog, and with their expressions and by their actions, but without ever actually talking about their feelings for one another.

White Collar nailed how men bond with each other, and how those bonds are expressed.

These bonds of brotherhood fascinate me. The way men show their feelings are so different than woman. They show their affection with a hard slug to the stomach, or a snarky verbal dig. They show it with rounds of one-upmanship and scoffing at each other’s sexual prowess.

My favorite shows and books focus just as much on the relationship and subtext between the men in the series, as they do on the love relationships between the heroes and their heroines. Maya Banks' KGI series, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed, and JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series—I count these among my favorites, which is no surprise because they all have one thing in common, the heroes are members of a elite warrior brotherhood. A brotherhood that will back each other to the death, that will go to the wall for each other, that will grieve with heartbreaking silent intensity when they lose one of their “one,” that show in every way imaginable the depth of their love for each other, but without ever actually saying the words.

When I started writing FORGED IN FIRE, my high-octane romantic thriller, I wanted to explore the bonds that exist between the men in a warrior brotherhood, just as much as I wanted to explore the love story. I wanted to create the same kind of closeness between my male characters as JR Ward created in her Black Dagger Brotherhood, or Maya Banks created with her KGI series. I wanted the reader to turn the last page of the book knowing how my heroes felt about each other, even though they never once mention the word “love,” at least in relation to one another. From the volume of email I get regarding the heroes of the series, I’m guessing I managed to accomplish this.

It’s also pretty obvious from the popularity of series like The Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Troubleshooters, that I’m not the only woman fascinated by how men interact with each other.

So tell me, are there any series or shows you’ve read or watched that highlight this phenomena? Any books or shows you’d recommend?

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Hearing Voices - Emotion Flash Fiction

Oops! Friday's Top Ten will return next week. Today I invite you to read on.

This is my third and final post in the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest hosted by Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' it! and Angie at Live to Write...Edit when Necessary. Thanks Cassie Mae and Angie for dreaming up this blogfest and taking care of all the details.

In today's post, I'm to pick an emotion and in a flash fiction piece of 250 words MAKE you feel it! Make you connect with my character. This will be a challenge in 250 words. I may have gone with more than one emotion. Just sayin'.

I've had fun sharing a little about Summer with you. I hope you're intrigued and will search wildly look for In Name Only when all I do is shout about it it becomes available later this year to read the rest of Summer's story.

Lake Tahoe was Libby's absolute favorite place on earth. She loved daydreaming on hikes through the forest while crushing needles under her feet and inhaling their fresh pine scent. Skiing down the slopes of Heavenly. The wild abandon of kayak racing with her friends, followed by parties on the beach. The corners of her mouth lifted.

She might live in San Francisco, but her dad's cabin, nestled part way up a mountain overlooking the lake, was the home of her heart. After the hellish week she had, she looked forward to a juicy steak and two days of sleep and laid-back relaxation.

But in the cabin's kitchen, on that day five years ago, Libby's world changed forever.

No more carefree parties. Only constant awareness of every sound, every movement, every face.

She became a chameleon holding invisible jobs. She carried on conversations, smiled and chuckled when required. And her dead soul felt nothing. She had no friends, no home, no family. All she wanted was to soar and sink with laughter and tears, but neither came. Only emptiness.

The wheels of the U.S. Marshals Service Gulfstream kissed the tarmac of the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station and brought her thoughts to the present. A long sigh escaped her lips. When she stepped through the door, she would have a new identity—Summer Newcombe, a woman with no reason to need a place to hide.

Once more she would be safe. Until he found her again.

Total Words: 245

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Hearing Voices - Dialogue Introduction

This is my second post in the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest hosted by Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' it! and Angie at Live to Write...Edit when Necessary.

Today two characters must introduce each other using only dialogue—no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two. Max 250 words.

I'm continuing with Summer Newcombe, the protagonist from In Name Only.

- - - - - - - - - -


"We're not open yet."

"Where are you?"

"Under the bar. Leak in a water line."

"Oh. I came about the server job."

"You don't sound like a waitress."

"I haven't worked as a server since college. But I'm good."

"You like people?"

"Most of them. I have a good memory. I like to keep busy. And I need the money."

"Hand me the vice grips."


"Thanks. You like Mexican food?"

"Who doesn't?"

"The Pink Tortilla makes the best. We stay full on the weekends and most nights during the week. But you'll earn good tips."

"Good smells are coming from the kitchen already. When can I start?"

"Uh-oh. Do you see a washer up there?"


"It's green. See if it's on the floor, or in one of the barstools."

"I don't--"

"Got it.  Okay, one more twist here. I think we're good. One second, and I'll be finished."

"Take your time. Do it right."

"We open in an hour. I have a lot to do yet. That got it. Oh . . . nice to see a real face attached to your voice. I'm the owner. Charlie Duran. Call me Charlie."

"Summer Newcombe."

"If you can hang around, we'll give you a trial run through lunch and dinner. The menu is simple. We're not fancy. If things work out, you can get your food handler permit online and start tomorrow. Is that soon enough?"

Total Words: 238

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm Hearing Voices - Characters on the Couch

All three posts this week will be related to the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest hosted by Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' it! and Angie at Live to Write...Edit when Necessary.

Today I'm to ask one of my characters five questions, most of them two-parters, and the character's answers have to come in under 250 words total.

My character of the week is Summer Newcombe, the protagonist from my novel In Name Only. If all goes well, this novel will be available for your reading pleasure later this year. There's plenty of time for me to share more details with you - and I will! - but this week you'll get to know a little about Summer. So here goes.

Summer, what is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by vulnerability. The word has several different meanings. I'm going to answer by saying I'm vulnerable simply by talking to you. The marshals do their best to protect me, but I live in fear of being recognized.

What do people believe about you that is false?
My whole life is false. My name isn't really Summer. I shouldn't have said that, please don't tell anyone.

What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
I no longer have any friends, unless you count Ryan. He's been around since that first night five years ago. Ryan would probably say my fatal flaw is believing I can take care of myself without the marshals' help. I have tended not to notify them as soon as they would like when I suspected someone might have learned who I really am.

So what would Ryan say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
Probably that I'm a damned good shot or I wouldn't still be here to talk with you.

OK, Summer, last question. What do you want most? What will you do to get it?
That's easy. To feel something besides emptiness. To have a home and family. For that to happen, first the marshals have to locate the people who want me dead and put them away, so I no longer need to be in the Federal Witness Security Program. I'll do anything it takes to get what I want. Short of killing. I don't want to ever be forced to kill again.

Total Words from Summer: 211

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things I learned from my dogs:

10. The pack leader stands tall and maintains control

  9. Live in the moment

  8. Play time is absolutely necessary

  7. So is family time

  6. Be honest and fair

  5. Praise others for jobs well done

  4. Don't bite the hand that feeds you

  3. Barking accomplishes nothing

  2. Never underestimate the accuracy of the Sniff Test

And the #1 thing I learned from my dogs:

  1. Wag your tail when you're happy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheerily, Cheer Up, Cheerio!

Last week I saw my first robin of the year. The colorful bird sat in my neighbor's tree and looked much like this one.

Image by Jamie Chavez/Licensed Under Creative Commons
I would have liked to watch it for a while, but it flew off a few seconds after I walked outside. Since that day I've heard robins singing, but I haven't seen any others.

They're not especially early. This is typically the time of year robins visit us. They don't linger long - just pass through, sing for their supper, and go on their way. But they arrive after most of our winter has passed and let us know spring won't be far behind.

Robins make me smile. They're so pretty, and they sing a happy song - Listen Here.

What about you?

Do you like robins?

When do they visit you?