Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Post You've Been Waiting For

I'm giggling.

It's time for ... vacation photos! Thud.

I'll keep it short. And there's a reason for that. I have a new camera.

As much as I like to think of myself as a decent to good photographer, in my heart I know it isn't so. Most of my photos came out looking worse that what the cat would take. Any cat.

Where did we go? We drove approximately 1800 miles from San Antonio, Texas to Cape May, New Jersey. With a few stops in between. And then we drove approximately 1800 miles back home. With more stops.

The most breathtaking site? The Shenandoah River. Photos? Nope. Too enthralled to pull out the camera. Instead, I have these.

Near Roanoke, Virginia

Cape May is known for quaint shops and gobs of stunning Victorian Houses. Our hotel was quirky and charming. Do I have photos? Not. A. One. I have these.

On the way home, we stopped in Baltimore.

Does anyone recognize any of these places?

Oh...if you wondering why we drove. For days. This old post written before I had any commenters explains it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Like most everyone else, I'm sometimes guilty of forgetting the reason for the long holiday weekend that marks the unofficial beginning of summer here in the U.S.

Please take at least few seconds to remember those who have given their lives for our wonderful country.

Image Credit
And tell them thank you.

Now go finish the beach volleyball game.

I'll see you Wednesday :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday's Top Ten

Today I have a real treat for you. Drum roll please ...

For the first time ever, the top ten list has been provided by a guest blogger. Please welcome Ciara Knight to Under the Tiki Hut.

She has a new book coming out - WEIGHTED - in August, and today she's doing her cover reveal around Blog World. The top ten revolves around her book.

Here's Ciara!

I’m so excited to announce my new young adult series, The Neumarian Chronicles. Weighted, a prequel novella, will be released in August 2012.

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

I thought it would be great fun to go visit Raeth Antares in the Mining Territory this summer break, so I called up my friendly Neumarian, with the ability to transmit messages across the United States with nothing more than his brain. I was shocked when I received her reply.

Ciara, I’d love to see you, but why on would you ever want to visit the Wasteland? My brother, Ryder says there aren’t ten good reasons to ever visit the Mining Territory.

Oh, that’s sound like a challenge. Okay, here are ten reasons I’d like to visit the Mining territory.

Ten reasons the desert would be a cool place to live.

10) Sunshine 360 days a year

  9) Cool water on a hot day

  8) Smell of coconut sunscreen

  7) Sand surfing

  6) Never have to shovel snow

  5) No black ice

  4) Riding horses

  3) Hanging in the Saloon listening to great music

  2) Small friendly town with no traffic

  1) Hot, tan guys.

Sorry to disappoint, but your reasons are not how things really are here.

10) We haven’t seen rain since the Great War. There is nothing but sand in every direction.

  9) Water at best is luke-warm and tastes like dirt.

  8) No sunscreen, only sunburn here.

  7) Okay, I’ll give you that one. It’s a blast, but if you take a nose dive you’ll get sand in unmentionable places.

  6) Yes, but we have to shovel other things.

  5) No, only desert beetles, tons of mosquitoes, sermechtapedes, and spiderats

  4) Refer to number six.

  3) Waiting tables and dealing with the queen’s drunken guards all day.

  2) Small, not so friendly town, full of gambling, drinking, and betrayal.

  1) Oh, yuck. Not another one after my brother. 

Um…maybe I’ll rethink visiting the Mining Territory. Anyone for St. Martin instead?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Blogger: Clarissa Draper

I'm thrilled to have Clarissa Draper guest blogging here today. Clarissa is one of my earliest blogging buddies and a good friend. She also writes the kind of book I love to read :)

Clarissa is doing a big giveaway on today's post. One lucky commenter will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. If you haven't yet purchased your copy of THE SHOLES KEY, please say so in your comment - she is giving away two copies of her book in your choice of print or ebook.

Contest runs today and tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday) and ends midnight central time Thursday, May 24, 2012.

= = = = = = = = = =

Writers: Keep the Readers Guessing

Whether you are a mystery writer--like me--or you write another genre, you must provide your readers with a mystery. Each book should have questions, a mystery for the reader to decipher.
Who is the killer?
Will Romeo & Juliet be together in the end?
Will Luke learn the Force? Will he defeat Darth Vadar?
What is Rosebud?
As soon as one question is answered, another should be there to take it's place until the end, when the last question--the main question--is answered. However, the challenge that all writers face is finding a balance with the mystery they present.

(1) Too many questions

It's wonderful to ask your readers to solve a difficult mystery. However, give them enough clues to solve it. If you don't and then add more questions (mysteries) or give them an out-of-the-blue solution, your reader will find it impossible to keep up with the story, lose interest, become frustrated and give up.

(2) Too many answers

You can't make it too easy either--predictable means boring. They will feel cheated because they haven't been challenged.

(3) The right amount

Keep the reader guessing. Give them a good mystery but just when they think they've solved it, something comes up to make them question their answer.

What story have you read lately that kept you guessing? Kept you reading to find out what would happen in the end?

 My Biography:
Clarissa Draper, a Canadian currently living in Mexico, spends most of her time composing, planning, and writing code-based mysteries. Although she has written from an early age, she started writing full time in 2006, and is currently writing her third mystery in the Evans/Blackwell series.

 The Sholes Key Summary:
   All across London, single mothers are vanishing. Margaret Hill, mother of two, walked out of her house two months before, never seen again. A month later, Carrie-Anne Morgans takes her two-year-old son for a walk in the park and disappears, leaving him alone in his stroller. Lorna McCauley leaves her London flat in the early hours of the morning to buy medicine for her sick child and does not return.
   Newly promoted Detective Inspector Theophilus Blackwell is assigned the case of Lorna McCauley, which on the outside seems to be a simple case of mid-life crisis and child abandonment. Elsewhere in London, MI5 analyst, Sophia Evans, is working undercover to catch an animal rights group responsible for targeted bombings. As Sophia's case (and her personal life) fall to pieces, she receives a strange envelope in the mail. It contains a picture of Lorna McCauley's lifeless face along with a daunting code.
   Now the police and MI5 are forced to work together to stop the murders, and Sophia must find her way into the terrifying mind of a serial killer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I Didn't Run Away and Join the Circus - I'm Back!

After we returned from vacation, I came over to the Tiki Hut, swept the joint and made a few repairs, updated the bar stock, and hired a few new cabana boys. Under the Tiki Hut is open for business!

My vacation was awesome. As wonderful as it was, both Live-In Handyman and I were really happy to be back home. I'll tell you more about our meanderings next week.

And yes, vacation news has to wait because - as promised - I have a cool surprise for you today.

Here it is...the cover for IN NAME ONLY:

No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning.

The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she's attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.

No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she's frantic she'll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.

IN NAME ONLY will be available on July 10, 2012. You'll be hearing more about Summer and her story as time gets closer.

Now that I've told you my news, what's up with you?

Did you stay out of trouble while I was away?

Any juicy gossip? New books? Things I should know?

Fill me in!