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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! It's Memorial Day! TAKE THEM DOWN!

Good afternoon all!  

First, I need to share a new link with you...I have a NEW WEBSITE!

This website will combine my novels, news, and links to my other blog.  So, that's going to be fun.  

And remember, my newest novel, A Hero's Spark is available RIGHT NOW!  So go on over to Amazon and buy the book!

Now then, on with my rant.

Friends, it's Memorial Day.  It's the end of May.  The weather, even here in Wisconsin, has been all sorts of non crappy for weeks.

TAKE DOWN THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!

November 24, yes.  May 24th, TAKE IT DOWN!
I'm even making allowances for those of you, yes, you, guy on my block, who have put a lot of time and effort into getting those house lights on nice and tight.  You can keep them.  I get it.  You did a good job.

But, for those of you with the icicle lights...the reindeer in the yard, and you, guy a mile from my house with the NATIVITY SCENE out front and LIT last night...TAKE IT DOWN!  

Oh, your Nativity Scene is a statement of your faith?  Color me doubtful.  I'm also devoutly religious, and friend, I know the difference between a religious statement and laziness.  Seeing your Nativity Scene, in your yard where it's been since the day after Thanksgiving, still LIT?  THAT'S LAZINESS!

Even Hubby had to let me yell out the window on that one.  And, given it was one of those very rare nights when we were out past 10, my voice really, really carried.  I'm hoping the homeowner got the point.

It's Memorial Day.  Remember the veterans, shake hands with a soldier, buy a poppy.  AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY...TAKE DOWN THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Day, new book! Go Forth and READ!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The third and final book in my Wicked Women trilogy is complete and ready for public consumption.  That's right, "A Hero's Spark" is now available for sale in print or digital by CLICKING HERE!  If you prefer your books in print and you'd like to see your favorite indie author (who doesn't have to be me, but boy it'd be cool if it were) get a bigger cut from the result of the blood, sweat and tears that goes into writing a novel, then you can purchase any and all of my books by clicking HERE!

Yes, "A Hero's Spark," the story of musicians Collier James and Miranda "Mira" Pierce is ready for your reading approval.

I'm excited, as I always am, when I'm done with a book because it means I've accomplished something that no one can take away from me.  If I never hit the New York Times Best Selling List, (Okay, that would blow big time) I'd be okay, really as long as people read and enjoyed my stories.  Most authors feel that way.  Sure, we all have big dreams of book signings with lines that wind through the massive book store.  But the reality is we write because we have to. Most of us pour our hearts out and craft books carefully.  And we indie e-pubs also have to handle cover art, editing, rewrites, and marketing.  (I don't care for the marketing end of it.  I'd like you all to just run over to Amazon and Createspace and buy the books.)  We e-pubs have a heavy burden on our shoulders to get you the stories, and hopefully a couple dozen of you will purchase the books so we can be encouraged just enough to write another one.

But I'm here to talk about the book, the new book.  What, you may ask, is "A Hero's Spark" all about?

I'm glad you asked.  Here's a quick description: 

Rejected by the woman he loves and abandoned by his band, Collier James is broke and alone, a thousand mile from his home in Nashville. Collier turns to his uncle who sends him to Rock Harbor, Wisconsin where he hopes recording mogul Shara Brandt can help him find the spark to take his music career to the next level. 

Miranda Pierce cannot escape her sister Madelyn's control. To do so would mean losing all contact with her son, Dusty. She's also unable to escape constant contact with Madelyn's husband, the man who raped her at fifteen, but who is now powerful enough to destroy her if she reveals that he's the father of her son. Madelyn allows Mira to return to their childhood home in Rock Harbor, and Mira hopes to build a music career that will support both her and Dusty.

In the studio Mira and Collier must work together in spite of their mutual dislike. Mira's lack of discipline clashes with Collier's single minded drive and sparks fly. As a tour date in Nashville nears, Mira and Collier strike an uneasy truce. Working together, sparks of a different kind pass between them. 

No amount of musical success can keep the walls from closing in on Mira as Madelyn tries to cut her out of Dusty's life forever. Desperate, Mira risks everything, even her life, to prove herself and protect her son.

Collier's worried about Mira's erratic, desperate behavior. As she spirals out of control he realizes he will have to sacrifice everything to save her from whatever it is that threatens to consume her. In the process, Collier discovers that this sacrifice might just be the spark his life needs.


Many of you may recognize some of the character names.  Yep, "Spark"  draws on characters and locales from my previous two novels, "Fresh Ice" and "Lies in Chance."

Was it easier writing a book where I'd already built many of the characters and the sets?  No.  Just ask my critique partners, who had to slog through many, many, many different spellings of Shara Brandt's band...if I hadn't mentioned them in "Lies in Chance," I would simply have given the band a simpler name to type.  But, since I couldn't change a name just because I didn't want to have to type it the same way more than once, I had to hope my critique partners, Authors Linda Schmalz and Kelly Moran, and my editor, the sublime Susie Harkeness Kline caught the mistakes.



SPOILER ALERT!
(But NOT for "A Hero's Spark")






Writing a book that ties two previous books together was not something I'd planned on doing until a number of people demanded that Collier James, the poor gent Izzy Marks passes over in "Fresh Ice," get his own book. That's when I realized Collier had the same last name as Archibald James, the lawyer who pretty much saves the day in "Lies in Chance."  (Oh, spoiler alert...those books have been out for over a year.  If you haven't read them, maybe you need to catch up on your reading!)

As it turned out, Collier had a lot to do for himself.  And Miranda Pierce, well, she might be the character most like me that I've ever dared to write.

This book goes to a far darker place than any of my previous work ever has.  Blame it on the past year.  As I was writing this book my family spiraled deeper and deeper into a very dark place.  Thankfully, each day now is a little better and I think the book reflects a determined optimism.

Friends, no artist works for simple cash.  If I did this for the cash, I'd have stopped years ago when "Dream in Color" failed to make me independently wealthy. Cash is great, don't get me wrong.  Buy my books!  I need to make some money doing this!  But I'm an artist, and I have stories to tell and characters you need to meet.

Since 2009 when I sold "Dream in Color" to The Wild Rose Press I've been blessed to publish four novels, two humor books  (Under Sarah Jayne Brewster) and a novella.  I've written countless blog posts and I've met so many fantastic people along the way.

I'm not stopping.  What's next?  Next I'm going to introduce you to Nora Hill, a young woman who needs to find lost children.

But for now, all you need to know is to CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE to purchase A Hero's Spark...my newest story.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Buddy, you're not even the most interesting person at this table!

Good morning!

Last weekend was Mother's Day. Normally, my big Mother's Day wish is to not move.  I dream of becoming one with my couch.  However, most Mother's Days, at least for the last 20 years or so, I've managed, at the music director for our church's Sunday School, to make sure we sing in church that day.  Every year.  Very stressful for me.  You'd think I'd learn, but I don't.

After the mega stress of church and Sunday school I then get my wish. Hubby makes a mega meal and the family gathers around the table as we do once a year, to eat and have dinner conversation.  And then I become one with my couch.

This year was a bit different and not just because we dismantled our kitchen table at Christmas and never actually put it back up.  (We now eat our dinners as God intended:  At the coffee table while watching TV.)  This year Hubby got Opera tickets.

Yeah, I know.  Opera. We're not exactly Opera people.  I mean, we are those people who figure if a story is really good, they'll make it into a movie and hey, if the movie is really good, it'll probably be on Netflix in a couple months.  

Oddly enough, the Opera we were to see was La Boheme.  This is an Italian Opera set in France.  It's also the grandaddy of movie-musicals such as "Rent" and "Moulin Rouge." So, sure, we had the story line down.  But seriously, how does one behave at an opera?

To top it off, since we were going to the Opera, we were then invited to the Opera Luncheon.  For $70 we got to rub elbows with other Opera folk while dining on chicken breast covered in white goo.  (Hubby's dinner, the vegetarian option, was far superior.  At least the flourless chocolate cake was awesome.)  We figured, hey, how often do we get to have lunch with people who know stuff about actual culture?  So we went to the luncheon.

Now, I don't know, I sort of thought we'd be sitting at little tables, sort of soaking in the cultural talk as it floated around us.  Nope, we were seated with six other people at a round table.  There was an old couple, a couple of old women, and a couple slightly older than we.  (Are you getting the point?  We were the youngest people in the room.) The couple slightly older than we decided they knew us.  (They didn't.)  But there was that long, drawn out, uncomfortable, tedious conversation where they are trying to decide how they know us.  (Which they don't.)  We finally landed on the fact that we both go to the same coffee shop.  Well, having that connection, they decided they knew exactly what we were about.  (Nope.)  And they proceeded to talk to us to the exclusion of the rest of the table.

Since it was Mother's Day, the woman asked if this was what we were doing to celebrate.  (Um, duh.)  And then she launched into a long, horribly detailed description of her day to that point.  Apparently they went for a walk. In their back yard.  And there their foraged for Morel mushrooms and asparagus.  And then husband made, and I'm quoting, "A beautiful breakfast."

Okay, that story should have taken three minutes, with maybe another three in discussion about how we enjoy morel mushrooms.  (I would have thrown in a bit about how false morel mushrooms play a key role in my novel "Fresh Ice."  I never got the chance.) They continued to talk about every house they've ever lived in where they've foraged for morel mushrooms  (so that he could make a "beautiful breakfast") and how they do so enjoy walking in their back yard.

This went on for most of the lunch.  I swear, she said "beautiful breakfast" fifteen times.  I wanted to smack her with my salad fork, but I was thinking that wouldn't be very cultural.  

While the least interesting people in the world took a breath to chew, the elder gent on Hubby's other side mentioned something about being on a ship during the war.  I pounced on that because those guys have the BEST stories, but you have to sort of draw them out.  Turns out, the guy enlisted at 17, and was a radio guy on a destroyer for both Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  And, he told us, when they were in battle they only needed one radio guy so then he had to help feed the bullets into the automatic guns.

The guy was a bona fide hero.

I encouraged him to tell us more stories. He started in on one about losing his wallet which was touching and funny.  Meanwhile, the Morels piped up about how they had to yell at a pack of children playing in their back yard to stop playing because they were crushing the morels and then he wouldn't be able to make...say it with me...the BEAUTIFUL BREAKFAST.

I ignored them because then War Hero wife quietly mentioned they'd lost all his war memorabilia in a house fire set by a drug addict who broke into their home while they were visiting their children.  The story was dramatic, riveting, and did not involve morel mushrooms.  

Lunch ended and later hubby and I realized we'd never even heard a peep from the two old ladies a the table.  We called them the Baldwin Sisters and made up stories for them, none of which included the words "beautiful breakfast."

We enjoyed the opera.  Thank goodness for super titles  (that's sub titles that are flashed ABOVE the stage.)  Will we be back to the Opera? Maybe.

I am, however, hesitant to go back to our favorite coffee shop.  I'm not strong enough for another "beautiful breakfast" story.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Five for Friday Rewind: Movie Quotes for the Stressed Office Drone

It's been that sort of week here at Stuff, Installed.  In the last ten days there's been a major argument about a pickle,  the day when the carpet cleaners and the electricians all disrupted Captain Nubbin's peace and quiet so he ran away for a couple hours, an interview with a potential employee that ended with C.N. fanning the guy's cologne stink out of his office  (hint:  He didn't get the job) and the usual parade of freaks and geaks and broken people who insist on giving Stuff Installed business.

In thumbing through some of my past Five for Fridays, I ran across this list of movie quotes which sort of brilliantly sums up everything I'd like to scream while on the phone with people who are incapable of getting through a day using the tiniest amount of common sense allowed.  If you, too, are sick of dealing with people who believe there is such a thing as a self cleaning bath tub, and get enraged when you suggest there isn't, and there certainly isn't one you personally installed because you don't do that, then this list is for you:



5)  I've been blown up!  Take me to the hospital!  Take me to the hospital, I'm sick!  (The 'Burbs)


One of my top 100 all time favorite movies.  "The "Burbs."  And one of the best quotes from a very quotable flick.  And a pretty good way to signal to those around you that you've had ENOUGH.


4) "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."  (Gone with the Wind)

Now, while I would NEVER advise cussing...something about tossing this classic verbal hand grenade into the middle of polite society is making me giggle at the moment.  Best part?  Ya don't even have to use much energy with this one.  Just calmly let it drop on the person or persons making some ridiculous request of you and walk away.  Perfection!

3)  "I'm Bob. Would you knock me out, please? Just hit me in the face. "  (What about Bob?)

Granted, this isn't so much an angry quote, but it just happens to be my Face book status at the moment.  Sometimes just asking for this kind of help will get your point across.  Sometimes.  Then again, if you're to the emotional point where you're asking to be smashed in the face, chances are you're working with complete morons who simply aren't going to get it.

2) Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED????????(Gladiator)


Yep, this one is the go to when those around you just aren't going to be happy no matter what you do or say. I'll admit, I've used this one...and had fairly decent results. Shut my kids up for about six minutes one hot summer day when I'd dragged them across God's green earth for summer time fun and they still wanted MORE!




1) Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.  (The Princess Bride  )

When feeling like the world is against you, wouldn't you just love to walk into a room full of people who have been making you insane and shout this battle cry?  And then proceed to share some of the sweet ninja moves you've been practicing since you were ten and some kid pushed you in the mud and you knew, you KNEW that someday you'd have a moment when the world was pressing down on you and you'd rise up, you'd RISE UP AND YOU'd TAKE CONTROL because you ARE A NINJA  and you RULE!


Um, oh wait, where was I?

So anyway, that's a list of five movie quotes everyone should have in their brain banks, just in case the right situation arises and you simply can't take it anymore....

We now know what Hubby does NOT have in his pants.

Good morning! So last weekend Hubby and I joined my parents, brother, and my brother's kids on a trek to Kentucky to see the Crea...