First Step: My husband and I decide to leave the island that we love for a more affordable place to live where I can write fulltime, and we move off the island.
Friday, September 19, 2014
First Step: My husband and I decide to leave the island that we love for a more affordable place to live where I can write fulltime, and we move off the island.
Second Step: Design a log home we are happy with and find the land to put it on.
Two weeks ago my husband and I finalized the very small, custom designed log home we wanted. So now we needed to buy land… somewhere. We had two requirements for where we wanted to settle. It had to be somewhere warm on the mainland where there was no state income tax. That narrowed it down to Texas and Florida, both of which will be a bit chilly for me, but the warmest we can get :-)
My DH preferred Florida and did some scouting around back in April. So last week we flew to Tampa and drove up the west coast. Our destination was the Crystal Springs/Homosassa area.
First stop was the Marina Bar so DH could show me the water and the atmosphere. I loved it! Then we moved on to some land that was close by that had a very tropical feel.
Then it was a trip up to Bronson to meet the builders. Even their office was a log place. After a tour of the factory and a couple sample homes, the land search began in earnest.
I won’t bore you with the details we learned about building in Florida, but after days of looking at all types of land in the area, we made an offer on a piece of land and it was accepted. We have a contract! Whoohoo! Four dry acres that will give us lots of privacy and plenty of room to expand if we want.
Now to the next step. Architectural blueprints, pricing and the contractor. This is going to take a while, but we are thrilled to have started the process.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Audio books are a great thing and I’m seeing a lot more authors putting them out. For those of us who have a long commute, audio books are a life saver! I’ve tried a couple, but for some reason, they just don’t work for me. You see, when I read, I hear the voices of the characters in my head. A western and I’m hearing Sam Elliot (LOVE his voice), a romance in the Highlands of Scotland, and I’m hearing Sean Connery (oh, be still my heart).
So what do I do in my car if I don’t listen to audio books? Well, my commute to and from work isn’t really that long and seriously, it’s where I do my best thinking and yes, I am guilty of coming up with some great snippets of dialogue or description for my latest WIP and repeating it over and over in my head with the hopes I’ll remember it when I get to my destination and can write it down….this doesn’t always work, as you can imagine. Once upon a time, I had a little handheld recorder and I tried using that, but well….it didn’t work so great for me…..there were a lot of long pauses in between short bursts of my voice and quite a few ‘ums’ thrown in, which doesn’t happen when I’m speaking normally. The other thing? Back ground noises—the other cars on the road and the radio, but worse of all? My voice! I sounded like Mickey Mouse on helium!
What else do I do in my car on my commute? Should I admit this? Okay, I’ll admit it…..I sing! Yes, sing! Generally at the top of my lungs and most certainly off key despite singing in my high school choir many, many, MANY years ago. I recently purchased Barbra Streisand’s Broadway CD (LOVE her!) and you can bet I’m toolin’ down the highway just singing away!
And I might, if it’s a really good song, car dance (tell the truth now, when you hear Footloose or Walking on Sunshine or my new favorite Happy come on the radio, can you resist bustin’ a move?). Have I been caught doing this car dance? Oh yes. Too many times to count. Once by my DH, who just happened to be driving behind me. Did he laugh? Oh, you bet! But I couldn’t help myself. It was a great song!
Sorry. I digressed once again. Back to my original subject: Audio books…..do you listen? Or would you rather read the stories yourself and hear the voices in your head?
As always, happy reading (or listening).
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Alexis: Today we have Sci-Fi Romance author Rachel Leigh Smith who is giving away a copy of her book and a beautiful necklace! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at the end for your chance to win!
So Rachel, what made you choose your title?
Rachel: The book titled itself, to be honest. I know that sounds weird. I dreamed A’yen one night, and I decided that to tell his story properly, I had to write it for me, which means it’s all about the hero. I wrote it with no concern at all for trying to market it or interest a specific agent or editor.
“My name is A’yen” is something A’yen says multiple times throughout the story. He has this thing about being called by his name. Most Loks Mé never correct a human when their name isn’t used, or is pronounced wrong. But not A’yen.
I never even thought about trying to change the title. When I was submitting it to various small presses I knew the title was a hill I was prepared to die on.
Alexis: I understand. Sometimes you just know that is the right title for the book. Why did you choose this sub-genre of romance?
Rachel: It chose me. Everything I’d written prior to this was historical romance. I had no idea science fiction romance was an actual genre. Once I finished the first draft of the book I started doing market research, thinking I was completely alone. Lo and behold I wasn’t! I’m having so much fun exploring the genre and finding new authors to love.
Alexis: What has been the best piece of advice you ever received for your writing career?
Rachel: Finish the first draft! You will learn more about your process, your strengths and weaknesses, and your pet phrases, than by any other method. You can go to conferences and workshops and classes until you have one foot in the grave, but if you never finish your very first first draft all you’re doing is wasting your money and time.
Alexis: Great advice! Speaking of conferences, what was your first writer’s conference?
Rachel: The 2007 ACFW conference in Dallas. I’ll never forget it. I was nervous about going, but ended up having so much fun I’ve now been to seven ACFW conferences. I’m no longer a member there and couldn’t make RWA National this year, so it’s a little weird not attending a conference. Planning to go RWA in Manhattan next year and looking forward to it.
Alexis: RWA on NYC is amazing. You will have a great time with so many other writers there. Though it seems like writers go it alone, we all have support from others. What do you think everyone should know about your critique partner?
Rachel: She’s the other half of my brain. Seriously. We think the same, we plot the same, we develop characters the same. It’s unreal how perfectly matched we are. Without her pushing me to send A’yen into the world he’d probably still be sitting on my hard drive.
Alexis: Check out the blurb and excerpt from this book and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win this book and this beautiful necklace! Rachel even left a special question :-)
Blurb: My Name is A’Yen
They've taken everything from him. Except his name.
The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant.
Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.
Hidden rooms, information caches and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeder's Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.
Excerpt from My Name is A’yen
Expedition: Day One
When the transport shuttle broke through the atmosphere and space stretched before him in all its infinite glory, the chains of his grief tightened. Enforcers and keepers couldn’t dictate his every move in space, and definitely wouldn’t follow him all the way to the Rim. So why did he want to curl up in a corner and cry his eyes out?
Maybe because, up here, he’d tasted freedom. Knew the wonders waiting to be discovered. Knew without a doubt no one saw him as disposable, because the only people he’d interacted with were ones who loved him. He didn’t have any of that this time.
Dr. Hart’s reflection smiled at him. “Are you okay?”
Her hand touched his shoulder for two seconds. “Your face says otherwise.”
He shrugged away from her touch, turning to face her. Something about her, the way she studied him maybe, encouraged him to be honest. This time he listened. “I’ve lost my whole life. Being up here again makes it real.”
Her left hand dove into her pocket. “I want you to have these. I know there are things stored in them.”
In her open palm lay Master’s coding chips. She had no idea the treasures cradled in her hand. His maps, video letters from Mother, a recording of Yanna’s first birthday celebration. Which he’d missed by three days. Maybe he could spend her next one with her. Turning seven was important too. He held his hand out and she dropped them into his palm. “Thank you.”
Rachel writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging . . .
She blogs sproadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, can be found on Twitter @rachelleighgeek, and hangs out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/rachelleighsmithauthor. You can sign up for her newsletter at her website or FB page.
Question for readers: Who is your favorite romance hero?a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, September 12, 2014
Hello out there in reader-land! How the heck are ya? Good, I hope. All is well here in Arizona now that the floodwaters have receded. Huh? Floodwaters? I see you scratching your head and wondering, “What the heck is she talking about? Arizona’s a desert.” Yes, Arizona is a desert and, yes, there are floodwaters—at least there have been this week. Plenty of water…more than enough to share.
You see, God (in his infinite wisdom) decided this was a good year to replenish the groundwater for us dry Arizonans. So he has sent us plenty of much needed rain. It has been a very wet monsoon season this year…good for some, not so good for others. The funny thing about a blessing is that it isn’t always a blessing for everyone involved…probably something to do with that old adage about maintaining balance in the world.
One of my favorite sayings is, “You win some, you lose some, some get rained out.” There’s more to the saying, but when I tried to look it up to get it exactly right and note who said it, things got fuzzy. So I’m just going to use the version I like and we’ll leave it at that…someone very smart said it at one time. LOL Anyway, this week we got rained out. On Monday, the lovely Valley of the Sun got bucket loads of water. How many bucket loads? Glad you asked. Lots! Lots and lots of bucket loads! Arizona typically averages only 7 inches of rain per year. But on Monday of this week, different parts of the valley got anywhere from 2.5 inches of rain to almost 6.5 inches of rain—and all this happened between midnight and 8am!!! My particular little piece of paradise got 3.3 inches and, holy cow, am I glad I wasn’t one of those that got over 6 inches!!! (Hmm…don’t think I’ve ever said that before.) Oops…sorry…Tina Gerow is a bad influence! I digress…so here’s what happened at my place.
I, like everyone else in the valley, was awakened twice during the early morning hours with severe flood alerts—those obnoxious and loud buzzing alerts that come over your cell phone. (And while I’m on the subject, why can’t they give me an alarm sound option like that…something that I can’t possibly sleep through no matter how hard I try?) Anyway, like everyone else in the valley, I didn’t take them very seriously. Why? Because the alarm network is not tuned to “my area”…if it’s flooding anywhere in a hundred mile radius, I’m getting woke up…and it never freaking floods here anyway, that’s why. As long as you stay out of the dry washes and aren’t trying to get your Yugo through four feet of rushing water, you’re usually okay. Well…unless you’re riding out a microburst in a houseboat on Lake Pleasant…but that’s another type of storm and another story altogether. Anyway, I’ve lived on my place for over 25 years and it has never once flooded…so when I get this loud, rude buzzing alarm at 2am and then again at 4am, I’m just plain pissed. I’m sleeping here, people!!! So I get up both times and shuffle to the back door and look out. No flood waters up on the patio, dogs not doing the backstroke, horses not water-skiing in the pasture. We’re good. I shuffle back to bed mumbling curses to be placed on the people who run the emergency alert system and all their offspring for 20 generations to come.
Then the sun comes up and the world looks a lot different. My alarm goes off, I shuffle to the coffee pot to make my java salvation, then to the door to see how wet it is outside. Holy Freaking Floodwaters, Batman!!! I step out the door and it’s a sea of water as far as my bleary eyes can see…well, at least to the edge of my property line. What? What the hell? Where did all this water come from? My brain is clawing along in the darkness, trying to drag itself up from the depths of sleep deprivation to make sense of what I’m seeing. No help. Then I hear it…rushing water. Huh? I don’t live near a river. What’s rushing? Where’s it coming from? Where’s it going? I step outside and start walking around to see what the heck’s going on and there it is…irrigation. What?! Who irrigates in a flood? Well…me, apparently.
I’ve left my irrigation gate closed from a few days ago when I’d last irrigated and all of my ports are open. So a deluge of irrigation water is flooding down the ditch and spewing from my irrigation ports. Both pastures are under 8 inches of water. I look around and so are the horse pens…and the barn. The horses are standing in their pens with their floaties on, looking at me like, “You gonna fix this or just stand there gawking?” OMG!
So I run in and grab my flip-flops…because everyone knows flip-flops are the appropriate footwear for walking through a flood (NOT)…and I run to close my irrigation ports and open the flood gate to allow the water to go on down the road. On the way, my flip-flops get sucked into the mud and I have to finish the journey barefoot. I’m outside in my jammies, soaked to the waist, mosquitos are making a meal of me, and I am searching through the mud for my shoes…but my ports are finally closed!
Then I go to survey the damage. Sheesh, what a mess! The horses are standing in 4 inches of water, not a dry spot in any of the pens to stand on. There are three new rivers running from the pasture into the barn and under the storage unit built into the back of the barn. There are car parts, briquettes, firewood, light fixtures, chairs, and shelves all standing in 4 inches of water in my barn. Even my neighbor’s horse pen that is used to store firewood and barnyard junk is underwater. Definitely Stupid Girl at work again. And you can believe the next time I see her, I’m gonna bitch-slap her into the next county!
So I grab a shovel and go to work (still in my jammies and muddy flip-flops), shoveling mud to dam up the rivers and stem the flow of water into the barn. A half hour later, the rivers are dammed, I’m covered head to toe in mud, and the horses are still giving me the evil eye. I look around and wonder, “Where the heck is Noah with that ark?” Right about now I could use a good ark. Did I miss the email that said I was supposed to build one? I hate it when stuff gets lost in internet hell. Where’s the justice? I’m awakened twice in one night by useless cell phone alerts but I miss the email about building an ark! Oh…uh…hmmm…yeah, maybe I should have put on my reading glasses and read those alerts more carefully. Could there have been some mention of an ark? So here I am limping back into the house in broken flip-flops that have given up the ghost to the sucking mud, jammies soaked and muddy, but victorious. I look like a refugee from a war zone.
Well, I guess this is an example of all’s well that ends well…I think. It’s now the end of the week from hell and all is well…at least for a day or two. I called in a friend to help muck out the barn, I apologized to my neighbor for flooding her pen, I drained the horse pens enough that they have a few square feet to stand on that are not at the bottom of an ocean. But now my big dilemma is how the heck to get rid of the millions of tiny baby frogs that came in on the flood waters. You see, our irrigation network brings water from Lake Pleasant into the valley. Apparently all the channels between me and Lake Pleasant were open and as the ditches and the lake filled with rain water, it created a tidal wave that traveled to the end of the path, right into my closed irrigation gate and open irrigation portals…apparently bringing with it every newly born baby frog in three counties. They are very cute and less than a half inch long…but there are thousands of them and they are everywhere. And if these tiny baby frogs live, a month from now I will have a plague of frogs that could be a new chapter in the Bible. Argh! So watch for the newspaper headlines—“Valley author eaten by plague of hungry frogs!”
That’s my story, frightening and froggy, and I’m stickin’ to it. Hang on tight now ‘cuz we’re gonna go real, real fast!
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
To be a single, pretty woman, teaching history at a New England prep school sounds like an ideal way to attract a perfect mate. The first perfect mate and fiancé of Grace decided to marry Grace’s sister.
Grace’s family worries about her incessantly, so badly that Grace reverted to her young adult cure of making up boyfriends. Really, really perfect boyfriends.
During one of Grace’s pretend relationships Callahan O’Shea moves in next door. He’s hot! Too bad he has a background her sister/attorney and the rest of her uptight family preferred to meet the nontangible boyfriend.
Callahan has a slightly unsavory misstep in his past, but he’s so hot! And he’s honest, which is something Grace needs to work on.
With so much against Grace and Callahan being more than acquaintances, how do they get up the steps together?
Higgins crafts a truly romantic and humorous tale of the power of love between amazing characters.
Friday, September 5, 2014
After eleven years of forced abstinence, television Sci-fi employee and IT geek Erin Danielson, boards a nude cruise in the hopes of finally getting lucky. It seems her luck has changed when two handsome men with ripped bodies, enticing accents, and hearts of gold invite her into their stateroom. But if this erotic ménage seems too good to be true, then…
Nassic Wild and Wareson Night hail from the planet Eden, where women are scarce, and their mission is simple—meet the woman they’ve been waiting for for the last eleven years, bond with her and take her home. At first all goes according to plan as they pleasure her with their bodies and their special abilities. But when their best intentions lead to the worst results they lose her, along with their hearts.
Now they must find a way to woo her back or return to Eden with no hope for the future.
For a chance to win this first book in the Eden series, enter the rafflecopter below. Good luck!