Monday, December 31, 2012

My Christmas "C's"

Remember that old saying … “the best laid plans?” This post is not about the C’s you normally associate with Christmas. You know the ones. Carols. Cards. Candles. Cookies. Stay tuned ...

It was going to be the best Christmas ever. After a number of years being 1200 miles away from our family, we would fly from southern California to Seattle on December 19th and cleverly divide our time between our three grown sons, basking in the warmth of extended family. At least, that was the plan.

C #1 - Car

The plane is late. At 12:30 a.m. we pick up our rental car and discover we’ve been “upgraded” to a hybrid. The fob has no key. How do we start the damn thing? We trudge back to the lone attendant in her glass cubicle who snarls, “Press the button.” She forgets an important bit of information. Foot on brake, then press the button. After ten minutes of growling and cursing, husband accidentally starts car. Unfortunately, we have no idea it’s going because it’s running in “silent electric mode.” We eventually figure it out and wend our way out of the parking garage. Do we locate the windshield de-fogger before pulling onto International Boulevard in the pouring rain? Of course not.

C #2 – Cat

Our oldest son’s girlfriend has a cat. It was recently bathed, no doubt the very reason she's so peeved. The cat, not the girlfriend. Even though my husband is allergic to cats, he fancies himself a veritable animal savant and insists on making friends with “Coco” who responds with an annoyed hiss and flurry of dander. The next day, husband is making sounds like a harbor seal.

C #3 – Cough

Cat is not the culprit. Hubby is sick. We move on to second son whose wife I’d blithely promised, “Oh, I’d love to cook Christmas dinner for the entire family. I haven’t done that for ages.” My throat begins to feel scratchy. I start to cough. Soon, I join hubby in harbor seal duet. Coughing into my armpit and washing hands obsessively, I prepare the turkey and dressing.

C #4 – Chaos

Since our flight back to California leaves on Christmas day, our family dinner is scheduled for Christmas Eve. It turns out our youngest son, a Seattle policeman, has to work. His wife and two little girls plan to show up for dinner. Before they leave home, the seven-year-old begins throwing up. The ten-year-old, in a rare spirit of solidarity, opts to stay home and keep her sister company. Our son intends to join us when his shift is over but, on the drive home, he has to stop the car to throw up.

C #5 – Conclusion

Tails tucked between our legs, we tiptoe out of the house early Christmas morning. Back in California, I wait three hours in Urgent Care. Trust me, you do not want to know about the side effects of the prescription I was given. There is good news, however. Upon checking with all three sons, we infected no one. A Christmas miracle, indeed.

Next year, it’s all about Skype.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Midnight Moon

Drum roll please! Midnight Moon is finally out. Since 2008, I’ve produced a book a year …sometimes two. As the nights grew colder and the leaves began to fall, I was beginning to wonder if 2012 would be the exception. But, I’m delighted to say, book 5 in the Unbidden Magic series is now available. I hope you like the cover as much as I do. Check out the landmark in the background and see if you can identify it. It plays an important part in the story.

Since Midnight Moon is the last book in the series, I’ll be saying goodbye to Allie, Faye, Junior, Kizzy and many others. My fictional family is very real to me and I feel a sense of loss as their story draws to a close. When that happens, I know it’s time for another book.

Allow me to introduce a brand new fictional family. Seventeen-year-old Gabe Delgado lives with his Boeing engineer father and two brothers in a Seattle suburb. One evening in October, a “special package” is delivered to his doorstep and his life is changed forever. The Blue Rose, an urban fantasy, will be slightly edgier than the Unbidden Magic series, appropriate for older teens and adults. I’m currently working out all the plot twists and permutations. Rest assured the book will have plenty of magic and hopefully, some laughs as well. Look for The Blue Rose in late 2013.

To celebrate Allie’s final adventure, I’ll be giving away a number of autographed copies, drawing names from subscribers to my newsletter, blog followers and Facebook fans The winners may choose any of the five books in the series.

As the end of the year approaches, I’d like to wish you and yours a blessed holiday season. I truly appreciate your support. Writing is a lonely business. When readers email me or contact me through my website, it absolutely makes my day. Thank you and keep on reading!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet AlexTelander

Our guest today, author Alex Telander, is the creator of the popular book review website, Book Banter. Alex, a native of Malaga on the south coast of Spain, also reviews books for the San Francisco Book Review and the Sacramento Book Review. His books include a young adult fantasy, Kyra, a thriller called Nothing is an Accident and a post apocalyptic science fiction novel. He is currently working on a historical fiction epic set in fifth century Britain. He welcomes visitors to his website and invites you to contact him there. Welcome to Book Blather, Alex. Tell us more about Kyra.

Kyra is a teenage girl who has problems fitting in with school and friends and just her whole life in general; even her family seems odd. But when she closes her eyes at night, she is transported to another world, a place of wonder and joy, where she finds her real friends, and everything she's ever wanted. And then the day arrives when she is finally transported to this world, and it is just as incredible as she ever imagined. The people already know who she is, and when she meets the beautiful queen, she can't get over how much she looks like her own mother; even the queen’s husband looks just like her father, which is just weird. But her memories of her old life and old world are starting to disappear, and she has no idea why.

 Nevertheless, Enchantus is just as wondrous as it was in her dreams. But everything isn’t perfect. There is an evil in the world of Aisis Lip that threatens not just the kingdom of Enchantus, but every living thing in the realm. Its name is Jolus the Malignant and it wants to bring an end to everything, to enslave everyone, and become ruler of all. Kyra is the Chosen One, and she knows it’s up to her to face this Jolus the Malignant and try to save Aisis Lip.. Enchantus is everything she imagined it would be, and she doesn’t want to leave, but is she willing to risk her life to save everyone and everything? Is she willing to face this creature and try to kill it? Is she willing to fight for the once place she feels she truly belongs? She is just a teenage girl after all, even if she is the Chosen One. Can she really do it?

Here's a brief excerpt from Telander's novel, Kyra.

Jolus the Malignant had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Chosen One and her Guide when the door in front of him blew to smithereens.  Some splinters shot passed his head, one burying itself in his hand.  He pulled it out, studied the dark red end, and stuck it in his mouth, sucking on his own blood.  He watched the dust settle and smoke disperse, and then spat out the splinter when he saw the two in the doorway.  They looked little worse for wear.  He hadn’t necessarily expected them to get this far, and to best all his guards, as well as get past the many traps he’d set along the way.  The boy had a wound in his side, but it was minor compared to Jolus’s imagined wounds they should’ve sustained.  Seeing them there, ready to do battle wasn’t how he’d intended it all to happen.  And he certainly hadn’t expected Kyra to possess a power to demolish one of his doors.  This wasn’t the Kyra he’d seen in his visions.  For the first time, Jolus wondered about the outcome of this final battle.  But he had his ways, one of which was guaranteed to work, should it be necessary.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pulling Myself Up by the Bootstraps

I have great admiration for my writer friends who participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you not in the writing world, the acronym stands for: National Novel Writing Month. Scores of people commit to writing the first draft of a full-length novel from November 1st to November 30th. Many succeed. Many (me included) spend the first half of the months thinking about it and then decide it’s too late. The following post gives you a glimpse into the life of my friend and frequent contributor to this blog, Cheryl Dale, who describes her November experience. News flash. Cheryl, just reading about your month made me tired! Please feel free to snooze by the fire, guilt-free.

Here’s what I discovered in the month of November. There are limits to what I can accomplish. I am a chronic over-committer, over-achiever, over-estimator and over-just about everything else.
This past month it came to a head. Here’s what I had on my plate:
  Full time plus job (and it’s open enrollment which means a steady parade of employees in my HR office, a plethora of paperwork, and a million questions to answer)
  My commitment to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
  Thanksgiving with all the pie baking, etc.
  My birthday with lunches and meeting friends over coffee and family stuff.
  Weekly practices with the Christmas choir.
  Writing of the Christmas pageant.
  Early Christmas shopping (I did black Friday!!!)
  All my regular scheduled meetings, bible studies and worship activities.
  Friends in crisis.
  And – well – the rest I can’t remember because I am too tired. 
I think I’m getting old. My body doesn’t hold up as well as it used to and I hate to admit this but I get tired sometimes. There is nothing that gets my dander up more than sitting down in my chair by the fire and falling asleep immediately. I need some kind of device that sends an electric shock through my body the second my head nods.
Everything on my list is something I want to do, enjoy and never want to give up. Not only that, but there are even more things that I’d like to get involved in but to do them I’d have to give up sleeping all together.  It seems the days get shorter and what used to be plenty of time seems to have become never enough time.
Looking back my great regret is that I did not finish the novel.  I did get ten chapters and 20,000 words written.  I wrote from 4:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. almost every morning. I squeezed a few more minutes in here and there. I jotted handwritten notes in grocery lines and on my lunch breaks to transcribe later. But I just couldn’t get there. I feel bad about it because I seldom let myself fail to do what I’ve set my mind on.
So I’m using this blog to give myself a pep talk.
  I didn’t finish but at least I started and it’s a really good start.
  My novel is shaping up to be a good one.
  I discovered that I can shake the cobwebs from my brain even earlier than usual (I usually don’t get up until 4:30 a.m. and then I spend fifteen or twenty minutes sipping coffee and letting my brain coast.)
  The world does not end when you admit that you failed.
  Life is too short to beat yourself up.
  When I look at my list, the novel is the only thing I did not accomplish so that in itself is a pat on the back, right?
Writing is hard work. Work is hard work. Having fun is hard work. Ministry is hard work. Anything that you are committed to doing well is hard work.
There, I feel better.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.1 Cor 10:31