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Showing posts from July, 2015

Under the Sea: The Joys of Aquariums

Bottoms Up! Otter Explores Bucket in Georgia Aquarium I’ve always had a fondness for aquariums, especially in the summer. Zoos can be hot, overly bright, noisy, and, unsurprisingly, redolent of their various inhabitants. By contrast, aquariums tend to be temperature-controlled, softly lit, reasonably quiet—give or take the occasional dolphin-click, whale song, waterfowl squawk, or seal bark—and less odoriferous, provided you don’t mind the smells of brine and sea wrack.   And there’s something soothing, even hypnotic, about watching multicolored fish or sea mammals glide silently through the waters of their tanks, while kelp forests sway in the current. I’ve been to several fine aquariums over the years: Monterey Bay, with its charming sea otter exhibit; Stanley Park, Vancouver, where I first saw beluga whales; and Georgia, which boasts an amazing collection of aquatic life that includes whales, dolphins, otters, penguins, and an albino alligator (the latter looked like some

Writing Inspirations - Why We Love Them by Victoria Roberts

Inspiration can come from the oddest of places, and we as authors love when that happens. Whether you're watching a movie or television show, reading a book or magazine, or gazing at pictures of mysterious places, ideas can spark your muse into overdrive. And that's when the creativity flows. One of my books ( To Wed a Wicked Highlander ) was inspired by the following tale of Kenneth MacKenzie.  Kenneth MacKenzie, known as Coinneach Odhar or the Brahan Seer, was a legendary teller of the future in the early 17th century…or so the story goes. Some people have regarded him as a fictional creation of folklorist Alexander MacKenzie, and others have questioned the existence of the Seer at all. Be that as it may, there is a long tradition of claims to be able to foretell the future and about folks who have the “second sight.”  But was the Brahan Seer fact or fiction?  Legend tells the tale that Coinneach fell asleep on a fairy mound (watch out for those wee folk!)

Being Bored...NOT!

by M.L. Buchman The last time I was bored, I was 12. (I'm nowhere near 12 anymore, just sayin'.) We had moved right at the end of the school year. Shy new kid in new community that had no forum (like school) to meet new kids. I spent the summer watching "The Galloping Gourmet." Yep! Graham Kerr and I bonded deep at the age of 12. And yes, while I love to cook, that's not the point of this post. I was bored to tears, literally. At the end of that summer, I swore I would never be bored again...and I haven't been. There are times since when I sort of wished I had a boring summer...or month....or even a boring day but nope! Instead time just fills up with all of the fun things I've found to do. Sometimes I have months that are exceptionally NOT boring,  And July 2015 has certainly been one of those. I think it started with our first vacation in FOREVER! Due to a few small circumstances (like having a kid in college during the recession, the business

technology, space travel and love

  will Solitaire ever be home?   Science Fiction romance combines two of my favourite things, romance and sci-fi. While some people will argue that the only real sci-fi is all about the technology, what is the point of technology without considering the impact on human lives? And what is life without a little romance? The ES Siren series is at an end. Ours to Save (book 9!) came out last week (July 23rd). Like any good adventure I took it with friends (Mel Teshco and Denise Rossetti also wrote books in the series). We built our ships and filled them with people and then set off heading toward a new life on the planet Solitaire. When we started writing we had no idea how we were going to pull the world together or how the drama on the ship would unfold. 12 months in space....anything could happen. We had riots, and fighting, splinter groups and micrometeoroid showers. Among all the drama we had a couple of ménages form, a prisoner fell for a soldier, a scientist met her match

When Old was New by Gina Conkle

Q: When did keeping up appearances mean making things look old? A: The 18th century. We like to feather our nests, reflecting our style and personality. The 18th century family was no different. Toss in England's exploding mercantile wealth, and you have people with money to spend. If France's 17th century Louis XIV made Versailles a show place of the new and grand, England's 18th century landowners sought old and classical --- all freshly built, of course. What was a popular trend? Feature antiquated, picturesque cottages on one's land. Designers worked judiciously to create homes and gardens of yesteryear.  False lakes were dug. Broken down abbeys were built. And fake Roman ruins were constructed. The craze for out-dated things met its match in William Kent. Charged with designing part of Kensington Gardens, he planted dead trees to mimic a Salvatore Rosa landscape. You can't get any older than dead! The talented Kent worked on land

A Home for the Heart by Grace Burrowes

I am writing this blog in a hotel room at Times Square, New York City. This part of the Big Apple is noisy, busy, crowded, non-stop, and about as far from my kinda place as I can imagine. And yet, at the Romance Writers of American annual conference, I am having a fine, fine time. How can this be? I have no tolerance for noise, but the two hours of my last book signing--hugely noisy--flew by. I'm generally what the Nice People call tactile-avoidant, that is, slow to offer affection, but here, I'll hug practically anybody. This conference is the only place I'm with people who get what I do as a writer. They understand the infinitely variable process of wrestling a 100,000-word story from a single line of prose. They grasp the never-ending challenge of maintaining good health while pursuing a sedentary livelihood. My RWA sisters and brothers know the terror and glee of a business that makes a rollercoaster look as adventurous as a porch swing. At this conferenc

Kick Back, Grab a Snack, and enjoy the first few pages of THE ASSASSIN'S LOVER, By Kathryne Kennedy

Prologue The link between the world of man and Elfhame had sundered long ago, the elven people and their magic fading to legend. Tall beings of extraordinary beauty, the fae preferred a world of peace. But seven elves--considered mad by their own people--longed for power and war. They stole sacred magical scepters, created their dragon-steeds, and opened the gate to the realm of man again and flew through. Each elf carved a sovereign land within England, replacing the baronies that had so recently been formed by William the Conqueror. They acquired willing and unwilling slaves to serve in their palaces and till their lands. And fight their wars. Like mythical gods they set armies of humans against each other, battling for the right to win the king, who’d become nothing more than a trophy. They bred with their human slaves, producing children to become champions of their war games. The elven lords maintained a unified pact, using the scepters in a united will to place

Authors Go Wild in NYC!

We always have great expectations about the RWA National Conference. It hasn't even officially started yet, and yet thousands of published and aspiring authors have already descended on the Big Apple. Just getting here was an adventure. Planes were backed up at the gates at LaGuardia, which is probably nothing new, but traffic getting from the airport to the NY Marriott Marquis was horrendous. We were hungry and exhausted by the time we made it to the hotel, but the excitement was already in the air as more RWA members arrived. After dinner at Junior's Restaurant, we wandered around Times Square before heading back to collapse in our hotel rooms.  Tuesday is the day for most of us to play tourist. With the help of a bit of prior online research, we managed to get tickets to see the Statue of Liberty and made it from Times Square to Battery Park via the NY subway system, which is an adventure in itself. That's me with two of my Indiana RWA pals, Nikki Hayes and Aly G

Royal Happenings

I'm at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City this week. I love this conference, not just because I get to catch up with friends and colleagues, but because I get to rub elbows with romance novel royalty. Nora Roberts will be there, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Jude Devereaux, and more... Recently the world was focused on another sort of royalty--British royalty! Princess Charlotte was christened earlier this month, and it was a royally classy affair. The baby princess What an adorable baby. She has an adorable family as well. What a lucky little girl to have a big brother who looks like he's so much fun. And the fashionable mom and dad. I absolutely adore the christening gown. And it wouldn't be a christening without a shot of all the generations. Of course, this family has a queen... The Galen household has been celebrating too. We added a new member. Sparky   And Princess Galen has now h

Promo on a budget

So many books! How does a reader decide what to buy and how can authors influence that decision? It's that ugly 5 letter word: Promo. Technically, the word is 9 letters...promotion, but we all know what it is and that we have to do it. Like it or not. As an experiment, when Amazon began allowing authors to put up their own books for sale, I posted 2 older books whose rights had reverted to me. I did NO promotion. None. I wanted to see if anyone would find my books without it. Well, a few did. I made $20. I probably should have left them there and promoted them, but I wanted to rewrite and reuse them elsewhere. Now, it's a few years later and Amazon is glutted with books and authors have to promote harder than ever. The sad part is that too many authors have succumbed to the desperation of paying a company to help--and there are always people ready to take advantage of desperation! I know I'm going to get backlash on this. I don't care. It needs to be said.

On the Road Again

by Amanda Forester The biggest romance conference of the year, the annual Romance Writers of America Annual Conference, begins in just a few days and I am already on the road on the way to New York City.  So exciting! Some people are expert travelers. They can stuff everything they need for a month’s vacation into a carry on. I am not one of those people. I pack for an overnight looking like I’m going on an expedition to the North Pole. A trip to New York requires more luggage than I own, or certainly care to lug around.   So, I have had to get creative with my packing to make the most of the limited space I have.   Most people will tell you to take less stuff. That is excellent advice…but for those who need (or feel compelled) to bring more than they have space for, here are some tips for cramming more stuff into a small space. 1.        Roll Clothes – rolled clothes fit into the corners of small spaces better and actually don’t wrinkle as much as you think. I’ve heard if you