Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet the Ladies of Wild At Heart:)

Today I have the honor of sitting down with Angela Clayborn and Emma Nichols, co-heroines from Wild At Heart.

K: Greetings ladies:)

A: Can you believe this awful weather? Brrr....

E: Hi Kenzie:) I've never been to Indiana before. Is the ice typical this time of year?

A: Not this early. Normally this stuff arrives in January. My shop's been closed all day, due to it being too treacherous.

E: Yeah, wintertime in the Rockies is usually our slow period also. I'm usually traveling around doing trade shows, advertizing the riding stables and drumming up interest in my brother's woodworking shop.

K: So there's no hard feelings between you two?

A: Not at all. I think we're all happier now. Wouldn't you say, Emma?

E: Yeah. Who knew I'd fall in love in six days?

K: What are you doing in Indiana, Emma?

E: Brad had a business meeting at the home office, so I tagged along. I hope my horses are being taken care of; my mare is due to foal in the next few weeks and I'm anxious to get back. But with this ice, our flight was delayed.

K: I've tried to get Brad to talk to me, but he won't.

E: I've kept him pretty busy:) I'm also training him as a part-time stable hand.

K: What about you, Angie? Are you happy with the way things worked out?

A: I can't believe I was in such denial about Steve. I had started dating Brad because my friends thought he was perfect for me, but it just goes to show you can't force chemistry.

E: And you and Steve definitely have it! We went out to dinner last night before the ice hit, and Steve couldn't keep his hands off of her!

A: Well neither could you and Brad!

K: I also want you both to know that your story will be available on Kindle the week before Christmas.

E: Cool! Brad's getting me one so I can find that scene in Anny's book!

A: Who's book?

K: Anny's a good friend of mine, Emma. Contact me when you get your Kindle and I'll email Anny's website to you. She's got a lot of other books you might like, plus I'll introduce you around to other wonderful e-books and authors.

E: Awesome! Thanks!

A: I told Steve I wanted a Nook for Christmas. After that controversy on Amazon a few months ago, I'll buy from somewhere else.

E: They pulled the book, Angie....but I see your point.

K: And none of my books are on the Nook yet, so if you want to read them, Kindle's the way to go. Time's up ladies; I need to fix dinner for the family. Thanks for coming by!

A: Thanks for the yummy cookies! I need your recipe.

E: Don't tell Nora, but your chocolate chips are better than hers.

K: I think the recipe's going to be in an XOXO Publishing cookbook. I'll let you know:)


Wild At Heart,
Available now at XOXO Publishing
http://xoxopublishing.com/shop-online/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=107

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with Steve Blumenthal from Wild At Heart

Today I'm interviewing Steve Blumenthal, one of the heroes in my latest release, Wild At Heart.
Thanks for being willing to chat with me today Steve:)

S: No problem. I just have one question before you start.

K: Sure; go ahead.

S: What happened to the storyline I gave you? I told you I was trying to reform; my town didn't 'get it', and instead, you come up with this complicated love square--

K: Quadrangle.

S: Whatever. Quadrangle-happy now?- about myself, the girl I love, and her kinky-assed boyfriend...

K: Okay, stop right there. First of all, You cornered ME while I was driving down the road. I couldn't just stop and write, could I? I had to let your storyline swirl around in my head for a few days.

S: You call two weeks a 'few days'? And how the hell did you end up setting half the book in Colorado?

K: No idea. I hadn't even planned on it. But, Angie said her boyfriend was out of town, and when I went to write his scene, I'd just been discussing our 2002 vacation to Estes Park with my kids, and reminiscing. I guess it was the first place which jumped into my head.

S: Whatever.

K: Ultimately, you did get what you wanted. You managed to work with your parole officer to find employment....

S: Yeah. How many ex-cons are that lucky to find something on their first try?

K: Steve, did you ever consider maybe your PO had an inside track on employers willing to give second chances?

S: Oh....I didn't think of that....

K: So you find out Angie has her own business and a boyfriend....what gave you the courage to keep pursuing her, even after she threw you out of her shop?

S: Ah, my Angela...you know, her green eyes turn all fiery and smoke swirls out of her ears...God she's beautiful when she's angry! I used to torment her in high school just to see how far her temper would take her. She used to just cry, which would kill me, and I'd get her alone later and apologize. But wow, can that girl pack a punch! I'm proud of her for standing up to me.

K: Why do guys do that, anyway?

S: It lets us know you have some passion. Guys don't want girls who'll let 'em walk all over them. We want a fighter. Or at least I do, anyway. You ever hit your man in anger?

K: Well...I did call him an idiot....and yes, I've yelled at him in the past. But lately? No.

S: Why not?

K: Because...wait a minute. I'm supposed to ask the questions.

S: Awe, c'mon Kenzie...bring him to the club and I'll let you put a pie in his face. Or dump a drink on him. Whaddya say?

K: I thnk this interview has gotten way off track! Here's some news for you: You're going to be available on Kindle by Christmas. Happy New Year!

S: Happy New Year to you. And think about what I said; you need to show your man some spirit.

K: Goodbye Steve....

Wild At Heart,
Available now at XOXO Publishing
http://xoxopublishing.com/shop-online/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=107

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mixing Old and New

1991 was my first married Christmas. My hubby and I opened presents, then drove an hour to my parents' house.

We moved our family thirty miles south in 1997, and did what every family does: We compromised and every other year was spent at either his parents or mine.

But everyone agrees our favorite Christmas was 1998: We were snowed in. The kids were thrilled they could play with their toys; we fixed a leisurely lunch and put together the new TV/VCR cart. Built a fire in the fireplace and just relaxed.

2006 saw us moving into my MIL's house. D's father had passed in 2000 and his mother was now in the nursing home. And we were now three hours away from my parents, so trips were scheduled only every few months.

Sometimes we'll go up Christmas Eve; sometimes Christmas or the day after. A lot depends on the weather. I like it when my dad's side of the family has their party around the same time: One year we traveled to my aunt's house on Christmas Eve, and followed my parents to their home afterward. The following year, we reversed it. But this year, plans are up in the air. I know I want to go to Christmas Eve services at my home church, and hopefully Mom and Dad won't mind the addition of the two dogs.

And my aunt started a new tradition a couple of years ago when my cousin had separated from her husband. Since no one was in a festive mood, she decided to fix Italian food. So now instead of ham or turkey, she provides the pasta, meatballs, and choice of Marina or Alfredo sauce; the rest of us bring appetizers or desserts. But no word what's happening this year: My cousin's bitter divorce has been finalized, and I think she and her girls are living at home until they can find another house..

Our home isn't very festive this year either. My hubby's unemployment has run out; I can't seem to find anyone willing to hire me (okay, yes, I work in the bookstore. But it's on a volunteer basis!); I'm seriously considering wrapping up some forgotten toys to put under the tree for the youngling. He is on the Wish Tree at school and at church, so maybe someone will get him something nice. But for the first time in 19 years, there will be no presents under the tree for either myself, D, or our two older kids. That's why I want to go to Grandma's; so everyone will have something.

And besides, Christmas is about family, right? And what I dearly want for Christmas is a hot, steamy shower in a bathroom! Not to mention having my dryer fixed. So I predict I'll be doing laundry at Mom's...where I can wash and dry everything, not just the socks, underwear, and few choice clothing that I haul to a friend's house to put in her dryer!

Oh, and did I mention my birthday is a week from today? I'm also praying our cable, internet, and phone aren't shut off before the Survivor Finale. That's how I'll be spending my evening.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tis The Season:)

First of all, don't forget about the Kris Kringle Kontest! Click on the Santa icon to the left or see underneath for contest info.

Secondly, is it possible to have a Release Week hangover? I've been promoting Wild At Heart everywhere I can think of, and trying not to let all the congratulatory comments and emails go to my head....

Last, how in the world do I manage this time of year? Simple. I take the month off from writing, other than pending edits, and bake cookies. I've been fortunate to only have minor writing assignments: In 2008, I had to add a few chapters to my already submitted manuscript, and had no time line. Last year, I signed the contract for Teacher's Pet and the only writing I did besides blogging was my family's Christmas Newsletter.

This year, I'm doing edits when I feel like it; baking; and learning to get along without a dryer until the heating element in ours can be repaired. I haul a load over to a friend's house twice a week, to keep my youngest in clean socks. The dryer troll has managed to eat all but four pairs of his socks.

Want another excerpt of Wild At Heart? Okay; you twisted my arm! Click on the 'Excerpts' page and enjoy:)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Guest Blogging Today...

I'm over at Brigit's World today. Come by and say hello:)



And don't forget to enter the Kris Kringle Kontest! Details are on the left side of this page:)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sound The Trumpets! Something 'Wild' Is Out!

I've posted the spicy excerpt over at Molly's Musings; you get the tame one. I know; not fair, right? In all fairness, how do you know when you've made it 'big' in publishing? No, I'm not talking about paychecks, or the movie version of your book....although that would be a big deal!

No, what I'm talking about is the title of your book being discussed by someone else's characters. So here's my tribute to one of my fellow authors:

Warning: Contains Adult Material:
“Want to try a little experimenting?” he nuzzled her ear. “I could put it in here…” He reached around her hips and skimmed his fingers across her smooth buttocks.

Her eyes widened. “Seriously?” She began to laugh.

“I never kid about that,” he murmured, biting her nipple gently. “What’s so funny?”

She turned a glorious shade of red. “One of the girls on the trail the other day…she’d, ah, brought one of those electronic things for books, you know? Well, while we were resting, she let me look at it, and she had this e-book, and well…” she swallowed. “The scene I read had them…doing that.” She threaded her fingers through his hair as he moved slowly in and out. “Ohhh…have you ever tried it?” Her voice had grown softer with each word.

Brad withdrew when he saw her wince. “No, I haven’t. But I’d like to try it. Game?”

“It certainly caught my attention,” she admitted. “What the hell…if I don’t like it, you’ll stop?”

“I’ll stop the minute you tell me to,” he promised, rolling off of her and getting on his knees. “What did the book say?”

Emma flipped over on her stomach. “The woman was bent over pillows, but I think if I just relax….wait a minute.” She scrambled out of bed and opened the door. Brad heard her in the other room, and soon she returned with a bottle of lotion. “Use this, and use plenty.” She flopped down on her stomach again and breathed in and out several times. Brad placed a trail of kisses from the nape of her neck to the small of her back. He shook a generous amount of the scented lotion into his hand and lathered up his penis, slicking some around and just inside her puckered anus. He positioned himself above her and slipped inside her vagina, causing another moan from her. “We didn’t try this last night….I like it.” Her voice muffled by the pillow.


(Later in the book...)


“A little rain’s not going to keep him away, surely,” Brad objected.


Emma shook her head. “Did you not notice the temperature difference? When the rain falls, it is cold, and can sometimes have snow mixed with it. This time of year, anything can happen.”


“Cool. I haven’t seen snow since March,” Brad grinned.


“Tourists!” Emma rolled her eyes.


“Natives!” Brad mimicked her. “Don’t fall asleep this time. I don’t want to take a wrong turn.”


“Oh, like that’s going to happen. Just stay on this highway and you can’t miss it. And besides, with that sperm enema you gave me, I’m going to have to use the facilities soon.” Emma laughed as he stuck out his tongue at her. “Seriously, I’ve got to order that book when I get home.”


“What was it called?”


“Everything Lovers Can Know. By some woman named Anny Cook,” Emma yawned. “That girl who let me read it; she raved about Anny and her other books.”


“If it puts you in the mood to experiment, by all means, get it and the rest.” Brad squeezed her thigh.


“I just might do that.”

“A litt

To find out about more of Anny's books, go here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wild At Heart and Contest!

I'm dancing around the room. Why? I just sent the final edits back to my editor, and am hoping she doesn't want to kill me. Hopefully, hopefully, everything will go well and this afternoon my 'baby' will be on its way to the virtual bookshelf for YOU, dear reader! It will make a nice Christmas present for anyone who enjoys my work:)

Why am I hoping she won't want to throttle me? Simple. I have two sentence fragments on the first page of the manuscript. What's the big deal? She wanted them joined together, in order to be grammatically correct. Problem is, I don't feel it needs to be grammatically correct.

In fact, you tell me: I'll post both paragraphs and let you judge. What's in it for you? I'm feeling generous: You'll get a freebie. Consider it an early present from me:)

Her way:

Steve Blumenthal, he was her high school sweetheart. Star basketball player, with a promising NBA career after college. Three years ago, the Chicago Bulls had moved him up to a starting position, with the media recording his every move. With the pressure mounting, he’d tried drugs. Angie had discovered him in her apartment late one night, in the act of disconnecting her stereo.

My way:

Steve Blumenthal. Her high school sweetheart. Star basketball player, with a promising NBA career after college. Three years ago, the Chicago Bulls had moved him up to a starting position, with the media recording his every move. With the pressure mounting, he’d tried drugs. Angie had discovered him in her apartment late one night, in the act of disconnecting her stereo.

My compromise:

Steve Blumenthal, her high school sweetheart. Star basketball player, with a promising NBA career after college. Three years ago, the Chicago Bulls had moved him up to a starting position, the media recording his every move. As the pressure mounted, he’d tried drugs. Angie had discovered him in her apartment late one night, in the act of disconnecting her stereo.

But that's not all: I've partnered with Romance Books R Us, and we're giving away a Kindle, preloaded with goodies for you! The rules are posted on the upper left side of this blog, and keep checking back for the answer to my question, posted beneath them. And yes, I'll repost the question frequently. So good luck:)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Signs of Success

"OMG! Kenzie's here!"

"Is your next book out yet? Please say yes...."

(Tackle hugs) "Kenzeeeeeeeee!"

"Dear Kenzie, I just finished reading your latest work and it ROCKS! You've intrigued me with one of your minor characters though; could you make (him/her) the subject of your next one?"

"Ms Michaels has written a well-penned, steamy romance which will leave you unable to put it down. This is one author I will definitely put on my 'auto-buy' list!"

"Can I have your autograph Ms Michaels?"

"You've written how many books? WOW!"

The above are varying degrees of what I term success. I walk into an informal gathering and have many people greet me. I show up at a chat and am affectionately cyber-hugged. I get a favorable review. Fan mail. Or I'm pressed for an interview.

I also feel successful when I finish edits without wanting to strangle my editor (or my family, LOL!). Or I finish a wip and celebrate with a glass of wine.

I guess I will really count it as successful as long as I am happy doing what I'm doing, meeting new people, and making a little bit of money while doing it.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to make six figures...but until that time, I'm a success every time I get an acceptance letter, not a rejection.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Looking Forward

In the year 2015....
-K will be a year out of college and hopefully working somewhere in his chosen profession;
-S will be in her 2nd year of college;
-W will be a happy 5th or 6th grader and about to cross over to Boy Scouts.

I sincerely hope we will be in a better financial position to be living in a house with two bathrooms again (I'm not greedy; I'll settle for a bath and a half. I just want two toilets and a bona fide, enclosed shower!). I'd also like to be able to hang my pictures on the walls, and to have my candles and special knick-knacks on display.

Career-wise, I hope to have every single current wip published, and be doing well both creatively and financially. I will have my own laptop; I'll be able to attend conferences and regularly get together with my online friends. The bookstore will be doing well; I'll be caught up with my extensive TBB list and will be able to buy as many books as I want, maybe not the day the new ones come out, but definitely faster than six months to a year down the road!

Hubby will quit griping about the amount of time I spend at the computer...I'll even be able to PROVE this is a 'real job' and he'll encourage me to keep going. (Okay...I'm allowed to have some 'out there' dreams, LOL!)

Roxie the cocker spaniel might still be living; she will be 13.
Cheyenne will be 5, and Oreo 7. Maybe I can even have another Beta fish again. We had Z, Y, and X; time for W. Or maybe 'Z-2'?

Basically, I hope to be still writing, still publishing, and in a better house with healthy and happy kids. And that's all anyone could hope for.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dream Come True

UPDATE: I've had cover flats made up, and will be signing them tonight and tomorrow at our annual Santa Stroll. And if I've forgotten to mention, I'm one of six Grand Marshals of our Parade of Lights tonight. I'll also be signing tomorrow at The Mockingbird Book Emporium. Camera batteries are being charged as I type this, so hopefully I'll have pictures to post next week!

And editor Tim says my ms up to page 35 looks great:) So only 65 pages left...

I'm over at the RBRU blog today, but if you don't want to go over there, here's the repost:

Have you ever had a story take control of your life and demand to be written? And then have trouble finding others to 'get' what you're trying to convey?

Meet Steve Blumenthal. He did a stupid thing; got caught; and was sent to prison for two years. During his time, he defended the underdog and studied for a degree in Culinary Arts. The problem is, he was a promising NBA star. And his hometown won't forget how he's let them down.

Enter Steve's high school/college sweetheart, Angela Clayborn. She's the one who caught him trying to steal her stereo, and ended up sending him to prison. When Steve is released early, she's unsure of her feelings when she comes face to face with him after that traumatic night.

I think I've already recounted the story about how this came about: A news blurb about prison reform caught my attention and all of a sudden 'Steve' was in my head, saying he was trying to prove he'd learned his lesson, but the town wouldn't believe him.

What came out of my fingers was a story about how circumstances over the course of six days can change the lives of four people. Two other characters, Brad Morrison, who is Angie's current boyfriend, is sent to Colorado on business. As he's wrapping up his trip, he is given the opportunity to explore the town of Estes Park and the adjoining Rocky Mountain National Park. He is soon caught up in the drama of a defiant young woman struggling to keep her brother's woodworking business going, as well as managing her own riding stable.

I've had issues with the story since I wrote it three years ago. I had critique partners tell me 'Steve' was too angry, and they couldn't get past the first chapter. I've tried to tone him down, only to have him snarl in my head 'Don't change me, damn it!'

Finally, a fresh pair of eyes showed me how to contain his anger...and it was accepted for publication. This is my favorite Kenzie story so far; I hope it does well. And I'm excited and thrilled to announce it will be available Nov 23rd or 29th from XOXO Publishing.

Excerpts:
#1 Steve and Angie

“Oh Ange,” he sighed. “I’ve missed your smile. You’re still the most beautiful girl…woman, I know.”

Her smile faded. “This, coming from a man who’s been locked away. Right.

“Why don’t you believe me?” He scooted closer to her and tentatively reached for her hand. “Don’t sell yourself short. Josh told me about the store, and how your jewelry is selling…Honey, I told you years ago you’d go far with it.”

The close contact and the pressure of his hand made her chest constrict. She took another shaky sip of her water and jumped when Steve reached for the glass and set it on the table. He stood up, drawing her upwards. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles.

“I’m just going to say this,” he said, his voice rough. “I love you. You’re the one thing that kept me going, that kept me from going to ‘Prison Tech 101’. After I got clean, I decided I was going to do whatever it took to serve my time, and get a respectable job, all so I could win you back.” He cleared his throat. “God, Ange…I swear to you…that one dose of speed fucked up my future, but I’m not going to let it fuck up the rest of my life. I’m staying with Josh; I’ve got my driver’s license; tomorrow I’m buying a car. And my parole officer’s trying to help me get a good job, so I can afford my own place.” His voice dropped to a whisper and one hand stole into Angie’s bright tresses. His head angled toward hers and softly touched his lips to hers. When his tongue nudged her lips open and touched hers, she recoiled and dropped her head on his chest.

“Don’t,” she whispered. “I can’t…”

Excerpt 2: Brad and Emma

"Just the person I was looking for,” Gavin called. “This is Frank’s niece, Emma. Em, this is the financial wizard I was telling you about.”

Brad smiled warily at her as he slid onto the stool next to her at the counter. “I wouldn’t call myself a wizard, but I can certainly help with anything needed.”

“You!” Emma’s bloodshot eyes narrowed. “Are you snooping around my family’s business? We’re not about to knuckle under to pressure; I’ll fight with everything I have to hang onto the place.”

“Emma! Relax,” Gavin restrained the girl as she swiveled, preparing to launch herself out of her seat. “What’s gotten into you?”

Brad sat back, hands raised.

“He came into the shop, asking questions,” Emma said, her teeth clenched. “And now he waltzes in here and you expect me to just turn everything over to him? Let me go, Gavin.”

“You’ve jumped to conclusions again, girl.” Gavin easily swung her around and hugged her to his broad chest. “All I said was to let a pair of fresh eyes look at the books and see if he can spot where Ethan’s getting the money.”

“You mean losing it,” came a muffled sob. Emma’s stiff body gradually relaxed against his comforting arms.

Gavin chuckled. “We’re reasonably sure where he’s losing it, honey. If he continues to go to the reservation, then he’s got a gambling problem, and shouldn’t be allowed to run the store.”

“Then who the hell’s going to run it?” Emma demanded, drawing away and fiddling with the straw in her chocolate malt. “I certainly can’t. This is my busy season too.”

Brad cleared his throat as the waitress took his order. Gavin and Emma both had malts; he opted for a root beer float. “If I had access to your computer for a few hours tomorrow, I can certainly try to see any patterns.”

Emma laughed. “Computer? Well, that would make it easy, wouldn’t it? Only problem is, from what I can tell, Ethan’s not entered a damn thing into it in weeks. He keeps it all on an old-fashioned ledger, with the receipts stashed in various boxes. Good luck, Mr. Finance Wizard; you’re going to need more than a few hours.” She took a long drink of her malt as Brad’s float arrived. “When I did the books at tax time, it took me three days to enter all his numbers. I just don’t have time to go down there every day, and lately E’s been such a bear, I haven’t been down there in over three weeks.” She took a sip, turning back to Gavin. “What we need is a full-time bookkeeper. I’ll check my finances and see if we can swing it.” She cast a glance at Brad. “And if the Boy Wonder can work his magic, then we’ll really be able to see the whole picture.”

Go to the XOXO site or keep checking Kenzie's for more details:)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Busted!

Three years ago, I was a writing machine. Doing the single parent thing, writing 1500 words per day, and putting dinner on the table each night. I wrote four books between Sept '07 and July '08. I had the world by the tail...or so I thought.

The first book took me four weeks. No problem.

I signed up for NaNo. OMG...the first week went well; the 2nd week was slightly slower. But I hit a major wall the 3rd week...and my family rebelled. I ended up having a meltdown in my daughter's principal's office when I couldn't get her out of bed; the stress of now needing 3K per day to reach my goal seemed enormous, PLUS I was hosting Thanksgiving. What the hell had I done?

Thankfully, the threat of having a uniformed policeman escort my daughter to school made her clean up her act. My characters started talking to me again, and soon things were back on track. I attained my goal, but was so creatively zapped, I took the entire month of December off to recharge. And wrote two more books, one in March and another over the 4th of July weekend.

But since then, I've written only partials. I've written five or six first chapters, and stalled. No idea of where to take it next. I've blamed it on family responsibilities; too much email; too much promotion; even writer's block.

Right now, I'm semi-blaming the hubby's health. Seriously.

Since his retinal detachment last March, my life has been turned upside down with his care, and having him home 24/7. And now I've been hanging out at the bookstore nearly 30 hours a week, just to get out of the house and away from his bad attitude! Thankfully, some things are coming together; watch for an announcement later this week.

But don't look to me for debunking any writing excuses: Right now, I'm the poster child for procrastination. BICHOK works....when you have the time. And right now, there aren't enough hours in the day. My NaNo word count? 400. After my edits are finished, I hope to improve that number in the next two weeks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

1980 Gold Medalist in Reading Olymics! Honest!

I've always been a voracious reader.

For instance, as the title suggests, I entered the Reading Olympics along with my sister and a friend. The goal was to read twenty books in a month for the Gold medal; fifteen for the Silver; and ten for the Bronze.

My sister read ten.

K managed sixteen.

I read forty-five.

We had to have a parent's signature, and at first, my mother made me give her a brief summary of the book I had listed before she would sign off on it. But by the third book, she realized I was retaining the plot, characters, etc, and told me to just bring my sheet at the end of each day; she believed me.

I learned to read in Kindergarten. My favorite book was Spaghetti Eddie from the school library. I also loved my Disney Read-Al0ud books, with the record and 'Turn the page when Tinkerbell waves her little wand like this...(sound of tinkling bells)".

By the second grade, I was devouring biographies. My mother had given me her Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Mapes Dodge, Sagajawea, and Julia Ward Howe. I took one of them to school one day, and my teacher realized I was reading above my level. She took me to the 'big' library and let me check out more biographies on her card. I fell in love with the First Ladies, Virginia Dare, and Jane Addams.

Third grade, my teacher restricted me back to the 'baby' library. Thankfully, my mom was our Brownie Scout snack lady, so once a week while she was conferring with our Scout leader, I slipped down to the 'big' library and read to my heart's content.

I was introduced to Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames by the 5th grade; Vicki Barr and the Dana Girls by the 6th grade, and Mom let me read The Flame and the Flower by the end of my 6th grade year (I had my first boyfriend, and I decided I was 'grown up enough' to read Mom's romance books).

Judy Blume was rising in popularity, so I also devoured Are You There God, It's Me Margaret; Deenie; Blubber; Then Again Maybe I Won't, and First Love. I also haunted the jr. high library for new fiction and fell in love with books such as 'I Was A Teenage Alcoholic/Drug Addict/Teenage Mom'. I also read Dunesbury Comic books.

By high school, I was into the teenage 'First Love' from Silhouette Books, and other teenage romances. A friend introduced me to VC Andrews. And while on vacation, I ran out of reading material and purchased 'Dakota' by Dana Fuller Ross, beginning a twenty-year love-fest with Wagon's West. I also read Gone With The Wind, and was thrilled when I was finally allowed to watch the movie on TV.

I think the Thornbirds came out while I was in college; it might have been my senior year of high school. Dad also got me interested in John Jakes, and I read North and South before it bacame a mini-series. I had also eagerly watched 'Centennial', and while I didn't read the book all the way through until the 1990's, I did enjoy reading certain scenes I'd seen on TV. I didn't even watch every episode until TNT aired it in the early '90's. Somewhere, I have the last episode on tape.

Danielle Steele and Wagon's West was a staple in college; after I married, my mother introduced me to Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter. Other friends introduced me to Lavyrle Spencer and W.E.B. Griffin. James Patterson. Michael Palmer. The list goes on.

In 2003, I read my first e-book and erotic romance, Water Lust by Mary Winter. It was an experiment to see if I was comfortable reading books on the computer. Surprise; I loved it! And in 2007, when I started communicating with several authors, I started purchasing their e-books. Finally last year, my hubby bought me a Sony Pocket E-reader, and it stays in my purse. I try to purchase anywhere from three to twelve books a month, and read anywhere I have to wait.

Some friends recently opened a new/used book store, and while my funds are limited for the e-book-buying, I have a pile of print ones on loan to me from the bookstore. I get paid in reading material, so I usually have four or five books tucked away. And I have several books on the shelves earmarked for 'next to be read'.

On my Recommend shelf, I've listed Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones (teen romance I loved!); Life Goes On (Christian Fiction); The First Patient (Medical Thriller by Michael Palmer); The Runaway Jury (Thriller by John Grisham); and The Dutchess (my favorite Jude Deveraux romance).

So yes, the genres have changed, and the amount of free time to read, plus the method has changed. But my love of the printed word will always remain the same.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"I Don't Have An Eating Disorder. Honest!"

Somewhere out there, an eating disorder counselor is still not entirely convinced the caller on the other end of the phone is not in denial. It literally took me five minutes of stating the call was for research purposes; I enjoyed food waaaayyy too much to ever starve myself, much less regurgitate it willingly, to ever have an eating disorder. She finally sighed and agreed to answer my questions.

I'm not fully convinced she knew all the facts; I had spoken to several teens about the subject, who informed me there was a hybrid disorder at their school: Some days their friends wouldn't eat anything; three days later they were binging and purging. When I brought this up, the counselor insisted that would never happen. An anorexic would never binge; a bulimic would never go for days without eating.

So we came to a gray area where we silently agreed to disagree.

I have also had to convince a lawyer I was not being sexually harassed; a building inspector I was not having issues with anyone; and a restaurant hostess I HAD been a patron in the past decade, not a rival looking to blatantly rip off the place.

But right now, hubby thinks the strangest research I've done to date concerns two storylines fighting for attention in my brain. One involves about 10 hours of the Discovery Channel on the DVR; the other involves six hours of last year's Winter Olympic Figure Skating (Ice Dancing to be precise) on the DVR. I'll get to it eventually; but right now with my schedule, most of my shows are now being DVR'd and not being watched 'in a timely manner', and the SU pouts when he has to delete any episodes of Stargate. He threw the same mild hissy fit when I was on the Law and Order kick last year. But then again, we had two TV's and two DVR's. Being downsized to one is just sooo much of an annoyance....(insert hubby whine; dramatic sigh, whatever).

But as long as I'm able to type/write in longhand/dictate story ideas, I'm sure some sort of strange research will be needed. But such is the life of a writer!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Things I Wish I'd Known....

Correct Point of View: Omniscient POV is no longer acceptable. Quit using 80's authors as models.

Promotion 101: It takes an average of 10 mentions of your name/title for people to go (head slap) You wrote that? I've got to get it! Know your pitch; keep it brief; and get out there and sell yourself!

Read Submission Guidelines Thoroughly: Yes, there are publishers out there who will automatically reject you if your subb is sent in the wrong format/you didn't use 12pt font/you sent it to the wrong editor/called editor 'Editor' (or wrong gender)/simply wrote 'Here's my submission...' If a friend sends you a head's up call, READ the guidelines, even if they are spelled out in the email? She may not have included everything.

Know When (or Where) It's Okay To Post Excerpts of Current WIP: Especially if it's uncontracted. Some publishers consider posts 'already published'. (I'm still figuring this one out.)

Know When To Shut Up About Your Work (directed at my alter-ego): Not everyone will be interested in hearing about ALL your books. Know when to recognize the signs you're boring your audience.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Cover Art!!

I have been truly blessed in the cover art department. I send in my form; they send me a sample; I make a suggestion; Beautiful!

For example, here's what landed in my inbox yesterday. While I like it, my initial reaction was, where's my romantic couple?


I showed it to my daughter, with my idea of cropping the mountain to one side and having my loving couple in either the upper left or right side. My artistic daughter suggested the center, so I emailed Amanda and this is what I received this morning.

Cover art gold, imho!

What do you think?

As soon as my excerpt and blurb are edited, I'll be able to post more. And since this story is truly my 'baby', I'm finally beginning to get excited about promoting it:) I just hope it's as well received as my other work.

In case I didn't mention it, it's slated for a Nov 23rd release. Now for the next phase: Editing the darn thing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rewriting History

Everyone has their 'do-over' moment, the one where they would gladly go back in time and change the outcome of their life. For me personally, I have three.

1) I'd love to go back to 1986 and slap myself at a certain party, where I stupidly thought I was the date of the host; looking back, I clearly wasn't. I'd grab my soul mate (yes, met him that night!) and never let him go. Just to see if we'd ever get past the dating point and get rid of this 'what if' feeling. Twenty-four years later, that initial spark is still there, but we're bound by moral constraints not to act on it. He does get to be the hero in all of my books though:)

2) I'd go back and completely start 1987 all over again. This was the year of my rebellion, and in retrospect, I let a lot of opportunities go to waste. It was nothing but a year of one bad decision after another.

3) If I had to pick just one selfish moment, I'd go back to 1988 and take the opportunity nearly granted to go to Hawaii for Spring Break. My on-again, off-again boyfriend had hinted he was putting together a big surprise; my roommate and I speculated on everything from plane tickets to a diamond engagement ring. But since I 'knew him so well', when the opportunity arose for a relationship closer to home, I grabbed it. And then found out my 'surprise' was going to be a round-trip ticket for an awesome Spring Break! Since my budding 'relationship' was only two days old at that point, I offered to call it off. But he realized I needed something he couldn't provide at the moment: Love and affection closer to home. So he kept his money and I continued my second year of self-destruct-mode. The only thing my taking the trip to Hawaii would probably accomplish would be to finally put an end to the on-again, off-again part. I think if we had actually spent an entire week together, instead of a day here, a weekend there, we would have burned out a lot quicker than we did. But on the flip side, it did enable me to stay in touch with my soul mate!

The downside of any of these coming true?
-I wouldn't have met my now-husband;
-I wouldn't be the same person I am today;
-My kids wouldn't be the kids I have now.
-Would I be published? Who knows? My stuff might be buried in boxes somewhere, for only my enjoyment.

So when you put it like that, I'm pretty happy with the way life's turned out after all.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Good News!

Someone is smiling down on me. I received some awesome news yesterday, something I've waited a long time for...no, it wasn't NY, LOL:)

Dear Kenzie,

Please note that your ebook Wild At Heart has been set for Nov 23, 2010 release.

And in another unrelated email.....

Hi Kenzie,

BTW, I may be your editor. Did I send the edits I had made when contracting your book? And if so, did you work on them? If not, I'll do it now. :)

And to add to this list of good news, I was also interviewed by my good friend Marianne Stephens over at the RBRU blog. Stop by and say hi?

Daughter came home with a dog yesterday. I'll post a picture as soon as we get one of her.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Publishers Behaving Badly....

Awhile back, I blogged about authors behaving badly, and how one should conduct themselves in a professional manner. It's recently come to my attention some publishers need to do the same. (Thank you Melanie for your email and phone call!)

-Answer your email. I realize you may receive a ton of mail per day, but if your newly-contracted author has a valid question, at least forward it to someone who can answer in a timely fashion? And remember; I've most likely 'friended' or 'liked' you on FB, so remember I KNOW you're online and my email has been unanswered for weeks.

-Be honest. If the company is making money, authors should too. Please send checks/prizes won/royalties paid on time. Authors like to know our books are selling, even if what we've sold doesn't even meet the quarterly minimum. Please allow us access to our reports?

-Don't play favorites. Yes, I'm sure every publishing house has their golden child, the author who belongs to the release-of-the-month club and earns big bucks for the company. Remember they didn't start out that way; they worked their way into the Best Sellers like us newbies will...eventually.

-And let authors talk to each other. How can we get to know each other if you don't encourage interaction? You'll get better cross-promotion if we become friendly and can toot each other's horns once in a while. Trust me; my own blogmates do for their own publishing houses.

-Learn to spell, or at least proofread your posts. If you own your own publishing company, don't let me see typos every time you post. I can understand dyslexic fingers; I have them myself at times. But every single post?

-And if you request an interview on my alter-ego's blog, she sends out the questions a month in advance. Please send back the correct interview and respond to her 'gentle reminders'? She's easy to work with; just ask anyone who's been showcased the past eight months. Ask my blogmates; I'm a loyal person. If I like your books, I'll shout it from the rooftop. But if I don't, well, you won't hear it here. I'm polite that way.

But act unprofessional and believe me; I'll take my business elsewhere.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ttttthhhhhbbbbbtttttttt!

Dear Mrs. V,

Thank you for making my 4th grade year a living hell. Without that year, I might not have become the introverted, shy, little girl with the low self-confidence.

But guess what? There ARE caring teachers in the world; among them, Mrs. Y who encouraged me to keep writing five years later. Without your constant demeaning, I might never have developed the thick skin I have today, the very thick skin which allows me to put my work 'out there' and ready for rejection.

After nearly ten years of submitting to various publishers, I can finally say I've attained contracted published author status. One was published in 2009, and I hope to have two more this year. Three more are under consideration, and I'm hopeful for releases in 2011.

Thankfully, I endured one year under you, and my regret is that I vomited on Mrs. R's desk, not yours.

Unsincerely,
Your former 4th grade student

PS: The title of this blog is me sticking my tongue out and blowing a raspberry. I know; rather un-Christian-like of me. But at least I was cordial.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Did I REALLY Just Say That??

(Kenzie looks around)

How many people heard my alter-ego on Blog Talk Radio last week?

(At least two people raise their hands)

That was a classic example of being over-confident about my topic, and thinking I knew what I would say. Ever have a conversation with someone and all of a sudden your brain is yelling, 'WTF??? That's NOT what I told you to say! SHUT UP! NOW!"

But the mouth keeps going...and suddenly the host is cutting you off because there's only one minute left in your allotted time frame!

The last time I was on BTR, I started out nervous, but eventually calmed down and picked what I thought was a tame excerpt to read. Except in the middle of it, I came upon the words 'cock' and 'pussy' and since a) it was nearly 3pm in the afternoon and b) I was talking to a MALE HOST, and c) I'm not even remotely comfortable saying those words, much less typing them, I tried to rush through it as soon as possible. And afterward, mentioned maybe the next time he has me on, we should do it at ten o'clock at night, in the event of another X-rated moment!

I've had head-slap moments on chat loops, when I've gushed over one author's books too much and afterward, thought I inadvertently insulted someone. I've expressed my opinion and been heavily criticized for what I read. Or I've accidentally interrupted a chat in order to promote myself.

I'll admit, I've used this space to deliberately blast someone for bad behavior (nope, not telling you the post or who it's directed at!) and I've vented my feelings toward a certain new divorcee friend in the throes of a mid-life crisis. That's okay; I've not posted any names and she doesn't read blogs anyway. Hell, I don't even think she reads the sample excerpts I've sent her the past year, or that she'll read any of my stuff until I get that million-dollar advance from NY. (Like THAT will ever happen...snort!)

But anyway, I've said it before; my skin has grown quite thick since embarking on this publishing venture. I've been bruised, but I heal quickly.

And I have plenty of online friends who offer cyber hugs when I'm down!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Write What You Know

I misunderstood the topic again...and then I reread it. "Writing Places I've Never Been" had me griping about the various writing conferences I can never seem to attend. And then the light bulb went on....maybe they were talking about setting your stories in places you've never been!

I've only done this one time. The main character in my alter-ego's second book travels to California, and admittedly, I patterned it after some of my experiences in Florida. Fortunately, I have friends who have actually been to Apple Valley and George AFB, so I was able to interview them about distances, the buildings, and any other information I might have gotten wrong.

For this reason, I tend to set my stories in a small town setting, where I've lived for the past fifteen years. But when my characters do venture out, I make sure they go to towns where I've BEEN, so I know what I'm talking about and can be accurate about local landmarks and culture.

The story which is currently begging to be written is going to literally be a headache. Not only has the research caused me to view many hours of Discovery Channel, it has already caused arguments about why those episodes are still on our DVR. I'm scared I'll delete a program only to discover the reason I saved it in the first place was for a key bit of info. And when and if this story a) is written to my satisfaction and b) accepted by a publisher, I don't want to be slammed by anyone depicted for inaccuracies.

And it's for this very reason I usually stand by the mantra 'Write What You Know'.

But sometimes, the imagination insists you break out of your comfort zone. So, into the unknown I go.

I wonder if this series is on DVD yet? Until then, don't touch my DVR!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Creative Blockage

I think I covered this last week, so I'm making this a brief post.

I keep up with the housework

I read a lot.

Surf the Web.

Plead with my muse to return...even if it takes months.

And sometimes, especially during NaNo, BICHOK works:) Not familiar with that term?

Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard:)

Monday, August 16, 2010

When Kenzie Isn't Writing....

How do I contain my creative side? I've been known to cross-stitch; experiment with recipes; dance; sing; and help my children with their art projects.

Cross-Stitch: It used to be only the stamped kind. Since my eyesight isn't the greatest, I didn't think I could see the tiny holes. But in 1994, my SIL gave me a counted cross-stitch, and I did rather well. For Christmas, everyone received something stitched by me. When we moved into our present home, I discovered several quilt blocks my MIL had started, but never finished. And since she didn't want them, I finished the one she'd begun, and started another one. It is still lying unfinished in my sewing bag. Lately, the only thing I've been sewing is buttons on my older children's McDonald uniform shirts!

Cooking: As previously mentioned, I went through a Food Network craze. Anything Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, or even an Iron Chef created, I'd look up the recipe, print it out, and attempt to re-create it in my kitchen, often modifying the recipe to my tastes and budget. I also subscribed to a free recipe magazine and still occasionally find one I want to try.

Dancing: I confess; when I'm alone, I crank up the music and dance around.

Singing: I'm one of those you see driving in the car, singing at the top of my lungs and pounding on the steering wheel (esp when 'Turn Up The Radio' is playing!

Kids' Art Projects: I had to do this more when my youngest was in Head Start. We made a car out of a Kleenex box; colored pictures; made paper airplanes; and most memorable, the rocket ship made out of a toilet roll tube. And no, don't have any pictures to show you.

I honestly never considered myself a 'crafty' sort of person. A friend squeals like a kid in a candy store when she enters old barns; she sees blank canvases in old saw blades, pots, ceramic tiles, etc. I just see old stuff. But put me in a paper store and I'm in heaven, while she wonders what the allure of blank diaries hold. And then a gift shop owner said to me, 'Only creative people see the potential in blank paper, whether it is a painting, drawing, or a yet-to-be-written book.'

Who knew? I'm an artist! One who can't draw a straight line to save her life, not even with a ruler, but still an artist.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Werewolves and Gargoyles and Dragons, Oh My!

Last week I raved about Dakota Rebel's Vampires; this week, it's Ms Cindy Spencer Pape's turn in the spotlight as my other favorite creature characters.

Djinni and the Geek was the first book I'd ever read by this author. And I was instantly hooked.

Professor David Garvaglia is nobody’s idea of a hero. Is he? When David opens an antique box and finds a sexy Djinni in his bed, his desire for her is almost as powerful as his determination to set her free. Anissa has spent centuries as a prisoner of the box and has dreamed of the day some handsome master would release her. The scruffy computer geek isn’t what she expected, but everything about him turns her on.

While David and Anissa explore their explosive passion, he helps her adjust to the twenty-first century. Complicating things is an evil wizard who wants Anissa for himself. Between scorching sex in his faculty office and hacking government computers, David does everything he can to keep her safe—and satisfied.



As I was reading, I wanted to know more about Draco.

Computer science professor Eric Gordon has to find the hacker responsible for a virus on campus. When his investigations show some sort of reptile may be living in the steam tunnels under campus, he turns to biology professor Lori Tremain for help.

Lori’s life is crazy with her tenure review looming, but she’s too curious and way too attracted to Eric to turn down his request. Together, Lori and Eric uncover things that their scientific minds can barely imagine, along with a passion they never expected. She doesn’t have time for love or dragons, but adventure and romance find her anyway.







Recently, I thoroughly enjoyed Curses. Having been challenged to make a horror author my hero in one of my own books, I was surprised to learn Cindy had already accomplished it.

Some people really are cursed when it comes to love. For witch Melissa MacRae, a family curse means
that falling in love is the ultimate bad idea. Jonas Pierce is a werewolf, who has seen too much to consider
passing on his curse to another generation. So why does a summer fling in Sanctity Michigan,
have them both thinking about happily ever after?




And finally, I've come to love her gargoyles. I've read all but Stone and Fire; it should be coming up soon on my ever-growing TBB list. But here's the blurb from Stone and Earth:

Gargoyle Damien St. Pierre has to find an ancient artifact needed by his people. When he meets earth witch Katie Calhoun, he can't keep his hands off her. Because of the problems his people are having, Damien is afraid to attempt the conversion necessary to make her his mate. But Katie is determined to help him in his quest and to become the gargoyle of his dreams. Can her faith overcome his fear? Will the magic of love succeed in the mating of stone and earth?



Enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vampires? Not Really My Type....

I loved George Hamilton's Dracula. For days after seeing this movie, I dreamed of a romantic guy with his looks to sweep me off my feet...and then I saw The Empire Strikes Back and forgot all about Dracula and fell in love with Han Solo again.

I'm not even on Team Edward; I prefer Jacob.

But there are two vampire stories out there I DO enjoy reading. Both are by the same author, and in fact, if I hadn't won her first contest, there's a chance I might have missed out on these books. I just didn't care to read them...until Dakota Rebel came along.



And she's even added a new twist; her books are also M/M. And she keeps the story moving.

Mitch:
When mortal Bounty Hunter Mitch Baine decides to spend one night breaking all the rules with a sexy masked vampire, he has no idea that the stranger is Jarrod Axlerod, lead singer of the famous band Heartstrings, or that he will be contracted to kill the vampire the very next day.

Mitch Baine has been trained from very early on that the only good vampire is a dead one. A lesson cemented into his brain after years of killing them on contract for the US Army. But his feelings toward the creatures begin to change after spending an incredible night with one at a masked ball.

When he receives his newest contract, he is horrified to see that the vampire he has been hired to kill is none other than Jarrod Axlerod the high profile lead singer for the band Heartstrings, and the sexy vampire he has just broken every one of his personal rules with.

Buy it here.


To Hate And To Hold:

Can Jamie and Ethan overcome their hatred for each other before the vampire marriage they are cursed into kills them both?

Jamie McHale has always hated vampire prince Ethan Connor, and Ethan loathes him right back. One dark and stormy night the two men tangle in a violent altercation that leaves them somehow bound together in vampire marriage.

It becomes very clear that the magic of the marriage bond will get what it wants for them, regardless of the men's feelings toward the situation. The curse wants them together, and as they spend time with each other they start to wonder if this really was a curse at all.

Buy it here.

I hope one day I can purchase the print version of these; then I can display Dakota's work when I'm at a signing:)

Monday, July 26, 2010

My First Story

Once upon a time, there was a budding author named Kenzie. Her fifth grade student teacher put on a record (yes, showing my age here; shut up and keep reading!) and told the class to write a story about whatever pops into their heads. Kenzie, having just seen the movie Logan's Run the week before, heard the mysterious strains of the classical piece and decided to write a sci-fi story about what the future would look like. Eerily enough, some of the descriptions resembled the futuristic world of Logan, as seen through her ten-year-old eyes, and as she discovered twenty years later, completely misunderstood the entire plot of that movie! She probably did the same with Billy Jack, but I digress...Anyway, in that story, she hadn't learned much of how to format a story, except for indenting the first paragraph. Quotes came later, but were still not given a paragraph of their own. "How does this relate to the blog topic," you ask? This is an example of what my first story looked like, without the horrendous handwriting. So yes, I am now smarter than that fifth grader because I knew NOTHING about the intricacies of putting together a manuscript or even relationships. Romance was Barbie and Ken and happy princesses finding their Prince Charming and living happily ever after. Oh, and that is how I finished all of my stories back then....And they lived happily ever after.

Monday, July 19, 2010

You Call This A Vacation???

My ideal dream vacation has varied over the years. First it was anyplace with an amusement park and water slides. Then it was anywhere with a pool, beach, and good nightclubs.

I have two dream vacations. One involves travel; the other does not.

I'd love to travel to Hawaii, Greece, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

And then there's my current 'dream vacation':
Kicking everyone out of the house.

Yes, you read that correctly. For the past several years, traveling with my kids leaves my exhausted. And since my oldest pair is now driving (one leaves for college next month and the other will officially get her license in January), my ideal Spring Break is when the hubby's off to work and my three kids disappear to Grandma's.

Peace and quiet.

I can sleep late; blare MY music; watch any TV shows without having to hear complaints; eat when and whatever I want; stay on the computer as long as I want.

And sometimes I feel as if Spring Break doesn't last long enough. Why couldn't my kids go to Grandma's the entire month of June? Or all summer?

"Kenzie....you'd miss your kids after two weeks. Trust me."

Sigh. You're probably right. But sometimes I want to lock myself in a motel room for several weeks when the words are flowing! Why does the family not get this and leave me alone until I'm finished?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Answer...and Doing the Happy Dance!

Okay; Mia was close. Here's the answer...and the actual conversation highlighted in bold.

“Crap. I’ve got to go in a few minutes.”

He tightened his grip slightly. “I could just keep you here the rest of the night.”

She shook her head. “How about I start strongly hinting for them to sleep over at friends’ houses next weekend?”

“Works for me.” He kissed her ear, then patted her butt. “Okay, Miss Horny and Pressed for Time…you know, that would make a great line in a movie.”

Tammy yawned and sat up. “Maybe in a porno,” she scoffed. “Where did you toss my clothes?”

“The same place you tossed mine.”

(Comment was made before my marriage; just wanted to clarify in case anyone was worried!)


Happy Dance:)

Received this in Monday's inbox:

Good morning Kenzie,

I have no idea why this manuscript was rejected but the publisher and I
agree. We would love to publish this piece for you.

I will be sending you a formal acceptance and contract later this morning
or this afternoon.

Whoo hoo! My new publisher will be XOXO Publishing and I'm excited to be finally getting my first 'baby' sent out into the big bad world.

And it must be my week for good news, because yesterday I received another email from my temperamental friend, apologizing for flying off the handle at me two weeks ago, and could I meet her for coffee? Unfortunately, I was too busy yesterday, and asked about either today or Thursday.

"I'm leaving for Hartford, Connecticut tomorrow and will be gone until Sunday. I'll email you next week."

Once again, patience has paid off!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Soul Mates

I'm a believer in soul mates. Ever look a someone and 'just know' you're going to be best friends? Call me crazy, but just look at my current BFF and I. Twenty-six years later, it doesn't matter if we've not seen each other since yesterday or three years; we pick up the phone or I go to her house and we pick up right where we left off. No awkward moments.

Same with another good friend of mine. I hadn't seen or spoken to him in five years, and yet the way we acted, you'd have thought we'd seen each other last week.

Did I marry my soul mate? Unfortunately, no. But he exists in the form of a Good Friend, and he doesn't mind me writing him into nearly every story.

In Marc's case from All She Ever Wanted, there's this interaction:

Marc lathered his hands and smeared them on her chocolate-streaked breasts.
“Believe it, baby,” he murmured. “Earlier you said I’m all you ever wanted? Well
sweetheart, all I ever wanted was you beside me, day and night.”

“Daytime’s going to be a little rough,” she reminded him. “You in the
boardroom and me in my kitchen.”

“That’s okay. I’ll wake up beside you….” His fingers coaxed her nipples into
firm points. “And go to sleep with you at night.” He lovingly soaped her belly and
rinsed her off. “And it’s always been my secret fantasy to fuck you on the
conference table.”

“The conference—wouldn’t that be awfully hard?” She took the soap he
offered, lathering her own hands.

“We’ll smuggle in some blankets or something.” Marc lost all rational thought
as her hands trailed down his front, encircling his cock.

Amber rinsed her hands and turned him in the direction of the water. She
moved in front of him again and sank to her knees, taking his fresh member into
her mouth.

Marc closed his eyes and braced himself against the shower stall. Wow—if this
was what married life with Amber had to offer, he was sorry he’d not put up more
of a fight three years earlier.

We talked fantasies one day, and he revealed a desire to have some fun in his office. I wrote this scene and sent it to him; he emailed me back and said I'd given him an idea for when his girlfriend was in town! Later, he informed me Monday morning meetings would never again be the same...

And in Teacher's Pet, this scene was spawned from something he suggested after not seeing his g/f for several weeks while he was traveling. Can you guess the phrase?

She tugged at his sweatshirt, wanting to run her hands up his hairy chest and to feel his rippling muscles. He worked it over his head, looking briefly surprised before she threw off her own sweatshirt and pressed his naked torso to hers. He groaned and lifted her up, carrying her to the bedroom and leaving a trail of clothing behind.

“What brought this on?” he asked briefly between kisses as she hurriedly shed her underwear and peeled his athletic pants to his ankles.

“I’m horny and pressed for time. And it’s all your fault,” she scolded, sinking to her knees to take his massive length in her mouth.

These are just two examples. But one of my favorite themes has always been the reunion story; the one in which soul mates find each other after being apart because of Fate, Timing, or Interference from Outside Sources.

What's your take? Do they exist or not?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Adding Flavor To Stories


When I think of quirky characters, the cast from M*A*S*H comes to mind. Radar always knew what the Colonel was going to say. Hawkeye and his mystery martinis and schemes. Frank's electric socks and his pursuit of Hot Lips. Klinger and his itch for a Section 8 discharge. Charles Winchester the Third.

Any story has its main characters, but often it is the secondary ones which enrich the story or backdrop. Lumier and Cogsworth from Beauty and The Beast (or even Chip). Scuttle from Little Mermaid. Fargo in Eureka.


One of my favorite shows was Gilmore Girls. Sean Gunn (above) played the town oddball, Kirk. At first I found him extremely annoying, but then would tune in just to see what hairball scheme he'd concocted.

And the show Are You Being Served? OMG! We'd tune in just to see what color hair Mrs. Slocum had!

I don't know if I've given my characters any particular quirks; I may have to add some. But the bottom line is this: Make your characters memorable, not just cookie cutter Barbie and Ken. Readers will appreciate it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Have A LIFE?? Who Knew?

Yes, as hard as it may seem to fathom, Kenzie has a life outside her computer.

Don't faint on me; sometimes I forget it too. But when kids have to email you to tell you important things, or suddenly the power dies and you discover your husband's shut off the power strip in order to get your attention....then you know you've been neglecting your family.

I do honestly try to give equal time to everyone. I get up early; answer my email, read any digests and blogs, and post my own. I update my Face Book status. Sometimes I'll even tweet. Then I shut off the internet for two hours while I dress, shower, do light housework, errands, etc. Around noon I'm back on, to check for comments or any other email, and hop over to a loop or two. If I'm in writing mode, then my characters consume me for about another two hours. And then my teens are usually begging to use the computer, so I'm off again until about dinner time, when I do a quick check before fixing the meal.

If no one is using it after nine PM, I'll hop on again, to either write some more or make the rounds on blogger.

I suspect when my kids are all off on their own, I'll be on here a lot more. But hopefully by then, I'll be able to afford maid service? I hate to hear "Kenzie, get off that damn computer and help me clean up this mess!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Caught!

So I asked my friend about her marital status. And she acted as if I'd violated the 14th commandment..."thou shalt not unearth secrets about thy friends w/o their knowledge".

She's the one who's been caught in a tiny white lie of omission, but I'm the bad guy because I found it?

Sigh....sometimes I wonder why I even bother being her friend...oh wait...I was there for her when she went through her first divorce. Wonder if she'll suddenly need me in her second?

I'm cutting off contact. She knows my email and phone number. If and when she comes to her senses, I'll be here. But I'm not gonna initiate it this time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Issues? What Issues?

As a reader and a writer, I love social issues. One of my earliest favorite books was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which dealt with a sixth grader's search for religion, as well as acceptance from her group of friends. In fact, I loved all of Judy Blume's books as she told stories about young teens dealing with divorce, masturbation/early sexuality, scoliosis, and young love.

I also enjoyed the stories of 'I was A Teenage Alcoholic/Drug Addict/Runaway'. I think I checked the teen alcohol addiction one out of the library so many times, my name was the only one on the entire card.

I learned to stay away from these pitfalls of the teenage years. And they weren't told in a preachy manner. No; quite the opposite. Sometimes it was rather humorous.

And that's what my alter-ego has tried to do in her books; weave the social issues into the story lines in order to show how even good kids can make disastrous choices. Throughout her series, young women learn the choices they make can affect their overall outcome in life. Sometimes it's a good change; other times not so good. As one reader put it, as she identified with a particular character, "It's nice to see what my life would have been, had I stayed on track."

As for me, I don't consciously add in a social issue; it just happens to sneak in. For instance, I had no idea sexual harassment would rear its ugly head in Teacher's Pet. I had to stop writing for two days and research. In All She Ever Wanted, my expanded chapters suddenly dealt with health department citations. Again, I had to stop and research.

In Wild At Heart, gambling addiction showed up. Off The Clock shows a young woman who's the sole caregiver of her Alzheimer's-stricken mother, and the horrific issue of elder abuse (not the woman, but her brother).

So my advice to anyone wanting to write about issues, be it political, gay rights, whatever...weave it into the story in such a manner it does not come across preachy. The reader should not even realize they are being educated until after they're finished reading.

Happy Reading:)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Okay; So I Misunderstood The Topic....

Vernacular Pet Peeves, not whether or not we like to write native dialects or use slang terms!

(Kenzie sighs heavily and looks thankful no one commented on previous post.)

I commented on Mia and Dakota's posts, but here they are again:
-'Took and...' This one drove me crazy from 1998-2006....okay, every time I speak to a former neighbor this drives me batty! Maybe the word is 'tooken' or 'took in'? She'd say, 'We took and went down to the park....' or 'we took and went to the doctor's today...' Why not just say 'we went?' You didn't 'take' anything out of the ordinary! So why say it?

-'Honest and truly...' My aunt says this. 'Honest and truly Kenzie, I don't know if we'll make it down for the party...' 'Honest and truly, I hope (insert cousin's name) will get this divorce settled soon...' Okay, I get what you're saying, but why do you think I think you're about to lie to me?

-'Warsh' or 'Waish' (wairsh?) This one absolutely drives me insane. And my own SU and his entire family says it! 'Time to warsh the dishes...' 'I warshed clothes yesterday...' For god's sake people! The last time I checked, there was no 'R' in WASH! W-A-S-H! And growing up, my best friend's mom used to say it, with an 'i' inserted. 'Don't forget to waish your face and hands...' 'If you want me to cut your hair, let's wairsh it first...'

-'Fixin' to...' As in, 'I'm fixin' to go to the store today...' You're going to fix what before you go to the store? Grandma, you're 88 years old. I don't think the shuttle bus needs your help. And if your dress needs fixed before you leave the apartment....well, that's another matter.

What sayings make you want to cringe and auto-correct every word you hear?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bring Back Uncle Remus!

"Zippidee Doo-Dah, Zippidey-ay...My oh my, what a wonderful day..."

"You can rip out mah ears, chop off mah tail, but pleeze oh pleeeze don't frow me in dat briar patch!"

Am I the only one in the world who misses Song of the South and the stories of Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit?

Several years ago, my oldest son brought home the stories, and I delighted in reliving a childhood love of hearing these stories and doing the dialect. I can 'hear' the Walt Disney characters in my head, and wish my children could too. I heard the movie was going to be rereleased, and eagerly asked Amazon to notify me when it became available. I sincerely hope it will be; I think I saw this movie two or three times as a child, and had the read-aloud storybooks and records.

Does this make me a racist? No. This was made at a time in history when African-Americans were perceived a certain way. Do we jump all over Father Knows Best, because the moms were seen as subservient to the fathers? No. And Peter Pan is still on shelves, even though the Indians (Native Americans) are portrayed saying 'Ugh". (Yeah, I take issue with the 'PC Police' sometimes!)

What does this have to do with writing veracular language? I like it. I have no problem reading Gone With The Wind and reading Mammy and Prissy's words. I'll admit, the first couple of times, it helped to read it out loud, so I could understand it.

And in contemporary works, I don't mind the use of slang; it adds flavor to the writing. If we all used 'The King's English', it would make for pretty boring reading. I find Bronte, Austin, and original Shakespeare hard to follow. But if I'm taking my Northern characters to the deep South, I'd expect more 'honey-chile', 'cute as a bug's ear', and references to pimento-cheese sandwiches or Mint Julips.

And yes, if I read that a character is from Australia, I expect to read 'G'day mate' instead of 'How do you do?' (Does anyone even say that anymore?)

"Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder...it's a fact, it's actual, everything is satisfactual, zippidy do-dah, zippedy-ay, wonderful feeling, wonderful day!"