Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Review!!!

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the entire thing, so here's a snippet:

All She Ever Wanted by Kenzie Michaels is a sexy contemporary romance with parents that cant let their children run their own lives. I enjoyed this book from start to finish and really loved the characters. Amber because she wouldnt let anyone stand in her way of her dream career, even though it cost her the man she loved. And Marc because even after everything that happened between him and Amber he still trusted her more than his own father.

You can read the whole thing here: http://sensual.ecataromance.com/?p=2375

She gave me 4 stars! Not sure if that's out of 5...Thanks Sheryl! Glad you liked it!

And yes, it's on its way to Office Max to be printed and laminated...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Social Worker in Print Form

My goal when I was in college was to save every abused child in Indiana.

Didn't. Quite. Happen.

I discovered I was also very good at counseling domestic abuse victims, but when my senior year rolled around, I was so stressed from working a full-time waitress job and juggling 18 credit hours in order to graduate, I lost my fire.

I just wanted to finish the romance book I had been writing for four years and work some mindless job that didn't require me to THINK!

Couple my first job that I loved (except for having to drive in snow and ice, lol...) with an emotionally controlling idiot and you have a recipe for disaster. So after getting out of that situation, I decided to write about the experience, and it proved to be very theraputic.

But my counseling training is still swirling up inside my brain, and now whenever I write, the strangest twists come out. In my first Kenzie book, it was the issue of attempted rape, which has now beeen changed to simply a breaking and entering, alongside a secondary character dealing with a gambling problem and needing an intervention.

My NaNo project dealt with sexual harrassment and the issue of extreme emotional damage.

My next two seemed 'normal', until a character mentioned his ex had an eating disorder and was determined to foist it on the kids. The second one is a modern Romeo/Juliet problem, in which if you've read it, know that it does have a different ending than Shakespear's!

The one I'm writing now seemed perfectly normal, until the heroine revealed why she reacted so negatively to a stranger's kiss. I was thinking maybe he simply reminded her of someone in the past? No. All of a sudden, it turns out she'd been raped as a teenager! Whoa...where the hell did THAT come from??

For the record, I've never been in that situation, nor has any of my friends been through this. But the past couple of Jody Picoult books have, so maybe my brain is wanting me to wear my social worker's hat alongside the one which says 'Author'.

Sigh...I'll continue to write and see where this takes me! Wish me luck...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My First Review!!

ALL SHE EVER WANTED is a quick read that is steamy from the start and only gets hotter as it goes on.... Kenzie Michaels delivers a hot story that comes together quite nicely. I hope to see more work from Ms. Michaels soon.

Thank you, Ramnce Jumkies, and thank you Pamela Denise!!!

That just made my day...

To read the full review, click here!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Woo Hoo!

I did very well at the Wine and Art Festival on Saturday, as you know if you're one of my friends on FaceBook:) Three people actually bought my book! As well as two of Molly's:)

I guess I'm full of contrasts.

As I was getting in the van to move it to another parking area, a woman came by with flyers, inviting people to Metal Night at one of the local bars. I joked that if she and her partner, who also came over to see what we were talking about, came to my booth, then I'd come out to the concert.

They did, and were astonished that I had not only written one book, I had three published and more submitted!

At 5:30, fellow author and friend BB Walter and I wandered over to the wine tasting booth. She was carded, and while she was retrieving her ID, the woman asked if she was my daughter! I thought, "Just how old do you think I AM?", but kept my mouth shut. I did tell BB about it, and we laughed about it.

At one of the winery booths, I recognized one of the guys, who asked me if I'd sold any of my 'smut'. I said yes, and the one pouring my sample handed it to me and raised his eyebrows.

"Seriously....you write smut?"

"Yes, I do. Tame smut, but hey..."

He poured me another, no ticket required.

"Good for you! Here's to your future books!"

The final eyebrow-raising moment came when BB and I arrived at the bar. The gentleman who'd invited us looked me over and asked, "Seriously...you like metal?"

I smiled. "My son has me hooked on Disturbed."

"Well alright then! Enjoy yourself!"

He even later bought BB and I a round of drinks! Of course, with the college out until the summer session begins, she and I were onlytwo out of a handful of patrons NOT associated with any of the bands!

And depending who I'm with, I can be shy or the life of the party.

Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on what others were saying about our booth!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Imaginary Friends

By now you've hopefully met Marc and Amber:)

My other friends include:

Courtney and Dustin
Angie and Steve
Brad and Emma
Katherine and Trent
Tori and Travis
Thalia and Rick
Ashley and Keith
Misty and Cory
Tammy and Kevin
Becca and Mark
Cara and Austin
Tricia and Brock

Sometimes they come to me in dreams, either sleeping or daydreams. Songs on the radio causes them to start talking, either to me or to each other. News items can have the same effect.

When I learned to read, sometimes the characters from whatever book I had finished would 'continue' telling me their story, including me into the new chapters as a friend, or maid, or even a little sister. The first time I paid attention to this, I was Beau's younger sister, the rebellious one, in The Flame and the Flower. Yes, I realize he's still a baby at the end of the book, but hey...what happened after he grew up? What happens twenty years later, when Brandon and Heather are watching their daughter prepare for her 'coming out' ball? Did anyone not ever think of that?

Right now, everyone has been pretty silent. Probably since Marc and Amber are being promoted and scrutinized by more than just myself and critque partners, lol:)

But once everything calms down, I have a feeling one set of characters will want their chance at center stage, and things will click into place once more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Friends All Over The World

When this concept of online friends first surfaced, I wondered how you could be friends with people you haven't met. There were crazy people pretending to be all ages, even different genders, and preying on teenagers.

And then I was invited to join an online writer's group. Suddenly, I was sharing info with women and men from across the state, all encouraging each other as we strived for publication. Some of us were already published, and educated the others about promotional ideas, and this new-fangled thing called e-publishing. Two writers were very gung-ho about the concept, and answered any questions. One had a release date, and the other had a contract. How exciting!

I discovered something, though...saying something to one's face in a teasing manner and typing it onscreen in the same teasing manner doesn't always come across in the same context! Plus, you have to be careful how you word your reply...the other person can't read your mind, and may take your innocent comment to be something else. I almost got into another 'war of words' with someone because of it, but checked myself and backed off. Funnily enough, that particular person is now one of my best online friends...go figure!

Anyway, that chat loop provided the info I needed to set up a website; start a blog; even meeting others across the globe once I got over my shyness and began chatting on different loops. And yes, on more than one occassion, managed to put both feet in the blog, so to speak, and caused a minor uproar. But patience and a sincere apology was all it took to win people back. But the second time caused a rift between myself and another friend, who went on a smear campaign against a mutual friend, so I quit trying to stay on her 'good side'. But when she started attacking others...well that was the final straw. I still read her blog, but I don't email her or seek her advice anymore. I did give into a fit of childish no-longer-able-to-keep-quiet-about-it-any-longer moment (See Feb 3rd's post).

But what I'm getting at is, my physical friends don't entirely understand why I'm perfectly content to stay home and write all day long. Or my delight in getting rid of the kids for a week, or wondering why they couldn't stay away longer (grin!). I've had people offer me those in-home businesses 'so you'd have something to do during the day'.

Huh? You mean BESIDES the laundry, the vacuuming, the dusting, keeping an eye on a busy toddler, and oh yeah...trying to write at least a chapter a day? Yeah...I have nothing better to do with my time...I also read for at least 2 hours a day. And occassionally, I get a check in the mail, or even some spending money when I'm at the craft fairs.

And why don't I take my kids with me to these festivals? 'Mom...can I have some money for food?'....'Mom...this guy has these puppets I just gotta have...' 'Mom, can I please go on the bumper cars?'

Not to mention my own guilty pleasure...the candle displays, or I see something that would make an excellent Christmas/birthday gift for someone! Or earrings...or even another author....yeah, my cash tends to disappear as fast as it comes in. I've learned to put myself on a budget at these things!

But if I'm stuck on a scene, or need a better phrase, all I have to do is call up my email and fire off a 'HELP'. Advice usually shows up within the hour:)

And it's thanks to these wonderful friends that I was finally e-pubbed this year. And I have it on good authority I've sold at least nine. Now if someone will just read it and let me know if they liked it or hated it....I don't even know if my publisher has sent it to any review sites, or if that's my responsibility!

Guess I'd better fire off another email.

Tomorrow: Imaginary friends:)

Friday, June 5, 2009

City Mouse, Country Mouse

Remember that fable? Technically I'm more of a suburban mouse, but I married a country rat.

When we first married, we lived in the city, and I became friends with our neighbors and his friends' wives. He tolerated my college friends, and disliked B, whom I was still in contact with.

Seven years later, we bought our first house in the country. He immediately felt at home, but I was lost. It wasn't until a year later that I felt comfortable with any of the women in the neighborhood, partly because I realized they had brought their 'city rules' into the country, and the two were not compatible!

I grew up 5 miles south of town, where the dogs roamed free; everyone cut through the yard to get to the neighbor's, and friends just 'dropped in'.

Not in this neighborhood!

-I received phone calls, complaining my dog had been in their yard.
-More phone calls, requesting my kids call before coming over.
-Fences were being erected all over, with 'No Trespassing' signs posted.

After the first baseball season, I also realized the rest of the community was a lot nicer, and I made friends who lived closer to the school. But my hubby was right at ease with the men, and didn't understand why I wasn't as friendly with our neighbors anymore. And when I explained, he agreed that the women were 'uppity bitches'.

I cautiously followed 'their' rules, and went back to holding people at arms' length, until T moved in. She was having the same problem as I was, so we hit it off and still remain in contact, even though it's been 3 years since we moved.

And now, in our new town, I've made a few friends, but no one I feel particularly close to, except maybe D. I'll talk about her and my writing friends tomorrow.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Laying The Groundwork?

Or did college simply set me free to be who I am?

Ever get a phone call and something inside just knew you were destined to be friends with whomever was on the other end?

That's what happened in August 1984.

I had just received my room assignment and two hours later, the phone rang. It was one of my soon-to-be-roommates, wanting to get to know me.

I think we talked for two hours. And this was before free long distance! But something told me we would be good friends.

At the end of the month, we had indeed ended up on the same side of the suite; I'd arrived first and opted for the top bunk; K arrived and chose the other side, far bed. En arrived and took the other side, near bed, but left soon afterwards. Er arrived the next day, and had no choice but to take the last remaining bed. And we were all hoping the good-looking guy with her was her brother! (No such luck...he turned out to be her boyfriend!)

Right away, the two E's paired up, since they were both more attractive than myself or K, and quickly got themselves invited to the parties. Fast-forward to April; Er needed one of us for a blind date, and En refused. I agreed, and while it not only kick-started my alter-ego's series, that decision solidified our friendship. She discovered that while I was quiet, I did have a wild side to me after all, and during the next four years we shared tears, traded sexual knowledge, confided over boy problems, and have had each other's back more than once.

We lost touch with En, since she didn't return the following year, and when K didn't return the second year, I managed to keep in contact with her, so BJ (who took En's spot in our room), K, E, and I became a close foursome. E and I transfered to Ball State, and since I got there first, I secured a room for us, plus introduced her to all my new friends in the dorm wing.

Over the past two decades, we've drifted somewhat. K married and divorced; BJ announced she was through with men; E married and moved to the northern part of the state; I finally married and began reproducing. And when E's spouse started abusing her, I was right there to 'kidnap' her, provide a place to stay, and help her get counseling. Her decision to leave opened up her husband's eyes, and he agreed to get help for his anger issues. So far, he's not touched her again, so answered prayer there!

And now she's only 90 minutes north of me, so I stop in whenever I can.

College was a learning experience, not just for furthering my education, but forming lasting friendships, life experiences, and ultimately meeting my future husband, though I didn't know it until two years AFTER I graduated.

Tomorrow: My adult friends after marriage.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Make New Friends...

....but keep the old

One is silver and

The other's gold.

Remember that song?

Sorry if I'm stealing blog ideas again; several of my friends are blogging about friendship and I just had to add my two cents.

I've never been one to make friends easily. I think that my turbulent childhood caused me to be rather cautious when it comes to divilging confidences, and so I have a tendancy to be picky when it comes to choosing people to confide in.

I found out in my later elementary/junior high experience that boys were the best friends. Girls were too catty and too apt to switch loyalties. Not with my guy friends. They were way more supportive! However, this had a slight drawback: If my feelings toward them happened to change, how did one go about getting them to see me as a FEMALE, rather than 'just one of the guys'?

Fortunately, my first boyfriend felt the same way and told me first. Our 'romance' lasted four years, but actually was over in two. We finally admitted that yeah, we wanted to date other people, and decided to remain friends. But in high school, I was the new kid, and because I didn't want to repeat any past mistakes, I kept several girls at arm's length, remaining friendly, but not close.

My sophomore and junior years, my bff was J, and my guy friend, B. Also in my junior year, J introduced me to A, K, T, Tr, C, and R. Our group hung out at band practices, trips, and ball games. And since J was a year ahead of me, R, T, Tr, and K would be who I would have considered my 'best' friends, although only T, K, and I were the only seniors.

And B? We took a great deal of ribbing, even coming in 2nd as 'Cutest Couple' in the senior poll. I kept telling people weren't a couple, but no one was convinced. He and I were even 'married' in the hallway, so when he was eventually elected President of a club, his friends jokingly called me his 'First Lady'.

Fast-forward ten years.

At the first reunion, it seemed everyone seemed to be stuck in 'One-Up' mode.

"Look what I've accomplished."

"I need another drink."

"Here's pictures of my kids."

I would see several of my classmates, but would have zero interest in speaking to them. Probably because my self-identity was floundering: I was a wife, a mother of two, and was trying to be published. Job? I'd been a driver for a preschool, a babysitter, and waitress. But had I accomplished anything with my college degree? Not really.

And when the people I did want to talk to spoke to me, I was more interested in their lives than divulging my own, past introducing my spouse and producing pictures of my kids. In fact, I'd just given birth three weeks before, so the main topic surrounding me was a) the fact my body had quickly shrunk back to size and b) I had cleavage, since I was breast-feeding my daughter!

And I playfully admonished B when I hugged him goodbye, because he drew me in for another hug.

"Ooooh, you feel different! Why is that?"

"It's time to feed my daughter. That's why we're leaving."

He looked down.

"Wow! Let me see if I can slip my credit card in there!"

"Go back to your girlfriend and behave yourself!" I kissed him and walked out the door.

Fast-forward another ten years.

The 20th reunion was less about one-upmanship and more about catching up with everyone. My alter-ego was published by then, so I was more confident about myself and since business cards were no longer being thrown about like confetti, I was careful about handing out my own.

Several friends had married and had children by then, so we spoke more about their activities rather than our own. And to my surprise, more of the women were stay-at-home moms now, so we did have something in common again.

Now I'm looking forward to the 25th this year. I've now got three books published, plus I've been in contact with several classmates via FaceBook, one of which is the lead singer of a band out in San Francisco. She's also the one who nearly fell off her chair when I sent her a racy excerpt and exclaimed 'Sweet, innocent Kenzie wrote that?'

Yup. Blame college.

I'll talk about my college friends tomorrow.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting Back To Work

As I've said on many interview, I have about five wips in need of attention. So today, after a week of not knowing what day it was (the holiday weekend, my kids' final two days of school, and having the spouse home can really mess up the mental timetable!), I'm going to buckle down and strive for at least a page a day.

Baby steps.

Usually, my goals have been 1ooo words, or even 500 words, but the muse left and my motivation went with it. I have not written ANYTHING ORIGINAL since March or April, and I'm tired of it. This time last year, I had 2 completed manuscripts and a finished ms I was trying to cut down to size. This year, I have an assignment to finish and several partials to complete.

So I'll start small, and maybe Inspriration will return. I love it when I'm 'in the zone' and the words pour from my fingers! That hasn't happened in quite a while, and I miss that feeling.

Hopefully my editor will email me soon with good news about my submission?? I'm ready for another contract!

Trying not to be jealous...
I know there's always a chance for ideas to be lifted, and I also know that even though others may have the same idea, the end result is not always the same. First came my Teacher idea; other established authors wrote their books and got them published while I was in the self-edit stage. Then my two novellas were rejected, only to be replaced by other kitchen-oriented stories. Now, my alter-ego's idea is about to be released in an anthology. True, she's not done with her series, and this end result will not even remotely resemble her finished 'Reunion' manuscript, but it would have been nice to get an email saying, 'Hey, do you mind if we use your idea for...?'

But trying to shrug off the hurt feelings and actually not caring are two different things. But until I see the final product, it doesn't really affect me.

So into my writer cave I go. Wish me luck?