Monday, July 21, 2014

Grateful for Good Neighbors

I love Durham. If you read my June Superromance, Weekends in Carolina, it should be obvious how much I love my adopted hometown and one of the things I love about it are my neighbors. I have the best neighbors and I live in the best neighborhood.

This is on my mind recently because of a group a couple of my neighbors started: The Village People. It's a neighborhood garden club, but it's not a garden club like you normally think of them. The Village People are a work group. Everyone has those projects in their yard that would take one or two people and entire day to do, but a small crowd could knock out in two hours. This is where the Village People come in. For two hours, several of the neighbors come over and help out. It's a small commitment for them and makes a world of difference for you.

YouDee the chicken explores the newly laid mulch

It may not look like much, but all that area was cleaned out by The Village People. Because of some personal things in my life, my yard got ignored last summer and the last thing you want to do in the South in the summer is ignore your yard--nature (in the form of weeds, many of them invasive) takes over. The whole area under mulch looked like that green portion to the right: i.e. Japanese stilt grass, English ivy, and poison ivy. In two hours, with the generous help of my neighbors, I was able to reconquer most of it, put down a protective barrier and spread mulch. Come fall, it will again be ready for plants I want.

Next on the agenda of The Village People is to help an elderly neighbor clean out a carport full of...well, no one really knows what's in that carport.

Things like this remind me that I'm blessed to live in this neighborhood. I know not all neighborhoods and not all neighbors look out for each other like this. While walking our dogs, my neighbor and I like to joke that it's like living in a Leave it to Beaver episode sometimes. We often make this joke after stopping to talk to other neighbors and sharing the latest in neighborly news. I love it and have a hard time imagining living anywhere else.

Do you live in a neighborhood like mine? If not, would such a helpful (and sometimes nosy) neighborhood drive you crazy, or do you think you would like it?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Super Reads: July 2014

The Super Authors are trying something new in July (and for the coming months): sharing what we're reading.

Kris Fletcher

I just finished The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg. It's really two stories: a contemporary woman who learns that she isn't who she thought she was, and a woman who became a pilot during the 1930's. I actually listened to this one as an audio book read by Fannie Flagg herself, and it was a sheer delight to hear her bring the stories of these remarkable women to life. 

Liz Talley

I just completed Codename Verity, a YA book set in WWII revolving around a female spy and pilot’s friendship while working for the RAF. The spy gets capture in German-occupied France and tortured while the pilot, who is shot down, is hidden by the French Resistance. Both are concerned about fulfilling their mission but struggle against the forces of war. It’s brilliant written and I highly recommend. Currently, I’m reading a historical romance by Anne Barton – Once She was Tempted.  Not far enough to give much feedback.

Rogenna Brewer

The Compound Effect is based on the principle that little, everyday decisions shape your destiny.  It's the little decisions that can take you to your hearts desire or to disaster by default.    

Rachel Brimble

An almost classic and written in 1954, Katherine is a novel based on the relationship between Katherine Sywnford and John of Gaunt. The book is beautifully written and rich with detailed research as well as being romantic, full of scandal and intrigue. A must read for anyone interested in medieval history!

Pamela Hearon

I'm enjoying Written in My Own Heart's Blood, Book #8 in the OUTLANDER series by Diana Gabaldon.  Fabulous!

Joanne Rock

I'm reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, a fictional story of a girl who rode one of the last trains that shipped displaced children out west. I'd never heard about this, but apparently over 200,000 orphans were sent to find new lives this way in the late 19th/early 20th century. It's a fascinating read. My sister read it for her book club and recommended it to me. 

Mary Sullivan

I've just started reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Very intriguing.

Anna Sugden

I’ve just finished Lisa Gardner’s Touch and Go, which was excellent. She had several twists which really got me! Before that, I read Bryan Gruley’s Starvation Lake. Not my normal fare, but the hero is a hockey playing newspaper editor! Great story. Next up is either Mary Burton’s The Seventh Victim or Maggie Shayne’s Sleep With The Lights On. Unless I feel like a more light-hearted read <g>.

Jennifer Lohmann

I'm reading Gary de Becker's The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence. It's not a comfortable read, but it's one all woman (and men) should read. There's important information on trusting your intuition, learning to read signals from people who want to control or harm us, and more.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Question for Readers

Mary Sullivan

Hi, everyone! I have a question for readers (and any authors tuning in) today. I posted this on Facebook yesterday and got some interesting responses.

In November, a colleague and I will present a romance novel writing workshop at Inspire! The Toronto International Book Fair. Along with my author bio, they need a photo.

My promo photo, shot by a wonderful photographer, and which I love, is now ten years old. I've stopped using it on my website because I feel like I'm cheating when I use it. I've aged a lot in the past ten years! LOL. I don't want readers to get a shock when they see me in real life if my promo photo is too far from what I really look like.

Here is the shot:
Lindsey Maier Photography
I have always been partial to B&W portraits. While the photographer provided colour versions, I really loved this one.

It's classy, straightforward and not too flashy.

When I finally do get current photos taken, I will ask the same photographer for another black and white portrait.

Last year, a friend took a photo of me that I thought was really nice. It is casual and natural. As my mother would have said, there is nothing added nor taken away. It is just me. Here it is:

Kate Bridges
Unfortunately, it is slightly out of focus because I'm using a small portion of the original photograph. Also, I'm wondering whether the best thing in this situation would be to use the professional shot even though it is now out of date.

A friend attended Thrillerfest on the weekend and was surprised that many of the authors were using photos on their back covers from when they were younger. He knew they were old photos because he was meeting the authors up close and personal and could gauge their real ages; however, in all of our promotion, we want to look our best.

As a reader, how important is it to you for authors to have photos that are close to how look like currently?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kris Fletcher's Winner

Many thanks to all who offered suggestions regarding books, movies and songs! I'm going to work hard to find ways to integrate them into the story. My winner is SUMMER! Summer, please contact me ( and let me know which online bookstore you prefer, and what email address I should use.

Thank you all!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Are You There, Blog? It's Me, (Needy) Author

A quick note: you may have noticed that old posts are suddenly reappearing on the blog. We had a minor housekeeping issue that required the authors to go back through their old blogs to tidy and repost. Things may be unsettled for a few more days as we work through this, but please be patient, bear with us, and hum some of your favorite oldies but goodies while reacquainting yourself with some blog blasts from the past.

Dear readers, I need help!

Back in January, I asked you for help choosing a meal to prepare for my winter writer's retreat. You came through admirably. Now I wish to draw from your collective wisdom once again. 

I am working steadily on my next Super, which stars a brother of Hank North, hero of DATING A SINGLE DAD. (No, I'm not telling which brother, though I'm open to requests.) Darcy, the heroine of this yet-untitled story had a very lonely childhood. She spent a lot of time reading. As a result, when faced with a decision, she will often refer back in some way to a children's story, such as in this (unedited, subject to change) passage: 

He wasn't talking about visitation or overnights or taking Cady on trips to meet his family or any of those other scenarios that had made her wonder, wildly, if it was possible to stuff a one-year-old back in the womb. He simply wanted to see her again right now. One bullet, dodged.

But not for long.

Cady was his as much as hers. He had rights. Not just moral ones, but legal ones as well. And she would have to honor them.

Are you there, God? It's me, Darcy.  

See what I mean? A fleeting reference to a well-known story that should, I hope, strike a familiar chord with a number of readers. (And if by chance you aren't up on your Judy Blume, this passage refers to that tween-age classic, ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET.)

What I need are suggestions of other stories you, dear readers, think might be familiar enough to others that I could safely refer to them in some way. Movies are also acceptable, as are nursery rhymes. If it makes a difference, Darcy is in her early 30's, Canadian, and ever so slightly warped.

To thank you for helping me, one commenter will receive a $10 gift card to the online bookstore of his/her choice. Many many thanks to all of you, and – GO!

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