Friday the 13th—a typical day in the life of SUSAN KEARNEY

A woman’s work is never done.

Readers always ask me what a typical day in my life is like. So since you asked . . .

My husband wakes me up each morning with a kiss and a homemade breakfast in bed.  As I sip fresh-squeezed orange juice, I read a note from the President of Mars. She’s asking for my help in solving the crime of the century—who broke into her bedroom and stole her diary?  Oh, wait—maybe the note’s from the Director of the Inter-solar space force?  I can’t quite read the messy signature.

While I ponder the puzzle, my robot has laid out my clothes.  My house is immaculate due to a bevy of busy house bots.  The nanny has dressed and fed the kids, the hovercar has driven them off to school.  My husband has left  me a surprise gift on my dresser—a little ten-carat diamond geegaw.  While the diamonds don’t quite match my size zero outfit, I wear the diamond tiara anyway, knowing it was the thought that counted.

I hop on my private spaceship (which takes off from my private island’s backyard landing strip, of course) and fly to Mars to interview the suspects.  I solve the crime in ten minutes.  It turns out the Martian’s President’s pooch had decided her leather-bound diary made perfect munching material and hidden the diary under the bed.      

Between adventures, Sue waits for the handsome husband and adoring family to come home.

 After a tasty lunch of champagne and caviar, I’m back on a spaceship bound for home, the solar system once again safe. After my massage, I take a warm bath, eat chocolate and wait for my adoring family to come home.

 Okay. Okay.  Seriously.  Sitting in front of a computer and typing away is not exactly Earth shattering-exciting material. Writing books is hard, it doesn’t burn enough calories, and it’s isolating.  Yet, it’s really fun, too. When I finally come up for air, I’m always surprised to find out how much time has passed.

I love the job; the best part is creating danger and romance on other worlds from the safety of my office.  And if I’m getting old and tired, I just step into my time machine and take myself to the future—where I can get an entire body replacement. And all my books have become Inter- Galactic best sellers.

In Sue Kearney’s universe, outer space is densely populated by handsome, brave, and sexy men.

If you’d like to find out more about me or more about my books, I’m at www.susankearney.com.

Here’s a direct link to one of my latest books: http://tinyurl.com/ljl37oy

Must Love Dogs, er, Cats…okay, and dogs (Sparkle and Abbey)

Sparkle, white as sugar and deceptively sweet

Sparkle: We’d like to thank Lymond for inviting us to be guests this week. I’m Sparkle, the cat part of this team and the dog part is – hey there, girlfriend, you’re on.

Abbey: What? Oh, hello all. I was just taking a little nap waiting for it to be time. Hold on…

Sparkle: She’ll be back. It’s that chasing light thing; she just can’t help himself. In the meantime, let me fill you in. Here’s the deal, our human moms are writers and they decided to write this mystery series. It’s kind of a fun series with these two cousins who are former Texas beauty queens. The girls have ditched their hairspray and tiaras for botanical flea dip, doggie couture and over-the-top pet lovers.

Abbey: Wait! Over the top, what does that mean? Is that bad? That’s sounds bad.

Sparkle: I don’t really know. I think it means the very best. You know, like the top, but more.

Abbey: Oh, okay, that’s good then. I like their titles. Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. Does a cat get shot in that last one?

Sparkle: No, of course not. No pets are harmed in any of their books.

Abbey: That’s woof. I mean, good. Woof, woof…

Sparkle: Sorry folks, she’s gone again. There was something outside the window. Now where were we? Oh right, the books. They’re mystery books and the people who read them say the books are sassy and fun. They must have learned that part from me. They co-write the books and when they write together at my mom’s house, I try to help them by typing things on the computer screen or saving their places. If either mom gets up, I sit on the keyboard so they don’t forget where they were. Sometimes I even help them edit. You can see me working here: http://youtu.be/nJfyqYd9bDk (I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille)

Abbey, as good as a dog can get.

Abbey: Back. Do we get treats for this gig? My mom said there’d be treats. I like carrots. What do you like?

Sparkle: Well, certainly not carrots. My treats are specially made just for me and they come in a special sealed package and I only eat them on my special cat perch by the window.

Abbey: Lost me on the perch thing. So, we get treats but we don’t have to actually write the books, right? So why do they use our names and not their own.

Sparkle: Here’s the deal. The people that publish their books (Bell Bridge Books) asked them to use a pen name and they couldn’t decide on one. Then they came up with the idea that since the books are about pets and their owners, they would use their pets’ names. That’s us.

Abbey: Wow, that’s kinda cool. But why me? Why didn’t they use my brother, Chewbacca?

Sparkle: Well, duh. It sounds like a big hairy thing. Our moms are not big and hairy.

Abbey: Good point. Are we about done? I’m missing my nap…

Sparkle: I guess we are about done. The books feature Caro Lamont, a pet therapist, and Mel Langston, a pet boutique owner, and they’re set in Laguna Beach, California. Lots of dogs and cats there, I hear.  You can find out more about our mom’s books on their website: sparkleabbey.com  The only other thing I want to say before I head out for a little catnap myself is that our moms like to partner with pet rescue groups for their books events. We don’t often attend ourselves, (well, I guess Abbey got to go to Yappy Hour) but we do believe very much in these groups. We both came from the animal rescue place in our town. So please support the animal rescue group in your town. It takes care of other furry friends like us. Right, Abbey?  Abbey?

Abbey: :::doggie snores:::

Sparkle: Oh boy, she’s out. In any case, thanks again, Lymond, for inviting us, and also please tell your C-O thanks, as well, when she’s back from her travels.

Sparkle and Sparkle, Abbey and Abbey, a terrific team with fabulous book titles to go along with their fabulous stories..

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They write the popular pet mystery series from Bell Bridge Books which features whodunits set in the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pets, and secrets. The first book in the series Desperate Housedogs (2011), an Amazon bestseller, was followed by Get Fluffy (2012) and Kitty, Kitty, Bang, Bang (2013). Yip/Tuck will be out this summer.

Kiki Has Her Say (Kiki and Her Can-Opener)

Kiki on her throne, speaking to her subjects and her admirers.

Thank you so much, Lymond, for giving me this opportunity to let my voice be heard. It’s about time my brother and I were able to speak out against the injustices of living with Bell Bridge Books author Bill Allen. Not that the giant human is mean to us or anything. He feeds us and pets us and calls us his kids. Come to think of it, he treats us like royalty. And I’d be lying if I said we didn’t revel in all the attention. We even call him Dad. But I would hardly say things were purrfect.

For example, my name is Kiki, but what does Dad call me? “The cutest girl cat in the world.” How insulting! As if he needs to qualify it with the word “girl.” Oh, I know he only does it because he doesn’t want my brother Sundance to think I’m his favorite, but come on. No one could look at the two of us and think Sundance was cuter.

Need more convincing? Dad also calls me “his little girlie” or “cute girlie” or “sweet girlie,” as if all I have to offer is my admittedly overwhelming cuteness. He’s completely oblivious of everything else I drag to the table. Like how every time he sits down I hop up on his lap and start massaging his stomach. That reminds me. Sundance likes to call Dad “The Masseuse”—like Dad would really favor a cat who doesn’t even know the difference between a masseuse and a masseur—but if anyone around here is a good masseuse it’s me. Or even Mom.

Bill Allen, waiting for a cat or two for some lap-sitting and purring.

Where Dad does excel is as a portable chair. Like I said, no matter where he goes, the moment he sits down I’m up on his lap, keeping him warm. I know we live in Florida, but it still gets cold here now and then. Some days it even drops below 80. But does Dad appreciate the heat I offer? If so, why after an hour or two does he squirm around in that annoying way of his, as if he doesn’t appreciate my closeness?

And let’s talk about this whole writing thing of his. I don’t know if you’ve read his Journals of Myrth series, but would you believe—and this is no exaggeration—I’d say at least 90% of the words are not about cats. It’s crazy. Dad does have one character, Rake, who’s a super amazing shadowcat who goes around warning Greg of danger and putting people to sleep with his incessant purring. He’s clearly the key to the whole series and obviously modeled after me, but do I get any of the credit for his creation? No. All Dad did was put my picture in the back of the book.

Bill Allen’s Journals of Myrth, a fantasy series, features a 12-year-old hero,. The Bumpy Daze of Orson Buggy series stars a 12-year-old wrestling with Real Life in school. A new series is in progress, and Kiki will do her best to improve her C-O’s writing skills.

You know, maybe we should get back to the writing thing. A lot of times Dad will sit down with that silly glowing screen box of his on his lap. I’ll of course jump up and lie across the keys, let him soak up my muse without even being asked, but he never seems to appreciate my selflessness. Sometimes he even wiggles the box out from under me and goes on typing as if I’m not even there. I’ll place one furry paw in his mouth just to remind him I’m around, but he acts like he doesn’t even notice. Even worse: when I see the story straying away from cats and try typing on the keys myself, Dad gets upset. I guess it’s true what they say. No one likes a critic.

On the other paw, I suppose it IS his story, and Dad should be able to guide it any direction he wants. I’d probably get annoyed with me too. Truth is, Sundance and I aren’t always perfect angels. At least Sundance isn’t. Like the way he freaks out and bites Dad’s ankles when Dad stops massaging him and tries to walk away. I suppose that’s why instead of calling Sundance “the cutest boy cat in the world” Dad calls him “the wild cat” or “the feral cat” or “the crazy demon boy cat.” He even says he has proof Sundance is a demon because in every picture of us, Sundance’s normally amber eyes glow a bright green, but I know that doesn’t prove anything, because my normally blue eyes glow a bright red.

Sundance and Kiki, protecting the fort and supervising Bill Allen’s stories.

You know, when I think about it, Dad really is okay. He and Mom take good care of us and always pamper us, and if Dad wants to waste his time writing about silly humans instead of cats, I suppose he has the right. I can’t expect him to know better. He’s only human. So, I think for now at least I’ll keep him. Now, if you want to talk about breaking up the family, let’s get back to the crazy demon boy cat . . .

 

 

Brimming with Thanksgiving (Lynn Kerstan)

A painting by a friend and talented local artist, Doris Besikoff.

Like millions of other Americans, I have today been reflecting on all the excellent things I have to be thankful for. Living in this wonderful country certainly makes the list. There are other places I’d love to live in as well, if only for a limited time, because America is my home. England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand come to mind, primarily because English is spoken there(!), and because the people I know who live in those countries are really terrific. But I was fortunate enough to be born in the USA and wind up in one of its finest, most beautiful towns. I have grown deep roots in the eleven years I’ve lived in Coronado, and I am happy here.

This morning, when I pushed back a curtain to check the weather (sunny and warm), the first thing I saw was a hummingbird inches from my eyes, sucking nectar from a glorious pink blossom on the hibiscus tree just outside my window. A great way to start the day.

Your notion of “Being Alert” may not resemble Lymond’s.

I’m thankful for good health and firm determination to get into active walking shape for my trip to Italy in March. It’s a real treat, having something to look forward to. And always, I am pleased to share my apartment with a remarkable cat, presently on full Turkey Alert, glancing now and again at me with his “What’s Taking So Long?” look. Lucky for Monsieur le Comte de Sevigny, Thea the Cat Tender will be caring for him while I am on my travels. He likes Thea and graciously permits her to groom him.

I am thankful for Ereaders and the ability to directly publish my novellas and books online for new readers to discover. I’m also grateful for Bell Bridge Books, the publisher which is reissuing most of my “backlist” books for Ereaders and in print copies as well.

Friends make us happy.

I am truly grateful for a large group of friends who became acquainted online and have stuck together, many of us, for more than 20 years. Some of them—too many—I have never met in person. Even so, we share just about everything with one another, certain that confidences will be kept. That includes some whining now and again, or friendly disagreements, but we all support anyone having a run of Bad Times, and we always honor everyone’s right to have opinions that don’t run parallel to our own. Most of us are writers, and we invariably support one another, rejoice in successes, commiserate when things don’t go so well, and exchange ideas and information that can help our careers.  It’s a terrific group of people, and I’m fortunate to be among them.

On sale until 30 November.

I wish you all a joyful season and many things to be grateful for. And if you’re looking for some some light-hearted Christmas stories, the Ereader version of A Regency Holiday (with stories by me, Alicia Rasley, Allison Lane, and Rebecca Lee Hagan) is on sale for a mere $1.99 until the end of November. Snag yourself a copy here:

http://amzn.com/1611940575

 

 

 

 

My 15 Minutes of Local Fame (Lynn Kerstan)

Update: the article is now available online: http://tinyurl.com/bpwacwn

First off, I apologize for not being here last week. I drove up to the RWA Conference in Anaheim on Friday to meet up with friends and go to dinner with my publisher. During my brief time there, I was lucky to run smack into Pat, Tara, and Tim and we found time for a long chat over–you guessed it–wine.

Me and a Tree.

As so often happens, good things seem to clash with other good things, time-wise. Back home in Coronado, the local weekly newspaper was featuring me as the front page lead story, with a color picture and a very long article. I suspect only Thea managed to wade through it all. The interview itself took three hours, and even I was getting bored with me. The reporter, David Axelson, was really nice, and boy can he type fast. I also had the unique pleasure of a “photo shoot.” Kel Casey, a talented, athletic woman, worked very hard to obtain good pictures of a not-photogenic female. I liked her a lot and hope I’ve made a new friend in Coronado.

Me looking more natural. The photographer couldn’t resist. Both photos by Kel Casey.

I confess to carrying a few copies of the article to the Conference and foisting them on my friends and my publisher. “See! I am, too, famous!” Not to the point where the Coronado bookstore bothers to carry my books, though. I encountered their disdain for romance fiction when I first moved here, back when the store was pretty small and they had to be choosy. They’ve expanded, though, with room for the genre, and the store is really beautiful. But if there were romance novels in stock, I didn’t see them. I swung by the store three times, but never when the staff member who places orders was available. On that front, I give up. And thank God for Amazon, where anyone can buy my books if they want to.

All in all, it was a busy and wonderful week. And despite the fact it took me 6 stop-and-go hours to drive the 90 miles home from Anaheim (accidents, anyone?), I was glad I’d made the trip and stayed overnight. The dinner party was one of the funnest times I’ve had in recent memory. Belle Books Authors were split into two parties, and I was at a table for eight in a very fancy restaurant. Not pretentious, just Southern California high-class chic with a dazzling menu. But it was the company that made it shine.

A primary reason I made the trip was to meet a long-time writing idol of mine, Deborah Smith, who is also the editorial director of Belle Books. I have loved her books for many years, and (no surprise) she is one of the nicest, wisest people I have ever met. Across from me sat another idol, another author who writes the kinds of books I never read, except when the author is brilliant. Sharon Sala, like Deb Smith, is funny and down-to-earth and a joy to be with. In fact, that was true of everyone at the table, excepting probably me, bedazzled as I was.

There was only one flaw. We were provided with Goody Bags by Belle Books, and Brittany (Production Manager and Promo Empress) had promised Godiva chocolates. During the endless stop-and-go drive home the next day, I was unable to get over to an exit lane and became wildly hungry. The Goody Bag was at my side, and I went digging around for goodies. Nary a chocolate to be had. Not even a cheap one. But if I ever need flip-flops, I got ‘em now.

So my week of “fame” and my mostly fun trip to Anaheim is over, and it’s back to work. Monsieur le Comte de Sevigny was surprisingly glad to see me and has been exceptionally sweet. The weather is glorious, and Coronado is the best place ever to come home to.

P.S. The newspaper article is not available online. People keep asking me about that, so I thought I’d warn you not to waste your time Googling for it. The interviewer sent a text copy to me, and if you are inexplicably drawn to read it, drop me a note and I’ll email you the attachment. lynn@lynnkerstan.com.

In Praise of Second Chances (Kathleen Eagle)

NYTimes Bestselling Author Kathleen Eagle

My youngest grandchild turned 8 this weekend, and what did she want for her birthday? A Kindle Fire. This is a child who reads waaay better than I did at her age, loves books, loves to write, loves school—all the stuff that warms Nana’s heart and gives her hope for the future of the planet. But won’t that touch screen spoil her little fingers? Will she soon turn her pretty nose up at paper pages? Will the Kindle be the Buzz Lightyear to her once beloved paper Woody?

I hope so. If you know your Pixar lore, Buzz and Woody eventually play well together, and I’ve come to believe that e-readers and books will, too, at least for the foreseeable (read Nana’s lifetime) future. And that includes my stories. The technology I’ve been diligently avoiding in recent years is stepping up to give some of my best stories new life in a new format. Within the last few years I’ve been able to reclaim the rights to seven books, and I’ve been sitting on those rights, trying to decide how to get those books back into print. They’ve never been available in audio or digital format, both of which spell new life.

First up, THE LAST GOOD MAN, which should be available in March. He’s one of the gentlest cowboys you’ll ever meet. She’s a woman who thought her physical beauty was all she had going for her–before her mastectomy. You can read an excerpt on my web site. This is a book that received lots of honors. It’s the only romance ever nominated for the Minnesota Book Award. It was named one of the 5 Best Romances of the Year (2000) by Library Journal. I’m thrilled to see this book get its second chance. And just look at the gorgeous new cover Bell created for it!

That Kindle of my granddaughter’s has only been in the house for two days, and already it’s lighting my fire. I’m going to break down and get myself one. I think they’re here to stay, and I’m ready to say it’s all good. The written word—like rock-n-roll—will never die. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

 

Award-winning Western Romance Novel

What a Week! (Lynn Kerstan)

Our Travel Route. We arrive in Madrid and depart from Lisbon.

Let this be said about Pat Potter. She is an intrepid woman. Precisely a year ago, we were cruising the Adriatic along the Dalmatian Coast. I had booked the trip for myself, and when she learned about it, she immediately signed onto  join me. We had a fabulous time.

Since then, except for a writers conference in St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia) I have been precisely nowhere. Pat the Overachiever has taken two more trips with Grand Circle Travel, which places her among the members of The Inner Circle. She loses no opportunity to remind me of that. I, on the other hand, am a member of The Outer Fringes, meaning A Travel Slacker. But I’m on my way to improving my credentials with a trip to Spain and Portugal. Not that it will help me catch up with Ms. Inner Circle. She’s coming with me.

This is truly an impulse trip. A week ago today, we were on the phone considering where we might want to go in 1012. The early spring Italy trips were already sold out, and we’d sorta settled on a Danube River Cruise. But the next morning, I proposed Spain and Portugal, and she was all over it like a dog on a bone. By the afternoon, we’d booked and paid for an early March departure.

The Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid. We'll have a couple days to explore this remarkable city.

I do know a little Spanish. I can say please and thank you, “where is the toilet?” and “what is your name?” Also “please speak more slowly.” I can order beer, tacos, churros, sangria, and a margarita without salt. What more do I need?

A wonderfully historical town perched on a hill that's mostly surrounded by water.

The interior of a centuries-old mosque in Cordoba.

For centuries, much of Spain was occupied by the Moors, and their legacy is to be seen in wonderful mosques and palaces. The Romans were there as well and, master-builders that they were, created stone aqueducts to carry water along the sometimes arid landscapes of the country. Many are still there, strong and firm and beautiful. I can’t wait to see all these wondrous places.

As if the mad rush to choose and arrange a trip weren’t enough to make 2012 shine for me, I received other good news as well. My new publisher, Bell Bridge Books, has scheduled the re-release of my own favorite books. Starting in July, the “Big Cat” trilogy (The Golden Leopard, Heart of the Tiger, and The Silver Lion) will prowl the reading world yet again as e-books and in trade paperback (the “large” paperbacks). I am very excited about having these books available again.

But wait, there’s more! The publisher wants me to write the third book of my unfinished “Dangerous” trilogy, abandoned by my previous publisher. I had decided to write it anyway and self-publish if need be, but now I know it has a home. And!! As I began plotting the story several weeks ago, I decided the main characters, an estranged duke and duchess, would go together to the place where the duke’s brother was killed under mysterious circumstances.That mystery is at the core of the trilogy, so high drama will ensue.

You’ve already guessed! Or knew, if you read the first two books. Yup, they are going to Spain! A chance to do on-site research is a gift for any writer, and I am sooo grateful.

Sometimes the stars align. Sometimes, good things gather themselves and shower down on us. Not real often for most of us, but when it happens, it is truly glorious. Even Thea, my wonderful friend and cat-tender, will be in town to make sure Lymond is fed and petted and scooped-up after. It’s not a glamorous job, so I’m really lucky that she volunteers to do take it on.

This has been a really good week. Here’s hoping we all have a terrific 2012!