Sunday, July 29, 2007

One day an interview and the next a review!

Red Roses for Authors posted their review today for THE CURSE, book one in The Legend of Blackbeard's Chalice, series. I'm thrilled for the very nice review the book received.

In short, Anne's review was:

This is an intriguing and magical book that makes it possible to believe the power of love can overcome a curse and the centuries to bring the lovers back together again. Beautifully written, sensual and emotional, this is a compelling read. Five red roses.

You can read the full review here.

Red Roses for Authors – Review THE CURSE




Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy Saturday, everyone!

I've been busy all day with my writer girls. Today we went to our chapter meeting of the Kentucky Romance Writers in Lexington. What a group of overachievers! Naw, seriously, we're a bunch of chatterboxes, I think. But great friends and interesting stuff to talk about. Our guest speaker today was author Suzanne McMinn who currently writes for Silhouette Romantic Suspense. I got her latest book from her today and look forward to reading it.

When I got home I found an interview waiting for me in my inbox! Red Roses for Authors has posted an interview with me today. They are now reading my book for review, so hopefully the review will be posted soon, too! I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here is the link for the interview.

Red Roses for Authors

I've posted on the interview that I'll be happy to answer questions about my writing or my books, so feel free to come by and post if you like!


Hope your Saturday evening is pleasant. I'm heading out for a walk.

maddie

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A bit jazzed...

Man, have I ever been dragging lately! Ever since Dallas it seems like I've been tired and worn out. And then what happens is that I can't get the things done I need to get done. Writing, for one. When you work a day job and then come home to write, it can get harry. At least around here.

Ten years ago I had kids at home and somehow managed to write and sell books -- no problem. Of course when they were little they had nap and bedtimes. When they were older the holed themselves up in their rooms or where "out." Now, there is no one here but little old me. Even the kitty met her demise a couple of years ago. So, I have the time to write. It's just sometimes putting butt in chair and fingers to keyboard to get it done. Because I'm a morning person and my writing energies come early in the morning, at times it's difficult to kick my muse in gear and get her rolling at 6 p.m.

Today, however, I did meet with some success. I had one of those "yes!" moments after walking back from the post office on my lunch hour. I'd just put three proposals in the mail, two requested (one agent, one editor) and another to an editor who recently announced she's up for submissions in a certain genre. Yes! I have one that fits.

It felt good to reach that goal, to get those packages in the mail. And I may not have reached that goal had I not made a conscious decision to do just one small thing last night -- turn off my email for a few hours.

I know, I know. Barbaric, isn't it?

But I did it anyway. I'm tied to a computer all day long and I'm tied to a computer every evening. There are some days I just need to give it a rest! So I did and I'm glad. Things were accomplished. Goals met. Stuff is in da mail. I may have to repeat that lesson again this evening. There is one more nagging submission left that needs to go out the door....

But still, I'm jazzed. And I survived an evening without feeding my email addiction. Well, sorta. I did check once. Oh, okay. Maybe twice. But I didn't send anything... Really.

Except just that one.

Is there a 12-step program for this?

madz

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Cover!

At last, the sisterwriters anthology has a cover! And isn't it just beautiful?

Here's a little taste of the stories that wait for you.

Legend, Tennessee – where four women from different backgrounds find purpose, love, and their future, in a town intent on preserving its past.

Home is where the heart is. But sometimes the heart has to search to find home.

The anthology, Ladies of Legend: Finding Home, shares four stories, written by four storytellers, about four women ready to start again. Different backgrounds, one town, all searching for home, in one way or another.

Two of them have lived in Legend, Tennessee all their lives and can't think of anywhere else they would rather be. But their hearts still haven't found a home there.

The other two find Legend by chance, and while searching for a home, also find a place for their hearts.

Come join these four women on their journey for love. You'll meet Lilly, Midnight, Suzie and Jane. Visit their town of Legend, Tennessee. Walk the streets. See where they work. Meet their friends. Experience the quirks of small-town living. And most of all, feel their stories right along with them, as each woman falls in love.

Janet Eaves, Magdalena Scott, Jan Scarbrough and Maddie James all masterfully weave the stories of these four women as they find home, and their hearts, in Legend, Tennesee.

Welcome to Legend.

The Ladies of Legend: Finding Home anthology will be available from

Resplendence Publishing in January, 2008!

The four of us are looking forward to sharing our stories with you.

maddie

Saturday, July 21, 2007

An uplifting experience.

Today I had the opportunity to open myself up to something new in my life. I think these opportunities are rare and come along when you are ready for them. I'd considered and explored this kind of opportunity in the past but never felt open or ready for it. Today, I was.

I visited a medium who channels spirits. I consider myself a spiritual person but not one who is comfortable with conventional or organized forms of religion. I've long been open to and fascinated by the possibilities of the spiritual world and such. My visit today opened both my mind and my heart to things I needed to hear.

I'll not go into details because much of this is private to me. I'm convinced, however, that the conversations I had with others who are now spirits, were real. The messages I received from angels and spirits hit home with me and I will heed them well. Some things I knew already, and hearing them was validation. I found hope in many of the things I heard. Yes, I even had a wakeup call that I need to consider and make some changes in my life because of.

I left with a lighter heart. Like some burdens had been lifted away from my center, my heart. I know that there are many things that are left to me to continue. I've been given some tools, some things to do, and ideas for coping with things in my life. This can never be a bad thing.

I was also left with some thoughts about my writing career and how that might pan out for me in the future. The big message, however, was that it's up to me how to drive it. But the ability is within me to drive it forward, to move it toward reaching my goals.

I've spent the afternoon in some reflection. Someone who I never met, but who has been important in my life for certain reasons, spoke to me today though the medium. This was not something I anticipated or even thought about happening. It came from the blue and it was almost as if this person shoved herself into the picture to speak. I have a message from her that I need to share with someone else in my family when the time is right. The described reaction of this person to the message is exactly what I would expect. This is not something I can keep with me for a long time and when the opportunity presents itself, I will need to put the message forward.

Whether you believe in such things, or not, doesn't matter. It's about God and spirituality and conversing with those who have passed through into the spirit world. It's comforting as well as helping to answer questions, fill some voids. We just have to believe.

I have some next steps, some things to do, and I will do them. Perhaps this message here is my affirmation to do just that.

My one message to any who may read this -- a message that was told to me today for me -- is to take care of yourself. Taking care of myself first, really nurturing myself and my spirit and my inner child, has not always been priority. I must do that from this point forward. I would urge you to do that, as well.

I hope your weekend is wonderful.

maddie

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Exhausted!

Have you ever heard that old adage that you come back from vacation more tired than when you left? Well, it's also true for Romance Writer Conferences! Monday mornings are always a challenge, aren't they? But this particular Monday morning seemed to last all day long. I even took a two hour nap in the evening I was so tired.

Tired but inspired. I took so many different things away from RWA national this year. Small tidbits from editors and agents, a ton of great information from booksellers, a couple of yes nods from an agent and an editor pitch to send in material, and content info from some workshops. I also brought back some new friendships and renewed friendships. Those are very important to me because the camaraderie of writers leads to so much more. But the real thing I brought back (besides a suitcase full of dirty laundry and an extra bag full of books) was inspiration. And this comes from those writer friendships as well as just experiencing the "feel" of the conference.

I came away with a feeling of where I want to be in a year, two years, five years with my writing. Last year in Atlanta I'd set a five year goal, and developed a five year plan, for my writing career. I took a few moments to assess all that I'd accomplished in that past year to move me forward toward that goal. I think I've done things right and done them fairly well. I've worked hard and this year, because of a number of contracts, will be working even harder. Here is where the inspiration part comes in. Being inspired to work harder makes things a lot easier. So, I'll try to capture and keep that RWA feel as I move through this next year.

I think it's time to revisit the plan and the goals, which probably should be an annual "after conference" event for me. It's nice to check the goals off the list. Perhaps I'll pull those out and report on those next.

For those of you who were also inspired at conference, use it! For those of you who may have stayed home this year, don't fret, just connect with writers in other ways. The inspiration is contagious!

Happy Tuesday.

maddie

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Congratulations to Kentucky Romance Writer Jessica Bird!

Jessica won the Rita last night at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Dallas in the 2007 Best Short Contemporary Novel category for her book, From the First, a Silhouette Special Edition!

Yay, Jessica!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Five reasons why I do not share rooms at conferences or get housekeeping the whole week.
1. Yeah, you got it. I'm a sink hog. And I don't like to clean up for the maids...or my friends!

2. Sorting through all the black shoes is hell. And I kind of like to leave them where they lay. Easier to find that way in the middle of the night when I have to evacuate.

3. I live out of my suitcase, or the back of the chair, or the top of the table, etc. Unpack? huh?











4. I NEVER make my bed and yes, I refuse to have housekeeping make it for me. I'm allergic to feather pillows so those get tossed away and who wants those sheets snug at your feet? I do not like to be tucked in. I'm all for slouchy and comfy. Roomies do not appreciate such things.



5. I'm not a good sharer of desk space but am great at creating a makeshift desk when the real desk is covered. See?

Bottom line...things land where they land and don't ask me to pick them up, be you friend or housekeeping. Okay, so perhaps I'm a slob. Good friends and critique partners or felling writers, in my book, do not make good bedfellows. I wouldn't wish me on anyone!

Yeah...I might tell you that it's because I snore that I can't be a roomy, but really, here's the deal. I simply wanna basically not have to be concerned with picking up after myself. There is too much else to take care of this week! Ack!

maddie

Friday, July 13, 2007

Today, my friends, my brain is fried. This shall be more of a pictorial essay that text. Works well for me small and feeble brain this morning.

Yesterday was a long and great day. Started out with a leisurely joint breakfast with my two chapters Kentucky Romance Writers and KYOWA Writers (KY, OH, WVA). That was the last leisurely thing to happen for the day.
The PAN booksellers panel was chock full of info, getting the inside scoop on how books are selected by buyers, what they look for, how small presses can get in the game, what's hot, what's not, etc. The panelists were top buyers from B&N, Borders, Booksamillion and Levy/Anderson.

Lunch back with KYRW/KYOWA members and luncheon speaker Lisa Kleypas nearly made me cry. Had a great after lunch drink with my long time author pal and Pocket author Kathleen Lawless. What a sweetie and so glad to hook up with her after all this time.
Drinks with agent Christine Witthohn and friends followed. The a brief reunion over at the Lawrence hotel with several of my former Kensington Precious Gems authors, followed by free food and the RWA meet and greet reception, followed by a trip throuhg Midnight Madness.











Then to the top of the dome to meet with some new and improved and reinvented Trisk authors. Mary, Melanie, Sally, Vicki and moi.







The highlight of the night was getting the emergency intercome call throughout the hotel tellings us to leave the building. It is interesting to see the kinds of clothes people wear to sleep in. After tripping down ten flights of stairs I realized that I was standing in the lobby surrounded by hundreds of people wearing my nightgown, over which I had placed my denim jacket, and wearing my black heels. Yes, cute. Finally three firemen came in (who looked to be all of about 17 years of age) came in and said "all clear" and that was that.




Let's see what today brings.




maddie

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We're here!!!!

After a slightly delayed flight (see us waiting there in Louisville?) and the never-ending shuttle circular route around the airport and the obligatory drop off of shuttle passengers to their own hotels, we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Dallas early afternoon! Luckily we checked right into our rooms and then headed out to get a lay of the land.

We registered, got our name badges and tote bags and about a half dozen books already, finally got a late lunch, then checked out the goody room and the other conference room areas. I decided I needed to get my promo items to the goody room soon so went back upstairs to pull all of those things together and then headed back. Lesson learned. You wait a looooong time for elevators at this hotel. I'd forgotten, having been here for conferences before. If it weren't for the fact that my room is ten stories up, I'd occasionally walk, however...

Did i forget to mention that I forgot to pack my flat shoes? Hmmm...well, I did. so it's heels all week for me. My poor feet! But I'll look good! What a price we pay.

So, let's see. Any big news? The booksigning of course was packed. Nora had a very long line but I believe the line for Sherrilyn Kenyon was longer. She was dressed in vamp attire, complete with a big black feathered swan hat and fangs. Yes, quite a long line to her little corner of the world.

Saw a bunch of writer friends and got to chat a bit and then Mags and I headed to the bar for a small snack and a margarita. See Mags and her margarita? That glass looks huge! But honestly, it wasn't that big. Mags was a bit disappointed in hers though that it wasn't in a real margarita glass, so we vow that before we leave we'll find her one in a real margarita glass.

Cheryl, I ran into your sister separated at birth. She said you'd know.

Tomorrow we start early with a Kentucky Romance Writer breakfast. Have seen only a few KYRWers so far. Liz Bevarly, Toni Blake, quick glance at JR Ward/Jessica Bird (she was surrounded, too) and Kay Stockham. Haven't met up with any of my KYOWA writers group yet, but hopefully in the morning!

Off to bed now. Probably the earliest night I'll have this week! Toodles...

madz

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another day down and counting...

I feel like a kid let out of school. Why is that? I just do not know. I'm a grown woman and it's not like I've been locked up in my office at work for years on end. I do manage to get away and take some vacation time now and again. And I'm an avid traveler for work. I am just as comfortable these days in an airport or hotel than I am at home. That is rather sad to say. But most months I travel 2-3 weeks away from home.

So why on earth am I so excited about getting on a plane and flying to Dallas? Dallas is one of the airports I know like the back of my hand. It is a regular stop on my way to Albuquerque. Well, I tell you, it's because of the RWA thing. I excited this year beyond belief. It has nothing to do with agents and editors and all that jazz. It has everything to do with hooking up with so many people I've not seen in forever, some I've never met face-to-face but have conversed with online forever, and last but not least, getting to spend some time with one of my crit partners and very good friend, Magdalena. One of the four sisterwriters.

I'm excited to be getting away from home on a trip OTHER than for my work. To relax a bit, stay up too late, dress up in a party dress, and sip a martini or two. Just looking forward to kicking back with people who understand my passion -- writing romance. And by golly we're going to talk it up 24-7.

That is why I'm excited and ready -- why I've been all atwitter the past few days. This year isn't like the last one, when I planned and intended to go alone, to get my feet wet again. This year is about not being an introvert and putting myself out there again -- but with friends first.

One day and counting. Not working tomorrow. The car needs to go in the shop. Oh boy, then I start to make the transition into Maddie the romance author for every second, every minute of every hour of every day we are there.

Yehaw!

maddie

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Preparations, preparations....

I've been running myself ragged, mentally and physically, the past few days. Why? Well, it's RWA national time and by golly, I gotta get ready!

I'm excited to be going again this year. Last year in Atlanta was my first time in years to go. I went by myself and was pretty much an introvert the entire time. But I soaked up a lot of info and writer ambiance and rubbed an elbow or two. Made some great contacts and hooked up with a few old friends. It was quite worth it.

This year I'm going with a friend, one of my sisterwriters. The excitement level has been hyped a bit because of that. She's a first timer, a virgin author, heading off to her first national conference, as a contracted author! Yehaw!

We've been all atwitter about what to pack and how much and what to wear and shopping and the shoes and the handbags and the tax deductible business lunches to talk about all this, and what about something for our nametags and why didn't we get those totebags made? And what about this agent and that editor and the pitches and the chapter breakfast and is there a party for our publisher and will there be margaritas? (There are always margaritas). So yes, we've been all atwitter. And it's been fun. Exhausting almost, but serious fun. And it's not here yet.

Then there is the promotion. Loads of promotional materials sitting here on my table. Holes to punch in this, tape that to that, count out the pens, box things up, CDs to burn, how will I pack those ducks and where the heck are my business cards and oh shoot, I forgot to take those bookmarks to work to cut them apart with the cutter. How many days are left? Two, oh darn.

And then, what about my pedicure and manicure? Does my hair need trimmed before I go? Should I color that gray or tell people I'm doing the stylish thing and letting my gray come out? Should I starve to try to lose five more pounds? And did I buy pantyhose? I hate pantyhose. Why would I buy them? But can I really go barelegged to the banquet in my new little black dress? Do I dare? Two days? Is this nearly enough? Will my gray compliment my black dress? Or should I hit the bottle. The color. Not the tequilla. Save that for later.

So do I have my ducks in a row? Probably not. Do I care? Yes. And no. I'll do it. I'm a deadline worker. I get things done. My clothes are laid out, day by day. Of course I'll mess that all up when I get there. I color coordinated this year, so I can mix and match. Black and black and oh yeah, more black. Maybe a white or silver top in there. And black. That should work, won't it?

Atwitter, atwitter. Do I REALLY have to work tomorrow? I only have two days....

Maddie

p.s. I'll be blogging from Dallas so come by when you can and check it out!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I could barely write all afternoon.

A pair of mockingbirds live near my house. I’ve seen them for months, probably ever since I moved here. Mostly I see them flying around and playing in the pines on the hill behind me.

This morning I discovered that they have a nest in the tree in my front yard. It is far above my head so I’m not surprised I haven’t noticed it by now. I heard a very loud chirp, chirp, chirp while I was watering the plants and noticed first the nest, then a small bird much higher up on a limb; then a few minutes later, another small bird’s head sticking up out of the nest. At first I thought they where chickadees or wrens, because of their size. Now I realize they were baby mockingbirds.

I know this because while sitting here working, I kept hearing a lot of bird commotion going on outside. The loud chirping. And once I heard a thud at my door. I kind of dismissed it but then, there it was again, very loud chirping at my door. I went to look. A baby mockingbird was on my doorstep, sitting right in the door frame. He hopped along slowly. I am afraid, that after acquiring his wings, he did not do so well and flew into the glass door. I opened the door and he hopped. Off the porch and into the shrubbery. I followed. Down the front of the house he went and then finally, into the birch tree. Not the tree with the nest. He managed to hop limb to limb and kind of fly. I watched him for a while, looked back into the tree, and saw the other bird kind of hanging around up there. I assumed the baby would eventually take flight and get back to the nest, so I went inside.

Suddenly, a cacophony of bird calls came at my door again. The parents! Agitated. Calling. Their little heads frantically jerking about. They landed on the rain gutter at the entry to the house. I could see them clearly and frantically looking and calling for their babies, or perhaps, the one missing baby. I tried to tell the mama to look in the birch. I even went outside and pointed. But they didn’t listen. They flew higher on my roof. I took another look in the birch. The little one was still there, about half way up, still chirping.

Can that mother bird not hear? Not see what is going on? I can hear the baby chirp all the way in the house. Why can she not find him? Or perhaps, was something else going on...

I fear I am not going to be able to write until that little thing is back in the nest. I know I cannot interfere. Human scent and hands and all that. But I so want that little lost bird to find his mommy! I went back into the house. The chirping, eventually, got to me again.

Back outside. No little bird in the birch. The other baby still high in the tree, singing. And the mama squawking, quite hoarse she sounded, into the wind. Where was the daddy? And where is the other baby?

Now, they are all gone. The nest empty. I suppose the early fireworks down the street may have had something to do with it. Maybe not. Perhaps they will be back tomorrow. Of course I shall watch and see.

I suppose there could be a moral to this little story. It doesn't seem all that long ago that my own birds were pushed out of the nest. My adult birds now, are on their own. One bird is soaring high in the tree, chirping away, and doing fine. He's my youngest bird. My oldest bird, my daughter, is still hopping along, tripping from branch to branch, like that little bird in the birch. Both of them practically pushed themselves out of the nest; there was little prodding from this mama bird. But time and time again, I've been there when my oldest bird fell. Picked her up, dusted her off, saved her a time or two or more. I've been thinking. Perhaps that mama bird sitting in my roof knew all along where her baby was. Perhaps she was just there, on the fringes, providing moral support. My daughter has leaned on me a lot. And I've let her. Lately, however, with her troubles, she's leaned the other way. I've worried about it. That she's angry with me. That she thinks that I think she's making another mistake. She hasn't called in days.

But today, it seemed Mama Mockingbird may have taught me a lesson. It's okay to be just on the fringes and let her work out her own problems. And perhaps, baby mockingbird is beginning to realize that, and that she needs to rely on herself. I will worry, of course. But perhaps I should let it go. Just like Mama Mockingbird. And then, with any luck, maybe my mockingbird child will soar, too.

Sometimes we get signs. Messages. Enlightenment. Sometimes they are bold, other times subtle. A baby mockingbird pecking and chirping at my door...perhaps out of the ordinary and maybe, not so subtle a sign. I'll take it, and thank God for leaving it there for me.

I'm long-winded tonight. Forgive me.

maddie

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cheryl Norman -- Featured Author for July

I'm currently reading Cheryl Norma's Restore my Heart and wanted to share this great book with all of you. The murder-mystery is set in Louisville, KY, my current home-town! It's been fun reading about the place I live.

I've asked Cheryl to be my guest blogger this month and she graciously agreed! Feel free to leave her a comment or ask a question about her book. So in honor of Cheryl's featured book, AND the 4th of July holiday, h-e-r-e'-s Cheryl!

What has romance got to do with the Fourth of July?

Aside from the fact that fireworks is a metaphor for romantic conflict and a <*wink, wink *> euphemism for sexual pleasure, there really is a parallel between the summer holiday and romance. Both celebrate life and freedom of choice. If you live in the United States, you know the significance of July 4, 1776, and why we commemorate it with cookouts, gatherings, and parties.

Or have you really thought about it?

As a romance author, I celebrate love, family, and happy-ever-after endings in each story I write. But think for a moment and you'll see the analogy with Independence Day. Sure, it's an excuse to gather with family, friends, and food, but isn't that also a celebration of love, family, and HEAs? How many romance novels have you read that include a family holiday gathering?

In my latest novel, RESTORE MY HEART, my heroine has suffered a severe injury that should have crippled her. But through determination and pure guts, she's managed to defy the odds and progress from a wheel chair. The story begins with her meeting the hero, a man she feels an immediate attraction to. Despite her physical progress, she still views herself a cripple, unworthy of the love of the hunky businessman.

Naturally, the hero sees past the scars on her body and recognizes the ones in her heart, including the heartbreak of an estranged relationship with her father. She, in turn, gets a wistful glimpse of the hero's friendly, loving family. RESTORE MY HEART is a murder mystery, true, but it's also a couple's journey to finding happiness and restoring their families through the healing power of love.

When I think about my loved ones and the fun we have congregating around the barbecue grill, picnic table, or wherever we happen to celebrate, I don't take the opportunity for granted. I remember what I have is special, something that patriots fought for and our soldiers continue to protect, the freedom of my own pursuit of happiness. Likewise, I don't take love for granted. I cherish each moment I have with family and my terrific husband.

Even if you live outside the U.S., celebrate Independence Day or summer or any holiday with those you love. Do it in the name of romance!

Cheryl Norman

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Maddie James Newsletter for July, 2007

I recently uploaded my quarterly newsletter to my MySpace site. You can access it in the blog there, at http://www.myspace.com/paprbackriter . To sign up for my newsletters, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/maddiejames