Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reading, Dreams and Life's Passions

"We read in bed because reading is somewhere between life and dreaming."
~Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Amen.

Today I was privileged to listen to Anna Quindlen deliver the keynote address to an audience of a couple thousand literacy professionals at the annual National Conference on Family Literacy, hosted by the National Center for Family Literacy in Louisville, Kentucky. NCFL happens to be the organization for which I work. I cannot tell you how thrilling it was to sit in the audience and listen to a woman whom I've admired for years, have read her column and books, and to hear first hand how passionate she is about the very things I also am very passionate about.

Reading. Books. Literacy. Families. In no particular order.

Listening to her renewed something in me...something that in between all my travel of late, my deadlines, family issues, daily stressors, and the writing and all it entails, I'd let slide.

Passion. About the cause. About the books. About the stories. About the writing.

Juggling too much, perhaps, but that is the way life is sometimes. Holding onto the dream, the vision, the reason we do what we do -- that's the passion that can't be let go of. Yeah, maybe I'd dismissed it of late. Maybe, I'd forgotten a little about that and let myself get caught up in the daily dregs of life. Not unusual, probably.

Today, however, was a nice wake-up call. Along with Ms. Quindlen, I also soaked up wisdom from an adult student speaker who shared her life story and how through a family literacy program, she picked herself and her family up and is now moving toward higher ground. She's accomplished goals, gotten an education, a job, and supports her children in their educational pursuits. I listened to a wonderful teacher, Katy Kibbey, who was just named the Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year, talk about how honored she was to receive the award, but that she was really just another "Horton" trying to help a lot of special "Whos."

Powerful words from all three women. The student. The teacher. The professional writer and speaker. All of which remind me that what I do every day, whether it is at my "day job" working to support literacy development in families, or my "night job" where I lay down words on pages in the hopes that someone, someday, will read them, understand them, and like them.

It sort of made me think -- what I do is really a full circle kind of thing. I help people learn how to read. I write so that they have something to read.

How can one not be passionate about that?

maddie

Monday, March 24, 2008

On the subject of blogging...

I posed a question yesterday to many of my author friends. The question was, "What are your 'must read' blogs?" I had a few reasons for asking--I wanted to know if I was missing anything good out there, for one. For another, I'd been wondering about how different people approach their blogs. And then again, I wanted to find some good ones to add to my 'feeds' for my MyYahoo page.

You see, one of my author friends has this method of promo she uses--she trips through other people's blogs and makes comments along the way, hoping to spread her word (and name) throughout blog land. Good marketing, I thought, perhaps I should do that more.

I do have a few blogs I visit and comment on once in a while but probably not nearly enough. And anything I've read about using a blog wisely says that if you expect people to come to your blog, you have to go to theirs, too. So, what my author friend is doing makes sense to me. The big reason why I wanted to know what blogs others frequented. I sorta wanna get in on the action, too.

So, I tripped through a few dozen blogs this afternoon. My one conclusion was this--my blog is damned boring. Boring! I'm gonna have to do something about that. No one wants to come visit a boring blog now, do they? Horrors...

However, with my question tossed out to my author friends, I found out there are two pretty distinct camps of blogdom. One camp revels in blogging and even touts blog addiction. They live to blog and comment and love, love, love to be out there. The other camp said things like, not for me, I don't like them, don't read then, don't do them, they suck away writing time, and I can't make a recommendation.

I wonder, and I'll post the question here again. What are your 'must read' blogs? What do you think about blogs in general? Like them? Hate them? Use them? Avoid them like the plague? Okay, well, if you hate them and avoid them like the plague, you are likely not to even see this blog post, eh? Well, we'll see.

Still, just curious. I wanna know. Are blogs dead? Are they living, breathing creatures that will not go away? What do you think?

And the big question--are they time-suckers that are simply not worth your precious time?

Oh, big loaded questions to be sure but what the heck, let's just see what happens.

Will be checking back in here later....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Red: A Seduction Tale is featured...

Today on Romantic Gems, my novella Red: A Seduction Tale is the featured book. I'll be posting excerpts and holding a contest. I'll be giving away a free download by the end of the day.

Why don't you come by and join us? Readers and writers/authors are all welcome! Here is the link to join.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RomanticGems/

Hope to see you later today!

maddie

Friday, March 21, 2008

Overcoming Eeyore Syndrome

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get - Satchel Paige

Um, yeah. Sure. Of course. Yep.

I had to look for the origin of that quote. I kept thinking it was Eeyore, for some reason. Maybe he actually did say that in one of the Winnie the Pooh books. I dunno. But Google tells me it was the great baseball pitcher Satchel Paige who coined that phrase. Google also told me that it is an old Amish saying. I still think it was Eeyore.

What a great little character, that Eeyore. I used to tease and call my son Eeyore at times when he was younger and would poke along. "C'mon, Eeyore," I'd say, "Pick up your feet and move." Sometimes it was even, "Lift up that chin, quit moping around, and let's get a move on."

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.

I need to give myself that pep talk. "Lift up that chin, Maddie, stop lamenting about too much to do, put one foot in front of the other, and just move. One word at a time. One paragraph at a time. One book at a time."

Time. That's the thing though, isn't it? There doesn't seem to be enough of it in the day. (Can Congress somehow fix that? I mean, they managed to move Daylight Savings Time up weeks just a weekend or two ago, can they just add another hour or three to our day? I sure could use it.)

Nope. 'Fraid not.

So, I need to adjust. Perhaps not just adjust, but get organized. Hm. I'm usually pretty organized. Lately? Not so, it seems. Or maybe it's just that there is so little spare time to organize. At any rate, I gotta do it.

I'm pretty sure we all have these times, right? Too much to do. Flying by this obligation and that one. Spending extra hours on the day job. Family obligations and yeah...the times we need and want to spend with our friends and loved ones. Sometimes...sometimes, the writing gets shoved aside.

The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.

Okay, so I've taken a brief hiatus from the writing, the promotion, the networking, etc. Had to. Needed to. Other obligations took the forefront. But now, I'm back. Yep. Back. The writing bug is itching at me. Biting. Gnawing at me. Do it. NOW!

Okay, gotta go. Musie is sitting on my shoulder and she's whispering in my ear. "C'mon, Eeyore. Quit with the blog, let's get into some real stuff. I dare you..."


Saturday, March 08, 2008

What happens when Little Red Riding Hood grows up?

Just Released!!!

Red: A Seduction Tale

Author: Maddie James

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

http://www.resplendencepublishing.com

Blurb

Garnet Boudreaux is going home. Not back to her nice little apartment in New York City, but to her childhood home in the bayou. She doesn’t want to go, and isn’t certain what will be waiting for her when she arrives. But standing there in the voodoo shop on Bourbon Street, in the middle of one helluva party, she’s told by Madame Madeleine Dupuis that she has no choice. She presses two pouches into Garnet’s hands, wraps a red cape around her, and tells her she must go—and go now—to see to her grandmother.

Max LeBlanc spies the lovely red-head across the street and knows in a heartbeat she is the one. A rougarou always knows when he’s met his mate. Some may call him a lycanthrope, a werewolf if you will, but in Cajun bayou lands he’s known simply as The Rougarou. He’d waited several hundred years for this moment, and for her. There is nothing left for him to do, but mark her and claim her as his mate. Soon.

Excerpt:

The French Quarter, New Orleans, 10:39 p.m.

“Come closer, Red,” he rasped. “I want that burning-hot body next to mine.” The wiry stranger threaded his hot fingers through her hair at the nape, and his steamy breath snaked around her neck.

A carnival spun in Garnet Boudreauxs head, and for once, she did not want to get off the ride. Was she drunk? Yes, somewhat. But it was okay, she was with her girlfriends, and they watched out for each other.

Were they watching his hands glide over her ass, too?

Hell, did she care?

Eyes the color of dark honey with flecks of gold pierced hers and held as he pressed closer. His lips scraped over her cheek, sending a shudder of want from the curls on her auburn head straight down to her scarlet toenails. Neon swirled as he led her out the door of the Cats Meow, spilling into Bourbon Streets static currents, taking the lead as they dirty-danced their way into the crowd.

“My friends…” she breathed, wincing as he nipped her neck, his teeth clipping at the tender skin beneath her ear lobe.

“Back in the bar,” he growled.

Oh Damn. She shouldnt leave Tiana and Kathleen behind. They needed her. Didnt they?

Or did she need them?

Like a cat lapping at milk, his tongue laved her neck to cheek. “Give me your tongue,” he commanded. His hands rested under her armpits, cradling the sides of her breasts, thumbing her nipples through the red satin dressed shed borrowed for this decadent Mardi Gras-type party on Bourbon her company insisted they attend.

Her mask. Had she lost it?

She glanced behind her. He caught her chin between his fingers and forcefully turned her face back toward his.

“Me. Im the one you are with. Forget the others.”

Her brain said no. The tingles racing up her spine and the heat gathering in her panties cried yes.

Yes.

His hips gyrated against hers and his dance swept her into a spiral of lights and hands and lips and skin on skin. He dipped his tongue deep into her cleavage and she resisted the urge to clasp his head against her chest and keep him there. He was hard against her abdomen.

Ready.

Waiting.

Primal.

Had he growled?

***

CATEGORY: Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic

HEAT LEVEL: Garnet

Length: Short Story

FORMAT: E-BOOK $2.50

Buy Link: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8_view_item.html?m8:item=27-201-303-414-4

Saturday, Snow and Stuff!

I go blogless for days and then suddenly, there are about 72 things I want to blog about, all come at once. Maybe it's because I got a good night's sleep last night and I'm snowed in? Maybe it's because I've been sick with a cough, cold, sore throat, ears clogged, etc., and I finally feel human again?

Perhaps.

So here are my first thoughts this morning. It's S-N-O-W-I-N-G! Not that it's the first snow of the season (or my life) but it's just a darned pretty snow and it's just drifting about lazily and piling up with these huge white fluffy flakes falling all around. And the best part is -- I don't have to go ANYWHERE today. (tomorrow is another story) But today, I'm in and lovin' it. And since I have no place to go, LET IT SNOW!

Here's a few pics I snapped this morning. It's still coming down, so there could be more. I wish the pictures actually did the snow justice.

Looking out my garage. It's still rather gray out, huh? But the skies are just ready to burst again. I love the snow before people and animals walk on it. This is almost the same view from my office window. I've not seen a car go by yet this morning. There are no tire ruts. Kinda nice.


This one below was earlier this morning, looking out my front door. It really piled up there! I don't think it's finished though. Maybe this should be my snow gauge. I'll check it again later.
















Scenes from the back yard. More of the same. Look at the snow piled on top of my grill! You should see my patio table, it's piled high too. Will have to get a good pic of that later. Hope my dad doesn't see that grill picture, I was supposed to buy a cover for the grill before winter. Ack!

More in a while...


Sunday, March 02, 2008

CJ Lyons ~ Featured Author!

Good morning all. This week I'm very pleased to feature on the blog CJ Lyons, whose debut book from Berkely, LIFELINES, will be released March 4. I tell ya, from everything I've read about the book, this looks to be a keeper and can't wait to go pick one up. A blurb from CJ's bio says:

CJ has been a story-teller all her life, always creating stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This drove her into writing thrillers with strong relationships and led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.

Let's learn more about CJ and her new book!

MJ: Tell us a little about yourself.

>>I'm a physician trained in pediatric emergency medicine. I've worked in some of the nation's busiest trauma centers, flown for Life Flight and Stat Medevac, worked on the Navajo Reservation, and also as a community pediatrician where I even made house calls.

After 17 years of practicing medicine I took a leap of faith and left my job to pursue a second dream come true as a writer. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done (a colleague called it "jumping off the Grand Canyon without a parachute"), but it paid off.

MJ: You have a new book out. We’d love to hear about it.

>>LIFELINES starts on the most dangerous day of the year, July 1st—Transition Day. The day new staff at Pittsburgh’s Angels of Mercy Hospital start their jobs, including L.A.-transplant Dr. Lydia Fiore, the new ER attending physician. Not a good day to lose a patient—especially not the Chief of Surgery’s son. To save her career, Lydia must discover the truth behind her patient’s death, even if it leads her into unfamiliar—and risky—territory.

MJ: You’ve just sold your first book. How exciting! We’d love to know the details.

>>My publishing career is a bit backwards compared to most. Berkley read an unpublished manuscript of mine and they actually called me and asked me to create a new medical suspense series for them. They wanted something different, something fresh and different—a medical thriller told from the point of view of the women.

Think ER meets Sex in the City. Of course I jumped at the chance! It was a huge challenge but also fun and exciting.

MJ: What do you love about your editor (or publisher)?

>>My editor is fantastic! She has great insight and shares my vision for the books, which really helps when you're creating something different and new, that hasn't been tried before.

And Berkley has also been great. The one thing I asked for was a real photo for the cover rather than stock art—and boy, did they ever come through for me! They hired models and did NYC photo shoot, and the cover for LIFELINES rocks!

MJ: What does your writing schedule look like? Are you a morning writer? A night owl?

>>I'm undisciplined and don't follow a schedule—rebelling against all those years of carrying a beeper and having no time that was my own, I guess. But, since I started writing while I was still working (including nights and weekends on call), I learned how to write fast and that's helped a lot.

MJ: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

>>The same two pieces that everyone has already heard: writers write (ie. Apply Butt to Chair and write the damn book) and never surrender, never give up.

Both are as true after you publish as they are beforehand.

MJ: What is your next project?

>> CATALYST. It's the story of a medical student searching for the reason behind a mysterious illness killing patients. Then she begins to suffer the same deadly symptoms….

MJ: Today, writers need not only write great books, but be great promoters of their books, too. What kinds of things do you do?

>>I go with my strengths. As a doctor, I've always been a teacher as well, so I do a lot of online and live workshops, give keynote speeches, and guest blog. I've been lucky in that my reputation as a teacher has been building over the past few years and now I'm getting invited all over the country to present workshops and give keynotes.

MJ: Now, here is the totally off-writing subject question. What’s the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?

>>Hmmmm….believe it or not, but there are several. I've hang-glided in gale force (30 knot) winds, walked away from two hard-landings in the helicopter, hijacked an ambulance in white-out conditions, got stopped for doing 112mph on a desert highway, was charged by Cape Buffalo and a troupe of baboons while in Africa…..

MJ: Is there anything else would you like to tell us?

>>Nope, I think I better stop before I incriminate myself, lol! Well, maybe one thing that a lot of readers don't realize: if you want to support a writer (any writer), buy their book the first week it comes out—those first week sales are really all the publisher cares about. So buy early, buy often!

If you want, feel free to start with LIFELINES—I'm even holding a few contests to reward folks who purchase it. Go to http://www.cjlyons.net and check them out.

Thanks for having me, Maddie!