Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kitty Fix

This morning I am missing my girls, Clio and Calliope -- my Muses (or, Mewses) -- and am wondering if I am supposed to add two more kitties to the fold. I had a dream night before last about two more kitty cats, and their names were Jasmine (she wore a collar and I think she was Siamese) and Lizzie.

I suppose if I adopt two more, I already have their names, even though there were no Muses named Jasmine and Lizzie, I think.

At any rate, I found this video this morning for my cat fix. Thought I would share.





Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gail Pallotta writes Christian romance with a hint of mystery




Gail Pallotta, Awe-Struck E-Books
Author Gail Pallotta published her first book, Now Is The Time, a Christian novel, in 2004. The year it was released, The American Christian Writers Association named her a regional Writer of the Year. Now, she brings to us Love Turns the Tide, "an unlikely romance that begins in the spring when the sunshine sparkles on the sand in Destin, Florida, and the moonlight dances across a tranquil, emerald sea."

Goddess Minx at Literary Nymphs Review gave Love Turns the Tide four nymphs, saying, "This is quite a surprisingly different type of story with a Christian aspect, and I want to express my appreciation to Gail Pallotta for creating such a fabulous book. Love Turns the Tide is a heartfelt story for me, and the Bible verses added a nice spiritual connection.

I'm pleased to interview Gail for Examiner. Gail, tell us a little about yourself.

First, I’d like to say thank you for the opportunity to spend time with you and your readers. I live in Georgia with Rick, my husband of thirty-seven years. When I’m not writing, I enjoy swimming, reading, and getting together with friends and family. My daughter and I are bargain shoppers. We like to spend an afternoon in a discount store trying on shorts, blouses, skirts, pants and dresses. Then, we end up getting maybe one item. But that gives us something to look forward to, because we have to plan another shopping trip to find something to match it. When I’m by myself in quest of an article of clothing I need, it isn’t the same. I go in the store, find it, buy it and leave. But she and I have such fun. Sometimes we try on something that is so wrong for us we spend five minutes laughing at how we look in it. When we find the perfect skirt, shirt or pants, we’re so pleased.

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

Yes, I have out an inspirational romance, Love Turns the Tide. The main character, Cammie O’Shea has a heartbreaking split-up with her fiancĂ© and moves to Destin, Florida, to take a new job. Already stressed, she dreads meeting her new boss, the editor of The Sun Dial newspaper. But, her real source of angst turns out to be Vic Deleona, the influential real estate tycoon she must write about to generate interest in the paper. While she refuses to open herself to another painful relationship he attempts to court her. Seeing him as pompous, she nonetheless goes out of her way to maintain a good business association. However, when her friend, Angie Jones, has a break-in at her condo and there’s a mysterious vandalism at Cammie’s unit, Vic comes to their rescue and tries to win Cammie’s heart.

Let’s talk about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

I’d say I’m a loose plotter. The pantzer in me will not hesitate to deviate from the plot if I find something in research I think will enhance the book. Also, as the story takes form scenes or chapters I hadn’t thought of come to mind.

What are some techniques you use to get to know your characters?

That’s an interesting question. First, I make notes describing their physical features, what they like to eat, what they like to wear, and what type activities they enjoy. Then, I write a little about them before I start the book.

In three words or less, how would you describe your style of writing?

Literary, Christian, inspirational.

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

I prefer to write in the mornings, but there are times when I have to postpone it until the afternoon or evening, because life doesn’t always cooperate with my plan. I try to balance my time to meet the needs of family, church, community and myself, so each week is different. But, I’m happy and content that I can find the hours.

Do you have a day job? How do you balance the two?

I have a day job, sort of. For most of our married life my husband has run a business out of our house. Years ago I quit my nine-to-five job to become his assistant. But, he’s semi-retired now, so I get more time with my computer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Be persistent and try not to let rejections disappoint you. The reasons for them aren’t always one’s writing. Since articles, stories and books reflect changes in our lifestyle, timing can affect an acceptance. Sometimes when editors move from a magazine or a publishing house, they alter their guidelines and the looks of their publications. However, if we keep listening to the voice within and examining things that never change, such as human nature, the presence of good and evil, rain, storms, and the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, we have a chance of discovering something true about life. If we can write about the truth we’ve found so that someone else can see it, understand it better, appreciate it more, or find it more meaningful our persistence will pay off.

What is your next project?
I have started the sequel to Love Turns the Tide. I had been thinking about it for several months, but had done nothing about it. One day I sat down at the computer to write a blog and began the new book instead.

If you could interview any of the characters in your books, which one would it be, and why? What shocking thing might that character say?

I would interview Cammie O’Shea right after she moves to Destin, Florida, because she’s the main character in Love Turns the Tide. She would say that she needs God now more than ever and for some reason she doesn’t understand she feels more estranged from him than she ever has. She’d say she’s like the Israelites, when they wandered in the dessert grumbling that they at least had had food, when they were slaves in Egypt. After being deceived by her fiancĂ© and leaving her friends and family simultaneously, she’s in a type of wilderness created by separation from loved ones. She, like the Israelites, has no one but God to turn to. She would explain that being in this emotional wasteland is like being in a jungle with a forest too dense to let in a ray of sunshine and underbrush so thick one couldn’t walk through it even if there was a visible way out. She’d tell how easily she strolled into it. One day life was humming along; the next, the dark curtain fell. But she’d end the interview by reminding me that God sent the Israelites manna. Then, she’d say she’s still hanging onto her faith.

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

I’d like to say I wrestled an alligator or something really daring, but I didn’t. However, I grew up in a small town, went off to college and met a friend who had an airplane with a loud speaker. One summer morning he flew to my hometown, circled the community and called me on the loud speaker. He asked me to come to the airport, meet him and fly to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the day. Since I had no way to contact him, he kept repeating the message, saying he would land soon and wait for me. The phone started ringing. No sooner did my mother answer it, speak to the caller and hang up than it rang again. Everyone wanted to make sure I’d heard him and asked if I was going. My father took me to the small, nearby airport, and I went. We had a great day in Myrtle Beach!

Gail, thank you so much for your time. Before we leave, I'd like to share the blurb and the lovely book trailer for Love Turns the Tide.

Twenty-six-year-old Cammie O'Shea simultaneously suffers through a broken engagement and starts a new job in Destin, Florida. Heartbroken, she wants to avoid new relationships while Vic Deleona, the real estate tycoon she interviews for The Sun Dial newspaper, tries to court her. When he makes extra business appointments, she resents having to spend so much time with him. But after a break-in at her friend's condo and her unit, Vic comes to their rescue. When he tries to solve the mystery, Cammie gets to know him better. He even takes her to church. But, she has an offer to return home. Will Vic catch the criminal and win Cammie's heart or will she leave Destin?

To find out read Love Turns the Tide, available from Awe-Struck E-Books at www.awe-struck.net

Gail's Web site is www.gailpallotta.com and her blog, Peering through Life's Window, is www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com/


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Random and haphazard on a Sunday morning


Good morning, Sunday Morning. It's nice to see you here, even though there is rain.

I slept late this morning which was very, very nice. It's also a rare thing! I like to get up early and get a start on the day but this morning, no. It's Sunday. I didn't set the alarm. And it's raining.

A nice cozy scenario for sleeping in. Don't you think? Even Calliope and Clio left me alone. Perhaps they realized I needed to sleep. Nice kitty cats.

I'm trying to make a conscious effort to slooooowwww down a little bit in my life. Maybe it's because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because there are days on end I feel like I go like the speed of life, and I need to remember to take it slower. Eat slower, drive slower, think slower... Just sit still and do something I don't get a lot of time to do: amble through a long, thick, and juicy book.

Maybe this "life, reinvented" thing I'm moving into will help with all of that. I hope so! I like the thought of stopping to smell the roses.

Speaking of roses, my sister gave me a book on roses for Christmas. I'm looking forward to doing some sloooowwwww work in my backyard this spring and summer. I want to put a nice privacy fence in and do some landscaping. I have one beautiful climbing rose and I've managed not to kill it. It came with the house when I bought it. I'll read my rose book this winter but does anyone have any recommendations for roses bushes? Types and kinds? Easy to grow? Difficult to kill?

And speaking of slow again, I spent the past week working in schools on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Ah, yes, the pace there is nice and slow. I like that. And it was good to see so many of my Navajo friends.

I flew home Friday night, then, and got up early Saturday morning to head to Lexington to do a workshop on Social Media. It was so great to see my writer friends! And I think, even though from my end it felt like the workshop was a little "random and haphazard" (maybe like this post?) the participants said they got a lot out of it. That's great! I got a lot of ideas of how to make it better, though, should I do it again.

I think one of the things that worked was having people bring their laptops so they could apply some ideas right then and their in the workshop. I was surprised this morning to get a Google Alert that showed that Rebecca Clarke actually posted a blog during the workshop. Cool!

Okay, so now that I have half a cup of coffee in me the fog is beginning to clear in my brain and I will close this random and haphazard Sunday morning post. I hope you all have a loverly day.

And remember, just for today, take it sloooooooowwwwwwww......

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tweets, widgets and blogs, oh my!

I'm doing a workshop this Saturday for my Kentucky Romance Writers chapter called, Tweets, feeds, widgets and blogs, oh my! Let's explore Social Media Marketing. One thing I've been doing to prepare for the workshop is surveying my own use of social media to market my books, and attempting to look a little deeper into some of the sites that I use on a regular basis.



I am a fairly regular user of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and I know I could spend more time on those sites. I also have Goodreads, LinkedIn, YouTube and some other niche network sites. One thing I've learned in my informal research is that there is A LOT to know, and it's continually changing.

One book I've been reading is Facebook for Dummies. There is truly a lot I did not know about Facebook! I thought I'd share a few interesting facts from the book with you.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the 6th most populated nation in the world.
  • Facebook Fan pages have no fan limits; Facebook profiles are restricted to 5,000 friends.
  • Fans can opt-in to Fan pages without approval; Profiles require approval.
  • Facebook Groups do not allow applications.
  • Facebook etiquette: Don't drink and Facebook.
  • Stories on your Facebook wall should: 1) invite visitors to take action (photos, links, etc...) and 2) encourage interaction (conversation, sharing, etc.)
  • Fans are opt-in subscribers.
  • Facebook Fan Pages are public by default; not so Profiles or Groups.
  • Tagging is one of the most directly effective actions you can take; the more people you tag, the more your page spreads.
  • Social networking is a quantity game--the amount of time spent networking equals the amount of results you receive.
I hope a few of these provide you with a bit of new info. There is so much to know and I am not sure anyone can know everything about this topic! New applications (apps) are being created everyday, and new networks are being built. I think the best we all can do is find and work with the networks that we enjoy and understand, and work to fine-tune and use them to the nth degree!

Hope to see you at the workshop!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dear Blog, I miss you...


Dear Blog,

I have not been here for a few days. I miss you. I am sorry.

I'm here in New Mexico, as you know, for the day job. I have 12 days left of the day job before I become I become "the boss of me." Yeah, don't you remember? I resigned my day job back in December and agreed to work until January 30. That day is close approaching!

It's exciting and scary at the same time. I have a lot of work to tie up here at the day job before I go. I am sure I will miss my window office over-looking a sliver of Ohio River, but I will gain a window looking over my backyard. I know I'll miss an occasional lunch with friends, walking over to Queue, or down to Panera Bread, or all the way down to 4th Street Live to peruse the books at Borders. But I'll gain scanning my own library of books in my home and grazing throughout the day at home. I can pick up my laptop at any time and decide to work at Starbucks or Panera if I want, or visit my local Middletown Library branch.

I'm going to like that. I'm looking forward to the freedom and not to mention, working in my jammies if I choose.

So, Dear Blog, bear with me a little longer. Twelve days. And I'll be visiting you most every day. I've been working hard out here all week in New Mexico. I'm visiting the schools on the rez, the part of the work that I really love to do. It's nice to know that I will still be able to do this part of the job on a part-time basis.

Take care. Talk soon.

Maddie

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ya just gotta love a chocolate chip sale

I love a good deal.

Remember yesterday? I had to brave the cold to go pick up a prescription. So while I'm waiting (30 minutes, the lady behind the counter had said) I tooled around my neighborhood grocery store to pick up a few things I needed.

And obviously, a few things I didn't. Well, not immediately, anyway.

Now this is not an uncommon thing, to set out for one thing and come home with something else. I do it, um, occasionally. Don't you? Lucky for me, however, that this particular day I would be coming home with the "deal of the day."

It doesn't beat last year's "deal of the day" but oh, well. It was a sale. I saw it. And I conquered.

Evidently my local Kroger makes it an annual event to clear the shelves of certain baking items after Christmas. I cleaned up big time last year, this year the pickin's were a little lighter. I suppose it's the economy.

Nevertheless, here's my stash.


How could I resist? The big bins were there and they were emptying. Fast. Let it not be said that I do not get in on good sales.

So what would you pay for the items on the table? Look closely now. There are 4 pie shells, 6 bags of chocolate chip cookies, 3 bags of stuffing, 6 boxes of pudding, a can of organic cranberry sauce and a can of refried beans (hey, they were in the bin, all right?)

I ask you again. What would you pay? (assuming that you would want these items) Got that figure in your head? Are you sure?

Retail, the cost was $43.17. Were you close?

And I paid... drummmmmroll...  $9.65.

Cha-ching! Don't you love the sound of change falling right into your pocket?

I love a good deal.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's a soup day: Turkey Noodle!


Baby, it's cold outside.

And when it's cold outside there is nothin' better than soup. Wait. I'll one-up that. There is nothing better than having all the ingredients for soup in your pantry so you can make homemade soup.

I hate wasting food, even leftovers, and usually find ways to use up all those bits of this and pieces of that. That's what I did this morning when I made Turkey Noodle Soup.

So, here is what I found in my pantry and here is how I made my soup!

1/2 pkg of celery hearts
1 small onion
olive oil
butter
1 32 oz carton of chicken stock
4 cups of water
1-2 cups of chopped up turkey (mine was frozen and left over from Thanksgiving)
1/2 of a 16 oz pkg of egg noodles (leftover from...something)
1 can of peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Other spices added: Thyme, poultry seasoning, garlic powder (probably a couple of healthy dashes of each, or more)

Chop celery and onion. Saute in bottom of large stock pot in1/2 stick of melted butter and a round or two of olive oil in the pan. Saute until onions turn translucent.

Add chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer. Add turkey and let sit at a high simmer for about 5 minutes. Add egg noodles and spices, salt and pepper to taste. Bring back to a high simmer until noodles are tender. Add drained can of peas near the end of cooking.

A quick soup that came from stuff all ready to go in my pantry. Love it!

Now, if only I didn't have to go outside to pick up a prescription I forgot to pick up last night. But, oh well, I know what's waiting for me when I get back! Yummers.

After that, I'm putting the finishing touches on my latest project, Family Stories, Family Recipes cookbook. Guess I better get moving!

Until the 'morrow...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's going to snow: Time for French toast!


Like most of the nation, we've had frigid temperatures here lately. Now, we're bracing for the snow. Prior to this, we've had a few flurries and a dusting.

The weather people say anywhere from 2-5 inches, depending upon who you talk to. They started predicting this a couple of days ago. That always makes me a bit leery because when they start to prepare us in advance we will either experience:


a) nothing, or
b) the worst storm ever

I'm hoping for somewhere in the middle. I would love to be home a couple of days with no distractions to finish the current project. But that remains to be seen.

The winter storm watch alerts started coming yesterday in my email. The meteorologists told us to prepare. People started talking about going to the grocery store. You know, to buy milk, eggs and bread.



So what gives? What is it with milk, eggs and bread? I know you've witnessed it. The snow is coming, you go to the store, and the bread, milk, and egg shelves are empty because people have bought everything up.

I can only deduce one thing from this phenomena--when the snow comes, people make French toast. Is there any other explanation for this?


I think not.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I am quirky like Sandra Lee

I could be Sandra Lee. Really, I could. Oh, I'm not blonde. Or tall. Or thin. And I don't have a test kitchen. But maybe I'm just kind of "like" her, in a lot of ways.

I wake up with projects on my mind. It happens to me all the time. Does that happen to you? It happens to Sandra Lee.

I mean, when I'm really deep into an idea or concept, it's there consciously and unconsciously, awake or asleep. Lately, there is this current idea that has consumed me. It's with me night and day, I tweak it, I twiddle with it, I jot down notes. I wish I could work on it steadily but I can't right now because of deadlines and other obligations.

Still, it won't let me go.

The concept actually came to me in a dream a few weeks ago. That happens occasionally for me, and sometimes I think about it for a while, and it gradually goes away. A few times the "aura" for lack of a better word, is so strong it WILL NOT let go.

That's this idea. The one in my head right now.

Won't let me go.

And, by golly, that's fine with me!

It reminds me of Sandra Lee, who if you don't know, has a show called Semi-Homemade on the Food Network. It's a show I watch a lot. On Sunday, an interviewer said, "Aren't you ever afraid of running out of ideas?"

She quickly replied, "Oh no! I get out of bed and I think, I could do a lovely show on...."  "And I could do this... or that...." Those weren't her exact words but she rattled on and on and all I could do was smile.

I'm not alone. I'm not crazy. There are other people out there with a plethora of ideas spilling out of their heads and they also get up with projects on their mind.

Feels good to know that.

Now, I've got this project to get to...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

I'm not as quirky as Johnny Mercer




Sunday Morning.

Yeah, I love a good lazy Sunday morning. One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday  morning is watch CBS Sunday Morning. Rarely is there a story there that doesn't interest me.

Today, one of the spots was about songwriter Johnny Mercer. It's his hundredth birthday, or something, and there was a statue dedicated to him somewhere. If he were alive, I'm sure he would have liked that.

I learned, besides being a fabulous songwriter (many of his tunes were part of my piano repertoire growing up) that Johnny was obsessed with Judy Garland. I also learned that he was a drinker and that he would get rather "loud" the morning after. It was said when he worked that he had a sort of ritual. He'd lay down on his couch, pencil in his mouth, and close his eyes. His wife would say to the children, "Daddy's working." Of course they didn't believe that and she'd repeat, "Daddy's working."

That made me think. Do I have any quirky writing habits? Since the kids are grown and I live alone (except for Clio and Calliope) I really don't have to explain my habits to anyone anymore ("Mommy's working.") but I deduced that I do, indeed, have some quirks.


1. It's 10:37 a.m. and I'm still in my robe.
2. My favorite coffee cup, refilled already a couple of times, sits to my left.
3. My favorite afghan is on my lap.
4. The laptop is on that.
5. The Food Network is on the tube.

Those are my quirks. I've been working here like this for days. (My sister told me over Christmas that now that I'm a full-time writer, she's going to have to call me ever other day to remind me to shower. Sad, but true.) But as I look at my list, I realize that I am not as quirky as Johnny Mercer.

Perhaps, I thought, I should lie down on my couch with a pencil in my mouth.

Ah. No.

'Nuff said.

Friday, January 01, 2010

It's January 1, and the charts are back...


It's January 1, 2010. A new year, resolutions, goals, and so on. It's a fresh start. We all do it, we all say it. After the first of the year I'll start eating better, starting walking more, join the Y, clean out that closet and purge the junk. After the first of the year, I'll get my writing career on track. I'm as guilty of saying those words as anyone. Possibility more guilty than most.

But today is a reality check. It's January 1 and I have resigned my day job, effective Feb. 1. I've spent 10 years with the organization and I'm grateful for the experiences and opportunities I was provided while there. In fact, I'll still be doing some contract work for them, which is a good thing. I don't want to severe the relationship completely, but I do want to rid my life of being totally consumed by the job.

Because, you see, I have this dream, this goal, to support myself as a writer. I've had it for, oh, probably 25 years or more. That's a long time to harbor a dream and the truth is, I can't wait another 25 for it to just "happen."


So, that's why the charts are back. See them? I'm great on planning, plotting, making lists, crossing things off, charting the pros and cons, making a ven diagram. Last summer, when I was considering how I could make this move, I started making these charts. I lined them up down my entryway and kept them up for weeks. I'd look at them, add things, draw on them, ponder... Then I'd walk away and think, and go back again later and do it all over again. Eventually, in early fall, I put them away.

Yesterday I dragged them out again. It was interesting to see what I'd written a few months ago, what I had accomplished already but hadn't crossed off the list, and what things I still need to do.

But it was very different looking at those charts this time because it wasn't just a dream now. It was reality. It's a done deal. I quit my job. I have a mortgage. I like to eat. I have two cats to support. I have to make a living with my writing. Have to.

To be honest, and as the charts will attest, I've been scheming toward this end for a long time, so no worries that this was a snap decision. It truly has been, and will continue to be, a work in progress.

Sort of like this blog. I've been blogging since 2006. I've long, hard runs of daily blogs, and a number of dry spells. I've switched from blogging about writing romance, to blogging about life in general. As part of my writing career plan, I will continue this blog and I WILL be more consistent.


The theme? The same, with a slightly different bent. Life, Unedited... and Reinvented. Because truly, that is what I am doing. I am reinventing myself. I've stepped out of my comfort zone. I no longer will get a regular paycheck. I now have to buy my own insurance. I am the boss of me and I like that a whole heckuva lot!

There are a number of changes in focus I am making in my writing and in my personal life. I'll still, and will always, write romance and erotica. I'll be excited to share with you, however, some of my newer projects as they come about in the coming months. Like I said, a work in progress.

I hope you will join me on this journey to be the boss of me. I'd love some company along the way!