Thursday, September 30, 2010

October...Already? What are You Doing October 20th?

I'm having trouble grasping that tomorrow is October 1st. Already the temperature is dropping, leaves are falling, and the nights are longer. Just a month ago, I'd sit at my desk, as I am this morning, and stare at the sun kissing the flowers in my garden. Today, I'm looking at a very quiet landscape, no birds, a very gray sky and the sun hasn't yet peeked above the horizon.

But, October holds a lot of exciting things! Look at just the first week:
  • Friday, October 1st, is the opening of COFW's Write From the Heart Conference
  • Friday, October 1st I'll announce the winner of the $10 Gift Card from Bath & Body Works
  • Sunday, October 3rd is my hubby's birthday
  • Monday, October 4th, Dianne Castell will be interviewed in the Blog Studio
  • Wednesday, October 6th, Tanya Hanson will be guest blogging
ANNOUNCEMENT: I have October 20th open on this blog for someone to do a guest spot. If you are interested, please contact me to let me know. You can reach me by visiting my website at

How about you? Are you looking forward to October? Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hearts Surrender - Guest Blogger Marianne Evans


At the end of her blog tour, Marianne is giving away three special prizes:

1. A $10 gift certificate to White Rose Publishing

2. A $10 gift certificate to

3. An autographed, print edition of her new release, Hearts Surrender

Entering is simple: Leave a comment – or several comments as you track her progress on the tour (Marianne and her blog hosts will get the word out and let you know where she’ll be!). Each comment gives you a chance to win!

On September 30th, she’ll randomly select three comments from visitors at any of the blogs she’s visited, and award them the prizes!

Marianne Evans loves to tell a good story. In fact, she’s been enthusiastic about writing ever since she could string sentences together. Kensington Publishing purchased her first book, Friends & Lovers, a contemporary romance. Her second release, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter. Her third offering from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim from readers, and The Oakland Press.

Her fourth book is her inspirational romance debut at White Rose Publishing – the contest winning novella Hearts Crossing. Hearts Crossing led to the creation of the ‘Woodland Series.’ This series of books centers around Woodland Church and characters who are first introduced in Hearts Crossing. Book two is titled Hearts Surrender. Hearts Communion and Hearts Key will follow as books three and four. The series is offered in both print and electronic formats via White Rose Publishing ( and Amazon (

A lifelong resident of Michigan, she calls suburban Detroit home. She’s happily married, with a son, a daughter, and cats who wrap her around their paws. An active part of Romance Writers of America, she’s a long-time member of the Greater Detroit chapter where she served the chapter most notably as Treasurer and two terms as President. She also belongs to the Faith Hope and Love chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Connect with her at: or via her fan page at

The Story Behind the Story

Talk about a risk…

There I was…well, no. I take that back. There they were, my characters I mean, Ken and Kiara, all but leaving me sleepless as they fed me their story. I tried to silence them. Had to silence them. Really. After all, I couldn’t tell their story unless Collin Edwards and Daveny Montgomery had their shot first!

Let me fill in the blanks for you. I was writing furiously on a submission to White Rose Publishing for their Hearts Crossing contest. Collin and Daveny simply filled up the pages and I fell in love with them completely – but hey, this was a contest. Chances of winning were slim to none when you consider how many talented authors would be participating. Still, I had to try. So, I finished off this heart-warming novella and sent it in.

That’s when the weirdest thing happened. Two of the secondary characters from Hearts Crossing stepped to center stage and threw me into the midst of a story that stole my entire focus. It centered around the modernista versus the clergyman. The gorgeous, vivacious woman versus the quiet, yet completely charismatic missionary. When I wrote this story, the scenes, the dialogue, the characterization, poured out of me like water.

One small problem, though. What about the prequel? What about Daveny and Collin’s story? Ken and Kiara stand just great on their own, but how would I be able to convince White Rose to contract Hearts Surrender if Hearts Crossing didn’t win their interest? Ordinarily that would have stopped my writing angel like a freight train. Not this time, though. The story needed to be told.

I knew I was setting myself up for a letdown, but I had to try, and I figured if I didn’t win the contest, I might still be able to work out details and logistics at a later point. So on I went…or in this case, wrote.

How good is God’s providence and provision? I ended up winning the Hearts Crossing contest! Furthermore, when I told my editor I had a sequel about ready for review, she seemed eager to see it! The rest, as they say, is history. I ended up contracting Hearts Surrender to White Rose Publishing, and beyond that, I have been contracted to create an series of books based around Woodland Church, home of the characters you met in Hearts Crossing, and continue to meet in Hearts Surrender…in fact, Ken Lucerne, the hero of Hearts Surrender, is its pastor. Books 3 and 4 of the series are Hearts Communion and Hearts Key, and they’ll be coming soon from White Rose Publishing!

Thanks for letting me share my story, and excitement about the release of Hearts Surrender! I hope you enjoy it!

Blurb – Hearts Surrender

Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers, and she longs for deeper meaning in her life.

Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church ; he's adjusting to life on his own following the death of his wife and copes by keeping as busy with parish life and mission work as he can.

A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share, and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns, a love that takes them to a life-point neither would have expected.

After all, can a chic, vivacious woman find fulfillment within the quiet, mission-centered life of a clergyman? Can they trust God's hand strongly enough to surrender their hearts to one another…forever?

Excerpt – Hearts Surrender

“I’ve been the wallflower who bloomed. But I’ve never believed in myself enough to give up the fancy trappings. I've clung to vanity-centered ideals for too long, I suppose. I’ve worked hard to fit in, and finally I succeeded. Problem is, that kind of success is a double-edged sword. That pathway, once you start to follow it, is hard to leave.”

In an unexpected, graceful motion, Ken caught her swing by the chains. He held her in place, suspended backward, with nothing but a cushion of air between them. All at once Kiara went dizzy, tempted once more by that full, supple mouth, and the satiny-looking fall of his thick brown hair. He was close enough to touch. In this moment, she wanted nothing more than to do just that.

“Some time – at some point – I’d like to hear more about that, Kiara. I’d like know how you became the woman you are.”

“I’d bore you to tears. It’s nothing extraordinary.”

“All present evidence to the contrary.” He set her gliding once again and Kiara’s stomach performed a sparkling fall-away. She delighted in his words but forced herself to brush them aside before they could take root and sway her into believing he saw richness to her spirit. After all, it was part of Ken’s persona to be gracious and encouraging.

He continued, “You're moving forward in directions that are not only admirable, but eye-opening – not just for you, most likely, but to everyone who's part of your life. Don't hold to what other people see, or expect of you, Kiara. Be who you are. And while you're at it, create the best version of yourself you can imagine. After all, the only question, with the only relevance that matters, is this: Who are you now?"

When she sailed back his way, he caught the chains of her swing once again and whispered in her ear, "I believe in you."

With that, he released her on a push, sending Kiara on another dizzying spin of sensation. He walked away, retracing his steps up the path to the cabins and mess hall. She swung to a stop then sat in silence for long moments after he left, absorbing, shivering in a way that had nothing at all to do with the cool of the encroaching night.

Purchase Link for Hearts Surrender

Available in Print and Electronic Formats - $4.99 Digital / $11.99 Trade-Size Paperback

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Oneself Out of the Dreaded Writer's Corner

Yesterday, I happily tapped away at the keyboard, loving how the scene played out...and then...I found myself in the dreaded writer's corner. How could I move forward without knowing exactly how local jurisdiction would handle the issue?

That's why I love being in on-line writing groups who have other authors and professionals ready to offer advice. With just a few emails and feedback, I knew how to proceed. One person told me that since this is fiction, if I write it with conviction, I can convince the reader. Yes, that is true. You must be accurate in most things, but human nature varies, and situations vary. Thus, a good writer can set up a situation and make it believable. One can color outside the lines, as long as it isn't scribbling.  : )

When you find yourself backed in a corner, perhaps, like me, you are thinking too hard. Unless you are writing a true crime type of novel, fiction has some leeways. You just have to know how to write yourself out of the corner.

Any of you had the same type of problem? How did you conquer?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2010 Ohioana Award Winners Announced

Press Release


Columbus, OH – September 15, 2010. . . .The Ohioana Library Association announces the 16 recipients of the 2010 Ohioana Awards. Linda Hengst, executive director of the Ohioana Library, stated, “Ohio has fostered amazing talent! Among this year’s award recipients are former Poet Laureate of the United States Rita Dove and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen. Each of this year’s award winners has made significant contributions to the literary, artistic, and musical life of Ohio and our nation, and we are proud to be able to recognize such talented individuals.”

Champions and promoters of Ohio artists, Timothy and James Keny, lifelong Columbus residents, are the recipients of the 2010 OHIOANA CAREER AWARD, given to an Ohio native for a lifetime of service to the arts and humanities. Toledo’s Lucas County Poet Laureate Joel Lipman, will receive the 2010 PEGASUS AWARD, which honors a native or non-native Ohioan for outstanding cultural achievements.

The recipients of the Ohioana Book Awards, Ohioana Citations and Named Awards are listed below. A detailed profile of each award recipient, listed in alphabetical order, is also attached, and photographs are available upon request.

OHIOANA BOOK AWARDS - annually awarded for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, juvenile books, and books about Ohio or Ohioans.)

• FICTION: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, Cleveland Heights, OH resident and Oberlin College professor

• NONFICTION: When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the present by Gail Collins, Cincinnati native and first woman appointed editor of the New York Times editorial page.

• POETRY: Sonata Mulattica: Poems by Rita Dove, Akron, OH native and former Poet Laureate of the United States.

• JUVENILE BOOK: Cuckoo’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen, Columbus native and former literary director of Thurber House.

• ABOUT OHIO/OHIOAN: Wild Ohio by James McCormac, Columbus resident and employee of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Gary Meszaros, photographer and Cleveland native and resident.

OHIOANA CITATIONS—awarded for distinguished service in specific fields or areas of the arts and humanities.

• Children’s author to Brian Cleary, native and resident of Cleveland, OH

• Artist and Illustrator to Loren Long, Cincinnati resident

• Art and Education to Patty Mitchell, Athens, Ohio

• Music to Jorma Kaukonen, Pomeroy, OH resident


• OHIOANA JAMES P. BARRY AWARD FOR EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE to New Ohio Review, Jill Allyn Rosser, editor, Athens, OH – Ohio University

• OHIOANA WALTER RUMSEY MARVIN GRANT – (awarded to encourage a young unpublished writer) to Daniel Pribble, Oxford, OH native

• OHIOANA CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AWARD – (Alice Louise Wood Memorial) to Sharon Draper, Cleveland native and Cincinnati resident, for the body of her work and contributions to Children’s Literature

There are two opportunities for the public to meet the Award recipients. On Friday evening, October 15th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. the public is invited to an informal gathering and reception for the award recipients. The event, “Uncorrected Proofs” will include readings and a panel discussion with the book award winners lead by Linda Feagler, senior editor of Ohio Magazine. It will be held at the Ohioana Library and State Library of Ohio, 274 E. First Ave., Columbus, OH. Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be available. Admission is $25 per person and reservations are required.

The Ohioana Awards will be presented at the Ohioana Day celebration on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, in the Statehouse Atrium on Capitol Square. The luncheon and awards ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m., preceded by the Association’s 81st annual meeting at 10 a.m. and a book fair at 10:30 a.m. The Statehouse Museum Shop will have copies of the works of award winners as well as other Ohio selections available for sale. The luncheon is open to the public; however, reservations are required. The cost of the luncheon is $50 per person.

The 2010 Ohioana Awards are presented with the support of the Ohio Arts Council, funding programs and organizations with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Additional support has been provided by The Myers Y. Cooper Company and the law firms of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease and Margaret Wong & Associates. Ohio Magazine is the official print media sponsor, with additional support provided by WOSU Public Media.

For more information about the Ohioana Awards or to make reservations for the Friday reception or the Saturday luncheon, please contact the Ohioana Library, 274 East First Ave., Suite 300, Columbus, OH 43201, call 614-466-3831, or email

The Ohioana Library Association’s mission is to recognize and encourage the creative accomplishments of Ohioans; preserve and expand a permanent collection of books, sheet music, manuscripts, and other materials by Ohioans and about Ohio; and disseminate information about the work of Ohio writers, musicians and other artists to researchers, schools and the general public.

The Ohioana Library is supported by memberships, grants, contributions, and a subsidy from the State of Ohio.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You Just Have to Love Them Anyway!

Question for the Day:

Hubby asked -- What do you have planned for today?

My answer -- Vacuuming, scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms, laundry, and writing.

Hubby's response -- That's good. You need a day to relax.

Gotta love him!

It has been a stressful week. Lots of meetings, so I'm sure he meant that it would be nice that I could stay home for a day. LOL!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Instant Replay...with Changes Allowed!

I've been having fun with my writing.

Let's see, on Wednesday I left my hero lying bleeding on the floor of a dilapidated shack. Poor guy. He stayed there until yesterday afternoon, when I finally rescued him. Now I'm thinking I didn't put him through enough angst, so he's going to have to go back into the battle again. If I don't finish the scene, he just might end up back on that floor bleeding and waiting...again.

Ah, writing is like instant replay, but you get to change things around!

Seriously, if you have trouble getting back to your manuscript, stop writing in the middle of a scene. It's the easiest way I've found to keep my interest high and while I'm accomplishing other necessary chores, I'm thinking about the spot I've left my hero or heroine in. Keeps the manuscript foremost in my mind and when I return to writing, I usually know exactly what to do next.

Where do you end your writing for the day?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In a Dark Corner of Denise Barone aka Denise Gwen

My guest blogger today is Denise Barone, writing as Denise Gwen--HOUSE OF WACKS and her latest release JUDGE NOT published by The Wild Rose Press.

Big grin! No, that's not really Denise! But, since she sent me the snapshot, I just felt inclined to include it. Denise thank you for joining me on my blog today. And, now I'll turn this over to Denise.

Whenever he has a day off, my husband likes to accompany me to our local Starbucks. It’s where I like to write, especially on a Saturday morning, and there is a certain table there that reminds me of the desks that my husband and I used to sit at when we were dating in college, and studying together at the library. I know, so cute. But it is. The table is located in a dark section of the store, but there’s a nifty lamp there that illuminates the table beautifully. So we were seated at opposite ends of the table from one another, typing away on our laptops like a pair of nerds. It was mid August and the release date for Judge Not was present in my mind (slated for Friday, September 17), and I felt, perhaps correctly, that I needed to think about promotion.

I noticed the line. It was long, long, long. This Starbucks is certainly not hurting during these tough economic times. I approached the store manager, a lovely lady by the name of Jen. She was receptive to the idea of letting me have a booksigning. She told me that they host all kinds of musical events, and a booksigning sounded just fine. We picked a date and a time. I showed her some of my bookmarks, assured her that it was not a booksigning for an erotica novel (as if!), and then gave her a courtesy copy of House of Wacks.

I asked my editor, Tori Spence, for a finer-definition copy of the book cover, and she sent one to me, which my husband then turned into a poster. He incorporated red letters onto the book cover, advertising the booksigning for Saturday, September 18, from 9 to 12 at the Eastgate Starbucks. We went to Office Max and got eight posters printed. I only managed to put up three, one at Starbucks, one at my local Y (at the way back of the Y, on the media board), and at the Clermont County Law Library. Yes, I am a lawyer.

My books arrived on Thursday, September 16. I’d waited a tiny bit too long to place my order, and there were a few anxious moments as I followed the tracking. For some peculiar reason, my books arrived promptly in Lexington at 7:14 a.m. on Wednesday morning, but apparently didn’t feel like leaving Lexington in a big awful hurry, and so they didn’t get around to shipping themselves to Cincinnati until 3:14 p.m. All the same, I was pleased as punch to see the box left on my back porch by the UPS man. I literally spent the next hour simply admiring my books.

The morning of my book signing arrived. I awoke at 7:00 a.m. Showered. Shaved my right leg. (I always make a point of shaving at least one body part; the left leg got shaved the following day.) In order to guarantee a smooth silhouette, I put on a black body-slimmers (Nancy Ganz) corset-type thing that I bought at the Goodwill in Montgomery (yes, I washed it before wearing). It had the tags still on it when I bought it! With the foundation set, I then put on my booksigning uniform, a fabulous black-and-white pencil skirt bought at Ann Taylor Loft on sale, a black silk top from The Limited, a pair of black sling back heels from Merona, and my crisp white parachute-style jacket (again, from Ann Taylor Loft, again on sale). My loins properly girded, I then directed my attention to hair and makeup.

Poor hubby had to work that day, but he’d kindly hauled my boxes of books out to the Bug the night before, so all I had to grab was my handbag, a camera, and my bag of promotional items.

I left the house at eight-thirty sharp and drove very carefully to the Starbucks. Hauled everything in. Set it up. Took a photo. A good friend of mine came shortly after nine and took the photo of me seated at the table. The next three hours passed unbelievably fast. Over the past few years, I’ve made a point of opening myself up to other people. I used to be very reserved, but it made for a lonely existence. Becoming more open and friendly and kind is part of the work I’ve been doing on myself through the help of my church and through therapy. A lot of dear friends came to show their support, and they comprised ninety-percent of sales, but I did manage to sell a book each to two ladies who didn’t even know me!

On Monday morning, I tucked a bunch of books into my handbag and went to the Clermont Inn—a local hangout for the lawyers—and sold four books to lawyer friends! Ha-ha! My technique was terribly subtle, you may employ it if you wish. I would push a book toward a lawyer friend, said, “Here, would you like me to sign this for you?”, to which, of course, the lawyer friend would ask, “How much?”, to which I would quote the price and the lawyer friend would then hand over cash! Ha-ha!

I love being a writer, I love being published, and I love my friends.

Learn more about Denise and her newest release by visiting her website.
Purchase JUDGE NOT from her publisher, The Wild Rose Press.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He's Back...Even if He Didn't Phone!

I watched the new Castle episode last night. Wow, Richard got arrested for murder! Great way to open the series. And I loved the parallel line of his daughter's relationships with her boyfriend and what was happening between Decker and him. I loved the ending action scene where he and Decker each shot someone who was going to shoot the other! They're back and the attraction is on again. Yay!!!

Also, wanted to update my readers on Chance (aka Little Gus). He had a problem with vomiting his food and they found worms in it. I know, I should have warned you not to be eating when you read the blog today. Sorry. Anyway a trip to the vet and medication was all he needed. He's home now and resting comfortably. Yay! I'm so happy that he found a forever home.

Come on, share with me! Every comment gets your name entered in my drawing. No limit to how many times your name is included, so even if you commented already once or twice this month, this will be one more additional chance that you might be the winner. So, what new programs did you watch last night? Comments? What was your favorite part of Castle last night? Did you watch Dancing with the Stars?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Any Castle Fans Out There?

I follow several loops where Castle is torn apart because of the "technical" things presented in the episodes. In my opinion, it doesn't matter. Why?

As a writer, I love the series for the characters and their interactions with each other. I adore the relationship between Richard and his daughter and mother. Richard is the perfect hero. He's witty and very amusing. The attraction between him and Decker is wonderfully portrayed. I wish I could mimic this in my novels. Both characters are superb at portraying their emotions through eye contact and body language. It's not the "murder" and the way it's solved that draws, it's the characters and what makes them tick that pulls me to the television every Monday night.

So, what about you? Ever watch Castle? How do you feel?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Cat in the Basket

This is a story with a happy ending!

For those who follow my blog, you already know that we care for 13 feral cats. Well, once they were feral, but now most allow us to pet them. They have all been trapped, neutered/spayed, and released. We feed them and provide shelter.

Two weeks ago, a little gray kitten with a white nose and white feet crawled out from under the shelter house to try and sneak a few bites of food from the trays. The older cats were not kind. They growled and smacked at him. I tagged him Little Gus. He had to flatten himself like a pancake to crawl under the house to get away from them. But, he continued to crawl out each morning to grab some food. I kept consoling him and after a couple of days I could pet him. A couple days later I picked him up and he purred, although he was very frightened. So, I called our vet and made arrangements to take him in for a check up and to be neutered.

He was just so sweet that we hated to put him back outdoors to fend for himself. Even the vet wished they weren't overloaded with cats so they could help. I posted his picture and story on Facebook hoping someone with a loving heart would adopt him.

We had Little Gus neutered, tested negative for FIV, and then brought him home. We kept him on our screened in deck to heal. At first he was very scared of the "big cage" and he could see the other cats and the familiar back yard, but couldn't figure out how to get there. I kept loving on him and he soon realized humans were okay. I went outside the next morning and he had eaten the entire bowl of food and drank all the water! But I couldn't find him. I kept looking and looking and finally...

There he was in a basket of flowers.

That afternoon, we received a call from our son, whose wife had been begging to get Little Gus. He wanted to surprise her, so he told her we had a project he needed to help with. He brought her over and we sat on the deck. I handed Little Gus to her and she sat in the chair petting the kitty and giving her hubby a pleading look. He laughed and then said:

"She doesn't know why she's here."

Me:  "She doesn't know about the project?"

He:  "No. I didn't tell her."

Me:  "Well, you better tell her or I will."

He:  "You tell her."

Me:  "It was your idea, so you tell her."

All this time, she kept looking from one to the other, and said, "Well, somebody tell me."

He:  "We're taking the kitty home with us."

She teared up and kept saying "Really?"  Tears streamed down her cheeks and she kept hugging the kitty.  Yes, Little Gus found a loving home where he'll be spoiled and cared for. And, they took his basket of flowers along so he'd have something familiar. He also has a new name...Chance.  Because he now has a new chance at life!

Now that's a happy ending!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Explosion Heard Around the World

Earlier this morning, I was reading the industry articles in RWA eNotes, and ran across several links to discussions about e-books and e-readers. When I signed my first book contract in 2006, I worried about the feasibility of having my book available both as an e-book and print. An avid reader, I had always loved being surrounded by shelves full of books, visiting book stores, libraries, and waiting eagerly for the next release by my current fav author. Never, would I have dreamed how e-books would become such a popular item only four years later!

With the recent developments in e-readers, competition has ramped up, and prices are falling. And, this means a big change in the mindsets of those who read. The younger generation is going for the latest technological devices, and part of that is being able to read books on their device of choice. This explosion has been heard all around the world.

My first experience with reading electronic books was on an ancient Palm Pilot, no bigger than the size of my palm. I loved carrying it with me and reading in the doctor's office, while waiting in line to vote, on my lunch hour...the list goes on. This year I made the decision to purchase a Kindle. I LOVE it. I can purchase a book I hear about instantly!  I love the fact that I can read my Kindle in the brightest of sunlight. I can make notes about specific passages, look up the meaning of a word, all on the same device. It's fantastic.
And, my decision about e-books? I'm sold. And, I'm very happy as an author to gear my career in the arena of e-books.

One thing I caution any new writers about is to research your publisher carefully before going into contract. There are so many new small publishers popping up that one must be very cautious.

Here is a link furnished in my RWA eNotes which I found amusing and interesting.
Of Two Minds About Books

Which do you prefer: print book or e-book and why?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Wanna Go There! - by Dianne Castell

Does where a book set make a difference if you buy it or not? Do you have a favorite place that is an auto buy for you? Scottish highlands, a Texas ranch, New Orleans, a vineyard, a hospital, a hot tub?

I’ve set my last series in Savannah because I loooove the South. I guess it harkens back to my reading Gone With the Wind and I’ve been hooked ever since. Then again I have no desire to visit Germany because I read Frankenstein.

My daughter went to school in Savannah and it was love at first visit. To me there’s nothing cooler than Spanish moss flowing from the trees and the big old homes with a million stories of their own. Savannah is small enough to be intimate and big enough that there’s always something new to deal with. And then there’s the food...dear, Lord, the food!

I love New Orleans books too. The mystery, the ghosts, the food...I think I see a pattern here. Books in Texas are always fun while books set in cold places don’t do a thing for me. Cincinnati has horrid winters all gray and icky. I get enough of winter here.

So what about you? Any auto-buys just because of a setting? Does a small town atmosphere do it for you or are you and LA fan or NYC? Is there a setting that turns you’d rather read the back of a cereal box than read something set in...Utah?

Put in your two-cents and I’ll draw two names and give away a copy of Hot Southern Nights and a copy of Hot and Bothered.

Hugs, Dianne

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Be...Or Not To Be...

When I first began seeking publication for my writing, I thought about using my maiden name because it would be easier for people to pronounce. Next, I thought about making up a catchy pen name that people would easily recognize. But, my husband couldn't understand why I'd want to use a name other than the one I took when we married. He was proud of my efforts.

Erhardt. That's a tough name for anyone to decide how to pronounce. People who call on the telephone and struggle with the pronunciation are quickly weeded out as telemarketers. Hostesses in restaurants get it wrong. Sigh.

But, when I got my first contract, I opted to use my real name. I love my name and I'm not ashamed of what I write. Why should I hide behind a different name?

What about other writers out there? Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ugh! Why Did I Do That?

Do you ever get mad at yourself for doing something you shouldn't?

Yesterday we attended a picnic with friends from church. The weather couldn't have been nicer. Nice breeze and high seventy temps. Friends who have a fantastic back yard of four acres filled with flower gardens, ponds, and fresh vegetable plots were the perfect hosts! We had a fantastic time.

So, what did I do wrong?

I ate a piece of cake and a homemade ice cream sandwich (ice cream between two large M&M cookies).  I should have avoided the treats NOT because I am trying to lose weight, but because I am battling high blood sugar. When I eat too many foods on the high glycemic index, then my blood sugar gets high and then...drops. The drop causes me to have bouts of "personal summers" or what some women think of as hot flashes. Mine are not due to a change in hormonal levels, but the fluctuating blood sugar. I need to maintain levels in the normal range.

Too bad this won't imprint on my brain like abstaining from food which causes a bout of stomach upset!  I really need to work on having a message trigger my brain to shout STOP! when I forget the after affects of eating such yummy treats!

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Early Autumn or...??

As I look out my window this morning, the sun is just beginning to rise. Behind the house across the street, I can just see the top of a tree one street over...its leaves already turning gold. After a forty-five degree night, I believe we are going to experience an early fall. But, wait...look!
It is only a trick of light caused by the sun rising in the east and shining upon the leaves, igniting them to a beautiful shade of gold. It's God's masterpiece and I'm so excited to share it with you.
Good morning! And now it is time to announce the winnner of a free copy of MENDED HEART, a recent release by Mary Manners.

The names of everyone who stopped by to comment on Mary Manners interview in The Blog Studio were put into a large bowl and stirred. Mary pulled out a name and the winner of a copy of MENDED HEART is


Clare, you may have your choice of either an ebook or an autographed book. Congratulations!! Please go to where you'll see a "contact me" link.Use the link to let Mary know your choice of book type and the information to send your book.

Thanks everyone who stopped by to join the audience for the reopening of The Blog Studio. All names are still eligible for my monthly drawing of a $10.00 gift certificate to Bath and Body Works.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

When Life Throws You Lemons

Recently I asked my Facebook friends the question "when life throws you lemons, what do you do?"

Common answers were "Duck!" "Make Lemonade!" and one said, "Duck, and then make lemonade!"

When it comes to rejections in the writing world, the "duck and then make lemonade" rings true. It's easy to tell others to just shrug it off and continue on, but when it happens to you, it's a bit more personal. The advice is good, but it may take a while to reach that point where you want to make lemonade.

First, you must lick your wounds. If that means you retreat from the writing world for a day or so, then do it! But, then you must come back with a vengeance. Rejection letters do not mean that you will not become published. Instead, a rejection letter should be looked upon as a rite of passage. You must submit your work to receive a rejection letter, so that means you've come much farther than a lot of people. Now, you just need to find the right agent or editor. That takes a lot of work and perseverance...a lot of lemonade.

So, hang in there and don't just duck when you get bombarded with lemons. Pick them up and make gallons of lemonade!

Thanks for stopping by!

Teachers Pay It Forward - Guest Blogger Mary Manners

Happy Wednesday! Today, I'm thrilled to welcome Mary Manners back to my blog. Monday she joined me in The Blog Studio. If you missed that live interview, you aren't too late to get your name entered in her drawing for a free autographed book. The winner will be announced here on Friday.

Today Mary is sharing something very dear to her heart. She asks some great questions at the end of the blog. We're both looking forward to hearing your answers! All comments get your name entered twice in the monthly drawing for a $10.00 gift certificate to Bath & Body Works.

I have been writing since I was old enough to know that words tell a story…about four years old. I have such vivid memories of standing in my basement in Chicago, leaning against the washing machine, and scribbling across a notepad because I had a story to tell. Of course, the scribble was just gibberish, but the story was clear in my mind.

My primary school librarian read wonderful stories from picture books. One of my favorites was Sam, Bangs and Moonshine. I loved the wonderful tale of the inquisitive girl and her cat, and the father whose love was overshadowed by grief over the loss of his wife…so many powerful emotions interwoven with haunting illustrations. As you can guess, library hour was my favorite time of the week.

In sixth grade, I had a wonderful teacher who nurtured my writing. She came to school early in the morning and worked with me, and I completed my first full-length novel that year. I will never forget this wonderful woman. We corresponded through my college years before losing touch. I will never forget her, though, or the boundless encouragement she gave me.

In high school, I had an English teacher who loved books as much as I did. He understood my passion for words, and encouraged me to read books with more depth and to appreciate their beautiful imagery. He also began a writers’ group, and published some poems I wrote in a school anthology. It was thrilling!

Without these dedicated teachers, I may not have pursued my love of writing…and might very well not be where I am today. I remember them as I teach my middle-school students, and try to ‘pay forward’ the encouragement I received.

So I ask…has there ever been a teacher who impacted you with compassion, dedication, or encouragement? If so, how did this teacher help you to get where you are today…and what would you say to him or her if given the opportunity?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Remember When...Laugh 'Til You Cry!

Below my blog is the information on who won an ebook of Moselle's Insurance by commenting on LoRee Peery's guest blog about the Sisterhood of Romance Writers.

Yesterday family gathered at our home to share food, conversation and fun. Our home is not large, nor do we have room for a lot of people in any one room. Since the weather was nice, we turned off the air conditioning and opened windows and the sliding doors from the kitchen to the deck. The food covered the table in the kitchen. The men congregated on the deck to eat and watch football, while the kids carried their plates down to the family room to watch television, and the women congregated in the living room to talk. Eventually, the kids moved outdoors to play. We, the women, listened to the kids laughing and having a good time and began to reminisce about things the kids had done when they were younger. One story led to another, and soon we were laughing so hard tears were rolling down our faces. My cheeks and my sides ached from laughing so hard. Occasionally, one of the men would wander in just to see what they were missing.

And that's what I love most about getting together with family. Sharing memories made over the years and laughing together. Family is one of the greatest blessings God has given me. I'm looking forward to Christmas because more of the family will be able to join us. The house will be overflowing with people and love.

I pray all of my friends who are in the US and celebrated Labor Day this past weekend had a fun and relaxing time. Thanks for stopping by!

And the winner is....Donna B.

So, Donna, if you would, please email me through the contact page of my website and give me your email addy to receive your book. Thanks to everyone who commented.

Also, Donna and everyone who left a comment now have their names entered twice in my monthly drawing for a Bath & Body Gift Certificate. There is no limit to how many times your name can be entered. Every comment on one of my blogs gets one entry each and every comment on a guest blog or interview gets two entries each.

The winner of Mended Heart will be announced here on my blog on Friday! Be sure to stop back and see if you are a winner!

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Blog Studio Presents Mary Manners

The Blog Studio band is playing "I Believe There are Angels Among Us" while the camera pans the studio audience. Everyone is singing along and all of them are smiling. As the band concludes, the audience stands and applauds. The band leader bows and raises his hands and the band begins to play the Blog Studio theme song. The curtain raises and Carol Ann Erhardt walks on stage.

"Welcome everyone! I'm so happy to be back with you again. The station has agreed to host The Blog Studio the first Monday of every month. We'll be having a lot of fun getting to know some newer authors, and some of your favorites as well. This morning I'm so happy to launch our new show with a fabulous author. She lives in the foothills of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains with her husband, Tim, her daughter Danni, and the cherished pets they've rescued from local animal shelters…dogs Molly and Abby, and cats Lucky and Gus.

She's active in her church, where she helps cook Wednesday night meals and work with the trustees on church construction and beautification projects. She's also active with the youth, and helps raise funds for mission projects through their breakfast table.

She also teaches 7th grade math and English at Seymour Middle School. She loves working with teenagers, and has been blessed to know many wonderful children and parents during her 25 years of teaching.

She enjoys the outdoors and is looking forward to cooler autumn weather. She enjoys cultivating flowers, taking long walks with her wonderful husband, and reading romance books while lying in a hammock beneath their century-old shade trees.

She's the author of Mended Heart, which she states is a testament to the power of grace and forgiveness. Ten percent of every book sold goes to charity. Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together and give a warm welcome, to a fabulous author, and wonderful human being, my friend...Mary Manners!"

The audience applauds loudly as Mary enters from the left hand side of the stage. The camera pans to a picture taken of Mary and a closeup of her book, Mended Heart.

Mary and Carol Ann embrace and then take seats in the two burgundy leather chairs center stage. There is a small coffee table in front with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and two glasses of lemon water.

CAROL ANN:  Mary, I'm delighted that you could travel to Ohio to be with us today.

MARY:  It's my pleasure! I was so excited about being interviewed today, that I didn't sleep much at all last night.

CAROL ANN:  You look very rested, in spite of that. I'm really impressed with your new book, Mended Heart which released the end of July, right?

MARY: Yes, that's right.

CAROL ANN: Can you tell us a bit about the book?

MARY:  Shane Calkin is a former bad-boy-wannabe fighting to raise his spunky niece and a rambunctious puppy.

Jade McAllister nurses a wounded heart as she struggles to escape her mother’s rejection…and Shane’s.

Nine years have passed since they last saw each other, and a terrible secret looms. Will the secret destroy them, or have the years taught them how to trust…and to love?

CAROL ANN: Oooh. Intriguing. The cover is gorgeous.

Carol Ann hands the book to Mary.

CAROL ANN:  Would you mind reading an excerpt for us?

MARY:  I wasn't expecting this, but sure.

Mary opens the book and turns to a page. Then she smiles at the audience, looks back at the page and begins to read.

MARY:  “What are you doing here?”

Shane slid two English muffins into the toaster and pressed the lever to warm them. “Claire let me in an hour ago. She had to get to the hospital.”

Jade brushed fingers through long strands of wavy hair and tossed her head to work out the tangles. Her eyes glittered beneath sunlight that streamed through the window over the sink, and she pulled the edges of her powder-blue terrycloth robe tighter before cinching the belt. “I’m not a charity case. I don’t need a babysitter.”

He let the comment slide. “Nice slippers.”

She glanced down to see two fuzzy bunny heads staring back at her.

“Claire bought them for me--a gag gift last Christmas.” The pink of a blush crept up her neck. No matter she wasn’t wearing a lick of makeup and that her hair was matted and tangled--she still looked beautiful.”

“I made you breakfast.” He reached for the muffins as they popped from the toaster, nicely browned. He gave each a healthy slap of butter as Jade looked on. The aroma of eggs and crispy bacon filled the air.

“I’m not hungry.” Like a traitor, her stomach chose just that time to let loose a rumble that could have rivaled an earthquake.

“Your belly begs to differ. Did you eat anything at all last night?”

She crossed her arms over her stomach and ignored the question.

Mary closes the book.

CAROL ANN: Wow, just enough to make us want to know more. And, I understand you are going to give away a copy of Mended Heart to one of the lucky Blog Studio audience today. Everyone who comments will get their name entered in a drawing and the winner will be announced on Friday. Also, a reminder that every comment will also get your name entered twice in my monthly drawing for a free $10 Bath and Body Works gift certificate.

MARY:  The person who wins the book can have either an autographed copy if they provide their snail mail address upon winning, or an e-book which can be emailed.

CAROL ANN: Thanks. Now, I'd like to ask a few questions so the audience can get to know you a bit better.

MARY: Gives a nervous laugh. Okay, I think.

CAROL ANN: Besides books, do you have any collections?

MARY:  I really don’t collect anything except favorite books and artwork and such that my daughter has done throughout her school years. She’s getting ready to graduate high school, so it’s a bit of an emotional time for me.

CAROL ANN: Oh, I understand. I have eight children, all of them now out of the home. It was a rough period of adjustment, especially when the last one moved. Okay, another question. You are in a restaurant having lunch, when a reporter shoves a microphone at you and you have one minute to tell the world something very important. What would you say?

MARY: I would tell him what I tell my kids at school…learn as much as you can, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t, and don’t let the past dictate your future. Life’s too short to miss out on opportunities, so believe in yourself and go for it!

CAROL ANN:  Wonderful advice. A dream cannot be realized unless one believes and goes after it.  Author to author, have you ever experienced writer’s block?

MARY: Yes, I've had writer's block.

CAROL ANN:  How did you overcome it?

MARY:  When it hits I…MOW. I mean, I mow my yard. I have two acres, and I push mow the whole thing. And I live on a hill, to boot. For me, mowing is like taking a sledgehammer to a dam—it gets things moving again.

CAROL ANN:  Physical activity is a good way to get the creative juices flowing again. Who can make you laugh?

MARY:  My husband makes me laugh. Oh, he is sooo funny! We have times that we laugh so hard that I cannot breathe. We like to walk together around our neighborhood, and sometimes he’ll say something that gets me laughing so hard I think the neighbors must think I’m off my rocker!

CAROL ANN:  That's wonderful, Mary. And it speaks volumes on what a perfect couple you are and what a great marriage you have. Laughter is so good for the soul. So, tell me, are you an introvert or an extravert and how does that play into your writing life?

MARY:  I am basically an introvert, which is weird because I teach middle school and am surrounded by people all day long. But I’m really OK with alone time, too. And always joke that I’m comfortable talking in front of people who are shorter than me, which limits me because I’m only 5’2’’. As for writing, I am happiest when I have long stretches of quiet time to write, which works best for introverts like me.

CAROL ANN:  I can relate. I'm an introvert, too. I'm much happier with my family and being at home than being at a party. Here's a question that I've thought a lot about. If you knew you only had 30 days to live, what would you do with the remaining days?

MARY:  I’d write the most amazing story, and I’d walk with my husband and sing with my daughter. I’d do all the things I’ve put off…eat ice cream and ├ęclairs until I popped, too.

CAROL ANN:  Do you have any phobias? Afraid of heights, spiders?

MARY:  I am deathly afraid of heights. I get nervous climbing a ladder! I hiked Mount LeConte a few weeks ago, and I thought my husband would have to blindfold and lead me to get me through one section. We were 6,200 feet up and had to hug a rock face on a ledge about a foot wide, holding onto a cable for dear life. Once I got up, I wasn’t sure I’d get down. This fear just gets worse as I age. YIKES!!

CAROL ANN: I'm the same way. Maybe worse, because I wouldn't have attempted that hike you took. I get dizzy climbing bleachers!

MARY:  You, too? I guess a lot of people are afraid of heights.

CAROL ANN: Oh, no! The producer is giving me the sign that our time is up. I can't believe how fast this time together has gone. Thank you again, Mary, for sharing so much with us. I wish you the best of luck with your book.

Ladies and gentlemen, please visit to learn more about Mary and her books. You can purchase Mended Heart from her publisher

Friday, September 03, 2010

Whose Story Is It?

When beginning a novel, it is important to give depth to your characters. This is critical to making the reader care what happens and entice them to read the book. In my current work in progress, my hero is the first character the reader meets. However, this is the heroine's story. So, I pondered if she should be the first character on the page. The issue with that is the heroine will reveal her story LATER in the book. What to do?

I ran the first chapter by my critique group with the hero in the opening paragraphs. They all liked it, and I didn't get any feedback about back-story dumping. All good. So, it seemed I'd done my job. BUT, I still felt strongly that the heroine should be introduced first so the reader knew it was her story. What to do?

I revised with having the heroine be in the first paragraph.

My critique group liked the first version much better. Why? Because I was able to develop the hero with likeable traits. My heroine's traits cannot be revealed until the story moves on.

This clearly tells me I have work to do. I must find a way to bring my heroine on stage at the beginning, give her some traits to make the readers want to find out what happens, and weave their paths together. Or, perhaps I may decide this is the hero's story after all.

The decision I make will determine how the story plays out. This will take a lot of brainstorming and planning. The one thing critical to any story is to know in advance whose story you are telling. If you get that right, then you're on your way to writing a great novel.

Remember when you start writing, ask the critical question, whose story is it?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Strange Wrinkle

I watch the Dr. Oz show most mornings. I've learned some things that I can use to help me be healthy. Last week, he talked about a wrinkle on the ear lobe which can be a signal of heart disease. According to Dr. Oz, and other articles I've read, a vertical crease, which extends from where the earlobe attaches to the head and extends down at an angle to the lower part of the lobe, indicates the ear is not receiving an adequate amount of blood supply. This indicates a potential arterial problem. After reading up on this, I became very worried, because I have that vertical crease on both ears.

I visited my doctor on Tuesday for my six-month check-up and decided to ask him about it. I figured he would just pooh-pooh it away. Imagine my surprise when he said it was a sign that I had the potential for heart disease. He said that with exercise, watching my diet, keeping my blood pressure and cholesterol in check, that it would go a long way toward preventing a heart attack.

My mother had heart disease and high cholesterol. She had a six-way by-pass when she was close to my age, and she died last year of a heart attack. My brother also has heart disease. He has stints to keep his arteries opened.

So, no way around it. I'm one of those at risk as well.

I'm glad I watched Dr. Oz, and also that my doctor listened to me. This has been a wake-up call and I intend to focus more on diet and exercise than I have in the past.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to chat with your doctor if you have any health concerns!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Romance Writers' Sisterhood - Guest Blogger LoRee Peery

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome author, LoRee Peery, as my guest blogger. A lifelong Nebraskan, LoRee is the oldest of seven and grew up on a Nebraska farm. She feels grounded in her sense of place and considers it a blessing to have lived most of her life in the country. She has five children and values one-on-one time with her eleven grandchildren.

She grew up singing and feels closest to the Lord when she worships through song. One of her fondest memories is ascending the basement stairs of Grace Lutheran Church in Neligh, NE singing “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” preceding the Christmas Eve program.

Romance Writers' Sisterhood

When I hear the word “writer,” an immediate picture comes to mind. Always, a person is sequestered and hunched over in his or her writing place. For me it’s not the writer, but the workplace I focus on. I used to imagine a manual typewriter on a bare topped desk except for multitudinous wadded up papers. That evolved into an electric typewriter surrounded by scads of reference books. Then the tiny computer monitors with the huge backs and a keyboard close to the edge of the desk. Finally, laptops, anywhere. The writer is no longer sequestered.

Writers need a social life, balanced with the time spent in the chair while spewing out words. (Notice, I didn’t say playing on the Internet.) We need other people: family, church involvement, frolicking with friends, and fun away from words. We also need what I’ll talk about today, the sisterhood of romance writers groups.

Years ago, a friend and I created Lincoln Word Weavers, a Christian group that crossed all genres. I think it lasted a couple years. To my knowledge, no one published. I joined Romance Writers of America in 2002 and learned more about writing and publishing in six months than I had in the ten years prior. I realized immediately that I had a bond with anyone I came in contact with. The local chapter I'm part of now is Prairieland Romance Writers. We writers have a common passion (or compulsion), a synergy, that binds us together. From local chapters to the online chapter I’m part of Faith, Hope & Love, I can still be amazed at the camaraderie and generosity of individuals. Whether those writers are unpublished or have a hundred best sellers under their belt, they share whatever they can for the common good.

It’s a unique sisterhood that recognizes individual voice as one that cannot be duplicated. Romance writers tell the happily-ever-afters with familiar themes; but always with unique qualities of that writer’s distinctive voice. And now I’m so pleased to be part of another sisterhood, the White Rose Publishing family.

Do you belong to a group where you have a like-minded bond?

As a final note, I doff my hat to the few brave men who don’t mind being part of this “sisterhood.” You know them, they read and write romance too.

LoRee's novel, Moselle's Insurance, the first in the Frivolities series, was released on July 30th. The cover is just stunning, and the blurb sounds exciting! The book has been receiving rave reviews. You can purchase it through publisher, White Rose Publishing. Link for more info: click here


Creative artist Moselle Carson gives new life to old items, but she can't seem to renew her shattered ideal of love. When she returns to her hometown to help with a new family business, memories of a broken heart and small-town gossip chip away the tough exterior she's erected over the years. Now she's forced to decide whether she'll rebuild the wall or trust that true love never dies when it is ordained by God.

Generous insurance agent and vulnerable firefighter, Eric Todd, remembers too well how he mistreated Moselle and then set her aside. Now he longs for true love and the second chance to become a husband and father. Can he learn to forgive himself and still keep the secret that may redeem him in her eyes?