Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn Kisses

I love this! Now I want trailers for all of my books! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Excerpt Three of the What Used to be the Witching Well

For anyone interested, here is the third installment of what was formerly known as The Witching Well.  That's what it's called in Autumn's Kiss, an anthology of ten sweet romance stories coming out in just three days. You can preorder the anthology here.


But the short story, The Witching Well, grew into first a novel (although a rather short one) which I renamed The Highwayman Incident. Just today I finished the first draft. It has an appointment with the editor for November 1st. Here's it's cover.


I only have an outline for the sequel. And I'm debating on how to release these. A month apart? Which means I would hold Highwayman back until the Cowboy was nearly finished? Or should I put Highwayman up as soon as possible so that the anthology readers can find him? 


Still thinking.



The Highwayman
Third excerpt. You can read the first and second excerpts here.

Clearly, Celia Quinn was his thing.
But she wasn’t his.
Remembering the kiss, he decided he needed to fix that.
After a guy named Turner with a tow truck gave him a lift home, Jason sat in front of the fireplace, watching the yellow and red flames curl around the artificial logs.
“Hey, man.” Gabe startled Jason out of his funk. Jason looked up at his cousin. He wasn’t used to sharing his space, but tonight he could use some company.
“What’s with you?” Gabe stood in the center of the room, his arms folded across his chest. “You look like someone shot your dog.”
“I don’t have a dog.”
And I no longer have a tie or a handkerchief,  he thought.
“Maybe you should get one so that he could take that hang-dog look off your face.”
“Hang-dog.” Jason went back to studying the fire. “I haven’t heard that since Uncle Lenny died. Do you ever think about the things our parents used to say?”
Gabe went to the fridge, helped himself to a Coke, popped the lid and settled on the sofa across from Jason. “Yeah, like how my mom used to tell me not to be a boob.” Gabe looked down at his muscular chest and grinned.
Jason leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “Hey, that was way better than what my dad called me.”
“And what was that?”
“Panty-waste.”
Gabe chuckled.
“I mean, if you had to be a boob or a panty-waste, which would you choose?” Jason asked.
 “It wasn’t until I was about twelve that I figured out that being told I looked like the Wreck of the Hesperus wasn’t a compliment.” Gabe took a long swallow of soda.
“Yeah, Aunt Georgia used to call me that, too.” Jason lifted an eyelid to look over his cousin and best friend. Gabe’s mother had been an Argentine beauty, and Gabe had inherited her dark hair, eyes and chiseled features. And the long hours he devoted to his construction company had helped him develop more than a healthy bank account. Jason doubted any female would call Gabe a wreck anytime soon.
“Okay, so we established that we don’t want to be boobs, panty-wastes, or shipcentwrecks, but that doesn’t explain your hang-dogging.”
“Hang-dogging’s now a verb?”
“An action verb—and you’re doing it.”
Jason sat up and placed his elbows on his knees. “Okay, something weird happened tonight.”
“I knew it.” Gabe took another long swallow of Coke before pointing the bottle at Jason. “It’s that Quinn chick, right? You saw her at the wedding.”
“We didn’t speak.” Jason got up, went to the fridge and pulled out a soda of his own. He popped the lid. “At least not there.” Sitting back down, he filled Gabe in on his parking lot adventures.
Gabe grinned, lay back against the sofa and propped his feet up on the coffee table. “You don’t know what happened?”
“No.” He didn’t like the smile on his cousin’s face. “I think someone drugged me.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Don’t you remember all those stories and rumors about the Witching Well?”
“The what?”
“The Witching Well?” Gabe laughed. “In high school and junior high we used to go on rampages trying to find it. Supposedly, the water from the Witching Well causes hallucinations.” Gabe took a long drink from his soda. “There’s even speculation that the Witching Well water could have played a part in the Witch Trials…which, as you know happened just down the street.”
“And to our ancestors,” Jason added, “hundreds of years ago.”
“Exactly.” Gabe pointed his soda at Jason. “So, how is it you don’t know about the Witching Well?”
“I don’t believe in Witching Wells. Maybe while you and your fellow thugs were busy raising hell in the woods, I was bagging groceries.”
Gabe shook his head. “My poor cousin’s sad, misspent youth.”
“Did you ever find it?”
“No. Later in an American history class, I learned that this fungus grows on rye, wheat and barley and can cause mental effects including mania or psychosis—hence—”
“Hence?” Jason laughed, feeling better. Maybe he wasn’t going insane. Maybe his obsession with Celia Quinn wasn’t turning him into a lunatic. “You don’t use the word hence.”
“Hey! I can use the word hence.”
“All right, let’s drop your vocabulary. Do you think it’s possible that somehow I came in contact with water from this Witching Well?”
“No.”
“No?”
Gabe shook his head. “No. I think you’re loco for Celia Quinn,” he said in a serious, somber tone.
Jason threw a pillow at Gabe’s head as he stood to leave. “You’re moving out tomorrow.”
“The project hasn’t even started,” Gabe argued.
“It’s starting right now,” Jason said over his shoulder. And he wasn’t talking about Gabe’s demolishing the Dressy Occasion shop.
“Where you going?” Gabe called after him.
“Where are you going, is a better question.” Although Jason knew he would never kick Gabe out, he thought it better to not let him know that.
Moments later, Jason sat at his computer, searching for anything he could find about the hallucinogenic water lurking in the New England soil.





CHAPTER FOUR

Becca frowned at her cookie crumbs as if she could read them like tea leaves. “So, you’re telling me that you had a dream that Jason West, the hunky lawyer that swindled your grandmother out of her lease, was a highwayman.”
“That’s right,” Celia said, picking up her cookie. She couldn’t eat it. It seemed like she hadn’t been able to eat for weeks. “What does it mean?”
“Dreams don’t always have to mean something,” Becca told her.
“Come on, you can do better than that!” Celia shoved her cocoa mug across the table. “Why did you get a psychology degree if you’re not going to help your friends?”
“There’s no help for you. Besides, there’s no definitive explanation of dreams. There are a thousand and one theories.” Becca bit into a cookie and chewed thoughtfully. “I think the one that best applies here is the one that claims we often dream about the things that frighten us the most.”
Celia nodded. “Okay. That makes sense. Kissing Jason West would be my worst nightmare.”
 “Or fantasy?” Becca grinned and waggled her eyebrows.
A fantasy would be finding a nineteenth-century emerald necklace…
Celia raked her fingers from her hair. She had taken it out of its bridesmaid up-do, but it was still sticky from hairspray. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window. She looked pale in the warmth of Becca’s sunny yellow kitchen. Taking a deep breath, Celia tried to be calm. “It just seemed so real.” She touched her lips. “I can’t even tell you how real.”
Setting down her mug, Becca studied Celia. “Tell me, how does Jason make you feel?”
“In real life, you mean?”
Becca nodded. “Let’s go back to the beginning, before you knew he was Clive Carson’s attorney.”
“I…don’t remember.”
Becca gave her an I-don’t-believe-you smile.
Celia looked away from her friend’s steady gaze. “I bet you’re a really good therapist.”
“Should I double your rent to cover the counseling costs?” Becca tapped her finger on the table.
Celia’s smile faded. “You know that once the store closes and I’m unemployed, I won’t be able to afford the rent. I’ll have to move back home with my mom and grandma. Oh—” her voice caught.
Becca frowned at her. “What did I tell you about the awfulizer?”
Celia swallowed, nodded and quoted, “Do not engage the awfulizer.”
“That’s right,” Becca said, patting her hand. “No need to awfulize just yet.”
“I don’t want to move home. It’s too…”
“Awful?” Becca supplied.
Celia looked out the window at the dark night. “It’s wrong for me to say that, isn’t it? I should want to be at home, helping my mom.”
“You are helping your mom,” Becca reminded her. “You drive her to all her chemo appointments. You take your grandmother shopping, and you take her to all her doctor appointments. Twice a week you make them dinner, and you run the shop.”
Ran the shop.”
“Seriously, if you did any more for them you would sprout angel wings and be lifted up into heaven.”
Tap! Tap! Tap!
Celia looked up from her mutilated cookie and saw her brother standing on the other side of the Dutch door. He tapped on the window again. She could tell from his face that he considered her less angelic than her friend.
Becca bounced from her chair to let Joel inside.
He brushed past Becca, snagged a cookie off the table, and shook it in Celia’s face. “I can’t believe you ditched like that. You know you set yourself up for all the family table-talk, right? We’re going to be discussing your anti-wedding behavior for months.”
Celia ducked her head. “I was sick.”
Joel slipped into the chair beside her, bit into the cookie, and studied her like she was one of his lab rats. “What’s wrong with you? Besides the obvious, I mean.”
Nothing like a brother to keep my ego nice, small and manageable, Celia thought. She bit into her cookie and glared at Joel. She had to admit he looked good in his suit, despite the putrid pink bow-tie.
Probably because they had different fathers, they didn’t look like siblings. Celia looked like her dad, green-eyed, fair-skinned, and with red hair that clashed with putrid pink, while Joel took after his dad, a dark-haired and swarthy pirate-looking Italian. According to their mom, Joel’s dad looked much better than he behaved. Mia was the only sibling that had inherited their mother’s blonde hair, blue eyes and lily-white skin. The only family trait they all shared was a red-hot temper that matched Celia’s hair.
“You’re not still obsessing over Judson, are you?” Joel asked.
“Of course not!” Celia said too quickly. “I don’t have time for guys.”
Becca caught her eye, and Celia looked away. 
“I know that your kind like to think that my kind spend our days pining for the perfect lover-boy, but really…we girls have much more important things going on in our heads.”
 “Who made you the spokesperson for the entire female gender?” Joel chuckled and looked around the tiny kitchen. “Was there an election I missed?” He pulled the plate of cookies in front of him.
Celia reached over and slammed her fist down on his cookies, smashing them to crumbs.
“Hey!” Joel and Becca complained at the same time.
Celia brushed the crumbs off her hand and onto the table. “I am so stressed about the shop, I can’t think about anything else.”
“That’s no reason to destroy perfectly innocent cookies,” Joel said.
 “Until I see the business booming, I’m done.”
“Done with what?” Joel asked.
“Define booming,” Becca said.
Celia gave Becca a “whose-side-are-you-on” look, but knew it was wasted. Becca had been clearly on Joel’s side since the first day they met. But seeing how Becca had been twelve and Joel seventeen, Joel had never seen her the same way. And even now, thirteen years later, Joel still wasn’t seeing it. Celia thought that for a scientist, Joel wasn’t very observant.
“Look, closing the shop will probably be the best thing that could ever happen to you.” Joel picked up cookie crumbs and dribbled them into his mouth.
Anger pure and white zipped through Celia. “Screw you, Joel.”
He held up his hand to ward her off and crumbs fell to the table. “I’m just saying—”
“—That you’re a moron.” Celia finished his sentence. “You better leave before I smash your other cookies.”
Becca stood, put on a pair of oven mitts, and pulled a fresh pan out of the oven. Warm cinnamon-scented air filled the kitchen. Kicking the door closed, Becca kept her back to the warring siblings.
Joel shook his head, like Celia was one of his failing students. “You’ll be so much more profitable with an online business.”
Celia wondered what the emeralds were worth. Her heart sped. The emeralds could be a game-changer. If she sold them, maybe she could buy the shop.
No. The emeralds couldn’t be real. None of that episode was real. She took a steadying breath and tried to back away from crazy town.
“Granny doesn’t do “online” and you know it.”
“Then you’ll have to introduce her to the brave new world.”
“If I have to teach Mom and Granny technology, we’re screwed.”
“Maybe you should rethink Judson,” Joel said.
Crash!
Becca had dropped the pan and several cookies now lay on the floor.
“Oops,” Becca said. The giant mitts on her hands gave her a Minnie Mouse look.
“You’re destroying cookies, too?” Joel asked. “I expected better of you.”
“Listen, I know this is none of my business.” Becca picked up the cookies that had bounced off the pan and put them on the table.
Joel, obviously unconcerned about the three second rule, slid all three cookies in front of him.
Becca set the pan in front of Celia. “I think you should take a few days off. Give your head a vacation from the shop.”
“I can’t do that!” Frustration filled Celia’s voice. “You know how much work there is, right? I don’t know how we’re going to fit everything into Granny’s attic.”
Becca put her mitt covered hand over Celia’s. The mitt felt warm and squishy. “We’ll all be there to help. But soon, you need a break. You push yourself too hard.”
“You’re right.” Celia bounced from her chair. “I’m going to bed. Good night.”
But she didn’t go to bed. She flipped on her computer and googled emeralds and local pawn shops.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Notes from the Vegas Valley Book Festival

Here are some of the things I heard/learned at the Vegas Valley Book Festival.  Because I mostly wandered from booth to booth to tent to room, this is a regurgitation of my notes. I apologize for not being able to give credit to who said what.
What does humor mean? It’s a broader view of life with sensibilities and honesty. How does humor happen? You can always have a humorous sidekick, like Chandler from Friends or the animal characters in a Disney movie. You can also have a Ron Weasley  character—the average Joe whose job is point out all of the craziness going on around him. There is the traditional slapstick of low brow confronting the snobs. But the funniest situations are told with honesty, bravery and without social filters. Dark situations often are the funniest, because it’s then that we need humor the most.
All fiction is obligated to be interesting. It’s not enough to be instructive, amusing or to have beautiful sentences.
(This is me, trapped in the ghetto of Women's Fiction. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it applies to me.)

I liked this phrase, “trapped in the ghetto of Women’s Fiction.”I decided I need to transcend the genre. (That sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? And I don’t have a clue how to do it. Except for keep on writing the best, most interesting stories I can think of.)

Here’s some thoughts from Aimee Bender’s keynote address. Just like my spillage of BJ Novak’s presentation (you can read that here) this is, of course, colored by my interpretation.

Question of Intent
Happiness comes from having creative choices.
Writing valid pages. What is good belongs to no one, but to the language. All things long to persist in their being. Writers are not in command of their material. What is in our heads won’t look the same on the page. It will be a curious, different thing. What we think doesn’t match what we make. Ideas large and brilliant become small on the page. But what’s amazing is that we make something else surprising.
“There is no book in your head.” No one else can see the book in your mind. It must be written to be of value. Even if it’s squalid and ugly, to be of worth, it must be told. And the act of sharing is living.
Are our desires getting in the way of living? Are we limited by our goals? We need to wake up to the here and now of our lives and celebrate. We need to let things happen, be open to opportunities, and let go of expectations that aren’t grounded in reality. If we refuse to do so, we can never be happy.
Can you plan a life? When does intention interfere? Invention is born in boredom. We must court boredom, because there is something beautiful and surprising on the other side.
No one has one story bursting to be set free. Waiting for the one perfect story limits our creativity. We need time to find the stories tucked away in our minds and then we must coax them forward without prejudgment.
Let the page teach you about yourself. Flannery O’Conner said, “Your beliefs are the light by which you see, but they are not what you see.” We can’t escape the bedrock of who we are, even if we really, really want to be someone different on the page, we can’t. We might not intend to weave ourselves into our stories, but there we are. Our beliefs light our work.

Let the work and the world happen.

(I want to put in a disclaimer here. The festival and the workshops were all free and open to the public. I do not feel even a tiny bit of guilt for sharing my notes, because I hope that if anyone should happen to take notes during one of my talks  and that should they feel compelled to share them, I hope that they will in the most open and public manner possible. Remember, as Aimee Bender said, sharing is living. There are no notes inside our heads. To be of value, they have to be shared. I once asked someone to share their notes from a workshop they attended, and they refused to do so because I hadn't attended the workshop. To share, in their opinion, was to somehow steal from the presentation. I really disagree. Of course, the notes of one attendee can't be the same as actually attending the workshop, because each attendee will come home with their own impression and spin. It's like saying I can't tell you about that movie, because you didn't pay your $12. to watch it. Sharing is living.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Night with BJ Novak


Thursday night, I met BJ Novak in the Clark County Library.  He probably won't remember me, although I took a front and center seat, but I kept careful notes, and by writing and sharing his thoughts, I hope I'll remember some of what he said to me (and about 300 others.)
The following are paraphrases of his thoughts, but of course, they're spun with my own take of the conversation. I guess it's fair to say, here is BJ Novak according to Kristy.
Speaking of Las Vegas, "This is a great place to just focus on literature. Not much else going on."
"The more intelligent your writing, the mainstream and popular it will be."
"Write for the kid sitting next you. Everything else is just homework."
The importance of truth in comedy. "Everything has to come from truth first and be funny second. Everything has to feel like a real  moment that could really happen to a real person."
"Reading should be your way to rebellion--your way to go where ever you want and do anything you want."
Some of his favorite lines. (Not all are his.)
"Magnets are interesting enough--they don't need to be tarted up."
Michael Scott when asked if it was more important to be loved or feared. "Easy, both. I want people to fear how  much they love me."
"Battered women--sounds delicious, but that doesn't make it right." (That was his.)
On the writing craft:
He always carries a notebook to jot down impressions and thoughts.
The blue sky period--where there are no bad ideas, no contradictions and everything and anything can fly.
The Goldilocks outline-- a barebones story idea.
He tested every story in his collection of short stories,One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by reading them out loud at a theater in LA. If the audience responded, the story made the book.
My favorite moment of the night--he invited all of the children in the audience up to the stage and read from his bestselling book, The Book with No Pictures. When asked the legacy he wanted to leave for his grandchildren, he said he hopes to be remembered for his children's  book--where he showed it was possible to love just words. All we need are words and our own imaginations.
He said that when he gets to Heaven and meets God,  he hopes that God will say to him, "Everyone is here." (That's my hope, too.)

(I'm also hoping Mr. Novak will read this and know that I'm really grateful for the night we shared. And I hope he won't feel like I butchered his presentation.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

FREE! The Paranormal Thirteen


THE PARANORMAL THIRTEEN



13 14 full length paranormal and urban fantasy novels featuring witches, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, psychics, Loki, time travel and more! 

Dark Angel by Christine Pope 
Twin Souls by K.A. Poe 
The Girl by Lola St Vil 
Rest for the Wicked by Cate Dean 
Drowning Mermaids by Nadia Scrieva 
Wolves by C. Gockel 
The Witch Hunter by Nicole R Taylor 
Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent by Kristy Tate 
Nolander by Becca Mills 
The Medium by C.J. Archer 
Dream Student by J.J. DiBendetto 
Deception by Stacy Claflin 
The Black Parade by Kyoko M 
The Thought Readers by Dima Zales 


Featuring my novel, Beyond the Fortuneteller's Tent, a 2014 I Heart Indies Finalist





Thursday, October 16, 2014

ANCESTORS--A LOVE LETTER



I'm so excited. In a few days, the Authors of Main Street will re-release our boxed set, Christmas on Main Street, and to sweeten an already sweet deal (13 books by 13 authors for .99) we're going to also offer a companion decorating book. This is the "craft" I'll be featuring.

Some will say it's not a craft, per se, but I made mine and I love it. Even it's merely a fill in the blank sort of project. No sewing, paints, or glue required.
This is in my hallway. Here's the chart close up.

I actually drew this chart and with a ruler and compass, it's pretty easy. It goes back 8 generations. I used a the computer to print out the words (not the names, you'll have to do that by hand) and then took it to Staples to have it copied on a nice sheet of paper. (I don't have a copy machine this size.)

But, if you don't want to draw your own fan, you can find one already made at https://familysearch.org/blog/en/printing-fan-chart/. There are also a number of charts you can find online. Just google genealogy fan chart. This is the same site where you can research your ancestors. But I have to warn you, once you start you may get addicted and up with something like this:

This is hard to see, but it's my husband's family. Their line has been followed all the way back to Adam and Eve. (I'm sure mistakes have been made.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Weekends in October

I spent the first weekend of October with my family in Park City, Utah. I love the fall season with it's bright colors and cold, crisp air. I love General Conference when Mormons from all over the world gather to hear from our church leaders, and I love sharing this time with my husband and children.


I spent the next weekend at my dad's house in Arlington, Washington. My Uncle died--you can read about that here: anyone-lived-in-pretty-how-town  I went to his funeral, and heard wonderful messages about a life beyond this one. My favorite talk was about having a hope when all hope is gone and living and leaning on the promises of our hopes being fulfilled in a life beyond the grave. I also spent time with my dad, picked apples and made apple cider.
Next weekend, I'm going to Las Vegas. Mostly, I'm going to spend time with my daughter and her family (and I love them very, very much) but I'm also going because it's the Las Vegas Book Festival. My book Beyond the Fortuneteller's Tent is a finalist in the I Heart Indies Contest, and the winner will be announced at the festival. I'm also looking forward to hearing from amazingly talented writers.

Three weekends. Each filled with their own unique blessings, reminding me that I don't have to win a contest to feel incredibly loved and blessed.