Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What You Need to be Creative:



I loved this clip so much I took notes.

What you need to be creative: 
1. a quiet space 
2. time (an oasis of quiet from everyday life) 
3. time: to not take the easy way out--stick with a problem, play with it to find the most creative way out. More pondering time=more creativity 
4. confidence--fear kills creativity (you can't be trapped in reason) 
5. humor--laughter makes us playful. and helps us solve problems no matter how serious. Keep your mind focused on your creative work. Establish a free atmosphere and create contrary connections.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Witching Well Redo

In an effort to make my Witching Well books more romancy, I asked Bethany to redo my covers. What do you think? I really loved my old covers, but I love these even more. I also think they hit the genre.





Monday, June 13, 2016

Funniness and the Lost Finger Nail

Funny things happen all the time. Sometimes, what seems disastrous at the onset is funny in hindsight. Case in point: last week, I helped serve a luncheon to about thirty “silver sisters” (an over eighty crowd). While pouring water cups, I noticed that my fake fingernail had fallen off. Horrified, I peered into all the cups of ice water I’d just poured. Not seeing my nail, I returned to the pasta salad. I couldn’t find it there, either. I spent the entire luncheon in fear that any moment a little old lady would bite down on my nail and dislodge her dentures.

After the luncheon while we were cleaning up, a friend and fellow volunteer found my nail in the box of our cleaning supplies. Everyone laughed, but I tucked the experience away knowing it would make a great scene in a novel. (I also went home and removed the nails, vowing to never wear them again---at least not when I’m preparing food.)

A couple of years ago, I had a terrifying experience in a stuck elevator. It left me shaken, but it also became the beginning of my book, Stuck With You, a book I’ll feature in the upcoming #ComedyBookWeek.

Everyone loves funny books, yet it's a niche category which is difficult to promote, as I found out from personal experience. The book market is dominated by romance and fantasy, with many promotional websites not even offering a humor category. With this event, we will be relying on the 30+ participating authors and their social media platforms to drive awareness of humor in various genres, and in all its weird and wonderful forms.

We would love your support of the event, be that in the form of a review of any book on the participating list (CLICK HERE), a mention, or an interview with one of the participating authors. If you’d like to read Stuck With You in exchange for an honest review, just email me kristyswords@yahoo.com and I’ll send you a copy.

Stuck With You

CHAPTER ONE








Stuck With You

CHAPTER ONE

Click. Click. Click. Stainless steel and glistening marble. No family pictures or personal mementos. Emotionally dead. A zombie. 
Andie pushed open the walk-in closet and tweaked her assessment. A zombie wearing Armani. She snapped a few photos of the shoes lined up like soldiers on the shelves and the shirts hung with every collar facing north. Tempted to grab a fistful of the pinpoint Oxford shirts and wrinkle the heavy starched fabric, she controlled herself and instead searched the ground and dark corners, hoping to find a stray jock-strap or a Twinkie wrapper—anything incriminating. But Grayson Dodd was too good. Or, more likely, he hired someone to make him look good. He probably had someone come in to keep the contents of his medicine cabinet in alphabetical order and his sock drawer color coordinated.
 She snapped a few more shots of the bedroom before heading to the balcony. In a few more minutes, she would be rewarded with a view of Catalina lying in a blue, sparkling sea. The Newport shots required patience and perfect timing. The morning marine layer often wouldn’t burn off until noon and by four p.m. it generally returned. This meant that she usually ate her lunch in a fast food parking lot, napkins carefully protecting her work uniform—a black linen skirt and creamy lace top. 
Andie sat at the bistro table with the chairs strategically placed so that the balcony rail wouldn’t interfere with the view, and waited for the sun to work its magic. Far below her the cars moved along the crowded parkway. Clients and sellers wanted to see Catalina Island—not Southern Orange County’s busy streets. 

Andie scrolled through the photos on her camera, assuring herself that as soon as she had the ocean shots she would have the bones of a decent flier. She let the sun warm her shoulders and closed her eyes, imagining Grayson Dodd’s reaction to her work…She knew it wasn’t fair to dislike him just because he was marrying her cousin, Kayla. Sure, he had an apartment with all the warmth and appeal of a Modani showroom, but maybe he was a decent guy. She had only met him a few times. It was nice of him to give her mom the listing. 
Andie stood and rolled her shoulders. She knew that Kayla and Grayson were a set match. Everyone said so. And even if they had their flaws—Grayson’s million dollar view was perfect. When the sun finally overcame the fog, she snapped the photos, said goodbye to Catalina, tucked her camera into her case, locked all the doors and headed for the elevator.
 Verbiage ran through her head while she waited. Location, location, location! Ocean views from this cozy (aka small) Newport Coast charmer (aka last century condo.)Typically, she loved her job…well, she didn’t hate it…at least she was a photographer…but now, as the elevator slid between floors, a funk she didn’t know how, or didn’t want to acknowledge settled over her as heavy and dense as the Newport fog. She couldn’t look at it too closely, because she knew if she did she’d find the cause of her bad mood…Jeremy Zimmerman. And she didn’t want to find Jeremy Zimmerman anywhere, especially not inside her head. It was bad enough knowing that she would have to face him at Kayla’s wedding. 
The doors slid open. Andie looked up from her camera’s display screen and saw Grayson Dodd leaning against the back wall, wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a Camp Pendleton Mud Run T-shirt and a pair of leather flip flops. Where were the pinpoint Oxford shirt and wingtip shoes? 
She nodded at him and pushed the elevator button. 
“Hey,” he said as the doors closed. “Hi.”
 She smiled and hoped it looked sincere and not as forced as it felt. “I just shot your condo.”
 “That seems harsh.” He grinned. “Did it bleed?”
 “Huh, no. Do you want to see? I got some pretty good shots of Catalina.”
 “So—you’re not only a condo killer, but an island assassin.” 
“I have a camera. I know how to use it.” She tried to read him. His light gray eyes stared back at her from behind wire rimmed glasses. She didn’t know this Grayson. He was different—and the difference extended beyond his wardrobe. “I can shoot you too. Right here. Right now.” 
He shuddered. “Scary.” 
She shrugged and grinned. “I can plaster you all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I even do LinkedIn.” Her voice caught as the elevator hiccoughed and bounced. 
Andie stopped thinking of shooting Grayson when the elevator shuddered a mechanical sigh and stopped. The lights flickered and died.
 “What the—?” Andie reached for the control panel and ran her fingers over the buttons. She blinked at them. Maybe her eyes would adjust to the perfect dark. But maybe not. She fumbled in her purse and pulled out her phone. 
No service. 
 It provided a faint, milky light and she used it to inspect the control panel. A red plaque had the words In case of an emergency, please call:1-800-555-help. 
“Good to know,” Grayson said as he pulled out his phone. “Assuming you had service.” 
Andie spotted a large red button and pushed it. Almost immediately, an alarm wailed. It echoed through the tiny space and filled Andie’s head. “Someone will come now right?” She had to yell to be heard over the alarm. “The alarm will tell someone that we’re stuck.” 
But no one came. 
Time grounded to a halt. 
 “Why don’t I lift you up?” Grayson suggested. “Maybe you can crawl through the roof.”
 “And then what? I’m not Laura Croft. This isn’t an action movie.” 
He laughed again, a soft sound, barely audible above the alarm. “I’m not looking for action.”
 “Oh!” she harrumphed. She actually harrumphed. Little old ladies like Grammy Dean harrumphed and now she was harrumphing too. Next thing—knitting, canasta, and Bonanza reruns. “You are not picking me up.” She winced at the double entendra. 
 “Well, I would suggest you pick me up, but I don’t think you could…at least not in the literal sense.” 
Was he flirting with her? Ew. She tried to ignore him. Leaning against the far wall, as far as possible from Grayson, she was hypersensitive to him. He didn’t say anything, but she still felt him. She really couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the alarm, but she could swear she felt him breathe. His nearness crackled like electricity. Her skin prickled. He smelled like soap. A really nice, lavender sort of soap. Which made her wonder if males should use lavender soap. Maybe it was Kayla’s soap. Which made her think of bathing, which led to bathrooms, and the absence of such an important necessity…
Panic fluttered in Andie’s belly. She pounded on the door until her hands throbbed. She sat on the floor and used both of her feet to kick the door. Her screaming barely rose above the wailing alarm. 
 “Hello?” A voice from the outside. “Is someone in there?” 
Finally! Andie breathed a sigh of relief that all of her banging and yelling had actually been useful. “Yes!” she screamed.
 “Are you hurt?” the voice asked. 
“Only my feelings,” Grayson said.
 “I’ll go and get security,” the voice said. 
“It won’t be long now,” Grayson told her. 
Andie harrumphed again. She was getting good at it. 
 Time stretched and slowed until it stood still. 
“Security here,” said a new, deeper voice. “Are you still there?” 
“Where did you think we would go?” Andie rolled her eyes for the benefit of no one. Eye rolling and harrumphing had become her fallback positions. 
“Pull the emergency button!” the voice instructed. 
“I did that!” Andie yelled. 
A light flickered as Grayson used his phone to located the red knob. He tried pulling it. “It’s stuck,” he confirmed. 
“Call the fire department!” Andie yelled. 
“What are they going to do?” Grayson asked. “Use the jaws of life?”
 “Why is that stupid?” 
“Did I say it was stupid?” 
“No, but you said it like you thought it was stupid.” Andie wasn’t sure because she couldn’t see him, but she thought Grayson rolled his eyes. “Hello?” Andie pressed her nose against the heavy metal doors and tried calling through them. 
“Hello,” Grayson said. 
She rested her forehead on the doors. They felt smooth, cold and solid. “I’m not talking to you!”
 “Too bad. We’ve been in here for almost a half hour and I’m getting bored.” 
They sat in silence for hours, or maybe a few minutes. Andie wasn’t sure which.
 “Okay!” The security voice returned. “Just called the elevator guy. He can be here in 40 minutes.” 
 “Forty minutes!” Andie and Grayson both said at the same time.
 “I can’t stay here for another 40 minutes,” Andie complained.
 “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” 
She knew exactly what the worst thing that could happen was. She would have to designate a pee corner and she would have to squat and pee in front of Grayson Dodd. She fumbled in her purse for…anything. She pulled out her keys and tried wedging the skinniest one under the red knob. It didn’t budge. Using her phone for a light, she studied the control panel. It had four tiny holes for a screw driver. Knowing she didn’t have anything the right size, she swung the light at Grayson. 
He blinked at her behind wire rimmed glasses. Without thinking twice, she ripped the glasses off his face and broke off an arm. 
 “Hey!”
 “Do you want to stay in here?” Andie pointed the broken glasses at him with a shaky hand. “Do you want to pee in a corner?” 
“Huh, no.” 
“Me neither.” She tried poking the broken arm of the glasses into one of the tiny holes. Nothing. 
“Here, give it to me.” Grayson held out his hand. 
Sighing, she handed it over. 
 Grayson bent it to form a loop and eased it under the knob. Holding onto the broken eyeglass arm, he leaned back, using all of his weight. Nothing. He turned to her. “Help me?” 
 Andie opened her mouth to complain, but soon realized his plan and complied. She put her arms around his waist and tried to not stand too close.
 “Better idea. Switch places.” He placed his hand on her shoulder and guided her so that she stood in front of him. Taking the newly created wire loop, he wrapped it beneath the red knob. “Lean against me,” he said.
 She leaned. Nothing. Well, something, but it was more an internal, zipping blood thing than a mechanical, fix the elevator sort of thing. 
“On the count of three, jump backwards,” Grayson said. “Don’t be afraid to hurt me.” 
Andie nodded. She felt dizzy standing in the circle of Grayson’s arms. 
“One. Two. Three.” 
The knob popped as they jumped away. Grayson fell to the floor, and Andie landed on top of him. 
The light flickered on and the alarm went silent. The elevator lurched once before starting and grinding to a stop. The doors slid open. 
Andie blinked against the sudden light and tried to sit up without touching Grayson. She scrambled away from him, crablike, stood and brushed off her skirt. She knew that she should say something, anything, but she hurried away, relieved that she wouldn’t need the pee corner after all.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Do You Believe in Love After Death?



In my book A Ghost of a Second Chance, Laine Colllins, recently separated from her husband, is confronted by her grandmother’s ghost, Madeleine, who has come to escort Laine’s recently deceased grandfather, Sid, to his next life. The problem? The body lying in Sid’s casket is not Sid and Madeleine needs Laine’s help to find him. As Laine and Madeleine search churches and mortuaries for the missing Sid, Laine is forced to face the question—can love live even after it has died?  

Thirty-nine years ago I lost my mother. I worry about to losing my elderly father. But just like my hometown has changed from a tiny, sleepy dairy farming community with a population of 5,000 to a bedroom community of Seattle, and Rancho Santa Margarita where I've lived for twenty-six years has radically changed (good heavens, when we moved to Rancho we had coyotes roaming the streets and the lake and library were figments of our imaginations) people and places change. But love stays. Even after death. Henry Van Dyke said it best.

“I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
shout;
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

And just like today I can get on a plane and my family won’t see me for awhile, someday I’ll close my eyes forever and my family won’t see me for awhile. But that doesn’t mean I’ll love them any less. It just means they won’t see me, the me that makes my body me. Although, they could preserve my body—shudder—but my body is not me, it's merely the housing for the real me. And someday, it will be taken from me... for a short (compared to eternity) time.

This is what I believe about love and death. What do you believe?

Friday, May 13, 2016

May Sale


Including my own Hailey's Comments!


From some secrets, just like from some men, there’s no escape. 

No one knows that sassy but shy Emma Clements is the voice of her grandmother’s advice column, Hailey’s Comments, until handsome Ryan Everett discovers the truth. To avoid his teasing questions and his you-can’t-fool-me remarks, Emma and her ugly dog Wyeth flee to sparsely populated Lister Island in the Puget Sound, where Emma intends to devote the summer to her painting and art. 


On Lister Island, Emma encounters a pistol packing priest, a pair of greedy organic food farmers, an octogenarian jail keeper and Ryan Everett. Soon, Emma is much more concerned about her heart than her art. After a series of disturbing coincidences, Emma suspects that the life of Helen Dunsmuir, Lister Island’s recently deceased grande dame, is tied to her own. As she unravels the secrets of Helen’s life—and untimely death—Emma learns that problems are rarely solved with a quip or platitude, and that it’s better to love than to comment. 



Hailey’s Comments, a romantic suspense reminiscent of Mary Stewart, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Contest.




Monday, May 9, 2016

My First Author School Visit

My sister is a reading specialist at Polaris High School, a school for high risk students. She asked me to come and speak to an English class. It made me nervous. (You can read about my introverted ways here.) But I'm so glad I did it. Not only was it fun, but the story the kids plotted is now my work in progress! Here's some of the notes I got from the kids (and teacher.)