Sunday, July 20, 2014

Space Dreams

Forty-five years ago this weekend, man landed on the moon. I was on a camping trip with my family, staying in a small cabin at the Jersey shore. We had had rain the entire time we were there. It was cold, wet, and miserable. But the night they landed, the rain stopped. The manager of the campground brought a tiny black and white portable television out to a picnic table in the middle of the "yard" area (along with multiple extension cords) and all of us there gathered around and watched history being made. It was an amazing time.

The next day, it started raining again, flooding the campground and my folks packed us up and we headed home a few days early.

I don't remember much else about that trip other than the rain and watching the little TV in the dark.

But what a memory.

I have always been curious about space. What's out there. Are there others? Are they like us?

So you can understand why I write what I do. Science fiction has always drawn me and adding a little romance to it? What could be wrong with that. :)

Those first men who stepped onto another world lived the dream thousands of us do.  I will never make it to space, but I can not only get there in my writing, but go beyond the worlds we know. Whatever I can dream, I can make happen. And that's always a good thing.

Never quit dreaming. It is our dreams that make things happen.

Vicky

Monday, July 07, 2014

Do the research - please

As many of you know, in my real life, I'm one of those horrible people called an editor. Yep, I'm the person who tells you where to put your commas, how to use "farther/further" correctly, and that your heroine had blue eyes at the beginning of the story so why are they suddenly brown (Unless there's a good reason like colored contacts, alien transformations, or something like that)?

One of my pet peeves (and I'll admit, there are many!) is the lack of research by some authors. I'm not talking about just historicals (though those seem to make the most mistakes), but also any writer who uses items incorrectly or misspells them. There is a saying that goes like "the devil is in the details" and it's absolutely correct. It's a pain to do research for seemingly innocent things, but it must be done. You can't wear a Stetson in the Civil War era because they didn't get "invented" until 1865. You can't go to a diner before the mid-1900's. Yes, the word diner was around, but in reference to the person eating, not the eatery itself.

If you're going to refer to a specific brand name in your work, you'd better get the spelling right, as well as the company, and do not ever use it in a derogatory sense. If you do, you'll be setting yourself up for a lawsuit. If you want your character to drive a Lamborghini, by all means, do so. But spell it correctly. Need some Jell-O for your character's luncheon? Be sure you have that dash in there and the capital O. Want to go on a hot air balloon ride? I suggest you do so after 1783. And actually, I'd wait longer than that as the first flight only lasted ten minutes.

The point of all this is, it's very easy to make a mistake when writing historicals or even contemporary but using specific brand names. Do yourself and your readers a favor and do the research. There's no excuse not to. You can find these things out - but if you go online, look at several places, not just the first one that crops up in your search. Not everything online is correct. Do multiple searches and look at multiple sites. Get it right for yourself, and your readers.

Thanks!
Vicky

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Guest Blogger: Haley Whitehall



Romance: Antidote for the Real World

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve found the real world to be a depressing place. My grandma passed away a few months ago and she was the rock of my family. I have many friends who are searching for jobs and not having any luck. It looks like fire season is going to hit in my area a month earlier than usual because it is so dry and I don’t even want to bother to turn on the TV to find out what is going wrong with the rest of the world.

So what does that all mean? I’m reading more romance! Yes, a good romance book is my antidote for the real world. I love to escape into the pages of a good book, especially knowing that there will be a happy ending. We all want a happy ending, don’t we?

Romance is still looked down upon by many readers who say it is nothing but fluff. Yes, it might not pack the same punch as a literary novel but Moby Dick just doesn’t have the same ability to cheer me up. I really think it is the ability to speak to our fantasies that makes romance appeal to the masses. Whether the romance is about a wolf shifter and his mate or a knight wooing a princess they have one thing in common: no matter what difficulties they face their love prevails. I know it is fiction, but it gives me hope that I can overcome the obstacles in my life and find my happy ending too.

My newest release Wild and Tender Care is my first foray into the western side of historical romance and now I can’t wait to write more. Hopefully this excerpt will give you a second to forget about the stress in your life.

The stranger’s gaze scanned his surroundings and then fell on her. A lump sprouted in her throat. Had he felt her mooning at his back earlier? Heat rushed into her cheeks, but she couldn’t look away. Those dark brown eyes stopped her heart, had her mesmerized.

He stomped out the small cigar and then strode toward her, his powerful legs filling his trousers well. She had been right in her assumption he was a city man—his copper skin looked soft. She longed to run her fingers across his smooth cheek. Having been with too many dirty and gruff miners and drifters over the years, she liked a cleanly shaven man. Why was this man with a level of refinement showing interest in her?

He reached her and her pulse raced like a spooked horse.

The stranger took off his hat. “I don’t believe we’ve met, ma’am.”

Ida got to her feet, still gripping her plate. “Ah…no. Are you new to town?” She inwardly cringed. She could have thought of something more intelligent to say.

“Yes,” he said, a quirk to his sensuous lips. “I’m Dr. Steere.”
“Oh.” Her eyes widened and her mouth popped open. She knew it was unseemly to just stand there, but she couldn’t get her wits about her.

Dr. Steere tensed, his pleasant expression transforming into one of agitation. “You don’t think I should be a doctor, miss?”

Ida blinked. Oh, he’d misunderstood her. “It is Miss Page,” she said, trying to start acting like a well-bred lady even though she was far from one. Clearly the mayor had forgotten to warn Dr. Steere about her. “Of course I think you should be a doctor. I mean you are a doctor.” She stumbled over her words and her cheeks heated. “I just didn’t realize any doctor had agreed to come way out here.”

The man’s face relaxed and he ran his fingers through his thick black hair. “I guess I am the one who should apologize, Miss Page. I jumped to conclusions. I’m just so used to people judging me and…” He drew a deep breath and returned his attention to her. “Shall we start again, Miss Page? I’m Dr. Steere. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Ida’s smile grew, stretching her jaw. It has been a long time since any man had treated her like a lady even for a second.

“I saw you sitting all alone,” he continued. “It is a shame a beautiful woman should have to endure such loneliness.”

Ida laughed. If he only knew.

His eyebrows slanted. “What is so funny about that?”

She shook her head. “It isn’t funny, Doctor. Just ironic.”

He pressed his lips together and after a second forged on. “So if you wouldn’t mind, could I sit with you?”

She should tell him no. Make a scene and embarrass him so he never came around her again. It would be for his own good, but selfishly she wanted him to stay. The good people in town would set him straight later. Since he didn’t know about her sordid past he could not be blamed for keeping her company.

“I would like that very much, Dr. Steere.”
He sat next to her, folding his legs crisscrossed. Like an Indian. He clearly had some Indian blood mixed with the white blood in his veins. Probably a half-breed. It wouldn’t be polite to ask, and his ancestry did not bother her one bit. He took off his hat and set it in his lap.
A fluttering sensation in her chest gave her a heady rush. She had been with many men in her short lifetime, but none had given her this feeling. Swallowing a sip of punch, she wished he would hold her hand. Yes, it was a foolish notion. They weren’t children stealing a kiss in the barn loft.

Mini Blurb:
The town of Big Rock, Colorado is changing its wild-west ways, and ex-madam Ida Page and new town doctor William Steere are finding it difficult to be accepted for who they are. But when these two outcasts meet, they find their rightful place in each other’s arms. Haley Whitehall burns up the pages in her hot, new historical romance, Wild and Tender Care.

Buy Links:





Bio:
Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical fiction and historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy. Visit Haley’s website at http://haleywhitehall.com.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Time and Motivation and Goals

Ever since I became an editor, I have found that I have little time or motivation to work on my own writing. Mostly because after spending ten to twelve hours a day on the computer working, I'm just plain tired and don't want to think about plot/character/grammar/etc.

But this past weekend, I took the time. I put down the editing and picked up my own story - one I've been trying to finish for the past year - and looked at it. And remembered why I loved it and wondered why I had stopped working on it. This has happened before. I pick up something I've done and wonder why I didn't finish it. And yes, there are manuscripts that I picked up and promptly put back down again because they didn't deserve to be finished, but a few...

So my goal for the next few weeks is to make the time for myself. For my own work. For relaxation with a good book that I want to read for fun. Yes, I love being an editor. I really enjoy taking a rough manuscript and turning it into something readable. But it can't be my entire life. I need to take time for me and mine too.

What about you? Do you take time to relax or work on something you enjoy? If so, what? If not... you should. :)

Vicky

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Memories

Rememberances - Father's Day

This is a bit from my dad's poetry book, published in 1991. It's about him and his father, my grandfather, who was born in February 1865 - yes, while Abraham Lincoln was still alive. My dad was the youngest of a dozen, born a week before my grandfather's 61st birthday.

In 1984, I went hunting along the foot of the Tuscarora, about a mile east of Ickesburg (Perry County, PA). I don't think I was hunting as much as I was taking a memory trip. I'd not been in that area for almsot fifty years. In the 30's, we had lived there. My father, Jacob (aka Little Jake) and I would take walks in the woods and he would tell me of his life there in the last century.He told me of the old Summit school where he went. He showed me old foundations buried in briars and brush where old friends and relatives had lived. And he showed me where Peter, the first Reisinger in the valley, had built his cabin in 1750.

I walked this same area with my own children and showed them the flowers growing wild that early settlers had planted. In one area, in the spring, daffodils and grape hyacinths carpet the ground. At another place, later in the summer, my son and I came across an old stone chimney covered with climbing roses and sweet peas in brilliant bloom, so thick you could hardly walk through them. Who planted them? What were their dreams? They are the basis of this poem:

Memories Along the Tuscarora
They roamed the hills, the old man and the lad
The man told of his youth, the good times and the bad
He was an old man of seventy hard years
The boy was only ten and life held no fears
The toil of those years was etched in his face
but he looked at his years with calm dignity and grace
He pointed out stones where houses once stood
he told of the dinners and lots of good food
There's where the school stood that he did attend
There's where he cut lumber to get money to spend.
He spoke with a grin of the girls in his life
Especially the pretty one who became his wife.
He told of old friends, long since passed away
There were good people who had brightened his day.
The old man is gone now, long since laid to rest,
but to that young boy, those years were the best.
It has been fifty years since they walked in the wood,
but for the most part, those years have been good.
The boy roams the hills now, with a son of his own.
He tells of the past, and the friends he has known.
Those walks bring sweet memories, you see, I was the lad
And that wonderful old man, well he was MY dad.


Love you dad, and miss you.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Guest Blogger: Haley Whitehall



Finding Peace in the Wilderness

 I’d like to thank Vicky for having me on her blog today as part of my Midnight Kiss tour. My topic today is finding peace in the wilderness. Now that I think about it, it sounds like a topic for a preacher. Don’t worry I won’t start reciting verses, lol. Maybe it is the country girl in me, but I have found that being close to nature is often a head-clearing, rejuvenating experience. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors: skiing, snowmobiling, hiking or even just taking long walks with my dog.

Everyone needs time to themselves once in a while. As an introvert and a writer, I prize this quiet time probably more than most. Hiking works best. When I’m out of breath climbing wayyyyyy up on the hills with only the sounds of the wind and birds around me, it tends to make me slow down. Not worry so much about all the hundreds of things I have waiting at home on my to-do list. Sometimes I just sit down and enjoy the silence, enjoy the wonderful view and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.

In Midnight Kiss, Matt Seever also finds peace being close to nature. He finds it out on the water. His wife died right the War Between the States and as part of his grieving process he got a job on the steamer the Queen Bee. Traveling up and down the Mississippi River keeps him away from his home and all the sad memories in St. Louis, Missouri and in a strange way it makes him feel closer to his beloved Caroline.

Of course, a man can’t grieve forever, and with two small children, he knows he needs to find a new wife soon…

Excerpt:

Soft snoring alerted her of another’s presence. I am not alone. She sprang out of the bed and stepped on flesh—a man’s leg.

“Ow!” the man shouted.

April’s eyes flared and she screamed.

The man got to his feet. “Shh. It is all right.”

All right? He was in her room. Granted, on the floor, but it still wasn’t proper.

“What are you doing in my room?” she asked, steel coating her words.

He exhaled loudly and lit the lamp on the table. In the soft light she found the same white man who had showed her to the room.

He eyed her with an appraising gaze. It donned on her she was standing in the middle of the room in nothing, but her nightgown. Oh Lord, the lamplight so close to her made the thin material see-through. She dove under the covers, but he’d already gotten an
eyeful.
Mr. Seever rubbed his neck, his skin turning red. He cleared his throat. “Actually, miss, you are in my room.”

“What?”

“You wouldn’t be safe on the main deck even if I paid your passage. A good-looking woman like yourself would be asking for trouble.”

She put a hand on her chest. Each thump of her heart echoed through her body. He’d given a compliment cloaked in lust. The man had seen her nearly naked. The more she thought about it the faster her pulse sped.

Mr. Seever looked like he wanted to help her, but didn’t know what to do.
Leave. Just leave. The words screamed in her head but did not reach her mouth. His speech and logic finally sunk into her tired brain. This was his room—he had every right to be here. She was the stowaway.

“I won’t hurt you, ma’am,” he said, his posture slightly bowed.

Humph. Having a man imagining her naked was bad enough.

“Ma’am, can I get you something? A glass of water?”

She didn’t respond.

He must have taken her silence as agreement. He moved to the washstand and picked up a porcelain pitcher, filling her a glass of water. “Here. Please try to relax. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Actually she’d startled him. Well, they both gave each other quite a scare. She sipped the water, the whole time giving him a pointed stare.

He didn’t seem too taken aback by her unfriendly exterior.

“If you don’t mind, ma’am, I’d like to get some more sleep. I have to work again in a few hours.”

“Oh.”

“I’m staying on the floor if that’s worrying you.” He lay on his makeshift pallet of clothes. It didn’t look very comfortable, but she wasn’t about to invite him to sleep next to her.

Blurb:

Unjustly accused of stealing, nanny April Windmire is turned out on the streets without pay. With no place to go and no friends, she stows away on a Mississippi River steamboat. Her hopes to hide through the journey to St. Louis are dashed when a handsome white officer finds her. But instead of turning her in, he takes her to his private quarters where she fights her growing attraction to a man she cannot have.

Matt Seever’s wife died four year ago, leaving him alone with two small mulatto children. But his job as an officer on the Queen Bee isn’t family friendly. He knows he needs a new wife, but no southern white woman will marry him. When April lands in his lap, his prayers are answered. Or are they? April’s not the trusting type and racial prejudice runs deep in post-Civil War Missouri. Just when Matt convinces April he loves her, his new family becomes a target and there’s no backing down from this fight. 

Together, April and Matt must brave heinous race prejudice crimes to find an enduring love.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Haley Whitehall lives in Washington State where she enjoys all four seasons and the surrounding wildlife. She writes historical fiction and historical romance set in the 19th century U.S. When she is not researching or writing, she plays with her cats, watches the Western and History Channels, and goes antiquing. She is hoping to build a time machine so she can go in search of her prince charming. A good book, a cup of coffee, and a view of the mountains make her happy. Visit Haley’s website at http://haleywhitehall.com.

Where to find Haley Whitehall:

Previous Books:                              
Midnight Caller –Moonlight Romance Book 1
Midnight Heat – Moonlight Romance Book 2
Soldier in Her Lap
Love, Valentine Style

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Confusibles

As many of you know, in my real life, I'm an editor. Yes, one of those evil people who tell you where to put your commas and that you used the same word 239 times in ten pages. It's my job to pick up on those little things. (Funny thing is - I can't seem to do it with my own work!) One of the things I constantly run into is misused words, often in the form of homonyms (words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings). These are words that a basic spell check is not going to pick up because they are not misspelled. They are misused. Words like further/farther, peak/peek/pique, insure/ensure and so on. So today I'm going to give you a list of the most common "confusibles" I run across on an almost daily basis.

advice (noun - opinion) / advise (verb - to offer advice)
affect (verb - to influence) / effect (noun - result)
aid (v. or n. - help) / aide (n. an assistant)
alright - in good grammar circles, this word doesn't exist (note - I said "good" grammar) - "all right" is the correct usage
altar (n. a raised structure for gifts or offerings) / alter (v. change)
any more (quantity - there aren't any more bananas) / anymore (meaning any longer or time - she couldn't take it anymore)
assure (state with confidence or promise) / ensure (guarantee, make certain) / insure (provide insurance)
baited (v. to tease or lure) / bated (adj. restrained or held back - bated breath)
blonde (female) / blond (male)
boor (rude person) / bore (to weary by being dull; an uninteresting person; to drill)
breath (n. what you take) / breathe (v. what you do) You take a breath, but you breathe hard.
capital (city that is the seat of government; material wealth; excellent) / capitol (building where the government meets)
cement (powdered lime and clay used to make concrete; to bond) / concrete (hard building material made out of cement and other elements; real, actual)
cite (to quote; summon before court) / site (location) / sight (vision)
clench (interlock or set firmly together - clench the teeth) / clinch (two people holding each other around the body)
coarse (rough) / course (route)
conscience (sense of right and wrong) / conscious (awake)
compliment (praise) / complement (to go with or supplement)
crumble (break into small bits) / crumple (crush out of shape)
desert (dry sandy place; maroon; deserved) / dessert (yummy food)
farther (physical distance) / further (virtual distance, to a greater degree) - The road ended in a swamp so we could go no farther. This argument can go no further.
faze (to disturb) / phase (to stage in series)
fewer / less - if you can count it, it is fewer; if you can't, it is less: He had three fewer apples than I did.
gauntlet (a glove or challenge - to throw down the gauntlet) / gantlet (test of endurance or  pain - run the gantlet)
knock (to strike a blow, rap on a door, make a thumping noise) / nock (make small marks on; place an arrow on a bowstring)
lightening (growing less dark or heavy) / lightning (electric flashes in the sky during a storm)
loath (unwilling or reluctant) / loathe (hate)
loose (not secure) / lose (to misplace something)
peak (summit; point of greatest intensity) / peek (look quickly or secretly) / pique (vexation) - He reached the peak of the mountain; I peeked through the curtains at the party; She piqued my curiosity with her question.
peal (ringing of bells, loud burst of noise) / peel (skin of fruits or vegetables, the strip away or pull off)
prostrate (lying face down) / prostate (male gland)
rack (to strain, torture or torment - rack your brains; pain-racked) / wrack (wreckage; ruin)
reek (give off an unpleasant odor) / wreak (bring about; inflict upon)
rein (pull in; leather line used on animals) / reign (to rule - the queen reigned over the realm) / rain (moisture from the sky)
rogue (imp or scamp) / rouge (blusher; makeup used on the face)
shown (exhibited) / shone (to be shiny)
shudder (to shake or quiver) / shutter (cover for a window)
then (sequences - this happens, then that) / than (comparisons - I'd rather have chocolate than turnips)
tic (involuntary muscle spasm) / tick (light clicking noise; bloodsucking insect)
'til (contraction of until) / till (plow the land; drawer for keeping money)
tome (a book) / tomb (a place to bury the dead)
vice (bad habit or sin) / vise (clamping device)
wander (roam aimlessly) / wonder (have curiosity or doubt) - I wander through the desert; I wonder if I will ever get home.

These are just a few. Do a find and see if you're using them correctly in your manuscript!

Vicky