Friday, February 29, 2008

The Lost Month of Giveaways

The e-book release of the Love, Texas Style anthology is here! To get you in the mood to read The Lost Highway, enjoy an Elvis song that played a pivotal role in the story, tease your brain with the jigsaw puzzle below and gear up to enter the Lost Month of Giveaways Contest:

Every Thursday in March I’ll be selecting a winner. Check back often for updates and announcements. Good luck!

Three ways to enter:

(#1) Sign up for my e-group announcement loop powered by Yahoogroups(see sidebar). Your email address will remain secure and I’ll only pop up in your inbox when there’s fantastic news to shout about.

(#2) Mention The Lost Highway’s release on your blog with cover art and a link to The Wild Rose Press. Be sure to drop me an email at or post a comment here on my blog to let me know so I can visit.

(#3) Watch The Lost Highway’s book trailer and email me ( the answer to the question “What color is the ’59 Ford Thunderbird?” Please put CONTEST in the subject line.

Also, Refer a friend to participate and double your chances to win! Be sure to have your friend mention your name in his/her post or email.

Entrants will remain in the prize pool throughout the month and are eligible for all drawings.


--A Wild Rose Press Gift certificate valued at $10

--an Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 hits CD

--a time-travel 2 pack (my favorite time travel novel and movie)

--a basket of Texas-themed items

**One grand prize winner will receive a $25 Visa Gift card**

For more information and official rules, visit here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Love, Texas Style Puzzle

provided by

Digital release in three days!

The Paranormal State of Things

I've been waiting to blog about A&E's Paranormal State until I was pretty sure I'd seen most of them. For me, there's nothing scarier than a collection of green college students armed with enough technology to freak themselves out entering into a realm of things none of them has experience for.

Ryan, the PRS(Paranormal Research Society)team leader, brings to the show leadership, a genuine, boy-next-door quality and a background in witnessing paranormal phenomenon. The remainder of the team consists of a self-proclaimed occult specialist, a documentarian, a technology wizard and a pseudo-counselor to help families afflicted with unexplained events--none of whom have any psychic or extrasensory abilities to carry out their duties. The only difference between you and I holding "dead time" in an abandoned psychiatric hospital and the PRS team is their ability to call out the heavy hitters when things get beyond their control.

Routinely relying on expert psychics and demonologists, the principle goal of the PRS is to approach each case with a heavy nod toward science and documenting the unexplainable. Not afraid to pull out the holy water and crucifixes when things get seriously wonky, but rarely calling a priest, the team is the equivalent of "warriors" going into battle without knowing how to wield a sword ("Warriors" coming from the self-proclaimed, highly stylistic voice-over to the show's beginning).

Nevertheless, it's fascinating. Although they maneuver their way through cases with roughly the same techniques we used at our sixth grade slumber parties, their interviews and site histories they uncover ground it from slipping away into a ghostly excuse for a co-ed all-nighter.

And where, exactly, was this extracurricular activity in college, anyway? I SO would have been there. Without any Wiccan background and questionable technological abilities, I would have been the one who's job it was to say, "Shouldn't we call a priest now?"

Have you watched Paranormal State? What are your impressions?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hanging Your "G"s Out in Public

For those of you who are in love with your own handwriting but can't align it with the overuse of technology in today's society, I've found the perfect marriage. Fontifier lets you download a template sheet and will translate your script into a computer font. Worth $9?

Oh, and my perfect crime investigator job? Handwriting analysis. Seriously. I knew more at one point, but I'll never look at cursive "g"s the same way again.

A New Story is Afoot

Catch up on our new wickedly fun, time-travel/historical romp over at the SparkleThis blog. Three short entries and you'll be caught up to my post today. Don't forget to drop a comment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Man in the Hatch

Remember when you were younger and calling "Time and Temperature" amounted to a daily ritual of self-importance? Maybe in your limited pre-teen social demographic, the act of dialing the phone thrust you into a simulated state of popularity. Maybe you became the gatekeeper to your family's daily couture--a pint-sized forecaster. Maybe this is all just me and I've laid out for you some semi-neurotic starting point for the whole time thing. But, admit it. Knowing you've calibrated your life to some kind of official standard does synchronize you to the world in a deep breath kind of way, right?

The modern equivalent for us in the states is the official clock website kept by the US government. I can imagine, it's what the important events in our time are tied to. Space shuttle launches. Poll closing times. Wall Street. The clock is monitored jointly by the NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Department of Commerce), and the US Naval Observatory, too important, apparently, to leave it to one employee with the potential to fail as completely as the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 in the hatch. Where was this job on career day?

On this site, you'll also find links to world zone maps, articles on the fundamentals and history of timekeeping, and downloadable software that will automatically synchronize your computer to official time.

If you're looking to this site to realign you with the earth and bring your life into balance and harmony, you won't find it here. But if you're looking to eliminate the time warp we all experience in our own house, where the disparity between your kitchen and bedroom clocks can dissolve five minutes of your day, check it out.

Today: butt-numbing writing time=bliss

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bid Valentine's Day Return

I'm sure this comes as no surprise to anyone, especially if you've looked at my profile on Blogger, that I list Somewhere in Time as one of my favorite movies. The truth is, it's THE movie for me. Enough years ago to be the possible seed of my time-travel preoccupation, connected enough to be the strongest memory I have with my best friend in high school, and powerful enough that I strive to capture anything close to the impression it left on me in the hearts of any reader who picks up my stories.

I'd heard it was the most rented movie of all time--a cult-classic more popular than The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The soundtrack is one of the most successful in film history. At some time I'd heard a fan club existed, one of only three dedicated to a film. Heady company with the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. This week, I stumbled upon the website for the International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts and was completely amazed at the treasures I found.

An online store with not only CDs, DVDs and printed photos from the movie, but vintage 1912 jewelry, articles by the fan club's founder and extra in the movie, little known trivia (My favorite: The man in the hallway who stares after Christopher Reeve's character, Richard, as he exits the washroom and remarks, "Astonishing" is Richard Matheson, the science fiction/horror author of Bid Time Return, the novel the movie is based upon). Shirts, music boxes, even a replica antique pocket watch fill the online store.

More stirring that that is the devotion of this international society to the memory of the actors who brought the story to life and the dedication to the causes they believe important. They played a large part in sponsoring Christopher Reeve's and Jane Seymour's stars on the Walk of Fame and continue to champion spinal cord research.

If anyone you know loves this movie, be sure to send them to the fan site. For many of us who have experienced the movie to the point of saturation, the treasures at this site are like experiencing it for the first time all over again.

And if you haven't seen it, find it. Watch it. I'll wait. Go.

Was it as good for you?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Abraham's Love Letter to Mary

In this Valentine's week filled with Lord Byron and Barry White, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Hallmark, I offer up a confection-free taste of love at its purest and most vulnerable. It seems before Abraham Lincoln offered up one of the most memorable and eloquent speeches in human history, he was a simple man in love who dared to pour out his heart in a letter:

My dear Mary:

You must know that I cannot see you or think of you with entire indifference; and yet it may be that you are mistaken in regard to what my real feelings toward you are. If I knew that you were not, I should not trouble you with this letter. Perhaps any other man would know enough without further information, but I consider it my peculiar right to plead ignorance and your bounden duty to allow the plea. I want in all cases to do right, and most particularly so in all cases with women. I want at this particular time more than anything else to do right with you, and if I knew it would be doing right, as I rather suspect it would, to let you alone, I would do it. And for the purpose of making the matter as plainly as possible I now say you can drop the subject, dismiss your thoughts--if you ever had any--from me forever, and leave this letter unanswered without calling forth one accusing murmur from me. And I will even go further and say that if it will add anything to your comfort and peace of mind to do so, it is my sincere wish that you should.

Do not understand by this that I wish to cut your acquaintance. I mean no such thing. What I do wish is that our further acquaintance should depend upon yourself. If such further acquaintance would contribute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it would not to mine. If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me, I am now willing to release you, provided you wish it; while, on the other hand, I am willing and even anxious to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will in any degree add to your happiness. This indeed is the whole question with me. Nothing would make me more miserable than to believe you miserable; nothing more happy than to know you were so.

In what I have now said I cannot be misunderstood; and to make myself understood is the only object of this letter. If it suits you best not to answer this, farewell. A long life and a merry one attend you. But if you conclude to write back, speak as plainly as I do. There can be neither harm nor danger in saying to me anything you think just in the manner you think it.

Your friend,
A. Lincoln

At first read, the lines seem to come from a measurable distance, almost political. But to realize, in the privacy of his most intimate thoughts, never meant for public consumption, this revolutionary man could pour out his raw honesty and lay every stake in his future at the hands of the woman he loved is worthy of the greatest truth of this human condition. No matter how we try to capture love's essence, it's still not enough.

Happy Valentines Day!

Late in his life, Abraham Lincoln foretold Mary of his death. Read one of my first blog entries for the story.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Residual Energy - Mine and "the others"

The Night Caller is a finalist in the Great Expectations contest! Happy times.

The McKay House Bed and Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas is the inspiration for this story. I've been there twice and something keeps drawing me back. The innkeeper, Hugh Lewis, is so gracious with the house's history. He even took one of his six antique wall phones apart for me to break down how it worked.

I haven't stayed in this room, yet, but it's the one I had in mind when I chose a room for Lillie, my heroine. It has matching claw-foot tubs in the adjacent bathroom with a history of guests creating their own olympic watersports. As I tried to find things in the space to tie my hero and heroine together, I kept returning to this window. Although the view from it changed slightly in one hundred and twenty years, one thing remained a powerful constant between them. Any guesses?

This is one of two rooms in the cottage behind the property. The outer structure used to be slave quarters. After the Ghost Walk tour Friday night, we took this photo. According to our tour guide, a scientist and converted paranormal skeptic, any perfectly shaped orb of light captured by a camera's lens is unexplained or residual energy. See if you can find it. The next day at breakfast, we found out the tiny urn on the mantel *supposedly* held ashes of unknown origin.

On my website, you'll find more photos of the non-haunted upstairs bedroom I "borrowed" for my heroine's sanctuary, as well as the staircase found in several scenes. If you're up for a ghostly picture from Friday night's tour, revisit this April 07 post.

Brain niggle today: Breaking Benjamin: Until the End

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

On Pilgrimages

My habits are changing. Not the Velma-ish one of patting the floor beside the bed in the morning to find glasses my cat has shoved off the nightstand. Not the one where stress triggers me to make lists about my lists. Nor how my most hated chore--matching socks--translates into my family's morning pilgrimage to the holy basket for the day's offering. No, my writing habits are entering an entirely different season I don't understand.

I traced the change back to the point of "laptop acquisition". Suddenly the prospect of being away from my desk didn't mean scribbled thoughts or pages that subtracted from my keyed-in time. With the newfound freedom, my optimum work environment changed. Where once I required silence to be creative, I find myself craving more of an audio/visual backdrop.

Last week, I trekked off to a local library. Not the kind at the epicenter of a young family community where kid's voices blast through the quiet followed by parents' insistent "shhh"s. This library attracts the bridge crowd. The only noise rising up through the stacks is the creaking of orthopedic shoes. In a cubicle in the back, the only thing I could focus on was biker Moses six cubbies down grooming his beard in deep thought. Total, yet non-functional, silence.

Two days later, I migrated to an alternate coffee shop. I didn't want to become one of those "Norms" of Starbucks where the indie worker belts out your order the minute the bells over the door chime. So I started a pattern of writing migrations, unrecognizable to anyone but me. Does anyone else do this? Even though I sit at the same table every time because I know which way the sun slants after I've been there three hours or which chairs sink me to the carpal-tunnel-inducing position of wrists between knees, God forbid anyone remember what day I was last there.

On this day, the sky had opened. The rain was loud enough to hear over the Satellite radio playing an endless stream of John-Denver-esque-relationship-torture songs. The focus light above warmed me almost as much as the beverage in hand. And I wrote more in those hours than I had in ages.

Now, I sit at my desk most late nights, the intermittent humming of my hard drive the only sound trickling through the house, and feel uninspired. Spoiled for the day I sat watching headlights creep through the downpour and heard the lyrics and melody to a song so powerful, it could have been the soundtrack for my heroine's struggle. Instead of the notes about notes that have clogged my desk since I made my almighty 2008 declarations last month, I'd rather hover around a circular table, just large enough to fit my keyboard and my thoughts.

Scary prospect--that I'll slip into the habit of only being able to write away from my desk. The rituals of writers are strange bedfellows. Necessary shortcuts to our subconscious, but binding in a way we can't understand.

How have your rituals evolved over the years?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Riding the Wave

A publishing industry professional told me last summer the time travel market was "soft." This was before Journeyman, well into the throwes of Lost and Heroes's successful record, and a breath before the current run of television and movie releases involving time travel. With the exception of about ten years ago, circa Quantum Leap-era, I can't recall a more fertile time for the topic, nor a time where the subject has become so mainstream. What about this media saturation is "soft"?

Does the book industry follow trends or create them? Sure, the Time Traveler's Wife came out in 2004 as a little-known literary novel. With no way to know it would be made into a major motion picture, I can't help but think the merit of the novel was based purely on Audrey Niffenegger's brilliant prose instead of the plot device usually relegated to the part of the bookstore where creepy men in Member's Only jackets browse.

By the time the publishing industry catches up with the "time thriller" trend, will readers and audiences be firmly in the been-there, done-that arena?

Although the upcoming movie "Jumper" relies more heavily on the idea of teleportation--in itself time travel--it puts the marriage of paranormal and thriller at the forefront of high-profile media. Does this mean we're reaching the saturation point? The pinnacle of the trend?

My first novel was a fictional YA novel set aboard the Titanic. When I began researching it, it was an obscure topic that fascinated a small group of my students to the point where I couldn't find enough non-fiction books to satiate their curiosity. The last surviors were dying. Unbenownst to me, James Cameron was pouring a small Hollywood fortune into deep-sea expeditions that would eventually become the pinnacle of this trend. The sheer magnitude and success of his film saturated the market and made publishers reluctant to offer a contract to anything seen as a copycat.

Twice now, I've been a year or more ahead of a trend and watched other projects rise to the top, while publishing houses wait for a "sure thing". A time-tested subgenre that will guarantee sales, but leave them scrambling behind the trends of the mass media. Editors are reluctant to take chances, as one misstep could cost them their job. They walk a tightrope between fresh and proven, sales and art, where timing becomes everything.

If only they had the time-travel abilities of the stories they're so reluctant to stand behind.

What trend waves have you ridden in your work?