Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

All my life I've heard, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I think it's a pretty good philosophy and I try really hard to stick to it. However, it's an election year and apparently many of the politicians didn't have that phrase pounded into them like I did. Political barbs, personal attacks and downright lies abound. Since we don't talk religion and politics on this blog, I won't go into any details. You can find them for yourselves in any newspaper, online and on television.

What I will go into is how saying something nice can pay off.

Back in the summer of 1998, the ex and I had reason to fly to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. After looking at airfares, we decided it would behoove us to drive to Nashville and fly Southwest Airlines. We'd never flown with them before so we had no idea what to expect. But as long as they got us to our destination, we didn't care what color uniforms the flight attendants wore or whether we got peanuts or crackers as an in-flight snack.

Boy were we in for a surprise! The flight attendants wore casual attire; one was even in nice shorts. And talk about friendly! On the return flight from Ft. Lauderdale, we had one who was a wannabe country singer and she entertained us with her singing while the male attendant who was nicknamed "Bingo" told us to wait until the seatbelt sign was off before getting up, to make sure we took all our belongings with us and said, "If you are connecting to an airline other than Southwest, we really don't care." It was THE most fun I'd ever had on a flight, and by the time we'd reached Nashville, we knew all our neighbors on the plane and had practically exchanged addresses and phone numbers.

I was so impressed that I decided to write a letter to Southwest and tell them how much I'd enjoyed not only their flight crew, but also the level of service we'd received.

So color me very surprised when I received an envelope from Southwest Airlines with the following letter:

I didn't get a free ticket or a t-shirt. Even better (well, not better than a free ticket but...) they actually appreciated that I'd written to them and responded in kind. Also included was a copy of a Memorandum for the personnel files of each of the three flight attendants.

"The product is basically the same from one airline to the next -- it's the type of service received that makes the difference. Thanks, gang, for always giving our Customers terrific CRACKER JACK service -- we LUV you for it!!" the memo said.

I thought it was cool that Herb had written me. Then I took a closer look are realized Herb was the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of the whole darn Southwest operation. This busy man took time to send a personal letter in response to my compliments of his company. That's service too, and I've never forgotten it.

Sure, I'm quick to complain when I feel it's necessary (and sometimes when it's not), but I also try to be quick to say please and thank you, to open doors for folks and to just smile at people. We're surrounded by crap and I believe those little acts of kindness can make a real difference. Random Acts of Kindness week was week before last, but you don't need a "week" to do nice things.

What RAK have you done lately? If you haven't, go do one!

P.S. Happy Leap Year! It's not often I get to blog on February 29th. Any of you celebrating a birthday today? Know someone who is?

P.P.S. I saw this after I'd written my blog post but it just seemed to fit, so here it is as a post postscript.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today I bring you videos to make you smile:

How Hollywood Says "I Love You."

40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes

This Kiss:

Some people have time and talent that I just don't. I appreciate their efforts, though!

Monday, February 27, 2012

MOANday: I'm Cheating!

In a lot of ways, actually! No, its not what you think. I'm just fudging the date of MOANday a little for March. I'm out of town at the moment, and wasn't sure if I would be able to comment today, so I decided to display the eye candy early. Win-win, don't you think?

Also, I'll admit that I stole this hottie from my online buddy, Gina Leigh Maxwell. She shared his pic as her inspiration for one of her heroes and I immediately claimed him as my own!




Friday, February 24, 2012

Running Away From Home

I travel a lot. I used to travel a good bit with my day job, but fortunately, that's no longer the case. I occasionally go somewhere for training or a conference, but that's about it. Now, most of my travel is still for 'work' but it's for my second job - writing. If I'm getting on a plane, odds are, I'm traveling to a writing conference or promotional event. Research and plotting trips. I do try to cram in some vacation with the business, especially when we go someplace I've never been, like San Francisco. But usually, its me running at top speed the entire time, then coming home, exhausted, just in time to go back to the day job.

But every now and then... I get a pure vacation. Sleeping late. Hot tubs. Shopping. Alcohol. Good food. Good friends. Laughter. I treasure these trips. Like I said, I don't get them very often. And even though I'm traveling with the same people I usually travel with (the Playfriends, duh) it's a completely different kind of trip. We trade the heels and ball gowns for Uggs and yoga pants. Forego the flat iron and depend on the messy ponytail. It's the ultimate down time. And boy do we need it. We are some overworked chickies of late. If its not day jobs, its writing pressures or family drama or medical problems. We need a break!

And yet, we can never truly get away from writing because it's what we all love. We'll all take our laptops and notebooks to work as needed. I, for example, have a deadline, so I'll try to get some writing done while we're gone. Once we jump in the hot tub, our creative juices will inevitably start flowing and a book or two will get plotted. Sitting on the deck with hot tea and snuggly blankets, plots problems will be corrected and characterization will be fleshed out. That's the beauty of being friends with fellow writers.

And the best part of this trip? We're there now! Thank goodness! What's your favorite kind of vacation to take?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Save Me From Preteens

These days I have a preteen in the house. A preteen who started middle school this year. Actually, what I expected to be a year filled with drama has really turned into something wonderful. Sweet Pea has blossomed and really found her footing in the social world of growing up.
My problem is that she has a sister who is three years younger and worships the ground her big sister walks on. Don't get me wrong, I think that's wonderful. And so does Sweet Pea...most of the time. I'm lucky that my girls are very close despite the age difference. I've always been close with my sister and I wanted that for them. Worried they wouldn't have it because of those three years. Apparently I worried for nothing.

So what does this have to do with saving me? Baby Girl has discovered the phone. Much earlier than any of us were ready for. I can definitely trace her new obsession back through our refusal to get her a cell phone to the Christmas before last when Sweet Pea got her cell phone. At one point I had to tell Baby Girl she wasn't get a cell until she turned the same age as Sweet Pea was when she got one and that if she asked again before the age of 9 I was prolonging the purchase by a month.

So she rebelled in the only way she could...she started using the house phone. And she calls people all the time. At all hours of the day and night. For no good reason at all. I know the minute the girls get home from school because I now get a phone call. Don't get me wrong, I want to know all about her day...but she doesn't tell me about her day. She calls me to complain about something Sweet Pea has done - while her daddy is right there with her and in a better position to handle the situation!

I had to sit her down and explain phone etiquette the other day when she phoned a friend at nine o'clock at n
ight. After that incident we instituted a you must ask before dialing policy - which I thought was already in force but apparently there'd been a breakdown in communication.

Dealingwith preteen stuff was bad enough when I thought it was just a few years with Sweet Pea. Baby Girl is 7! I don't think I can take six more years of this.

Someone please tell me this gets easier. Or at least lie to me.


P.S. I'm blogging at the Blaze Authors today. Stop by for a chance to win a signed copy of Take It Down - out now!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beware and Be Aware

Alabama's governor has declared this week as Severe Weather Awareness Week, and all citizens were encouraged to conduct their own tornado safety drill today. After the events of last April, I'm very attuned to the weather and take the threat of tornadoes very seriously. I still shudder when I think of my first encounter with a tornado warning in Alabama. I stood at the window and wondered if I could see it. OMG! What was I thinking?

Now I run for my safe place, which is my bathroom. It's in the very interior of my apartment building and backs up to three other bathrooms. I think that's about as interior as one can get and all that plumbing has to be good support. I have a plastic tote under the sink with a flashlight and extra batteries, some small candles and matches and the emergency radio my granddaughter gave me for Christmas. It's run by batteries, solar power or you can crank it for power. I can even give my cell phone a brief charge with it -- enough power to make a short emergency call.

You can download an Alabama All Hazards Awareness booklet and get other good information here.

Do you have a severe weather plan? Don't think it can't happen to you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Things are busy, busy, busy around here. Not only do the kids have lots going on, we have a new member of the family.

This is Zoey:

She's been keeping us up late at night, and getting us up early in the morning, but when she snuggles into my arms to sleep or pounces on her favorite toys, its all worth it. :) Gotta keep it short. She needs to be taken outside before work!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Great News!

So many exciting things have been happening around Casa SP lately. I've saved them all up to share all at once.

First, I found out that my book, WHAT LIES BENEATH got an incredible review from Romantic Times Magazine. I got 4 1/2 stars and a Top Pick! On my first book. That's just nuts. Here's some of what the reviewer had to say... "Laurence hits all the high points in her debut - romance, intrigue, evolution, passion and discover - and elevates them to new heights... She could easily become a fan favorite." It's kinda weird to have myself referred to by my last name. But they're saying great things, so I'll get over it.

Then, my editor contracted with me for the first two books of my new 4 book series for Desire. The mini-series will be getting a name, I'm not sure what, yet, but the first book will be out in January 2013. And I'm super duper thrilled to say that the second book in the series will feature a tortured, virgin hero! Everyone, including my agent, thought for sure they'd want me to take that out, but my editor actually said she loved Brody and that my "virgin hero won her over." Huzzah! I'm so excited.

Next, I got my nifty new trading cards. They're super cool. If you'd like one, email me your snail mail info to: author (at) andrealaurence (d0t) com. Please let me know if I can add your information to my new newsletter mailing list as well. I like to crack twenty people. :)

I was hoping that I would also get to say that I got my books. Instigator got her April books last week, but so far, no luck for me. :( In the meantime, I'm stalking the UPS man.

So many exciting things going on! And its only February. So far, its turning out to be a pretty great year. :) How's your year going so far? Anything exciting?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Again and Again

Ever do something, walk away and realize you forgot to say something important? And that it was probably obvious at the time but you were focused on something else and missed it?

Yeah, that happened to me this week. I taught a class for our local library on the fundamentals of good fiction. I tore through a huge list of topics - characterization, pace, show vs. tell, dialogue, etc. And apparently developed a brand new favorite phrase - 9 times out of ten. I have no idea why I felt the need to say it repeatedly. It isn't a phrase that comes up often in my normal life. Honestly, it wasn't even that important in the topic I was covering.

And, yet, I heard myself say it over and over again. To the point that I was aware of it and by the end was cringing internally every time I said it. But I couldn't seem to stop myself before the words were out of my mouth.

So what does this have to do with realizing I missed a great opportunity? It wasn't until later that night when I realized I could have used the situation in the class. At one point I even talked about ways to tighten your writing - like looking for repeated information, words and phrases. Duh! Like the one I kept repeating endlessly.

I'd really like to go back and edit my class. Unfortunately, without a time machine I don't think that's going to happen. Ever wish you could go back in time and change something you did or said?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ten Years of Romance

A few weeks ago I realized that I'd let a very important anniversary pass -- the ten year anniversary of my love affair with romance novels. The actual date was back last summer, but I figure now's as good a time as any to celebrate.

It actually all began with fanfiction. I had begun watching the reruns of a show called Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I enjoyed the new take on the Superman story and that it was called a love triangle for two. I'm still amazed that some hair gel and a pair of glasses kept her from seeing that Clark and Superman were the same. But I digress.

I discovered an online community for other L&C fans and found some of them had written stories about the characters. I inhaled those stories, and soon decided I might be able to write one too. My first foray into fanfiction was a Valentine-themed story. To make a long story short, I wrote maybe a dozen stories, won some in-house awards for a few and then ticked off some people when I dared venture outside canon a bit.

In the meantime, a new fanfic writer appeared on the scene and her stories were amazing! Everyone kept telling her how great her writing was and eventually she confessed she'd paid her way through college writing for Harlequin. Oooooooooh! We were really impressed then. Impressed until one day someone commented, "I've read this before." And they referred to a Silhouette Desire.

Before we openly accused this woman of plagiarism, I said I'd see if our used book store had a copy of the book so I could be sure she'd copied it. And yes indeed, she had. It would have been a word-for-word copy except her beta reader had made corrections and suggestions. How funny is that!

Meanwhile, someone had contacted the author who contacted the site owner and demanded the story be removed. The site owner was angry that a member had posted copyrighted work as her own and banned her. Upon further inspection, we found all her work had been plagiarised and it was all removed. The site owner acted quickly because none of us wanted Harlequin to shut down our little Lois and Clark world. Heck, we knew were were treading on copyright issues anyway, but as long as it was original work, the powers that be never complained, unlike other fanficdoms.

I was also tasked with seeing if I could contact the author to let her know the offending material had been removed and that we'd taken action to ban the "writer." I was able to contact her through her website and that was the beginning of my friendship with NY Times bestseller Leanne Banks.

Her book, The Five Minute Bride, was the first romance novel I read. And I LOVED it! Where had these books been all my life? I hunted down her backlist, read her new releases and then remembered an article I'd seen in the local paper about a Huntsville woman who wrote romance novels. Her latest book had just been released, so I bought that one too.

Hot on His Trail by our very own Maven Linda Winstead Jones, begins on the steps of the Madison County Courthouse, steps I have to walk up and down twice a week for my job (when I'm not in a cast and on crutches). It was one of a series of books set in and around the Huntsville area, and one of them is on my list of top-ten favorite romance novels.

Soon I learned about the Heart of Dixie RWA chapter, discovered Mavens Linda Howard and Beverly Barton and I devoured their books too. And the rest, as they say, is history. I joined RWA and Heart of Dixie in 2004 and attended my first RWA conference that year in Dallas where I got to meet many of the authors whose books I'd read. WOW! What a treat! And how refreshing to learn they were just ordinary people like me.

My writing journey switched from fanfiction to romance with some confessions and short romance stories along the way. And then it hit the wall during my divorce. It's still trying to dig through that wall. But regardless of my divorce, I still love romance novels because I like to concept of a happily ever after.

When did you discover romance novels? Do you remember the title and author of the first one you read?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Evil thrills

Today, I shall strike terror into the hearts of men.

See, I’m the luncheon speaker for a local women’s club today. We’re expecting a crowd of about 75 women, on Valentine’s Day, to hear a romance novelist speak. There has to be a good number of men worried that whatever they have planned for their ladies this Valentine’s Day is just not going to be good enough, and that they will be in big trouble tonight.

I have visions of men flocking to the mall over their lunch breaks and frantically trying to make dinner reservations all while cursing my existence (or at least the scheduling.).


And it’s actually really amusing to me because, personally, I’m a bit meh on the whole Valentine’s Day thing. I do not judge the depth of my Geek’s affection based on what happens today (well, unless he asks me for a divorce or something today… that would certainly make me question his affection and commitment. But barring that, I’ll just assume he still loves me and thinks I’m still all that and a bag of chips. Just like yesterday. Hopefully, just like tomorrow.) Of course, that’s me. But then, I also regularly forget my anniversary. Most holidays don’t ping on my radar, and for those that do (like Christmas or Thanksgiving), I’ve been known to move them to more convenient times. (Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday? Saturday makes much more sense…)

But we still need Valentine’s Day. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of work and kids and clean-out-the-garage and stomach flu and I-thought-you-were-going-to-do-that and crap-we’re-out-of-milk. It’s easy to take the person we love most for granted, and, if nothing else, Valentine’s Day reminds us to tell our beloveds that we love them. And, hey, stores have had the Valentine’s stuff since the Christmas stuff came down, so hopefully folks have been reminded to share the love for the last six weeks or so. That’s not bad either.

Now, when it comes to the romantic gestures and gifts of Valentine’s Day, I tend to lean more towards the practical over the sparkly or showy. I don’t want to fight the crowds at the restaurants. I don’t want chocolates (heck, my house is full of Girl Scout cookies at the moment. I don’t need more junk food tempting me!). I’m appalled at the way the price of roses gets jacked up this time of year. I don’t even want a card (money wasted on paper that’s going to be in the recycling bin next week). But that’s me. I would never presume to tell you what you should want, or tell your honey what he should be getting you.

IN fact, I hate it when people – mainly men -- ask me for Valentine’s gift ideas like I would actually have some. I have to tell them that I don’t have a clue because I don’t know their lady. Maybe she wants the heart-shaped box of chocolates. Maybe roses would mean the world to her. Maybe she wants something sparkly or maybe she’d like a long, candlelit bubble bath. And maybe she’d like that long bubble bath alone because it’s been months since she’s even been able to go to the bathroom without a small child beating on the door. I don’t know, and the men who ask those questions seem horrified when I tell them that there’s no one size fits all Valentine’s Day gift, and that the real challenge is knowing your beloved well enough to know what she wants. Obviously that answer is just putting more pressure on them to deliver.

So, there are a lot of men out there sweating today anyway, and I’m just adding to the pressure with my presence at that luncheon today. I’d feel sorry for the poor dears, but sometimes the evil thrills are just too enjoyable to just let pass by.


I hope you get exactly what you want for Valentine’s Day. Whatever that may be.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Road Less Traveled...


The calendar I bought for 2012 has a year's worth of pictures like the one above. I'm not sure why, but I've always been drawn to images of roads, paths, anything that infers there's something just around the bend. Even my computer desktop pic is of a corridor created by two columns of trees in full autumn golds. At the end is a shadowy building with all kinds of mysterious potential.


Maybe it's the writer, the creator in me, but I think I'm intrigued with the potential of that mystery. What's coming? What's around that corner? Imagining all those possible scenarios is like a jolt of creative caffeine.

So what kind of calendars do you tend to get? (Drama Queen has always gotten horses, but this year requested wolves in honor of our new husky dog.) Do you go with whatever business calendar is given to you for free? Is one featuring your favorite characters a must-have? (We have Phineas and Ferb for our family calendar.) Do you like inspirational pictures or quotes?

Valentine's Day Special:



Friday, February 10, 2012

Free Book Friday - Valentine Edition

Valentine's Day is in the air on the Playground. Everywhere you go, there's cards, flowers and red foil-wrapped candies just waiting for some desperate man to come scoop them up at the last minute. Like mine. Bless his heart. :)

So, perusing my freebie shelf, I spied a title that just screamed Valentine's Day - Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl.

To win, comment with the phrase "I'm crazy for free books" and tell me about how far you've gone to avoid doing something you didn't want to do!

Crazy for Love by Victoria Dahl
Chloe Turner thought she was going to marry the perfect man--until her fiance's plane crashed. And then she got the "really" bad news: he'd tried to fake his own death to avoid marrying her. Now America's most famous bridezilla (a tag she most definitely does "not" deserve), Chloe escapes to a remote island to avoid the paparazzi. And right next door is a man who just might be the cure for Chloe's heartache....

A magnet for wild, complicated women, Max Sullivan is relieved to have finally found someone "normal." Chloe is his girl-next-door fantasy come to life, and best of all, she "gets" him. With her, he can be himself, a treasure-hunting millionaire who desperately wants out of his sexy but reckless job. But when Chloe's notoriety catches up with them, will their torrid romance make it to the mainland?
Wow. Faking your own death to avoid marrying someone. That's pretty drastic. Have you ever faked being sick or something to get out of doing something you didn't want to do? I've done that a time or two. I've also faked someone else's death. My grandmother "died" the day before Thanksgiving, so I missed my college chemistry test. Very sudden and tragic and strategically timed for me to leave campus early and go to Tucson. If you know my grandmother, you know that's just wishful thinking on my part. Fortunately, he didn't ask for a death certificate. And yes, karma bit me. I got a C in that class. Stupid chemistry.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Close Call

Several weeks ago we had a very close call at our house. This is a picture of Emma, our yorkie. As you can tell, she's a little thing. She used to be my mom's dog, but we took her several years ago because my mom just didn't have enough time to spend with her and she was lonely (and acting out). Jack (our Australian Blue Heeler) took to her immediately and they became the best of friends.

We have land, our neighbors around us have land and we live on a dead end road that has absolutely no traffic. All of the neighbor dogs run around happily romping from one house to another playing all day. Emma isn't the only little dog in the bunch, there are several others as well, but the bigger dogs all look out for the little ones. And they all love it. You can just tell that they're happy when they get to see each other and play. But we have a large and active coyote population in the area so we had one hard and fast rule - Emma never, ever went outside after dark. No matter what. Even with someone standing right next to her it was too dangerous and because she enjoyed running around there was the potential she'd take off for a visit and run into trouble. We thought we'd taken precautions to protect her from the local wildlife.

Apparently not.

One day - around 10:30 in the morning - Zilla was outside with Jack and Emma. He was around the front of the house with Jack while Emma was in the carport waiting at the backdoor to go inside. Zilla heard a god awful commotion. He and Jack both tore off around the side of the house to find Emma being attacked by a bobcat. In our carport. Next to the door to our house.

Everyone jumped into the fray. Zilla got scratches all down his face and arms from the cat. But the cat snatched Emma up by the scruff of the neck and tore off into the woods beside/behind our house. Zilla thought she was gone. He spent that day and the next one in the woods trying to find her - or any sign of the cat. Nothing. We told the girls she was gone. Both of them were devastated. But the hardest part was trying not to be hopeful. My head knew there was little hope, but my heart just couldn't let it go. That first morning I woke up early after not sleeping well and opened the back door praying that she'd be curled up by the stairs waiting for us to let her in.

This happened on a Wednesday. That Friday Zilla called me at the office and said he was running some errands and was going to stop by if I wasn't going out for lunch. You have to understand that my office is in the middle of nowhere and there are no errands he could run anywhere nearby. But it had been a rough couple days for him so I just assumed he wanted to see me.

I wasn't at my desk when the door chimed. I walked out into the hallway from another office...and Emma was standing there, her entire body just quivering. I screamed. I think I yelled, "You have to be kidding me," and scooped her up into my arms. The minute I touched her Zilla jumped and I could feel two big bulges on her side. She had two broken ribs and two small puncture wounds on her side. Aside from being dehydrated, shaken up and visibly skinny, she looked wonderful. In fact, the picture above is of her under the chair in my office that day.

The best we can figure, the cat didn't get a good hold of her when he snatched her up. She must have squirmed away and dashed for the first cover she could find - our barn. When Zilla found her - by chance because he was walking to get the game camera he'd put up at the treeline behind the barn - he heard a noise and went to investigate. She was hunkered down in a hole at the back of the barn.

Four weeks later the only evidence of her traumatic experience are the slight bulges on her side from her healing ribs (although they're almost gone) and her refusal to go past the front hedge marking the end of our yard and beginning of our front pasture. She no longer goes very far, even when Jack runs off to tour the neighborhood. And she's no longer allowed outside without immediate and direct supervision. But she's running, playing and still the happy-go-lucky dog she's always been.

We're very fortunate this story has a happy ending. And we definitely think someone was watching out for Emma that day. A lot has been going on at my house over the past few months. Difficult things that I won't bore you with. But on that day, everything was good.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Guest Blogger -- Tracy Sumner

Please make room on the swingset for today's guest blogger, Tracy Sumner!

Thanks for inviting me to the Playground!

My discussion today? Covers. What do readers expect and how have covers changed with the changes in publishing? And what do writers want? (With the explosion of e-publishing, authors actually have a say when they may not have before!)

The reason I thought I’d discuss this topic is, I had a recent comment that my covers are a bit…contemporary. I should say that, to date, I’ve only published historic romance. And, on a further note, I should add that I’m a graphic designer in the real world. Although I did not design my covers. That went to Kim Killion at HotDamn Designs!

Okay, here’s the original cover for TIDES OF PASSION.

Not bad, right? (And this was the best of my Kensington-release bunch.) But when I released TIDES OF PASSION as an e-book, I had a different idea. The setting is very much entrenched in the North Carolina coast (Outer Banks), and although it is set in 1898, it’s a bit outside the “lords and ladies” Victorian or Regency historical settings. So, I went for a little more modern feel.

With what I’ll call the expansion of the genre, I think readers have come to expect the cover to tell them something about the heat level, not only the setting or time period. TIDES OF PASSION is the most graphic book with regard to love scenes that I’ve written, however, probably still a 3.5/4 on a scale of 5. Very, very warm – but not erotica.

For the prequel, TIDES OF LOVE, my cover artist and I went with this.

I did revert to very historical “style” with a holiday novella and its prequel. TO SEDUCE A ROGUE is set to release in February. TO DESIRE A SCOUNDREL is already out. I think the ROGUE cover is my very favorite of my backlist covers to date.

Tracy’s story telling career began when she picked up a copy of LaVyrle Spencer’s Vows on a college beach trip. A journalism degree and a thousand romance novels later, she decided to try her hand at writing a southern version of the perfect love story. With a great deal of luck and more than a bit of perseverance, she sold her first novel to Kensington Publishing.

When not writing sensual stories featuring complex characters and lush settings, Tracy can be found reading romance, snowboarding, watching college football and figuring out how she can get to 100 countries before she kicks (which is a more difficult endeavor than it used to be with her four-year-old son in tow). After stops in France, Switzerland and Taiwan, she now lives in the south. However, after spending a few years in “the city”, she considers herself a New Yorker at heart.

Tracy has been awarded the National Reader’s Choice, the Write Touch and the Beacon – with finalist nominations in the HOLT Medallion, Heart of Romance, Rising Stars and Reader’s Choice. Her books have been translated into German, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. She loves hearing from readers about why she tends to pit her hero and heroine against each other and that great novel she simply must order in five seconds on her Kindle.

@SumnerTracy on Twitter

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Bad Fortune...

The Chinese place down the road from my house has excellent food. They also sell fabulous kimchi, which I'm pretty sure isn't Chinese, but is very tasty nonetheless.

But they have crappy fortune cookies.

For years, I didn't eat fortune cookies. I didn't care for the taste, but I'd crack those things open for the fortune. That was one of the best parts of the meal. You had to read them aloud to the rest of the table, everyone would add "in bed," and you'd all have a great laugh.

Good times.

But our awesome place for Chinese food has the worst fortune cookies. The fortune cookie makers obviously got hold of Poor Richard's Almanac and Hester's Book of Ridiculously Trite Platitudes to Bore Your Friends* and used that.

So now our fortunes aren't fun at all. "You should visit an historic site." "Blood is thicker than water." "Planting trees is good for the earth."

What? These aren't fortunes. Where's my promise to meet a handsome stranger? Or the prediction that I'll lose something of value? I mean, they're not even trying. They could at least re-word the fortunes, like "You will help the earth by planting trees, " or "You will visit an historic site." Sheesh. I want a fortune in my fortune cookie!

Even AC finds them sad excuses for real fortune cookies. The most fun we can have now is finding the typos in the fortune cookie. Our fortune cookies were obviously not proofread before they went to print.

And, yes, searching for typos is what passes for fun around Casa PC. We are an odd group.

If I can't have good fortune, at least give me good fortune cookies!

(Does everyone add "in bed" to the fortune in the fortune cookie?)


*No, that book doesn't exist, but wouldn't it be awesome if it did.

Monday, February 06, 2012

MOANday: Tom Hardy

I chose this month's MOANday inspiration because he's currently starring in the Valentine's movie This Means War. This movie looks like some guy tried to make a Valentine's movie interesting for both the guys and the girls (although I think girls still win, because we get 2 hunky hotties to check out and not just one), just so the men wouldn't be completely bored on their Valentine's dates.

Tom Hardy is an English actor who's been around quite a while, having performed in Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, and as the villain in Star Trek: Nemesis. More recently he was part of the cast for Inception. Maybe he'll also be inspiration for your very own Valentine hero!




Happy Love Month!


Coming Soon!
Join us Wednesday for guest author Tracy Sumner!

Friday, February 03, 2012


I had gotten it in my head that today was Free Book Friday so I didn't plan a blog. Then I looked at the calendar (too late) and figured out that was next week. The problem? It's 5am, I have today off and I'm typing this from my computer in bed.

My company has recently started letting our program work a 9/80 schedule where you work an extra hour most days and you get a Friday off every other week. Today is my day. It's the second so far. The first week I went to the dry cleaner and the post office because I could. My local PO keeps the same work hours I do, in case you're wondering why it takes me so long to ship prizes.

Today, I think I'll check my PO box for junk mail (the only kind I get), catch up on laundry and dishes, and write a synopsis. Fun stuff, eh?

What would you do with an extra day off each week?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Pin Everything!

I've got a new obsession. Yeah, I know, y'all are surprised. I've recently discovered Pinterest. And it's sooooo bad and soooo good. I'd heard about it, but had been avoiding adding one more site to visit on my daily rounds. I mean the idea of it sounded interesting - a place where you could pin pictures so you could easily access websites that you want to remember - but how much would I really use something like that?


And to be honest, so far I haven't done much outside pinning of my own. I tend to repin things that are already on the site. Recipes I want to try (and will probably never make since I don't cook). Crafts that I'd love to make (but will probably never do because I don't have the time). Organization ideas for our house (which I desperately need - and I have used one of these already!). Shoes I'll never buy. Clothes that would probably look terrible if I actually tried them on. Rooms and furniture I'll never own because I can't afford them. I even have an entire board dedicated to the tattoo I've been talking about getting for years.

You're probably asking yourself what Pinterest could possibly have to do with writing. I mean it isn't like I can promote my books on the site (although I did pin them). Research! It's a fantastic site for setting information. I can find pictures for hero and heroine inspiration. And clothing suggestions. And house plans and room layouts. I have to admit that I've never done an inspiration board like some of the other Playfriends...mostly because it just felt like so much work. But Pinterest is easy! Maybe a little too easy. I've only been on the site for a couple weeks and I already have 17 boards and have had to reorganize twice.

Have you discovered Pinterest? If not, you should! Are you as addicted as I am? Have you found a pin for something cool/helpful that you've used?


P.S. I'm guest blogging over at the pink heart society today. Stop by for a chance to win a book!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Here we go again

Remember in the movie "Groundhog Day" how the day kept repeating? I don't have it quite that bad, but remember this? Foot? Short leg walking cast? Six weeks of hobbling around?

Well, folks, I don't have it quite as bad as Bill Murray, but I have a cast again. Same kind. Same color. Same foot. Remember that wreck I told you about? It seems I have a fracture after all.

The red arrow points to a red spot and that's what's cracked off my big toe bone near the arch. The doctor wanted to know how I'd been walking around on it for three and a half weeks. Well, I had to. And they kept telling me it was just bruised. But the orthopedic doctor has super-duper digital x-ray equipment and can enlarge x-rays so your foot looks a yard long. And that's how he found the fracture.

So I'm back in a cast for six weeks. But this time I have to use crutches for at least the first three weeks to keep weight off the fracture so it can heal.


Everything takes twice as long and twice as much effort when crutches are involved. I carry everything either in a backpack or a cross-body bag. My employer has been terrific about accomodating for my special needs. But I'm already counting the days til March 5 and this thing comes off.

Meanwhile, to put a positive spin on things, it's a new month. And it's a leap year, so all those February 29th-ers can celebrate a birthday. And what else?

* One for the Money hit theaters last week. I haven't been yet but I hope to go this weekend.

* Super Bowl Sunday is February 5th. I have no clue who is playing. But it's time for great new commercials!

* It's American Heart Month, and National Time Management Month. Watch your fats and cholesterols and get yourself a good desk calendar.

* Groundhog Day is tomorrow. Phil will let us know about the state of our winter. It's also Crepe Day, Marmot Day and Sled Dog Day. Go hug a husky.

* February 3rd is The Day the Music Died, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

* Solo Diner's Eat Out Week is February 1 - 7.

* Jello Week is February 12 - 18.

* Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 13 - 19.

* Get a Different Name Day is February 13. I think I'll get Katherine Hepburn. Or maybe Audrey Hepburn. Or maybe Audrey Meadows. Or Jayne Meadows. Or Jayne Mansfield.

* International Sword Swallowing Day is February 25th. I think I'll skip that one.

* And here's my absolute favorite: February 20th is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day. Folks, I had to look this one up. At noon local time, you are supposed to go outdoors and and yell "Hoodie-Hoo" to chase away winter and get ready for the first day of spring, which is a month later. Let's all do this, okay?????

And one last bright spot, we're a little bit closer to new episodes of Bones and The Closer. I cannot wait for Brennan to go into labor and to watch Booth's reaction. We know it's a girl. I'm thinking maybe they'll name her after Brennan's mother. Or maybe Joy, which was Brennan's name before she was Temperance. Just wild guesses.

Any bets on what they're gonna name the little tyke?