Posts tagged with: Aunty Cindy explains it all for you

Bitten by the Knittin’ Bug

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

In Aunty’s (KOFF*KOFF) copious spare time, she likes to indulge in what she has come to refer to as “self-soothing activities.” No, Aunty does NOT suck her thumb, though that certainly qualifies as a self-soothing activity for the under 5 crowd. And ABSOLUTELY NO! She is NOT referring to certain other activities usually stumbled upon along about puberty!

AHEM!

Aunty’s self-soothing activity is knitting!

My grandmother taught me to embroider (she always said “embroidry”) when I was about eight or ten. But after completing a set of pillow cases and several ‘flour sack’ dishtowels, I pretty much lost interest. She tried to teach me to crochet, but alas, I was left-handed and she was right-handed and I just could not get the hang of it. And to be honest, I wasn’t that interested in making lace doilies.

When I was fourteen, my mother tried with crochet lessons, with yarn this time. But like my grandmother, my mother was right-handed and she had no better results. Not liking to admit defeat, my mother grabbed up two pairs of knitting needles, handed me one pair and said, “You use both hands to knit, so do it my way!” After a few frustrating hours, I finally got the hang of it, and to this day, knitting is one of only two things I successfully do right-handed.

The first knitting project I completed was a scarf, and all my friends at school actually thought it was pretty cool, so I knitted scarves for all of them too. There was something very calming about putting those stitches on the needle and then taking them off again. The muted clack of the needles (my first pair of knitting needles were made of wood) sounded comforting somehow. And then there was the feeling of accomplishment when I could see my work growing off the end of my needles. That’s why I made scarves for my friends, and later knitted slippers for my sister, my mother and my grandmother. Those repetitive movements and the clack-clack-clack soothed my roiling, teenaged brain.

Because I was working mainly with my non-dominant hand, I was a very slow knitter, but I stuck with it through high school, college and beyond. Nothing else relaxed me quite like knitting. I never did anything complicated like socks or gloves (my mother knitted both), and big projects like sweaters took too long. But blankets, scarves, hats, and slippers were my mainstays, and still are. I love the symmetry of the rows, the feel of the yarn sliding through my fingers, and the clack of the needles (I use aluminum ones almost exclusively these days because plastic just doesn’t sound “right”) brings back fond memories of my mother.

Since I started writing full-time, I don’t knit as much as I once did. But recently when the cold weather set in, the knittin’ bug bit me, and I dug out some yarn and needles and knitted some scarves for a dear niece, her hubby, and little boy. My niece’s favorite color is pink and her scarf is actually knitted in a checker-board pattern. Her hubby is a big Oakland Raiders fan (hence the black and gray), and her toddler loves bright colors. It only took me a couple of weeks to finish all three of these while watching the evening news.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’m not one who likes to admit defeat either (Wonder where I inherited that trait?), so I finally did learn how to crochet. My mother and grandmother both tried again several times to teach me, but to no avail. Shortly after I graduated from college, I signed up for a needlework class in a local adult ed. program. The teacher, who was right-handed, had taught herself to crochet with both hands! She took all the lefties in class (there were four of us), sat us at a separate table, and  taught us left-handed crochet after she showed the right-handers what to do!

My mother was thrilled and so was I, although we never could work on each others projects (they were backward, you see). I’m actually a much better crocheter than I ever have been a knitter, and I’ve completed many more complicated projects. But I still crochet mostly scarves, hats and slippers. There’s something so satisfying about completing a project in just a few evenings.

Here are three scarves that I did recently as presents for my best friend, my sister, and my brother-in-law. This is a technique called woven crochet that I learned in that very first crochet class all those years ago. The designs are my own.

 

What hobbies do you have besides reading or writing? Do you find they are ‘self soothing activities?’ Did you mother or grandmother knit or crochet? What were their (or your) favorite projects?

 

Cookies and An Excerpt

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Happy Holidays! I’m not really here in the Lair. As this post publishes, I’m on board the beautiful Carnival Splendor chugging my way toward the port of Long Beach and the conclusion to a most lovely holiday escape to sunny Mexico.

I’m happy to report that Santa heard my plea, and I now have my very own Kindle!  I hope you have your very own ereader too, because my new release High Seas Deception (Can’t get enough of that gorgeous cover!) will soon be available in electronic format. Of course, even if you don’t have an ereader, you can still download the story and read it directly from your laptop or desk top.

This romantic suspense tale is set (appropriately enough) aboard a cruise ship off the west coast of Mexico. Here’s a little excerpt to whet your appetite:

From the balcony of the ninth story condominium, the Irishman drained his coffee cup and walked to the railing. Lifting a pair of small field glasses to his eyes, he focused on the boxy white ship gliding across the smooth waters of Banderas Bay. Through the early morning haze, he took a moment to distinguish the black, stylized ‘A’ on the vessel’s smokestack, but once he did, the tingle of anticipation zipped along his nerve endings. Adventure Cruise Lines Intrepid – his objective, was right on time.

He saw the harbor master’s gleaming metallic cutter rushing out to meet the huge ship and guide her into the port. Slipping the field glasses into his pocket, he walked back inside to ready himself for his own meeting with Intrepid.

Forty minutes later, he slumped in the shade on a wrought-iron bench and sipped a bottle of water. Through his sunglasses, he watched the first passengers emerge through the gate in the chain link fence that separated the pier from the tiled plaza in front of the flea market a few meters to his left.

A score of eager taxi drivers descended on the new arrivals, crying out in accented English.

“I take you on a tour of the city…”

“… to Mismaloya…”

“… to the tequila factory…”

“… good price!”

“… cheapest price!”

He’d seen the same scenario in every tourist port he’d ever landed in, though he had to admit that as tourist towns went, Puerto Vallarta was one of the prettiest. When the first hardy group negotiated their way past the gauntlet of aggressive drivers, he tossed his empty water bottle into the nearby trash bin and listened closely to their chatter. Their accents matched his intel which said most of the eighteen hundred passengers were from the US or Canada. He’d have no problem posing as one of them.

As a second, larger group made their way toward the shops in the flea market, he looped his backpack over his shoulder and joined them. Ignoring the calls of the pushy vendors, he took less than five minutes to spot a likely mark. The man at the counter stood close to his own height, though huskier in build. His personal identification stuck out of the back pocket of his shorts when he pulled out his wallet to pay for a tube of sunscreen.

This really is child’s play, the Irishman thought as he side-swiped the man’s shoulder. Then he murmured, “Lo siento mucho,” at the same time his unsuspecting benefactor said, “Excuse me.”

The man scooped up his change, dropped the pesos in the bag with the sunscreen and hurried out the door, wallet still in hand. The Irishman followed at a safe distance just to be sure the American didn’t notice his missing ID card.

The Irishman glanced briefly at the white and blue plastic sea pass card before he zipped itinto the inner pocket of his backpack. “Thank you, Robert Adams,” he murmured under his breath.

#

And now for some goodies for your holiday munching pleasure, Aunty will share a super-simple cookie recipe:

Cream Cheese Cookies

Ingredients:

1 8 oz. brick of cream cheese

1 stick  of margarine

1 egg

1 box of cake mix (Devil’s food is Aunty’s fave, but Lemon works well in this recipe too.)

Method:

Soften the cream cheese and margarine enough so that you can mix them thoroughly together. (Don’t soften too much in microwave or the cookies will be hard when baked.)

Once the two solids are creamed into one, add the egg and mix until gooey.

Stir in the cake mix about 1/3 box at a time. Note: the mixture will get stiffer and stiffer until it will be really difficult to get the last 1/3 to blend. Persevere! You want plump, chewy cookies, not flat, crispy ones!

Once you have all the cake mix blended in, refrigerate the dough for at least a half-hour (an hour is better) so that it firms back up.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto your non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 10–12 minutes. Be careful not to overcook!

Slide the cookies onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes, or until you just can’t wait any longer.

ENJOY!

So please tell us, what is your favorite cookie?

The  12 Bandita Days of Christmas started after I left on my cruise, so I know we are giving away something. Aunty will throw in a $10 Amazon gift card just to sweeten the pot for one random commenter. Sorry I can’t be here to join in the fun.

 

Aunty’s Advice Booty

BIG THANKS to everyone who helped Aunty dispense advice about books, cabana boys, and the Golden Rooster.

Ye Olde Random Number Generator (that Aunty suggested as a method for choosing “the next book to read”) has selected our two winners:

Meggan Connors

&

Fedora

 

CONGRATS! You have each won a free download of Aunty Cindy’s current release The Sidhe Princess!

Please contact Aunty via the Mailroom to claim your booty!

 

 

 

Advice from Aunty Cindy

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

One of the most fun parts of this whole writing biz is fan mail. And since moving into our new digs here at Romance Bandits, we’ve got a slick new system for our buddies and readers to contact us. It’s called the Mailroom and when you press on the word on the tool bar, it takes you a page that let’s you select which Bandita you’d like to email. You can even write to the Golden Rooster!

 Being the wise and *AHEM* seasoned Bandita that she is, Aunty is not surprised to have lately received several pieces of correspondence asking for advice. Since I know many of you have the same concerns and issues, I’m going to share a few here with my responses.

 ###

 Dear Aunty Cindy,

 Since I discovered and became a Lair regular several months ago, my To-Be-Read stash of books has grown completely out of control. I ran out of space in my home and had to buy an ereader, but now it too is rapidly approaching capacity. The Banditas and their guests write too many great books. What can I do?

 Signed Too Many Books, Too Little Time

 My dear Too Little Time,

 First of all, there is NO SUCH THING as too many books. That is a nasty rumor perpetuated by the television and film industries, right along with their claims that “movie versions are as good as the books.” Don’t you believe it!

 Of course we do not want you to miss out on reading any of the GREAT books Banditas write or recommend every month. I applaud your efforts in going ‘green’ by buying an ereader. Might I recommend you ask Santa for a second one? As for finding more time to read, why not do what Aunty does? Or more like what she DOESN’T — Give up cooking and cleaning! Reading is ever so much more rewarding, and if your family really wants such things done, they can DO IT THEMSELVES!

 ###

 Dearest Aunty,

 I am a newbie here in the Lair and think the cabana boys are sooo helpful and handsome. Where can I find a cabana boy of my own?

 Signed Dreaming and Drooling

 

My Dear DD,

 As you know Aunty personally screens and selects all applicants and then, with the assistance of the other Banditas, puts the chosen candidates through rigorous training. Therefore, it is not at all by chance that the Lair cabana boys are without equal, and that visitors are captivated by them. However, poaching of our cabana boys is absolutely forbidden, so Aunty is glad to see you are willing to look for one of your own and not try to abscond with one of ours.

 I’m afraid your search may be daunting and will require much effort on your part. Aunty herself has scoured the globe in search of Lair cabana boys, but even traveling to the wilds of — oh say, Honduras — is well worth the effort if one can successfully find worthy applicants. So travel and search extensively, DD. Spare no expense nor effort in securing your perfect cabana boy and your very own HEA.

 ###

 Dear Aunty Cindy,

 I’ve been hanging out here in the Lair for several weeks now and no matter how hard I try, I have yet to get so much as a glimpse of the Golden Rooster. Help! Please give me some tips on capturing him.

 Signed Roosterless in Rochester

 

My Dearest R in R,

 Be glad that feckless fowl has not crossed your path! Aunty remains perplexed about the GR’s appeal, for he is the worst kind of rogue. He is a terrible house guest, devouring prodigious amounts chocolate and liquor at will and frightening small pets and children. Though not without some small bit of charm, he lies, cheats, and has even been known to steal vehicles in his quest for favorite treats. Plus he is utterly faithless, flitting from house to house all over the world, often not returning for weeks or months. And yet Banditas and BBs alike all vie for his smallest attention.

 Heed Aunty’s advice, and continue to steer clear of this rascal! But if you are determined to spend time with him, you must time your visits to the Lair near midnight US East Coast time. The new blog post usually appears around then, and the Golden Rooster goes home with whoever posts the first comment of the day. Should you happen to snag him, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

###

  That’s enough advice from Aunty for today. Now it’s YOUR turn!

 Do you have any advice for Too Little Time, Dreaming and Drooling, or Roosterless? Please share with all of us.

Or if you would like to ask Aunty for advice, please ask away. Of course, if you’d like to write to Aunty, the GR, or any of the Banditas, please go to the Mailroom. We LOVE to hear from you!

Aunty will give away free downloads of her newest release The Sidhe Princess to two random commenters today.

Q&A with Aunty Cindy and Jo-Mama

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy and Jo Robertson aka Jo-Mama

Darkness enveloped the new and improved Lair as Mario (aka “The New Guy”) wandered in and out of the various rooms, familiarizing himself with his new home. When he walked into the luxurious new library, he heard voices in a far corner and discovered Aunty Cindy and Jo-Mama brainstorming promo tactics for their newly released works.

Mario: Excuse me ladies. I didn’t mean to interrupt (Eyes Aunty’s riding crop suspiciously).

JM and AC: No problem! We were just finishing up.

Mario: You know I’m new here and never had much experience with writers before. May I please  ask you some questions about your books?

JM (soto voce): You recruited a polite one, AC!

AC (lifts eyebrows in a ‘don’t-I-know-it gesture): Sure, Mario. Ask away!

Mario (shuffles feet nervously): Do you read reviews of your books?

 I do.  I think reviews are a good indicator of whether you’re reaching your target audience or not.  You can learn as much from a bad review as from a good one.  What didn’t work for that reader, for example, and is that a valid criticism.  It’s delightful when a reviewer homes in on what you consider are the strengths and weaknesses of your book.  It’s kind of a “I knew that” epiphany.

AC:  I try to only read the good ones, but it’s the bad ones I remember. Go figure! And no matter how much an author wants to respond, you never EVER answer to nasty reviews because the author inevitably winds up looking bad too. Sometimes it can be a real challenge… like when a reviewer says, “EWWW! This book was a romance and I never read romances!” Or worse  the reviewer says, “I stopped reading on page 5 because the author used a swear word, but…” and then goes on for another 2,000 word rant that has nothing to do with your book.

Yes, Aunty is speaking from personal experiences in both those cases, but somehow she managed to restrain herself and NOT reply. Copious amounts of chocolate and maybe even a couple of margaritas did help her maintain her restraint.

Mario casts his gaze on the empty TimTam wrappers and Pepsi cans in the nearby trash bin and a light of understanding glows in his dark eyes.

Mario (judiciously changing the subject): What’s the first thing you do when you finish a book?

JM: This is a tricky question because the answer is two-fold.  If it’s a bad book and I’ve been forcing myself to finish it (for a variety of reasons) by skimming,  I snap off my Kindle and sigh right before saying, “Thank goodness that’s over!”

If it’s one of my favorites, I never want it to end.  I always hate the ending of a good book; that’s one of the reasons I’m a slow reader.  I enjoy savoring the dialogue, the characters, and the language and voice of the writer.  I’m always sad to end a good book.

AC: I thought you meant when I finish writing a book. When I finally get to “The End” I usually shout WOO HOO! I shoot off an email to my critique partner (lifts eyebrow at Jo-Mama) and my BFF with the words THE END in screaming red 18 point font. Then, depending on the time of day or night (I have this tendency to finish things in the wee hours of the morning) I consume copious amounts of chocolate and/or a margarita or two.   

Mario: If you had a chance to talk with someone, past or present, who would it be, and how would you break the ice?

JM: I was just thinking about this since I’m over here in Monterey and Carmel and was wondering if I’d run into Clint Eastwood.  He was Carmel mayor a long time ago and still lives, I believe, on the famous Seventeen-mile Drive.  I grew up on his “spaghetti westerns,” and Dirty Harry movies, but have come to admire him as an exceptional director and producer.  

What would I ask him?  Uh, wouldn’t you like to buy the movie rights for “The Watcher”?

AC:  OOOO! GREAT IDEA, Jo-Mama! I happen to think “The Watcher” would make a GREAT movie! But then so would “The Avenger” or any of my books too. Plus Eastwood is a fantastic director!

As for the question… If I could talk to someone from the past it would definitely be William Shakespeare. First thing I’d say would be, “So Will, tell me about this Dark Lady…”

Mario (with a faraway look in his eyes) mutters something that sounds suspiciously like Angelina Jolie.

 Mario: Sorry, it must be past my bedtime. I’m still adjusting to all the new and exciting things here in the Lair. By the way, what costume will you be wearing for Le Duchesse’s big bash on Halloween?

JM: A happy pirate, I know this because Miss Emma, age almost three, tells me that SHE’S The Scarrwwy Pirate and Grammy’s The Happy Pirate.

However, the last legitimate costume I wore was a witch.  Not very original, but apparently I make a really good witch!

 AC: I’ve always wanted to dress up like Cleopatra — the Liz Taylor version of her with all the blue eye shadow! Oh, and can’t forget, my lily-white asp.

JM (whispers urgently to Mario): DON’T SAY IT!

Mario (judiciously bites his lip): Um, it’s late. I better bid you Banditas sweet dreams.

JM: Polite and smart too!

AC (nods sagely): Don’t I know it.

Okay everyone, it’s your turn! Do you have a question for Aunty Cindy or Jo-Mama? Don’t be shy!

And while we are on the subject, what do YOU plan to wear at Le Duchesse’s BIG BASH in ten days?

Continuing on with our Tricks & Treats prizes, today one lucky commenter will win the following TREATS: A $10 Amazon gift card, your choice of one of Jo-Mama’s books (The Watcher or The Avenger) and your choice of one of Aunty Cindy’s books (The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice, The Wild Irish Sea, or The Sidhe Princess). One not quite so lucky commenter will get a TRICK, but don’t worry, winning the trick also qualifies you for a great prize packages at the BIG BASH on Oct. 31st!

Dia De Los Muertos

 posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

 It’s the favorite time of year for many of us here in the Lair. We LURVE those ghosties, ghoulies, and things that go bump in the night. And we LURVE throwing a BIG HALLOWEEN bash, especially for our Banditas and BBs who don’t normally celebrate the holiday. Plus, there are other fun holidays to celebrate this time of year, including Thanksgiving for our Canadian folks, Samhain, and Aunty’s personal favorite, Dia De
Los Muertos (in English — Day of the Dead).  

In Mexico the celebration goes beyond trick-or-treat and involves communing with your dearly departed friends and relatives on the Day of the Dead, which is actually on November 2nd. Cemeteries are cleaned and decorated and shrines to the dead are built, sometimes at home and sometimes in public places.

Here’s a pic of a beautiful Day of the Dead shrine I saw in Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago. Skulls and skeletons dressed in fancy party clothes are common sights on these shrines and in celebrations.

 Skull candy and cookies are really popular. Candles and flowers are popular too, especially marigolds which are sometimes called flor de los muertos (flower of the dead). But people also leave things like plates of food and bottles of beer in the cemeteries for their dearly departed to enjoy.

Like many other holidays, Day of the Dead was originally celebrated by indigenous people in Mexico (some say the Aztecs) two or three thousand years ago. But the holiday got adapted and incorporated into Christian practices and celebrations.

Unlike Halloween celebrations here in the US which tend to focus on the scary and spooky aspects of ghosts and goblins, Day of the Dead takes a positive approach. Those fancy dressed skeletons are happy, and people are pleased to send up prayers and offerings to their dead relatives and friends.

I like this kind of celebration much better! It feels comforting to me to think that my beloved friends and family members are closer to me on one particular day of the year.

Ever hear of Day of the Dead or celebrate it? What other unusual holidays do you know about? Please share them with Aunty, who is always looking for more fun things to celebrate!

 Since we have moved to our wonderful new home in cyber-space, we are continuing our celebration for the rest of the month! Today one lucky commenter will win this special treat: your choice of one of Aunty Cindy’s backlist, and a packet of books by Bandita favorite Cara Elliot (To Tempt a Rake, To Sin with a Scoundrel, To Surrender to a Rogue). And one not quite so lucky commenter will get a “trick.” But never fear, even the trick puts you in a special drawing on Oct. 31st for a BIG package of books!

Shake, Rattle, and Aloha — An Earthquake Tale

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

When an earthquake rattled the East Coast this week, it made me think about my own experiences with having “the earth move.” The DH and I are native Californians who have never lived anywhere but the Golden State. Given California’s reputation with regard to earthquakes, the two of us have lots of stories to tell about quakes, right?

Wrong.

DH has never been in a major earthquake, and the only one I was ever in happened when I was six-months-old (which hardly counts). In fact, these two old Californians had to go all the way to Hawaii to experience an earthquake first hand!

We are very lucky because we live where it is easy to find inexpensive deals to Hawaii. Such was the case one recent October when a travel agency we’ve often used offered a five day trip to Honolulu, and we decided to go for it. Our high rise hotel was in a GREAT location, across the street from the Honolulu Zoo and half a block from the beach. The views from our ninth story room were wonderful — we could see all the way to Diamond Head.

Sunday morning at 7 a.m. I was awakened from a sound sleep by the bed shaking. Thinking the DH had returned from his morning swim and was playing a game of ‘let’s wake up the slug’, I rolled over ready to yell at him but NO DH. Instead, I heard a very loud roar, while the bed and the room both started to sway!

I may have never been in an earthquake before but I KNEW what was happening. I threw some clothes on over my pajamas while the room continued to sway. Then I grabbed my umbrella (Did I mention it was pouring rain?) and RAN down all nine flights of stairs to the lobby!

I had a friend who was trapped in an elevator for four hours during the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 so there was NO WAY I was getting in an elevator, though that stairwell was pretty icky. I’m just glad we weren’t on the eighteenth floor.

When I reached the lobby, huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive, I saw a lot of bleary-eyed people milling about. An emergency generator was already set up to run one elevator and some lights. Staff also had turned on a battery powered radio and I listened anxiously for about ten minutes for news of death, destruction, and… a tsunami!

All I heard was that one power grid had gone down and in doing so, had triggered overloads on all the power grids so electricity was out all over the island. Also, that the quake had been centered off the Big Island, not Oahu. And NO tsunami.

I couldn’t quite believe that last part, and worse — DH was still out there SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN! I walked out to the front sidewalk and peered through the sheets of rain. Finally, I decided if he didn’t show up in five more minutes, I’d go looking for him. Two minutes later he walked up, towel around his shoulders, dripping wet. He headed straight for the elevator and couldn’t understand why all those people were standing around in the lobby. When I mentioned THE EARTHQUAKE, he gave me a blank stare.

He hadn’t felt a thing!

Luckily the only consequence of the earthquake turned out to be no power in Honolulu for thirteen hours. Inconvenient, yes. No cooked food, no air conditioning, no running water above the third floor… But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad! We spent most of the day sitting on the lanai of the Hawaiian Princess hotel, which was right on the beach and had a lovely breeze.

I give the highest kudos to the Honolulu police, who were out directing traffic within 30 minutes of the quake knocking out the power. Officers were stationed at every traffic light down the length of Waikiki, and they stayed until the power came back on at 8 P.M. As the electricity was restored to each high rise hotel along Waikiki, a cheer went up from the patrons inside. Ours was no exception.

By the time we flew home on Tuesday morning, everything on Oahu (the airport, the roadways, the tourist attractions) was running as smoothly as it had been before the quake hit.

So there you have my earthquake tale, now it’s your turn: Did you feel the quake this week? Have you been in another earthquake? If not, do you have a ‘wild weather’ experience you can share?

Joining The Crowd…

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Lately it seems that anytime two or more writers get together and talk about writing, the subjects of ebooks and indie publishing come up. With the sudden increase in e-readers and the subsequent demand for ebooks, self-publishing has lost most of its negative stigma and is now seen as a good way for writers to give readers more of what they want — MORE STORIES!

After over a year of having doors constantly slammed in my face, the option of taking my stories directly to my readers has grown very darn appealing! A few of my writer-friends have been wildly successful with putting their stories directly onto Amazon and other ebook venues (by wildly successful, I mean earning six figures or close to it). Many others are achieving more moderate sales, but still better or equal to the money they’ve earned with traditional publishing (moderate sounds GREAT to me!).

Encouraged by these stories of success (including a couple of my Bandita-sisters), and by requests for more from my readers (truly music to my ears), I’ve decided to dip my toes into the big scary ocean of indie publishing.

Scary because the responsibility for everything now falls on lil ole me. The cover, the formatting, the editing, the promotion — I get to do it all. ACK!

But everyone who has spent more than five minutes in the Lair knows that I’m not one to back down from a challenge. After all, SOMEONE must discipline all those cabana boys. But I digress…

Several months I started writing a story that was kind of a prequel to my first book, The Wild Sight. I say kind of because the main character is actually The Wild Sight hero’s mother when she was a teen. I posted excerpts of this story as a special bonus for my newsletter group (and yes, you can join the group, just go here: http://yhoo.it/quNm8x ). So I’ve decided to make this story — actually a novelette (between 7,500 and 17,499 words) my first foray into the big, scary ocean of indie publishing.

I’m still working on the editing phase, but here’s the gorgeous cover I had designed by the lovely and talented Kim Van Meter (http://bit.ly/pbVV45)! And here is the blurb I’ve concocted:

In the rural Northern Ireland of the 1960s, sixteen-year-old Moira Mullins is newly released from her second stay in a mental institution. Her problem is that she can’t seem to escape the notice of the other-wordly inhabitants of the wild lands bordering her family’s farm. Creatures nobody else can see or hear.

When one of these beings, a fairy princess called the Maid of Ulster, offers to foretell the future, Moira jumps at the chance. But the Maid has ulterior motives that could have tragic results for Moira, who learns the future is sometimes better unknown.

I plan to have the novelette available on Amazon next month. Please wish me luck as the big, scary Indie ocean washes around my ankles!

Now for a few questions for my dear Bandita Buddies: Does the publisher of a book influence your buying? After the cover and the blurb, what do you notice next about a book? Have you read a good indie published book lately? Please share the details with Aunty!

Summertime and the Living Is (Not) Easy!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

We’ve reached the end of another GREAT month in the Lair and I’m thrilled to send July out with a BANG (or is that boom?) by welcoming my good friend and Lair favorite Marie Force back for a visit. The third book in Marie’s “Fatal” series, Fatal Consequences, was released this month, along with a lot of other stuff. But I’ll let Marie tell you all about it:

Greetings to the Banditas! Thank you SO much to my dear friend Aunty Cindy and the gang for having me back again to celebrate the release of my new book, Fatal Consequences. This is book 3 in my Fatal Series, which pairs D.C. homicide detective Lt. Sam Holland with U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. The Fatal books mix romance with politics and mystery, and book 3 has plenty of all three. Here’s a brief bit about the book:

The murder of two members of the Capitol Cleaning Service might’ve been just another homicide investigation—that is if one of them hadn’t been romantically involved with a married senator from Arizona. Lt. Sam Holland and her team are plunged into another complex case that at first seems open and shut. But as Sam tugs on the threads of the investigation she uncovers a deep, dark Washington secret that threatens the careers of some of the government’s highest-ranking officials. Racing to catch a killer before he can strike again, Sam and her fiancé, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, attempt to plan a wedding while her colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales faces life-changing news.

It’s fitting that I should end what has been one of the most insane months of my life with my friends at the Romance Bandits. I definitely need to celebrate that July 2011 is coming to an end. Let me give you the rundown… keeping in mind that Fatal book 4, Fatal Flaw, was due yesterday.

July began with the final day of the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. Fatal Flaw was about half done at this point, and not going well for reasons to be discussed later. After sprinting home to spend the Fourth of July holiday with my family, I had to re-pack for a six-day trip to Atlanta for my day job’s annual meeting. Not a word got written on Flaw while my daughter and I were in Atlanta.

Returning home, we celebrated her 16th birthday and the launch of Fatal Consequences, both on the 18th. That same day, she started driver’s ed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for ten straight weekdays. Oh the joy of hauling a sixteen-year-old out of bed at 5:20 a.m., in the summer, for driver’s ed. Around that same time, she got her first real job, working as a hostess in a five-star restaurant in downtown Newport, RI, which is about thirty minutes from where we live. And did I mention my son, soon-to-be 13, is attending sailing camp, also in downtown Newport, but during the day. One kid to Newport in the morning, the other kid to Newport in the afternoon and an 11 p.m. pickup for the working girl. My husband helps, but since I work from home, most of it falls on me.

Did I mention that we are gearing up at work to move our company’s website to a new platform? To save some money, we decided to hand move all 800 pages and 10,000 linked files and images ourselves. And that started this week , the same week my book is due and the same week the quarterly magazine I edit for work is on deadline. Calgon, where are you when I need you? Thankfully, (and I never thought I’d say this), our designer is running late on the magazine, and it got bumped to next week. There is a God.

Back to Fatal Flaw, which hung over my head like a shiny, sharp guillotine this entire month. I finished it at 9 p.m. on July 29, the day before it was due. I wrote 18,000 words in three days, and my hands feel like they’re 80 and arthritic. Thankfully, I have three faithful beta readers who were critiquing as I went, which is how we managed to discover. . .wait for it. . . a fatal flaw in the story.

This is my 19th book, so I have somewhat of a routine by now, but nothing was working, and I didn’t have the luxury of time to blame it on the stress and chaos of my life. The writing was like pulling teeth, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, when I was 70,000 words into the book, my betas helped me identify a major problem (aka the fatal flaw) in the story. Once I fixed that by writing five new opening chapters—something I have never done before—the writing flowed the way it normally does, giving me an ‘ah-ha’ moment: If the writing is like pulling teeth, something is wrong. Figure out what’s wrong and fix it. My editor and I have chatted about watching out what we name future books so as not to bring the bad karma to the writing.

To say I am THRILLED that July 2011 is behind me is putting it mildly. I plan to spend August working on that website migration at work and in my free time, catching up on my TBR, lolling about on the beach and my dad’s boat, hanging with my kids and having a bunch of family and friends visit. I am sooooo ready for a break from the pressure cooker. Later in August, I plan to get to work on my fourth McCarthy book and hopefully a Christmas novella for that series. In addition, I have four other books I am preparing for publication, starting later this year: Georgia on My Mind as well as my beloved Treading Water trilogy: Treading Water, Marking Time and Starting Over, so be on the lookout for all of them soon!

Summertime and the living is easy—or not. Which is it for you? Thanks for coming by and helping me to celebrate the end of the month from hell! I’ll give a copy of Fatal Consequences to one commenter today.

Keep an eye out for the Sept. 5 launch of the FREE Fatal wedding novella, Fatal Destiny, in which Sam and Nick tie the knot. Until then, I’ll be at the beach!

Enjoy the beach, Marie! Sounds like you could use a rest!

Marie Force is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press. The series includes FATAL AFFAIR, FATAL JUSTICE, FATAL CONSEQUENCES and FATAL DESTINY, which is out Sept. 5. FATAL FLAW is coming in February 2012.

Earlier this year, Marie published her popular, bestselling McCarthys of Gansett Island Series: MAID FOR LOVE, FOOL FOR LOVE and READY FOR LOVE, with more books coming soon in the series. Find out more about Marie and her books at her website: www.mariesullivanforce.com, on her blog at http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com, where she runs the weekly Romance & Oreos Book Club, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Force/248130827909, and on Twitter @marieforce.

The Watcher Is Coming SOON!

by Aunty Cindy and Jo-Mama


AC: Hey Banditas and BBs! Did you notice the new covers on the sidebar under August releases? Did you also notice a name you haven’t seen on a book cover until now? YES! Our very own Jo-Mama will have her debut release next month — a scary, can’t-put-down tale of romantic
suspense called THE WATCHER.

J-M: Aunty Cindy, this is a real squeeeeeee moment for me! Holding a proof copy of my book in my hands was beyond thrilling.

AC: I gotta agree! Seeing the uncorrected Advance Review Copy of your book ranks right up there in the Thrill of a Lifetime category!

As most of the Lair regulars know, we Banditas first met because we were all Golden Heart finalists in 2006. Jeanne, Cassondra, Suz, Jo and I were all finalists in the romantic suspense category. But Jo was THE BIG WINNER that night, and the book was THE WATCHER! Now, at long last, we all get a chance to read this award winning story. I’ve read it and I have to tell you it kept me up most of the night! THE WATCHER is a spooky tale of a serial killer and the people in law enforcement working to catch him.

J-M: Thanks, Cindy! That’s a fine compliment for a suspense writer. But, not to worry, Bandita Buddies, there’s plenty of romance in the story, too, as my hero and heroine work together to track down the killer.

AC: Jo, please tell us where you got the idea for this book and how you came up with such unique and fascinating characters.

J-M: The idea for my killer came from an abnormal psychology class I was taking at the time. I can’t reveal too much about the killer’s pathology or I’ll give a key point away, but I thought, “If a person with this particular condition were to experience these particular traumas as he grew up, what might be the result?” I sort of ran with that idea and came up with my bad guy.

I wanted my hero to be a steady, dependable sort of guy, who ended up as deputy sheriff in this small town to escape a heart-breaking event in his past.

Kate Myers, my heroine, is a plunge-into-the-thick-of-things-without-thinking kind of woman. She’s been tracking this killer for a long time.

AC: Ah yes, your hero Ben Slater is definitely DROOL worthy! I’m sure everyone who reads this book will adore him. Was there anyone you used as a “model” for this character?

J-M: I didn’t have a real person in mind for Slater’s physical attributes, but I definitely relied on the men in my life — my four sons and husband — as a template for his personality. My guys are very protective kinds of men.

The operative word for Slater is “steady.”

After I’d long finished the book, however, I realized that he looks very much like Alcide in HBO’s “True Blood.” Here’s a picture if you don’t follow the series.

AC: Oh my! (fans self vigorously) I really must put this series in my Netflix queue!

Now, where was I? Oh, right! Your heroine, Kate is very much his match! She is also a forensic psychiatrist. How did you come up with her occupation? Anyone who served as her “model?”


J-M: Kate is tall and leggy, very California “fresh” and healthy looking. I wanted her to be smart and an expert in her profession. By the way, forensic psychiatry is a real career, a sub-speciality of psychiatry and often an adjunct to law and criminality. I may have taken a little literary license with the kinds of things my heroine can do, however!

AC: That’s why it’s called ‘fiction’ m’dear! And why we love reading and writing it! I can’t wait for THE WATCHER to hit the shelves (and e-book readers) because I want to talk about some of the interesting plot twists without spoiling the story for others.

J-M: Thanks for hosting me, Cindy, and giving up your blog day to talk about my book!



AC: My pleasure!
I love to be the first one to interview you about your debut release.

Okay, everyone, I hope we have you intrigued enough to read Jo’s book.

Don’t miss our July 30 Launch Party for THE WATCHER here in the Lair!

What unusual occupations have you read about lately? Are there some different forms of employment you would like to see a hero or heroine of a book doing?

What was the last book you read that kept you awake at least half the night?

Also, send your snail mail addy to Jo at jo.lewisrobertson@yahoo.com to receive a free postcard of her book’s cover and be entered in a contest to receive a print copy of THE WATCHER when it releases.



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