Are You Ready?

Guess what tomorrow is? The first day of June and I’m excited because it’s going to be an amazing month filled with all things book related for me. The Kings of Charleston will be officially released the last week of June and there’s a lot to get done between now and then.

Currently, I’m working on the Acknowledgments and it’s proving to be a difficult task because I don’t think I could ever express enough gratitude to the people who’ve helped me on this journey. I get kind of teary eyed just thinking about everyone who believed in me and didn’t say “Are you crazy? You can’t do that.” Not a single person told me I was crazy (well, at least not for that reason…lol). Instead they encouraged me, telling me I could do it and to go for it. What a blessing to have those kind of people in my life. Okay, I’ve got to keep moving before I start crying on the keyboard and short my computer.

In addition to sharing some more recipes and kayaking adventures (or whatever I can get myself into), I will be sharing some sneak peaks of the first couple of chapters of my book and interesting tidbits about the characters.

Also, I will be hosting a contest the last week of June where you can enter to win a Kindle. I will be posting the contest as a separate page on my website listing how to enter and the rules later this month.

June’s not only the start of the summer, but this year it’s the start of a great adventure for me. Are you ready to step into the world of The Kings of Charleston?

 

Warning: Addictive Candy Recipe

As I mentioned in a previous post, I like to try out new recipes on my family and friends and this past weekend was no exception. I made blueberry biscuits, German potato salad and the most addictive candy concoction imaginable.

Someone had made this heavenly treat a couple of years ago and brought it to the office I work at as a Christmas gift. I don’t know how much of it I consumed, but I was sure it was almost half of the contents of the pretty green Christmas tin. I tried to find the recipe for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was in withdrawals when I finally gave up (although I dreamed about the stuff for awhile). And then the Saturday before Memorial Day I happened to be watching Trisha Yearwood’s cooking show on the Food Network (it was fate, because I’ve never watched her show before) and guess what she was making? The candy recipe I had been searching for since I had been introduced to it’s addictive deliciousness. Now with the recipe in hand, I made a batch to take to the lake. It didn’t last very long and we’re still debating who ate the last piece and stuck the empty container back into the fridge (anyone want to confess?). We all have our guesses on who it was, but no evidence other than the empty container with a few broken bits in the bottom could be found.

We laughed about it, even though it really wasn’t a laughing matter. We needed more and I decided to buy the ingredients and make another round, which then led to the third (I think we only stopped there because I ran out of one of the key ingredients).

So what is this candy that needs it’s own support group for addicts? It’s so easy to make and it’s made with saltine crackers. Yeah, you read that right…saltines. See the website below for the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sweet-and-saltines-recipe/index.html

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bright Blue Kayak

I’m in love with kayaking.  My husband’s Aunt Cheryl brought one to the lake and I got to try it out. The first day the water was smooth and glassy and it was very easy to glide across the water. The second day it was very windy and the water was choppy, but I went out anyway. His Aunt Cheryl had went out earlier and she said the going was pretty tough, but it was a breeze getting back since you would be going with the wind.

I set a goal to make it to a small replica lighthouse on the dock of the house on the edge of the cove. I felt like I was fighting against a hurricane (okay that’s an exaggeration, but it was definitely difficult). I had to stop several times along the way and take a second to breathe. As I looked around there were no other boats out on the water except a yellow sail boat. There were people on the shore looking at me like I was crazy, but it was so much fun. I love anything to do with water and it was nice being out there by myself even if I was exhausted. I had to paddle hard to keep the wind from pushing me back, and I used all the energy I had because I refused to not make my goal to the lighthouse.

I kept going and I was about to make it to the lighthouse when I stopped for a second, and something caught my eye on the ride side of the kayak. I looked over and there were bubbles coming up from the lake. I didn’t think anything about it until I saw a face of some animal staring back at me. Without thinking I turned around and headed back, paddling as fast as I could. I was afraid it was a snake. I knew it wasn’t an alligator because of the colors (although I do live in South Georgia and its completely possible), but whatever it was I wanted to get away from it as fast as I could. I’ve seen too many movies about monsters of the deep and I didn’t want an up close look, especially not out there by myself.

It felt like it was taking me forever to get back and like I was paddling much harder to get back, and all I could think about was something lurking behind me, laughing at the fact that I wasn’t moving very fast. And to make it all worse, the boat kept trying to go out to the open water of the lake. When I finally made it back, all I could do was laugh.

I’ve learned that crazy things are always going to happen at the lake and that there will always be stories to tell and one of the reasons it’s a magical place.

Always Have a Flashlight on Your Paddle Boat

This post’s title is no laughing matter…it’s serious advice to live by in the future.

Recently my mother-in-law bought a paddle boat for the lake, which everybody thought was a great idea. Sometimes you don’t feel like getting the big boat out or a jet ski, but you want to get out on the water. So a paddle boat is perfect for a trip around the cove where their house sits on the lake.

It was around dusk Saturday afternoon and my husband’s Aunt Cheryl had the idea that we should go out on the lake in the paddle boat. I agreed to go, there was still plenty of light out and I  thought it would be fun. She commented that we should’ve brought a flashlight to shine where we were to the other boats. After dark all boats have to have little lights on them so other boats can tell where they are, but we just laughed about it knowing we would be back before dark anyways and it wouldn’t matter.

So we get out on the lake and the boat wouldn’t go where we steered it.The water was choppy from all the boats and I didn’t realize we were starting to get the windy effects of Tropical Storm Beryl. Half the time we ended up going in a circle  and laughing. It was getting dark quickly and we finally got the boat to cooperate. We started heading back to the house until a big speed boat started coming our way and it was coming straight for us. We became silent and I was sure that the boat would soon turn and go away from us, but it didn’t. It obviously didn’t see us and if it hit us it would split our little paddle boat straight down the middle.

Aunt Cheryl grabbed my hand and I started saying a prayer. My mind was racing. We were going to have to bail out of the paddle boat, but where? The big boat  (it looked like it was ten stories tall compared to our tiny boat) would probably eventually see us, but at what point and on which side of us would the boat correct and start going the other way? I had no way of knowing and the last thing I needed was for the boat’s propeller to go over us when we jumped in the water. But we couldn’t just sit there either and be hit by the front of the boat. We were going to have to chance it and hope we made the right decision.

We were both frozen and my heart was beating wildly…I literally thought we could die. The stories of boating accidents started flashing through my mind, but then the boat saw us and made a quick turn out toward the open water of the lake. I sighed in relief and my body was shaking from the adrenaline that was pumping through my body. We picked up the pace to get back to the house. Once we finally made it, we could laugh and joke about what had just happened since we were still alive.

We thought about what the papers would say about the accident. I could see the headline now “Speed Boat Crashes into Paddle Boat Killing the Two Crazy People Without a Flashlight” (Yeah I know most headlines aren’t that long, but just go with it).

Needless to say my Memorial Day Weekend was eventful and an absolute blast. This isn’t even where the paddle boat story boat ends, but I think I’ll continue it for my next post. Actually I got enough for several posts. Come back tomorrow for more life saving tips…like how when you’re in a kayak and you see bubbles coming up from the bottom of the lake you should turn and go the other direction.

Memorial Day

This afternoon I’ve been spending some time in the kitchen getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. I love to cook and try out new recipes on family (I don’t think they mind either). We always go to the lake with my husband’s family and stay at their cabin, grill out and spend time on the water. It’s such a peaceful and beautiful place. It’s truly is a mini-vacation.

Now I’ve got to go clean up the kitchen and it looks like a flour bomb went off in there. All the chefs on the Food Network make it all look so easy and non-messy. I guess it would be if I had a team of people cleaning up behind me. My husband helps, but tonight it might require a couple of extra hands!

You won’t be hearing from me for the next couple of days, because I will be without internet service all weekend. Sometimes that’s a difficult thing when I’m trying to work out details with editors and artists, but it’s also a relief because it means I can really relax and not worry about anything for a few days. Fortunately this time around I have everything in order and nothing to worry about…ahh.

I always look forward to spending time at the lake and this weekend will be no different. I may take some time to work on my sequel, but more likely than not I’ll be playing cards, sitting on the dock talking or out on the boat.

Let us all remember those who have died serving our country this Memorial Day weekend. They’ve given so much for the freedoms we enjoy and let them never be forgotten as we spend time with our families.

I’ll see you back Monday!

Cliffhanger

So all l have to say about the finale of Revenge is wow.I really had my doubts about the it, but they saved the best for the last ten minutes. I hate summer hiatus of my favorite shows, but then again it gives me plenty of time to focus on my own  story’s second “season”.

I have a love/hate relationship with the cliffhanger ending of shows and books. I hate that they make me wait for the next installment, but I love how they usually  leave your jaw dropping as you watch or read the last bit of the story. So does my love outweigh my hate of the cliffhanger in my novel?

I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

I Can’t Resist a Good Mystery

So why didn’t anyone tell me that Revenge was a great show? For whatever reason I started watching it from the beginning this weekend on Hulu (and I’m not afraid to admit I watched like 6 episodes Saturday). When the commercials for Revenge started on ABC last fall it didn’t appeal to me, but from the moment I sat down and started watching the pilot episode I’ve been hooked.

I’m not surprised I became so interested, because it has all the elements in a plot that has always appealed to me…mystery and suspense. I love to read a book or watch a show that asks me to try to put the pieces together and figure out what’s going to happen next with a strong (yet conflicted) lead female character.

I like a good romance every now and then, but I can’t resist a great mystery/thriller. Let’s face it, sometimes I wish I’d become a detective or a spy.

Mental Case

Things have slowed down for me since my book is with my second editor getting the finishing touches before its June release. I’ve had a few things to work out for the book, but mostly I’ve taken the time to get things done that were neglected in my mad dash to finish and get everything turned in to the editor on time.

I’ve spent the day cleaning the house and painting the front door. Our front door gets the brutal afternoon sun and the black color of the door seemed to be a beacon for the heat. You literally could get burnt touching it in the late afternoon, so I decided to paint it a light green color hoping it would reflect some of the heat away. The day was overcast, so I didn’t get to test how my new paint job did in the sun.

Although I focused today on chores, I did spend a bit of time thinking about where my main character, Casper, will be heading in the future. I’ve been working on the second book, but my mind is already racing to the third. Do I stop there or does she have more stories to tell? I’m not sure yet and it’s probably useless to try to predict the future. All I know for sure is that I will continue to write about Casper as long as she gives me a story to write.

That’s the funny thing about writing. I can’t force the story, and often times the characters lead me to the story, telling me where they want to go. I know that sounds like a case for a psychiatrist and possibly medication, but that’s often how stories come to life on the page. I thought the idea was ludicrous for the longest time and would write scenes in the novel the way I thought they should go.But then I noticed problems with the story, things just didn’t fit exactly right. So I finally gave in and let Casper tell her story (I promise, I don’t hear voices) and things started making more sense. Now obviously Casper is not a real person, but the longer a character is in your mind the more of a personality they develop. There’s things that Casper does that are similar to my own personality, but there’s other attributes she has that are not necessarily my own.

The same goes for every other character I’ve created. Bits and pieces of their personalities come from myself, or other people in my life (I’m not telling who), but there still is this part of them that is distinctly their own.

A Test of Character: Power

I’ve written what feels like 500 attempts to explain a quote I found today that I feel really embodies a lot of what my novel reveals about my characters. So, instead of trying to give some long explanation, I will let the quote stand for itself:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.~Abraham Lincoln

Mom Always Said to Make a Good First Impression

I spent this weekend enjoying some time with my husband and his family for Mother’s Day.  My parents live too far to visit over a weekend, but I did send my mother a gift (which I gave UPS the wrong address and so she ended up getting it late, but that’s a whole other story) and talked to her Sunday.

My husband and I also attended his high school reunion dinner, where I got to meet some of his classmates. They were all so welcoming and in a situation that I would normally feel self conscious, I felt right at home.

After a relaxing weekend, the latest thing on my to-do list is to approve cover art for The Kings of Charleston. I had no idea how hard it was going to be and how important it truly was to my book. It’s the first impression I will make in the  book world. I kept thinking it wouldn’t really matter. I mean everyone will read the back and the first few pages to really decide if the want to read it, right? Wrong. Even I’ve picked up a book based on an interesting cover and skipping it if it didn’t have one that caught my eye.

An example of a book that I picked up based on the cover is The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen (http://www.annagodbersen.com/the-luxe/). I had never heard of her, but I saw the cover of her novel displayed at the bookstore. The cover was of a young girl in a beautiful full pink ball gown that encompassed not only the front, but the back cover. I bought that book based on the cover, and my first impression proved true. It was a great read and I bought the whole series and finished them within a week. It made me think, would I have picked this book up if it didn’t have the beautiful cover? Probably not, because if I don’t know the author or don’t get a recommendation, the cover plays a big role in my choice.

The cover art has been less important for me when buying an eBook. I often go with the recommendations I get from Amazon based on books I’ve bought in the past or popular books in a particular genre, but I could be turned off if the cover isn’t at least decent in my opinion. Moral of the story is that Mom was right this time. (But when has she ever been wrong?)