Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Beautiful Saturday!

"In summer, the song sings itself." ~William Carlos Williams

It's a gorgeous day - finally! This entire summer feels as though it's been rainy and cool. But today looks as though it's going to be beautiful and hot and I'm off to do a million things this morning before a friend's BBQ this afternoon.

In the meantime, why don't you stop over and visit Diane's blog, and check out the trailer for her upcoming book - or Liz's blog, and read about her adventures at the RWA conference in DC?

Hope you have a wonderful Saturday too!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A 4-Star Review!

"My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose - somehow we win out." ~Ronald Reagan

I'm so excited because I was Googling myself last night (yeah, I use Google Alerts, but it doesn't always turn up everything) and I discovered that One Night in Memphis received a 4-star review from Romantic Times! Very excited!! The only problem is that I don't subscribe, and you can't read the review online until 2 months after the print issue comes if anyone out there is an RT subscriber and can send me the actual review ( , I would be eternally grateful!

Now, of course, begins the waiting and fingernail-chewing for reviews of One Night in Napa. I confess it's gotten a little easier to read reviews of my work since the first book, but I still cringe a little. And Mrs. Giggles? Oh Lord help me if/when she reviews Napa!

Update: Thanks to my fellow SP authors, here's the RT review!

Thrilling action and suspense complement a budding romance in this touching story of two people finding new beginnings. Appealing secondary characters add depth to an engaging plot.

Summary: Fed up with Sean's constant vows that he's leaving his wife, Dakota ends the relationship and heads to Memphis for a reunion with a girlfriend. She wants to relax, party and forget the past year. Ethan, meanwhile, still mourns the wife he lost to cancer more than a year ago. Basketball buddies convince him a night on Beale Street is what he needs to start living again.Dakota first spots Ethan on the basketball court, and both are pleased when they meet again in a downtown club. After a couple of false starts they begin to share what is meaningful in their lives. But their blossoming relationship is threatened when a violent Sean appears.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome Paul Midden!

Greetings, readers! Today I'm happy to host author Paul Midden, who's in the middle of a blog tour promoting his new book, Toxin. At the end of this interview, you'll find information on how you can win an autographed sit back, relax, and enjoy!


Jake Telemark, a junior senator from Wisconsin, enjoys his position as a moderate, common-sense legislator in Washington, D.C.—until the phone call that changes his life forever. Isadore Hathaway, daughter of the late Frank Hathaway, a renowned senatorial powerhouse, demands to see Jake immediately. During a mysterious meeting with Isadore, Jake learns an uncomfortable truth: a group of fanatical right-wing evangelicals, who call themselves The Bookkeepers, are planning to destroy the US democracy.

Shocked by Isadore’s revelation, but initially unwilling to get involved in something he can scarcely believe, Jake soon learns why Isadore Hathaway singled him out for this clandestine meeting: she’d uncovered a part of Jake’s past that he’d fought to keep hidden, not just by law, but by of the demands of his sanity. Isadore’s plea is both startling and matter-of-fact: she wants Jake to kill the men involved in this sinister plot—because if Jake doesn’t kill them, they will kill him.

When parts of Isadore’s scenario begin to come true, Jake becomes ensnared in a dangerous and deadly plot. With the country at risk and freedom hanging in the balance, Jake is thrust into excruciating circumstances. Forced to confront the demons of his past, and the demons that threaten the future of the country he serves, Jake inconveniently falls in love with Isadore. As this burgeoning relationship plays out against the backdrop of the most tumultuous time in US history, Jake Telemark must wage an intense tug-of-war between his promise to never harm another human being, and his duty to the country, and woman, he loves.

Sounds like a great thriller, Paul! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I have spent my adult professional life in clinical practice as a psychologist. I run a treatment center for Catholic priests and religious. Because it is later in my career and because my duties are primarily administrative and clinical oversight, I have some time on my hands. For a good while that was taken up with a home rehab project that my wife and I began about twelve years ago. Mercifully that is well in hand: we live in a beautifully rehabbed 1895 gem in an older section of St. Louis.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

Writing fiction was not something that I thought much about, at least not since some creative writing classes in college a million years ago. But one day I was preparing a talk, and, to keep my anxiety under control, decided to write out the entire presentation. In the midst of that stressful experience, I realized that I enjoyed the writing part. Not so much the presentation part, which has been a bane in my professional life. In any event, the day after the presentation, I sat down and began writing my first novel, Absolution.

I had fortunately read Bird by Bird by Ann LaMott, in which she described how she wrote: 500 “shitty” words a day, every day; revised the next day with 500 more “shitty” words added. This approach fit my temperament perfectly. It only took about four months to finish a 100,000 word novel. I have since written two more, using the exact same method.

Great philosophy! Now, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

My most recently published book is Toxin, the one under discussion during this blog tour. It’s a first-person narrative, a thriller, and a fun read. It was equally fun to write. I deliberately decided to approach narrative works in differing formats to see which ones I like the best and which ones I am most comfortable with. I learned from Toxin that, while writing in the first person is fun and makes for a fast read, it is very limiting in plumbing the personalities of other characters. Not impossible, but there is just less access.

My most recent work, which is as yet unpublished, is entitled One Voice Too Many. It returns to the third person narrative style and recounts the story of someone who loses the internal battle with sanity. Because of a quirk in my writing style—the climax in my books is almost always at the beginning—I am not giving too much away. But the book is not a thriller so much as it is a heartbreaking story of a guy who gives life all he can but may not be able to make it work. Or work safely.

How do you go about developing your characters?

This is one of the most surprising and curious elements of writing fiction. The strict answer to the question is: I have no idea. Because when I write I do so daily, each character develops a little each day. This does not seem to me to be a deliberate process on my part. The subjective experience is that I am as interested in how each person develops as a reader would be; I just happen to be the medium through which these characters come to life. Many of us overeducated types—especially psychologists--like to analyze this sort of thing, but the truth is writing is an inherently creative process that is not always logical, and the origins of it lie in an area of our consciousness that is not directly accessible to us. The unconscious maybe, or regions of the brain where integration happens outside our deliberate awareness.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I read widely. I do read fiction, although I would be hard pressed to name a single author. I like many: John Irving, Wally Lamb, even Dan Brown. I like to read history and current affairs. I read some psychology, but usually only major works where an especially talented psychologist integrates a wide range of information and forges genuinely new ground. Such works are limited; think Jerome Kagan and Three Erroneous Ideas, or Judith Rich Harris’ The Nurture Assumption.

The best book in English that I have ever read is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which took a while to read but which was an unremitting pleasure. It is a well told story and is filled with wit and wisdom, all encased in language that is just beautiful.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

It is this business about how books essentially come to life on their own terms and how they are mediated by writers. It’s humbling, really. I used to think it was all about grammar and structure and deliberate architecture, but those things flow when the creative spigot is on. I love that process, although it can be frustrating. I do have control issues.

Paul, thanks so much for being here today!
Readers, Paul Midden is giving away a signed copy of Toxin to one lucky tour visitor. Go to his book tour page,, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 2241, for your chance to win. Entries from Allie's Musings will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on their book tour page next week!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Monica Martinez

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with Monica Martinez, erotic romance author who's published a collection of short stories and is now looking forward to the release of her novel Caught Up. Since much of her content is R+ rated, please visit her website directly if you're interested in finding out more details about her books. She also has a number of appearances coming up in the next few months. In the meantime, let's see what makes this author tick!

Hi, Monica. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I began writing poetry at the age of twelve just to cope with the things I was going through. Some pain, some happiness.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

To follow your dream. It can be an amazing journey.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I like to read fiction. My favorite author is James Patterson

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Well I'm a Virgo so I'm extremley organized! I write once everything else is done. I have a schedule: I come home to cook and have dinner with my family then spend time doing homework with my lil man. After that we hang out for an hour and he goes to take his bath and then we read before I put him to sleep at 9:00 p.m. From 9-11 I spend time writing.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Sometimes and when it happens I get on the phone with my girlfriends. I'll go back to my computer in a day or two.

What's your ideal writing space?

Actually I write while I'm in my bedroom relaxing with no noise.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Catch up on my reading.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I write on the computer usually however, if I'm somewhere I don't have my laptop I will buy a book and write.

Monica, thanks for being here today! By the way, you have a great website, very user-friendly and chock-full of info. Readers, if you'd like to know more about Monica, please go ahead and visit. And have a great day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's Release Day!!!!!

I'm so excited - it's release day for One Night in Napa!

I'll tell you a dirty little secret, too: this is my favorite "One Night" book. I'm not sure why...I juts love the characters and the story and the secret twist at the end. And I remember very clearly where I was when I thought of the original concept, a couple of years ago: driving down the highway, heading home from visiting my parents. That "what if..." snuck into my head and wouldn't go away.

Plus I love the cover!

Finally, a big CONGRATS to Tamsyn, the winner of the One Night in Napa Blog Giveaway!!! Tamsyn, email me at so I can get your address and send the prizes your way!

Everyone else...I would love it if you stopped by and picked up an e-copy of One Night in Napa today...and please let me know how you like it!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Struggle to Make Sense of Things

"When we read, we stat at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out." ~Vickie Karp

I love this quote...

So I am back struggling with my latest WIP Entwined - the women's fiction/literary romance/with paranormal elements that I started about 8 months ago. I'm about 60K words in and really love much of the concept...I just can't figure out some of the plot and how to get to the ending I want.

I usually outline my stories, but with this one I went to the extreme (for me, anyway - some authors I know do this for every novel they write): I wrote every scene on an index card, color-coded for different characters' POV, and laid them all out. Here's what our bed looked like yesterday afternoon:

While I thought this might be an exercise in futility, it turned out to be more helpful than I expected. I was able to see, just by looking, whose POV I needed more of. I was able to move scenes around and add scenes in a very visual manner. And I think I have a better idea of where things should go now.

My goal for today is actually to write the synopsis for the story (again, I never do this before the book is done) - I'm going to send it to a couple of beta readers for feedback, because what's inside my head is clear to me, but I need to make sure it makes sense to others. Sooo...I'm off for more struggling.

Hey! Today is the last day you can comment and enter to win the One Night in Napa Blog Giveaway ~ so I'd love to hear from you! The winner will be announced right here tomorrow, to help me celebrate my release!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lessons Learned

Yesterday: I sold 26 books at my local author appearance...not too bad considering the weather was sketchy and there weren't as many people as last year. One lesson learned, though: even though this was held in my (small) hometown, and many people there know me by face, next time I'll make sure to have a sign with my "real" name in addition to my pen name. I know that's an individual decision, and some authors don't ever want to give their real names when out on appearances, but in this case it would just make sense for me.


Did I mention that I have a new nephew? He arrived July 1st ~ here are some pics of Drew Robert and his proud aunt: