Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IndieReader.com: The Low-Down on Exclusivity Clauses

IndieReader.com has an article today on Amazon's KDP Select Program titles The Low-Down on the Exclusivity Claus. This new program offered by Amazon to authors is hotly debated by authors and readers alike. Authors are not sure whether to take a chance on the program which offers promotional tools in exchange for exclusive listings. I was contacted by writer Terry Guliano Long some months back because of some posts that I made on the Huffington Post web site. She interviewed me about my experience with Select and she quotes me (along with Darcy Chan, Barry Eisler, and Barbara Freethy) on our experience regarding Select. You can read the article on the IndieReader.com web site: 




Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Writers on Writing: Barry Napier

Books That Inspired Me: The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker

I was reading Stephen King at the age of eleven. No joke. Eyes of the Dragon was the first one of his books I knocked off. After that, it was Pet Semetary. And even though I didn’t understand a lot of the adult stuff in it, it still scared the hell out of me. I kept reading King and any other horror that came my way for years.

But it wasn’t until I read Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show at the age of 16 that I knew I wanted to write horror fiction.

Barker’s The Great and Secret Show was the first horror novel I read that also blended fantasy and magic. It has its horror-shock moments and it has its gorier and explicit scenes, but there was something else to Barker’s writing that I had not yet experienced. Even now, I can’t really give it a name, although I believe most would call it dark fantasy.
Reading The Great and Secret Show (and its follow up, Everville) showed me that horror has more depth than I realized. Whereas King had shown me horror in a grounded sense (ordinary people placed into extraordinary situations), Barker introduced me to horror as a surreal and often magical creature that allowed the fantastical a place in the story.

I had read fantasy as a child and recognized its roots in The Great and Secret Show without much trouble. But I did not realize that the line between fantasy and horror could be so razor thin. Barker not only balances his reader on that line, but pushes them playfully to the edge of either side within any given page.

The Great and Secret Show is the book that made me want to write. To this day, I admire Barker’s ability to drop the reader into madness only to rescue them from the fall with the trappings of fantasy (no matter how dark tinged it may have been). This book will take you to some dark and unnamable places, but it is well worth the trip. There is just something about this story that is more epic than its 700 or so pages lets us see. There is are unexplored elements of magic and horror lurking behind every comma and every finished thought.

A tale of estranged families, love, ghosts, and power, The Great and Secret Show inspires me to this day. I recommend it to fans of straight-out horror, dark fantasy, and readers looking for something unique and inspiring (although there are a few queasy and uncomfortable moments to be forewarned of). As far as I’m concerned, The Great and Secret Show is a must-read for writers and readers that enjoy their unbridled darkness illuminated with the best parts of other genres.

Barry Napier has had more than 40 short stories and poems published in print and online. He is the author of The Bleeding Room, The Masks of Our Fathers, 13 Broken Nightlights, and Everything Theory, all of which are currently available as Kindle and print titles. You can find him online at www.barrynpaierwriting.wordpress.com

Monday, February 27, 2012

Erotica: Where to Draw the Line? Should a Line Be Drawn?

Erotica writers and readers are irate. PayPal, the online payment processing company owned by eBay, has issued a statement to online booksellers such as Smashwords, who rely heavily on PayPal to accept payments for their digital books, that they will suspend the accounts of book sellers who sell books with certain erotic themes. Specifically they are boycotting books containing incest, bestiality, rape-for-titillation, and underage sex (this is largely banned by most booksellers anyway.) This has resulted in a huge outcry among many writers and many readers as well. Who, they ask, is PayPal to tell them what they can and cannot write and/or read? PayPal's response is, you can read and write anything you want, you just can't pay for it through us.

Mark Coker, the President of Smashwords has issued a statement that Smashwords will begin removing erotica books that contain any type of incest (including so-called “pseudo-incest” - step-siblings/parents), any type of bestiality (not to include the shape-shifters found in paranormal stories), and any rape-for-titillation. The latter category is the one that seems to be driving a lot of people out of their minds.

I wrote awhile back about the to-me repulsive increase in so-called rape-romance and I unleashed a firestorm of anger on the part of the readers who are into this sort of thing. This all came about because of the Twitter event known as #SampleSunday that a lot of us writers participate in. The theory is this:
  1. We post a sample from one of our books on our blog.
  2. We create a “Tweet Line” of less than 140 characters which we all send to one another via email and various online groups.
  3. We all Tweet the Tweet line to our Twitter Followers
  4. We sit back and wait to get bazillions of visitors to our blogs who will be so dazzled by our writing that they will buy our books making us fabulously wealthy.

Now, the problem with this was that many of us have Twitter Followers who are people we know, like and want to remain of good terms with. This includes family, young people, members of our churches, etc. For the most part we had no problem sending out the Tweet lines of our fellow authors but then a few of us got Twitter Replies saying, “Please don't send me any more smut.” I got a few of them and I was surprised until I went back and read some of my Tweets which I - I am embarrassed to admit – had just copied and pasted without reading them. Some of them were for #erotica and included hashtags such as #bdsm and, the one that really flipped me, #noncon. I was an innocent. I didn't know that #noncon is Twitter-ese for “non-consensual sex” – i.e. rape.

My #SampleSunday pals and I pretty much laid down the law and said we would only Tweet PG-rated Tweet lines and that was the end to that. The one author who was promoting #noncon books argued for awhile, then changed Tweet lines, then quit. Frankly, I was relieved.

Here's the thing – I know people have kinks. I know sexuality is a deep, dark firepit of psychology in which some very creepy stuff goes on. I think most of us have fantasies we don't want anyone else to know about and I'm a firm believer that what goes on between me and my imagination in the deep, dark hours of the night is nobody's business. But somewhere there has to be some semblance of public decency.

I do not know why anyone is titillated by real rape. I don't understand BDSM but as long as it is consensual it's fine with me. It is the non-consensual – the #noncon – that scares me. What noncon says is “your preference for how you are treated is irrelevant.” That's some sick stuff.

How do I feel about PayPal's new stand? It's complicated but I support their right to set standards for how they will do business. All they are saying is “if you want to buy or sell this stuff that is fine, you just can’t buy or sell it through us.” That is their right as a business. Will it change anything? Only where people who want to read about rape, incest and bestiality go to get their stuff. If life has taught me anything it is that there will always be a market for the most base desires possible. It won't make any difference to me as a writer or a reader and, since the banned material is also about illegal activity, I'm not worried about what will be banned next.

The more I think about it, the more I think it is just damn sad taking a stand on all of this was even necessary. 

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Writers on Writing: Cege Smith

Books That Inspired Me: Healing The Artist Within

The book presented itself to me exactly at the point in time when I was facing a harsh reality. Things in my life and with my writing felt hard. I felt downtrodden and like I would never accomplish anything close to my writing goals. And that’s when I read a blog post that mentioned The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

It was a 12-week, self-paced course in creativity geared towards all types of artists- not just writers. Its promise was intriguing. (Creativity!  Hey, I could use some of that!) So I downloaded it, and after reading the first chapter, I knew that this was the book I unknowingly had been looking for. This book would change my life (and I don’t make such a statements lightly). The very first lessons focus on healing and nurturing that lovely little spirit inside that calls you to create.

My own was broken, shattered really. And I decided that enough was enough. I dove into the required weekly exercises and started writing 3 long-hand journal pages everyday as she recommends, and is a habit that I continue today. Within a week I had dusted off my manuscript for Edge of Shadows and was actively re-editing it. Three weeks later I wrote the first draft for The Soul Garden. And less than two months later I published Edge of Shadows for all the world to see.

In less than 60 days, I went from a wallowing pool of self-pity to published author. I have been saying for years that I would do this and I never did. The Artist’s Way completely shifted my perspective and helped me see that the artist inside of me was worthy of care and love. I was one who was letting it down.

Although my day job keeps me incredibly busy, I completed the 12-week course on schedule, on the heels of yet another new manuscript. I am proud to say that now, less than five months later, I have published two novels and a novella, and am well into my next novel.

If you feel the despair of your inner artist, this book will rock your world. But as with anything, plan to get out of it what you put in. If you commit to the process, you will come out feeling like you can move mountains.

___


Cege Smith survives and thrives on caffeine and cheesy, B-rated horror films. Her multitude of part-time jobs in early adulthood (plasma center processor and karaoke DJ to name a few) ensure a vast repository of content for novels for years to come. You can check out Cege's blog at www.cegesmith.com. 
Author of Edge of Shadows, a paranormal romance
Purchase Edge of Shadows here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An eAuthor's February Update

After the hectic book buying frenzy of December and January I was pretty worried about what February would bring. It is true that the I-got-a-Kindle-for-Christmas frenzy has definitely calmed down but I can't complain. February's numbers won't match January but they are still really good – a lot better than I ever expected. This new increase in book royalties is making me a little dizzy and, while I'm not sufficiently confident to think it will last indefinitely, I'm going to try to make the best of it while it lasts.

One of the thing every aspiring author dreams of is the day when they can live on their book income and devote their time to writing. Of course learning to manage that is something we never think about. This isn't the 1920s in Paris and none of us are Hemingway (no kidding). I remember the first time I read A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's brilliant essays on his early years in Paris. Oh how I longed for that life. Getting up early and walking to my little writing room or favorite cafe. Writing for hours completely absorbed in whatever I was writing over a café créme and brioche. Celebrating when the day's writing was accomplished with a demi blond and an order or two of oysters. Spending the afternoon strolling around the Louvre with Fitzgerald or browsing books at Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Company. Then going home to a devoted spouse and spending the evening at 27 Rue de Fleurs with Gertrude Stein or hanging out at one of the Montmatre cafes with Ezra Pound and James Joyce. Sigh.

The reality is more like getting up early and grabbing a quick shower while the coffee drips. Checking email and Facebook while drinking coffee and wolfing down a bowl of hot, wheat-free cereal. Checking book stats on Amazon and making the rounds of the review sites and book promotion sites in between answering phone calls. Updating web sites, answering emails, responding to PMs, posting to internet readers' forums. Plugging in Kindle so it can recharge. Taking a break to heat up some leftover soup and eating that while reviewing most recent writing. Turning off phone's ringer and settling in to write for a few hours, resisting the urge to check email again or see what's new on Facebook and Amazon Discussion Groups. Finally transferring the day's writing to my Kindle so I can read it there later. Running to the market, post office, and/or package store. Quick dinner. Do some cleaning up and general housekeeping. Read day's work on Kindle. Go to bed. The glamour is shattering.

But it's good. It's very good all things considered. I tend to alternate writing days with work days because I still need to do work for clients. But at least I'm making progress on the writing projects instead of waiting for the weekend to work on them.

Depraved Heart, my latest novel, is with an editor/proof-reader. He tells me he thinks it is very good. All the charts have been drawn and the photographs taken for The Mermaid's Garden Shawl knitting booklet – now I just have to write it. And I'm on the sixth story for The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall collection of Marienstadt stories. Plus I have 2 novellas waiting for me to have time for them. These are all good things. When I want some entertainment I play around with additionals drafts of the covers. That is the most relaxing part of my job.

So we are a few days away from March and February has been sufficiently successful with book sales that I'm encouraged that maybe I really am a writer. I keep working at it and that's all that matters.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Writers on Writing: Kate Avery Ellison

Books That Inspired Me: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I was recently inspired by Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a lyrical, snarky, and laugh-out-loud hilarious book about the trials (and joys) of writing. The title is inspired by some advice Lamott’s father gave her brother as he struggled over a school report on birds. He’d put off the report until the last minute, and when crunch time came he panicked over the size of the project. Their father calmly told him, “Just take it bird by bird.” And that is how Lamott suggests we approach our writing when it threatens to overwhelm us. Bird by bird.

Lamott is like a wise, sassy, self-deprecating friend who puts an arm around your shoulders and tells you tale after tale of her own mishaps before assuring you that it’s all going to be okay—all the great authors have been there and done that, whether it’s jealousy, writer’s block, or a really terrible first draft. “I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money,” Lamott writes. “And not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”

The book is full of sound writing advice, pithy quotes, and giggle-inducing stories. I didn’t expect to find myself cackling with laughter while reading a book on writing, but Anne Lamott is a very funny woman. Her writing is so full of grace and light too, and when I finished the book I felt like I’d been given a shot of confidence.

As a young and fairly new author, I am slowly learning about myself and my way of breathing life into my stories. Bird by Bird showed me that I’m not alone in my struggles or my joys.

If you read one book about writing this year, let it be Bird by Bird.
____

 Kate Avery Ellison enjoys tweeting, blogging, and watching TV, and in her spare time she writes fantasy and young adult fiction. Wait, reverse that. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her adorably geeky husband and two spoiled cats.

For more by Kate Avery Ellison, check out The Curse Girl, a twisty, re-imagined version of Beauty and the Beast in a modern-day alternate universe  and Once Upon a Beanstalk, a snark-filled collection of fairy tale mash-ups. You can also visit her at her blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Writers on Writing: A New Series About to Begin

Last year I ran a series on this blog called For/From Indie Authors. It was pretty successful and a lot of people said they got good exposure from it. So I decided to try a new one. This is called Writers on Writing: The Book That Inspired Me. I'll post at least 2 entries a week on a first come/first served basis and I'll notify you when yours is posted. Here is what I am looking for:
  • Looking for essays from 250 to 500 words on books that writers find inspirational – it can be either a work of fiction or a book about writing or anything else. Tell a little something about the book, what impressed you about it, and how it has influenced you as a writer. You may include a brief 2-3 sentence biography and up to three links to your books, web site, blog, and/or author's page. Please email to inquiry at parlezmoipress dot com, Subject: Writers on Writing.
  • Please make sure your text is properly edited and proofread because it will appear exactly as you send it. The blog owner retains the right to publish or not publish all entries. 
You may also include a photo of yourself (please keep it under 500px wide in JPEG, PNG or GIF format) and an image for the book you are writing about.


Thanks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Marienstadt Stories: Moving Right Along

Back in October when I got the idea to write The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt's Wood I had no idea it would turn into the project it has! I had such a good time writing it, and received such positive feedback on it, that I decided to write a second story that would include some of the same characters and the same setting. This resulted in a rather hilarious little story I called “Peeper Baumgratz and the Sister's Snowplow.” I let a couple friends read it and they said, “That's a riot, keep going.” So I am.

One of the most common complaints I get in reviews of my existing novelettes is that they should be longer. I struggle with this because on the one hand I think they are as long as they needed to be and if I made them longer they would have gotten dull and people would have complained about too much “filler.” On the other hand it is nice to think that people want to read more of your writing – every writer loves that. So, when a few reviews for Reluctant Belsnickel said it needed to be longer, I thought maybe not longer – maybe more. One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is creating a world – the world of a lake Erie waterfront town in the 60s, the world of a Massachusetts mill town and an abandoned convent in Maine, the world of a lavish estate on an island off the coast of New England. So, since I had already created the world of Marienstadt and Opelt's Wood,  I decided to keep going with more stories.

This is sort of interesting because it is not at all like writing a novel. Each story stands alone but they have the commonality of place and characters. I've never written this way before but I'm really finding it both fascinating and challenging. As more stories emerge I have to go back and massage the existing ones but that's part of the fun, seeing who can show up where and what reinforces something already written or inspires something new.

One of the most interesting things to explore is the whole issue of secrets. As my readers know, I LOVE characters with secrets. To me they are the most exciting to develop. Oliver, in Reluctant Belsnickel, has a secret that forms the basis of that story. Then I wrote two more stories about secrets and now I'm working on another one. It occurs to me that in small communities where generations of people have known each other well, secrets are often important to the continuing social progression. People keep secrets for the good of the society. Then, as time goes by, and society shifts in its understanding secrets come to light and are either shocking or enlightening or both.

So, at present, I have the following stories in various stages of development, in addition to the Reluctant Belsnickel:
  • The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall: In which Titus Winter, the great-grandson of one of Marienstadt's most prominent businessmen, discovers the truth about his infamous ancestor thanks to a note found in a bottle hidden in the wall of the Town Hall.
  • Peeper Baumgratz and the Sister's Snowplow: In which Chief of Police Henry Werner, with the help of Oliver Eberstark, hunts down a renegade and devises a plan to teach him a lesson.
  • The Confession of Genny Franck: In which Father Nicholas Bauer is told the story of a secret one of the town's oldest residents has kept for 75 years.
  • The Day the Viaduct Blew Down: In which Titus's former-barnstormer Great-uncle Mathias confesses to a stunt he was forbidden to perform but did anyway.
  • The Great Dumpling War: In which Gretchen Fritz's Sunday afternoon quilting bee becomes a hotbed of dissent over the proper way to make dumplings.
  • A Long Day's Journey into Light: In which Henry, Oliver and others spend a bitter winter night searching for Titus's elderly father causing Henry to recall a secret he has kept for the love of his life.

I have a few more ideas, too. This is a big challenge but also a huge amount of fun. What more can a writer ask for?

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

#SampleSunday: A Love Scene from "Each Angel Burns"

Each Angel Burns received a fabulous review from author Kiana Davenport, so here is this Sunday's Sample:


Somewhere in the heavenly ethers, Daphne DuMaurier, and the Bronte sisters, must be applauding Kathleen Valentine.
 -
posted to Amazon by best-selling author Kiana Davenport


This tender love scene comes late in the story when two of the main characters, both mature, fall in love. The setting is an old convent on the coast in Maine that is being converted to a sculpture studio. From Each Angel Burns:


 Silver light from a full Snow Moon rising out of the Atlantic just beyond Owl’s Head sweeps across the frigid black waters like a trail of angel’s wings and shimmers through the frozen night. On a Maine night in February when the snow glistens like shattered diamonds, red foxes in their plush winter coats gather under the brittle raspberry bushes tumbling over granite outcrops and watch the sky. Snowy owls soar between towering spikes of Douglas fir and swoop down through the moonlight to snatch a wayward mouse. Clumps of dusty blue juniper berries chatter against each other in the harsh night breeze. Timber wolves, lean and hard, in the deepest part of winter, trail up hillsides through stands of blue spruce in search of big-eyed white-tailed deer stripping away the bark of birch and silver maple trees. The deer scent the wolves and stand silent and watchful then turn and leap off like ballerinas, their plume-like tails raised in alarm.
And if the solar winds have stirred far off in the velvety night then showers of light—gold and violet, rose and green—paint the sky. But on an icy February night in Maine few brave the cold to see them as they dance and flicker over the waves below, over the scattered stones of a crumbling garden wall, over the bent frozen stems of lilies called Persian Priests in an old garden. The quiet thunder of the aurora lends music to the pristine night as moonlight sweeps through a window of antique glass diamond panes set in lead. In that room those priests charged with the care of the souls of virgin nuns pledged to silence and constant prayer took their rest away from the burdensome responsibility of so much virtue.
But this Snow Moon bears witness to a sacrament of a different kind. For on this night the room is graced with two lovers entwined. No longer young, these lovers drift in grateful awe that life has not forgotten them but brought them together at this time when they had thought such possibility long gone—a gift for the young, not for two who have traveled this far down life’s road.
They rarely speak when melted into one another. Words have lost meaning. He covers her and warms her and shelters her from everything that is not his love for her. She takes him in and creates safe harbor from all he braves in the world. Her desire for him takes his breath away. His cherishing of her comforts her heart. She places her hands on his face and lifts it just enough so he can see hers and see how they glitter with the gratitude she feels for him. He kisses her and sinks into her like warm silvery rain on pungent earth. They are long past the age of creating a new life. Instead they have created renewed life, each for the other.
The night deepens and grows ever more silent as they flow together in that most ancient form of worship. Oh God, they breathe, over and over. Oh God.
And God smiles and answers, yes.
__________________________
Available in paperback and also for Kindle...

Who Would You Cast?

Sharon Tillotson, author of The Storyteller, wrote a wonderful review of my novel Each Angel Burns for the Boomers and Books Blog. I'm very happy that she liked the book as much a she did, what author isn't thrilled by happy readers? In the review she wrote that she thought the book would make a good movie and that made me think who would be the best actors for the main roles. 


Actually, a couple of my friends and I have talked about this a few times. I can never cast my characters because, to me, they are so real but I'm always interested to know who others imaging in the parts. The three lead characters of Each Angel Burns are all in their early fifties. Gabe is a big, rugged sweetheart of a guy -- not handsome but good and reliable and a skilled woodworker. The part of Maggie would be a plum role for any 50-something actress, I think. She is beautiful and elegant, vulnerable in the beginning but a lot tougher than she thought she was as time goes on. Father Peter is the one I simply cannot think of anyone for. He is very handsome and charming but also a genuine mystic who lives in his own world.

Actually, the one character in the story that I can envision is Gabe's father Mick, who, in my mind, was always pretty Clint Eastwood-ish, tall, rangy, basically easy-going but tough as nails at the same time. So, of course, I'd love to know if anyone has suggestions what they are. In the mean time here is Sharon's Review:


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read...February 17, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Each Angel Burns (Kindle Edition)
I was pretty sure from what I'd seen about this book on various reader threads that I was going to enjoy it, so I saved it to begin reading on a flight from Canada to Australia. That turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Each Angel Burns had me from the very first page. Though it was wonderful to occupy the twenty three or so hours in the air in this way, I also found myself turning the reading light on when I should have been sleeping. Sleep is important when flying half-way around the world to a different hemisphere, an adjustment to one's internal clock and a radical difference in season and temperature. Sleep is the one important thing one can do to lessen the shock to the body. I knew this. But did I have the good sense to just shut my Kindle and rest? Nope.

Still, upon arrival in Ozz, the book got me through the next hours of getting back on kilter and was just perfect to read in the sunshine on a chaise with my feet up. The lack of sleep also gave me an excuse to get out of a few Christmas chores - and still more time reading as I `rested'.

The story itself was absorbing, but it was the good writing that had me so entranced. I am partial to `literary fiction', and this book fit the bill. Dialogue was superb, descriptions skillful and lovely. The characters were colorful and interesting, ranging from an artist to a carpenter to a priest; the types of folks one would love to have in their circle of friends. And then there was Zeke, one of the most adorable and endearing dogs it has ever been my pleasure to meet.

I enjoyed the mature way in which the characters developed. Maggie, a truly unique, gifted hero, was somewhat vulnerable at the beginning of the story, but her grounded yet spirited nature came through as she struggled to regain herself from years of living with an unpredictable and controlling husband. She cuts off her hair in an act of rebellion as she tries to extricate herself from her marriage. Peter the Priest was drawn so real as to wonder if the author (an unabashed Catholic) knew someone just like him. And Gabe - well, who wouldn't want him for a friend?

It was a reasonably large cast of characters, some charming, some steadfast, some not so much, as it is in good stories, and each were well defined and real. The Arm Pit was a fabulous watering hole, the old Abbey one of the most scrumptious settings I have ever encountered.

I am not going to go into the storyline as this is a book to be savored and the story took twists and turns which revealed would spoil it for the reader. I will say I found the love story exquisite.

There were a few things I did not like about the book. Though always appropriate to the occasion, I felt there was too much profanity. A few such words sprinkled in here and there would have made more of a statement for my tastes. Punctuation could have been better edited, particularly in dialogue, and occasionally, especially as I was reading the book on a Kindle, a line break would have helped in a transition of time and place. There was a loose thread that never got satisfactorily knotted up.

Still, the quality of the writing and the storyline itself make Each Angel Burns one of those books that had I not converted pretty much exclusively to digital reading, would reside proudly on my bookshelf and never been loaned except to those I knew would return it. I may still buy a paper copy to add to my small collection of such books.

One of the best things I can say about a book is that it could/should be made into a fabulous movie, and this is one of those. Steven Spielberg, are you listening? Or better still, how about Clint Eastwood?

4 stars, a high rating for this reviewer.
 

Friday, February 17, 2012

And the Winner Is!!!

The winner of the Book Lovin Babes Blog Hop on MY blog is Joan Maholtz. She will receive 2 lbs. of yummy chocolate covered strawberries and cordials from Nuts.com. And, as a special thank you, all of the entrants on my blog have been sent a Smashwords coupon for a free copy, in their choice of digital format, of "The Old Mermaid's Tale." Thanks to all who played!!!




The Valentine Blog Hop is over!


I'm part of a Valentine's Day Blog Hop sponsored by Book Luvin’ Babes blogsite where readers come together with their favorite authors. Visit 25 author websites to discover fun prizes and great stories.


My collection of short stories, My Last Romance and other passions is available in eitherpaperback or for Kindle. It contains eight love stories about all kinds of people, from all ages and walks of life who discover the wonder of falling in love!


As a prize for visiting my blog page I'm offering two full pounds of yummy, delicious treats from Nuts.com (formerly NutsOnLine.com). The winner will receive one pound of their Pastel Chocolate Strawberries (whole strawberries coated in milk chocolate and covered with strawberry couveture) and one pound of their Chocolate-Covered Cordials (in your choice of rum, blackberry brandy, amaretto, cherry, raspberry or pomegranate). Shipping address must be within the USA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day from All My Lovers

I never actually meant for this to happen but I seem to have acquired a lot of lovers over the years. Because I was born with the name Valentine I suppose I have always taken it for granted and Valentine's Day itself has never seemed particularly special. But this morning I received an email from a friend in Cambodia and he mentioned that he rather liked having a real Valentine to write to on Valentine's Day. I thought that was rather sweet. He also said he thought it was appropriate that someone named Valentine should write such fine romance.

The thing is I don't think of myself as a “romance writer.” I admit I write love stories, among other kinds of stories, and,consequently, I've accumulated rather a lot of lovers over the years. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, I had some of my lovers make a Valentine to post here. Please excuse Zeke but he insisted that he loves Maggie every bit as much as Gabe does and he loves Gabe every bit as much as Maggie does (he also loves everybody else even though he hasn't met them.)

Right now I am in the midst of writing another story that involves a pair of lovers and, as I always do, I'm falling in love with them. For me it is the beautiful, aching, tender vulnerability that people open themselves to when they love someone and let that someone love them back. It is a difficult thing to write about but that is what makes the writing of it so seductive.

So today on Valentine's Day my lovers and I wish you love and tenderness and joy. Happy Valentine's Day.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#SampleSunday: Free Books, Win Chocolate - Be My Valentine!

In honor of Valentine's Day, my collection of eight very romantic short stories, My Last Romance & other passions, is free for Kindle Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week. Plus don't forget to register to win two pounds of Nuts.com yummy chocolates in the Valentine Blog Hop. Just click here and you can register to win and be entered to win jewelry and gift cards from Book Lovin Babes!



Product Description

The perfect Valentine for your Valentine: Eight stories with a common theme---the wonder of finding love---sweep the reader into sensuous worlds where ordinary people discover, or rediscover, love. Foolish love, forbidden love, married love---even murderous love, each story is a seductive jewel populated with characters that seem like someone we could know---or someone we could be. Each of the stories in this collection is an exquisitely rendered portrait of people from a broad range of ages each proving that passion and love are eternal, regardless of life's far-ranging challenges. 
  • My Last Romance - Back in the day Silvio Santini was the hottest dance band leader in the South and Ruby was the voice that drove the men wild. It's a lot of years later when Ruby chances upon a vintage copy of their biggest hit. Memories come flooding out and with them comes a stunning revelation.
  • Asa - When you are over eighty and have loved the same man all your life it doesn't do to dwell over-much on the measures you had to take to keep him yours.
  • Damian - She was an artist, he was a fisherman. Together they were magic, regardless of the cost.
  • Danse Avec Moi - She loves her sophisticated husband for his elegance and charm. Then he takes her back to his bayou home and teaches her how to dance.
  • The Haven - She never planned to fall in love with her husband's childhood hero. She could never have believed how loving him would alter all of their lives.
  • Waiting for Lindy - On a rainy, wind-swept Cape Cod night, a shopkeeper waits for his lover spending the time talking with his son about life, loss, and the mysteries of love.
  • Flynnie and Babe - Whenever Babe needed a shoulder to cry on Flynnie's was right there. It took her long enough to realized that Flynnie was right there, too.
  • Treat Yourself To The Best - Fifi just doesn't get it. She spent her entire life running away from home and now her adorable young husband just can't get enough of going back there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Meetings with Remarkable Writers: Skye Alexander

The other day I got an email from my friend Skye Alexander who used to live here in Gloucester but has since moved to Kerrville, Texas. Last summer she told me she was writing a book about the myth and lore of mermaids and she asked if she could use a quote or two from my mermaid books. Naturally, being a writer, hence eager for publicity, I said “yes” and told her to take her pick. In her email Skye attached the image, it will be in her new book. I am so thrilled with how beautiful it is I am nearly speechless.

I've known Skye for close to 20 years. We met when I first moved to Gloucester and she and 2 other friends were discussing forming a small publishing company. At the time they were thinking about publishing erotica but the project didn't quite work out and Skye moved on. She then formed a partnership with writers Kate Flora and Susan Oleksiw to create Level Best Books, which publishes an annual anthology of crime fiction by New England writers. Over the years the editorial staff has changed but they are still going strong. To date I have had three stories published in their anthologies.

Skye, however, has published far beyond any one genre. I am continually stunned by her output and her versatility. She is best known for her metaphysical books particularly as an astrologer. Recently she has published a number of books on meditation, health, home improvement, clutter control (which I should commit to memory), and other contemporary issues. I recently bought her book Angels Among Us which includes some astonishing photography of angelic-appearing apparitions including one that I was a part of. What struck me as I read Skye's commentary in the beginning of the book was the depth of knowledge and scholarship that went in to the creation of it. This is not your light'n'fluffy angel book, this has depth and substance.

One of the joys of being a writer is having the opportunity to commune with other writers, to exchange ideas, and to share how we think. Whenever I have the opportunity to talk with Skye I'm continually amazed by her range on interests – from angels to erotica, from tarot cards to baseball. I've always believed that one of the best parts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to pursue the study of subjects you might be chagrined to study otherwise. After all, writers need to know about all kins of things in order to write.

After seeing Skye's beautiful angel book I am even more excited to see her mermaid books which is scheduled to be released this spring.

In addition to writing Skye also paints, you can see some of her work on her web site. She also makes a mean apple pie.

So, as always, I'm thrilled to be included in one of Skye's projects. She is one of the most fully creative people I know. I'll be sure to let you know when her mermaid book is released and, in the mean time, check out her other books. I'm lucky to have her as a friend and we are all lucky to have her as a writer.

Thanks for reading.  

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Reviews from the Heart

A wonderful review on a book blog for The Old Mermaid's Tale!

Reviews from the Heart: A MUST READ: THE OLD MERMAID'S TALE by KATHLEEN V...: I have read several short stories by Kathleen Valentine, and I have enjoyed all of them. This is the first full length novel of hers that I have read, though. When an author is successful as a short story writer, I always wonder whether they can sustain that level of writing in a full length book. It is with great joy that I found that Kathleen Valentine is a wonderful success at both. In fact, this book will definitely be on my top books read in 2012 list. I was discussing the book with a friend, and we both agreed that this is not your typical romance book. In fact, we both felt that it is not really a romance book at all, but is instead a captivating love story. Being one of the best love stories that I have ever read, I cannot imagine a lot of other books overcoming it. Read the rest...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

#SampleSunday: Guy Falls in Love - or something from "Waiting for Lindy"

Continuing with a selection of samples from My Last Romance and other passions, what could be a more perfect Valentine than this collection of eight love stories? On February 12, 13, 14 this collection will be free for Kindle. It is also available in a lovely little paperback and at $10.20 it's not much more expensive than a card and packed with romance! And don't forget to enter our Valentine Blog Hop and register for prizes -- candy, jewelry and Amazon Gift Cards!
____________________________
Waiting for Lindy is one of eight stories in My Last Romance and other passions. In this Guy, a 50-something widower has given up fishing and open a tourist shop in a small town on Cape Cod. He's reconciled to his lonely life until a lovely woman walks through his door: 

The big question is what does a woman like her see in an old fart like him anyway? It’s his favorite question to torment himself with ever since the day she first walked into his shop and knocked him off his feet.

The first time—well, that was easy to understand. It was Spring and the air smelled like desire. She was indulging herself in a weekend getaway—meandering down the street in a loose white shirt that fluttered in the sea breeze. And those kind of strategically tight and faded jeans that made men glad to be alive. He noticed her first when she stood looking in the window of the batik shop across the street. He must have been impressed—he spilled iced tea down the front of his pants and was swabbing idiotically when she entered his shop. She looked at him sideways, smiled slightly, tossed her hair. Of course she tossed her hair—she had to have. Well, even if she didn’t, in his mind she tossed her hair and that was good enough for him.

"Pretty clumsy," he mumbled, "grown man and still spilling things all over myself."

She laughed but it was a sweet laugh. She was the sort of woman who knew how men reacted to her and loved them for it. He tried not to be too obvious watching her as she moved around the shop picking up seashells and turning them over, tracing the swirls of a nautilus shell with her finger, holding bits of coral up to the light. The breeze wafting through the harbor-side door carried the scent of jasmine and lilacs and female warmth to him—made him light-headed and giddy. When she reached up to tap the bronze wind chimes above the window the sunlight seeped through her blouse and the silhouette beneath made his knees weak. Girls like that, he thought, girls like that should be locked up—but thank God that they weren’t.

He was dying to say something witty. He was damn clever when no one important was around—down at the Legion hall he had a reputation for his quick comebacks. Right now his tongue was being a traitorous bastard.

"Is this your shop?" she asked turning toward him.

"Yeah." He swallowed and tossed the tea-soaked tissues toward the waste basket. Naturally he missed. "I quit fishing when my wife got sick a few years back. After she passed away I opened this place—never felt much like fishing again." Well, that sounded pathetic—now she’d think he was a love-lorn old fool.

"That’s too bad," she said.

"Oh, it’s been a good enough living—lots of tourists these days."

She smiled softly. "No, I meant it was too bad about your wife."

"Oh." Christ. "Well, that was awhile ago. Are you on vacation?"

"Sort of—yes." She picked up a curtain of mussel shells and held it up to the light. "I live in Arlington. Woke up with Spring fever this morning and just called in sick and got in the car." She turned toward him. Her eyes were teasing. "Sometimes you just have to do something crazy, y’know?"

Up close he realized she wasn’t as young as he had thought—late thirties maybe. Possibly forty. And the Spring fever was contagious. The fever was rushing through him and pounding in his head. Pounding in a lot of places.

"Like that?" he asked as she toyed with the shells hanging from a long, slim piece of driftwood strung with fishing line. "The Wampanoags make those. They’re good in windows—give you a little privacy, make a nice sound when the wind blows, and turn the sunlight blue."

"Wampanoags?" She tilted an eyebrow—she was damn good at that.

"Local Native tribe," he said relieved they were finally talking about something that didn’t make him sound like a moron. "‘Course these days they make more money with their casinos than crafts. Interesting people. I like hearing their dune lore stories."

She smiled as she put the screen on the counter and opened her handbag. "Dune lore? What’s dune lore?"

"Sorry," he said finally managing to smile back at her, "I don’t tell dune lore stories on company time. You have to be out in the dunes after dark for them to get the effect, y’know?" What the hell, he thought, there’s no fool like an old fool and he’d been down this road before.

She lifted an eyebrow—she could kill a man with that eyebrow. "That so?" The rest of the conversation was hazy after that eyebrow trick but the point was he had wound up offering to take her for beer and cuyhoags and a walk in the dunes that evening. Her name was Lindy which had a lovely lilting sound on his tongue.

He knew she was just looking for adventure. Well, he thought, if she was looking for adventure he wasn’t above letting her use him for that purpose. He’d misused himself for worse purposes. Read the rest....

Friday, February 03, 2012

"The Old Mermaid's Tale" and I thank you so much for your beautiful words...

In the past couple of months The Old Mermaid's Tale has gotten some incredible reviews on Amazon. I appreciate these so much!



5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. A MUST READ!February 3, 2012
By 
Lyn Meadows (Danville, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have read several short stories by Kathleen Valentine, and I have enjoyed all of them. This is the first full length novel of hers that I have read, though. When an author is successful as a short story writer, I always wonder whether they can sustain that level of writing in a full length book. It is with great joy that I found that Kathleen Valentine is a wonderful success at both. In fact, this book will definitely be on my top books read in 2012 list. I was discussing the book with a friend, and we both agreed that this is not your typical romance book. In fact, we both felt that it is not really a romance book at all, but is instead a captivating love story. Being one of the best love stories that I have ever read, I cannot imagine a lot of other books overcoming it.

The characters in this book are superbly developed. Each one has a uniqueness that draws you into their lives and sweeps you along the story line. In fact, I cannot even pick out a favorite character from the book as I loved each and every one of them. The book is set in the 1960's along Lake Erie and focuses on one city where the majority of the residents are connected to the Great Lakes maritime trade. With the combination of her wonderful characters and the beautifully written prose in the book, Ms. Valentine not only makes her love story compelling, but makes the world of these people come alive for the reader. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

"You can write down your dreams, make pictures of stars but that does not preserve the magic. Nothing captures those gorgeous glimmers of eternity. Yet love, like dreams and starlight, returns again and again in defiance of fears and foolishness"

"Perhaps, I think, it is our longing, and our willingness to see beauty in the most humble of places, that makes us so irresistible to God. "

I am now a steadfast fan of Ms. Valentine and look forward to reading more from her. If they are all as good as this one, I am certainly in for a treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging. emotional.January 25, 2012
This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
After reading two prior works by this author, the subject matter of the Great Lakes greatly interested me due to growing up near Lake Superior. The author engages the reader and pulls at heart strings as you come to empathize with each character. I couldnt put the book down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars BlissfulJanuary 22, 2012
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I didn't want this book to end. I loved the characters, the stories, the history, the mythology, the story. Engrossing, absorbing, enchanting and lovely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved itJanuary 3, 2012
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This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
Wonderful book I did not want to put it down, very interesting it made me want to visit the town. Great love story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale that captures the heartDecember 29, 2011
By 
Kiwi Tricia (Converse, San Antonio, TX) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
The Old Mermaid's Tale by Kathleen Valentine is more than just a beautiful story that continues to capture my heart and imagination. After the first reading on Kindle, I was completely drawn into the characters, their time and the locale. I have read it again and again and finally jotted down dates, people's ages to know and understand them better, place names and the names of lost ships as told by the seamen in their tales about the Great Lakes to start web searches. Clair is of my era and could relate to her wanting `more than this' out of life. It is Baptiste though who is truly the unforgettable man but alas he is a fiction - I would still dearly like to know though who his book cover and video images are modeled on! As an aside, I am pretty sure I caught a reference in Each Angel Burns to Baptiste and his mother a scultor often called Madame L'perdue because her son ran away to sea and she never heard from him again. Anyway, the end result was hours spent reading about the Great Lakes, the waterfront towns, the cultural and economic changes over the past fifty-two years, Native American legends, and the very real shipwrecks. Web images of the 1960's through old photos and postcards were a delight to `visit' Lake Erie of a time now past. It is a unique book that generates that much follow-up interest in me. I have `worn out' my Kindle version from re-reading the story so many times and frequently play Ms. Valentine's video on her blog for The Old Mermaid's Tale featuring the song `Parlez-moi d'Amour' sung by Charlelie Couture. I now understand what other reviewers to include authors mean by the many layers to Ms. Valentine's writing. In fact, I have just ordered a printed copy to keep with my very favorite books because this tale has so enthralled me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, compelling writingDecember 28, 2011
By 
D. E. Taylor (Walnut Creek, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
There are two outstanding elements of this novel. The one that makes it most worth your time is the writing. This writer has managed to capture the essence of those quiet moments we all have, the compelling ones when you are sitting somewhere and what feels like a life-altering truth in all its simplicity explodes inside your being so profoundly you suddenly feel as if you have grasped the whole purpose of our existence if only for a moment. There are several of these in this novel, poetically written, and they alone are worth reading it for. The second reason to read this novel is the depth of the human characters which she has drawn so realistically you feel as if you have lived your life amongst them. One particular character has stayed with me long after reading- that of Baptiste. He is the man Clair falls in love with, the first great love of her life, perhaps the greatest as we don't get to see her whole life here (and something more is alluded to at the end.) Baptiste is a tortured soul, and as such he is compassionate and sensitive- and wise beyond his 42 years. He is generous and respectful, and wants more for Clair than she wants for herself. I was thrilled with how the author dealt with "twenty years later" because I can competely relate to where Clair was and believe I would've wanted the same. The men in this book- every last one- are portrayed with more heart and sensitivity than novels or the media typically portray men, which is a refreshing change. Clair does come across naive and annoying at times but she is young and can be forgiven her ignorance. Really, this book is excellent and anyone looking for a novel with heart should pick it up. It will surprise you! As a writer I read constantly and I only review the books that intrigue me. This one is worth your time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars You will not want to put this book downDecember 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
Having received a gift card for my Kindle as a Christmas gift, I was looking for a good sized novel, not just a short story, that would intrigue me so much that I would want to finish the book during my Christmas break, making that story a part of my Christmas 2011 memories. "The Old Mermaids Tale" exactly fits the bill. Even though I am only half way through the story, I am so engrossed in the story and the characters that I had to write my review while still in suspense of the ending. Due to her youth (the story begins when Clair is finishing high school and leaving home to go to college) there is much that Clair does not understand about herself and the world beyond the Ohio farmland where she was raised. Clair is different from her peers in that she feels drawn to making life choices based on an inner need to explore the unknown rather than make the same choices of her contemporaries, who are following the expected path of marrying someone from her home area and living the same lives as those around her in the farmlands. She is strangely compelled to experience the lives of fishermen and others whose livelihoods depend on the sea, and chooses to attend a college located near the northern edge of Lake Erie. Although the college has rules about coeds staying away from the lake front, Clair finds a tourist area coin-operated telescope that allows her to begin her exploration of this forbidden area from a distance. One day, during one her telescopic travels of the lake front area, she discovers a large painted mermaid with an inviting smile on the side of a building. Just as mermaids of lore drive sailors to explore the seas, Clair follows the lure of this painted mermaid and finds a way to personally explore the lake shore area and experience the lives of these people who live under the watchful eye of the painted mermaid. Reading about Clair's experiences as she enters this unknown world and meets the people who live there is fascinating. The book is well written and the author has the descriptive ability to enable the reader to envision the characters in the story that Clair meets and become just as caught up as Clair in their lives. Since my journey through the first half of this book has kept me so intrigued that I wanted to write a review before even finishing the story, I feel that "The Old Mermaid's Tale will not disappoint. I sense a promise that the remainder of this story and Clair's experiences with the people of the lake shore will keep me fascinated until the end, and that this book will leave a lasting impression of a story well told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt I was living this book as I read itDecember 14, 2011
By 
AmeliaAT "Apostrophistica" (Pennsylvania, Endless Mountains) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Mermaid's Tale (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book. It was a coming-of-age story of a young woman in the early sixties. Kathleen Valentine evokes so well all of the changes that the character, Clair, goes through in the years between preparing to leave her home for college and returning about five years later. She gives a nuanced view of the characters, even ones who don't have a lot of "page time," such as Clair's mother.

This book captures echoes of the love and loss that we all experience in our lives to such a degree that it felt real to me. I felt like I was reading about people whom I had known and grown up around. I became emotionally absorbed in the story.

Kathleen Valentine's writing is often subtle, saying a lot in very few words (the reference to "the Fitz" towards the end of the book had all kinds of implications for the reader that it couldn't for the characters -- yet), and many passages are beautiful.

It's hard to sum up this book in a review, except to say that it far exceeded my expectations and I know I will read it again.

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