Fresh Air Could Kill You!

photo 2

Glacier from boat

photo 4

Mount McKinley seen from lodge

photo 5

Massive amounts of spruces.

photo 1

Another glacier seen from train

Hubby and I visited Alaska in August. Here are a few pictures we took.

What all did we do there? EVERYTHING! We went whitewater rafting (no, I didn’t fall in the water surprisingly) and sorry no picture of that. They had pictures to buy but I wasn’t in a one. Though you could see some of my hair hiding behind the good-looking guide. No, I didn’t have my arms wrapped around his neck, holding on for dear life. But I was hunkered down low enough to stop myself from falling in. It was so much fun! The scenery was breathtaking. Will I do it again?  HELL, NO! The wet suit made me look and feel like the Michelin man. Click here if you want to see a picture of him (The Michelin man, not the guide. HA!) – remember, no picture of me in that suit. Thank you, God, for small favors. Pun intended.

During our seven days there, we rode on a train twice, bus several times, van, plane, raft, and boat. Crazy, heh? I call it my plane, train and automobile and boat trip.

photo 3

Closer to the glacier (top one)

100_2842

Yes, a grizzly

100_2935

A plane similar to the one I crawled in and out of.

100_2958

SO WORTH IT!

100_2965

Yet another glacier!

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was flying in a small (and I mean tiny) plane around McKinley. It was so beautiful and mind-boggling.

I guess I’ll put more pictures on Facebook to share. I forget how many I took. Over 300 during the whole trip.

So beautiful. We even went 90 miles (end of the road) into the Wilderness on a school bus. Going in we were too fascinated by the wild life and scenery, and it felt like it didn’t take no time. But on the way back, they changed to a “new” bus that nearly shook my brains out. Geez! Everyone was saying, “Huh? Another bear? Forget about it! We want our comfy bed and cushioned chairs, let us get to civilization!” Speaking of civilized, out in the Wilderness, they had places we could stop to use the facilities, rather neat, but gross. They were commodes with holes in the ground. (Made me think of my grandparents’ house when I was a kid.) What can you say? It was the WIL-DER-NESS!

My hubby is in love (with the state). Being the sweet loving supportive wife that I am, I said, “Yes, dear. You can go and live in Alaska . . . if you work throughout the summer.” HA! He knew sending money back home was implied.

We met very few people who actually lived there. Most were from other states. They said they could make enough in the summer (May thru September) to live off the rest of the year. One couple was going to live in Hawaii during the winter months. Whoa!

Anyway, hubby is already planning another trip (I ain’t going). I told him I would be happy to plan a trip to Montana (he wants to go there sooo bad) but me and Alaska have broken up.  Beautiful place, but it takes too freaking long to get there.

Funny thing is I want to go to Australia and that’s a doozy. We’ll see.

Oh, speaking of plane. Flying back wasn’t bad. We left at 1:30 a.m. Yep, that was in the morning. We didn’t arrive home until 5:00 p.m. Sure a 3 hrs difference but that’s still 13 hrs.

Flying up there was the pits. A storm hit Dallas-Fort Worth before we landed and we were one of the last planes to arrive. Our connecting flight was cancelled. They lined us up for a direct but didn’t leave until 6 p.m. and that was after arriving there at 8 a.m. that morning. So it took us from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. to arrive in Anchorage.

Anchorage was a pretty city. One thing about the whole time there, my sinuses didn’t bother me one time. It was great breathing fresh, clean, cool, dry air.

I had a great time and met some nice people (hi, Judi and Jerry). Great vacation. That’s the way to do it.

Special Cover Reveal Elsewhere

tumblr_myfffeXLM61srko8to1_r1_500Usually, I do cover reveals here, but Romance Magicians are having a special September blogfest with giveaways. So go over there. You might win something like a book, gift card, or even a Kindle Fire. Cool, heh?

(Love that picture/gif.)

Click here to check it out.

See you there!

My Thoughts on Wendy’s Book

authorphoto-sideWhen I was on vacation in Alaska, I received a sweet email from my former editor at HarperCollins.  Back in 2011, Wendy Lee had offered me my first (and the second one too) contract with Avon, and we stayed in touch after she left. In the email, she wanted to check on my mailing address as she planned to send her newest book. I was thrilled. During the time we worked together I knew we thought a lot alike and liked the same things about books. She was so easy to work with, and I was certain anything she wrote, I would enjoy.

Her newest book is ACROSS A GREEN OCEAN and coming out February 2015. I’m not sure if the cover on her ARC (advance reading copy) will be on the final one (that’s why it’s not shown here), but it’s beautiful, soothing even. Looks like a painting of pastels, blending of greens and blues.  But it’s a photo of a young man fishing off a pier with mountains in the back ground and the sun reflected in the water, all hazy and soft.  As soon as I reached home, I started reading it. The book was exactly what I needed to read.

For the last few months, I’ve been dissatisfied with the books I normally read. There were a couple I enjoyed, but I felt I was in a rut. I’m a big romance reader and rarely stray from them except when friends insist I read a book they believe to be great. Let’s say they weren’t to my taste.

A friend wanted our book club to read LOVELY BONES because everyone was reading it. So okay. I’ve flexible. I read it. Nothing wrong with the writing, but I HATED the story. Talk about not satisfying, I was horrified by what people loved to read (over 10 million copies sold). A child dies and a serial killer doesn’t get caught. Sorry. I want happily ever after. It might be my romance book mentality, but thank you, I like being that way.  I love it when bad guys go to prison and good guys live happily ever after. Real life may not be that way, but I live real life; I prefer not reading the uglier side of it.

Then another friend actually bought me a book she loved and begged me to read it. She claimed it had romance in it. Okay. I read the book (can’t remember the title) by Lee Child. Hmm, there were aspects of it I liked, the mystery and piecing it together. But the sparse writing was jarring. I could see men enjoying it, though I didn’t care for the way he treated the women in the book. (No. There wasn’t romance in it. There was sex but not romance. My friend tricked me. <g>) The women were furniture, something to show a softer ― yet not enough ― side of John Reacher. By the way, I did enjoy the movie. It wasn’t the same book I read.

Back to Wendy’s newest book. A couple years ago, she’d told me a little about what her book was about and I was intrigued by the story.

Believe it or not, I’m a big lover of reading about family dynamics. Lots of romance novels delve into how family react to each other. Even my books touch on it, especially the last novel, CIRCLE OF DECEPTION.

Wendy’s ACROSS A GREEN OCEAN is about the Tang family and how they each cope with the death of their father/husband and more. The story is written in third person, present tense. Funny thing is I read a couple chapters before I even noticed it. The style is easy to read and pulls you in quickly.

I think each character had something I could relate to:  the mother worrying about her children, and if she could’ve done things differently so the siblings could be closer; the daughter who had done all the right things, but now realizes they weren’t making her happy; and the son. Ah, the son. He’s running away from himself even before his dad passed away.

So much of it fascinated me. The way they reacted to and thought about neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. How the parents wanted to live the American dream, yet didn’t feel comfortable with it. And when the son makes the big decision to go to China to meet his father’s old friend, I read faster to find out what he would learn about his father, and how he handled being in a country where he looked like he belonged but didn’t. All of it pushing me to rush to the end to see what happened next.

I’m not Asian, nor have I visited a country that spoke a language other than my own, yet I know how it feels to be out of my element in a crowd and lose a loved one.

See, my father died the Saturday before I received the book. He’d been having health problems, but his death was sudden. In fact, I was still in Alaska at the time. So as I read, the book allowed me to compare my reactions to my dad’s death as the characters dealt with theirs. Death will do that. Make you look inside and hunt for answers to questions you never knew you had.

As you can tell, I’m not a reviewer.  I’m an author and reader. But this book has so much to offer and I wanted to let others know. I highly recommend it to anyone. Just remember it is not a romance. I will point out the ending was perfect for the book. I was satisfied and that’s saying a lot.

You can find Wendy at her Website.

Romance Novels and Women’s Expectations

Men worry about romance novels giving women too high of expectations.  Of course, Playboy magazine never did that for men (sarcastic font used here with extra large boobies and tiny ass). I believe that romance novels save a lot more marriages. You ask how?

Women learn . . .

  1. How to give better blow jobs because they realize it turns on both partners. And a better chance he will reciprocate.
  2. Men think differently than women. THANK YOU, GOD! Don’t layer on all our crap. They love sex, food, large screen TVs, sex, sports, food, sex, and sometimes the reverse.
  3. To no longer wait for the man to get them off. Walgreen’s has a great on-line store, just for your health and well-being. Wink-wink.
  4. Sex can be fun, especially when you throw in a few toys or rope (that you just bought from Walgreen’s).
  5. How to demand what makes them happy. Guys have been telling us for centuries that they are not mind readers.
  6.  How to be more romantic. Really and truly, some men are more romantic than us women.

So buy your sweetheart a romance book today! And read it with him/her.  I recommend something hot with a lot of action and adventure mixed in with all that great sex, and whose books do I recommend?  Well, mine, of course! Duh!  LOL!

CIRCLE OF DECEPTION DOES IT AGAIN!

Final Hi-Res Cover webYAY!  I received some wonderful news today.  CIRCLE OF DECEPTION is a finalist in the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggies!  This is a lovely big contest. Sure. Not as big as the Ritas (those are like Romance Writers of America’s Oscars). They’re more like the Golden Globes of romance.  LOL!

That’s four for DECEPTION.

(2013 GDRW’s Booksellers Best, 2014 SMRW’s Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2014 HODRW’s Aspen Gold, and now 2014 GRW’s Maggies!)

 

[corrected 8/6/14)

Out of the Blue

MM910001135I think it’s cool that BLUE is such a versatile word.  You can say you’re feeling BLUE. Cheer up!

Or that you’re watching a BLUE film. Naughty, naughty.

That he came out of the BLUE or something kicked it into the BLUE.

It’s not my favorite color, but I just think it’s neat being a color and having so many meanings.

Just me feeling silly. And don’t get me started on other colors, or you’ll have me seeing RED.

(Channeling the late George Carlin here sans cuss words or political satire.)

I Love Readers

Postcard three books1Really, what author doesn’t love readers? Well, knowing how cankerous us authors can be, there is probably a handful out there. But then I don’t understand why they even try to be/are published.

Anyway, I was reading Suzanne Johnson’s blog, and she kindly pointed out to an Amazon reviewer a misconception some readers have about authors.  Click here to read the post. We’re always flabbergasted when we receive complaints about things we can’t control.

Sure, we can go to our editors and ask them to reconsider, but their marketing people have been doing the job many years, have the education to back them up, and the savvy needed to make the decisions. While, like me, authors usually just want to write and make enough money to live on. We are dreamers.  Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) recited part of a great poem that most authors can relate to.

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
—World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

By Arthur O’Shaughnessy

And yes, I feel a list coming on. Here are the things authors have no or little control over if published by a traditional publisher. Self-published books are totally a different kettle of fish.

1) Price. I’ve been fortunate that my publisher would ask me on occasion if they can mark down my books. Standard price is $3.99 for the e-book. So when they marked it down, it has been as low as $1.99. Only once have I let them mark a full novel down to 99 cents. Others can price them that low, but I value the work and time involved in producing my full length books, and I deserve more than 25 cents (usually less) for each one. We’re not talking about tens of thousands of dollars. It’s more like around $1,000 a year. Can you live on that amount in the U.S.? Hell, no, not if you want electricity, food, a roof over your head, etc.

By the way, it takes five months for me to write a full length book. And I work a full time job. Yep. Over 40-48 hrs a week and then I come home and write all evening and sometimes early in the morning. Let’s say on the low average, six hours a day. I write weekends, holidays, and of course, weekdays. So 365 days a year. Yes. Family obligations keep me from writing at times, but I still find time in the mornings or evenings. So six hours a day times 365 days equals 2,190 hrs a year. Let’s say last year I made $1,250 off all three books (probably less than that), I average 0.57 cents an hour. WOW! I’m living the high life, heh?

Oh,that amount isn’t all at one time. I get paid once a month on e-books (some months are skipped -no sales), so those $30 royalty checks can get us excited at home. That means we can go out to eat. YAY!

2) Cover. Once again, my publisher does ask my opinion and if I didn’t like something, they would give me a chance to say no, though I never did. Though I wish I had on my blue book (CIRCLE OF DANGER). It looks so different from the other two. We can only hope that the picture grabs the readers attention. It is the hotter of the three novels.

3) Formatting. Thankfully, Avon does a wonderful job in that regard with my books. There are several publishers who do not. They use double spacing (like an unpublished manuscript) between each line. Or they use double between each paragraph. To me, a break after a paragraph in a book means a POV change or time shift. A favorite author of mine’s publisher does that. Why? I have no idea. Anyway, this is usually beyond our control.

4) Title. You didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Yep. We have little control over that. Some authors have no say so at all. Thankfully, Avon is a class act. My editor asked my opinion and listened to what I said and then we worked together on the right title. CIRCLE OF DESIRE was originally OUT OF THE SHADOWS. I like the original title because spies and mercenaries work in the shadows. With Collin’s help, Olivia was pulled out of the shadows into the light and realized the person she worked for was a bad guy. Cool, isn’t it?

Anyway, the editor felt my title didn’t do the book justice as it was a romance, a hot one, and we needed to bring it to the reader’s attention. She thought the play on the organization’s name would help connect the other books. Boy, oh, boy, it did.  When it came to the second and third book, we (my second editor came in the middle of edits of CIRCLE OF DANGER) agreed DANGER and DECEPTION worked perfectly for the other books.

5) Odds and Ends.  I’ve seen one star reviews for the reader having trouble downloading a book (if through a reputable bookseller, it is most likely your computer/tablet/internet connection – besides, most authors are not IT experts), for receiving a book looking used (purchased from an independent seller, claiming to be “new” – I swear we want you to receive a new book, but there are others wanting to make a buck off an author’s hard work, without compensating the author. So buyer beware of unknown third parties.), and for the book not being the type of story or the direction they wanted. The last one I say, be sure to read the description of the book and the first few pages before buying. If you did, then I suggest either buy another author’s book or do what many authors have done, write your own. HA!

Looky, Looky What I Got Today!

My third book in The Circle series, CIRCLE OF DECEPTION, is a finalist in the 2014 Aspen Gold Published Writers Contest!

They gave me a nifty website medallion to use.

Final Hi-Res CoverAspen Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the third contest in two years that it has been a finalist. (The e-book came out in December 2012 and paperback in January 2013.)

Happy Birthday to Me!

googleI know that Google does this for everyone (they did it last year), but I still get tickled.  By the way, today, I’m celebrating my birthday and I’ve giving away 21 free copies of CIRCLE OF DISHONOR. (The age I wish I was again. HA!)
How do you get a copy? Wish me happy birthday here and then email me at carlaswafford @ charter.net with your e-book preference (Kindle or Nook). The first twenty-one people who do wins a copy. (This promotion is going on at Facebook too. So that number is part of the count.)

And for those who are late in wishing me happy birthday don’t worry, the cost of the novella is still 99 cents for a few more days.

Remember that the best way to say thank you to an author for writing a book you enjoyed is to leave a review.

[All of the copies have been given away!  Thanks!  Updated 7/19/14]