Friday, May 4, 2012


Note to readers: I have had a rash of anonymous spam commenters of late. Blogger is working on it but meanwhile, I check my computer twice a day with TrendMicro and another professional malware program to keep my site and computer clean.

Fresh Flowers, Good Coffee, and Conversation--Life is Good!

My guest is romance author Addison Fox. She discusses the divergence of expectations and reality. There is also a chance for a commenter to win a copy of her latest book in the Zodiac series, Warrior Enchanted. I can tell you she writes a great story!

I always had this very grand vision about being a writer. I saw this delightful version of myself sitting in a coffee house, earbuds in my ear with some beautiful classical piece playing and endless hours with nothing but my keyboard for company as I wrote my books.


So I love coffee and almost always have a cup next to me when I start my writing day (then switch to hot tea around Noon). But the few times I’ve tried writing IN the coffee house….I got about 6 words written.

Six. Maybe ten if it was a good day.

And the music…..well, in THAT part of my grand vision I forgot the fact that I hate having earbuds in my ears. Hate, Hate, HATE….like “I wish I could pull my ears off” sort of hate.

So there goes that lovely thought, too.

And the whole “oodles and oodles of time” concept….well, I haven’t seen “oodles” since I was about four. And even then, there were play dates with my sister and Sesame Street watching parties and a great new Dr. Seuss to catch up on. You know, I was busy.

But here’s what I learned when I stopped thinking about my “vision” of writing and actually began “sitting-in-the chair” and writing. I discovered that the idea we have about things are seldom the way those things actually are. (I think there’s a bigger life lesson in there, but I suspect that’s a whole ‘nother blog!)

The wonderful and wacky things that make us who we are don’t change when we pursue various interests in our life.  While I consider myself a very social person, I don’t like having people around me when I’m working.  And I’ve had sensitive ears since I was a small child, so voluntarily putting things in my ear canals…yeah, not so much. And the whole time crunch. No one has lots of time – we make time for the things that matter.

Instead, the big takeaway I learned is that you need to forget your vision for something and get to the place where you’re DOING the thing instead. And funny enough, you’ll figure out exactly HOW you’re supposed to be doing it.

Your way. The way that makes you feel comfortable and productive and happy.

I very rarely write outside my home. Instead, I park myself behind my desk, a small lamp nearby and not a shred of music playing anywhere. And whether I have thirty minutes or eight hours, I enter my zone because I’m in a place that feels private and comfortable and quiet and all mine.

And that is exactly the way it’s meant to be.

  • So what about you? Where have your expectations not matched reality and you discovered what a good thing that was.  

One lucky poster will win a copy of my new release, WARRIOR ENCHANTED.

WARRIOR ENCHANTED Addison Fox Available in stores and online.

Pisces warrior Drake Campbell and his zodiac brethren have driven themselves to the edge. He'd love to take comfort in the arms of the woman he cares for, if only she would lift her emotional barriers to him.

White witch Emerson Carano has more to worry about than the Pisces warrior. Their affair may be red-hot, but she keeps the sexy man at arm's length to avoid getting hurt. When her estranged brother, Magnus, suddenly reappears—wielding a dangerous dark magic—Emerson has no choice but to ask Drake and his brothers for help.

Long-buried secrets and dangerous alliances will threaten the very foundation of the warriors while striking at the heart of Emerson's carefully constructed world. Can she put aside her fears to join forces with the only man who can help her—even if her own family must pay a terrible price?

Addison Fox is the author of the Sons of the Zodiac paranormal romance series for NAL as well as the upcoming Alaskan Nights contemporary trilogy, which launches with BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE in November 2011. You can find her at her home on the web,, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Addison lives in New York City.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


My guest is romance author, Houston A.W Knight, aka, Hawk. Many may know her from her blog and also know she’s been deep in her writers cave the past few months.
Aspiring authors work hard to get their work published. Sometimes it feels like pushing a stone up a mountain. There is just so much to learn and apply.
Most writers I know are professionals with successful careers. These writers have worked hard for the measure of success they have.
Breaking into fiction writing, however, levels the playing field because they’re starting out entry level and dealing with rejections. A place many haven’t been in years. Oh, and let’s not forget most these writers are doing this while juggling life, family, jobs, and trying to carve out time to write. To follow a dream and build a writing career. 
I love hearing success stories. When any of my friends get THE CALL, I’m thrilled for them.  I know how hard they’ve been working for this day, this call. 
When I received a giddy call from Hawk (yes you were keyed up and giddy, my friend), I was so excited.  I asked her to please take the time away from her deadlines and talk about her journey to publication and what she learned along the way.

To be Published Or Not To Be Published, that is the question. To which I answered, I wanna be published!!!
And I have. 
First, let me reassure Sia, that my dog still has his hearing and no windows were broken in my house. Yep, she asked me that. I think she was a wee bit disappointed to hear I was very calm and business like when I received the call from the publisher. I wanted deadline details and release dates. Once it sank it I was excited and shared my news with friends. 
I know the frustrations, and doubts we struggling writers go through. I want to share what secrets I discovered to make my dream come true. 
I joined a writers’ chapter and learned a lot of basic things. The 'helpful' information given by the 'Pros' sounded good, but didn't really help. I wondered what secret information they were all dancing around and why they just didn't come out and tell me what I needed to know to get the job done. Being an Irish lass, I had to uncover their secrets. 
  • First secret: I'm sure you all have heard it; Show Don't Tell.  
We all know that means showing how the hero walked into the room instead of telling the reader he walked in. But more importantly is picking the right things to SHOW. How do you know what to pick? You’re writing a romance, go for showing the deep POV of the Character (show their emotions) with a few details of the surroundings. What the Pro’s don’t tell you is YOU HAVE TO BALANCE THAT SHOWING WITH "TELLING" ~ so the rule 'show don't tell' didn't work for me because if you study published authors…they "show AND tell." 
  • Second secret: They'll say, be sure to give the GMC (Goals, Motivations and Conflict). 
What they don't tell you is that you have to put that in the very first paragraph if you want a publisher to look at your work. Actually, your first three lines of your opening paragraph should be the heroines full name, her profession and her GMC and the forth line should be a hook. Pick up a book by a new author and check the opening paragraph and you’ll see just often this is true with new authors. Those already published will break this rule, but you're not published…yet  :-) you've got to play by the rules…for now!
  • Secret three: What in the heck did they mean, "Focus on the romance." 
I’ll bet most of you said what I did ~ Well duh, I'm writing a romance…but what did they really mean? 
If you want to sell a book…every two or three lines should have an emotion. That's what they're not telling you. Go to your favorite author…don't read the book, read the lines and mark the emotions and see just how often she slipped in an emotion you weren't even aware of reading. SURPRISE!
  • Secret Four: Giving the details. 
When they say give details, what they don't tell you is, we don't care if Tom passed the salt to Mary. What we are interested in is that as Tom passed the salt to Mary his heart was breaking because he couldn’t bring himself to confess his love for her. Now THAT'S a detail we care about. 
There are a lot of secret shadings in the advice writers are given. Advice that appears helpful but if you don't delve deeper…you'll spend years trying to understand what they want. 
Another key to getting published it watching what's going on around you in the business. There will come a time when you'll have to decide your options. Do you keep writing what you love knowing it won't sell or change and write what sells? I'm not saying chase the market…I'm saying study what's happening in the market. Know what’s selling and what’s not. Then be willing to change Genre. 
There was a time in my life when I was about to give up. We all hit those days. DON'T GIVE UP. I'm telling you right now…it won't work, you'll be like a druggy sneaking off to write a story and you'll tell yourself you're not really writing, you are…so, forget about it…you're a writer and accept you'll have those days. KEEP GOING!! Hanging in there is your only chance at getting your foot in the door. I don't care if you're hanging on by your last fingernail…HANG IN THERE…you can make this happen. 

Monday, April 30, 2012


It sure is a Monday!

A lovely engagement ring. A pair of sparkling dangle earrings, a brooch, a necklace, the shining accent stones in almost any jewelry. Is it a Zircon or is it a Diamond?

Grains of zircon
Honestly, it’s difficult to tell by the naked eye and even some loupes cannot show the truth. Under a 30 power magnifier, someone with a trained eye can and do see the differences. There are synthetic zirconia or fakes and they are easier to spot because of the dispersion even though these synthetics can be made from grains of reflective zircon the angles are different.

When you think of Zircon, most think fake diamond.  But there is nothing fake about zircons—they’re one of the fieriest natural gemstones in existence next to the diamond. This is due to dispersion. I won’t bore you with all the technical formulae involved with wavelengths, etc. I’ll keep it simple. In gemology the flashes of color you see are due to the degree and angle to which a prism can be cut from a gemstone. It’s the flashes of fire you see in a brilliant diamond. Or a natural zircon.

Zircon colors
Zircons have been mined for thousands of years—Sri Lanka has been mining them for over two thousand years. Gem quality stones can be found in the pebbles of alluvial deposits and in the rough you might not know what you have, unless you know what you’re looking for. Natural zircon can be colorless (and these have traditionally been used in place of diamonds) but also come in shades of gold, pink, green, browns and hazels. Most of the natural zircons are heat treated to clarify the colors or change the color. There are stones from Vietnam and Thailand, when heat-treated, turn a brilliant blue. 

Flamegem--red  zircon
There is also a fiery red zircon, which in ancient times was called Jacinth and was highly valued. They were also called flamegems.

Jacinth (red zircon) in the rough
In ancient Israel, the high priest wore a fiery red zircon on his breastplate. In Exodus 28:19 it’s listed as the first stone in the third row. The book of Revelation speaks of Jacinth as a stone in New Jerusalem, along with other precious and semi-precious stones.

According to Tennyson, King Arthur was said to have Jacinth and other zircon stones set in the hilt of Excalibur. “…all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks, myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth work…”

Excalibur being studded with many zircons wouldn’t be usual when you consider the magical properties of the stones. Zircons were believed to provide the wearer with wisdom, honor, riches, and protection. It was said that when a zircon lost its fire and luster it was a warning of danger. They were also used in enchantment, clairvoyant dreams, and as ornamentation of devices—such as swords, armor, and jewelry—for protection from fire or being struck by lightening, whether natural or from sorcerers or capricious deities. Topaz colored zircon was said to protect against evil spirits.

Red wine zircons

Zircon is also reputed to help the wearer connect with their inner strengths and provide self-confidence and energy. Its supposed to be a stone to help those who grieve to let go, make peace, and move on with their lives. 

The colors of zircons also correspond to different protective properties and represent different signs of the zodiac:

Colorless zircon:  promotes clarity and truth.
Yellow zircon (hyacinth): inspiration, intellect (Gemini, Leo).
Orange zircon: warmth helps us to appreciate and enjoy life (Virgo).
Red zircon: strength, decisiveness (Aries, Scorpio).
Brown zircon: promotes grounding, helps to attract a permanent home (Capricorn). 
Blue zircon: birthstone for Sagittarius, promotes introspection, spirituality, meditation and religion.
Green zircon:
promotes renewal, harmony and friendliness (Cancer, Libra).

I’m fascinated by the environmental upheavals—volcanoes, earthquakes, intense heat, the abrasive wash of water, and enormous pressure—that produce gemstones.  In the natural state most gemstones aren’t particularly pretty. I’m captivated by the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They see this rough looking chunk of rock with a bit something that catches their imagination and they work that stone to release the beauty and that hint of something special their eye saw. Isn’t it amazing?

What is astounding to me is how close in strength and fire zircons and diamond are. Both are natural gemstones; almost equal in beauty and fire, both are valuable although the diamond is more so.  As with many gemstones they have been attributed with rich history mystical power.

So the next time you see a gorgeous piece of jewelry and wonder, is it a zircon or is it a diamond?

Only a trained jeweler knows for sure.