Friday, October 16, 2009

Reflections From Beyond The Back Forty

~Sia McKye~

I laughingly say, I live out beyond the back forty, which isn’t far fetched, considering my two (2) human neighbors live a half of a mile on one side and almost mile on the other. The rest is hundreds of acres of pastures and forest. It’s actually a peaceful place to live and after living in cities, towns, and suburbia, I love it.

Most of my neighbors are wildlife or domestic animals. We have Bobcats although I rarely see them. Then there are the Armadillos that get the dogs barking. Our creek has a family of Beavers. They don’t think of us as good neighbors since we have to open up the waterways and there goes their houses. We also have a pair of Groundhogs down by the barn. They can usually be spotted sitting on a wooden fencepost or on the small manmade hill we have near the barn (I won’t tell you what we used to make said hill, suffice to say, I have horses).

On the north side of the property lives a fox. I’ve only caught sight of her with her half grown kits twice. I do see her or her mate several times a month.

I have at least three different packs of Coyotes traveling through my property. One is living at the backend of the property. The Alpha female has a den there. I’ve never gone too close, but I’ve seen her when I’ve been out walking, with her little pups and she’s seen me. We’ve agreed to an accord of peace—I don’t come too near to her house and she doesn’t come too near mine. So far, it’s worked. I suspect that all three packs are related but the others don’t live on the property. This year will be a dangerous time for the packs as Missouri Conservation has reinstated money for Coyote pelts, so it’s open season on Coyotes.

I also have two other neighbors I’m fond of—two mama deer that have their fawns on the property. One usually has twins across from the front of my house on five acres I have over there. One of the fun things is to watch these little fawns gambol and play like pups in the sun. Mom is never two far away and usually she is in plain sight near the grove of trees that ring the small pond. A snort from her will have the fawns running for cover or dropping into the tall hay on the edge of the field. The other Doe has her fawn down near the big pond. She usually has a couple of her previous girls with her. Interesting to watch the family dynamics and the caring for the newest baby. This year there were two, the matriarch’s current fawn and a grandbaby.

Any unexpected excitement in my life usually involves wildlife or domestic animals. The Coyote packs are becoming bolder and coming closer to the house, which is a matter of concern if I have a litter of new Dane pups on the ground or for my three older cats that hunt between the house and the barn. I have to grab the CO2 pellet gun and shoot off a round or two to remind them they’re too close. The pumping action sounds real enough to make them leave as quickly as they came. Make no mistake; I may love animals, but I have no compunction of grabbing a shotgun if I need to do so.
The smaller things like skunks or possums on the porch eating the cat food. Or, the night two love struck possum that thought my breezeway was a motel for some hot nookie. Under my patio chair no less. I’m afraid I’ll never look at that chair quite the same.

Then there is the multitude of squirrels that are now playing or eating in my yard since we lost one of our cats that was the mighty squirrel hunter. The time one of the baby squirrels was so startled to see me walk out to feed the birds, it ran to hide under Chardean, my cat. The look on my cat’s face was priceless. She doesn’t hunt them but she is a cat. She kept moving away and the baby kept following her, trying to crawl under her belly.

The sight of the squirrels climbing up or down the trees or bringing their babies to the drinking water set up under the huge front Oak tree sends my Cocker Spaniel into a frenzy of barking and popping between bay window seats to track the enemy. The way she carries on, you’d think foreign armies were invading us. She now has Gidget (my 160lb Great Dane) thinking they must be a danger. Two barking dogs can drown out any music playing, although Gidget is not a bad as the Cocker, or there would go the bay windows. I think Gidget thinks they’re cats, of which she is fond. Still, if Jax is barking then there must be a reason, right?

Of course, most of the things that happen are just normal life set around family, relationships, town gossip or the raising of Danes or horses, and spotting wildlife. Occasionally, like Sunday night, we have more excitement.

Waking up to all hell breaking loose, the hair-raising sound of my Danes going into attack mode. The yelp of a wounded canine. The frightened cry of this year’s Coyote pups calling to the pack and the answering cry of concerned adults coming closer and closer.

You stumble around grabbing clothes and guns and stagger out the door. Your adrenaline pumping, flashlights spearing the blackness of a cold autumn night, walking through ground fog, guns fully loaded and ready to use, humans in hunting mode and dangerous dogs in protection mode. Eerie eyes where there shouldn’t be eyes.

The clear blood trail from the open pasture to the Dane pen. Later investigation of the trail showed the tale of the fierce fight between the two fleeing Raccoons and the leaders of the pack. We suspect they were the pack’s yearlings with a few of this year’s pups a fatally wounded Raccoon ran for cover into my Dane pen to escape. The sound of battle through the fence between my Danes defending home ground and the Coyotes determined to get their meal. The added din of a cornered and terrified Raccoon entering the mêlée and protecting its mate. She escaped, he, unfortunately, did not.

Unforgettable sights, sounds and smells. Things like this is the stuff of movies or books.

Upon reflection, you can imagine all sorts of things out there in the dark. Things that grab at you from the ground, shape shifters, vampires, home invasions, an army on the move, anything your imagination can conjure up could be there in the night.

So, as a writer, how do you use the moments of life? Do they stir your imagination? Do they find their way into your writing?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Giddy, Joyous Feeling Of Being A Romance Author

Normally I have blogs set up to run Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. This week has been different. I hope I'm not confusing you. :-) Next week will be back to normal, I promise.

So why am I tossing in different blog days this week and confusing the heck out of you? Well, it's simple really.

I really wanted to have Amelia Grey as a guest on Over Coffee and the only day she had available was Tuesday.

I love reading Amelia's books and I like her attitude about writing romance. She loves what she does and does it well. So I worked with her schedule to be able to have her here.

I have many romance writers here, Over Coffee, but I was curious what Amelia's favorite part of writing romance.

You know me, if I want to know something, I ask.

I was asked to write about my favorite part of being a romance author. That is certainly easy for me to answer because I absolutely love writing, and I’m thrilled to be a published author. I’m happy to say that romance is the only thing I want to write.

It’s difficult to choose just one favorite part of being a romance author, but I have no problem admitting that I get this giddy, joyous feeling deep inside me the first time I see a copy my latest book with my name on it. When I first started writing, I really thought that after I’d published a few books, three, five, or even fifteen books the feeling would start to wane, or at least, that I wouldn’t be so eager to get my hands on the finished book that I’d get butterflies in my stomach, but guess what? That hasn’t happened.

My twentieth book, A Marquis To Marry, which is the second book in the Rogues’ Dynasty Series has just hit the shelves, and I was like a school girl waiting for a birthday present. I couldn’t wait for the first copy to arrive at my door. When my authors’ copies arrive, I grab a copy with my hot little hands, and run all over the house saying, “It’s here! It’s here! Come see it!” My family usually lets me do that for about ten seconds, and then they bring me back down to earth.

Another favorite part of being a romance author is that I love the creative part of thinking up the characters. I have an incredible excitement about my work. I look forward to going to the computer each morning and letting my imagination take flight with characters, conflicts, and emotional drama. I enjoy the control I have in creating a book from start to finish. I like the fact that in “this world” I get to decide the color of everyone’s hair and eyes. I get to give them their names, their personalities and their quirks and faults. I decide who the bad guy is going to be and what the intrigue is going to be about. I mean it doesn’t get any better than that.

I like working out their character traits. Who will be impulsive and who will be a neat-freak. Who will play by the rules and who will break them? Working out all these kinds of things is tremendous amount of fun for me, and I love the complete and total control.

An example of this in A Marquis To Marry, the second book in The Rogues’ Dynasty Series, I had to make sure that while the book kept the same tone as I had in the first book, I needed the hero and heroine in the second book to be completely different. In the first book of the series, A Duke To Die For, which is still available at local and online bookstores, the hero’s life is chaotic and undisciplined so I gave him a young, innocent heroine who was and orderly and stable. In A Marquis To Marry, I had to do something entirely different so I made the hero fun-loving and carefree. I gave him a heroine who was a widow his own age and of a serious nature.

I also love it when I hear from a fan that they loved my book or a particular character or scene in one of my books—so maybe that’s my favorite part—pleasing my readers and fans.

As you can see it’s difficult to talk about just one favorite part of being a romance author.

So why don’t you tell me what is your favorite part of a romance book: the meeting, the break-up, or the making up and getting back together?

A Marquis to Marry
Book Two in the Rogues’ Dynasty Trilogy
In Stores October 2009

Alexander Mitchell Raceworth, the dashing fourth Marquis of Raceworth, is shocked when the alluring young Duchess of Brookfield accuses him of stealing priceless pearls belonging to her family. Susannah Brookfield is the most beautiful, enchanting woman he has ever met, but despite his attraction, he's not about to hand over the pearls.

Though suspicion and mistrust drive them apart when the pearls are stolen, Race suggests they pool their resources to recover them. If they do find them, will they finally be able to give in to love, or will the truth of the elusive necklace tear them apart once and for all?

Two of Amelia Grey's books, A Duke To Die For, and A Marquis To Marry, will be awarded to two commenters on todays blog. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you.


Amelia Grey’s awards include the Booksellers Best and the Aspen Gold, and as Gloria Dale Skinner, the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Happily married for twenty-five years, she lives in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Amelia's Website

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Circle Of Friends and Diane Wolfe

My guest is an inspirational author, Diane Wolfe, who has created an intriguing series called Circle of Friends; a five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles.

What intrigues me is her ability to get into the heads of her young characters in such a way that both old and young can enjoy the story. Connect emotionally with the characters and find inspiration as well.

Her stories, like Diane herself, are positive and uplifting. The series focuses on friendships—love between friends, fulfilling your dreams, and how to overcome problems, as well as the challenges all face, but especially teens and young adults.

Having a teen and seeing his close connection with some his friends made me appreciate how Diane presents the problems these young men and women face. I have several nieces and nephews I’m close to who are in their early twenties. I’ve watched and listened as my son as well as his cousins’ talk of problems they’ve had and how they’ve tried to resolve them. Sometimes asking for guidance, sometimes not. Many times they only want a listening ear. They, like us, rely on a circle of friends to give support and advice. Some things aren’t easy to solve, or forgive, regardless of your age and have lasting impact on our lives.

Such is the case with Mike Taylor, the young protagonist in Book IV of Diane’s Circle Of Friends series.

What if a decision compromised your spiritual values?

What if a past mistake went against your very moral foundation?

Could you live with the guilt?

Mike Taylor is the epitome of stability. His family is proud of his academic and athletic achievements at Georgia Tech, and despite the temptations of college life, he has maintained his moral standards. Yet beneath the peaceful surface, Mike is consumed with guilt, fearing condemnation and rejection. A former girlfriend’s abortion and the intense love he feels for his roommate’s wife constantly remind Mike of his failures. Unable to forget and full of shame, he refuses to forgive himself.

When Danielle enters his life, he realizes he can no longer hide the past. Will she be able to reach him or is Mike past the point of redemption?

Book Trailer on YouTube

My Thoughts:

Mike is a good friend, just not good friends with himself. He has his moments of laughter and fun, he cares deeply about his friends (if you’ve read the other stories you see another side of Mike), and has a code of honor. Faith if you will.

At times I wanted to smack him, which is nothing new when dealing with males and young ones in particular (I grew up with seven, very Celtic and southern brothers full of attitude, lol!). There were points in the story I wanted to tell him, get over it for goodness sakes and come out of your miasma of negativity.

Then I reminded myself that the young are harder on themselves than anyone else can be. Life is more black and white with little gray area. I think the gray tends to develop as experience does. Guilt is tough regardless of the age, but young ones Mike’s age, don’t have the life experience yet to put things into perspective and this is what the story is about. Dealing with the blows life hands out, putting them into perspective and making sense of them so you can live life to the full. About moving past mistakes and growth as a person.

Mike is very realistic as a character. Diane did a good job getting into the mind of someone consumed with guilt. She understands males are just as deeply affected by problems of life and emotional issues, as females, but being males they are supposed to be all stoic and tough. They still have to process things emotionally to grow. Some, like Mike, feel things very deeply, especially when they feel they’ve compromised their moral code.

When he meets Danielle he learns about acceptance and forgiveness. Danielle is the perfect foil for him. She’s full of spunk and has a positive attitude. I like how the two of them are together. Danielle is my kind of girl.

This story is by no means negative. It’s a good story about finding inner peace and forgiveness. It touches the heart.

Those that have followed this series will no doubt love this one told in Mike’s point of view and how resolves his guilt and how he faces his future with hope.

Book IV…Mike is such a powerful, engrossing, incredible, beautiful novel. But it still manages to be light hearted, funny and heart felt. There is real emotion and real people in these pages…”

-The Book Pedler -

I had the chance to ask Diane a few questions about Book IV:

  • What's special about your hero? What made you choose Mike?

    Each book in The Circle of Friends follows one of the friends. Mike was briefly mentioned at the end of Book I, but in Book II, he became a central character. His internal struggle with guilt became the focal point of Book IV. He does not possess the strength and leadership of Jason or the survivor instincts of James. Mike is an average young man whose life would’ve been easy and simple if not for one major mistake in his past. And while this slip of character would’ve bothered anyone, Mike’s firm spiritual beliefs cause the incident to haunt him.

    Guilt is a feeling of which many suffer. Our inability to let go of the past and forgive ourselves can seriously hinder our future. The stronger our moral convictions, the more difficult it becomes to move on with our lives. I wanted to explore this situation with Mike and follow the process of healing.

    What was the most fun about writing this story?

    The central location for Book IV was a lot of fun, as I used to live in Albuquerque, NM. Those four years of my life were special, so I enjoyed exploring old haunts and new adventures through Mike and Danielle.

    The books in this series overlap as they move forward in time, so it’s equally delightful to show the progress of the characters from the first three stories. Readers who grow attached to the other characters will continue receiving glimpses into their lives. Until the last page of Book V, their stories never really end!

    What was the hardest to write?

    Nothing in this book presented a real challenge, although I had to really stretch with the character of Danielle. I’m a feisty redhead as well, but Danielle’s life is very different from my own. I also had to balance some tough social issues with a strong spiritual theme.

    My biggest challenge with this series came with Book V’s Heather! The complete opposite of me, it was difficult to get into the head of someone so driven and dominating.

  • What is your greatest challenge as an author and how do you deal with it?

    I’m not with a really big publisher, so exposure is always an issue. My books aren’t displayed front and center in bookstores and the media isn’t pounding at my door for interviews. My books don’t contain vampires, so I’m not flowing with a trend. So it’s an internal battle of frustration and envy sometimes.

Every author has his or her niche and I try to focus on that instead. My books have a unique place and audience, and I do not compromise my values just to sell more books or gain attention. I simply focus on what I do well!

  • When will your next book be published? Can you tell me a bit about it?

Book V wraps up this series and is due out March 16, 2010. Heather has just earned her master’s degree at Duke and taken an assistant coaching job at Clemson. She’s also dealing with annoying player, an incompetent sister, and a parent dying of cancer.

It was the most difficult of the series, too! Heather is one tough cookie, and by Book II, it’s difficult to even like her. I had to take a character who is dominating, selfish, and often not a nice person and through the course of the story, explain the reasons for her negative personality and the decisions she’s made in life. Since each book follows two main characters, I had to incorporate a difficult and flawed male lead as well, and the two butt heads often. Think clash of the titans! However, the resulting story is incredibly powerful and will be a great sendoff of the series.

Thank you Diane for visiting with us Over Coffee and giving us some insights in this delightful series.

You can visit Diane or

Wolfe is the author of a young adult series entitled The Circle of Friends. It follows a group of sports-minded couples through relationships, college and into their early careers. Meant to inspire as well as entertain, these books have been described as “encouragement personified”. This series feature morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything. Many of today’s young adult novels are salacious & controversial and glorify frequent sexual activity, negative attitudes, and deviant behavior. Wolfe’s series focuses on wholesome and uplifting stories that are suitable for adults and teens alike.

Wolfe’s other upcoming title, “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, is an inspirational self-help book. The author has tied all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package! Seven other authors also contribute to this title, which features the five keys to success and summary points for each chapter.

Known as “Spunk On A Stick”, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars on promoting, leadership and goal setting. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principles. The author offers her seminars through community colleges, organizations and clubs. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements. She averages over one hundred appearances each year, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites. She also does characterization sessions for schools and speaks to writer’s groups.

She began writing as a teenager and was inspired to return by the adage that everyone needs “something to hope for and someone to love”. The author loves people, and her optimism is fueled by her spunky, sanguine personality. Wolfe does not believe in the word impossible and is willing to do whatever it takes to spread the message of hope found within her series. A Christian and a vegetarian, Wolfe enjoys sports and has a passion for roller coasters. Growing up in Salem, Oregon, the author now resides North Carolina with her husband and two cats. She is self-employed and a professional photographer.