My Husband Brought Home Watermelon

I know he loves me. He brought home a watermelon from the store. I texted my sister (who almost loves watermelon as much as I do) and she asked what my husband and kids would eat. In my defense, I did (grudgingly) share it.

Quick Tips for Picking a Watermelon — You don’t want one that is shiny. You want a flat spot, and you want the flat spot to be dark yellow. Symmetrical shaped melons are better. If two are the same size, choose the heavier one. Seeded ones usually are sweeter than non-seeded.

Watermelon

Watermelon

I love watermelon. I admit it. It’s a summer obsession. My family went to a bbq party last weekend, and the dessert table held an oversized bowl of red temptation. Red velvet cake you say? No. Watermelon. And not just any watermelon. Watermelon that had been cut and seeded already. (insert longing sigh)

My love for watermelon goes back to late summer days growing up when my grandpa would bring in a watermelon from the garden. My sister and cousins had epic seed fights, and it seems like our hands and faces were always sticky with watermelon juice. We didn’t have air conditioning, and nothing cooled us off more on a hot summer afternoon than … well, you’ve got the picture.

Sometimes we would even eat it warm. I know, that may not sound appetizing to you, but to this day it doesn’t really bother me if watermelon isn’t ice cold. Watermelon that’s been heated with the sun’s kiss has it’s own uniqueness.

Since I’ve grown up and no longer live in a house that has its own amazing watermelon patch, watermelon has become more of a treat for summer and less of an everyday occurrence.  That first watermelon of the summer is always extra special and tonight’s was no exception.

My husband and I talked about watermelon at dinner. He said that watermelon is unlike other fruit, in that it’s so inconsistent. With a banana, ripeness can vary, but you usually can expect a consistent taste. Once you choose a variety of apple, generally within that variety they are consistent. The entire melon family can range from tasting like plywood to being sweeter than the sweetest honey.

My husband won’t even look at a cantaloupe unless I give him the thumbs-up sign, which means that I have tasted it and am willing to verify that it’s on the overly sweet end of the spectrum. He does not like an average cantaloupe. I have to guarantee that it will be the best cantaloupe of the season before he will try it. Sometimes you will stumble across a sweet honeydew, and those can be good. (The bland ones on the salad bar, not so much)

You might have to cut a lot of average watermelon to find perfection, but when you do, here’s what it looks like. When you start the knife in the rind, you cut just a little, and you hear the rind pop, then you know it’s swollen with flavor. If you can split the watermelon without cutting it, and a large part stays intact in the middle, that’s the heart. If you find the heart and it separates in the center, that’s when you know you’ve got a watermelon of mythical proportions. And that is when my heart sings.

Now I have to go eat some more of that watermelon.

There are only six more days to sign up for my monthly newsletter and be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card giveaway to Starbucks (or an equivalent amount of something else fun if you live in the UK). You can sign up here.

Cover Reveal: Under His Protection

Are you ready? I’ve held onto this one for almost six months. This is the cover that made me change the name from No Time for Love to Under His Protection.

 

 

I am so excited about this book. We continue Lee’s story, and no, he’s no with Deena, the chef he was dating in the first book.

Fox and Laura are in several scenes, and they are getting ready for their wedding.

Lindsey has been at Clemson for a year, and is progressing towards her Master’s degree in mathematics.

Lee has started his new business, as he planned in No Strings Attached, but he’s having trouble getting any traction. No one wants to give a new company a chance. Robert Stephens, his mother’s husband, uses his connections to get Lee an interview with Senator Martin Crowne, who wants to hire security for his daughter.

Elizabeth Crowne (don’t call her Beth) is running for attorney general for the state of Georgia. Someone is threatening her with vicious notes, but she doesn’t think they need to hire security. She has a feeling that her ex-fiancé is behind the threats and it will all blow over. She goes along with the bodyguard for her dad, but she thinks it’s a waste of time and money. When the threats become attacks, she has to admit that someone wants her dead.

Two jaded loners find a connection, but nothing is as it seems.  As Lee digs deeper, looking for answers, he only raises more questions, uncovering a conspiracy that goes deeper than they suspected. When those closest to you betray your trust, nothing is sacred.

Originally I envisioned this series as connected books, meaning that they share characters and not much else in terms of story line.  However, I found unresolved issues carrying forward into this book, and the plots are becoming more entwined than I planned. For this reason, I recommend they be read in order, and put the order number on the cover. My editor has the complete book now, and I am hoping for a release date in June or early July.

Today I dropped the price for No Strings Attached to $0.99, to celebrate its birthday. I’m planning to run the sale through the end of May. I’m not sure how long the different retailers will take to lower the price, but you can find a direct link to your preferred ebook seller here.  All-Romance ebooks also sells the book in pdf format if you don’t have an ebook reader. The book is now available in iTunes, Kobo, and the Nook. You can also download a kindle reader app for your tablet.

Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up for the nesletter here

Happy Birthday to No Strings Attached!

The official birthday for my book is May 25, 2013, because that’s when it went live on Amazon. But on May 24th, at about ten o’clock at night, I clicked publish.

2013-07-08 11.00.55It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. One year ago today, on May 24, I clicked publish on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. We had checked and checked and made changes, and as I stared at that screen, I was terrified. What if I had some stupid error? What if everyone hated it? What if? What if? What if?

It’s scary as a writer to Let it Go. (Cue the Frozen song, because that’s what we do at our house).

But I knew that I had put too much time and effort into that book to let it languish on my computer. So I hit publish. Since no one knew me from Adam, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on promotion, I’m pretty proud of my results. In it’s first year, my book has sold over 500 copies.  The most interesting thing for me is that I have developed quite a following in the UK. For the past two or three months, I have sold more books over there than in the United States.

I have had strangers email me and tell me how much they enjoyed it. People regularly harass me as to when I’m releasing the sequel. So, to celebrate the one year anniversary of No Strings Attached, tomorrow I’m going to reveal the cover for Under His Protection.

I struggle with titles. The working title for the first book was always A Corporate Affair. The sequel was to be called A Political2013-12-07 11.46.15 Affair.

Then I decided to start each book in the series with the word No. So, following No Strings Attached, I planned to have No Time for Love, which was the working title for the second book. Tomorrow you will get to see the cover that made me change my title to Under His Protection.

If I wasn’t using the title to tie the series together, I needed a series name. I liked the idea of the city background for all of my books in this series, so I decided to name the series City Lights. While we travel to the Caribbean a good bit in the books, much of the action takes place in Vegas, Miami and Atlanta in the first book, and Atlanta in the second. Plus using the city background ties the covers together. Here’s the new cover for No Strings Attached with the series name.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the first book by starting a week long sale, and we’ll have a big cover reveal for the second book.  Everyone who signs up for my new email list between now and the end of May will be entered for a drawing for a $5.00 giftcard to Starbucks. You can choose either the monthly newsletter option, or the email on new release only option. Either way, you’re eligible for the drawing.

The first newsletter will go out June, and the contest will reset. So be one of the first subscribers and have a chance to win. Newsletter subscribers will also be the first to read the new prequel that I’m coming out with in August or September, that explains tells some of what happened in the first book from Lindsey’s point of view. What really happened in that casino with Ric? Sign up here

Free Flick Friday – Sons of Dragons by Andrea R. Cooper

I had someoCooper-SonsofDragonsne cancel who was supposed to appear today, so I’m moving Andrea up from next week to continue my video posts.  Welcome, Andrea!

Andrea R. Cooper grew-up creating characters and never stopped. She lives in Texas, and when not writing stories, she likes to dance when no one is watching. 

Here’s a little teaser about Andrea’s book, Sons of Dragons:

Mirhana has given up on love, but then it comes to her in the form a prince. Will she acquiesce?

 

I hope you enjoyed this trailer. Now rush out and give Sons of Dragons a chance…

You can connect with Andrea here…
Author Website:www.AndreaRCooper.com

 


 

If you haven’t seen the book trailer for No Strings Attached, you can find it here…  If you’re a romance writer interested in visiting my blog or you have a book trailer to share for Free Flick Friday, let me know here. Thank you for stopping by!

Tomorrow I have a special treat for you — we’ll be celebrating the book anniversary of No Strings Attached by showing off the cover for the sequel.  I also have a special prize. Details to come tomorrow!

Free Flick Friday – Free Falling by Raven St. Pierre

Continuing my Friday showcase of video book trailers, today we have Raven St. Pierre. She’s a newly published Interracial Romance author, best known for her Free Falling series, a New Adult saga featuring an African-American female lead and Japanese-American hero.  Raven has a host of stories published and awaiting release that she intends to share with readers who thrive on high-drama, messy love triangles, and emotionally jarring plotlines.  When Raven isn’t weaving her next tangled web of love, lust, and lies, her husband and three children keep her plenty busy….when she isn’t gaming, that is.

Now, here’s Raven’s video:

 

Cover_Free Falling_Book 3_ExposedFree Falling is the third book in the series

They’re back. They’re grown. It’s on… Five years have passed since the tragedy that changed Samantha Kelley’s life forever,
causing her to make the difficult decision to walk away from the man she once thought to be her soul mate. Looking back, there were a few regrets, but she still believes in her heart that fleeing to New York was the right move….or does she? For the most part, she’s settled and content, but there’s a question still brewing in the back of her mind – Will her current relationship ever measure up to the passion that she experienced with AJ?

When Sam walked away, AJ found himself spiraling uncontrollably through every emotion possible – grief, anger, and depression, to name a few. It took almost two years for him to fully get over the idea of her leaving him behind without so much as an address where she could be reached. But he didn’t get through the darkest time of his life without a little help from someone who seemed to just appear out of nowhere – a woman who now has dibs on his heart. It was simple for the pair to pretend like old feelings had faded into the abyss while they were hundreds of miles apart, but what will happen when Sam and AJ meet up again for the first time in years? Will resentment forever keep ‘what could’ve been’ just at arm’s length? Will it be love at first sight like they experienced in the past? Or will they fight against the insatiable pull that they have always had toward one another, choosing to keep their current relationships intact instead?

I hope you enjoyed this little journey into the world of Raven’s characters. The release date for Free Falling is June 1st.  Until then, you can find Raven at http://youaresowrite.wordpress.com/

 


 

If you haven’t seen the book trailer for No Strings Attached, you can find it here…  If you’re a romance writer interested in visiting my blog or you have a book trailer to share for Free Flick Friday, let me know here. Thank you for stopping by!

Books I Read in Febuary 2014

May Shout-Outs for the books I read in February…

(I may seem pretty behind in these, but waiting a while gives me some perspective. If I can’t remember what the book was about, that’s a point in and of itself.)

Wolf Creek Alpha and Wolf Creek Enforcer by Jo Ellen (click on the picture to head over to Amazon)

Technically I read Wolf Creek Alpha in 2013, but I haven’t posted about it, so I’m including it here. Jo Ellen has created a fantastic world that includes a werewolf pack, faeries, witches, and probably some other non-humans that I’m forgetting at the moment. Oh, and there’s a castle and a magic pond. Mostly there is a HOT HOT HOT group of alphas that you will love meeting.  I’ve never liked werewolf books that go into graphic detail about the shifting (bones and sinew – ewww!!), and this one doesn’t. Boom it’s done.  I’m anxiously awaiting the third book about the third brother… (impatiently taps foot)

 

Twist Me by Anna Zaires is a dark erotic new adult novel not for the faint of heart. It’s in first person, which I usually don’t like. Here’s the Amazon description:

Kidnapped. Taken to a private island. I never thought this could happen to me. I never imagined one chance meeting on the eve of my eighteenth birthday could change my life so completely. Now I belong to him. To Julian. To a man who is as ruthless as he is beautiful—a man whose touch makes me burn. A man whose tenderness I find more devastating than his cruelty. My captor is an enigma. I don’t know who he is or why he took me. There is a darkness inside him—a darkness that scares me even as it draws me in. My name is Nora Leston, and this is my story.

Stockholm syndrome much? It makes no bones about what it is, so if you find such things upsetting or degrading, don’t check this one out. It’s well done, with a substantial story line. It’s staunchly in the vein of new adult, with a young female protagonist and older, wealthy male (anti)hero.

And now for something completely different, I read Never Ending Dance, by G. Jean Smith.

If you had the gene marker for Huntington’s, would you want to know?

The blurb from Amazon: What If You Were Destined To Dance Till Death? Catherine Cannon has spent her life keeping secrets and trying to outrun her past. Speaking about her past, about her family, is taboo and she has only shared her life with her closest childhood friend. But when Catherine reaches a milestone, she willingly places herself in a situation where she is faced with having to talk in-depth with a psychologist. It’s the only way she can confront her past head on as she seeks the answer to one question – does she carry the defective gene that causes Huntington’s disease?

A gritty, dark look at living with Huntington’s disease, poverty, and pain, the humor fused throughout makes Never Ending Dance an emotional rollercoaster ride. Catherine Cannon’s struggles, triumphs and sheer will to survive will have readers cheering her on until the bitter end.

This one is definitely a roller coaster ride. Ms. Smith does a great job of getting you to feel the angst that Catherine is experiencing. I almost didn’t read it because I thought it would be too depressing, but that wasn’t the case. I’m really glad I gave it a chance. Strongly in the court of women’s fiction, there’s a hint of romance, but it’s not the focus of the book. Loved it!

Following Your Heart by Cheryl Persons was a sweet new adult style romance that didn’t disappoint.

From Amazon: It had been 10 years since Cassie and Seth said their goodbyes. They had both moved on and were leading happy lives, or were they? When Cassie finds herself back in Texas, everything changes. Cassie remembers the love that she once had and surprisingly finds herself longing for it again. Is it too late, or does her heart have other plans?

Second chances and the one who got away… This book stares regret in the eye and doesn’t back down. Life isn’t always simple, and the choices we make aren’t always easy.

 

A Couple of Kids’ Books

To keep my daughter happy, I have to mention the two books that I bought for her that she devoured (read is too tame a description of what she does to these books)

Once Upon an Island and Lost in Lion Country by D.M. Potter are both interactive books that let the readers choose which direction the plot is going. My 11-year old daughter loves these. She will keep reading them until she has read every option and chased every link.

 

So for the year, counting 1.5 in January (we’ll round down), and 4 in February (remember Wolf Creek Alpha was 2013), my count as of February is at 5. What do all of these books have in common? They are all indie-published. Want to revisit my January books? Look here

 

Update on my writing progress:

I have sent chapters 1-18 out of 29 to my editor. I’m feeling good about the book, but it’s not there yet. I’m looking at each chapter and making sure the scenes have the level of detail I need, that they are well developed and that they each give you a reason to keep reading. It’s over 90,000 words, and that’s long compared to my first book, which came in at 76,000 words. I promise a preview soon.

 

Free Flick Friday – Passion’s Sacred Dance by Juli D. Revezzo

Continuing my Friday showcase of video book trailers, today we have Juli D. Revezzo visiting. Juli is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She is author of The Antique Magic series, the recently released her debut paranormal romance novel, Passion’s Sacred Dance, and is a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Without further adieu, here is her video:

 

 

PassionsSacredDance_w6021_300

And now, a little bit about Passion’s Sacred Dance:

Unless Stacy Macken can stave off her creditors, she may lose her historic art gallery–a loss she can’t afford for, she suspects, more reason than one. Then Aaron Fielding appears, claiming to be a Tuatha dé Danaan warrior dedicated to protecting humanity from demonic monsters and that her land is their sacred battlefield. Confirming everything she feared. Stacy and Aaron must work together to ensure mankind survives, but their mutual attraction only complicates things.

 

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Passions-Sacred-Dance-Harshad-Wars-ebook/dp/B00E4WOBWI

All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-passion039ssacreddance-1351775-143.html

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/passions-sacred-dance-juli-d-revezzo/1117518183?ean=2940148871422

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/passions-sacred-dance

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/passions-sacred-dance/id733605817?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/passion-s-sacred-dance

And my web links:

Homepage: http://julidrevezzo.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julidrevezzo

Twitter: @julidrevezzo

 


 

If you haven’t seen the book trailer for No Strings Attached, you can find it here…  If you’re a romance writer interested in visiting my blog or you have a book trailer to share for Free Flick Friday, let me know here. Thank you for stopping by!

The Appeal of Indie Publishing

If you’re wondering why anyone would go to the trouble to self-publish (and by trouble I mean finding cover designers, hiring an editor, doing all the marketing, and paying for all of the above out of pocket) here’s one of the most cogent and best explanations I’ve seen. Brava!

10 Dialog Beats Contemporary Writers Can’t Use

Do you realize that as writers we have lost whole action steps/plots to technology? Dialog beats are those little actions that you use in dialog to both tell who is speaking and provide characterization. I had a mental image of my 2013 character twisting a phone cord around her. Sigh. Not happening. Now I’ve got to come up with something else. So here are some other things we’ve lost.

WE500dialphone

Related to the Phone

  1. She twisted the phone cord around her body. What a great way to show nervousness!  I actually used this with a hotel room phone in No Strings Attached.
  2. She slammed down the phone. (Not with a $200 cost and no forthcoming upgrade subsidy)
  3. She knocked the phone off the hook. Our kids don’t know what a hook is.
  4. Her finger dialed the operator, hooking her finger in the 0 and pulling it all the way around. See number 3.
  5. She looked up a number in the phone book. Do 20-somethings even know what a phone book is?
  6. Bash someone on the head with the receiver. I’m sure it’s been done before in fiction noire. Those were heavy receivers.
  7. She stretched the cord as far as it would reach. Gained – Replace with held the phone up in the woods to try to get service.
  8. He twisted the phone cord around his victim’s neck, tightening slowly. How are we going to strangle people now?
  9. The line “He’s calling from inside the house” goes away, since GPS can’t be that accurate. “He may or may not be calling from within 500 feet of your house?” isn’t quite as bone-chilling.
  10. A busy signal. Now we just get people who hit that send to voice mail button.

What we’ve gained…

  1. Cell phones even in remote locations, which can be challenging for crime stories. There’s always the battery died…
  2. Personal databases on cell phones, including calendars, social media, and contacts. A wealth of information for would-be criminals.
  3. GPS – it’s harder to get lost, but if your character relies on your phone maps in the country with no Internet you could get lost even worse.
  4. The fantasy of being unconnected or off the grid. When I was in college, you would go hours without anyone knowing where you were. Friends had a general idea, or you may tell someone you would be at the library, but that was it. Now, not so much.
  5. DNA evidence. That has its own problems.

What we still can’t do….

  1. Predict the weather with confidence. Sure, we get generalities, but we don’t know exactly where hurricanes will hit. They can always turn at the last moment.
  2. Rivers still flood.
  3. Blizzards still hit. (seeing a trend here?)
  4. We can do very little without electricity these days.
  5. Force someone to fall in love.

For more technology troubles with writing, check out this post from 2012 on technology.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk through time. Carry on.

(Picture by ProhibitOnions at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)

10 Reasons We Don’t Need Homework

Homework is a horrible thing. Yes I said it. And here’s why.

I’m taking a break from talking about publishing, indie books, and writing today to talk about one of my pet peeves–HOMEWORK!!

It doesn’t help academically.

  1. Most of it is busy work. Kids who need the extra practice need help understanding why they aren’t getting it. Parents can’t always provide that help.
  2. Parents shouldn’t be correcting homework for their child. How else will the teacher know that the student is having trouble with subject-verb agreement if the parent corrects it?

Don’t get me started about projects.

  1. Projects stink. They should be done at school from a pool of materials, not at home where the parent provides the materials. Elementary children can’t use hot glue guns. So who does part of it? Mom and dad.
  2. Projects should be based on what the kids can do, not what the parents who already have advanced degrees can do. The fifth grade geographical cities project at our school comes to mind. The children of architects had elaborate cities with intricate banners and signage. I’m sure those kids did that. (That was in a sarcasm font)
  3. Projects for a mandatory competition don’t get us excited. Whether it’s the invention convention, or a science fair, or whatever, no, we’re not excited. So stop sending us materials that say “We know you’re excited”. No, we’re not. Our kids wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t mandatory. Because see number 3. Projects stink.

It doesn’t lead to a well-rounded life.

  1. Life shouldn’t be all work and no play. In our school district, elementary kids are in school from around 8:00 until 2:30, middle school students until 3:30, and high school students until 4:00. Homework often takes hours each night, especially for middle and high school students. After you work all day, do you really want to take home things to work on? Certainly on an occasional basis I’ll do it, but every single day?
  2. The obesity epidemic keeps growing. Schools have cut PE and recess. Now kids get home and they are expected to spend another hour or two doing work, whether it’s in front of a computer screen, table, or more traditional paper based homework, it’s not involving movement.
  3. Kids lead complicated lives that at times require logistics and flow-chart scheduling, and this isn’t necessarily bad. We limit our children to one or two activities at a time, and it’s still difficult to schedule, and we just have two kids. Dance class, piano lessons, soccer teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, karate lessons, girl scouts, boy scouts, church volunteerism and religious education – all of these activities help our children become well-rounded adults and grow as a whole child. School work should just be part of a child’s life, not all of it.
  4. Kids need to learn life skills, such as how to cook, how to clean, how to wash their own clothes. My husband asked me the other night why I didn’t have my middle school child do his own laundry, since he had started doing that last summer. My answer was that he doesn’t have time with all of his homework. At times, it’s like an adult having a second job.
  5. And the number one reason why kids shouldn’t have homework is I don’t want to fool with it. After working all day, the last thing I want to deal with is homework. I’d like to spend time talking to my kids about their day, letting them learn how to cook, playing games as a family, or going on walks. Not talking about their homework assignment.

My suggestions:

Teachers, think about how you communicate with parents: include key dates (big assignments due, dates field trip money is due, key event dates, etc.) in a corner of your weekly newsletter. This would help parents, as we tend to lose track of stuff. We’re all human, right?

I’m not beating up on teachers. I know they have administrative requirements that they deal with. But I also know that teachers vary widely in the amount of homework they assign or expect, and sometimes it’s just bad luck who you get stuck with your child gets.

I know I can’t single-handedly get rid of homework, but here is what I would like teachers to do:

  • Decide at the beginning of the week what homework there will be, and make it due Friday. We have one fifth grade teacher who did that this year, and that worked well. That way the child will have all week and can fit in in with their schedule. The child can also balance it out between teachers.
  • Teachers should make sure assignments are posted on the website when you say they will, and deadlines and expectations are clear. (I say this after my son had to text friends last night trying to find a science assignment that the teacher failed to post on her website as she said she would. One friend took a pic, but my son expected to find it on the web so he did not. Other moms were texting me with the same issue, so I know it wasn’t just my son missing something.)
  • For older kids: For major milestone grades (big research paper, book reports, etc.), provide intermediate turn-in steps to keep students on track.
  • Stop assigning homework during testing weeks to keep the kids’ morale high, or at least keep the load light.

What do you think about homework? Is it one of the solutions to our education woes or part of the problem?

For my regular fans, I know normally I talk about books and such, but sometimes I like to switch it up. If you haven’t joined me on my journey, follow my blog or sign up for my monthly newsletter here. The inaugural issue is coming out this month! I promise recipes, book recommendations, and a few other surprises.