Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Samhain!!!



Traditionally, Samhain is celebrated with the gathering of a bonfire set high on a hill for all to see and be drawn to...well, today we have some CELTIC HEAT of a different kind....

in celebration of SAMHAIN, may you be safe, prosperous and may your passion always be aflame!








To the bad boys of Ireland
we give you our praise

for the pleasure you've given us
in our nights and our days...




For the heat that you spark,
with but a glint in your eye.

Can cause even the coldest of women to sigh.

Tis a gift , to be sure
this fever you bring-

as ancient as Samhain
with it's ritual kings.










Fierce runs the blood
in your veins for a fight

but fiercer still your passion
with your women--at night.

Tender your words when spoken in love
but your trust is gained through merit above






In celebration of Samhain
the ancient fires we keep,                      

in our hearts, you're the spark
of our fantasies deep!

Safe and Happy Samhain!

Amanda






Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Author, Caridad Pineiro!!!


Vivacious, genuine, smart, talented to boot--and a true delight--all of these describe my guest today at Coffee Talk!  Caridad Pineiro has a slew of backlist titles and a range in writing that would make your head spin! On top of that, she is a top-notch lawyer and a mom, mentor, and advocate all rolled into one.

No pressure. Ha! But she seems to handle it with ease and charm (I'm waiting for her how-to workshop!!)

 So come on in, pull up a comfy  chair and grab your cuppa! It's the week before Samhain(woooooo) and we've got Caridad Pineiro in the House!!

Let's talk about Vamps and Orbs, shall we?



My name is Caridad Pineiro and I have a confession to make. I’m a Buffy fanatic. Seems somehow appropriate for a paranormal writer. In my case, it’s actually the reason I’m a paranormal writer. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, I’m a paranormal romantic suspense writer.


I started off writing contemporary romances, but inevitably found that I was always trying to put something dark in the stories, from a serial killer to an athlete trying to deal with a career-threatening injury.

And then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I actually discovered the television program by accident as I was channeling my absent husband and surfing through the television stations. As I flipped, I ran across a rather stunning young blonde and very handsome man doing a martial arts routine that slowly morphed into a very sexually tense scene. I was hooked!

I not only watched all of that season (number three), but managed to find recordings of seasons one and two. I watched, transfixed as Buffy battled both her inner demons and the real life ones on the screen. I laughed and I cried. I was amazed at how the writers had used the demons and Buffy’s battles to create metaphors to represent the issues faced by teenagers in high school. Universal issues with which I could still identify as an adult.


I realized from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer that in a paranormal world there were more ways in which I could explore the real nature of my characters and up the ante with respect to the personal demons they faced in the story. I also realized that adding a little suspense was the perfect combination to let me to really push the characters to their extremes and allow them to rise to the challenges of the story.

The other thing that Buffy taught me was to think ahead about where I wanted to take the stories. For example, at the end of season three as Faith, a rogue slayer, is battling Buffy, she says to Buffy “Miles to go - Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.” Didn’t mean much to anyone at the time except maybe Joss Whedon, but 730 days later in season five Buffy took a swan dive off a tower to save her sister and the world.

In other words, through all those seasons there was a bigger story arc at work that was going to lead the characters to that momentous event. Another important lesson learned. Every time I start a series I map out a larger story arc that will allow me to develop a series of stories that stand alone, but which also connect and form a multi-book story for readers to follow.

Buffy inspired me and set me on a new path with my writing. I guess that’s another lesson learned – never box yourself into a corner and always be willing to explore something different. You never know where it will take you.



I want to thank my dynamite friend, Caridad for stopping in today! I love chatting with her any chance I can get! And, even better, the woman is generous!! 

 So today...for the first person who can name the hero in SINS OF the FLESH--Caridad is sending out a T-shirt and book!! 
(* isn't that a killer cover?;)

Now, tis the season---and  I want to try to get Caridad to share a bit too, about and incident at a recent convention and apparently closer to home as well--just in time for Halloween. The strange occurance of "orbs!!"  Whether or not you happen to believe in supernatural things--you cannot deny even from an intellectual standpoint how interesting it is! 

Come on , lets coax her into telling us about those recent experiences and maybe some of yours!!!!

Amanda

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caridad Pineiro this week at TCT!!!


Congrats to Jan who was our Coffee Talk winner last week with the multi-talented, Sheila Clover English! Your can read that article about Circle of Seven's amazing school program teaching kids the fun of reading still by scrolling to last weeks TCT!.....

This week we welcome the equally amazing Caridad Pineiro' to TCT!  What an genuinely talented woman who has every reason to have an ego the size of New Jersey, but is warm, witty and wonderful as they come!  Come by the kitchen and join us for a cuppa on Thursday, October 29 as she talks about her obsession with Buffy the Vampyre Slayer and her new book Sins of the Flesh!
Maybe we can get her to talk about the strange "orbs" she heard about at a recent writer's conference!!

See you Thursday!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

But by the moments.....

I have finished my first pass through of edits on The Master & The Muses.  I have a particular fondness of this story like no other book I've written. Perhaps it is the growth I've experienced while on the journey of research and creating the characters...or perhaps because it hits so close to home of my artistic side. (yes, I kept open containers of linseed and turpentine in my office as inspiration!)

I think it is secretly because I could identify with them in their quest to follow their gut, to color outside the box--as it were. With gratitude, something that my editors at Spice have so graciously encouraged.

Of course, as do all authors, I hope this book endears itself to readers as much as it has become special to me.

 It is based loosely on the antics of the real-life Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A group of twenty-something, like-minded rebellious artists who turned the English art world on its ear with their attitude and method of painting.

They were a rowdy group and often in trouble with the critics, caused all manner of trouble, but they perservered the naysayers and produced some of the most famous and timeless paintings that remain as brilliant today, as they were then.

Eccentric and scandelous, they were non-conventional and yet embraced all of nature as the center of their beliefs. Their work featured true colors, real, images, outspoken topics--rather than what was taught in the well-known art academies of the day.

And their social lives reflected as much of their quest for individuality, passion and beauty, as did their work.

I look forward to sharing THE MASTER & THE MUSES with you this coming June 2010. It features, Thomas Rodin, budding artist from Diary of Cozette and the stories of three of the women who posed for him, during the height of his art career.

They are his passion.
                       He is their obsession.



Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Sheila Clover English, CEO of COS Productions



Today on Coffee Talk, I am thrilled to have with us, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, Sheila Clover English. COS was one of the pioneer multi-media companies to take book promotions and combine it with entertainment, giving readers amazing, creative visuals to books! In essence, bringing them to life before our very eyes!  COS, I'm proud to say, did the incredible booktrailer for my book-Tortured.

Here is a bit about Sheila before we get started. So grab your cuppa on this chilly, rainy morning and tap into this innovative media group and all the good stuff they are up to!! For those of you attending reader and author conventions, you can almost always find Sheila, her husband and crew showcasing some of their fabulous work and you're sure to recognize a number of your fav authors!

Sheila Clover English is the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions and Executive Producer of Reader’s Entertainment TV. She is a member of the Downloadable Media Association, the Internet Content Syndication Council and the Silver Telly Council.

Sheila is the Chair of the ITW Social Networking committee and guest blogger for Future Perfect Publishing. You can find out more about Sheila’s industry awards and accomplishments on IMDB - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2731940/resume
Her company has been in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The New York Times and on NPR as well as featured in technology circles such as TubeMogul University, Ask the Experts and Fast Company.

Here's a warm-up as we settle in and listen to yet another innovative program that COS has created!


Reaching young readers in a way that is entertaining and enticing is a way to build tomorrow’s readers. That’s why the use of multimedia in a variety of venues has become increasingly important.

Children and young adults today are online. They are online for school work, jobs, news and entertainment. Often they are looking for something to do and they are picky about what they are willing to give their time to.

Video games are extremely popular with children and young adults as is online video. Young people are looking to be engaged either by doing something (games) or direct-entertainment (videos). So where do books fit in?

How do we remind them that books are entertainment?

Influence Not Authority
Why is it that a parent can recommend something to a child and the child will turn it down flat, but if their peers recommend the same thing they jump all over it?

Because influence will always win out over authority in the long run. We do what we are told to do because we have to. We do it begrudgingly. We do it until we don’t have to do it. But, when we are influenced by someone or something we want to do it.

Instead of a directive, try living by example. Kids want to feel exhilarated. They want to feel the emotions we know live inside a book. Tell them how a book made you feel. Relate it in an enthusiastic way. Then give them the book. Show them a book trailer. Send them to a cool website that promotes that book or author so they can decide for themselves.

Contact bloggers and give them a video to share. Give them talking points for discussions. Don’t make it a job for a blogger. Give them fun things to do or say so the blog can encourage participation. That’s what an influential blogger does. They get people to engage. Help them with that by giving them tools.

Elective Not Forced
Many schools force kids to read books at certain points in their educational career. There are books we can all discuss because in the 8th grade we were forced to read it. And though we might enjoy that book now, it was being forced to do something that we related to the physical action of reading.

Being forced to do something often breeds feelings of resentment. And if you like the teacher but not the lesson you blame the lesson, right? That’s exactly what happens. You need to blame someone or something for these bad feelings and often what gets blamed is the act of reading.

If you are forced to eat an apple every day will you learn to love apples, or when you no longer are forced to eat them, will you swear never to eat an apple again? You see how that works?

Smart schools are trying other methods to encourage kids to read. They have reading lists so young readers can feel they have some choices over what they will read. Some will reward the class by showing a movie after everyone reads the book, so there’s incentive connected with a positive feeling.

Entertainment Not Work
Remember when you were very young and story time was exciting? It was a reward or a comfort at the end of the day. Or when you’re on vacation and want to escape you would curl up with a good book and forget about work for a while.

Books need to be put in a positive light. They need to be presented as entertainment, not an assignment. Reading should be a reward.

COS Productions works with the University of Central Florida on something called Digital BookTalk. They have a program called UB The Director that allows kids to create their own book trailer. So, instead of a book report they get to do something fun with multimedia.

The Digital BookTalk program has been a huge success in both middle schools and high schools, though the program does target primarily middle school kids. The program is done either as an after-school program or as part of an English assignment. The books chosen come from a list given to the teacher by UCF and the UCF program teaches the teacher how to utilize technology to promote reading and comprehension.

The videos are currently shown on the UCF Digital BookTalk site, but will also be added to a new Young Reader’s TV site that will go live in 2010 as part of Reader’s Entertainment Group, the new umbrella company of Circle of Seven Productions.

Circle of Seven Productions and UCF found a natural synergy in their goals and objectives: Promote reading, build readers and show kids that books are an exciting form of entertainment.

The assignment isn’t having to read the book. The assignment is getting to make a book trailer. Reading becomes part of the process for a project kids consider to be fun. So now reading and fun have been put together in the minds of the kids.

The kids get together in teams and each team creates a trailer that everyone will review. Some of them vote for the best trailer, some of them play the trailers as part of a fun day in class. Books, reading and an assignment are now entertainment, not work.

You can find out more about Digital BookTalk at http://digitalbooktalk.com/.

Fun Not Commercial
Many schools, libraries and bookstores utilize multimedia to encourage reading, but whatever that multimedia is it needs to be fun-filled, engaging entertainment. Kids are busy these days and don’t want to waste their time watching commercials about your book. You need to give them something worth their time.

Book videos need to have entertainment value in them. They can’t just be a commercial. Commercials are fact, viral videos are entertainment. Facts are more like work, viral videos are more like fun.

I’m asked all the time whether or not a book trailer is a commercial. It is not. It has commercial elements in it, but it is not a commercial. Book trailers are meant to be entertainment. They have elements of adventure, fun or other enticements that influence through positive feelings and engagement.

Here’s an example. Evermore is a young adult novel with a target audience of tweens to twenties. This is more of a “Twilight” crowd and they are very interested in anything to do with the heroine, Ever.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrZ7IsA79ck

You can see that on one site alone this video has over 75,000 views. More importantly though you can see how engaged the viewers are by the number of comments and ratings. This series hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists with a #1 NY Times spot for author Alyson Noel.

This video became an influencer and a platform for other influencers. It is a little over one minute long and meant to be entertaining and enticing. It is not a standard commercial format, even though you see commercial elements such as the book cover and URL.

Another book trailer created to be more entertainment than commercial is Christine Feehan’s Turbulent Sea which is a music video. It has over 60,000 views on YouTube alone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECqNxdDWliY

This has 50 ratings and over 50 comments. It went on to be #1 on the NY Times bestseller list.

The point is that videos created to be entertaining are more likely to be shared than one that is more commercial in nature.

Other multimedia that has been rising in popularity is online gaming for books. I’ve seen different game ideas, but essentially this allows people to play a game while using the book storyline or in the case of the book Isis, the illustrations are used for the game. You can see that at http://www.isisthebook.com/. You can get your score and challenge your friends. The game has been played over 1 million times already.

The bottom line is that we need to promote reading in a positive and fun way before we can ever hope to promote individual books. You can’t sell something no one is interested in, so you need to create an interest. Starting with young readers, changing the way we present reading to them, is an investment in their education and in our industry.

So now we need YOUR input...today we're asking you as readers to suggest innovative ways to encourage reading in middle school and/or high school age kids! One comment selected today will receive a prize packet from THURSDAY COFFEE TALK!

Tell us what your school has done to help this, or what steps you have implemented at home. Maybe your sharing an idea will help someone else and encouraging reading in our young people is vital to all of our futures!!


I'd like to thank Sheila for stopping by and sharing this new and yet another innovative idea to inspire reading! Thats' what COS is all about!

To learn more about Circle of Seven and their amazing programs, log on to one of these links!


CEO, Circle of Seven Productions

http://www.cosproductions.com/



Reader's Entertainment TV

Read the COS Newsletter                                    
http://tinyurl.com/COSNews

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Free Read;The Prince and the Pea; Day Three


Two days later Gerald arrived for work and had to push through the crowded mass of humanity huddled around the display window of Sweet Slumber. Outside, camera crews from television stations and a photography studio blocked the entrance.



A burly man in a blue jumpsuit, carrying a coil of electrical cable over his arm and a coffee cup in his hand smashed into Gerald, splashing coffee down the front of his freshly pressed white dress shirt. As he tried to pull the scalding heat from his torso, a cab whizzed by sending an arc of rainwater over his just dry-cleaned suit pants, splattering them with mud.

A delivery boy trying to make his way through the crowd, skidded inches from Gerald who had to jump out of his way and in so doing fell backwards into a cement planter whose pants had just been watered He felt the dampness soaking clear through the pants fabric and into his boxer briefs.


He was about to call it quits and head back home when he heard pounding on the window behind him. There was Rosa, his beautiful dream girl, staring at him with a wild look of fear of confusion etched on her lovely face. Soaked boxers be damned, he had a duty to see to his lovely damsel in distress.


He pushed from the planter, hiding his muddy tush as best he could with his briefcase as he pushed through the front doors of the building. It took him a few moments to wind through the bevy of cords and reporters stationed outside the large room where they staged displays for the window. Once there, however he ran into another obstacle, more unusual than what he’d seen thus far. Blocking the entrance to the room was an elderly woman, legs locked, her gaze steely, and her arms crossed over her ample chest. She reminded him of his Aunt Agatha.

His disheveled appearance he knew wasn’t much help as he stepped ahead of the crowd.

“I need to get inside.”

“Yeah, that’s what they all say,” the old woman replied, her eyes raking over his muddy, wet with coffee and Miracle Grow mulched apparel.

“You don’t understand, this is about Rosa, she needs me.”

One silvery brow arched as she peered over her strange purple glasses.

“Very well and how long have you known Ms. O’Flannery?”

Was this a game? Gerald was getting frustrated. This old broad was about as nosy as his Aunt Agatha, too.

“Listen, Rosa and I have worked together a very long time. She just knocked on the window and I could see by the look on her face that she was in trouble. Now if you don’t let me in there, I’m, well…I may have to get-physical.”

The old woman smiled, her blue eyes twinkling.

“That’s what I’m hoping,” she muttered as she stood aside and let him enter.

There was a rush of young men to the door and he heard the woman from behind as the door closed.

“Sorry guys, private shoot going on. Don’t make me get out the flying monkeys, now move on back.”



Gerald searched through the photographer’s drapery hanging from the ceiling and finally found Rosa, perusing names on a clipboard. She looked up with a look of pure panic.

“I haven’t found the right one yet.”

“Excuse me?” He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“I haven’t found my Royal Prince.”

He thought for a moment and realized it was for her ad.. “You mean, for your presentation?”

She held his gaze. “Of course that’s what I mean, right. What happened to you?”

“Um, it’s a long story. You see, I was walking down the sidewalk when—”

“Gerald, I haven’t got time, its nine-fifteen and I have to make my presentation to the board in forty-five minutes and none of these men are good in bed.”

She waved her clipboard under his nose.

It was his turn to be surprised. “My, you work fast.”

She slanted him side-glance. “Funny. But the truth is, none of these guys meet the standards of the—”

She stopped short, chewing on the corner of her lip as she often did when she was thinking. He had the sudden urge to want to make her stop thinking all together.

“Of the?” He waited for her to finish her thought. But he was willing for her to take all the time she needed. He enjoyed simply standing near to her like this.

She groaned and dropped the clipboard to the floor. He stopped to pick it up and she took it from him without so much as a thanks.

“Uh,” Gerald blinked, “anything I can I do to help?”

“Yeah, well, you don’t happen to know any good-looking guys, do you?”

Ouch. “Uh, well, what about me?” It was a bold move, even for him. He felt as naked as a Thanksgiving turkey.

“What about you?” She rubbed her temple. “Oh, well of course, I’ll give you credit for whomever you can find. Time is of the essence and its better that we present this ad together than neither one of us having a plan.”

“What makes you think I don’t have my plan ready?” he answered frustrated that she didn’t get that he’d offered himself for her ad.

“Gerald, please, I don’t have time for this, are you going to help me or not?”

He put his ego aside. “Give me five minutes. What does the guy have to do?”


“Great, thanks Gerald I owe you one. I have to go check on those reporters outside, but if you could get the guy down to his skivvies and get him in bed, on his side, propped on his elbow. I want that sexy, passionate ‘I’m-waiting-for-you-only’ look in his eyes. The photographer will do the rest.”

She slapped the clipboard to his chest. “You think you can handle that?”

He gazed down at her warm, dark eyes, the color of his Starbuck’s Espresso. “Yeah, I think I can.”

“Great. I don’t know who you have in mind, but right now Gerald, you are my knight in shining armor.” With that, she reached up on her toes and kissed his cheek.

The next moment, she was gone.

***


Rosa pushed through the draperies and squeezed through the door to the lobby. With her back plastered against the door she beheld the throng of reporters, curious on-lookers and well-dressed models all clamoring for attention. And in their midst, stood her faery godmother, expertly staving them from battering down the door.

“How are we doing, FG?” Rosa inched to her side and whispered as her gaze roved over the crowd.

“Piece of cake. I haven’t had this much fun since the dwarves got rowdy at the Royal wedding and they had to call us in for crowd control. Gingerbread men can get pretty crazy. My guess, it’s all those spices.”

“I think we may have this handled. Gerald said he’d find me the right guy.”

“And you trust this Gerald?”

Rosa frowned at her fairy godmother. “Well, yeah, he’s a geek, but he’s trustworthy and he works very hard. He won’t let me down.” Rosa paused a moment as she thought of her response. “I haven’t always been very nice to him and that makes me feel bad. Maybe when all this is over I can do something to make it up to him.” She shrugged.

Her fairy godmother smiled bright. “Yeah, well, maybe. I’ll take care of this crowd and you take care of the reporters. What’s our time?”

Rosa glanced at her watch. “Nine-twenty five.”

“Let’s do this,” her fairy godmother stated commando-style.

***

With the reporters appeased, the models dismissed, and the crowd beginning to disperse, Rosa took a deep breath, pleased that her fairy godmother had magically seen to the breaking up of the crowd in less than two minutes, thirty-six seconds.

Rosa scurried inside the room, closing her eyes and the door simultaneously, drinking in the quiet of the photo shoot area. She heard the muffled sound of a man’s voice and curious, began to follow it. There was a lot less chaos going on, less people falling over one another and she offered up silent thanks to Gerald for getting things under control so efficiently.

She’d have to be sure to take him up on that lunch he was forever trying to ask her for, if, in fact, he ever asked her again. Perhaps she would first need to take the plunge and apologize for her standoffish behavior.

Rosa stepped around a drapery and her heart came to a sudden standstill.


“Can we drape that just over his hip, we want to entice, not shoot a porn movie here, people.” The photographer snapped off another few pictures oblivious to her presence. She stepped from the shadows, her eyes glued on the gorgeous man propped up in the ‘Royal Slumber’ bed, his muscular torso and washboard abs contrasted against the thin white sheet.

“Gerald?” It came out in a whisper. Damn, Gerald cleaned up good, real good.

His gaze found Rosa’s from across the room and he gave her a smile that made the back of her knees weak. It spoke to her of passionate nights, arms around her to keep her warm, a friend to come home to every night.

“That’s it! That’s the look, hang on to that Gerry, that’s perfect. Ok, kids, that’s a wrap folks, we’ve got our ad.” The photographer passed by Rosa with a wide grin on his face. “Not sure where you were hiding him, darling, but he’s dynamite. Don’t let that one out of your sight.” He left the set with the rest of his crew, leaving only Gerald and Rosa staring at each other.

“Gerald?”

His smile held, but he didn’t move.

“Is this ‘I’m-waiting-for-you-only” enough?”

Rosa went weak and swallowed. Oh yeah, it was. Unfortunately, it appeared he’d failed the magical prince part of the test. Her heart squeezed tight.

“You’re perfect, absolutely perfect.”

“Well.” He grinned as he rubbed his hand over the sheet beside him. ”That’s something you may have to find out for yourself.”

Rosa sucked in her breath at his bold statement. She already had a delightful image of the two of them, but she didn’t know how to tell him about her godmother’s ‘magical system.’ What if Gerald was only her ad knight and not her Prince Charming?

“Um, are you quite comfortable then?” She took a few steps stopping short of the end of the bed.

He shifted his legs beneath the sheet and it caused Rosa’s blood to heat.

“As much as a guy can be stripped down next to nothing in a room full of people and you?” he asked with a lop-sided grin.

Rosa shivered. Still as much as she was attracted to him at this moment, he hadn’t passed the test of the ‘pea.’ Her faery godmother stated clearly that her Prince would be susceptible to even the slightest discomfort beneath the mattress.

A lump formed in Rosa’s throat as she prepared to let him down easy. “There’s something I have to tell you, Gerald.”

“Okay, but come here, I have something to tell you first.” He glanced over her shoulder, as though making sure they were alone. Rosa moved to his side, holding herself stiff from the urge to attack him.

“Closer, so I can whisper this, I don’t want anyone to hear and I’d appreciate it if what I’m about to say stays between us? Promise?”

His face was inches from hers, his aftershave and a scent of rainwater fogging her brain. She nodded. What a shame to find out that after all of this Gerald really wasn’t her perfect match. Maybe her faery godmother was having an off day.

“You have the most fantastic eyes for a woman,” Gerald reached up and lifted tendril of hair over her shoulder.

“Gerald, please what is it you wanted to tell me?” Keeping her hands off him was proving more and more difficult.

Okay, frankly have you ever laid on one of these mattresses? They are the most ungodly awful things on the face of the planet. I’ve never felt such a lumpy mattress in all my life.”

Rosa sat at the edge of the bed and stared at Gerald. “You’re serious? You’re absolutely sure about this? Totally uncomfortable?”

He laughed and shifted to face her.

“Yeah I wouldn’t lie about that.”

She flattened herself against him knocking him to his back. “You are my prince.”


With a sexy grin he pulled her over his body and to her back, braced on his elbow above her. His hazel eyes burned with passion.

“I’ll be anything you need,” he whispered just before he kissed her.

In the shadows, Rosa’s fairy godmother grinned as she held up the shiny green pea and dropped it into her bag. She pulled out her knitting and happily secured the first of many dreams come true for Rosa.


And as for Gerald and Rosa? They lived happily, of course, rarely sleeping on their Royal Slumber mattress.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free Read: The Prince and the Pea: Day Two

Rosa chewed on her charcoal pencil, her over-sized artist pad propped up in her lap. The pages were still blank. She’d been staring at it for over an hour willing an idea to materialize.


Her television was turned on, mainly out of habit, but she’d snapped off the volume hoping to jar her creativity. On the screen played an old black and white movie that she stared at from time to time willing them to turn to her and give her a brilliant campaign ad.

In his usual spot at the end of her couch, her blonde tabby lay curled in a fuzzy ball, oblivious to her plight.


An empty pint of ‘Chunky Monkey’ and a crumpled bag of potato chips lay on the coffee table, evidence of her frustration and supper rolled into one. Tomorrow she silently promised she’d walk the treadmill for an extra fifteen minutes over her lunch break.

Rosa’s thoughts drifted back to the television screen. At this rate, she’d need the exercise to clear out the frustration of being muscled out again by Gerald. A laugh escaped her mouth, startling the cats slumber. He peered at her with one sleepy eye, stretched and went back to sleep.

As if Gerald possessed a single passionate thought in his body, which was too bad, since despite his universal geeky side, his body was screaming off the charts in terms of seriously fine.






“I don’t suppose you’ve considered the fact that you barely spend any time at all on a mattress?”

Rosa blinked a couple of times, her focus on the characters on the television. At first, she thought the woman on the screen was a kind-looking elderly lady touting the comfort of a new product.

As Rosa watched however, it seemed the woman was looking directly at her.

She picked up the remote and changed the channel. Perhaps the stress was causing her to hallucinate and a nap would be a good idea to refresh her before she plodded on.

“You already work too much, you don’t eat the right foods, and you never go out, just to have fun.” The old woman’s bright blue eyes were dazzling blue. “I’m not sure you understand what passion is truly all about. There is a such a thing as having a passion for life, that can be as important.”

Rosa was dreaming, of course that was it. She reached down, grabbed a chunk of her flesh, and pinched hard. “Ow.”

“Rosa my dear, you aren’t dreaming and I am not a figment of your imagination, though I can’t say that you couldn’t use a little help in that department.”

“Right,” Rosa laughed as she snapped the off button of her remote. The screen went black as she tossed the remote on the table. She reached for the chips and stilled when she heard the voice again.

“You tried that this morning when I tried to reach you on your cell phone.”

The old woman’s image appeared again on the television screen.

Rosa grabbed her cat and clutched the yowling animal to her. Surely, there was a glitch in her remote, how else could she explain this?

“What, are you going to do, launch him at me like a catapult?” Her nasal laughter ended in an unlady-like snort. “Get it…catapult?” Her laughter died to a trickle. “Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes.”


“Who are you, and what do you want?”

“Aha, now we’re getting somewhere. I hate having to appear in bathroom mirrors and cereal bowls, but you do what you have to do to get a clients attention.” The old woman shrugged.

“W-what do you want from me. I don’t make wishes, I’ve not seen any falling stars, I don’t even buy lottery tickets.”

Rosa pushed her body into the corner of the couch, using her cat as a furry shield. He gave a shrill meow and leapt from her arms, trotting with his tail high into the kitchen.

She was all alone with her little television friend. My God she was actually going over the edge.

“To answer your question, which I’m sure you are dying to know—“

“Could we please refrain from using such terms until we establish exactly why you are here?” Rosa croaked, staring warily at the woman.

“Oh heavens child, I’m no angel. Heavens no, they kicked me out of that union years ago. Nope, I am what you would call for all intents and purposes, your fairy godmother.”

“M-my Fairy godmother?”

The woman cast her gaze to the ceiling. “Yes, it’s a step down from angels duty granted, but the hours are so much better and the assignments are a heck of a lot more exciting.”

“Did you say—fairy godmother?”

“And I thought it was old people who were hard of hearing. Listen up, I’ll saw it once more. Fae-ry God-mu-tha,” she enunciated each syllable and Rosa noted then the Brooklyn accent.

Rosa slipped from the couch and smiled at the strange image on the screen. She closed the window leading to her fire escape. On top of everything else, she didn’t need to have her neighbors hearing her talking to her TV.

Pausing a moment, she gazed up at the full moon above and the night sky shimmering with stars. Had she ever noticed this was just outside her window?

“It’s a beautiful world out there, you know.”

She turned and leaned against the windowsill crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t believe you’re real.” She stated the comment as emphatically as she could in hope that it would awaken her from whatever dream realm she found herself in.

The old woman sighed.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me. Very well, you leave me little choice.”


In a cloud of purple haze, the woman re-appeared in full fairy regalia in the middle of her living room. A powdery lavender dust covered her furniture…certainly the least of her concerns.


“I can clean that up in a jiffy; we have much greater issues going on here.”

As much as Rosa wished to refute that statement, she was careful to even think of a wish, much less give this psycho woman a reason to use her hocus pocus on her.

She glanced around looking for a hidden projector. There was nothing that technology couldn’t achieve in the hands of the knowledgeable person. Maybe she was simply a holographic image being beamed in from a computer nearby.

Rosa walked over, reached out and poked the woman’s ample bosom.


Surprise the old woman reared back as did Rosa. The woman’s gaze narrowed.

“Princess, you have a few things to learn tonight and one of them is definitely trust.”

“I don’t trust anyone but myself.”

The old woman peered at her with kind eyes. Dressed like a replica of Aunt Bee, from Mayberry RFD, she waved her hand and the purple residue disappeared.




Okay, granted Rosa couldn’t explain.

“The truth is Rosa, you don’t even truly trust yourself.”

Rosa laughed. “That’s ludicrous, I’m the most self-sufficient, reliable person I know.”

“Which is why you sleep alone on your couch?”

The old woman’s head dipped as her twinkling blue eyes peered at her.

Much like Gerald, but not nearly as sexy.

Did she just think that?

“I choose to sleep on the couch.”

“Because?”

Rosa hesitated a moment before answering, wondering if it was a trick question. “Because I choose to, that’s why. There’s no cosmic crime in sleeping on the couch is there?” It was Rosa’s turn to laugh, but the woman held her somber gaze.

The elderly would-be faery pulled a lace hanky from what appeared to be an oversized canvas bag. Two large knitting needles stuck out from the open top.

Rosa smiled. “You knit? I didn’t think faery godmother’s had time for such menial human endeavors.”

The silver–haired woman continued to set about her task.

“That attitude my dear, may well be part of your problem. You tend to see the glass half-empty Rosa, instead of half-full.”

Having had about enough, Rosa finely broke. “Okay, how much did he pay you to pull this little stunt?”

Her knitting needles stilled.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about child.”

“No? And just what are you knitting with those, pray tell fairy godmother.” She knew she sounded snarky, but the woman was pushing her buttons and she had a campaign to design.

“These, you mean?” The woman plucked a ball of purple yarn, and a single, thread from her bag.

“These are dreams child. Each one is carefully tied and knotted as they are completed.”


“That doesn’t seem like you’ve been working on that one long.” Rosa pointed out studying the short strand.

The old woman smiled. “That’s why I’m here Rosa. These represent everything in your life that you have wished for and received.”

Rosa sank onto the couch, her gaze fixed on the very short strand of yarn. She began to realize how lonely and sequestered she’d become.

A moment ticked by before she felt the cushions beside her give. The old woman took her hand, and patted it gently.

“It’s never too late to have dreams, Rosa. But you have to be open to serendipity.”

Rosa glanced at the old woman’s hand holding hers. “I’m not built for, what did you call it, serendipity?” Her faery godmother patted her hand again.

“Of course you are. We just have to find it.”

If this woman could help her, make her less afraid to believe in her dreams and find more than just work in her life, perhaps it would be wise to listen.

“You need to find the romance and the passion in your life, Rosa.”

The old woman’s kindly gaze held hers. True, Rosa couldn’t attest that she had a smidgeon of romance in her, much less serendipity, whatever that was. The stakes always seemed too high to attain such luxuries and besides they weren’t exactly reliable anyway. “I don’t know. Serendipity and romance? A person can get hurt and that can set you back from the practical goals in life.”

“Does your practicality keep you warm on a cold night?” her fairy godmother asked blue eyes sparkling wise with warm understanding.

“There’s my cat, he sleeps at my feet.” It was a particularly lame comeback, but all she had, sadly. Rosa shrugged. “Okay, you’ve made your point. However, in case you hadn’t noticed, there aren’t a million men breaking down my door to get in.”

“Hum, I wonder why?” her faery godmother commented as her gaze raked over Rosa’s ragged sweatpants, her dirty pink fuzzy slippers, and spaghetti stained Dartmouth sweatshirt.


“Maybe I’m not interested in finding my Prince Charming.” Rosa responded in her defense, though the truth was weakening that by the moment.

“So, you do believe the idea that there might be one there, you’re just not interested?”

Rosa shrugged. “I don’t know. I haven’t found anyone yet that does anything for me.” She pulled her legs up, wrapping her arms around her knees.

Classic fetal position. She was in serious trouble.

“What if I told you that you could find your Prince Charming and the ultimate ad campaign all at the same time?”

Rosa brightened, that was not a half-bad idea, in fact, it was brilliant. At least if the Prince part didn’t work out, at least she’d have the respect of the elderly board of directors for an effective ad campaign. “I’m listening.”

“Are you willing to work with me?”

Rosa’s gaze landed on the very short knitted chain representing her dreams. Struck with curiosity , she asked, “How far back do those go?”

“When was the last time you made a wish?”

Burn. Rosa bit her lip. What did she have to lose?

“What do I have to do?”

“It’s simple really. You’re in the mattress business. So we go with a time tested recipe for such things. What you’ll do is hold auditions for your next ad. You’ll know your Prince Charming by how he behaves in bed.”

Rosa’s eyes widened. “Excuse me, I’m not that kind of girl.”

“Yes, dear, we’ve established that,” her faery godmother laughed. “I’m kidding, sweetheart. You have such a delightful sense of humor. That’ll help.” She pointed the end of her knitting needle at Rosa.

“So, you aren’t asking me to sleep with them?”

“Good heavens no, I use an ancient time-honored system—very high success rate. I can give you references, of course.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Rosa replied as she grabbed her sketchpad. “I can be open-minded if need be. Now tell me how is this magical system going to help me?”

Rosa was getting comfortable with the idea of having her own fairy godmother. To be able to create a killer ad and have her deepest personal dreams come true, I mean, how awesome was that?

“Okay, I’m ready. Go slow; I want to catch every detail.”

Her fairy godmother folded her lace hanky and stuffed it under her bra strap.

“It starts with a pea.”

Rosa wrote the letter on the sketchpad and waited, her pencil poised for the rest.

“That’s it.” The old woman replied tucking the yarn and needles back into her bag.

“But wait a minute, what does ‘P’ mean?”

The kind woman shifted her starry blue gaze to hers and smiled.

“You’ll see.”


Hope you're enjoying  The Prince and the Pea!
Stay tuned for Day Three...see what Rosa's faery godmother has in mind....

Visit the REAL RT faery court!!!

Amanda

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Read faery tale...The Princess & the Pea

I am a seasoned faery..yep, I confess, its' true...right down to the slap of a magic wand--we won't say when or where..what happens at RT , stays at RT.

But we fae are a creative group and over the years have come up with various fun things that highlight the fun we have in presenting the Faery Court ball each year at the Romantic Times Booklovers convention.  Since this came up the other day on Cecile's blog..I thought I might post it here as a free read!

Just for fun, my modern day version of ...

The Princess & the Pea



Once Upon a time there was a young executive. Her name was Rosa O’ Flannery, named after her Irish grandmother and her Hispanic grandmother. She was very bright and her skill and determination had taken her far up the corporate ladder in the successful industry of advertising.


She’d become the only female officer on the board of ‘Sweet Slumber Mattress’ by being self-sufficient, independent, and working night and day not concerned whether she might ever find her ‘Prince Charming.’ Who had time for that?


Certainly not her, she didn’t have time for such trivialities…not when her boss and half the board constantly kept their beady, ancient eyes on her. Ancient all, except for one and Gerald, well, Gerald didn’t count. He was the resident geek, personified.

Rosa’s cell phone vibrated against her hip, startling her in the middle of her ten o’clock meeting with the all-male board. She smiled contrite at her boss, who paused momentarily in the midst of his ten-minute dissertation on bedspring quality.



Mentally she wished whoever was on the other end of the phone would dissipate in a puff of smoke. Rosa tugged the cell phone from her suit pocket and frowned at the unknown number flashing on the tiny screen. She sighed and snapped the lid shut to disconnect the annoying caller. No sooner had she tucked it back in her pocket however when it began to buzz again, vibrating like an angry bee against her hip.

Gerald Hopper, junior associate for ‘Sweet Slumber’ slanted a side look at her over the top of his thick black rimmed glasses. Though he was likely (to her best guess, and not that she noticed) close to her age, Gerald had a penchant for dressing at least thirty years in the past. Perhaps he thought it gave him greater credibility with the aging board members, to Rosa it was plain annoying.


In the mattress business, Rosa had never thought about it much, feeling that she was above the all male contingency by virtue of being the only female on the board. As such, she’d earned the nickname Princess among her fellow board members. And most often, she gritted her teeth each time one of them referred to her with the name using it instead to fuel her belief that she was more than capable and uniquely qualified to ‘reign’ over this tribe of aging misfits.

Granted, maybe that’s the reason she didn’t feel that she needed a man in her life.

To add to the frustration, however, she was none to happy when she was passed over by the board and instead Gerald received the Junior Associate position. Fortunately, he hadn’t let it go to his head, geeky as it was.

“Sorry, wrong number, “she whispered leaning close to Gerald and offering a weak smile.

Rosa purposely averted her eyes from her boss, sensing his frosty gaze.

“Ms. O’Flannery, is there something you wish to address with the rest of this board?” her boss spoke in a dry, even tone.

Her gaze snapped up and she found eleven sets of eyes fixed upon her. If one didn’t take into account Mr. Higgenfield’s glass eye that was forever straying in the opposite direction.

“Sorry sir, wrong number. I apologize.” She pressed the off button on her phone and shoved it back into her pocket.

Her boss cleared his throat. “”I don’t need to tell you people how crucial this new ad campaign is to our sales. It’s vital we come up with a strategy that will knock the sheets off our competition. You have exactly twenty-four hours to come up with a brilliant market plan for our new ‘Royalty Slumber’ line. Now get busy and I want every idea on this table no later than ten a.m., tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.”

His stern gaze fell on Rosa and she lowered her eyes to the table.

“I leave my phone at my desk,” Gerald whispered to her from behind as they shuffled like livestock from the boardroom.

The hairs on Rosa’s neck bristled with awareness of his mouth near her earlobe. “Thanks, I’ll remember that next time.” Mentally she took his horn-rimmed glasses and twisted them into small pieces.

Oblivious, Gerald tucked his file under his arm and retrieved his day-planner, perusing its pages with the giddiness of a child with a new toy.

“Okie dokie, Princess, what are you doing today for lunch?” He pushed his geeky glasses up the bridge of his nose.

For a split second, she imagined the form-fitting blue tights beneath his out-of-style business suit. There was potential that given a massive makeover and a few lessons in social skills, that Gerald could be attractive. The operative word, of course, being could. If he could tone down the whole ‘Clark Kent’ image just a hair. Moreover, speaking of that, why did he feel the need to plaster down his gorgeous raven locks with tons of gel? Maybe it was to prevent flyaways. Rosa held the grin that threatened to lead to disaster if she allowed him to see it. After all, in all likelihood, the way things were going, Gerald could one day be her boss.



Rosa shuddered, yet kept her smile congenial. “Paperwork,” she replied as she checked her watch to be sure she didn’t miss the mail carrier’s next round at ten seventeen on the dot.

“Again? You know Rosa, its not good to skip meals. It lessens the vital nutrients needed to produce brain cells, and without those, well then you can’t very well think of the perfect ad campaign, can you?”

He gave her a grin that exuded his self-brilliance.

She held his geek-personified gaze a moment not wanting to hurt him, yet once again reminding herself that if this was the only nibble she ever got from a man (and that was using the term loosely) then she’d just as soon starve. Still, when he screwed up his face like a grumpy ten-year old who didn’t get his way; it produced the most adorable little dimple at the corner of his mouth.

“I have an absolute mountain of work. I’d planned to grab something from the break room and eat while I work. Sorry Gerald, maybe another time?” She forced her gaze from his mouth and back to the hazel eyes blinking at her from behind the thick lenses. There were moments, though rare, when she wanted to immerse herself in their depth. She shook her head from her ridiculous thoughts.

“It’s been great talking to you, Gerald, but I’ve got to run. Time waits for no man, or woman.” She smiled as she walked between the shoulder high cubicle walls.

“And all work and no play makes Princess a dull…uh, girl, er…woman,” he called after her. Sure, it was meant to be funny, but she couldn’t help but feel the ill-timed jab as several co-workers turned to look up at her as she passed by.

She waved her hand in dismissal, keeping her chin high and her smile as bright as possible. Who had time to play anyway? Maybe Gerald did, but not her. If the powers-that-be wanted a kickass advertising campaign, then by golly they were going to get one they couldn’t refuse. She would show that board that she was more than a Princess; she was a passionate force to be reckoned with.

***

Gerald watched the defiant flounce of her skirt as she walked away. He admired her grit against the geezers still running the company. His fa├žade of dressing down was meant to satisfy their egos, in hope that they would listen to his ideas. The administrative heads of Sweet Slumber were a bit behind the times, make that atrociously behind the times when it came to selling their products. When other companies appealed to the bright, youthful zesty ads to instill a sense of passion into the customers, Sweet Slumber instead held the concept that everyone who purchased their product was geriatric and therefore no longer interested in passion in bed.


Gerald slowly but surely hoped that he could change their minds with a campaign that he hoped would appeal to Ms. O’Flannery as well. He’d been trying to get a date with her for months, but when Princess made up her mind on something there was little else that changed her mind. He wondered why she stayed, when it seemed the elder board members handled her like a child on occasion. His attention snapped back to Prin—Rosa, as she stopped to sign off a chart for her secretary. She gave the woman a carefree laugh and flipped her dark hair over her shoulder.

Gerald had dreamt of how her silky hair would feel between his fingers, had thought of it for months in his private fantasies. With a final glance over her shoulder, she offered him a barely perceptible smile and closed her office door.



Stay tuned for tomorrow!

Amanda

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winters Deisre has arrived!

Hey ! They arrived!!!  Woohoo!

So in honor of the gal who gave us the 'ode to winter' Mary Ann DeBorde please email me your snail mail and I'll ship you out a fresh out of the box copy of Winters Desire!!

Check over at Ceciles All I want and More to throw your hat in the ring for a copy of TORTURED and DIARY OF COZETTE!

Watch for more giveaways during the month at Lust in Time, Charlottes new blog, and here at House of Muse.

Happy reading!

Amanda

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk/ Oct.8: Author, Genella deGrey

Today on TCT I have a special lady that I've gotten to know better in the past couple of years. I first met Genella at an Romantic Times convention and since, I have discovered not only what a talented writer she is, but a genuine article, great human being!

Genella has some books coming out this next year that I hope we can nudge her to talk about, but I asked if she would tell us a bit about her tenure as a resort decorator for Disney in Anaheim, Ca.


Can you imagine a more fun job? This from a woman who got to go Disney back lot  in Orlando with a group of band students performing in the afternoon Main street parade. It's all very tight security and I was just in Disney heaven!
So to honor her chatting about her Disney days and costumes (her other love!)

I've taken liberty of hunting down and dragging in...er, inviting a few live actiion Disney heroes to our cozy kitchen today to help keep our toes warm on this chilly autumn day! See how many you can name(real names)  and what DISNEY movie they appeared in. Post your answers in the comment section and I'll pick one winner at random to send a special treat! ( No tricks involved and I can tell you its yummy sweet!)


Come on in here G. and grab a cuppa!


Hi Amanda - happy Autumn everyone!


This is my favorite time of year, for several reasons – Halloween being one of them.

So in honor of the modern way in which we celebrate Halloween, let's talk costumes and decorations!

Do you dress-up every year (whether you have kiddies or not) or only for Halloween parties?



Where do you get your ideas for your costume?

Do you plot and plan your ensemble out or do you head to your local Target and choose from the "what's popular this year" selection?

Do you go all out and do hair and makeup, too or just make it work with a decent hat or wig?

One of my favorite ways to plan a Halloween costume begins all the way back at the beginning of September. (In case you don't know it, I'm a total costume spaz.) I like to "haunt" the local thrift stores way in advance and see what sparks an idea. If I see something I know will likely be snatched up by another costume hunter, I grab it then and there. Thus begins my journey into the perfect costume.



Now for the decorations. Atthe Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, (for the Resort Enhancement Team, anyway) Christmas begins in June/July. Crazy, huh? I worked there in 2003 and thought it jarring at first when we began dragging out the old decorations, refurbishing them and/or bringing new ideas to life. It didn't take me very long to totally fall in love with decorating, no matter the season. (I obviously don't bat an eyelash anymore when Macy*s brings out their Christmas trees in early October. LOL) 2004 was the first year The Disney Resorts began decorating for Halloween. I had the privilege in 2003 of seeing some of their Autumn ideas they would execute the following year. Given my adoration for Disney and my unabashed love of Halloween, I can only imagine I would be salivating all over the place had the position with the Resort Enhancement Team been a permanent one. It must be illegal to love a job so much. :)

Here in Los Angeles over the passed five years or so, I've noticed more and more people are decorating their houses for Halloween – not just by hanging their kids' pictures in the window, but going ALL OUT. Some go spooky and turn their front yards into grave yards with smoke and black light. Others do it up with Jack-o-lanterns and orange or purple light strings hung kind of like traditional Christmas lights. Still others have a harvest theme with scarecrows and tons of uncut pumpkins and strangely twisted gourds and squash. I must confess: I love it all—so much so that it makes me giddy.

However you choose to decorate or for whichever holiday, try putting a theme to your creation. For instance, if you are doing a Christmas wreath and decide that Angels are your theme, (and you could probably go to any dollar store or craft store to find the following items) begin with a pine wreath (faux or real with a bit of gold spray glitter around the edges) try placing white angel feathers, little golden harps, white twinkle lights and anything else you can pull from the theme around the wreath.


If you'd like to add a winter theme, sprinkle in tiny snowflakes (either wired in or glued) and use blue twinkle lights in place of or in addition to the white ones. I can never get enough of twinkle lights, but that's just me. ;)

See how we jumped from Halloween to Christmas? Another reason I love this season is because it kicks off the holidays.



Thanks for having me, Amanda!

Hugs to everyone –

G.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October 7th: Visiting today at All I Want & More!



I am visiting with Cecile at her newly renovated diggs at All I Want and More! Giveways and a new review added as well as maybe a sneak peek at my upcoming novella, WINTER AWAKENING in Winters Desire!

Come on by for a cuppa with Cecile and me!

Amanda

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dont have my books yet contest!

Okay...the power of positive thinkng....

In hopes that my UPS guy is going to deliver my copies of Winters Desire today....if only because they've actually used that "S" word in our weather forecast for the northern tiers of the state.


I'm going to give away the first copy of Winters Desire from the freshly opened box(yes, we hope to have one by days end)  to one lucky reader chosen at random who leaves me a comment on "why I like winter."

Come on! Help me to summon my ARC's!!! LOL


Amanda