Monday, December 28, 2009

Whats your goal?

We here in the midwest are still digging out of a record-breaking blizzard much like what pounded the east coast last week, so beautiful coming down, but I felt so much better when my oldest son and his girlfriend made it home safely. We shipped out the 4-wheel drive and packed up the grannies with their jammies and had them stay with us for two days and while the blizzard raged around us, we were cozy and content inside. The power went out a couple of times , so was prepared on Saturday night as we'd just started a delayed holiday dinner and the lights went out. Christmas dinner by lantern light is admittedly kind of fun;)

Best Gift: Having everyone home safe & sound. The sound of laughter among them all.

Worst gift: there wasn't a single one!

We played games and of course the Xbox got a work  out among the male teens in the house;) But a great trivia game that my daughter gave her brother was great fun. Called "Smart Ass" it is found a B &N and "game" type stores. "Catch Phrase" and a game where you continue in a circle to roll doubles in dice and vy for a chance to open a present with oven mitts on was a hoot! Whoever gets it open, wins the gift-no teeth allowed!

I can hear snowblowers in the neighborhood this morning and the sun is shining brilliantly outside. Those voices that got squelched for a few days in the din of my family's laughter are beckoning to me to come back and tell their stories. Rome, London and a medieval castle all await my return.

It's been a year of blessings both professionally and personally , and I look forward to the year ahead with its promise of potential and possibility. I'm setting my goals and aside from the usual--pay attention to my health, go more green, be more thankful, be more gracious--I am setting other, more practical goals as well.

Do you follow the tradition of  goal-setting for the New Year?  If so, what types of goals have you thought of for yourself?

One of mine is to simplify my life --disburse and organize and experience some things that I've not tried before.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

is to say thank you to all the cards and email well wishes for a happy holiday. Your kindness, joy for reading and support is such a blessing and one of the best gifts that keeps on giving all year long.;)

I hope to offer you even more fun and innovatove stories in the new year with Private Party (April 2010) The Master & the Muses (June 2010) and Torins' story--Forbidden Pleasures (September 2010).

To each of you, my wish for a healthy, happy holiday filled with all the peace and contentment each of you deserves.

May there be a little magic, a little wonder, and an awakening of your inner passion!

You are true gifts!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Jo Carol Jones, RTBOOKreviews Convention director

She's been called the "Texas elf," the "head buwannah", the "queen"--but whatever title you want to give this woman, she is a powerhouse of ideas, wisdom and energy. Jo Carol Jones knows the publishing industry and she knows how to throw a major convention--evidenced by the continued success of the RT BOOKreviews booklovers conventions! 

Coming up April 28-May2, 2010 in Columbus , Ohio is the 27th annual Booklovers extravaganza!  Starting out as the only convention of its kind on the northern continent-perhaps the world--RT has grown over the years, grooming new authors, informing aspiring authors and connecting in a casual, buut professional setting publishers, editors and agent with authors and authors with readers, booksellers and librarians.

I am amazed at her skills, priviledged to call her a friend and giddy that she decided to stop into the House of Muse kitchen to answer your questions about the RT BOOKreviews booklovers convention!
So much goes into the planning of this event and though attendees see you darting hither skither duruing the convention, few may really know Jo Carol--the woman. Let's start there...

Well, I can tell you a little bit about myself and the role I play at the RT BOOKLOVERS Convention. I have been the acting Convention Director for the last 5 years. In that role, I help plan the convention, coordinate events and sponsors. Work on registrations, website and a few extra jobs:)

The convention has a staff of volunteers, if you see staff you are seeing a volunteer, not a paid employee of RT. They have been the mainstay of the convention. I started 10 years ago as a volunteer in Registration and worked behind the scenes for the first 5 years. My professional job was a Training Resource Specialist (coordinated, planned events for employees, computer training and computer labs) it helped prepare me for the RT world. Some would say there is no prep for the RT Vortex.

There are two groups that help me put this event together. The Convention Staff is made up of volunteers whose professionals lives are much different 360 days out of the year. (yes I said 360 days, I drag them to the site 5 days prior and work them to the bone).

The RT Staff works though out the entire year helping me to plan, create and organize the convention from the website to the workshops, from the pre-con writer programs to the booksigings and workshops--and everything in -between.

Both sets of these volunteers help on site. We couldn't do it without either of these groups. If you come to the convention please give these folks your thanks.

You might ask what does the registration cover, it covers the hotel fees, meals, decorations, audio visual, publicity and many other things. We have parties every night, a kick off with Ellora's Cave Fantasy Party on Wednesday, Faery Court Costume Ball and Dinner on Thursday, Heather Graham and Helen Rosburg Vampire Ball and Dinner on Friday, and the famous Dorchester Party on Saturday. There are more mixers from morning until evening every day. I'm always amazed at the sponsors and the creative events that they pull together!! You can finda complete list of all social and professional events at our convention website-RT Convention
Often during the month of December, I get requests asking if gift certificates are available for the convention. Husbands wanting to give a special gift to their aspiring author wives, daughters wanting to bring their mother to meet her favorite author, or a friend who wants to help his or her friend’s, dream of getting published a bit more of a reality because of the fantastic networking opportunities available at this convention.

When I started going to the convention it was to meet some of my favorite authors, so when I took the reins as director I began to expand the convention agenda to offer a broader range of networking among authors and readers. We designed a “Reader’s Track” as well as a track custom-designed for aspiring authors, published authors, booksellers/librarians, and, of course, some of the best publishers, agents and editors in the industry.

The Romantic Times BOOKlovers Convention offers just that—an array of events-social and educational for attendees to learn what’s hot in the publishing industry, find out about emerging markets and technical achievements. This year, we’ve added more interactive events between authors and readers and two bookfairs, where readers can peruse all the best of the e-published industry, as well as the print and audio portions of the industry.

This convention which began as primarily a romance conference and the only one of its kind on the Northern Continent—still holds roots firmly in the belief of the romance genre, but in recent years we’ve expanded to include other popular genres, as well as the blended genres. Paranormal, Erotica, Mystery, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary, Series, Steampunk, YA/Teen, Psychic Fiction, Multi-Cultural, Comics/Manga, Vampire—to name a few, and RT prides itself on keeping an eye on what it is that readers want.

One of the perks for all attendees is getting to meet new authors and learn about new genres, upcoming trends, and have the opportunity to ask questions, and make your voice heard. Publishers and authors are very generous with baskets giveaways in Club RT(over 125 baskets were given away last year in Club RT!) and the booksignings, as well as an array of free items that are given away in RT’s well-stocked promotional hallway. Thanks to publishers, I love hearing the complaints from attendees about how they are going to ship all their free books back home! (We do offer shipping services onsite as well!)
If you are interested in reading the deets on the RT Convention, set for April 28-May 2, 2010 in Columbus Ohio—including how you can register for one of the best and largest reader events in the country! Come experience the Romantic BOOKLovers convention, we’d love to have you!

I’d love to hear if you’ve attended RT or who you would like to meet at RT? What’s your favorite type of read? If you have any questions about the convention, I’d be happy to answer those for you.

Today as a special holiday gift, House of Muse is giving away a $100.00 discount on one 2010 RT registration to one lucky reader who leaves a comment!! Winner announced on Friday afternoon, December 18, 2009. **You must be registered by midnight, January 15, 2010 to receive the discount.**

Jo Carol
My thanks to Jo Carol for stopping by and if there are any questions you'd like to ask about the convention, Jo is here in a RARE one-on-one appearance to try to do just that!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday reading!

Disclaimer: I barely know this author, I rarely read this genre, but I know when a book pushes me to turn the pages, that it's a good read! I love Sokoloff's unique and fresh stories--defintely not the same ol', same ol'....(oh, btw...this is not my living room, but I would love it , if it were!!)

Continuing my journey into the Alexandra Sokoloff's psycho-thriller type books, I just finished her second book, THE PRICE. A brilliant piece of work, the premise being what if there was available the potential to save the life of a loved one from certain death?  To what lengths would we be willing to go to change the realistic outcome?

I love to read romance, but I have learned that there are a number of ways to say "I love you." What would a mother do for her dying child? What would a husband do for his suffering wife? Another psychological gem that twists and turns-pushing the reader to its startling conclusion!

Check out THE PRICE, by Alexander Sokoloff

My 2009 shortlist of great books I've read this year:
*in no particular order

The Club  - Sharon Page
The Virgins Secret  - Victoria Alexander
The Rogues Game- Renee Bernard
Vying the Viscount -Emily Bryan
The Harrowing-Alexander Sokoloff
Christmas Knight-Christina Skye *re-released in a duet this year! Yay!

And for those looking for a little something to add to that last minute gift--
Diary of Cozette
Winters Desire
are all still available!! If you'll send me an email , I"ll be happy to send you a personalized bookplate
and some info about my upcoming new book--THE MASTER & THE MUSES!

May you enjoy the warmth of a good read this holiday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog contest at Fresh Fiction today only!!!

I'm blogging today and holding a contest to give away the new-first in a mini-series of Celtic Spice anthologies!! Check it out at Fresh Fiction blog!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bears repeating!

I'm sorry this pic has been on display before here at the manor, but honestly
it does "bare" repeating!

Lord CM demonstrates  a new form of "light bondage"...
Hope your holidays are merry and bright!!

The Lit Ladies

I actually read a book!

I actually took time to read a book, or How a book snagged me form the first page and I have the dark circles under my eyes to prove it...

It's no great surprise that I have eclectic tastes. In my music, reading, movies and even clothes;)

I know that you're supposed to read what you write, but quite often I am inspired by the variety, rather than reading more of what I want to write--for some reason it works in the opposite for me--expanding the possibilities--giving new meaning to the what if..the research materials will give me the details and facts , but it's by reading a variety of books, from research to fiction--that opens up my imagination.

Okay, so there's  a sneak peek into my head, like it or not;) But I do have a point...stay with me now...

This past week we had three snow days. Now, admittedly, that was for my kids, not me, but with kids at home, and the holidays around the corner, I found my sleeping pattern out of whack. To add to that, I picked up a book that I bought from an author I met first at RT a couple of years ago. Her second book, The Price looked intriguing and at RWA this past year I found her at the signing and picked up The Harrowing.

What would you call this? On the back cover, Kirkus reviews says, "Poltergeist Meets the Breakfast Club"
That's pretty close.

It was this book that kept me awake into the wee hours of the night. I finished it in one night. Now, I do happen to enjoy the psychological thriller type movie and frankly, I'd never read a psycho-thriller book--but the Harrowing will have you pushing through to see what will happen to a "discarded" group of college students left behind in an old, massive dorm that is harboring a deadly secret of its own.

The author, Alexandria Sokoloff, is also a screenwriter as well and it is clear in her wrting that not only are you reading a riveting story--you are experiencing it as well. If you like movies like The Sixth Sense, The Others, Premonition...then you are going to understand my praises of this gem of an author!

Highly Recommended:
The Harrowing
Alexander Sokoloff
St Martins Press
ISBN 13: 978-0-312-35749-8

I'm nearly finished with her second book, The Price--which is just as amazing! And this is a genre I've never read! Its in its second printing and if you pick it up you'll see why.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Dec.10 Kathy Francis

I'd like to ask you all to give a warm welcome today to a woman I am proud to call my friend. As you'll see when you read her story, I have actually known her longer than I've known my husband and as a result, the antics and obstacles we've been through are impossible in their entirety to name.

But none compare to the challenge of what I asked her to come by and share today. This story is an amazing one--of courage, faith and pure tenacity. If ever there is evidence of the true American spirit of not giving up--it is this one. And someday this story will be told in its entirety-I will see to that.

But for now, I want you to get to know Kathy and her beautiful daughter, Danielle a bit more.Their family not so different than anyone else, they went about their lives like all of us do--until the event that happened that would change their perspective and lives--and the lives of so many around them--forever.

Its a story that packs in more emotion from a family's challenge, a mother's heart--than I could ever begin to fictionalize--and it's all true.  As mom's/friends, we like to think we can "fix" anything that comes along in their lives--but sometimes faith becomes a freefalling experience, that no one can predict the outcome.

So grab your cup of coffee or tea, and gather around the table and visit with my friend, Kathy Francis...(*pic is Danielle and mom, Kathy)

Good morning Amanda! What a ride we’ve been on the last few days with our blizzard here in Iowa! At least I was able to get the tree up, bake a few cookies, spend a little time frosting them with my granddaughter Lily and enjoy some “forced” down time.

A good cup of coffee and some sharing with you my friend this morning sounds wonderful! I’ve been following your other guests the past few months and I must admit I feel a bit out of my element. I am honored Amanda that you thought my sharing with your readers would be worth reading.

You have known me longer than most people in my life and the plaque in my room that says “you’ll always be my best friend, you know too much” reminds me of the friendship we’ve shared for so many years. You’ve walked this journey with me the last few years and I am blessed to sit down this morning over a cup of coffee. You and I have shared many a morning cup of coffee and have solved quite a few problems on your front porch over coffee. So pour another cup and let’s reflect a little on life the past few years.

I was sharing my story the other day with a woman and she said the phrase I’ve heard so often, “you should write a book”. Well, that’s the plan, with a little help, one of these days I’ll share my story. Until then, let me just give you a small glimpse into my life and what has gone on the past few years. Maybe this holiday season something I share will give you hope and strength for something you may be going through.

I have three children, Nick who is 28 and Danielle who is 25 and TJ who is 21. Over the past few years my daughter Danielle is the one who has taken me to the places I thought I could never go and would go back and not go there if I could, but I can’t so here’s a glimpse of our journey with her brain cancer.

In August 2004 Danielle joined the US Army. What a moment that was, in August of 2005 standing in the gym holding her tight as she prepared to get on a bus that would take her to Iraq . She served her tour in Iraq for one year and returned home in August of 2006. During her tour there she was on a mission and was hit in the head with a steel plate. She received stitches and was back at work the next day or two. After that hit however, her headaches started and they would continue even after her return.

 By March of 2007 her headaches were out of control and after several MRI’s and testing’s a chordoma tumor was discovered. Her first brain surgery was a craniotomy in May of 2007, in San Antonio, Texas. A 12-hour surgery to tell us the news that was not good. They could not give us a good prognosis and sent us to Mayo clinic to a neurosurgeon that would suggest a 2nd surgery that would be more invasive this time.

The 2nd surgery in August of 2007 was again a 14-hour surgery with yet news at the end that her situation was grim. They could only get 50% of the tumor and didn’t give us much hope. That surgeon referred us to another doctor in Pittsburg who was doing cutting edge non-invasive brain surgeries through the sinus cavity.

Danielle had married in October of 2006. The marriage started with the odds against them as they married too soon after they both returned from Iraq. The stress of a new wife with a brain tumor and a baby on the way was too much for the marriage to survive. After the second surgery and before Lily was even born the marriage ended. She would face her journey with the support of her family and friends and she and her husband would go their separate ways.

We would wait for the surgery however, until after the birth of her baby. A baby who was given low odds of survival. There was even a moment when she was advised to possibly abort it, due to the stress of all her health issues and surgeries would cause the unborn baby. But she carried the baby to term. Lily would be born on the exact day she was supposed to on February 4th. She was born at Mayo Clinic with doctors prepared for the worst. She was beautiful and HEALTHY and has since that day been a joy in our lives. She has given her mommy strength to fight this cancer she has and to make it through times that continue to keep this mothers heart in awe.

Danielle's third surgery happened in March of 2008. Lily was 4 weeks old, we travelled to Pittsburg, our crew that consisted of her father and I, and my parents and little Lily. Those days seem far away now, but writing this brings back their memory so vividly. The news following another 14 hour surgery was different this time. They were able to tell us the MRI was clean, they had removed the entire tumor they could and would send her to Boston for a specialized radiation.

But for the first time in two years we were hearing there may be some hope.

We did make it to Boston. Danielle, Lily and I went and that is another story for another day. We endured 75 nights in a Marriott Residence Inn as she went every day for 12 weeks for her hour a day radiation. We shared tears, joys and so many memories together that trip.

A return a year later this September brought us more good news and that the cancer/tumor has not spread. We will return to Boston once a year for 5 years. Each year the odds are less in our favor, but for now we will accept what good news we can.

Fighting cancer as a family like this reminds me often of things that cancer cannot take away. The joys of preparing for a holiday season, baking cookies, decorating the house. Watching the eyes of a 2 year old as she sees and plays in her first snowfall. Having all our kids together for the first time in 9 years Those are the things that cancer cannot touch.

A few months ago a friend and I were talking and she mentioned that she could not imagine or fathom that she could possibly be able to handle something like this with her daughter. I told her that when you face situations like this you find the strength as a mother to do it no matter what it takes. Since that talk my friend’s daughter Adrianne who is 23 has been diagnosed with a brain tumor just two months before she was to be married. My friend is now facing all the emotions, dread and hope that I have over the last two years.

Her daughter's surgery is scheduled for this morning. So as you finish your coffee, raise your cups to Adrianne and her family and say a little prayer for her outcome and their journey.

Well, thanks Amanda for allowing me to share a little of the journey I am on. I still don’t know the direction it will take. But I do know as a family, with the support group we have, that we'll be able to face whatever challenges may come.

May this season bring you joy and peace as you reflect on your blessings, those you love and the journey you share together.
I'd like to thank Kathy for stopping in today and sharing  a glimspe of her story as a mother with a child facing a rare brain tumor. I have to say I have been inspired by this story, as many have, and continue to follow it, celebrating each day as a new blessing, with them.

If you have questions or know of someone going through a similar challenge in their lives, please feel free to share your story with us.

Next week (Dec. 17) Jo Carol Jones, director for the upcoming Romantic Times BOOKlovers convention will be my guest with a special insiders look at the April 2010 convention!
There will be no Thursday Coffee Talk scheduled for December 24.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Midwestern Snow storm

It's coming down they tell me at a rate of an inch an hour...which is why the prediction is for 8-12 inches by rush hour this evening!

Its absolutely gorgeous if you dont have to be out in it!

I wanted to invite all my readers over to the Lust in Time manor today to visit with our talented guest, Victoria Janssen! Her new release The Moonlight Mistress is in stores now and it looks fantastic!

Come on over and join us!

Also, be advised that with the impending blizzard warning for us on WED. I may not be online, depending on the power!

Take care all and stay warm!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk; Eden Robins author of Don't Go Back to Sleep!

I met Eden Robins first at a Romantic Times Booklovers convention a few years back when we heped co-host the launch of the first annual RT Faery Ball, since then I've gotten to know her quiet strength and her unlimited talent. I was so moved and inspired by what she came to share today and I thank her for sharing her courage in the face of some terribly difficult challenges. A more genuine person you will never meet and I wish her well on this new book, I think its going to do very well!

Without further adieu, please welcome Eden Robins to the warmth of the House of Muse kitchen. Pull up a chair and I'll pass around the coffee and danish while Eden shares what's been going on in her life.

Defying Gravity.

True, it’s the name of a wonderful song in the musical Wicked, but it’s also something else. It’s what I immediately thought about when Amanda asked me to blog about something that had personally affected me and my writing for her Thursday Coffee Talk blog.

Am I talking cosmetic surgery? No so much, although a transformation of sort has occurred in my life. Yet it’s been inside, not out, where the changes have all taken place. Just as the song from Wicked describes so aptly, I had come to point in my life some years back when I suddenly woke up, looked around and realized that it was time for a change. Not with the world (although that could be the topic of another blog), but within myself.

And as I woke up and cleared the sleep from my eyes, I started to see things clearly. Unfortunately what I saw wasn’t such a good thing. I came to the decision that I was tired of living a life that was only half me and half present. I was living by other people’s rules of how they thought I should be living, and came to the sudden, abrupt and unexpected realization that I didn’t want to accept that for myself or my life any longer.

So, I made a change. Several changes in fact. Some just affected me personally, while others affected those close to me. Separations, reunions and new meetings took place, as did fights, tears, laughter, pain, joy, love and dislike. I never wanted to hurt others by my actions, but I knew that my actions could do just that. I also knew that this was a path I had to take, whether or not I saw where it might end. That didn’t matter. What mattered was the need to take the journey.

As a result of my awakening my marriage ended, and unfortunately that event caused my children to go through some tough times. That was the hardest part for me to come to terms with. My job as a mom had always been to love and protect my children and keep them from hurt or harm. But what happens when I’m the one whose actions were hurting them? Some may condemn me as a bad parent, and believe me I’ve done that to myself more times than I can count. I lost some good friends and even my own family, parents and brothers for a while as well. They didn’t understand my choices and they really didn’t want to. They liked and had come to depend on the status quo my life had become. They didn’t want a change.

But I knew with a kind of desperation that was unshakable that a change was the only way. It was the only way, now that I had woken up, for me to really live my life authentically, fully as the adult woman I was meant to be. Sometimes the pressure of those around me made it difficult to follow through with the changes I needed to make in my life. In fact, it truly felt, at times, like I was defying gravity. But no matter how many times I tried to fly and fell to the ground, no matter how many times those around me tried to bring me down, I knew I had to get back up and try again. It wasn’t a choice. It was survival. Survival of my spirit.

I could have continued living a half life. Similar to the zombie fiction that’s so popular right now, I could have continued living a life of the walking dead, or at least the life of a sleepwalker, but I needed to make shift in my life, live and learn and truly be alive. The choice, despite my fears and doubts, was only mine to make.

That wake up call and the events that unfolded after that not only opened up a whole new chapter for me, it also broke open the sealed chapters of my past; the chapters that, up until that shift in my paradigm, had been sealed away because they had been too painful or frightening to remember. These memories bubbled to the surface and had to be addressed one by one, until I could once again look to the future.

I eventually found the courage to deal with these issues, come to terms with them as well as the people involved and move forward, but at the same time I also came to the conclusion that I had to document what I had learned. I had to record my self-discovery as life taught me its many lessons. These lessons, both good and bad, that would never have been learned had I stayed in the artificial bubble my life once was.

So in 2003, after having my second novel published, I sat down and wrote my first Monthly Garden essay. I wrote it and sent it out through the internet to anyone I knew. It was nothing more than a few of my thoughts about a specific life lesson I had learned. The response by friends and family was immediate. The support staggering. So the next month came, and I wrote another Monthly Garden essay. And the month after that another, and another and another. And as I continued, friends and family started forwarding my essays to people they knew. I received e-mails and letters from people I had never met, but who could at some level or another relate to my Monthly Garden essay.

The years passed, and as they did, my readership grew. And as it grew, I started writing more than just an essay. I started writing a letter to my new friends, letting them know what was going on in my life while also incorporating my essay into each newsletter. Over time my Monthly Garden Newsletter developed and started to reach many more people. Today that newsletter reaches out to over 15,000 friends all over the world.

That miracle could never have happened had I not suddenly woken up and decided it was time for a change. It was time to defy gravity. And a little over a year and a half ago, I realized it was time for another change. Not in me, this time, but in my Monthly Garden Essay. Friends and readers had made it clear they wanted something more from me. They wanted a collection of the Monthly Garden topics and lessons I had learned.

At first I didn’t see how to put these thoughts together, but eventually, after talking to many friends and mentors in my life, I realized that it was not only possible, but also made sense to put these essays into a book format. In this way, I could not only provide an essay, but also explain in more detail what life events had lead up to these epiphanies, and why it was so important for me to keep them in mind as I moved forward in my life.

My very first nonfiction book, Don’t Go Back to Sleep! was born from these conclusions. And as of its completion this year, I’m in the process of getting it published. What will happen with this new attempt at a nonfiction inspirational book? I don’t know where the path will end, but I do know I have to follow it. Will it be easy or hard? Probably both, in different ways. Will the people in my life agree with my choices or the things I wrote about? No necessarily, but it’s a choice I’ve already made. Writing this book has not only helped me clarify the direction my life has taken, but it’s also helped to free me from my past so I can move into the future. Completing Don’t Go Back to Sleep! has shown me that it’s time yet again to move forward, to try to defy gravity once more. And why not? What’s a few falls, scrapes and bruises if I can learn to fly?

Please wish me luck. And if you have a moment to check out a sneak peek of Don’t Go Back to Sleep! you’ll find it posted at You can also peruse my latest Monthly Garden essay and sign up for my Monthly Garden Newsletter on my website I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact me at

Just Believe,

Eden Robins

My thanks to Eden for stopping in today and I invite you to check out her newsletter The Monthly Garden.