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Friday, May 31, 2013

What's on Your To Be Read Pile?

I don't know about y'all, but Friday is always such a crazy day for my family. It seems like we speed up everything just to be able to settle down that night for Family Fun Night. And for the record, Hot Builder is dyeing WiT's hair as well as mine purple. Or rather he's retouching it.

Seriously. He's the best person for these type of jobs because his attention to detail is amazing and I don't have eyes in the back of my head. *whispers* Don't tell my kids that, because I still have them fooled into thinking I do!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to shake up our To Be Read Piles. So here's what we're going to do. Take the first letter of your name and then pick the first book that has your letter somewhere in its title and open it up to a random page and then post the third line.

I'll go first: M....The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorenson

Micha senses my uneasiness and his arms enclose around my waist. "Take a slow breath and just relax and enjoy the scenery."

I cannot wait to dive into this book! It's one that just came out this past week. :)




And now a word from our Sponsor, Cuddles the Wonder Pug. :D


What's in your pile? Please share.

Share your book pick and third line in the comments below!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

War Dogs


Since Memorial day was last weekend I thought I would take a moment to mention those few unsung heroes who rarely get featured but who do so much for us. They’re called War Dogs. Dogs used in warfare have a very long history. They were used by Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and many other nations as far back as 600 BC.
Many are trained in combat, scouts, sentries, guards, and trackers. Their uses are as varied and as heroic as they men who train them. Some of our greatest soldiers are cute, furry creatures who turned out to be man’s best friend. And we've used war dogs since the Revolutionary war. Many of them became military dogs quite by accident. Here are some of the greatest heroic wardogs in American history.
From Rags to Riches:

James Donovan an American AWOL WWI soldier in Paris stumbled upon an adorable Boston Terrier and when he was confronted by the military police he BSed his way back into his unit by telling them that he’d been searching for the unit’s mascot who ran away. Rags he named the dog. Well the story worked and Rags officially became the unit’s mascot.
When Donovan transferred to the frontline, he didn’t want to risk Rags’ life, so he left the little guy behind. The dog missed his new owner so much he tracked down Donovan in the trenches. Realizing the pup was good at tracking, Donovan adapted a secondary strategy: He taught Rags how to run messages between command and the frontline.
Rags took his new job seriously and never missed a beat. He learned the ropes, knew when to duck and soon the soldiers learned to mimick the dog because dogs have better hearing than humans. Rags saved his unit’s lives on several occasions by knowing when to duck from incoming artillery.
He became quite famous during his reign. But on July of 1918, Rags was charged with delivering an important message. Rags was caught out in the open when the German’s launched a gas attack, catching him without his doggy gas mask. Undeterred, he took a beating and delivered his message…then passed away.
Rags was a true hero and we must never forget his sacrifice.

The First Nemo: 

Nemo the German Shepherd was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Trained as a sentry dog at Lackland Airforce Base in Texas, Nemo was then shipped to Vietnam in 1966. After his original handler returned stateside Nemo was paired with Airman Second Class Robert Thorneburg. The two formed a very close bond right away. On Dec. 3rd 1966, after a long night of fighting, Thorneburg and Nemo were on patrol when Nemo sensed something. Before Thorneburg could radio for backup, Thorneburg was shot in the shoulder and Nemo was shot in the muzzle. The bullet entered his right eye and exited through his mouth. Ignoring the wound, Nemo bolted for the gunmen and allowed Thorneburg the time to call for help. Both man and dog were rushed in for emergency treatment. Nemo’s right eye was removed and he received skin grafts on his wounds. He was flown home to Lacklund to live out the rest of his life with the very best Veterinary care on the Airforce base, a hero till the end. He died on March 15th 1973. Rest in peace my heroic friend.
These are just a few of the many heroic stories of war dogs. Those furry beasts we call friends all too often lay down their lives when called upon. Their loyalty knows no end and they will never turn their backs on you. Let’s remember to take a brief moment each memorial day to say thank you to those beautiful beasts who give so much for us as well as those who serve alongside them.
You can find more wonderful stories about heroic dogs here and here. And I’d like to give a big thank you to those who serve in uniform on both two legs and four. You can find out more about the War Dog memorial here.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Now Hear This...


I'm so very happy to announce the release of my second audiobook - A SCANDALOUS CHARADE! Yay!! (Throws confetti and dances around my desk...ahem...OK, I'm good now.)

Audible  |  Amazon  |  iBooks

For those of you who haven't heard me say so before, there's nothing quite like hearing your words being read aloud by an actress, the sound coming through the headphones of your computer. In a word, it's SURREAL. When I first heard my narrator's sample chapter, I had to get up from my computer and step away. It was slightly unnerving.

The narrator was wonderful, don't get me wrong. It was just so very, here's that word again - SURREAL. But I sat back down and listened to every word of my novel come to life as Ms. Zimmeman read my words aloud.

Audible   |   Amazon   |    iTunes

Early last month, my first novel - A SCANDALOUS WIFE was released in audiobook format. And I couldn't have been happier. Like most authors' first books, this is the book I labored over, struggled with, poured my heart into, the book that gave me my first lessons in the craft of writing. A lot of authors call that first book the "book of their heart", and that was true for me too. In fact, my tortured heroine, Lydia, was inspired by my grandmother as a girl; and therefore she is a character who is very close to my heart. Thought I relate more closely to some of my other heroines (personality-wise), Lydia's struggles are more personal to me than perhaps any other heroine I've ever written.

Lady Juliet St. Claire, the heroine of A SCANDALOUS CHARADE, is much more closely related to me in real life. She is sarcastic, she is strong, determined, a little on the spoiled side of things, and slightly unsure of herself when it comes to falling in love with Luke Beckford. (Not that I fell in love with Luke Beckford...I mean, you kind of fall in love with each of your heroes, but...Well, I think you get what I'm saying.) Anyway, I loved writing Juliet. I loved getting to know her strengths, weaknesses, and watching her grow.

These two heroines are as different from each other as night and day. Lydia was raised in a poor, unconventional, and sometimes very frightening home. Juliet is the second daughter of a once powerful duke. Lydia sees the world as a dangerous place for the weak. Juliet is much more singularly focused on her brother, sisters and her own small circle. Both are strong women, in their own way, however. And both are exceedingly loyal.

As an author, it's always fun to explore different sorts of characters from one book to the next. For me, it keeps the stories exciting and hopefully fresh for readers. What sorts of heroines do you most like to read about? Do you prefer to read about heroines who are like you or those who have a different outlook on life than you do? What characteristics, in your mind, makes for the best sort of heroine?

Back of the book blurb for A SCANDALOUS CHARADE:

Handsome ladies’ man Lucas Beckford has agreed to help his friend, an impoverished baron, win the affections of an icy heiress. It should be a simple task, especially for a seducer of his reputation. However when Luke catches sight of the enchanting lady, he is captivated with her pretty brown eyes, quick wit, and sharp tongue; and his desire to see his friend marry the girl quickly evaporates. Now he just has to find a way to convince the penniless lord to turn his attentions elsewhere—leaving the Ice Princess to him.

Lady Juliet St. Claire has always believed that her fortune would protect her from ever having to relinquish her freedom in marriage. Though fortune hunters endlessly hound her, Juliet’s outwardly cold demeanor keeps most of them at bay, licking their wounds or patching up their pride. However when Luke charms his way into her life, he easily melts more than just her heart. Unfortunately, the rogue is of the love ‘em and leave ‘em variety, and leaves Juliet’s tender heart in pieces. But when her fortune lands her in danger from an unscrupulous foe, Luke returns to her side, offering his help and protection. Now Juliet has to decide if her heart is strong enough to trust the rogue a second time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

The Lady Scribes would like to wish everyone a very safe and happy Memorial Day today. Please take a moment, amidst all the festivities and the excitement that is the beginning of summer, to remember those troops who gave their lives for our freedom, and to say thank you to those who continue to serve our country.

Being that it's the start of summer, a time of lying by the pool to read and have cookouts, here is my recipe for an easy BBQ meal, as well as my fun summer reading suggestions...

My Super Yummy "Pulled" BBQ Chicken


What you need:

Chicken Thighs (boneless, skinless)
BBQ Rub (I have an awesome one from Le Fette Sau in Brooklyn, but any rub will do)
Corn on the Cob
Broccoli Slaw
Coleslaw Dressing (I LOVE Marie's Yogurt Slaw dressing, but it can be hard to find sometimes)
BBQ Sauce 

Instructions:

Rinse thighs, throw in crockpot
Cover thighs with rub
Add a little BBQ sauce
Leave on high for 3 hours OR Low for 6 hours
Thighs should fall apart when prodded with fork to resemble pulled chicken

Cook corn however you like (I wrap them in their husks and microwave -- 3 ears = 5 minutes)
Mix slaw with dressing

SERVE and ENJOY!

As for reading, the hubby and I are tearing up the Sophie Kinsella novels right now. So much laughter to be heard as we lie side-by-side in bed reading our respective Sophies :)

I'm currently on Mini Shopaholic, and Eric is on The Undomestic Goddess. But you really can't go wrong, whichever one you choose to indulge in!

Again, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Stories We Tell

I love listening to people tell stories about the things they have experienced in their lives. I especially love it when those stories taken place years before, even more so when they take place before I was born.

Maybe it's my Eastern European/ Russian heritage, but there's nothing I love more than a good tale.

My dad always has some to tell. Most of them I've heard a few times, if you know what I mean. But I love them. And he tells them so well, in a very funny, self-deprecating way. My favorites are from his time in the military. 

My dad served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, on an air craft carrier. I'm not sure his rank, but he mostly spent his time in the communications room aboard the fleet's lead ship. He would spend hours just sorting incoming and outgoing messages on this tickertape machine that constantly spewed out paper. (I don't know the technical jargon, bear with me.) Anyway, it was a lot of paper and in a bid to keep it from overrunning the room, the guys used to stuff it into bags to take down to the ship's furnaces.

So, one day (after a 14 hour day that came after five 12 hour night shifts) he and another sailor gathered the bags at the end of their shift and brought them down to the bowels of the ship to burn them. My dad opened the huge furnace and threw in the first bag, grabbed the long iron pole, poked it further in and slammed the door. His co-worker (Yeah, I don't know the lingo, okay?) stood around in a half doze, waiting for the bag to burn so they could go crawl into their bunks for a much needed rest. They repeated this process a few times, until they got to the last bag. After shoving it into the furnace and waiting impatiently for it to incinerate, my dad opened the door to make sure it didn't need to be broken up some.

The blast that occured when he opened the furnace door to check on that last bag was so intense it lifted him off his feet and threw him backward. He slammed into the wall behind him and slid down to land in a slump on the floor, stunned. After a moment, he realized his fellow sailor was standing over him, shouting and making gestures, but all my dad could hear was a ringing in his ears. He reached up to remove his glasses, which were now coated in ash and grime, only to discover most of his eyebrows had gotten singed off. Those glasses, miraculously unbroken, probably saved his eyes from flying debris. It took him a few minutes to gain his feet but he was okay, other than a bit stunned and bruised.

What the heck would cause such a blast, you ask?

Well, apparently someone (my dad says he has his suspicions) had mistaken the bag of tickertape for the trash and thrown their empty can of Cheese Whiz into it. When the can was tossed into the superheated, enclosed furnace, the pressure within the can began to build. Somehow, my dad opening the door to check on the burning paper triggered the can to blow. Maybe it had just reached that point, or maybe it was the cool air rushing in. Who knows? He was really lucky that most of the shards of metal from the can never made out of the furnace, although he said his body was outlined in ash on the wall behind him.

My dad likes to said he came close to death in the Vietnam War. He just leaves out the bit where it was by Cheese Whiz can.

How about you? Do you have any great stories from the past? Or anecdotes you love to hear from friends or family?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's Your Core Story?

Over the years, as I've talked about writing and the writing process with both readers and writers, one thing that keeps coming up is the idea of a "core story." This core story is an idea or a theme that recurs in an author's books, or for a reader it's that theme you look for when you pick up a book.

Sometimes in romance, these can play out in the form of common tropes. There's the older brother's best friend sort of story, the reunited lovers story, the reformed bad boy story, the marriage of convenience story...the list can go on and on. These tropes call to us, speaking on a different level.

Whether we understand the reasons why a core story is the one we're drawn to, the fact of the matter is that most of us are far more likely to pick up a book that we know will follow the pattern we seek than one which plays on an entirely different trope. As writers, we might find ourselves stuck if the story we're trying to write doesn't conform to the core theme that is calling to us.

That said, sometimes it's difficult to put your finger on just what, precisely, your core story is. I know I've found that to be the case as an author. I've written six novels, four novellas, a number of short stories...and until a random moment a few days ago, I couldn't have told you what primary theme I am drawn to.

I could tell you that I'm drawn to unlikable characters, those who lash out at the world because they don't know how to deal with what's happened to them in life.

I could tell you that I like humor and sarcasm, and that I love seeing good things happen to people who've been through the wringer.

I could tell you that I like to explore the darker aspects of life and how people react to them.

And I could tell you why I'm drawn to those things, but these blogs aren't supposed to be too long, and ain't nobody got time for all that.

It never came together for me until I was sitting on a panel at Barnes and Noble last weekend, talking about my books and my characters, that the core story which draws all of those things together is one of redemption.

But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it goes deeper than that for me. You see, there's a part of me that is hoping--really, truly wanting to believe--that someone can live through awful things, come out on the other side, and still find a happily ever after. I write those stories in order to prove to myself it's possible.

Do you know what the core story you're most drawn to is, whether as a reader or as a writer? And if you know what it is, do you know why that's the story for you?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Working in the middle of the storm.



Have you ever had a time in your life you’re so busy you don’t feel like you have time to work? I work from home, so this can easily happen to me, but I’m usually pretty good at keeping outside commitments to a minimum. Not true at the end of the school year. I have two children so I have times two the commitments.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly grateful to have two healthy children who do keep me busy, but these last few weeks are about to kill me! I’ve been trying to edit two books in two different genres and start planning the next book that needs to be written. This would be enough to juggle for most writers, but I’ve also had to go to track meets, baseball playoffs, soccer games, six end-of-the-year parties, and swimming lessons. That’s just where I’m expected to be for my kids. I have other commitments for my husband, but I think you get the point.

So how do I write when I’m so busy? It’s funny to me how often I get this question from friends, family and strangers. Here’s a few tricks I’ve picked up on the way.

Carpool line – I arrive 20 minutes early and whip out pen and paper.

Very early in the morning – Just like right now writing this blog!!!

Late at night – My husband super loves this one. Not!

In the basement during kid’s free time – If you don’t have a basement that locks I suggest you build one ASAP. In all seriousness, just find a quiet place during the day and give yourself one hour. I call that my children’s free time. They get one hour of mom approved fun that has to be done inside, so I don’t have to worry about what my youngest is doing outside. Now this is assuming I have that hour during the day, and lately that hour has been hard to find, so it’s been twenty minute snatches here and there.

Cut out things that you usually do and replace those things with writing. –

I haven’t made a huge grocery run in two weeks because I needed the extra writing time. However, this is ending today. My husband asked me last night if I was ever going to the grocery store again. Oh, how I wished I could have said no!

There are other things that can be cut back or minimized like time on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I know for some of you that’s like asking a baby to give up milk, but you can do it!

You can also cut out television. Gasp! I only have one show I’m watching right now, so that’s been really easy for me, but I never watch much television anyway. Sometimes, I think I’m the only person on this planet that doesn't watch reality television.

How do you make time to write or do whatever it is that you do for a living when times are very busy?

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If it were up to me, I would pick Bicycles

I've always supported the troops and every single man and woman who put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we hold dear and near to our hearts and serve our country.

The military has always been a part of my family and my life in one way or another, with only a few short years when I did not know someone serving.  My father was in the army during the Korean War (way before my time). My husband was an enlisted Marine during Vietnam.  He spent his time in Japan and for that I am grateful. His two best friends, the men who stood up at our wedding, both served in Vietnam.  My husband is older than I am and while he was wondering if he would receive orders into the war zone, I was playing with dolls.  At the same time, I had a cousin serving as a Marine in Vietnam. Sadly, he was killed in action before I was old enough to really get to know him.

I have a nephew who joined the Marines and another who is in the Air Force and is currently in Afghanistan.  I try not to think about the danger he is in and keep him in my prayers daily.  There have also been friends who joined after high school and served during my adulthood.  I simply try not to think about the danger, something that has become second nature to me (or so I thought).

I learned to file the danger away after marrying a cop because it was necessary.  The first years of our marriage we lived in one of the top ten cities for crimes against individuals.  During the second year of our marriage, we experienced what was referred to as "Black August" when 8 officers were killed in the line of duty in one month in the state.  I would tell my husband each day that I didn't care if it was 115 degrees out, he was wearing his vest. Of course, he would have worn it anyway, I just felt the need to remind him there were no options as far as I was concerned.

Later we moved to a calmer community, but that didn't mean he was any safer.  The wrong car stop or a volatile family fight and things could go very bad for any officer responding.  A case in point, he was off work 8 months for injuries after responding to a family fight and wrestling with a man who was on some serious drugs.  So, quiet community does not equal a safe job for a cop. But, I learned not to really think about what he was doing or what could happen.  If I did, I would go crazy with worry.  I am sure there are many things he didn't tell me, or he told me much later.

As a wife and aunt, I can accept the danger and put it from my mind.  But, can I do that as a mother?

My son met with a recruiter while I was at RT.  He and my husband sat down and discussed the pros and cons with this young woman without a word to me.  I know why they did it. They knew I would freak.  My son has always been interested in the military. He joined ROTC his freshman year of school and often talked of joining the Marines when he graduated.  I bit my tongue because he has to decide his own path but I wanted him to do something safe.  You know, like origami.  Then, over the past year he was thinking about going to school in Colorado. He wanted to study bicycle engineering.  This was a career path I was 100% behind. He would still mention the armed forces. but I would remind him that people need good bicycles.

After I got back from RT, we sat down and discussed what my son wanted to do.  Instead of the Marines. he has decided to join the Air National Guard.  I met with the same recruiter Monday evening so my questions could be answered. While I am not thrilled that my son wants to enlist, I know he needs to follow his own path. Thankfully, he still has a year of high school, which means I have a year to get used to my baby  going off to boot camp and come to terms with the possibility that he may one day be deployed.

Have you ever had, or do you have, a loved one serving our country? How do you deal with the worry of the danger?


Monday, May 20, 2013

Celebrating My Newest Release~ Live For You

I am so excited to announce that my New Adult contemporary romance novel, Live For You is out!!!

iTunesAmazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords
Amazon UK and Amazon Canada

The hero of Live For You is Cole Morgan, a full-time bartender and a part-time college student. And our intrepid heroine, Violet Rae Givens aka Violet Lynn, is the reigning Princess of Country Music. Both have secrets and broken hearts.  *cue dramatic music*

This book was such a departure from my usual writing. First, it's in 1st POV (not the easiest to write, IMHO). Second, I had to amp up the drama, the angst...the ohmygodiwillneverfeellikethisagain, because I clearly (ha!) remember feeling all of that in my very early twenties.  Third, this is the most I've ever tortured a hero. Ever. And the heroine didn't get out unscathed either.

In fact, I've never cried for so long and hard while writing those torture scenes.  But I did it. And now it's done. Live For You is all out in the Internet world and out of my hands, er, computer...or something like that. 

So, raise your glass and drink your favorite poison with me--because book release days make me a leeeettttllleee nervous. <G>  My drink of choice? An Appletini!



So, have you read any books in the new adult genre? What book? One lucky commentor will win an e-copy of Live For You!!!!





Friday, May 17, 2013

I had a dream...


I know it LOOKS like I'm sleeping peacefully. 
…Well, not an inspiring or populist dream that will be memorized and quoted by school children until the end of time.

But I had a dream, just the same. Actually, I’ve been having very strange dreams lately. In the good ol’ days when I first started writing, I had dreams about characters. I had dreams that inspired books. And I very, very rarely had dreams about myself. Most of my dreams have always been like films, looking in on someone else’s life like a bystander, sitting in a dark movie theatre with popcorn.

But recently, not only have my dreams been strange. They’ve been starring yours truly. And perhaps that’s why they’ve stuck with me longer than my usual dreams. I even told Jerrica about a dream I had about squirrels in one of our ROMANCE RAMBLINGS webisodes.
(For those of you who don’t know… I hate a squirrel. I HATE A SQUIRREL) I even coined a new word to discuss this particular dream – Freudianly. I know it’s not really a word but it so should be!

Anyway, for the last few weeks, we’ve been moving The Scientist from his house into an apartment. He could have moved in with me, but the plan is to wait until my angsty teenager graduates. Not that any of you care about this, I’m sure.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, the moving. Right. Ok, so we’ve been moving stuff for days and I’m a little more tired than normal. So this week, after I dropped my teenager off at high school, I’ve returned home to grab an extra half hour/forty-five minute nap before work.

Have you ever had a dream where you’re doing exactly what you’re doing? Did you follow that? Well… I had a dream that I was sleeping in my bed, in the exact position I was really sleeping in. And a man came into my house. (I watch a lot of crime TV, don’t ask me why. I don’t know.)

Anyway, from the front entryway, a man grumbles, “Where’s the dog?”

Now adrenaline is coursing through my veins. I mean, I’m just 5’2. If a couple of men break in, I’m in trouble. I didn’t have the energy to even get out of bed, I was so tired. So instead of hiding or calling for help, I decided that the best way for me to deal with a pair of uninvited robbers was to scare them off before they got to me. Because if they get to me, it’s too late. I’m done for.

Are you following me in the dream? The man says (presumably to another man) “Where’s the dog?”

So I loudly answer, with all the sarcasm and bravado I have in me, “Reading, #*$%er!”

Yeah, that’s right. Some burglar wants to know where my dog is, and my answer is that the dog is off READING. And then I call the man one of the most vile things you can call anyone in an attempt to scare him out of my house.

Ended up the man was my ex-father-in-law bringing my son home sick from school. (All of this was a dream. While my son has a cold IRL, he's been at school all week.)

Anyway, I have laughed for days about the idea of my dog lounging around, wearing a smoking jacket in the backyard with a worn out old copy of War and Peace or maybe a little Pride and Prejudice for a lighter read.

But, seriously, these dreams are going to make me batty (if I’m not already). I need to get back to dreaming about characters or people I don’t know. Or maybe I should just lay off the crime TV.

Now I know they say no one cares about anyone else’s dreams (unless they have a starring role in said person's dream)… but I’ll be nice and ask anyway. Have you had any strange dreams lately? What do you think they mean Freudianly? (It is a good word, isn't it?) But most importantly, do you own a dog who likes to read? (Because mine would like to start up a book club with his peers. Maybe something they can do after their late night poker games.) 

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_12470759_dog-reading-a-blue-book.html'>damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welcome, Travis Erwin!


I love Twitter. If you know me at all, you know this about me. One of the reasons I love Twitter so much is that I have met so many interesting people through the site. Point in case: author Travis Erwin!
Originally, I just thought Travis was a fun, and funny, guy who liked to talk books, family life and regular-Joe stuff. He's down to earth and easy to chat with. Then I saw him tweeting about his next book coming out and realized that this 6ft 5in Texan with a manly beard and kickass cowboy boots writes Women's Fiction.
Pretty much awesome.
Now WF isn't all he writes, but I think it's so cool that Travis has ventured into a genre primarily made up of female authors. And more power to him. After all, haven't we (female authors) been pretty vocal about how we want equal recognition to our male counterparts in primarily male genres such as Science Fiction or Thrillers? Except not many men seem to want to break into Women's Fiction, it seems. Travis is one of the only brave (crazy?) ones!
I haven't gotten a chance to read his newest release (out on Kindle now, soon in print) Twisted Roads, but it sounds a lot like what I've come to expect from Travis: heart, humor and Texas heat.

Please welcome Travis Erwin to Lady Scribes:





Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Sound advice in theory, but the writer in my sure hates to begin any piece with a cliché.
And let’s face it we’ve all been guilt of judging books, people, cars, and a ton of other things by their covers.  It’s hard not to.  No, it’s not right or fair, but neither is life.  We trudge on.
My novel Twisted Roads is set in the small town of Grand, Texas. The kind of town where nothing is forgotten and few things are ever forgiven. Where books and everything else are judged by their covers.
I first began writing this tale thirteen years ago. It began with a what if … What if a man sacrificed everything to love a woman … a woman he couldn’t have.
Now the Texas storyteller in me quickly realized this woman’s story was more interesting than the man’s because she could have him or anything else in this town she wanted. However, the things she truly wanted wouldn’t look good in the eyes of the town and this woman became enslaved by her own image.
The final draft looks nothing like that original manuscript though the principals of the story remain.
Here’s the funny thing. I nearly sold that original manuscript to a big New York house. My very first completed novel captured the interest of a real live New York editor without me ever sending a single query letter.
And yes that story has to do with image.
I’d just finished the original draft when I made plans to attend a writing conference.  I noticed a pre-conference workshop where you could submit a sample of your book and if selected have it critiqued by a New York editor. I sent my sample. I was picked. 
Now I had no idea what kind of story I’d written. I’d simply set out to tell a tale and I’d done it. This editor, she had no idea who had written each piece as we submitted anonymously. Twenty five pages plus a synopsis.
So the workshop begins and she announces the name of my book first and asks the author to stand up and read from the beginning. As I stood this powerful editor shot me the strangest of looks and I barely got a paragraph read before she said, “Wait, stop. Stop right there.”
Now I assumed I was about to get trashed for a crummy beginning or some other writing craft memorandum that I had no knowledge of. But then she smiled and said, “I can’t believe a man wrote this. In my twenty five years of editing romance and women’s fiction I’ve only seen a handful of stories with this kind of emotional impact written by a man. And they were all gay men.”
The crowd laughed and the editor said, “But something tells me you are not gay.”
The crowd laughed again and the editor chuckled and said, “I love the idea of a big scrapping man with a bushy beard and a Texas twang writing women’s fiction, so please keep reading.”
In that moment I surprised her, and she surprised me. Because until then I had no idea I was writing women’s fiction. I didn’t even know what women’s fiction was. I began researching and discovered some of my favorite books and authors were considered Women’s Fiction. To me they were, and are, simply good character driven stories full of heart and real emotion. I never knew a man wasn’t supposed to stumble into that domain.
That editor carried my book back to New York and for nearly a year we worked together to improve it as it really was rough. Then she pitched the book to her superiors and the marketing team said, “A big hairy Texan who writes Women’s Fiction? We don’t think that will work. “
Devastated at the time, I put the book aside and began a new novel.
Here we are better than a decade later. With several rounds of rewrites and what would have been my debut novel is once again my debut novel. I did publish a humorous coming-of-age memoir back in 2011 titled THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES, but beneath this rugged covering my writing soul is that of a Women’s Fiction author.
Yes, I get confused for a Harley riding motorcycle man far more often than I do as the author of emotionally charged stories but what’s a guy to do? It’s not just books that get judged by their covers.


 Blurb:


A tarnished name and a bitter heart.

That's all Angela Ross took when she fled Texas fifteen
years ago as a teenager. Now, she's back to take care of
her grandmother’s estate. But in a town like Grand, where
reputation means much more than the truth, some sins are
never forgotten much less forgiven.
Shelly Sampson has worked hard to cultivate her image as
reigning queen of Grand, but long kept secrets mean her
crown is precarious at best. And nothing could knock her
tiara off faster than a chill wind from the past ... Like the
return of Angela Ross.

Left with nothing but an old house and painful memories,
Angela soon takes a job at the local tavern owned by Lucas
Cahill hoping to earn enough to leave this town behind for
good. Lucas still holds the same flame for Shelly Sampson
that he had in high school and though she welcomes his
attention, he can’t understand why she won’t leave her rocky
marriage behind to finally give them a chance at happiness.

Once Angela, Shelly’s old arch rival, enters the picture as
Lucas’ new employee, Shelly’s desperation to keep her life and
secrets intact starts a chain reaction whose outcome no one in
Grand could have ever predicted.

Thank you so much for dropping by Lady Scribes and sharing your new release with us, Travis! I look forward to reading it, myself. 


If any of our readers would like to catch up with Travis online, he can be found on

Twitter @traviserwin, his blog Bacon, Beer & Books or his Amazon Author Page. His novel Twisted Roads can be found on Amazon right now, and will be coming out in print from TAG Publishing LLC on June 1st, 2013.