Monday, December 26, 2011

Now You See's It, Now You Don't

When I was a child I remember going to my grandma's house for Christmas and, of the many gifts she received, she always had a box of See's candy by her side that she never shared, and I mean never

I grew up in California, which is synonymous with See's since it is headquartered in San Francisco, but now you can get it almost anywhere--even in airports and libraries--but there is still one place you can't get it: where I live. 

So this year when I found out my local library had a few dozen boxes for sale, and knowing the closest See's location is like 2.5 hours away, I was attached to my box like a baby to a pacifier dipped in sugar water.  And I felt even more privileged when I found out I'd bought the last box of savory dark chocolate's. 

Unlike my grandmother, I decided to share my delectable box of goodness with my two smalls.  I opened the box, displayed the various options to both girls and told them they could each pick two.  After all, I remember what it felt like to ogle my grandmother's box and wish that just once she would give me a single, solitary piece.  What better way to break the trend than to offer a couple from my own box to my kids?  And when I did, it was a pat-my-hand-on-my-back moment.  I was the good Samaritan of my household.  My kids looked at me with more awe than they look at Santa Claus, and a headline formed in my head: Cheryl Bradshaw wins mother of the year.

With my good deed done and the cycle of unshared chocolate broken, I went ahead and had my own piece.  And by that, I mean one piece.  The next day I ran an errand and left my teenager home to watch over the smalls for about an hour.  I return home and they are in such good moods I decide they should be rewarded with another piece of candy.  So I go into my room to retrieve the box, but it isn't there, and I could have sworn I'd moved it to my bedroom the day before.  I'm too young to forget to do things like that, right?

By this time I'm in hot pursuit of the See's candy box, and I find it on the sofa in the same place I'd left it the day before.  I guess I'd only moved it to my room in my mind, which is some kind of Jedi mind gift I didn't realize I had.  I look around and notice my kids have went to their room to play.  I call them out to reward them for being so good while I was away, but first I make them a sandwich and go chill in my room for a few minutes.  My oldest small eats her sandwich faster than I can take a piece of gum out of the wrapper and pop it into my mouth.  And I think, hmmm. So I ask her if she ate it all, and she says, "Yes."  But the longer I think about it, the more it doesn't bode well.  I use my newly acquired Jedi senses and go into the kitchen and open the lid to the trash can.  Therein lay the sandwich--uneaten.

For effect I go to the sofa and reach for the box of See's candy to show her that I was going to give her one as a treat, but she didn't eat her sandwich and on top of that, she lied about it.  Guess what that means?

I pick up the box.

And I notice how light and airy it feels.

And I think to myself, that's pretty light for a five pound box.

I remove the lid.

Even the wrappers are gone.

I look at my two smalls and they look at the floor like it's part of the glittery road in the land of Oz.  I say, "What happened to my candy?"

In unison they reply, "I dunno..." and look at each other like they'd formed some super secret sister pact.  But guess what kids?  Mommy had a sister when she was younger too.

In that moment I was stripped of my mother of the year award.  They had stolen and lied about it.  Awesome.

In the end it turned out that the smaller of my smalls had one piece.  She's not really one to rock the boat, and I believe she was under duress from the older small to sample a piece, so she did.  And when I found part of it stuck to the side of the sofa, I realized she hadn't felt good about what she did and sticking it into the side of the cushion had been the remedy she needed to sooth her feelings of regret.

The older small, however...different story.  She ate the entire box and then thought she could somehow convince me that the chocolate had mysteriously evaporated during my brief stint away from the house.  She did eventually fess to the crime and is currently serving time in a sugar-free zone.

Oh, and if you're wondering where my teenager was during all this, in her room, of course!  And yes, with the door shut.  I think it goes without saying that she has been relieved of her babysitting duties. ;)

Until next time...

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Drum roll please....

The winner of a signed copy of my book, Black Diamond Death, is Susan Leech. 

And my grand prize winner of the gift from Santa is Na Sok.

The Holiday Hop Grand Prize Winner will be announced later this week on the Holiday Hop site once all the author's have submitted their winners.  Good luck to all!!!

Get Black Diamond Death FREE for Five Days ONLY!

Starting today, December 25th to December 29th, the first novel in my Sloane Monroe series, Black Diamond Death, is FREE on Amazon Kindle.  Yep, FREE.  Zero, zip, nada.

Black Diamond Death is currently:

#4 in Spy Stories and Tales of Intrigue
#9 in Hard Boiled

#20 in Mysteries
#34 in Thrillers

This is my way of saying thank you for all the support this year to my friends, fans, and family.  And to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ALL.  ENJOY!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Welcome Holiday Hoppers to my blog! 

I am offering two prizes.  See below for details.

Prize #1: One autographed copy of either Black Diamond Death or Sinnerman
(your choice)

Prize #2: A surprise gift from Santa! 
(And believe me when I's worth entering!)

Here's how to WIN...

Just for stopping by my blog and "blog hopping", you are eligible for one entry in prize #1.  All  you need to do is EMAIL ME with your name.

To be eligible for prize #2, purchase a copy of Sinnerman (which is priced at .99 this month or FREE if you are on Amazon Prime) and then EMAIL ME the answer to the following question:

In Sinnerman, Chapter 47, First Page, Who is Maddie going to dinner with?



1. Sign up for my blog (one entry for a free book)
2. Purchase Black Diamond Death on Kindle 
(FIVE entries, both contests)
3. Purchase Sinnerman on Kindle 
(FIVE entries, both contests) 
***Just don't forget to email me and let me know you did***

And don't forget to return back to the BLOG HOP once you're done here and keep on hoppin!  I will announce the winners on my blog on December 26th.

And be sure to check the HOLIDAY BLOG HOP on January 1st to see the winner of the grand prize, a Kindle Fire!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indie Chicks Series with my Guest Katherine Owen

Katherine Owen is just one of the fanstastic women featured in the Indie Chicks anthology.  Her novels will touch your soul.

Here is her excerpt in Indie Chicks:

One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss
By: Katherine Owen
I was anointed a female fictionista by an overzealous Georgia Bulldog fan on Twitter. I immediately took it for my job description.  So, here’s what you should know. I write. I write a lot. And, when I'm not writing, I think about writing a lot. You may think we're having a conversation, but invariably I'm stealing your name, asking how to spell it, and secretly describing the look on your face in five words or less in my mind. My writing tends to be dark, moody, and sometimes funny. Sometimes, it can be a bit lyrical or even literary. It’s often edgy, so be forewarned. My readers complain they can't put my books down. Or, just when they think they've figured the story out, it changes and becomes something else. My stories tend to be dark and comprised of broken heroines; even the heroes in my books have a few flaws that cause trouble. It’s true; my characters may disappoint you or surprise you or piss you off, but I think you’ll understand why they do what they do because of the way I write them. I strive to reveal the deepest underpinnings about life, about love, and about human nature, but it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ll take you through a proverbial emotional ringer before reaching resolution and it’s never as predictable as you might think. Do I sound like your kind of fictionista? Come along, darling. This way.
Something else you should know about me is that I’m a huge George Clooney fan. Maybe, Up In The Air wasn’t one of his usual gigs, but I loved that movie. And, let’s be frank, I watched ER without him for years, but it was never the same. Never. Anyway, I digress. There’s a scene in Up In The Air where he’s telling this guy to follow his dream after George has told him he’s been laid off.  When I saw that scene, it was as if George was practically speaking to me because I was there, two years ago, when I was laid off from a high tech sales job, had always harbored a dream to write full-time, and went for it after that. Is it a coincidence that Up In The Air came out about the same time? I think not. 
So now, this is what I do. Write. Write all the time. I’ll admit it was hard at first. It still is—hard, harrowing, humbling. Believe me, it would be easier to go out and get another high paying sales job than write for a living because writing causes me to question my mental toughness so much of the time. Can I do this? Am I good enough?
Yet, here’s what I’ve learned: you just have to turn off that voice in your head off or ignore what is being said.  Sometimes, all you need to do is stand up for yourself, stop depending upon the opinions of others, and just go after what you really want.
For me, that’s writing. For you, it might be anything else, but just pursue your passion whatever it is.
With this anthology, my debut novel, Seeing Julia is featured. Seeing Julia is a labor of love and represents a lot of hard work. Truly, this book has caused me as much grief as it has joy. After I first wrote this novel, I entered it into a literary contest and promptly forgot about it. I was busy. I was taking classes at The Writer’s Studio, becoming literary savvy, and writing another novel called Not To Us.
I remember it was a Monday morning in early June of 2010 when I received a call from the president of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association telling me I was a finalist in the romance category with my entry of Seeing Julia. “What?” She asked me if I planned on attending the conference. “Well, I guess so.” Lucky for me, I attended the summer conference, bought a new outfit, and won the Zola Award and first place with Seeing Julia the night of the awards dinner. It was a surreal moment, when I had to go up to the front of the room with those seven hundred people watching and accept my award. But, truly? I was more concerned about navigating all those tables and chairs on my way up to the podium than actually seizing the moment. As word spread about my writing award win, self-doubt had already set in. It was a fluke. It was dumb luck. As high as my emotions soared about winning; they fell just as fast when literary agents still rejected my work. Yes, the win opened a number of literary agent doors for me, but I wrote several different versions of that novel when a number of them took greater interest, but then wanted to change everything about the story. One agent called me up and lectured me for forty-five minutes about the book and then promised to take a look if I made more changes. I sent her the revised manuscript, but she never called again.
This was a year ago. I was at a crossroads with my writing and myself. I kept thinking if I did what they said and changed it, yet again, I would get to the next step—literary bliss. But I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Discouraged, but still determined, I reviewed what the critiques and feedback about Seeing Julia had been. Based on those, I sifted through what I thought would need to be changed and began rewriting the story, working day and night through most of November. With just getting a few hours of sleep each night, I kept up the intense pace and by the time the novel was finished; I knew it was. I’m extremely proud of Seeing Julia. During the process of rewriting it for the last time, I reached an important pinnacle with my writing: I trusted myself. Confidence entered into the realm. And, along with it, swift understanding: I had to make my own literary bliss. 
Two additional things became clear. First, it was essential for me to have complete control over the publishing of my work; and second, the publishing industry was in the midst of a perfect storm because of e-books and I needed to take full advantage. And, so I did.
In late April and early May of this year, I released two novels: Seeing Julia and Not To Us. These books are available as e-books as well as print trade paperbacks.
Many wonderful readers have responded to my work. They often reach out to me and let me know how they love my novels. I love and cherish their enthusiasm for my work.
This is literary bliss.
Of course, my family’s number one complaint is that I write too much and all the time. Now, add to that the twittering and the facebooking and the wordpressing and now google plus-ing, and checking Amazon, and taking writing classes; it's a full-time gig. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The good news is that with the encouragement of my readers and confidence in my writing, I’m working on my third novel, When I See You, and hope to release this book before the end of this year.  And, I already have drafts for two other novels, Saving Valentines and Finding Amy.
Oh yes, there are occasions, rare ones, when I'm not writing. That’s when I like to drink a fine wine, check in with my family, and look at my awesome view which I can see when I look up long enough from my computer screen in my writing refuge.
And so, welcome. Welcome to my little piece of the universe.
I’ll leave you with this—a philosophy I now live by, borrowed from one of the greatest women tennis players of all time: “You’ve got to take the initiative and play your game. In a decisive set, confidence is the difference.”  Chris Evert
Oh, Chrissy, you are so right!
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, Seeing Julia, is one of the novel excerpts featured. It is available at most online retailers in trade paperback as well as e-book formats.

Seeing Julia
Smashwords (various e-book formats for Sony e-book, Kobo, Apple iBooks and Diesel)
For more information about Katherine Owen, visit these links:
I'm on Tumblr, here:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Tour Thursday with my Guest Russell Blake

I'd like to welcome Russell Blake to my blog today.  He is the author of several novels, including his latest: King of Swords, which is FREE if you are a member of Amazon Prime and only $3.99 if you ae not.  I invited him here today to tell you all more about it.


King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.

The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico. Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" – a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.

King of Swords is an intelligent, rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.

Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer. 
I've been reading since the dawn of time, and when I retired I decided to try my hand at writing, having been a big admirer of wordsmiths like David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon. I was fortunate enough to be able to do so 8 years ago, and move to Mexico, where I live on the Pacific coast. I've always devoured thrillers - Ludlum, Forsyth, Le Carre, Harris, Grisham, Trevanian. So I naturally decided to write in the genre I know and love. One thing led to another, and by end of 2011 I will have written a dozen novels - two non-fiction, and the rest thrillers in the Ludlum mold. I'm big on international conspiracies in my work, so they all share that element.
Tell me about your novel—what inspired it?
I had just finished my second trilogy, The Delphi Chronicle, which is set in Central America and revolves around the drug trafficking industry, so I had drug cartels on the brain. And living in Mexico, where the cartels kill around eight to ten thousand every year, cartels are in a de facto civil war with the government. I got this idea, literally as I was writing the last words of Delphi, and it was only a single sentence concept: Day of the Jackal in modern Mexico. I thought it would be interesting to explore the cartel operations here, and use it as the framework of an assassination plot. Nothing like it has ever been done, so I decided to explore the idea and flesh it out. That became King of Swords.
How did you choose the title of the novel?
My editor actually suggested it. This is the first time I haven't cooked one up myself. But we had the plot element of the assassin leaving a tarot card at the scene of his hits, so it seemed natural to name it after the card he left - the King of Swords. I was going to call it Night of the Assassin, but when he suggested King of Swords, it resonated with me, and stuck. Not coincidentally, I since wrote a prequel to King, and am going to call it...Night of the Assassin, sort of a play on Night of the Iguana crossed with Day of the Jackal. I just like that title, so I had to write a book to give me an excuse to use it...
What made you choose your particular genre?
I just love reading a well written, erudite thriller. I'm not talking about monosyllabic, formulaic pap. I'm talking the old style thrillers, where it was like eating a nine course meal. Ludlum and Forsyth were the masters at it, as was Trevanian, who was hugely underrated. So I always aspired to create books of that scale - big books that swept across continents and felt epic, but which centered around the evil that governments do, and featuring unlikely protagonists rife with conflicts and imperfections. I think that's one of the things that sets my work apart, other than a certain musicality to the cadence I try to hit in the timing of the sentence structure. I like quirky, imperfect protags that seem real. I just can't stomach another ex-CIA hit man for whom this time it's personal and for whom the ladies swoon. I've written iconoclastic female NY bike messengers (Fatal Exchange), meditating amateur cryptologist investors (Zero Sum trilogy), alcoholic lowlife bureaucrats (The Geronimo Breach), Mexican Federal police captains who carry the world on their shoulders and work in dysfunctional circumstances against impossible odds (King of Swords), failed novelist PIs (The Delphi Chronicle) and sociopathic serial killer hit men (Night of the Assassin).
What’s the next project for you?  Tell the readers about it.
After King, I release Night of the Assassin. Then The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, which is more lyrical than King and Night - those are hyper-velocity blurs, written to race from start to finish. My current WIP is tentatively titled The Voynich Cipher, and is a departure in that it's a treasure hunt book, a la Foucault's Pendulum, only far faster paced, and will feature Dr. Steven Cross from Zero Sum. I expect to have that out Q1, 2012.
What character from your book(s) are you like the most and why?
Wow. Good question. I'd say I'm most similar to Dr. Steven Cross, from Zero Sum.  He has a kind of insatiable intellectual curiosity and a strong ethical grounding - not a lot of moral relativism going on. That would be the guy I'm the most like. Thank God it's not Al Ross from The Geronimo Breach. It was fun writing a lowlife malingering misanthrope, but you wouldn't want to be one...although the hours are good...
 Let’s put the novel aside and talk about YOU for a minute—what are your hobbies and what can’t you live without that’s non-book related?  What do you do when you are not writing?  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I rescue animals and nurse them back to health, fish and boat, and collect tequila. Been known to drink it, too. Sort of all part of the Mexican experience. What can't I live without? The internet, good food, great wine, love. Not in that order. If I could live anywhere, I'd probably split my time between where I now live, and Argentina. And maybe Australia part of the year - Melbourne is the world capital of eating and drinking...
If a reader asked you to recommend the three BEST books to read, aside from your own, what would they be?
Another great question. Beyond King of Swords (wink)? Day of the Jackal, A Time To Kill, Infinite Jest, The Three Musketeers, Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, Shibumi, The Magic Mountain, the Bourne trilogy, War & Peace, The Pelican Brief, The Stand, and on and on. There are so many great books. Those are perennial. But don't try Infinite Jest unless you have about a month free...
 If you could have dinner with one author, who would it be?
Living? Probably Steven King. He's the most consistent, prolific guy working today, in my opinion.
Post where you can be found—website, blog, twitter, facebook, etc.  
You can find me on the web and read my ramblings at where I blog and do Author Interviews with writers like Lawrence Block, David Lender and John Lescroart, to name a few. Twitter is @Blakebooks Facebook is
Thanks so much for having me. I hope this affords your readers a glimpse under the curtain, and welcome any questions.

My Mystery/Thriller Novels FREE on Amazon Prime

For a limited time, Amazon is offering both my novels, Black Diamond Death and Sinnerman, for free if you are a member of Amazon Prime.  When I considered whether I'd join up or not for a few months I decided it would be a great way for me to give back to my readers -- so enjoy and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Tisket, A Tasket, Five Stars in a Basket

Over the weekend I finished a novel that I found to be quite good.  The author did a decent job for her first major work.  I even went so far as to tell my husband that I really enjoyed the book.  Now that's something!  I went online, found her book, and gave it five stars because that was my personal opinion of the book (emphasis on the words "MY" "PERSONAL" "OPINION").

And just to give you an idea of how well this book is doing, it is currently #1 in two categories and #5 in another.  It is in the top #100 of ALL books on Amazon at this very moment.  

And as with many things in life, here comes the rub...within twenty-four hours of my review I had two comments beneath it, comments from people who had given it a one star.  To my knowledge, no one has ever done that for one of my reviews before, but who knows, maybe they have and I never noticed.  One reviewer went so far as to actually suggest I was paid to write the review.  And before you think, "Oh no she didn't," I assure you, oh yes, she did.

Normally, I am a mellow, positive, calm and happy type of person, but what many people don't know is that I am a firstborn, alpha, type-A female.  Oh yes.  It's true.  And I have worked hard on myself because of that.  Much of my life is spent in a calm, happy state of un-confrontational bliss because that's how I prefer to roll.  I will admit though, today--for a few brief moments--I rolled over.

I've read more books than most people can dream of in a lifetime.  Many left me tired and sleepy after the first chapter.  And I put them down, and I didn't pick them back up again.  Yes, I suppose I could leave my own negative review, but that's just not my style.  I would rather build up writers who I do enjoy by leaving positive reviews.  If others want to leave a 1, 2, or 3 star, I respect that, just as others should respect me for mine.  To each his own.  And the truth is, I stopped caring about what people thought a long time ago (hence the life of peaceful bliss), but I still feel bad when I see someone else brought down by another's negativity.

As I sat back today and gave the harsh words toward the author of the book the two seconds it deserved, I couldn't help but think about how sad it is that some people are so vicious toward others.  How did they come to be this way?  Is their life so meaningless that anger is the only road left to turn to?  Did they grow up in the wilderness without parents so they were unable to learn about common courtesy and respect?  We all have so much to be thankful for and so many opportunities to lift others up instead of bringing them down.  You can leave an honest review that's less than glowing without sticking a fork in the writer and declaring that they're done.  It's something to think about.  Don't you think? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....Flu Season

I wish I could say it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Bradshaw household, but no matter how many gummie vitamins I force feed my children, there's only one thing going on, and it isn't the holiday spirit. 

Disclaimer alert: the child above isn't mine, but the look on her face matches that of my youngest right about now.  Moving on...

Last Saturday I took my smalls to see Santa and noticed the smaller of my smalls wasn't looking too hot.  Her face was flushed and had a chalky grey hue to it.  So I asked her about it and all she said was, "My head hurts."  I thought hmmm...maybe she should go home and rest

We bid a fond farewell to Santa and I decided I would pop in to the post office on my way home since it's located on the same street that I live on.  I figured it would take me less than a minute, and it did, about thirty-seven seconds to be precise. 

But oh what a difference one minute makes. 

When I got back out to my truck, my NEW, less-than-a-week-old truck, I noticed my older small had her window all the way down.  Again, I thought hmmm.  And the reason why is because it was only about twenty-five degrees outside.  She sticks her head out the window as far as it will go and says, "Uh mom, she just threw up," and points at her sister.  And not just any old throw up--oh no--we are talking projectile vomit here.  We're talking it was all over her, the seatbelt, her seat, the seat next to her, the back of the seat in front of her, and fully covering the floor mat on her side.  It was even on the inside of her door.  And did I regret giving her homemade blueberry pancakes for breakfast?  I believe that goes without saying.

I take one look at the entire scene and go into PANIC MODE.

I'd like to say the first thing I thought about was my smallest small and how sad it was that she wasn't feeling well.  But alas, no--I will sheepishly admit the first thought that crossed my mind was "Noooooo....not in my new truck!" And then I grabbed the reins of my Dodge Ram and drove about 75 MPH down the street to our house. 

When we got home, I of course went into mommy mode (yes...I actually let the truck go for a few precious moments).  I got my small into the shower, changed, handed her a bucket and sent her off to bed.  And then I spent the next three hours cleaning the seats of my truck with every cleaner I had at my disposal.  I scrubbed it good and then sprayed it with some air freshener I had that also doubles as an odor-killing agent. 

All of this happened nine days ago.  And if you are wondering if my truck STILL smells of throw up, why yes, yes it does.  For the most part, it smells like cleaner, but every so often when the sun hits the sweet spot on her seat just right, I smell the wafting scent of puke a la small.  And I whip out my trusty double agent air freshener and spray the hell out of the air while I'm driving up the road. 

Today I got a call from my daughter's school.  When I saw the word "SCHOOL" flash across the screen of my phone, my first thought was, "Noooooo!"  When I answered the call I offered a barely audible, "Hello?"  I squeezed my eyes shut and did a silent prayer, and then the school secretary said, "Mrs. Bradshaw?  Your daughter just threw up in class.  Can you come get her?"

Here we go again...but at least I have my handy dandy bucket with me this time.   And I have taught my smallest small where her head is and where her stomach is.  Let's hope that little lesson will pay off in the future BEFORE we get in mommy's truck.

Indie Chicks Series Featuring My Guest Donna Fasano

Donna Fasano wrote for Harlequin Books for 20 years before becoming a proud Independent Author.

She's the written over 30 romance and women's fiction novels that have sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. Her books have won awards and made best-seller lists. Below is the story she contributed to the anthology Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Inspiring Stories.

Stepping Into The Light

I sit in the back row, shoulders rounded, knees jumping, my left thumb rubbing a raw spot in the center of my right palm. The sad and lonely sufferings being expressed in the dank, dimly-lit basement are all too real and much too close for comfort. I glance at the door and contemplate escape, but it's too late. All eyes are upon me. I hesitate only a moment before standing on quaking legs, clearing my throat softly and confessing, "My name is Donna. I'm a writer. And I need to come out of the closet because it's dark in here."
Twenty years ago, had there been a group called Writers Anonymous, I would have attended faithfully, pouring out my heart at the weekly meetings. You see, for the couple of years that I spent writing my first novel, I told almost no one what I was doing. My husband knew; in fact, he's the reason I even attempted what felt like the insurmountable task of plotting out and finishing that first book. He's also the reason I ended up in this glorious, chaotic, roller-coaster life I've lived as an author; however, that's a story for another day. But when I first started scratching words on a yellow legal pad with a no. 2 pencil (there's nothing else that stirs my creativity more than the feel of graphite gliding against paper), I didn't tell a single family member or friend.
Why would I keep my dreams and aspirations such a tightly guarded secret?
I would hazard to guess the answer is the same reason anyone else hides things that could have life-altering potential: fear.
What if I failed? What if I had no talent? What if I didn't possess the perseverance to finish that first manuscript?
The mere thought of the snide remarks, tittering laughter and looks of skepticism and ridicule I might receive were enough to keep me silent. My imagination has always been strong, and I easily saw the scenes play out in my head.
So you think you're going to write a book, huh?
But you didn't go to college.
A romance novel? Really?
If you're going to try to write, why not write a real book? You know, like a mystery or a thriller; something someone is going to want to read.
My ability to conjure fantasy has always been a blessing and a bane. When reading a book or listening to someone tell a story or imagining repercussions of actions, visions will take shape in my head. Situations feel real, characters become corporal, while my stirred emotions brim and often overflow. Needless to say, Hallmark commercials make me cry. While powerful creativity is a great and necessary trait for a writer who is intent on concocting a compelling tale, it can become crippling if that writer is too focused on the opinions of others.
However, I also have to confess that keeping that first novel-writing dream all to myself charged me with a vibrant energy. I was excited to get my story down on paper. Seeing my plot unfold was absolutely thrilling! Creating my characters was fun. And the fact that no one knew about my clandestine efforts gave me a huge amount of freedom. No one told me I was doing it all wrong; no one suggested I could never reach my goal.
In defense of all the people I kept in the dark all those years ago, I have to admit that most of them were delighted and supportive when I finally divulged that my first manuscript had been purchased by a bona fide publisher. Oh, there was a scoffer or two, and I continue to meet them; you know the type, people who can't be happy for others or who feel another's success somehow diminishes his or her own self-worth, but I've learned to deal with those people (working with New York City editors forces a writer to grow a thick skin pretty quickly). I merely smile and think about the slew of books I've sold and the fan mail I've received from all over the world.
Those scoffers seem to have come out of the woodwork now that I've reinvented myself as an Indie Author. But venturing into this new arena couldn't have happened at a better point in my life. I'm confident in my ability to tell a good story. I'm more than satisfied with the career I've had, and have no trouble imagining even more success in the future. I saw tangible proof when two of my books made it onto Kindle's Top 100 List. I'm happy with who I've become as a writer and as a person. If my work receives less-than-flattering feedback from a reader, I might not like it, but I also realize it's not the end of the world; I've learned that I can't please all readers all the time. I love the creative freedom I have as an independent author. I can allow my muse to take me wherever it will. I'm terrifically grateful that there are readers out there who are willing to buy my novels. Every time I read a good review of one of my books I want to (and do!) kiss my husband for suggesting I take a stab at this profession (it's a habit that's been very good for my marriage).
So… what's my point? Well, don't let the negative opinions of others keep you from dreaming, for one thing. Most of the scary thoughts that run through your head will never happen, and the few that do materialize can be dealt with. You're stronger than you think. Don't allow fear to paralyze you. Aspire to be and do whatever it is you want to be and do. Be kind to yourself; you deserve the same compassion and concern that you offer others. And most importantly, know that your dreams matter. Indulge them. Reach for the stars! I did, and I'm still astounded that I snagged a few. 
~  ~  ~

Donna loves to hear from readers! Ways to connect with Donna:
On Facebook, Donna Fasano
On Twitter, DonnaFaz

A few of Donna's available titles:
The Merry-Go-Round in paperback or for your Kindle.
His Wife for a While for your Kindle.
An Accidental Family for your Kindle, for your Nook, or on Smashwords.
Look for other available titles on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Indie Chicks Series Featuring My Guest Linda Welch

Linda Welch is part of the Indie Chicks anthology and also the author of the Whispering series which includes the novels Along Came a Demon, The Demon Hunters, Dead Demon Walking and Demon, Demon, Burning Bright (soon to be released).  I am about halfway through Along Came a Demon, and I can say without a doubt, it is worth its .99 price! 

Here's a little about Linda in her own words...

When I published the first two Whisperings paranormal mystery novels, I created an icon to use on Facebook and Twitter. The picture is of Whisperings lead character, Tiff Banks. It seemed a good way to advertise my product at the time. But no matter how often I say she is not me, I am not a tall, slim, blond young woman, many obviously don’t believe me. Response to the avatar has amused me over the years. You wouldn’t believe the comments, compliments, and odd comments I think were meant as compliments. Many of them were a hoot. I knew I’d eventually have to come out of the identity closet and say, hey, look here, this is me, not the long-haired cutie.
Then Cheryl Shireman asked me to contribute to the Indie Chicks anthology and also asked for a photo. This is the perfect opportunity to set the record straight. If you want to know who Linda Welch really is, read on. . . .


I’m going to tell you something I don’t think you know.
I haven’t been a “chick” for many a year. I’m a couple of months shy of 61. I have been married to the same man for 39 years. We have two sons and four grandchildren. And you thought I was a tall, slim young thing, didn’t you. I am what is called a late bloomer and I’m writing this for other old biddies who had a dream and let it pass them by, or think they are too busy, or it’s too late to fulfill their dream. I don’t mean just writing, but any dreamed-of achievement you hide in your heart.
I was born in a country cottage in England. My father was a restless man, so we often moved and never had much money. I remember days when only Dad had meat on his plate at dinner, but we never went hungry. We had vegetables and fruit from the garden, eggs from the chickens. Times were hard, but we children never knew that. We were loved. When Mum and Dad met during World War II, Mum was a privately educated “well-bred” lady. I doubt I will ever meet anyone as smart as my mother. At 88 years, she is still as sharp as a tack. Dad was a countryman to the bone. He had many artistic talents he didn’t pursue until later in life. When he did, he excelled at them. I like to think some of their intelligence and talent rubbed off on me.
So much has changed, in my life, in the world. I hold memories of my childhood close. I won’t let them fade. One day, I will write about them.
I had a good basic education, first at a village school, then an all-girls school, but I left at 15 (at that time the legal age in England) and worked first as a telephone operator before I went into office occupations. I did not see authorship in my future.
But I have always daydreamed. Often, I recreated the same daydream multiple times, constantly elaborating.  I did not realize I wrote books in my head.
I began writing words on paper in my mid-forties, but it was a hobby. Somewhere along the way, I thought, Could I publish this? and then I’d like to publish. But I talked myself out of it. Authors were young men and women who decided they wanted to write at a young age and worked to improve their skill their entire life. They went to college and university, they had degrees in writing, creative writing or journalism. I was inexperienced; I didn’t have their dedication or education. Anyway, I had a husband to support, children to raise and part-time jobs to supplement the family income. I didn’t have time to write and send queries, synopsis or sample chapters to agents.
In 2008 I discovered the Lulu publishing platform and took the plunge. I published the space opera Mindbender and science fiction Galen’s Gate. I subsequently unpublished them, with every intention of revising and republishing. Some copies are still floating around out there somewhere. However, Tiff Banks, who had been swimming around in this murky thing I call a brain for several years, chose to come out and play. She took over my life. She became my second skin.
When I think back to why I did not publish until in my fifties, I realize it had nothing to do with inexperience or lack of education. I was not ready. I had to marry a dashing young American airman, leave my homeland, raise two sons, spoil four grandchildren, live and work with Americans and become entrenched in the way of life. I was not ready to write Along Came a Demon until I came to the mountains of Utah, stood looking over my mountain valley, and knew, “this is it. This is where Tiff lives. She knows the bitter cold and snow of winter, the harsh heat of summer. She knows her city and the people inside-out. This is Tiff’s world, and now, I know who she is.”
Then the hard work began. My education was strictly “King’s English.” I wrote formal letters, contracts and legal documents at work. I had to take the starch out of my writing. Research didn’t help. It seemed that each time I read an article or blog about word usage, in particular overuse and what to avoid, the next book I read was a best-selling novel by a best-selling author who broke those rules. And having decided to barge into my life, Tiff was very positive about how she talks. She’s a born and bred American, a slightly snarky, slang-wielding gal who speaks to the reader on a personal level, individual to individual. I had to use a style that practically screamed “you can’t do that!” in my ear every other sentence.
I published the first Whisperings novel for another reason: Nobody seemed to believe in my writing. Not friends, relatives, friendly acquaintances. I think they supposed a 58-year-old with no education in the literary field, who suddenly came out of the woodwork and decided to publish, must be a “vanity publisher” who wanted to force poorly-written books on readers. When I said I wrote fiction, I got blank looks, followed by, “that’s nice. Now, as I was saying. . .”  Nobody wanted to read my work, not even my sweet husband. But he enjoyed urban fantasy and I thought he’d like Tiff Banks. So in a way, I also published for him.
I published Along Came a Demon in November 2008. It was supposed to be a stand-alone novella, but readers wanted more and Tiff obliged. Along Came a Demon became book one of the Whisperings series of paranormal mysteries. I published the sequel, The Demon Hunters, in November 2009. In 2010 I added material to Along Came a Demon to make it a full-length book and at the same time made small changes to The Demon Hunters to reflect those in Along Came a Demon. I published book three, Dead Demon Walking, in March 2011. Being a wordsmith, I should be able to express my joy each time a reader tells me they love my books, but it truly is beyond my powers of description. Now, when someone asks me what I do for a living, instead of telling them I am a part-time administrative assistant and adding (hesitantly) “I also write fiction,” I say I am an author. When I fill out a form that asks for my occupation, I proudly write “author” in the little box.
Mary Wesley published Jumping the Queue at age 70 and went on to write ten best sellers until she died twenty years later.
Harriett Doerr was 74 when she published The Stones of Ibarra.
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her Little House on the Prairie series when she was in her 50s.
Mary Lawson was 55 when Crow Lake was published.
Flora Thompson is famous for her semi-autobiography Lark Rise to Candleford, published when she was 63.
Age is irrelevant. You are never too old. For anything.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
My novel, Along Came a Demon, book one of the Whisperings paranormal mystery series, is one of the novels featured.
All proceeds go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Whispering books are also available in e-book formats from Apple, Diesel, Kobo and Sony.