Thursday, November 29, 2012

December is (almost) here!

Every year, I look forward to December. There's something magical about the holiday season. I love all the lights and giving presents, and for a few days each year everyone becomes nice. People gain a politeness many don't carry the rest of the year, and life slows down into the pace it should have.

Sweden has long, cold, and dark winters, and we love the holidays. It's a reason to light candles and put up lights. If you drive through the country, most windows will have electric candlesticks like the one on the photo. We call it "adventsljusstake." Some people also put up stars. We don't usually decorate the houses with lights like people do here, just the windows and maybe a tree in the yard.

It's quite beautiful, especially in the countryside. Imagine driving through a snowy landscape where the only lights come from your own car. Then, you pass a few houses, and they're all lit up like this.

Besides these lights, we wait with the heavy decorating until the days right before Christmas - most people take the tree in and decorate in on December 23rd. We celebrate Christmas eve, and the traditions are very different from the US. I'm sure I'll elaborate on that in some blog in a couple of weeks, when the mood strikes me.

This year, I'm excited for December for more reasons. My Kidnapped prequel - Courage and Retribution - will be available free from the Desert Breeze Publishing website. I'm participating in Nightowl Reviews winter web hunt, I have a promotion blitz scheduled for Brand New World for December 12th, and come January, lovely Roxanne Rhoads from Bewitching Book Tours will be my publicist. Exciting times!

Here is a short sneak-peek of Courage and Retribution, telling the story of William become one of the most wanted men in the galaxy.

The wooden staircase creaked under William's feet. He squinted into the basement's complete darkness, remembered the flashlight in his hand, and made his way to a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Its light didn't reach all the way into the corners of the room, and it sent strange shadows crawling over the walls.

He kept his head bent; he was too tall to stand straight in the confined space. "It's not elegant, but should be safe enough for now."

Three dirty faces turned toward him with faith shining from their eyes, and he swallowed hard. What if he couldn't live up to their trust? No, he couldn't afford to think like that. He started down this road. There was no going back.

A female hand clutched his. It was small and cold and made him want to protect her. "Thank you. I don't know what we'd do without you."

He cupped his hands around hers. "I have to go. The congregation will be here soon. You just stay put down here, okay?"

Taking a glance around the bare room, he exhaled through his teeth. There had to be a better place to hide the family than this dank cellar, but he couldn't think of anything. "I'm sorry it's not nicer."
The woman made a dismissive gesture. "We're alive."

She was right. Their insurrection might have been a minor one, but they were still refugees from the Alliance. Having the biggest war machine of the galaxy on their heels, feeling safe even for a moment must be a luxury. "I'll bring you some food as soon as I can."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

High Gravity

I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend/holiday. Mine was really nice. I never accomplish as much as I think I will, but I got some things ticked off my list and had some downtime. Good thing: to-dos are piling up as we get closer to the holidays, school finals, hubby's birthday, and a number of other deadlines.

My neighbours have started playing Christmas music, they have the stereo outside and play "Little drummer boy" loud enough for me to hear in the living room. With a month left to go, this is bound to drive me crazy before it's over. If you see headlines about writer gone crazy, smashing neighbours radio with large samurai sword, it's probably me. LOL.

Anyway, I've been working on my re-write of the Embarkment novellas. Here's the new beginning (draft) of High Gravity.
“Wow. This is a big empty room.”  One of my big talents: stating the obvious.

Adam gave a slight shrug. “The place comes with the job. I never needed it for anything.”

I lived in a set of guest quarters, and it was nice, but impersonal. The furniture, lamps, and decorations might not be mine, but they still existed, and reminded me of an upscale hotel. Looking around in my android boyfriend’s quarters, the rooms were huge, and contained one large desk filled with tools and gadgets.

“Why…?” I closed my mouth around the question. Normal human logic wouldn’t apply.

He smirked. “You wanted to see it, here it is.”

“It’s awesome. Let’s go home.”

No wonder we always stayed at my place. He crossed his arms over his chest and glanced into my eyes. “I have to go to work. You know that.”

Damn. His sense of duty was admirable, but couldn’t it slip just a little, just once?
Adam tilted his head to the side. “You’re disappointed.”

“No… Well, maybe a little. I thought there would be more of you here.”

He put a hand on my back and pushed me out of the living room, back into what would have been a study in a normal person’s world. “There is something of me here. There’s the desk, and my chair, and your broken iPod I’ve been trying to fix.”

I couldn’t even recognize the fragmented pieces. The poor thing must have been hit by a bullet. What a shame. It would have contained all sorts of entertainment and memories.

“C’mon, I’ll walk you home.”

My rooms were almost right under his, just a couple of floors down. Going there would normally be completely uneventful, but after an alien species called the Logg stealing the ship and my involuntary part in getting it back, people I didn’t know stopped and stared wherever I went. I hated all this whispering behind my back.
Some of the junior officers treated me with the same awe they normally reserved for the senior staff, and it freaked me out. It was traumatic enough to arrive dead from another time, I didn’t need any additional attention.

We didn’t meet anyone on Adam’s floor and the lift was empty. Close to my door, two young men pushed a broken cleaning robot down the corridor. They stopped and stared.

“Look, it’s them. Told you she lives here.”

“She’s shorter than I expected.”

Adam rolled his eyes and walked over to them. “Is there a problem?”

“No, sir.”

“Then, move along, will you.”

I shuffled over to my door. “Will this never end?”

Adam ran a hand over my back. “Sure. As soon as something more interesting happens.”

The young men were out of sight, and for all practical purposes, we were alone. I pressed my palms against his chest and gave him my best bedroom look. “Are you sure you can’t come in?”

“Not unless you’re comfortable with Laura adjusting the starboard radiation shield.”
The annoyingly perky nineteen year old ensign was probably quite able to do it, but he had a point. When it came to matters like keeping cosmic radiation from frying my brain, I’d be more comfortable with Adam handling it.

He winked. “I’ll hurry back.”

The ship rocked. I stood on the tip of my toes, wanting to steal a kiss, and was completely unprepared for the floor under me moving. My face was about to come in close contact with the carpet when Adam caught me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcome Patty Froese!

One of the biggest perks of being a writer is all the interesting people you meet both in cyberspace and in real life. Some pass by quickly, others become friends who share both joy and tears. For me, Patty Froese belongs to the latter category. She's a wonderful person with a great sense of humour, and I start most days with having a cup of coffee and reading her blog. Today is the release day of Patty's new novel, Legally Wed, and I have the pleasure of welcoming this brilliant Canadian writer to my blog!

Welcome Patty Froese!

It's great to see you here! How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

Having a writer in the family is different from having a romance writer in the family... They were always very supportive of my writing, but when I turned to romance, they mocked me heartlessly! LOL They still call me up with "genius plot lines" for me to consider and grossly inappropriate titles.(I write Christian romance, so you can see how naughty titles would give them the giggles...) Gotta love family! They keep me entertained!

Too funny! Do you have a favorite object pertinent to your writing? (Pen, coffee cup, pet, blanket, chair…?

My computer, I would say. As long as I have my computer, I'm a happy camper. My husband is a techy guy, so he's always wanting to get me a Mac or something. But I don't like my skill set messed with. Besides, I have everything saved where I want it, and I hate starting new with a new computer.

I can relate to that. I love technology, but changing computers always freaks me out. What do you love about your latest book?
This one was just fun to write. I loved following two couples, especially Mildred, the scorned wife whose husband leaves her for the secretary. I felt like I could really crawl into her skin. She's plus-sized, she's gray, she thought she was secure, and then her husband left her. She really kept things interesting for me!
Can you tell us something behind-the-scenes about this book that the readers would love to hear - something not easily found on your website?

Mildred is based on an ex-boyfriend's mother. Oh, it's true! (Now, every guy I ever dated is going say, "You calling my mama fat?") LOL! But real people worm their way into my books on a regular basis. I can't help it... Especially women! Women intrigue me, and when I find a woman I admire or just find infinitely interesting, aspects of her will show up all over the place.

Ahaha, I bet you'll get a few phone calls now with people trying to find out who she is. Anything else you want to share?

Yes! Come by my blog and share the quirky life of a Christian romance writer.
Or Facebook--I'm there a LOT.
I love to connect with readers and other writers. Keeps my feet on the ground. ;)

You have an amazing blog. I love it! Thank you so much for coming over!

Legally Wed Blurb:

When Rich McConaughey comes back to town, divorce papers in hand, he's in for more than he bargained for. Lisa Young, the woman he was married to for six months, hasn't changed a bit. His mother has though... she's gone from matronly to meow, and his father has taken off with the secretary. Does anything last anymore?

Lisa Young feels chained to the hardware store her family has run for generations. How can she tell her father that she hates the family business? When Rich walks back into her store asking her to finalize a divorce she thought was behind her, she thinks that the answer is to sign on the dotted line and move on. Except, Rich isn't making it so easy... and God has other plans.

For better or for worse, when you're legally wed, things can get complicated.

For more information:

My review of Legally Wed

Legally Wed by Patty Froese follows Lisa, single woman and owner of a hardware store in Charlbrook, a small town where everyone knows everyone. Her life seems planned and straightforward. Not necessarily exciting, but safe. That is, until her ex-husband walks in and claims they're not really divorced.

This is a Christian romance, and Christian readers will not be disappointed; Lisa and several other characters go to church and talk to God. It is also humorous, endearing, and entertaining. The fate and happiness of several people are at stake, and Froese makes you care about the characters.

I read through the book in two sittings; I HAD to see what would happen to everyone. I give Legally Wed five stars out of five, and warmly recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet, humorous, and entertaining read.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Interview with Tiffinie Helmer

Today is a treat for me. I met Tiffinie Helmer in an author's group on Facebook. We tweeted each other's books for a while, and she fascinated me with saying she would be off line over summer because she was going fishing in Alaska. I'm sure I answered something eloquent along the lines of, "You're going to what and the what? Wow!" After a few months of chatting (yes, I'm slow, lol) I decided to try one of her books, and ended up reading nonstop for three days until I had plowed through all of them. I a delighted to introduce her here on my blog!

Tiffinie Helmer, Romancing Exotic Alaska!

Welcome Tiffinie, please tell us your latest news!

Maria, thanks for the invite.  It has been great getting to know you! 
BEARING ALL, the 4th book in the Wild Men of Alaska Series was just released.  I love this book.  Love, love the characters.  In one word, BEARING ALL is untamed.  Here’s the blurb:

All he wants for Christmas is her…
Former Russian spy, Sergei Lavinsky, code name The Bear, is hibernating on the edge of Alaska.  He lures the woman he loves to the Edge of Reason Lodge, hoping enough time has passed that her heart has softened and her knives have dulled.

All she wants is revenge…
Kate “No Mercy” Mercer is a CIA Agent sent to assassinate him.  Again.  This time she intends to succeed without ending up in his bed.  She has a dozen reasons to kill him, and one of them is personal.
They’ll be completely unwrapped before the holiday is over…

I love how the characters in your books intertwine; it's like revisiting old friends. Do you have all that planned out in advance, or does it just happen? 

It kind of just happens.  Character is the first thing that comes to me.  I am fascinated by people and why they do what they do.  As a writer, it’s fun playing God and doing things to my characters and seeing how they react.

Are any of your characters based on real people? 

I wish.  I’d like to meet them.  Talk about hanging with your peeps.  Plus, the men are HOT.  

Your books make me want to visit Alaska, and it's clear you know what you're talking about. Was it difficult to move away? Do you miss it? 

I miss it a lot.  Luckily, I do get to return for the summers, though commercial fishing is no vacation.  I love that “wildness” that living “Outside” in the lower 48 doesn’t allow me.  I need to be a little more civilized when I’m in Utah, where we live for the rest of the year.  Both my husband and I are from Fairbanks, Alaska and have lots of family all over the state of Alaska. So its home.  This time of year it’s killing me not seeing the Northern Lights. 

The fishing-in-Alaska part fascinates me. Is it something you've always done? A family business, maybe?

My immediate family started commercial fishing in 1977.  My grandparents and my uncle started in 1967.  So, yeah, we know what we’re doing.  When my kids were little my husband went fishing.  Now I take the kids (he has to stay because of his job) and they fish with me.  They are teenagers now.  Nothing like having teenagers work and earn money while all their friends are getting into trouble or wasting their summers.  I have great kids who know how to work and have serious skills in knowing how to survive. 

When did you discover you are a writer? Was there a specific catalyst? 

I always had a great imagination.  I used to get called out for “making up stories” when I was little.  That sounds so much better than lying. But in junior high writing saved me.  It was the best escape…and revenge.  You can do things to people with a pen and paper that you don’t get punished for.  Just change the names to protect the innocent and you are good to go.

Hahaha, I can relate. What type of scene do you enjoy writing the most? 

Well, with what I just revealed above you might be able to guess.  Killing scenes are my favorite.  Those and when the characters are rapidly firing with dialogue.  Love dialogue.  Believe it or not, the love scenes are the hardest (no pun intended, well, maybe a little).  For a love scene there has to be a reason for me.  It has to move the story and reveal more than what’s under the clothes.  They are difficult and time consuming.  I’d rather kill people. 

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in writing?

Time.  There is not enough time to do all that I want to.

Do you have a favorite object you need when you write?  

Music.  It helps me set the mood.  Most of BEARING ALL was written to tango music.  I hope, when readers read it, the music comes through with the action and the dialogue. 

What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?  Do you have a “must see” destination on your bucket list? 

FINLAND!  I was a foreign exchange student to Finland in high school.  The people in Finland and Sweden (I was so lucky to have spent a few days) were the nicest people.  Loved the place, the people, and the cheese!  I can’t wait to return and visit all of Scandinavia.

Yay! Finland is beautiful, but I'm patriotic, so I'll say Sweden is the best. LOL. Is there something funny about you people don’t know? 

I love onion rings but hate onions.  Go figure.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Check out the webpages below for more information on Tiffinie and her books!


See "Bearing All" on Amazon
Check out "Bearing All" at Barnes and Noble 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sidetracked onto... trees? Who would have thought.

From time to time, I do serious research for my books. Enrolling in a college class type of serious. Most of the time, Google is fine. It sidetracks me, though. I mean, is anyone able to even get near Google without ending up reading something super-interesting they didn't intend to see? Same thing with Facebook. I can't even count the times I've gone on Facebook for a quick peek, and found some of my author friends have been researching something interesting enough to post. Wham, a couple of hours gone and head filled with new and useless information.

Working on the re-write of Brand New World, I stumbled over some really interesting facts.

The world's oldest living tree stands in my home country - Sweden. It is a 9,550 year old spruce. Actually, the trunk is "only" 600 years old, but the roots are 9,550 years. The photo to the right is taken by Leif Kullman at UmeƄ University's department of Ecology and Environmental science.

The world's oldest plant is a 13,000 year old oak that survives by cloning itself. The Californian bush started its life during the last Ice Age.

There's something even older. It's not an individual tree, but a colony of Aspen in Utah. The 105 acre colony is made from genetically identical trees connected by a single root system, and got its start over 80,000 years ago. It's hard to measure the age of something as ancient as this - some scientists think the colony could be over one million years old. It weighs 6,615 tons, and it is the heaviest living organism on the planet.

Isn't the world fascinating? I also learned some really interesting things when researching the novella High Gravity. I'll tell you all about it when the re-write is done.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Potential new covers for the Embarkment novellas

The inside of the Embarkment 2577 novellas are getting a major rewrite. The first one - Brand New World - is almost ready, and work on High Gravity is proceeding well. I now know how spoiled I have become with Desert Breeze Publishing's amazing cover artists and editors. This is hard work, but thanks to support from lovely Christy Elkins, I'm moving forward.

Anyway, in order to reflect the major change, I want the 2nd edition to have new covers as well. These are the current working ideas - graphics from What do you think?

The Universe - or is it Fate - is fickle.

If someone had told me yesterday that an asteroid would collide with Earth, that we'd have a flood of Biblical proportions, or that a so...