I wanted to do something a little different for my front stoop this Halloween. I’ve done more traditional fall pumpkin topiaries in past years but this year it’s witches. The directions for building a standard topiary is located below.
SUPPLIES: You’ll need 3 pumpkins in large, medium, & small sizes, wooden/bamboo kebab skewers, mallet & decorative accents, i.e. fall leaves, beads or garland.
Make sure the bottom pumpkin, or the largest one is large enough to fit into the bottom of your urn tightly, at least part of its weight should rest in the soil. Place this base pumpkin in the urn, you do not have to cut or gut this pumpkin and do no remove its stem or it will mold.
Select your middle pumpkin, make sure you have one with a nice stem, cut a circle in the BOTTOM of the pumpkin large enough that it can fit over the stem of the base pumpkin, remove all the seeds and guts from the pumpkin. Now place this second pumpkin on top of the base pumpkin and hammer the long kebab skewers into the second pumpkin until the skewer reaches the base pumpkin. Take your time and hammer the skewer all the way in, it will secure the second pumpkin to the base pumpkin. I usually use about six skewers around the perimeter.
Now repeat the same process to secure the top pumpkin as you did for the middle one, cutting out the BOTTOM and gutting it before securing this top pumpkin to the middle one with skewers. Now you can decorate for fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving. Use plastic leaves, cattails, branches, candy corn swags, fall colored garland or Halloween tinsel around the base and for the in between layers.
Instructions to complete the witch topiary.
Once you have the topiary built you can decorate it. The first step was to add the witches hair I used the purple/glitter spray with spiral ends from the floral department. The spray comes about 3 feet long so I had to trim them down to about 10-12 inches.
I used these greening pins to attach the hair to the pumpkin. You can find greening pins in the floral department of any craft store. It was easy to press the greening pins into the pumpkin most of the way and then you can use a hammer to secure them all the way into the pumpkin.
Next, I attached the Witch’s hat that I found at Michaels using the same pins. Then I added the spiders with webs for the witch’s eyes and another spider for the mouth.
I added this wire enforced garland in between the pumpkins layers to dress the pumpkin topiary. Adding a witches broom with a holiday message for the final touch.
I used 21″ wide mesh ribbon to make the swag for the base of the pumpkins. I gathered the fabric in my hand, twisting the pipe cleaner around the gathered fabric to make the swags. I used the same greening pins to attach the swag to the base of the bottom pumpkin.
I hope you enjoyed this DIY project.
If you love Halloween take a trip to Salem and check out the Celtic witches who’ve hidden there for hundreds of years. Once upon a time witchcraft was safe, but now something dark and sinister from the OtherWorld is crossing over and it’s up to Locke, Keleigh, and the Seer to find a long lost artifact before they plunge our world into chaos. If you’d like to learn more about the real witches I created please check out the Deadly Fairy Tales Series.
Exclusive ALL-NEW romance stories by bestselling authors about couples who defy
convention and follow their hearts. These stories are all brand new and only
available in this box set!
Love is blind, but it’s never easy. A Book a Day Presents: Color Theory is a
collection of stories about love that is determined not by the color of one’s
skin, but by the connection of two hearts. They face challenges, but together
they not only overcome—but soar. These couples know the color of one’s skin
can’t determine who a person loves. Love is so much more.
This amazing anthology will only
be available for a short time, and all the proceeds will go to the education of
Welcome! We’re Ash and
Marcus Kusi, a wife-and-husband author team under the pen name A. M. Kusi. And
enjoy writing romance novels that are inspired by our experiences as an
Our novels are about strong
women and the sexy heroes they fall in love with, are emotionally satisfying
and always have a happy ending.
Anne grew up in a very small
town in South Carolina, where as a kid, she always loved to read books, make
people laugh and write songs. After having success in her home state she
decided to pursue dreams of becoming a writer and moved to Nashville, TN. When
she’s not writing you can find her reading or searching for a husband. She
loves spending time with her friends, nieces, nephews and her two fur babies.
She enjoys making people laugh and loves hearing from her readers.
“I’m passionate about
books and literature. The best books are intense, enthralling stories that
readers can get lost in for days. Books delve into what it means to be human
and connect us to each other. Books allow us to live all our possible lives.
Books open us to loving each other and the world more. I write intense, deeply
imagined romance novels for serious readers because the world needs more
love.” ~~Blair Babylon
Blair Babylon is an
award-winning, USA Today bestselling author who used to publish literary
fiction. Because professional reviews of her other fiction usually included the
caveat that there was too much deviant sex and too much interesting plot, she
decided to abandon all literary pretensions, let her freak flag fly, and write
hot, sexy, suspenseful romance.
CA Miconi began
reading at the age of five and has never stopped. Her childhood was filled with
multiple readings of Gone With
the Wind, the ultimate tragic romance. CA got her own HEA when she married her
retired military hero, Gary, in 2010. She began her author services company,
Lucky 13, in 2015, specializing in editing, proofreading, promoting, social
media management, and administrative support. CA also hosts and sponsors author
and reader events, never dreaming she would one day attend events as a
signing author. When she’s not reading, writing, or working with authors, CA enjoys
traveling, spending time with her grandchildren, boating, motorcycling, and
cheering on her beloved Baltimore Ravens.
Pearl is the Amazon and iBooks best selling author of the Something More
series. She lives in New Jersey with her three delicious children and
ever-supportive husband, who–luckily–doesn’t mind sharing her with an array
of fictional men. She did a brief stint at Boston University and worked in
marketing before publishing her debut novel, Normal. She writes mature Young
Adult and New Adult Contemporary Romance. Danielle enjoys coffee, wine, and
cupcakes, and not in moderation.
Eden Butler is a writer of
contemporary, fantasy, and romantic suspense novels and the nine-times
great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her
affinity for rule breaking and rum.
When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque
ancestor, Eden patiently waits for her Hogwarts letter, reads, and spends too
much time in her garden perfecting her green thumb while waiting for the next
New Orleans Saints Superbowl win.
She is currently living under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast
Windy City writer Elizabeth Marx brings cosmopolitan flair to
her fiction, which is a blend of romance and fast-paced Chicago living with a
sprinkle of magical realism. In her past incarnation she was an interior
designer—not a decorator—which basically means she has a piece of paper to
prove that she knows how to match and measure things and can miraculously make
mundane pieces of furniture appear to be masterpieces. Elizabeth says being an
interior designer is one part shrink, one part marriage counselor and one part
artist, skills eerily similar to those employed in writing.
Elizabeth grew up in Illinois and has also lived in Texas and Florida. If she’s not pounding her head against the wall trying to get the words just right. Elizabeth resides with her husband, girls, and two cats who’ve spelled everyone into believing they’re really dogs.
traveled extensively, but still says there’s no town like Chi-Town.
I’ve always been passionate
about storytelling and impressed by the influence it has on people and the
decisions they make in life. I love engaging with the projects I work on,
diving headfirst into the research, investigation, and production of stories I
feel are worth writing about. I am a curious and proactive Author, interested
in preserving the foundations set by classical literature by adapting them to
modern themes and trends.
Rey is a compassionate romantic. She is always dreaming up stories about love
and fulfilling relationships. She writes a multitude of romantic genres and
loves to write about powerful female friendships. In her obsession over the
human dynamic, she leaves nothing to chance.
resides in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri with her high school sweetheart,
a kiddo and three snuggly doggos. She loves to host get-togethers with family
and friends, hiking, camping or riding roller coasters. She is also a big fan
of anything chocolate.
Lori Ryan is a NY Times
and USA Today bestselling author who writes contemporary romance novels and
romantic suspense novels. She lives with an extremely understanding husband,
three wonderful children, and two mostly-behaved dogs in Austin, Texas. It’s a
bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.
Lori published her first
romance novel in April of 2013 and has loved every bit of the crazy adventure
this career has taken her on since then. She is a hybrid author, publishing
both as an indie author and through SilverHart Publishing. She also has a
new side hobby of creating coloring books for adults! Lori loves to connect
with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.
Oh, and if you’ve read Lori’s romantic suspense books and thought it was one of
the best romance novels you’ve read 😉 , please consider leaving a review with the retailer
of your choice to help other readers find her work as well! It’s a tremendous
honor to have her romance novels recommended to others or written up in
reviews. Lori promises to do a happy dance around her office every time you
m jane colette writes
tragedy for people who like to laugh, comedy for the melancholy, and erotica
for men and women who like their fantasies real. She believes rules and
hearts were made to be broken; ditto the constraints of genres. The result? “A
whole new sub-genre of her own… social realist erotica that’s frenetic and
complex and funny and very well observed.”
Also, smoking hot. Which is
still the most important thing in erotica, romance… and, life?
A poster child Gemini,
she is, most of the time, at least two people. Her left-brain persona
sold out long ago. She wears severely-cut suits of black, blue and
only that shade of green (“No, not that shade—have you seen
the colour of my hair and eyes? Please. Let’s coordinate.”) and spends a lot of
time in board rooms, offices, and “war rooms” (what a name!)
parsing lies. It’s a living.
(But, oh, what a
plethora of source material…)
Her right-brain persona longs
to be an iconoclast and an artist. When nobody’s looking, she writes poetry.
To learn more about M. Jane Colette, visit: http://mjanecolette.com/
Piper Rayne is a USA Today
Bestselling Author duo who write “heartwarming humor with a side of sizzle”
about families, whether that be blood or found. They both have e-readers full
of one-clickable books, they’re married to husbands who drive them to drink,
and they’re both chauffeurs to their kids. Most of all, they love hot heroes
and quirky heroines who make them laugh, and they hope you do, too!
To learn more about Piper Rayne, visit: http://www.PiperRayne.com/
Like Ms. Perky
says, “I’ve got deviants to see, and a novel to finish.”
wrote and published her first contemporary new adult romance in 2014 and has
since published over 30 novels. She is a 2020 RONE Award-Winning author of Game Changer, as well
as award-winning college sports series, Courting
Love, and the twice award-finalist erotic ménage serial, Reckless – The Smoky Mountain
Sierra lives in the Seattle area with her husband of 25 years and their rescued
German Shepherd. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and traveling to
see her favorite alternative rock band, Pearl Jam.
Willow Aster is the author of
USA Today bestseller, True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe
Maby, Fade to Red, Lilith (formerly known as Whore), 5,331 Miles, Miles
Ahead, The Kingdoms of Sin series, and co-author of The End of Men series with
Tarryn Fisher. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere
will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless
daydreaming; otherwise, the writing would never get done. She’s also an avid
reader, and has been known to walk, cook, and clean with her nose in a book.
She’s lived in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and California, but Minnesota has
captured her now and doesn’t seem to be letting go. Although shy, this
lifelong writer and artist is convinced that the best part of this career for
her is meeting and connecting with readers, authors, and all of those in this
community of lovers of words.
grew up in Montana, riding horses and dreaming of life beyond the mountains. As
soon as she could, she started traveling, heading across the country for
college and backpacking through Europe before finally earning a fine arts
degree and throwing down roots in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t long
before her imagination started running away with her and she started writing.
I searched by full blood moon and couldn’t find a Halloween fireplace screen to complete my Halloween mantel. So I decided to construct my own. This is my family room, the focal point of the room is this wall with the fireplace. I constructed the metal fireplace screen from several items I put together from a home decorating store and a few craft supplies. The whole project cost less than $30 and I’m really thrilled with it.
This is a close up of the base I used to construct the fireplace screen against a white wall so you can see it better. These pumpkin tea light stands came from Gordmans. They are freestanding and I thought they’d make excellent bases for the project.
I found these metal spider webs with black spiders on them at Gordmans. I thought since they were lightweight they’d could be bound together with metal wire and make the screen. I removed the rings at the bottom of the webs by using a pair of pliers to bend them off.
I wanted to make the spiders on the webs stand out so I painted them with craft paint and then sprinkled them with glitter in a matching color. Here’s how they turned out.
After the spiders’ paint dried I assembled the three webs using black 16 gauge permanently colored copper wire. (I found this with the jewelry supplies at Michaels) Then I attached the screen to the two bases uses the same jewelry wire, wire cutters, and pliers.
Then I added some additional metal spiders (Joanne Fabrics) to finish the screen. Here’s another shot of the finished product with a nice fire behind it!
If you’re looking for something spooky to snuggle up by the fireplace this Halloween, feel free to check out my new YA paranormal romance series, Deadly Fairy Tales. For all those Trick-or-Treaters out there this is a three book series.
I’ve been having a love affair with Puerto Rico for at least 20 years and if you count my childhood friend’s stories about her fatherland it’s a lot longer than that. First and foremost, the most attractive quality about this Caribbean Island is its people. Puerto Ricans are kind, helpful and so proud and honored to share their beautiful home with visitors. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many of this island’s great attractions over my various visits. Here’s my list of what I saw, did, and more importantly, what I devoured during my July 2016 vacation.
Ritz Carlton Carolina, PR
No, I’m not made of money but of course that’s what you think of when you think of the Ritz, luckily United Vacations made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The Ritz Carlton is beautiful property with a luxurious pool area and the beach is well maintained. The artwork throughout the hotel is gorgeous, especially the wonderful piece that’s behind the concierge’s desk. I love entering the hotel and seeing such a wonderful piece of art, it really makes a statement!
The guest rooms are very nicely appointed with large bathrooms. This hotel has an attentive staff and wonderful restaurants, I dined in all the restaurants but the two standouts are the BLT Steakhouse 5/5 stars and IL Mulino New York 4.5/5 stars. Food is expensive in Puerto Rico, much more than downtown Chicago, but that’s consistent for other islands I’ve visited in the Caribbean. The only negative I’d say about this hotel is the lounge chairs in the pool and beach area, I expected the heavy teak lounge chairs more common at five star resorts by the pool. While the metal and plastic strapped chairs at the pool had cushions, but this didn’t detract from my visit, it’s just something I think this luxurious property could upgrade. The other improvement I’d recommend is the exterior area that runs perpendicular to the Lobby Lounge, I think this outside patio could use new seating, the white tubular contemporary chairs and tables aren’t very inviting and while staying on property for a week I only saw the area occupied twice. The biggest reason why no one is utilizing this patio is there are no umbrellas, and the stark furniture made it cold and uninviting. I think furnishings that match the furniture on the veranda right outside the Lobby Lounge would be much more appealing and inviting for visitors. Overall, I’d give the hotel a 4.5/5 star rating. Either way, I get to check off staying at a Ritz-Carlton on my bucket list and I’ll be back!
Old San Juan—Viejo San Juan
I’ve visited the old walled city on numerous occasions. I’ve walked the walls of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a world heritage site, and this is an excellent spot to take a photo of Bay of San Juan. Afterwards, we strolled Caleta de San Juan that will take you to the massive wooden San Juan gates, my girls were thrilled to stop for another photo opportunity!
We shopped our way along Calle de Cristo and then stopped in the Hotel El Convento for a drink. Hotel El Convento is across the street from the San Juan Cathedral that was built in 1521 and adjacent to the Plaza of nuns. This building originally housed the first Carmelite Convent in the Americas and nuns lived there for 252 years, until 1903. Between 1913 and 1953 it was a retail store, a dance hall and even a flophouse. It became a parking lot for garbage trucks and was slated for bulldozing until in 1959 Robert Woolworth purchased the property from the Archdiocese of San Juan and transformed it into the deluxe hotel name El Convento. Stop by the bar and have a Chi-Chi with one of the nicest bartenders in San Juan.
Our wonderful bartender recommended several local restaurants for dinner so we walked to El Jibavito. We started with Sangria and chicken empanadas that were delicious. My daughters and husband had the Camarones Al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic sauce) and I had the Pollo Al Ajillo (chicken in garlic sauce) both dishes had this fabulous garlic sauce with sweet onions and green peppers, delicious! I had rice and beans and tostones. For dessert I had the coconut flan. This restaurant has excellent food and I highly recommend that you check it out if you visit San Juan. $$
Cats of Puerto Rico
Okay, okay I know I’m a crazy cat lady but after the wonderful dinner I had I felt like I wanted to crawl up on the roof of the car alongside this guy for a siesta! I must say the cats sleeping wherever they liked in Old San Juan was reminiscent of home, but these felines are as friendly and accomodating as any other residents of the island.
The second group of cats I encountered was at El Yunque rainforest where a feisty group of felines had taken up residence in the parking lot and none of them were afraid to catch and devour lizard’s whole. Hey, a rainforest cat has got to do what a rainforest cat was meant to do! MEOW!
El Yunque Rainforest
El Yunque is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Park system and if you visit Puerto Rico this is a must see and it’s free. Start at the visitor’s center to get souvenirs and determine what sort of trail you’re interested in hiking because there are various difficulty levels.
Stop along the highway inside the park at La Coca Falls and snap a photo before heading to Yokahu Tower observation point where you get an excellent view of the lush vegetation and the Atlantic Ocean. My girls hiked La Mina all the way down and took a dip in the falls. There are places to purchase drinking water and snacks in the park but I wouldn’t eat inside the park unless you just want a quick snack. I’d wait for food because when you exit the park it’s a short jaunt to the wonderful Luquillo Beach.
Luquillo beach’s kiosks are famous for their Puerto Rican delicacies. If you want to eat like a local this is another place to do it, you can get anything from chapin, a local fish, to stuffed mofongo to a three-course meal. We stopped at La Parrilla where we had a wonderful seafood luncheon. My husband and I had the Langosta Fresca La Parrilla, lobster with stuffing and my girls had shrimp. For an appetizer try the lobster empanadas, they are to die for and would make an excellent snack to take away to the beach with you. Make sure you have sunscreen and a passion fruit mojito too! $$$
El Nuevo Acuario, Carolina, PR
Speaking of great local restaurants we went to Carolina and dined at El Nuevo Acuario. Don’t let the location or buildings sideline you from this culinary adventure, Chef Leo will make you the BEST ceviche you’ve ever had. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve eaten all over the world and this was the best ceviche bar none! The presentation was wonderful and every dish was delicious. We ate at a couple of five star restaurants during our stay in Puerto Rico and our girls said that El Nuevo Acuario was their favorite! The drinks were wonderful, I had a guava mojito, superb. We had lobster with a spicy sauce and my husband had the red snapper, it was fresh and so pretty to look at you didn’t want to disturb the plate. Also, we had an awesome taxi driver, Manuel, who was nice enough to come back for us after dinner. Talk about customer service! $$$$
One of the most wonderful things about going back to a place you’ve visited often is discovering something new. Since I’m working on a book about a college student who’s also a renowned street artist every place I visit I look for street art and it’s impact on the community. The heroine in TELL ME SOMETHING REAL, Kami Rosario-Dawson happens to be part Puerto Rican and she grew up traveling back and forth between St. Louis and San Juan.
San Juan is renowned for its artists and Santurce is the district/barrios where art is happening. Santurce is the most densely populated districts on the island and a cultural hot spot for music, cuisine, fashion, hotels, tech, film and startups. The wonderful Museo De Arte De Puerto Rico has this sculpture that welcomes visitors and the area. The façade of the museum is the former hospital with graceful columns at the entrance. The museum has a wonderful sculpture garden, a fine collection of prints and traces the history of Puerto Rican art from Jose Campeche to the present.
Santurce is awash with well-preserved architecture, street art, and graffiti. The area is also home to some of the most unique Spanish design. The neighborhood went through many transitions over its long history, after September 11th the banking industry suffered an economic decline but since 2009 Santurce has experienced a cosmopolitan revival. There are many beautiful buildings just waiting to be brought back to life. I walked the streets during rush hour and it’s a high traffic area at that time of day but it’s worth your patience to explore this unique neighborhood. Art adorns not only the sides of buildings but even electrical boxes like this one. This is a must see area if you are an art and architecture lover and it instantly became part of Kami’s story. I imagined her walking the streets of Santurce and maybe it’s the first place Kami encountered a street artist or where she painted her first mural. So now I’m wondering if I get to write this vacation off? LOL!
Puerto Rico is full of kind, pleasant, and warm people. It’s the kind of place where you can have inspirational adventures. Add Puerto Rico to your must visit list!
Spring is always slow moving in the Midwest, but here are the top ten signs that Spring has sprung in Chi-Town!
#1 Buckingham Fountain is turned on. Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is one of the largest and most ornate fountains in America. The fountain opens in mid April and runs a major water display for 20 minutes every hour on the hour. In the evening light and music accompany the show. This Chicago Landmark is a must see! It’s always FREE. You can learn more about it here: http://goo.gl/YYXVqn
#2 People eating lunch in Daley Plaza. The Daley Center was originally called the Chicago Civic Center and later renamed to honor Mayor Richard J. Daley. This building house the Chicago Circuit Courts, but what makes this a Chicago Architectural Landmark fantastic is the Picasso outside on the Plaza. The sculpture commissioned by Pablo Picasso in 1967 was the first modern sculpture placed in the Loop. So pick up a sack lunch on a sunny afternoon and enjoy the view. The people-watching is great here too! To learn more: http://goo.gl/X57bkM
There is something happening on the plaza year round. Tuesday May 3, 2016 is Polish American Committee Day when the Polish Flag will be raised, Aidan Palowski might be there & this is the performance schedule for May: http://goo.gl/KFBd1h
#3 Tulips outshine the twinkle lights along the Magnificent Mile. Eight city blocks of Michigan Avenue make up the Magnificent Mile. A well-known high end shopping and dining destination that runs from the Chicago River to the Water Tower and Pumping Station. FYI, 8 city blocks equal a mile for those of you interested in logging your mileage. Regardless of the retail therapy opportunities the thing you must see are the tulips and flowers lining the parkway in springtime! It’s a Chicago must see! Tulip Watch here: http://goo.gl/Hv18IR
#4 The Cubs come out to play. Nothing says summertime in Chicago like baseball! Take me out to the ball game. The new and improved Wrigley Field is now open. The second phase of the Friendly Confines renovation was completed during the off-season all the way down to the iconic marquee! Work began to convert the excavated area just west of the field into a 30,000 square foot area for player’s locker rooms, strength, conditioning, training and hydrotherapy sections, player’s lounges, a media center & team offices. Premium & season ticket holders will be afforded a new “Third Base Club” next to the batting tunnels and a “Home Plate Club” will be introduced. An upper-deck exposed concourse will be added along the south & west roofline of right field. Improved bathroom facilities & additional concessions are included while preserving the historic features and 1930’s characteristics of the ballpark. I can’t wait to see it in person! Cubs Schedule here: http://goo.gl/c9nTe0
You know baseball is near & dear to my heart because of my special relationship with a certain bad baseball boy. Learn more about my baseball romances and the Chicago Series here: http://goo.gl/pPlK9o
#5 Frisbee in Grant Park. Come out to play in Chicago’s front yard. After the Great Chicago fire our city was planned with open spaces all along the lakefront for public use. Grant Park comprises: Millennium Park, The Art Institute, Buckingham Fountain, Field House, the new Maggie Daley Park and many other wonderful places to visit. Right now the NFL Draft is being hosted in Grant Park which is called Draft Park! If you come out to play don’t forget the dog and the Frisbee! Learn more here: http://goo.gl/wk1lBo
#6 Boats are back in Diversey Harbor. Located within Lincoln Park and near Lake Shore Drive and you know summer is right around the corner when you see the boats start slipping into slips! All along the 14 miles of Lake Michigan there are 10 harbors run by the Chicago Park District. On any summer day when you drive along Lake Shore Drive you’ll have an excellent view of boats along the shoreline. If you’re coming to Chicago by boat learn more about out harbor system here: http://goo.gl/zvZIQ2
#7 Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. Navy Pier in Chicago is the 2nd most visited venues in Chicago after The American Girl Doll Store. We are getting a new Ferris wheel this year and much of Navy Pier has been under construction over the winter months. Here are some construction facts and photos: http://goo.gl/wctMW9
#8 Chicago Beaches open. The 26 miles of public beaches officially open on May 27th but a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday we were in the high seventies and the beach opened ‘unofficially’! The 24 freshwater beaches are managed by the Chicago Park District. I’m more familiar with the beaches on the Northside: North Avenue Beach, Montrose Beach and Oak Street Beach. The beach system was part of the original Burnham Plan for the city and recreational development was always supported along the Chicago lakefront. Many of the beaches off free WiFi, so you can always bring your eReader and download a new book while relaxing in a soft breeze. Just remember we call this the Windy City for a reason, yes our politicians are a bit long winded but it’s breezy along the lake here too!
No matter what beach you chose it’s a great place to watch the Chicago Air & Water show which is held in August. http://goo.gl/TKWxxY
#9 Lincoln Park zoo babies start arriving! Did you know Chicago has one of the oldest zoos in the country? And that it’s FREE! This zoo set in the heart of the city is open every day and it houses 1200 animals, a wonderful conservatory and paddleboats. Admission is totally free, but plan on buying lunch there or fun treats in the gift shops for your kids as this revenue supports this wonderful Chicago institution. Here’s a picture of my babies the last time we visited. Info: http://goo.gl/2nqXNu
As I said my favorite part of the zoo besides the penguins and the monkeys are the new zoo babies! Guess what? We had two new Snow Monkeys born in April. How could you resist visiting this face?
#10 Bicycles, boats, and babes all along the lakefront. Now that you’ve been all over Chicago you might want to take a break and just relax or perhaps a leisurely ride along the lakefront on the Chicago Lakefront Trail. The path is for walking, running or biking and the 18 mile path connects various beaches and recreational amenities along the lake. It’s a super busy place and be extra cautious at intersections. Learn more here: http://goo.gl/CrZJdy
Thanks for stopping by and helping me get ready for Spring adventures in Chicago. If you’ve visited Chicago before leave a COMMENT & tell me what you enjoyed best? It could be a location or even a restaurant, we have the BEST food here!!! If you’ve never visited Chicago I’d love to hear what you want to see first?
The question readers ask me over and over again, besides if Aidan and Libby are okay, is what happened to Tony, Evita and Manny. The simple truth is I don’t know exactly. I mean I have ideas about where I want their story to go, but I haven’t committed many of the ideas to paper. I just can’t seem to motivate myself into writing their story when I’ve written a lot of other books since then. Perhaps, since BINDING ARBITRATION is so near and dear to so many hearts, maybe I’m afraid of a sophomore jinx.
A sophomore jinx is the theory (or in my case fear, a deep seeded fear) that the second or sophomore effort doesn’t live up to the standards of the first effort. It’s also known as the sophomore slump, which is psychologically explained as an earlier success having a reducing effect on the subsequent effort, but statistically it can be explained as regression to the mean. I’m worse off now that I looked up the actual definition than I was before! This regression to the mean, yikes, does that mean that if BA is a 5 star book the follow up book will be a 3 star book and they’ll average out to 4 stars? I’ve increased the lump in my throat exponentially! I’m banging my head on my desk and praying it isn’t so. Now I know how my beloved Cubbies feel, after such a wonderful season last year!
That’s it! I refuse to give in! I refuse to FEAR the MEAN!!!
So I’ve decided to actually start writing the full-length second book in the Chicago Series. I’m considering the title EMINENT DOMAIN. All of the books in the Chicago Series have legal terms for the titles. Eminent Domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation. I’m one of those authors who can’t finish a book without the title because I like to layer the title’s meaning throughout the book.
If you recall the end of BA Manny has been missing for months and Enrique has tried to lure Evita back to South America by promising her she could be with her son again. When Evita shows up to say goodbye to Libby at the legal aid office and leaves a letter for Tony we assume that something has separated Tony and Evita. Evita ends up in the hospital with a gunshot wound and Tony shows up in the ER raising hell because Evita’s been injured. Eminent Domain could refer to couple of different plot points in the story: Enrique’s right to have physical custody of his only son, Manny, (even if Enrique is a scum-sucking, drug-dealing pig), Tony’s right to ‘take’ and care for Evita and Manny, or even Evita’s right to keep her son away from his biological father, or it could refer to the City of Chicago seizing Tony’s businesses under Eminent Domain when they are less than successful in prosecuting him for various ‘crimes’.
My questions to you Dear Readers???
What do you think of the title: Eminent Domain? If you hate it, don’t just hate for hate’s sake, suggest something else!
What happened between Evita and Tony?
What’s in the letter Evita wrote Tony and told Libby to give to him if she dies in South America? Yikes!!!
Who is Tony Accardo really? Organized crime boss, misunderstood businessman or ?
What hasn’t Evita told Tony about her past?
What hasn’t Tony told Evita about his past? Or his present for that matter?
Who really has Manny?
So what I’m looking for is real FEEDBACK! Answers from my Dear Readers who love Binding Arbitration. Below is a wonderful example of a conversation I had with a reader a week or so ago on FB and it’s what spurred this blog post.
“Gosh I don’t know where to start. After reading it (BA) the first time I was really wondering what will happen to the both of them most especially to little Manny. I guess that’s the biggest hurdle they’ve got to go through, I mean, how do you go against a man who owns one of the biggest drug cartels around the world, right? And it’s not as if Espinoza’s gonna give up his one and only son. I just really wish though that Aidan and Libby still get featured. Oh, and might I suggest a pairing? Olivia and Avery. I would love to see if Olivia can bring Avery down a peg or two, whew that boy has got a chip on his shoulder the size of Everest. I just hope that there are some unexpected twists and turns that would surprise the readers which, in my opinion, was what made Binding Arbitration such an amazing read.”
I will be responding to everyone’s insights, answers and comments. I will also pick the best comment to win an autographed copy of BINDING ARBITRATION, a $10 Amazon Gift card & swag pack! (U.S residents only, if international winner is selected you will get an Amazon GC $20) Your comment must include what you’d like to see in Eminent Domain and enough detail that I know you read BA.
Is indie publishing a fool’s errand? A big April Fool’s Day prank?
April Fool’s Day traces back to ancient civilizations like the Hindus and Romans who celebrated the New Year on April 1 which closely follows the vernal equinox. After Pope Gregory ordered a new calendar, the Gregorian Calendar (of course being the pontiff he was able to name the calendar after himself) to replace the old Julian Calendar, New Year’s Day was moved from the old April 1st date to January 1st.
Most people associate April 1st as the end of winter and spring fever kicks into high gear. Spring is a time of rebirth and for many of us reevaluation. We shed our winter sweaters and boots for breezy summer fabrics and flip flops, we stare in the mirror and hope a beach umbrella is wide enough to hide our backside! Writing is a solitary profession, someone should warn you it’s also sedentary. To make matters worse, but who are we kidding what’s worse than the thought of putting on a swimsuit, it’s also tax season! Every year at tax time, while trying to come up with a valid reason why the Vikings S2 DVD is a business expense, this writer considers what she can accomplish with the rest of the writing year. I mean the first quarter has just slipped through my fingers like gold coins through Viking fingers. I feel like I’ve accomplished zilch for 2016 other than just figuring out that write off.
Maybe, for many of us, indie publishing is April Fool’s Day everyday. A successful April Fool’s Day can be accomplished in three simple steps. Step 1: send someone on a fool’s errand looking for something that doesn’t exist. Step 2: play pranks. Step 3: make people believe in ridiculous things or something that’s false. I have to wonder if my indie publishing journey doesn’t follow this three step fool proof method.
Step 1: Sending someone on a fool’s errand looking for something that doesn’t exist.
Every indie author has bought into this concept: write a good book and readers will come. We’re all looking for an audience to love our work, someone who’ll call our heroes book boyfriends and envy our heroines ability to tame the unattainable playboy. We’re not looking for a few people to read and admire our work, let’s be honest, we’re hoping that thousands will and if we’re truly honest, we’re seeking ‘buzzillions’ of people to read, review and buzz about our books. Since I’ve started my indie journey I’ve sent over 754,014 users to my various books on Amazon, I know this because I can track the clicks on my titles through BookLinker. These are just the people I’ve sent via social media to Amazon in the last five years, I’ve probably sent another 250K to other sites like B&N, KOBO, iBooks, etc. That’s over a million clicks and I haven’t sold a million books, I’d be happy right now if I’d sold 20% of that, but I haven’t! If this isn’t that the epitome of a fool’s errand I don’t know what is.
Step 2: Playing pranks.
There are a lot of pranks and pranksters in indie publishing. Let’s talk Amazon, the largest retailer of indie books, most recently we learned that Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program doesn’t actually count the number of pages read. An author or publisher can put a link on the opening page of a title and if the reader clicks on the link it takes them to the end of the ebook and then the author is automatically paid a whopping half penny for each page of the book, even though the reader didn’t read a single page. A blogger recently exposed a 15 year old boy who loaded ‘books’ containing these type of links at the front of all his ‘titles’ which took readers immediately to the end of the book. He got paid! The figures on his KDP payout page were staggering. Unethical much? Yes, but you have to admit, as pranks go, this is an awesome and profitable way to stick it to Amazon. Speaking of shenanigans, there are authors who broke up their full length novels into three or four, or possibly a dozen, shorter books and uploaded them all to Amazon so that they got paid for each completed book read under the original version of Kindle Unlimited. Is this gaming the system or being a smart marketer? If you think these pranks don’t effect you as an indie author, you’d be wrong. The reason Kindle Unlimited writers are being paid such a tiny amount per page read (I use that term loosely) now is because all those short works who got paid out at full length pricing under the original Kindle Unlimited program. Did they prank Amazon or rip them off? Amazon is all about making a profit and they need to recover those losses. So in this regard, all the honest, hard-working authors who don’t try to manipulate the Amazon system are the one’s that got pranked. But Amazon isn’t the only place where indie authors are being pranked, every day book pirates load our manuscripts onto illegal sites and distribute them for free, or worse yet, make money off our work with little or no regard to our intellectual property rights. Readers who are kindly given ARC’s for review resell them on eBay. There has been a huge spike in plagiarism, and if stealing another author’s words isn’t the ultimate prank, I don’t know what is. That is until Amazon launches it’s ebook resale site!
Step 3: Making people believe in ridiculous things or something that’s false.
Every publishing expert tells authors to write a good book, then rewrite it, write as many drafts as necessary to create a masterpiece. Get it professionally edited, get it copyedited, get it beta tested and mother approved! Put professional artwork on the cover, write a kick ass blurb, market the sh*t out of it. Splatter it on Facebook and have little birds sing it’s praises on Twitter. Instagram your cat cuddling your book baby to your four ‘buzzillion’ followers. Create Goodreads giveaways and build your newsletter subscribers lists. Write blog posts and send out timely newsletters. Do all this and they will come! This is where my personal belief in ridiculous things comes to fruition, I’ve done all these things, and I’ve done it for some time now and it’s getting me no where. Maybe the bottom line is my work isn’t good enough to make it. Someone close to me recently pointed this out to me, it’s a person I trust and it will always be in the back of my mind now, of course it hurts, but as is so often the case, the truth usually does.
Maybe this person’s advice is correct and maybe it’s not, maybe I’m a fool for holding onto my good reviews like a leaky life preserver in a tsunami of books. Or maybe I’m just a magical thinker, hoping that someday something I write will strike a nerve, hit a cord and hit the NY Times bestseller’s list. Or scarier still, maybe I’ve been on a fool’s errand all these years.
I’m all about romance. I love romance. I read romance. I write romance.
I’ve always had a fascination with this genre and it started with my first Danielle Steel book when I was probably about 13 years old. As I grew up, I read everything from New York Times Bestsellers to Austen to Chopin. I love everything from the funny, spunky heroines in Susan Elizabeth Phillips work to the historical heroes and heroines in Outlander and Into the Wilderness. I love to sprinkle my reading with paranormal romance and horror, I’m a big fan of Dracula as well as Anne Rice’s work. So with all these muses I’ve spread my wings and written in several of these genres.
But I think the main reason I write romance is my mom. It was her favorite genre and I don’t think I remember a time when she wasn’t reading a book with an embracing couple on the cover. I don’t know if she devoured romance novels because it was something lacking in her own life and I can’t ask her since she passed when I was only twenty. I can say she inspired my love of words and encouraged me by taking me to the library weekly. So I guess you could say my writing is an ode to my mother and whatever she loved about falling in love!
This is my mom & I’m the cutie in the carriage!
With all that in mind, I’ve spent the beginning of the year working with my talented graphic artist to create a new website to showcase my work. I hope you’ll stop by and check out the results. Lot’s of wonderful pages for all my series. I can’t believe I’ve got four series going, my goal is to add another book in each series. If you’ve already read my work I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you’d like the characters and the series to go, I’m open to any and all suggestions, so leave me a comment on my contact page. I’d love to hear from you!
Everyone should have one person they can always count on, but Scarlett Marbry is parentless, she never knew her father and her mother committed suicide when she was only sixteen. Scarlett doesn’t think she can depend on anyone other than herself, but buried deep in her heart is the dream of Revell Marshall, the boy who’d always been there for her, the boy who’d been older and wiser, the boy she ran away from. Revell was like the chorus of a Sacred Harp song she could never forget and yet she couldn’t allow herself to even hum the tune. He was the dream buried beneath secrets she thought she’d never uncover … until now. Continue reading “Who is your JUST IN CASE?”
When Alexander Volkow raced into Crossroads, Alabama and bought up half of Broad Street, the entire town questioned his motives, but he didn’t care. He did it for one reason and only one reason — to find the man who went AWOL from the military with his brother, Kon. Knowing Kon, something is terribly wrong, and Alex is set on retribution.
But when all roads lead to the town’s favorite daughter, who just happens to be the missing man’s fiancée, Alex can’t help but be mesmerized by her alluring southern charm and sexy little snort.