Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting Ready for Xmas 2013

I made some Christmas cards this year, but not many.  My creativity was very lazy.  But now that we have a 4-day weekend from work, I find I have lots of time and energy.  So I started on next year's Christmas cards.

Now to go back to writing.  I've promised people a book in April 2013.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Card Season!!!

It's Christmas Card Season!!  I haven't made many this year.  Not sure if I'll make as many as last year.  I'm kind of busy.  Doing what, I'm not sure, but it's not making cards.

The below Stacey and I made based on a card from someone's blog and I feel terrible I can't provide a link for it here.  It was an email and I deleted it after we made the cards.  Sorry!

The flower O doesn't make it sensible to put it in a standard envelope.  I'm too lazy to make a special envelope for it and I'm not about to just walk up to someone and say, "Here's your card" so I guess it's for me.  YAY!

I've made several of the below.

The snowflakes are made from sparkly paper from Stampin' Up.  It's fantastic paper!  Not a lot of glittery residue like with other papers.  It's hard to see (as always with my photos) but the background is embossed with Stampin Up's Holiday Frame, which is the same folder we used to make the corners of the top card.

That's it for cards today!

Monday, December 10, 2012

UPDATE!!! Free Kindle Weekend

After I unleashed my blog post I discovered something fascinating...

A LOT of people hang out at Amazon on a Sunday night.  I think most of those people scour the Best Seller Lists for free books.

Final tally as of 1 am EST...

#8 in Fiction > Humor
#53 in Fiction > Romance
Ranked #134 for ALL free ebooks

Wow!  That was a huge jump.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Game of Hearts" Free Kindle Weekend

This past weekend I offered the Kindle version of "Game of Hearts" for free at Amazon.  As of 5:30 pm today, the book was downloaded 1,317 times during the promotion.  The breakdown by country is...

United States (includes India) = 1,246
United Kingdom = 54
Denmark = 6
France = 5
Italy = 5
Spain = 1

Why would I offer the book for free?  Simply because I prefer people have the chance to read it and enjoy it.  Honestly, until you get an agent and a nationwide publisher willing to put their neck on the line to put your work out there, you don't make money writing.  Not this kind of writing and not the kind of money that would allow me to move to Boston and write 24/7.

Another reason is that agents and publishers watch the Best Seller lists at Amazon.  If I can move up the list and catch someone's eye, fantastic.  

So how did we do today???

As of December 7, 2012, "Game of Hearts" Kindle Edition was ranked #485,087.

And now???

This format of "Game of Hearts" is currently ranked #206 out of over one million books in the Kindle Store.


Ranked #9 in Fiction > Humor

I'm actually quite thrilled!!!  My book should up in the first page of a Best Seller List on Amazon.  This was a lot better than I'd even dare hope.  Will it get me noticed?  Meh.  Probably not.  But that's ok.  Over 1,300 people downloaded it.  Many of those people were other authors on Twitter who know what it's like and what I'm doing.  They probably won't read it.  Some were competing authors who were doing the same thing.  Heck, I downloaded over 20 books myself.  Including books beating me in the same category! Because we all know the competition isn't each other.  I mean, look at some of the junk out there on the store racks.  It's about catching someone's eye on a good day.  Something I've never been good at doing.  Especially where self-promotion is concerned!  Oh lord!  Pessimistic people with low self-esteem should not try to market themselves!  What a disaster!  

I never thought I'd say this...but I like Twitter.  It's a fascinating resource, if that's what you're using it for.  People don't follow me because they want to know how my day at work was, which is good because I really don't care to tell them.

So, it was a very anxiety filled weekend doing this, but it was a lot of fun.  I will probably do this again, but only after Book #2 is out.  Shooting for April 2013!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Ornaments & Snowman

Last Sunday, I made several Christmas ornaments.

The trick to making these quick and easy is to pre-score the paper.  Then use an ornament hand punch to punch out the pieces.  It's easy enough to center the scoreline in the punch.  Then fold them over and tape them together.  I used a toothpick secure the North-South pieces and one for the West-East pieces.  Then lay one on top of the other and hot glue them together.  Add baubles & lace to make pretty.  Easy!

If any of my papercrafting buddies wants better instructions, let me know.  I debated doing photos of the process, then a video, then I decided it was Sunday and I couldn't be bothered to do all that.


Today I made a little snowman out of an electric tea light.

The hat looks kind of stupid, but I think it's cute.  The idea came from Becky at her blog, Inking Idaho.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A few years ago I wrote a 4,000 word comedic ghost story called "Red Hills." It was chosen to be included in an anthology by one of the larger small-book presses. Unfortunately the press had to cancel their anthologies due to lack of funds, so I've decided to put it out on Amazon as a free Kindle download. It'll add something to my Author credits and honestly, I really like the story and would prefer people read it than to see it sitting on my computer as a reminder of that $40 royalty check I almost got.

Even though it won't be offered in paperback, I still need a cover for Amazon.  Anyone wanna help me with that?

Here's a description of the story...

When a live teenager decides to haunt Red Hills Cemetery, George and his two best dead friends try to exorcise her from his grave.

Here's my idea for the cover...

Does anyone wants to make me a cover just to see their name on Amazon as cover designer?? Or maybe you have a photograph of a cool cemetery gate I could photoshop? Doesn't have to have the mausoleum in it.  It's just an idea.  I don't even care if it's black & white, or color, or sepia. Or you can even come up with your own design! Maybe a tombstone with a funny old skeleton peaking out from behind. Just something better than what I drew.  If you'd like to read the story for more inspiration, let me know. I'll email you a pdf copy.

(I just noticed that it looks like my iron gate has marshmallow chicks sitting on top of it. Huh. I hate those damn things.)

Got something for me? Shoot me an email  ~

Thanks, Steph

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Week with Mom & Dad

My parents were up to visit last week.  Seemed there was something going on everyday.

Monday - The funeral for my Great Uncle Dick.  He's my Grandmother's brother.  He was a good man.  A quiet man.  Unless he was working on a project in the basement or playing cards.  Then he was an expletive aficionado.  He taught my my first swear word.  My favorite.  The S-word.

Here he is with his sister, who is wearing some kind of flying toy on her head.   Typical.

Tuesday - I had a Lia Sophia party at my house.  It was so much fun for us!  Us being me and Mom.  Drew & Dad went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and trivia during the party.

Wednesday - Drew and I went to see The GuruGanesha Band at the Auburn Public Theater with Theresa.  We've seen them before.  It was a yoga rock concert.  Excellent!

Thursday - Fat Club!  Went pretty good.  I lost 2 pounds.  I'm down 40 pounds.  I think all of it's from my boobs, which I honestly wasn't having a problem with!  Dammit.

Friday - Finally a night off!!!  Mom & I got to make cards.

Here's the five cards we each made. The owl in the buggy is a new design. Mom needed a baby shower card where the theme was owls. The colors are greens & browns.

Isn't it a cutie!

Saturday - Mom & Dad left to go back to Tennessee.  :(  It was a nice visit, what little we seemed to have of it.  Better busy than not, I guess.  We did have some time to watch some British shows.  Mock the Week is a house favorite!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Little Squee Purses!

My parents are arriving Saturday and staying for the week.  While they are here I'm having a Lia Sophia party on 10/23/12.  Mother and I love Lia Sophia!!!

As is my standard, I have a favor for my guests and anyone who orders.  Here's a sneak peak...

Squee!!!!  Little Purses!!!  They are only 3-1/2 inches wide.  Each holds a mini Kit Kat bar and a mini Hershey bar.  The idea came from Stacey, who got the idea from Frenchie.  They are so easy to make.  I produced 24 of them in under two hours.


And here's a sympathy card I made this weekend.  Sadly, these are the cards I need the most of.  Not just for myself, but everyone at work.  It's also the cards I hate to make the most.  I'm pleased with this design though.  Will probably make more in different colors.

Nothing to report in the writing department.  Got a "Contest Fail" email and a rejection from an agent who said they don't represent my genre (even though they report they do on Writer's Market & 75% of the books on their website are romantic-comedy). Whatever.  Onward!!!  (After this bottle of wine...)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

This Week's Cards

I spent some of my downtime making cards this week.

I received a request at work for some Thank You cards.  I came up with the below.

I wanted to make a birthday card for my girlfriend Joanie...

I liked the design so much that I made a few more...

That's all for now!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Pics of London

I uploaded some more pictures from our trip to London.  The below is just a compilation of our various walks and tours around the city.

London 2012

And I also uploaded some photos we took at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.  It was a lot of fun there.  At first I was like, "Ok, but I don't know why you guys want to see a bunch of wax dummies."  I wasn't a minute in the door and I was goofing off and making stupid faces while having my picture taken with the dummies.  You just can't help it!  You can touch the dummies and go crazy there.  It was a riot!  (No, I did not post all of the goofy pictures.  Some will never see the light of day.)

London 2012 Madame Tussaud's

We also got to see a 20 minute 3-D movie at the museum.  It was a Marvel Comics cartoon.  When the Hulk walked, the chairs shook.  When Spiderman shot out his webs, air blew in your face from a hose on the back of the seat in front of you.  When Wolverine unleashed his titanium claws, the seat poked you in the back.  It was fantastic!  So much fun!

I still have some pictures to go through of Oxford University, Stratford-On-Avon and Warwick Castle.  


Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Cards & Writing Update

I made some cards finally!

It uses the Stampin' Up Daydream Medallions stamp set and matching framelits.  The medallions are actually stacked on top of each other with a dimensional between them.  It looks flat in the photo.  On top is a light green rhinestone.

I've also started writing Book #2 in the Lyssa Winfield Mystery Series.  I wasn't going to start writing it until after the New Year, but the opening scene kept playing over and over in my mind so I decided I had to get it written out.  Chapter 1 is half done and I love it so far!  Chase is cracking me up!  I don't think of this as something I've made it.  These characters are people who talk in my mind and it doesn't ever feel like i'm making it up.

Ok.  That sounded really kind of creepy, didn't it?  Hey, as long as it works.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever been saner.  

Anyhoo, almost 2,000 words done so far.  Very exciting!!

Now if I only had a title.  Dammit.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

London - The Magic of Harry Potter

Drew & I have been back a week from London and I'm still fishing through the 1,000+ combined photos that my mother and I took.  I started with the pics from the tour that we took at Warner Bros Studios.  The exhibit was The Magic of Harry Potter.  That was over 500 photos and I weeded it down to 300.  I just loved that tour!  I find moviemaking fascinating!

Below is a link to the photos.  You can take your own tour from what I shot.

London 2012 - Harry Potter Tour

Please note that I am not a photographer.  I take pics to retain the memory and that's about it.  Nothing I've shot is getting framed.  I gave up photography as a hobby a long time ago when it became obvious it wasn't my forte.

I hope to have the rest of the photos up this week.  But don't count on it.  I was also hoping to be a bestselling author by now too.  My poor estimation of workloads and time-frames is astounding.  Ask my boss.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Local Farmers Thank You For Buying My Book

On Friday the first box of 20 paperback Game of Hearts books arrived.  Much to my dismay, the cover was terrible.  It looked good on the digital proof.  It looked good on the Kindle version.  On the paperback it was dark and a little fuzzy.  I was not pleased.

UPDATE: I re-did the cover.  It's the same pics & layout, but it's a lot brighter.  Lesson learned.  Use 300 dpi for the pics, not 96.  Oopsie.

All of the books had been pre-ordered by my co-workers and I told them if they didn't want to buy them they could wait for the next batch as I was determined to fix this issue.  To my delight I received a resounding, "NO!  WE'RE NOT WAITING!  WE WANT THIS NOW!!"  Most added, "This is even better because someday it will be a rare collector's item."  I don't often love my co-workers, but on Friday they were the best friends and fans a nervous writer could want.  I still choke up thinking about how supportive and awesome they have been.  These people have had to listen to me talk about this book for months and they're still excited about it.  I love them all*!!!

* Except Jason, whose job it is to kick my exercise ball and crush my ego if he thinks it's getting too big.  He falls in the category of "a tool with a purpose."  It's a good thing he's kidding (although probably not) and kind of funny or I might kick his ball.  I'd even let him pick which one...

With the money I made Friday from book sales I went to the Farmer's Market Saturday morning and bought A LOT of veggies.  A huge basket of tomatoes.  A huge basket of "second" peppers.  (Second should be re-labelled as "homegrown" because they taste the same but look like something you grew in the backyard.  I never understood why people needed perfect looking produce.  Are you gonna cut it up and eat it, or use it as decor.  Stupid humans.)  A bag of onions.  Eggplants.  Squash.  Geode zucchini.  (So freaking cute!!!!)

For those of you from Auburn, NY who have been living in a cave, the Farmer's Market is located in the large parking lot across from the YMCA.  It's a small market but the vendors there produce the most tasty and beautiful veggies and fruit in the world.  Please support them.

I came home and went about making a healthy, super-yummy soup.  I will probably make three batches of this before I'm done and freeze it up for winter.  You can use whatever veggies you like in it.

Rare Ugly 1st Edition Chunky Tomato & Chicken Soup

10 huge beefsteak-sized tomatoes, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 small onions (3" in diameter), diced
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil (I use F. Oliver's Smoky Chipolte)
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
1 heaping tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Throw everything  in a huge crock pot.  Cook on Low at least 10 hours.  More is recommended.  The longer, the better.

After you've cooked your chunky tomato base to damn-near death...

4 hot poultry sausage links
2 large grilled Italian-marinated chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
1 bag frozen cauliflower, nuked & drained (Somehow missed the fresh stuff at the market. Tsk tsk tsk.)
1 eggplant, diced
2-16 oz packages mushrooms, cubed or sliced
2 cups cooked Basmati rice
1 cup chicken broth (optional)

Squeeze the innards out of the sausage links and fry it up.  Crumble it up and toss it into the crock pot.  Throw in the remaining ingredients as well.  Stir it all up and cook another 2 hours.

Feeds a crapload!  Freezes excellently!

A note about chicken broth:  I prefer to use chicken broth leftover from Crock Pot Chicken.  Use as much as you want.  I like a chunky soup with less broth.  Feel free to use more and stretch this recipe even further.  

Crock Pot Chicken

Put a whole chicken in a crock pot.  Add a cup of water.  Season at will.  Cook on Low for 8 hours.  The chicken will fall apart but will be super-moist and amazingly yummy.  Strain the liquid for the best chicken broth!  The leftover breast meat is great for chicken salad sandwiches.  Or you can use it in the soup!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Cardmaking with Rifftrax

Made another Halloween card today!  This one a little on the creepy side.  Love it!

In the room-formerly-known-as-the-dining-room, I have a laptop setup on the far corner of the table so I can play movies while making cards.  Most of the time I play "Mystery Science Theater 3000" shows.  I have my faves --- Giant Spider Invasion, Horror at Party Beach, Deathstalker & the Warriors From Hell, Deadly Mantis, Space Mutiny, etc.  Once in a while I pick up a Rifftrax and play that.  Plan 9 From Outer Space and Night of the Living Dead crack me up every time.

Today I watched a new one.  

Oh my god.  It is without a doubt one of the worst movies I've ever seen.  But Mike, Bill & Kevin at Rifftrax make it one of the funniest.

I have so many issues with the script for this terrible, terrible movie that the list is way too long.  My biggest one is that the birds mentioned in the title show up about halfway through the movie.  Now, The Mummy could get away with that strategy because of a great cast and story.  (Honestly, I could watch Brendon Fraser as Rick O'Connell just walking around for 2 hours and I'd be happy.)  If the first half of the movie was a build-up to the suspense of Birdemic, it might be forgivable.  It wasn't.  It was all about this guy trying to get into this girl's pants.  Seriously.  That's what it was about.

Even the movie knows just how badly it sucks.  It listed Tippi Hedren third in the credits.  She appeared in the movie in archive footage only.  Yep.  I bet she's thrilled about it too.

In the end, it made me laugh.  Hysterically at times.  So it served an entertainment purpose.  I will probably add it to the list of movies I like to watch while making cards.  At least until Birdemic 2: The Resurection comes out!!!  Woo hoo!!

Abingdon Boys School is back!

My fave Japanese rock band is back with a new song.  The lyrics are part English-part Japanese.  I understand zero, but that doesn't stop me from loving it and listening to it over and over again.  When someone puts out the karaoke version of the video I'll check it out and probably memorize it, like I did for their songs Howling and Innocent Sorrow.  Yeah, I even memorized the Japanese lyrics.

Why Japanese Rock?  I like just about all music.  (Exceptions: Gospel, Country w/ Twang, most Gangsta Rap & Hip-Hop, anything by Taylor Swift)  I also appreciate different people & cultures.  (Exceptions:  anyone from Assholetania or Doucheburg or Quebec)  I first heard Abingdon Boys School while watching the anime series Darker Than Black.  They did the title song.  Love it!  So, I looked 'em up and now I'm a fan of all their work.

~ Steph

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Halloween Ornament & Card

Yesterday fave hobby #1 took a backseat to fave hobby #2.  I neglected my cardmaking room a lot in the past few months while I was writing and decided I needed to go play.

This adorable Halloween card uses a number of Stampin' Up sets.
(Kitty - Out On A Limb; Window, Pumpkin & Spider - Cottage Window; Boo! - Tiny Tags)

And I got really ambitious and made a Halloween ornament...

It's inspired by the Christmas Ornament that Stampin' Up featured on the cover of their 2012 Holiday Catalog.

It wasn't that hard.  And there's dozens of tutorials online of how to make it.  Just search youtube.  I watched Frenchie's because she's one of my favorite cardmakers.  Her blog is full of fantastic cards and ideas.

Frenchie lives in Wyoming now, but she's from Canadian. English isn't her first language, so you have to forgive her typos and slip-ups.  I think it just adds to the awesome and makes me love her even more!

Blog:  Stamp & Scrap with Frenchie

~ Steph

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Cards

I haven't made any cards in a while because I've spent all my time writing the book.  I've been trying to write more since it's completion -- screenplays, short stories, book #2 -- but this weekend my brain just wasn't in it.  So I went back to my next favorite hobby.  Card making!

I got out a stamp set I hadn't used before ("You're My Type" from Stampin' Up) and made a few birthday and love cards.  I think they're cute.

And one of those happy birthday cards would be perfect for a certain journalist major who is turning 21 this September.  A special work-daughter who just left for college this weekend.  A college in one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world.  Perhaps this view will give you a hint of what city it is...

For those of you that don't like guessing games...that's the Boston Commons.  Yep, she's going to be living right on the edge of it.  Jessica is going to have the time of her life, following her dreams, in this amazing city.  I'm jealous.  And so proud of her.  MISS YOU JESS!!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Excursion to Ithaca

This morning Drew & I went to Ithaca.  We hit the Farmer's Market first.  I love the market!  It's a unique place with vendors that sell a wide range of goods.  Organic fruits & veggies, free-range poultry & meat, wine, pottery, wood crafters, photographers and florists.  There are several food vendors as well.  You can get breakfast burritos (quite popular judging from the long line), Cambodian food, gluten-free Curry (so getting that next time!), Japanese bento boxes (Drew's so getting that next time!), and lots of pastries.  There's usually a band playing too.  If there was one today we missed it.  (Poop.)

For my mid-morning snack I got a treat - Indian Rice Pudding with Fruit.  It was super yummy and Drew thinks he can reproduce it here at home for me.

While at the market we ran into my BFF Stacey and her man Matt, and also fellow Superfriend Joanie and her buddy Fran.  Odd to go to Ithaca, which is about 45 minutes away, and run into my best buds from home.  I told you the market is awesome!

Our best purchase from the market was Apple Chicken Sausage from Autumn's Harvest Farm.  I cooked it up for dinner with some squash, zucchini, quinoa pasta and Stony Brook Delicata Squash Seed Oil.  We loved it!!!  So yummy!

After the market, we went to Green Star.  It's a co-op health food store.  Anyone can shop there, but you pay a little more than the members do.  If you work a couple hours a month there you can get 10-17% discount on food.  I would do that if I lived in Ithaca.  Of course, if I lived in Ithaca it meant I reached my goal of being a best selling author and then I probably wouldn't need a 10-17% discount on the few groceries I buy now.  Still, I bet it's fun!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Facebook Experience Just Got Better!!!

There's a browser plugin called Unbaby Me that will replace baby pictures on your Facebook and turn them into something else.  This is awesome for someone like me that thinks babies are aliens and garden gnomes.  Honestly, I'm more comfortable about aliens and garden gnomes than babies.  Ew.

It only does it on your internet window though.  Not for everyone.  The default is a pic of a Cat, but you can change it to whatever Instagram hashtag you can think of.

I changed mine to "hotguy."

The site was pointed out to me by my co-worker and Game of Hearts fan Katherine.  She has a baby Max, and I joke constantly about her little alien love-child (whom I hate to admit is really a cute baby --- don't tell her I said that).

Today, Max's photos got changed to this guy...

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!  Lovin' that plugin!  Thanks Katherine.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twitter? Really?

One of the big rules when trying to get published is to be involved in all social networks.  Facebook, forums, blogs, etc..  Twitter is a biggie.

I've had a Twitter account for a couple of years.  I got it mostly because I liked to read Conan O'Brien's comments after he was ousted from The Tonight Show.  There were a few other people I liked to follow: Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Simon Pegg.  (It's no coincident they're all British.  This was during my "Obsessed with Top Gear" pre-midlife crisis.)

Last night I logged into my Twitter account for the first time in over a year.  I added a few people to follow: Ellen Degeneres, um...ok, I only remember Ellen right now.  I'm sure the others were just as entertaining.  But I was quickly reminded why I stopped using Twitter.  It sucks.  It's like live blogging with millions of people who are incredibly boring.  Or Facebook without being asked to donate a cow or a plank of wood to someone's Farmville.  I can't imagine I have anything to add to the Twitter community that will be any better.

After giving up on the idea of finding my fanbase via Twitter, especially since I had all of 14 followers, I went back to working on Book #2 instead.

This morning I had an email.

Stephanie Deal, you have a new follower on Twitter.

Really?  Who?  *Click*

A Miley Cyrus look-a-like from a very explicitly named sex website.  Great.

Well, it could have been worse.  It could have been Miley Cyrus.  I'd have even less to tweet to her about.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RomCon & Shelf Unbound

While researching contests and website about romance novels, which is essentially what Game of Hearts is, I've come across some neat sites.

RomCon is a contest and a review site for Romance novels and all their sub-genres.  My novel is a romantic comedy set in a mystery.  Comedy is the tone; Romance is the A Story (main plot); Mystery is the B Story (subplot).  In future books the mystery might play a bigger role, but I love playing with these characters so much and all the crazy, goofy things they do, that the comedy and relationships will probably always be the front story.

Anyway, you can go to RomCon and read reviews on Romance novels in your favorite genres - contemporary, suspense, historical, erotica, paranormal, & sci-fi/fantasy.  I go just to look at the book covers.  HAHAHAHA!  All better than mine, but I still laugh at them.  My favorite are the erotica covers.  My buddy Pam said it the best, "How many people are on that cover?  Ewwwww."


Another great website for the avid reader is...

Shelf Unbound is strictly digital, so you can only read it online.  But it's free!  It's a great magazine for readers who are looking for reviews of something different.  Each issue is just loaded.


I love to read, but I don't do it alot.  My mind wanders badly.  I can usually only read on vacation when there's nothing else going on.  Then that's all I want to do!  I've tried to read before bed and I fall asleep.  I know...go to bed earlier.  Lately I've been too busy.  Trying to be an author.  :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Game of Hearts" is Published!

"Game of Hearts" is available as a Kindle download on Amazon.

Prime Members can get it free!!!

Yes, I am a little freaked out about this.  This book is my baby.

Now to go find an agent and make more!!!  :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Remember Friday Night Videos???

Honestly, even I get sick of talking about my own book.  Here's a video instead.

For Mom & Dad...
Chatroulette is an online chat website that randomly pairs strangers from around the world together for webcam-based conversations.  Most of the time it's naked guys looking, whatever it is they're looking for.  Sometimes you get someone really cool.  Like Steve Kardynal in a bikini.  I love the reactions.

"Game of Hearts" Cover

I resolved my issues with using Alex's face on the cover by not putting him on the cover.  Bah!  Instead Lyssa is going on the cover.  Honestly, I couldn't make a cover with Alex's dreamy but oh-so-serious face that correctly conveyed the theme of the book.  Essentially, the book is humorous.  Alex's face is anything but humorous.  So I made a cover that was less serious.  It contains little elements from the book, but doesn't give anything away.  People who read the book will understand the cover better, but I don't think you have to read it to like it.

Why don't I just show you the dang cover...

Inset photo of "Lyssa" by SavchenkoJulia
Panties supplied by First Mate

I know the photo of Lyssa is not the same as the referenced source I used when writing the story, but I think she's quite lovely.  And it only cost me $5 at  There's no limitations on the number of times it's used on e-books.  If and when it comes time to print the book, I will let the publisher worry about the cover then.  This model has lots of great photos on the site, so I can see more book covers in her future. 

Note:  I am not an experienced photographer and I realize this isn't professional by any means.  But I like it and you can read the title when it's the tiny size that Amazon uses on the screen, which is what's important.  Plus, I futzed like hell with the damn thing to get it done so I'm not changing it!!

But wasn't the below the bomb!!!

The model is Rajneesh Duggal
Photo by Jitu Savlani

Yeah, I know.  Maybe for Book #5.  That's a much more serious book.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Book Cover Dilemma

So.  I have to make a book cover for Game of Hearts.  In the back of my mind I had hoped to put it off and make a publisher do it.  Ut-uh.  Not happening.  Not if I want to get this thing posted on Amazon and with RomCon and all the rest!  And I do.

I tried to make a freebie cover using shades of red and black.  Something that looked like a video game, since that is her job.  Something simple.

It sucks.  I dig the M for Mature label in the corner.  But honestly, it sucks.  You have to have read the book to get the point of the cover.  Buyers need to know what the book is from the cover, not vice versa.

So I looked at the books on RomCon (  Almost all of them have the same kind of cover.  Either it has a half-naked guy on it, or a guy & girl making out on it, or a girl looking like she just murdered someone and it's made her horny.  Point is, they're dramatic and steamy.

Like I cover sucks.  I put it aside and decided to deal with it later.

Last night I was talking to my mother and she was telling me how much the girls at work enjoy the pictures.  I didn't have to ask what pictures.  I know exactly what she's talking about.  This is the third time she's told me.  It's him.


My next question for her should have been, "What in the world did you do with his pic that the girls are still swooning?"  Instead, my brain said, "My mother and her co-workers are in love with a character from a book I wrote that they haven't even read yet.  All because of his picture.  He's gotta be on the cover!  We'll make a fortune just from people buying it so they can stare at the cover!"

Big problem.  I don't own that picture.  Theoretically speaking I shouldn't have even posted it here without at least giving someone proper credit for it.  Which raises the question...who took the picture?

Should be easy enough to figure out.  The guy's name is actually Rajneesh Duggal.  He's an Indian model.  The man's job is to be photographed.  There's gotta be some site out there that gave credit to whoever took the photo.

Nope.  Not at all.  There's nada / zilch / zip / zero credit given on the interwebs for this picture.

But I do have a possible lead.

This is also Rajneesh.  This is the Alex fan-favorite "touch my girl and I will mess you up" photo.  This photo was taken by Jitu Savlani.  I am this close (imagine I'm holding my index finger and thumb up, and they are a flea's width apart from each other) from sending Jitu an email asking if he took both photos.  And if so, what's it take to get permission to use the top one for Game of Hearts.

Actually, now that I look at it, I think this photo might be nice too.  The dimensions aren't great for a book, but if we use maybe just the right half of his face and put the wording on the grey part then...hmmm. Not bad!

Anyway, I'm too chicken to email him right now.  I should be too old to be too chicken to do anything anymore, but I still get that way.  One of the downfalls of never having kids is that you remain immature & nervous about some things that parents got over a long time ago.  Sending emails to photographers in India about a photo of a hot guy is apparently one of them. Silly thing is, if this were for Stacey's book or Jeff's book I wouldn't hesitate to send an email for them.  In fact, I'd jump all over that.  I love being the resource that says, "Hey, I contacted him and he's cool!  Says go ahead and use it!  Whoot!" But not for my own work.  Nope.  Stupid, isn't it?  A lot of writers are weird like that.  (Ok, that was a little mental side trip no one really needed.  Let's get back to the picture.)

Jeez, that would be a nice cover, wouldn't it?  *squee*  Maybe I'll email him later this week after I figure out how to make the *insert expletives here* document convert to Kindle correctly.  Without that then a cover is completely useless and a large waste of time anyway!

In the meantime, check out Jitu's website.  It's kinda cool.  Very Bollywood.

Looks fancy, don't it?  Looks like he'd probably charge a lot for the photo, don't it?  Yep.  I fear he's gonna want a lot for it, I'm not gonna be able to pay it, and then I'll have lost my Alex.  I think I'd rather be able to look at the photo and see the cover, then know for sure it could never be the cover.  Looks like I'm not gonna send an email, don't it?

And that right there is what they call in the therapy biz as a break-thru.

I should have taken the percocet prescription from the doc when I had the chance.


Happy Birthday to Moi!

Saturday was my birthday.  I turned 43.  Yippy.  Actually, this birthday didn't bother me.  Probably because I'd actually accomplished something this year and am still accomplishing things.  The novel is written and it's in the process of getting put up on Amazon.  Agents are being contacted.  Novel #2 has started and I've got two movie scripts and two TV pilots in the writing works.  I've gotten quite serious about all this now and I'm loving it!

On Friday, my work-daughters Triscia and Jessica decided to surprise me with...


It says The Dream Team on the left with drawings of all three of us holding hands.  Very cute.

On the right it says :
Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
We couldn't ask
For a better Supervisor than YOU!

From Your Only Daughters,
Triscia & Jessica

And they also made these:

(L. to R.  Triscia, some old broad, Jessica)

The Dream Team t-shirts.  My says Supervisor of The Dream Team.  Jeez.  I do look like I could be their mother.  Good lord that's terrible.  HA!

Well, you can't say I'm not sucked up to loved at work.  Honestly, it's very sweet.  Those girls crack me up daily.

Yesterday I had a delicious breakfast with my "brother" Jeff.  He gave me some great advice about posting digital books on Amazon!  It was nice to be able to sit and talk with him.  We don't do that as often as we used to when the Sunday Morning Writing Crew met at Witches' Brew.  (Gawd, I still miss that place something fierce.)

Then later that day I went winery hopping with Stacey.  We went to the Garlic Fest at Fox Run.  We had planned to see Castle Street Band, but stupid me never checked the schedule and they were there Sunday, not Saturday.  Duh!  But we had a great time anyway.

We saw a guy normal looking guy with a normal looking family with a normal looking Town & Country SUV wearing this t-shirt...

Seriously.  (Mom & Dad - Amy can explain to you what that means.  Thanks Amy!!!)

After Fox Run, we hit several wineries as we looped our way around Seneca Lake.  We had lunch at Red Newt Bistro, which was just absolutely fabulous!!!  Thank you Stacey for lunch and a great day out!  It was a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's Freaking Done

I can't believe the book is done.  It's been a long, strange week for it too.

Last Saturday - I just got to the company picnic and sat down with a bowl of steamed clams.  BAM!  Migraine.  I didn't have my meds on me.  So I did the next best thing.  Drank it away.  People kept tabs on me and brought me beer the whole time.  Within an hour it was gone.  HALLELUJAH!  I wouldn't recommend that remedy often though.

Wednesday - MIGRAINE AGAIN?!?!?!?!  Took meds and stayed home.  I was pretty sick the whole day.  At 3 pm my brain finally snapped free and took off like a race car.  I was all of a sudden back into the book and loving it!!!  Writer's block gone.

Yesterday - I was in a race to finish the book.  I wanted it done by Monday.  I was well on my way to finishing it too when...yep.  Migraine.  (Are you freaking kidding me???)  This one was weird too.  The symptoms were backwards.  So I took meds AND booze.  Finished a bottle of wine and within an migraine.  None whatsoever.  Weirdest thing.

Today - Hangover.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  Oh, but I finished the book.

Now I just need some critics and a kick-ass editor to catch my screw-ups.  Oh, and a publisher might be nice.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap.


Favorite goofy line of the day...

The blouse was so see-through that he could see the flower pattern on her bra move when she laughed.  It looked like a rose bush in an earthquake.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Sucks Ass

Yeah, I know.  Not exactly a big breaking news item.  And I'm sorry for the potty mouth Mom, but it does.  It doesn't help that the temperature was about 90 degrees with 60% humidity ... IN THE OFFICE!  Usually it's freezing.  Today was hideously warm and sticky.

Queso Soup was killer the second night!!!  Although I might make it with 16 oz Velveeta next time.  Not sure.  It's super yummy regardless.  Plus I made hot chicken and mozzarella sandwiches with the leftover crock pot chicken.  I'm a regular Betty-frickin'-Crocker tonight!

ATHF is back on TV.  This time around it's called Aqua Something You Know.  It's not bad actually.  Reminds me more of the first season, which rocked.  And there's just something special than seeing Carl in a thong!!!  YEAH BABY!

I hit the 75,000 word mark for the book and I've given it all to a couple of friends to read to make sure it's still good.  After that I'm going to fill it out to 85,000 words (which is apparently the standard for a first-time author).  I already know some of the scenes could use some extended attention.

To fill the time while I wait and also so I don't lose the excitement again, I'm writing up all the smut scenes for the second book.  HAHA!  Probably won't even get in the book.  Maybe that's what I'll write.  All the dirty, raunchy, raw smut scenes that were cut from famous books in history.  Just imagine what The Great Gatsby would have been like with an orgy scene.  (Probably about ten pages longer.)

Ack!  It's too hot.  I'm going to lock myself in my bedroom for some peace and quiet...with the air conditioner!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sundays are my new favorite day

I never thought I'd say that.  Normally I detest Sunday because the next day is Monday.  But I've grown to love Sunday.

Yesterday I made up a huge batch of White Chicken Chili and froze it.  Today I've got a crock pot full of...

Slow Cooker Queso Soup

1 lb hot poultry sausage, cooked & crumbled
2 TBSP dried minced onion flakes
1 TBSP Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
4 cups (32 oz) low-sodium chicken broth
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can green chilis
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
4 oz lite cream cheese

Throw everything in a crock pot on Low.  Cook until you can't take the smell anymore and have to eat it.  Or 6-8 hours.

Adapted from

The recipe called for two cans of Rotel, but I only had one, so I added the diced tomatoes and green chilis instead.  It's the same thing.  The recipe also called for coriander, which I didn't have.  Not sure it needs it.  Didn't seem to be missing anything.  

This is spicy. If you're sensitive just use regular diced tomatoes instead of Rotel, mild sausage instead of hot, and cut back on the amount of spice used.  That's all.

I debated buying the 2% Velveeta, but I'd never used it so I wasn't sure how it rated compared to regular.  Considering I was at Target and they only carry Velveeta in 32 oz bricks, I decided to get regular instead of being left with a lot of sub-par cheese.  Or "cheese".  Honestly, I cringe at the thought of using Velveeta, but it's Queso.  It's pretty much mandatory.  The recipe only calls for 8 oz anyway.  It's a soup, not a dip.

Oh yeah.  This is killer awesome good!!!!!

Later I'm making a Spinach Alfredo with Wegman's Wine & Cheese Sausage.  Uber yummy.  I'm a dirty-minded housewife.

Why dirty-minded???


I decided to force myself to write something for the book.  Next think you know ideas are running around in my head.  YAY!!!!!!  And no, not all of them are dirty.  Just some.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

That Effing Book!

Most of you have probably figured out that the lack of updates means I've hit writer's block.  No, not writer's block.  A HUGE MUTHER OF A BLANK WALL!!!  I finished up the personal/romantic storyline and most of the mystery.  That left the business side.  Guess what?  I got nothing.  Ok, I got something, but I can't organize it and decide what to do with it.  I have great ideas, but that's all they are.  I have a lot of research to do if I want to do this and do it right, but every time I try my mind wanders terrible.  I have killed countless hours in front of the computer going..."Ah, to hell with it.  What's on Netflix?  Stargate Atlantis!  Awesome!  If my book is made into a movie, maybe we can get Jason Momoa to trim up his hair because he'd make an amazing Alex.  He's already got that cute scar.  Hmmm."

"For that price, I want it to vibrate and tell me I'm pretty." - Said by me in an email to Stacey

I'm starting to freak out a little about the fact that I'm not freaking out nearly enough to take action.  As Drew pointed out to me, I've written a lot in a relatively short period of time.  I just need a break.  Or as Stacey said, maybe the reason it takes six months to write a book is because of the couple months in the middle that the writer's got nothing to write about.  My father said the nicest thing to me the other day..."Remember, you have to be a writer to have writer's block, so it's not a bad thing."  They all just make my day sometimes.

Other than that the only revelation I've come to this week is that when I hear the song "I Was Made For Lovin' You" by Kiss, I instinctively want to strap on a pair of roller skates and rock out over the mall food court.  (Local joke for the 80's teens.) 

Ok, that's about it.  Hadda throw something up here for my parents to read so they don't think I've slipped into a fat, lazy coma.  

Oh, one more thing...


I nicely cropped Jim's ex from the picture.  When I scanned it in, I noticed I'd written on the back...

The Women.  Slim pickings at that party, I can tell you.

Even back in the early 90's I was rockin' the self-esteem!  But honestly, what do you expect from someone who wears her hair like that?  I call that hair style "high tide".  Just another reason I now have bangs.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's Sunday morning and already it feels like the weekend is over.

Yesterday NorGus Press had a book signing at Auburn's Downtown Books & Coffee.  There were six of us, the original NorGus four, plus two local authors.  One is very local.  So local that I sleep with him on a regular basis.  Yep, it's my hubby Drew.

The book signing wasn't a success from a business standpoint, but from a personal point-of-view it was great!  I had been dreading it (I hate people) but I had a good time.  I rarely get to talk to Jeff & Matt anymore, so we got to catch-up on things.  Dale (local author) was pleased as hell to be there just because it got him away from his insane children for four hours.  And he's a funny, funny guy.  The staff at the bookstore are fun to watch in action too.  We even got to chat it up with a couple of local crazies.  That's always great fodder for another book.  So, in all, I actually had a good time.  Shocker!

I got no writing done on my book what-so-ever.  This is a little bothersome, but I'm trying not to be phased by it.  The problem is that almost all the personal plotline has been written.  I'm left with a little of the mystery and a lot of the business.  That requires research.  So I'm hemming and hawing.  I've got lots of time because my deadline is 8/4/12, but I might have sorta told people, "Two weeks!  I'll be done in two weeks!"  Well, I don't think that's gonna happen now.

But that's why the weekend feels "over".  I'm not doing anything productive.  Sure, I could clean something in the house, but it's just going to get dusty again so what's the point?  (Note to self, after becoming a national bestselling author hire a housekeeper.)  Too bad that line of thought didn't apply to my diet too.  "I'm just going to get hungry again, so what's the point in eating this unhealthy high-caloric food?"  (Note to self, ditto for the personal chef...and personal trainer...masseuse.  Ok, why don't you just buy Mirabeau and move in???)

My hope is that by now posting this the rest of my Sunday will be amazingly productive.  That's what usually happens.  I make an announcement and it's immediately a lie.  HAHA!

UPDATE!!!  I was totally right.  As soon as I said, "I got nothing," inspiration struck.  I added 4,000 words today to break 70,000.  Do I know how to work my own system or what?  HA!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cards & A Couple Pics of Hot Things

I haven't had much to post this week, and I still don't.  But because my parents love to check my blog, I'm putting something up.

Next month's card swap theme is "summertime".  I really have nothing for it.  I made a card with some flowers on it and a bee.  I handmade that stupid bee and because it doesn't have antennas it kind of looks dumb.  The idea of making antennas makes me wanna stab myself in the face with a spork.  So, it stays as it.

This is supposed to be a surfboard.  It doesn't look anything like it.  The example I copied this from looked like a surfboard.  I have no idea how to fix this either.  HAHA!

My Stampin Up demonstrator Jessica had a yard sale today.  I got some pretty good buys!!!  Including a stamp set that included a surfboard.  (Mother puss bucket!!!!)

Dinner!  Stuffed red peppers in a crock pot!  Man, they smell awesome!!!  (I just included that pic to gloat about my mad cooking skills today.)

The little head feel off my musical jester figurine today.  What does it mean???
(It means I'm a clod who should look behind her to see what her fat ass is going to knock off the shelf when I turn around.  Way to overthink it, Steph!)

Well, that's about it.  Other than that I'm trying to write this book.  Lately I've been re-hashing previously written chapters and making them better.  I'm struggling with one of the characters.  I'm having problems deciding if I should convey their inner turmoil to the reader and let them in on the trauma, or keep it a secret until the end of the book.  Either way it would be a good read.  I just don't know how much "mystery" I care to keep the readers in.  It's a third-person omniscient story, so it's not all about Lyssa.  Just mostly.

Did any of that make sense?  I'm probably taking it way too seriously.  To offset that, here's a picture of Alex half-nude.

"Yo, James Bond.  Your wiretap is showing.  Don't you think you should...oh, nevermind.  You look just fine."

You're welcome.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Me and my daddy.  This was copied from a slide.  That purple light on my dad's ear is not some supernatural phenomenon.  It's deterioration.

Me and Dad again.  I would bet you anything he's laughing at something perverted one of his brothers just said.  When you wanted to laugh over a funny and most-likely-dirty story, you did it in Grandma's kitchen.  I don't know why.  (Yes, that's where I get it and why my mother married into that family.)

This is when my father was in nursing school.  This was either in 1967 or 1968.  Probably five minutes after this photo was taken he knocked up his wife of four years (aka MOM!)

Well, I'm sorry!  But it's the reason for the season!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Game of Hearts" - Meet Lyssa Winfield

In honor of reaching over 50,000 words, meet the heroine of our story...

This is Lyssa.  She works as a project manager in the gaming software development department at Markison Industries.  She enjoys yoga, Thai food, and long walks down Newbury Street to window shop for cool girly-things she's going to buy with all the overtime money she rakes in by not having a social life.  

Next on her To-Get List:  Hypoallergenic lingerie in a color that matches Alex's eyes.

Actually, this is a chick from a hairstyle magazine that we were thumbing through at work.  It was another, "Gasp!  That's her!" moment.  I don't even know her real name.  I guess it's just Lyssa.

FYI - Lyssa's eyes are actually silvery gray