Tag Archive | encouragement

“Cove Soup”


It’s a new year. Spring is on its way…though the weather here in Georgia has been…erratic. My daughter and I have been sick with upper respiratory since Thanksgiving. I was even pretty close to deaf for a month and a half.

But now we’re well-er.

It’s time to get back to work. It’s so hard to put your all into your work when you feel like you just want to stay in bed. Add that to this being Courtney’s last semester of college and all that goes with that, and her last magazine and all that goes with that, I’ve been in the car a LOT.

So, again, it’s time to get back to work.

As writers, we get to play creator. We build our characters, their lives, their worlds, and of course, something of ourselves–or someone we know–seeps into their personalities. But their worlds are a little more difficult.

We can sit still and look out our window and create from that, or travel a bit and set it somewhere we find interesting. But what happens if what we see isn’t what’s in our imagination. Unless we’re writing Fantasy or SciFy, or we’ve “seen” our character’s world in some tv show, movie, etc. making up the world can be a bit less than realistic.

This is what I’ve run into while trying to build Moonlight Cove, the mountain village where I’ve set my new contemporary series, Happily Ever After. I could see the village. I kind of knew where it would need to be–I knew I’d even seen bits of pieces of it before, but I had no idea where it was.

So, I began making soup.

Have you ever made soup on a cold, wet and blustery day? I’m not talking about opening a can of Campbell’s or adding meat to Soup Starter, but real soup–the kind where you start grabbing things out of the fridge and pantry and putting together a hearty, rich, bubbly pot of soup. The kind you eat with crusty bread and homemade parmesan crisps and drink Southern iced tea so sweet it makes your hair curl.

Well, that’s how Moonlight Cove was born. I took photos and film snippets that I’d taken on day trips around North Georgia and spliced them all together to create my “Cove Soup.”

Moonlight Cove is a make believe village nestled in North Georgia. The town limits run along a five mile stretch of divided highway, split by a white water stretch of river. A couple bridges cross the river to connect the two halves of the town built at the bases and up the sides of two mountains, Us Mountain and Them Mountain.

The people of the Cove live together as family, and like most families, they have squabbles, and friendships, and secrets, love each other and will fight fiercely for each other. Moonlight Cove is a strong and protective member of this family.

SOMETHING BORROWED,  book one of the HEA series comes out from Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. and Amazon.com on March 12, 2016. I hope you find yourselves deliciously lost in the Cove like I’ve been while writing.

Join us and be part of the soup…

 

Cover Wars at AuthorShout.com


Thank you all for your many votes for my cover for Kate’s House in Author Shouts’ Cover Wars. I’m thrilled you love it as much as I do, and Carol Fiorillo deserves so much praise for her talent. (She’s a sweetheart, too.) Please go to authorshout.com and click the Cover Wars tab at the top and keep voting. Four more days. One vote per day. Thank you again and sending big hugs.

KatesHouseCoverArt72dpi

Announcing New Release and review


KatesHouseCoverArt72dpi Now available from Desert Breeze Publishing and Amazon.com, KATE’S HOUSE

When Katherine learns of her husband’s long time infidelity and other lies he’s told her over the years, she’s not sure which upsets her more: his duplicity or that she’s completely ignored the signs. Using his subterfuge against him, she acquires a quickie divorce, sole custody of their three children, and enough money to start a new life.

Finding an unusual and seemingly magical Queen Anne in the middle of a farm is the answer to her prayers–a place to teach her children that it’s okay to play and have fun–to be kids. She doesn’t count on falling love with the handyman who comes with the place–or dealing with his secrets–secrets that could destroy them all and their newfound happiness.

Excerpt~~

The heat hit them like a thick, wet blanket taken from the dryer way too soon. It made breathing a struggle.

Reggie put two fingers in her mouth and sent a piercing whistle into the gloom. “Hey, Ian, we’re here!” she bellowed.

There was no sound or movement for several seconds until, like a scene from a bad B movie, he appeared from behind the carriage house, moving in slow motion, pushing the fog out of his way. The sun chose that second to make a brief appearance long enough to shine down on his perfectly toned bare chest and arms as he quickly shrugged a gray tee shirt over it all.

Come on, seriously? No one really looks like that.

Katherine dropped her gaze to her feet, pretending to count the wild violets on the ground until she got the urge to giggle under strict control. A pair of bare feet peeking out from the hems of well worn jeans joined her feet in her vision of violets, and she looked up with a jerk directly into soft gray eyes, rimmed in charcoal lashes. His dark hair, thick and wavy, fell to his shoulders and was pushed straight back away from his face. Obvious from the fingers marks, he’d been out in the rain most of the day and the dampness fueled the waves already there. A heavy stubble darkened his chiseled chin, thick and well kept. The giggle bubbled up again when he spoke.

“Hello, I’m Ian Stuart.”

Of course you are.

The hint of an Irish accent crept from under his strict effort to control it. It was endearing and put her at ease. If he could be this beautiful and still feel self-conscious about something as innocuous as a slight Irish brogue, she was just fine.

She offered her hand. “It’s so nice to meet you, Mr. Stuart. I’m Katherine Jensen, and these are my children, Crysta, Willie, and Livvy.”

His eyes lingered on each child, and Katherine got the feeling he was memorizing their faces. When none of them squirmed under his perusal, he allowed a slight smile. “A fine lot you have here. I’d wager none of you fear the dark or imagine monsters under the bed.”

While Crysta and Willie’s eyebrows rose, Livvy took it in stride. “No, there’s nothing scary under my bed. Me and my animals have camp outs under there.”

He bent at his waist till he was eye-to-eye with her, no mean feat since he was well over six feet tall. “Then you shall be captain, my fine lass. Only the most fearless can be in charge.”

“Captain?” Willie scoffed. “She’s just a girl. And a baby one at that.”

“Age makes no difference. It’s strength that matters, Bodyguard.”

Her son’s eyes widened slightly. They stared at each other, some piece of information passing silently between them.

Crysta smiled. “And who am I to be, Mr. Stuart?”

“You are the balance,” Ian answered without hesitation.

So he had not only been listening to them the day they visited, he’d listened well. How else could he have sized up her children so fast?

“Well, I’m just the mama,” Katherine offered with a shaky smile and rushed on before he could bestow a title on her.

 

Review~~

Kate’s House offers a mixture of pain, humor, and romance as well as the supernatural, which adds dimension to this delightful novel. It is proof that redemption is possible even in the most trying situations and that love can be found when least expected.”  ~~Nancy C. LepriReadertoReader.com

Promo?? ugh…


Whoever thought up the word PROMO spelled it incorrectly. They gave it one too many letters. Surely, in truth, this must be one of the vilest cuss words known. A body should be able to use this word to reduce some evil person to tears.

The art of promotion has changed worlds since I first started this game, and since I took YEARS off, I’m having to learn all over again, and I am…slowly.  In the last couple weeks, I’ve learned I have to do blogs.  :-/ That may prove…trying. LOL You all know how much I LOVE blogging. Yeah, not. I’ve been given many differing suggestions on making this as painless as possible. We’ll see.

One of the new promo tools I’ve discovered is Pinterest. Now this I’m having fun with. I’ve set up a separate board for each book I have out and each I’m working on. This allows my readers to get to know different aspects of my characters and settings.

Another I’ve been introduced to is Twitter. Not sure about this one yet, but it’s short and easy enough…or so I thought. My darling daughter told me I’ve been doing it all wrong and I need to hashtag my tweets. Oo…hmmm…

So, I’ll keep trying and learning.

Have a great week!

Illusions now available from Amazon.com in ebook and print

The Top Five Things I Discovered In 2014


We’re about to say goodbye to 2014. Each new year comes around and we measure the last with several different yardsticks. Did we accomplish the goals we set this time the year previous? Are we in better health than we were last year—physical and financial? How did our children fare? Our spouses? The rest of our families? Is our house clean? Does our car run, need work?

Are we happy? And if we are, more so or less so than the end of the year before?

Did we learn anything? About the world? About ourselves? Did we pick up any knowledge intensely valuable to no one but ourselves?*

We’re about to enter 2015, so how was my last year?

My family is doing well. Mark could be happier in his job, but he’s extremely good at what he does so even on days he thinks he’s not appreciated, deep down, he knows they’d be sorry if he up and left. There’s extreme satisfaction underneath the general frustration. So that’s good.

Courtney is happy. She has great friends who value her and whom she values. She’s good at what she does, and enjoys it—stress and all. This was the year she learned how to suffer fools—something I had hoped she wouldn’t have to learn for years off. She doesn’t enjoy it and she doesn’t suffer them well or because she wants to, but I won’t allow her to use my food processor to deal with them, so she doesn’t have much choice. I’m considering researching Voodoo doll construction for her.

Dusty has gone back to school, and is happier than he’s been in a long time. Thank you, Jesus. He’s happier and learned more in the first week of his first semester than he did the entire two and a half years at the other college in the other program. Does that mean he’s given up his music? Not at all, and my heart still sings when he plays me his newest composition.

Between my two babies, my home will forever be filled with art and music.

And me? Well, I learned a lot this year, about myself, my kids, and some things that are completely useless to everyone else but me.

Here are my top five:

 

  1. It’s the end of the year and while my house does not look like a murder scene it is by far not spotless. However, my kitchen is clean and my dishes are done, and soup is on. My bathrooms are clean. My laundry is done, mostly thanks to my sweet baby girl. My front room is presentable enough not to horrify people who come to my door. My floors need doing, but I’m not worried about that right now. If someone comes in and says, “Oh my hell, your floors are horrible!” I will hand them the cleaner and a mop, and we’ll have a lovely conversation while they are correcting the problem.
  2. I can rewrite and entire novel, creating an almost completely new storyline and edit it in 5 ½ weeks! But not without my right hand woman and professional ledge-talker-offerer…LOL Thank you, Pam. In addition, I have my very own—I don’t want to say bulldozer…LOL so we’ll just say…earth mover. She will not let me stand still or give up. She will not let me waste time grousing, and will not let me simply take what’s handed me. No, she goes out there and pushes me through the next door in my path, and if there isn’t one, she FINDS one. Thank you, Charly! And one can simply not survive without a cheerleader and I have one of the best. Thank you, Neva! I love you guys more than I can tell you. You are all three invaluable to me.
  3. Few people keep their promises and though we don’t like that they’re not honoring contracts or aren’t paying us like they should be, we can’t let it destroy our health. I’m learning to believe that Sister Karma bites everyone in the ass eventually. Their time is coming. Of course, the Voodoo doll research might come in handy here as well.
  4. I can still do my beloved needlework. I’ve not even tried to do any in almost  three years since I had a mild stroke. I figured if I, lover of words and trivia, have problems remembering names, dates and events, and can’t find certain words when I need them,  how on earth can I expect to remember how to take string and thread and yarn and create anything beautiful…or even not overly homely? In July, I finished a counted cross-stitch Paula Vaughn piece of a front porch swing. It was not only easy, it turned out very well. In October, I started a sweater for my niece–an intricate, heavily cabled, highly stylized jacket and matching hat. It was completely finished by the first of December, turned out just the way I intended, and not only fit her, but she loved it. And by the week before Christmas, I’d crocheted four purses with basinets and baby dolls inside for my great nieces. So, I consider that a major win.

 

*Side note that only knitters will understand or care about:  I started doing needlework when I was nine years old and after—we’ll just say –many decades of learning and teaching and doing, I would have thought I’d pretty much have learned it all, until Brittney’s sweater. I seldom work with knitting grid patterns, but this time necessity called for it. The intricate cable design worked with decreases from bottom to top, but the pattern grid remained the same size, and equal stitch graph from top to bottom. I discovered “ignore stitch” means exactly that when looking at legended stitches beside little blank squares. It’s all based on lace technique of making wrap stitches, or increases and decreases in the row previous. While it completely freaked out my holey, word-obsessed brain, once I “read” what the grid was saying, I was able to see it and had no problem. The key? TRUST the pattern’s author, because what you’re seeing in the grid, ISN’T what’s actually happening. Now that I’ve completely confused all you non-knitters, I’ll just say this was a monumental moment in my re-establishing my needlework capabilities…and we’ll return to subject at hand.

  1. I am a terrible, horrible, ridiculously BAD blogger. I SAY I’m going to blog every week. I promise my daughter that I’ll blog every week. She even goes so far as to write out little strips of paper with topics so all I have to do on weeks my brain’s not working or I can’t think of a topic, or am just to tired of lazy to come up with, I’ll have a topic at my fingertips. And still I am a horrible blogger. We’ve established I don’t particularly like blogging. And you can look at the few I’ve done and know, I am less than sporadic. Courtney just looks at me and shakes her head. She definitely has a better work ethic than I do. Now that said, her class schedule this next semester leaves me with a LOT less sit-in-the-car-and-wait time and a lot more potential writing time. And since I do have all those lovely colored topic papers, I will have less reason not to blog. Will I be able to push myself to blog more? Well, let’s just say, though I didn’t blog a lot last year, I did blog more than the year before.  So, there’s hope. There is hope.

 

Goodbye 2014. Thank you for the ups and downs, the good things and the bad things and the strength we gained from both. Thank you for the balance. God knows you’ve got to be tired and deserve your rest. 2015, I ask that you help us deal with the bad things some of us are carrying over in to the New Year, and the attention to enjoy all the good that comes our way.

I wish all of you readers love, strength, peace, enough happiness to overshadow whatever trials and sorrows you might face, and as always, enough of everything to make your life a fulfilling and satisfying one.

 

Time to get on with the soup…

The Writing Process Blog Hop


Thanks to Elizabeth Delisi (http://elizabethdelisi.com) for tagging me in The Writing Process Blog Hop. Read about Elizabeth Delisi’s writing process here: http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-writing-process-blog-hop.html .]

At the end I’ll be tagging a few other authors, so please do follow those links to their blogs and interviews.

 

Purchase any of the books below at  (http://www.ellorascave.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Sheryl+Hames+Torres)

 

SecretIngridient cover              ENCHANTED HOLIDAYS              One Touch cover

 

Now on with the hop!

 

What am I currently working on?

Oh so many things! LOL I never work on just one story at a time–in fact, I’ve got about ten WIP (works in progress) going on right now.  At present, though, I guess you could say I’m spending more time on a new 4-part series called Bridal Divas!

 

What makes my writing distinctive?

I tend to be a little irreverent. I find humor in the ridiculous, the abstract and things normal people find “everyday”. I completely believe in romance and the Happily Ever After, but I can’t stand taking things at face value, so my stories have a little bit of the “prove it” in them.

 

Why do I write what I write?

Ah, that’s an easy one. I live romance every day. I met my husband almost 34 years ago and married him three years later. Eight and ten years later we had our two incredible children, who’ve kept us constantly surprised and guessing ever since. I completely believe in enduring romance, but at the same time, I know that Happily Ever After is a daily thing–“We lived happily ever after yesterday, what’s today going to be like?”  I KNOW what being in love is, what it feels like, how it keeps you sane when you’re going through the worst things you can ever imagine having to survive. It’s strength and laughter, but it’s weakness and tears too, yet it doesn’t break. Being in love with my husband AND my two children, how could I not add romance to whatever I write?

 

How does the writing process work?

I never considered myself OCD in any way until my daughter accused me of being anal. This was a severe shock coming from her–she meticulously folds grocery bags and organizes my kitchen cabinets weekly. Do you hear me complaining? No. Will you? Never. I thrive in clutter. I can easily live in a house with dust…the needs-to-be-brushed-away kind, as well as my son, Dusty–and be happy with a super clean session once a month. I suppose that comes from growing up with a mother who not raised six kids in a house that looked like no one ever lived there. I live by the motto “she who dies with the most unfinished needlework projects, wins.” So, I’m not in the least anal…

…until it comes to my writing. When I begin a new story, I start with a couple of spiral notebooks, a stack of post it notes and a clean desk. That’s the last moment the desk is clean. By the time I type the first word onto the screen, I have a detailed description of all my characters, including casting photos and a history. Then I plot. Loosely on some scenes, more detail with others. I CANNOT write by the seat of my pants. If the plot veers a little bit, that’s fine, but just sitting down and not knowing where the story is going and letting it unfold as I go…mercy! I’d be all over the place. I look at it like this: I wouldn’t get in my car and drive from Georgia to Oregon without a map. If I see something along the way I’d like to see, I’ll stop, but I have to know the route I’m taking so I can get back on the right road to get where I’m going. Same with my stories.

What next?

LOL. I fix dinner. Himself will be home in an hour. Finish the laundry. Finish reading the last book of the Mortal Instruments series before Saturday. And in the moments in between being a wife and a mama, I work on one of my many stories. I lost my contracts on the other two books I had set for release because my publishing company decided to revamp their mainstream romance department and turn it into a place where old, out-of-print titles by well established authors have a place to retire, so next on my list is to look for a new publisher.

And the journey continues…

 

And now I’d like to tag the following authors. Please visit their blogs to read about their writing processes and please check back here as I will be adding authors over the next week or so.

 

 

Sharron Riddle Houdek     http://riddlemeastory.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

First Official Blog of the New Year According to Courtney


Monday is the beginning of a very long school session for my daughter. An over-achiever, she wasn’t satisfied with two associate degrees (English and Art) so she waited for her college to consolidate with another and offer BA programs. Since she doesn’t drive, a fear left over from a severe childhood illness, and Dahlonega–where the “home campus” –the only campus offering an Art BA–is located–is much too far from our home to drive every day, she has opted for a BA in Writing and Publishing. (Her mama is so proud. LOL) This means classes five days a week for Spring semester, and possibly six days a week for summer semester.

This semester she’s taking four literature courses, therefore has about thirty pieces of required reading. With the exception of the plays of Shakespeare, these are all entire novels. Daunted? Not at all. You should have seen the smile on her face, the glee in her voice as we exited the campus bookstore with two large plastic shopping bags filled to the top with her required books. Overjoyed doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Now, she is usually a purist—one who must OWN a book she’s going to read as opposed to a lowly one who borrows a book from a library. Knowing this, I evilly insist that she accompany me to the library every two weeks where she must endure her peasant mother checking out books. I have to have my glee , too. Besides we do spend a good deal of time and money in actual bookstores. It is my living, after all. However, that being said about her, it isn’t that she thinks it’s beneath her to use library books, only that if a book is worth her time reading, she should own it. I love that about her.

So, you can imagine my surprise when she requested I take her to the library at the beginning of her holiday break to check out about a third of the books on her reading list. Despite the fact that she was on the other end of every job I was doing, plus many of her own, during pre-Spring Semester cleaning, not to mention, Christmas and New Years and being sick for over half of the break, she’s managed to read about nine of the works. Today, she started Wuthering Heights and will be finished in a few hours. (I can feel my dear friend, Pam, cringing from here.)

Still, knowing how much reading she still needs to do, and despite knowing classes start back tomorrow—if it doesn’t snow or ice over since we’re expecting a low of 7*. Yes, you read right. 7* in Georgia—she took hours yesterday creating an entire jar of blogging encouragements.

“Mama, you don’t have to blog every day, but you have to blog at least once a week. You’ve done a lousy job of blogging so far. I’ve made these for you to help you come up with ideas. The reds are questions. The white are idea words. And the blue ones are quotes. You’ll blog once a week. No excuses.”

Et tu Brute?

I raised you, you evil child. You’re not too old for me to spank—to which I received an incredulous look then suffered her raucous laughter. She can’t run, nor can I. She felt safe. So, in deference to her hours of hard work, today, I reach into the elephant jar and pull out the first piece of paper. A red one…

“Why do you write?”

Huh. No crickets. This might not be so hard after all.

I’ve always loved words more than pictures, though, I have always adored pictures. My father worked late most nights, came home when we’d either be getting ready to go to bed, or had just gone to bed. Didn’t matter since I’d get up as soon as I heard the door click open. My tiny brothers would have already gone to sleep, silly things, so this was my ten minutes with Daddy before I had to be a good girl and go back to bed. He’d swoop me way up—I remember hating one of our neighbors when I was four because he proved to me, my dad wasn’t the tallest man in the world—and promptly carry me to the medicine cabinet. I’d pick out a bottle, and the name on the label would be my word to learn to spell by his arrival the next day in order to earn my next word. I still know how to spell Merthiolate! Spell it, not like it. I liked Bactine. Bactine didn’t sting. For the very young uneducated, Merthiolate and Mercurochrome were those antiseptic remedies people used in the olden days. They came in little bottles, with amazing little glass tubes magically fixed to the lid and used to paint, yes, paint the wounds with either reddish or orangeish dye, and stung so badly you wanted to amputate whatever appendage was attached to the bleeding cut or scrape, no matter how small the wound might be. Seems the FDA banned the OTC sales of both of these because of a little poisonous ingredient…mercury. I knew it all the time! I kept saying, “Stop! You’re killing me.” Oh, and I still remember how to spell Mercurochrome.

About this time, I learned that I could make up stories as well as the ones that were read to me by my mother, a voracious reader then and still, God love her. When I’d visit my grandfather, a large—his shoulders went from here to there–weathered man—so many hours spent in the sun, it made me question my fair skin and snow white hair when he had to be Native American–a farmer to the core, who was often spare with his smiles and generous with his hugs and had a laugh that could make the most irritated smile— would plop down in his recliner, pull me onto his knee and request a story. I was all too willing to set down a tale or two. I soon realized I could make up a story and keep my younger brothers entertained for a time and as I grew older I adored the story writing assignments in school.

But what I didn’t enjoy were the words…”and they lived happily ever after.” Excuse me. What the heck does that mean? What happened the next day? And the next? What exactly did they do that ensured their happiness for  the “ever after” part? Why in the world would anyone stop a story??? Say it’s none of my business. Say it’s their private stuff. But don’t hint that they had other adventures after the ones they just shared with me and leave me wondering. None of your business, that I can accept, a bit rude, but well, okay, but how do I know they’re not lying to me???

So, I’d devise a not so happily ever after day as punishment for their rudeness.  Most of them were princesses, however, who lived in castles, and no matter how much their babies spit strained carrots and peas at them or how dirty I got their fancy dresses, they just had servants to come along and clean it all up. It wasn’t very satisfying.

By sixth grade, I started making up scenarios that were “better” than the ones in books I read, and I read a lot. I’d even come up with new characters that were “missing” from those stories, and then, of course, as it always happens, they’d start demanding their own stories. I remember my childhood being full of notebooks…I LOVED getting new spiral notebooks or clipboards, pencils and pens. While I liked my Barbies, I had no idea how to actually play with them. I’d learned to knit and crochet in the third grade, so I dressed them. So, “thank you, but I’d really rather have a book, a notebook, or a record might be nice.” (Thus began the marriage between my writing and listening to different music for each story.) Being grounded…I had a mouth on me…was bliss. Imagine being sent to my room where I’d be surrounded by my books, my writing, my music and be actually allowed to close my door and keep all my little brothers and sisters…out.  Silly parents, if you had really wanted to punish me, you’d have made me play Barbies with them. Oh, wait… maybe they weren’t punishing me after all. Maybe they were believing in me. Hmmm.

So, why do I write, my darling daughter? Because all these characters in my head keep demanding stories of their own, and not writing them out of my head will cause either Schizophrenia, or one of the character torturing me with Merthiolate.  Since I want neither, I write.

One blog down, Courtney, my love.