Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

This is a GREAT book with a lot of twists and expected turns. It’s a MUST read.

I do believe folks judge a book by its cover and great covers are necessary to get people to pick up the book.

What Has Been Read Cannot Be Unread

Portrait A wow of a book!  Really, just superb.  Something of a mystery, something of a thriller lite, something of a love story without all the gooey smoochie stuff, a little bit of blood, a LOT of action, and an ending that we can smell  coming but love anyway.

The young, 2-month pregnant wife of a very wealthy man mysteriously disappears 7 years ago.  Not a trace is found, ever, even of her car.  The police investigation turns up nothing, the man spends a fortune on private investigators looking for her, to no avail, and finally, the nice lady detective assigned to the case is ordered to give it up when it becomes apparent that there is absolutely nothing to go on.

Then one day, on a flight back to Texas from New York, the maybe-widower, Philip Lewellan, sees a brochure for a small art gallery (or was it a museum…

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Thank you Book Maven for a lovely review

The Book Maven

Happy Friday!  Today I’m spotlighting yet another awesome read and author.  Claire Croxton’s Santorini Sunset has you falling in love with the characters and Santorini.  Not only is it a great love story it is a wonderfully emotional tale that illustrates the intricacies and complications that come with family.  Not to mention there is a super hot guy that should be on everyone woman’s Christmas list.  For my full review keep reading after the book blurb.  Have  great weekend and be sure to stay tuned I have some cool promo’s coming up in the next week.

13551416Book Blurb:

Caroline Clayton’s sister, Gabriella, is getting married . . . to Caroline’s former fiancé, Albert. Instead of drowning her sorrows in a vat of ice cream, Caroline recruits her sultry co-worker, Raul Sobrevilla, to be her wedding date. Showing up with Mr. Hotter Better Sexier has the desired effect. Both Gabriella and…

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Kathy Wheeler is featuring me on her blog today. Kathy and I met in 2009 at the West Texas A&M Writer’s Academy. NY Times bestselling author, Jodi Thomas, taught the week-long seminar.  The graduates of that first academy are known as the Jodi Pioneers. We’re still close friends and support one another. Kathy has published several romances in the past couple of years. I’m honored to be part of her blog:

http://kathylwheeler.com/2013/12/09/romantic-gestures-claire-croxton-contest/

 

 

Best Advice Ever!

Last fall, my mother very innocently said she’d like to “buy a few animals for the farm.”  Who am I to deny my mama, right?

We did some research and decided we wanted to purchase heritage breed animals–animals that were used a hundred years ago, but due to commercial farming were nearly bred out of existence.  Farmers bred animals for their specific features and ended up with different breeds that would have larger litters, grow faster, be weaned earlier, etc.  in order to make bigger profits. It makes sense, but we wanted to concentrate on those original animals, the animals that were deemed threatened or critical by the American Livestock Conservancy.

We got some books, did some reading and visited a friend’s farm. That’s all it takes, right? Shoot, we have 120 acres of prime Ozark clay and rock. We read how it was done, what else could a person possibly need to do!

Back in October, my other brother Darryl and I drove to Missouri to purchase a breeding quad of Ozark Mulefoot hogs. They are the sweetest things you’ll ever   sm14 sm16 sm28  meet.  Jed, Ava, Clementine and Ellen May.  Clementine gave birth in April with no mishaps or problems at all. She had five, fat, adorable babies. Oh goodness. So very, very cute!  Things were going great. We anxiously awaited the arrival of Ellen May’s litter.

Ellen May decided to be difficult. Well, I’m sure she decided she was going to go up into the woods and have her babies in peace, but we decided she needed our help.  Yeah, right. Help. The scene from Gone with the Wind about “I don’t know nothing about birthing no babies” kept running through my mind. As if I knew how to assist a sow give birth.

I knew the signs that she was about to go into labor. She was hanging out by herself, and after becoming getting increasingly intimate with her, I determined that she was lactating.  Sows give birth approximately twelve hours after they start to lactate. Of course, I had no idea when she actually started lactating. It could have been that very second, four hours previously, or as I’d hoped eleven and a half hours previously.

Like a good Mulefoot, she had made a nice nest in the woods. We didn’t want her to give birth on top of the ridge because a HUGE rainstorm was heading our way. The piglets getting wet and chilled would mean their deaths, not to mention the fact that the hillside where she was residing always ends up in the creek at the bottom of the holler. Didn’t want piglets in the creek.

So, Ma and I go to work. We try every way possible to get Ellen May to the shed. Food, prodding, Oreos, nada, nothing would lure her from her nesting area. So, I go to the shed, load my Subaru with a ton of hay and head back up the hill to give her some bedding. By the time I got to the top of the hill, Ellen May had decided to go to the shed. I go back to the shed, unload the hay and get her settled. She ate a nice dinner and all was well. Until, she headed straight baarck to her nest. After at least three hours of running up and down that damn hillside, we decided she was going to stay there and we’d check on her first thing in the morning.

I do NOT do mornings. Arising before 7 a.m. goes against every fiber of my being, unless I’m going fishing. Well, I was up by 6 and headed to the hog pen. Of course, Ellen May wasn’t in the shed. I unplugged the fence and drove to the upper ridge where she’d been the night before. I spotted her, called Ma on the two-way radio and climbed through the fence.

There was a weak, squirmy little piglet lying in the middle of the woods.  I picked him up, cleaned him off and took him to Ellen May. When Ma arrived, I scoured the woods looking for more babies. Nothing.  I plopped next to Ellen May wondering what was going on. Was she still in labor?  As I sat there, a squealing piglet emerged from a pile of leaves. I quickly grabbed it and took him to his mama. Then, I scoured the woods one more time. Then, another. It’s an acre and a half lot, but it’s all uphill. I figure if it were flat, it would be the equivalent to 90 acres. I covered the hillside twenty times as Mama sat with Ellen May.  Surely she wasn’t finished giving birth. There were only two piglets.

I ran to the house and grabbed those books. Ma and I sat in the rain and read everything we could find. I went to every website known to pigdom, trying to figure out what we should do.  Yes, I know now, we should’ve stayed up with her all night. So, please don’t lecture me on that. Lesson learned!!

As we sat there, watching Ellen May, we saw no signs of labor. I ran to the house and called the vet. The earliest anyone could get out here was 3 p.m. We had to do something. We reread all the books and the information I printed out from various websites. Finally, it came the time that we knew what we had to do. One of us had to go in.

Another read of Kelly Klober’s Dirt Hog yielded the best advice I’ve ever heard. “Never put your hand in to a pig’s dry vagina.”  Another trip to my house. I grabbed latex gloves (we use them in the greenhouse) and Vaseline. Back to the hillside. I climbed through the fence and sat next to Ma and Ellen May.  I thought discovering whether or not she was lactating was a bit personal. Trust me, that was nothing.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but Ellen May was done. We had two piglets.

I can’t for the life of me imagine that I would’ve tried to inspect Ellen May without using some sort of lubrication, but reading Kelly Klober’s words not only made me laugh, hysterically, during a very tense moment, they saved me from doing something stupid. Well, something else stupid. Why on earth I didn’t stay with Ellen May in the woods all night is beyond me. My gut told me to, but my butt told me it was time for bed.

Farming isn’t for the faint at heart.

We now have a farrowing house and hope this experience is NEVER repeated.

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Stagnation

quicksandDo you know what it feels like to stand in the middle of quicksand and have no idea how to get out? You can feel yourself being pulled under and have no control over the situation. The more you move, the quicker your sink, but doing nothing is against your nature. You HAVE to do something!  You can’t just stand there and be sucked into the bowels of the earth, right?  You’re overridden with despair, agony, regret. Where’s Mr. Darcy when you need him?

So, I’m not literally sinking in quicksand, but life circumstances have made a head dive straight into a pit of said substance sound appealing. How do things get so out of control? How do I let myself become so overwhelmed by issues that I don’t even care about? I know what I want. I want to make a living as a writer. I know what that entails, writing, promoting, blogging, promoting and definitely more promoting. What am I doing? Herding goats, managing a rabbitry and slopping hogs.

Recently, in the most ironic of situations, I busted my kneecap while doctoring our goat herd sire, Alonzo’s, busted kneecap. Yeah, I know, I should find the humor in it, but sitting on the couch with my leg in a brace is driving me nuts. Guilt overcomes me every evening when my 76 year old mother tends to all the farm critters. Work that I can do in three hours takes her at least six. What do I do? I try to help and end up doing further damage to my knee. alonzo

When I first discovered that the lightning bolt shooting from my knee to my ankle was indeed caused by a real, legitimate cause other than me wanting to avoid farm chores, I thought  woohoo! I can write.

Reality? It’s really difficult to be creative while doped up on pain pills and/or an electrical storm is brewing in your calf.

I’m stagnate and I hate it. Detest it really. I never considered myself an active person, but being planted on my backside for four weeks has taught me a thing or two about myself.

1) If I want to do nothing, which I do on occasion, it has to be under my terms. Then again, that really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. I’ve never been good at following orders.

2) I have a sick obsession with Criminal Minds. Of all the shows on television, I choose that one to watch while vegging on the couch?  Disturbing right? Does it count if the Criminal Minds marathon has been coupled with BBC mysteries. Probably not, huh? You’d think I’d be spending my time watching sappy romances. I guess I don’t feel like crying on top of all the physical pain. Who knows? I can assure you that I don’t want the Behavior Analysis Unit of the FBI messing around with my brain. Oy! Talk about frightening.

3) My mother can guilt me with one raised eyebrow. I had no idea she had that much power over me. It’s wicked. I need to study her technique.

4) I already knew this, but it has been confirmed. I have some awesome friends. Really amazing ones really who are willing to drive to the middle of the boondocks to keep me company or schlepp me into town. That makes me happy, but I don’t think I really needed a busted knee to discover that truth.

5) Writing erotica when in pain, and sex is the very last thing you’d consider doing at the moment is impossible. It’s impossible to write romance too. When you’re in a mood most foul and you don’t want to talk to anyone, happily ever after is buried in the dark recesses of your criminal mind.

So, three more weeks of leg brace. Will I decide to pull my way out of the quicksand–or in my case drug-infused fugue–and do something productive or will I continue to veg on the couch with a bunch of psychos? Maybe if one of those psychos was super-duper hot my thoughts about sex might change, resulting in the ability to write erotica again.

Hey, a girl can dream!

Ex-Ray Cover I was notified the other day that The Wild Rose Press would like to publish Ex-Ray, a romantic suspense novel.  It’s way different than the usual Claire Croxton works you’ve seen.  I’m excited about this opportunity because not only is The Wild Rose Press an awesome publisher, but I get to work with Ally Robertson of the Crimson Rose line of TWRP.  This means I’ll be published under the Champagne Rose line–contemporary romance, the Scarlet Rose line–erotica  (as Luna Zega,) and now the Crimson Rose line for romantic suspense.

This is NOT the official cover of Ex-Ray, but one my talented friend, Casey Cowan created.  He’s with Oghma Creative Media if anyone needs covers, banners, websites or editing, Oghma is the place to go.

This is the blurb of the book:

The isolation of Alaska’s arctic is the perfect place to hide. But you can’t outrun your past. Maggie Shaw flees an abusive husband and assumes a new life as Anne Sutton, a 911 emergency dispatcher. Her husband, Ray Malloy, a meth-dealing, dirty cop with a vicious temper and a powerful right hook, is determined to find her and the three million in drug money she stole. Using her computer hacking skills, Anne is able to stay one step ahead of Ray until he goes off the grid. Even though she lives her life with the constant threat of discovery, she’s eventually able to form deep friendships and even falls in love again—with Joe Carducci, the new cop in town. When Ray shows up in Barrow, Anne must overcome her fears to protect her friends from Ray’s violence.

 

Seems like I need to introduce myself to everyone again. It has been months since I have blogged. Trust me, the reasons/excuses are many and legitimate, but I can’t help recalling the words of the wise, talented, and divine Mrs Velda Brotherton. Early on, during one of my first meetings with the Northwest Arkansas Writers’ Workshop, someone commented, “I haven’t written this week. Who has time?”

To which Velda replied, “You WRITE. Everything else goes to the wayside.”

Dusty Richards piped up and said, “No husband has ever died from making his own sandwich for dinner.”

Velda added, “And no one has ever been killed by a dust bunny.”

??????????????????????Clearly, Velda has never been to my house. A dust bunny ran out from under the couch the other day and tried to choke the dog.  Then again, house cleaning has NEVER been an excuse for me not to write. Good lord. You should see it now. Hideously disgusting. I keep the kitchen clean since I cook a lot, but the rest of the house is a disaster. Yes, it bothers me. Yes, I do clean, but this past week has been particularly difficult. Instead of sweeping, mopping, slaying dust bunnies and folding laundry, I’ve spent every moment with my cat, Dax.

Prior to this past week with Dax, I’d finally gotten back to my writing schedule. Petty, little things had impeded my creative process such as organizing the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. Conference, establishing Sunflower Heritage Farms, and assisting in the births of rabbits, lambs and pigs (trust me, you do NOT want to now about that particular experience!)

Finally, back on my writing schedule and Dax gets sick. Some folks don’t get it, but my pets are like my family. I love them. I care for them. I cherish them. Dax moved with me from Alaska along with Leo (who passed in February 2009,) Cedric and Jasmine.  Dax was diagnosed with cancer last week, but was too weak to do a biopsy to determine treatment. Dr. Larsen at The All Cats Clinic in Fayetteville was very kind when she informed me that the blood test results came back and the only thing we could do was keep Dax comfortable until he passed.

So instead of writing, cleaning, cooking, eating, breathing, I held Dax. Mama would come up and sit with him while I fed critters. I didn’t want him to be alone.  Yesterday, my other brother, Darryl and I were supposed to go to Cove, AR to get a load of goats. I refused to go. There was no way I was going to leave Dax. My other brother, Darryl, agreed to meet the goat lady on his own and take notes.

Dax Hugs CedricAbout 4 PM yesterday afternoon, I knew Dax wasn’t going to be with us much longer. I took him into the bedroom and we laid on the bed together, his furry back pressed against my stomach. My hand barely touching his hip, not wanting to hurt him, but needing to touch him. His breathing slowed. My tears increased. For fourteen years, that little guy brought me joy and happiness. There was no way I was going to do anything other than provide him solace as he had for me for so many years.

He passed peacefully in his sleep, in my arms.

Did I write last week? Not a word.  Do I regret it? Not for a second.

This week though, no excuses. The hero from Loch Lonnie (God, he’s hot) has been yelling at me. The heroine in Desert Dreams, Grace, is really, really mad at me because I left her hanging.  Desert Dreams is a Luna Zega story and stopping in the middle of a sex scene is just cruel–or at least Grace keeps telling me that.

So, look out world. Claire Croxton and Luna Zega are back to their writing schedule. Great literature is on its way!!

Thank you to all my friends who have been so very supportive and kind during this trying time.

Giant furry, gray, Dax hugs to you all.