Solar Eclipse Mania and Aliens

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On Monday, August 21, I’ll be in the path of the total eclipse of the sun. Big deal. Well, really it is.
I’m sure other areas of the US are going through the same craziness as Oregon is. For over a month now, the front page of the local paper has featured at least one story about the solar eclipse and the impact it will have on the local residents.
Okay, not so much the eclipse itself, but all the eclipse watchers. Highways are predicted to slow to a near standstill between Portland – the nearest major airport – and throughout the Willamette Valley with the influx of over a million visitors. Backyards and open fields will be turned into temporary tent or camper cities (already happening). Public water and septic systems will be overtaxed (not likely). Food and gas supplies will run out or low (no telling). The local economy will boom (hopefully).
Because the traffic is expected to be horrible, garbage pick up has been delayed one day, many local businesses have given employees time off, and non-essential government workers are taking leave (or whatever they call it).
Right now, roads are blocked off in towns around here, not for safety, but to cordon off city blocks for vendors, events, and parties. I don’t know if they planned it this way, but a huge three-day country music extravaganza is going on right now in the Willamette Valley. If these folks came from far away, I doubt they’ll be in a hurry to leave Sunday night. Or if they are, they’re in trouble. I just hope the weight of all these extra people doesn’t cause a major earthquake!
What do people expect out of the eclipse besides a long weekend of partying? Some are saying it will allow the world to see the extra sun (or is it a planet?) that’s been hiding behind the sun.

Here’s a recent picture taken in Dallas, Oregon by Ashleigh Sawicki. Her aunt saw the same thing in Florida as did my friend in Alaska. It’s not exclusive to the United States, either. I hear it’s been sighted in South America and Europe, too. Oh, and if you say it’s just the camera, why would someone take a picture of the sun? Had to be something strange to want to take that shot.
I guess we’ll find out what all the noise is tomorrow. Unless the aliens attack or, gasp, they take out our internet.

No matter what happens, enjoy the life you have, and if it needs improving, be the one to make the changes.

In the meantime, here’s some great diversion. Romance box sets in different flavors!Feeling like a sweet story? Sweet & Sassy is perfect. Need some suspense? Dangerous Encounters and Risky Encounters. Historical fiction: Rebels, Rogues, and Romantics. Paranormal or time travel? Mystic Lovers. Check them all out! All but Love, Christmas are available to read for free with your Kindle Unlimited account. Don’t have KU? Try it for free for 30 days. See Amazon for details.

Follow me on Amazon: http://bit.ly/dhAuthor 

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Choose a Man: Navy SEAL or Fire Fighter

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Two twenty-something women are sitting in a bar in San Diego or New York City. In the lounge of PF Chang’s or Ruth’s Chris Steak House. One of these women is you. You’re wearing four point five inch glossy red strappy sandals, one leg crossed over the other so your black and white polka dot skirt is halfway up your thigh. You’re chatting with your friend and she’s wearing light pink matte lipstick, a three-inch wide pink Bakelite bangle bracelet and her blond hair in a high ponytail of cascading waves.

You know you both look hot, but you always do. So, it’s no big deal. Another warm summer night out in the city. You feel the attention, but it’s like a second skin—always there. Music, clinking glassware and slightly tipsy conversation surrounds you while you take your second sip of your Singapore sling then exhale to relax after your initial catch-up with your friend.

Now you look around. At the men. And there are plenty of them.

Are you in the neighborhood pop-spot near the Coronado Navy base filled with newly inducted warriors?

Or are you in the neighborhood hot spot of a downtown Manhattan Firehouse frequented by hot-off-their-shift lifesaving men?

Do you want the kind of man who would kill to protect you?

Or do you want the kind of man who would run into a fire to save you?

Don’t worry, there is no right or wrong answer—unless you say neither. (But what woman would say that? Honestly?)

You might say either would do, but I think most would have a preference, most of us would see the subtle distinction and maybe come down on one side or the other.

Me, you ask? I’d go for the Navy SEAL. Don’t ask me why.

But I’m going to ask you (fair or unfair) which you would pick and WHY?

Go ahead—tell me.

In the meantime, I’m working on a few stories starring two best friends. One is a Navy SEAL and the other is an FDNY Fire Fighter. Coming soon…

Catch up with me and my progress on these stories at www.StephanieQueen.com.

 

 

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What Do You Collect?

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A faithful reader of my Pam of Babylon series recently sent me an article about beach glass, aware that Pam is a beach combing fanatic, and has a vast collection of it which she displays in a clear glass ginger jar on the white marble of the kitchen in her ocean front home on Long Island.

Beach glass is like rock hunting or scouring parks with a metal detector; the lure of the hunt and the excitement when you find something to add to your collection can’t be beat. All of those things appeal to me. I belong to every rock hunting group on Facebook, much to my husband’s amusement because I haven’t ventured out of our yard to hunt.

Collections of anything intrigue me. I once saw a photograph of a collection of small hearts consisting of religious medals, art and artifacts, you name it. Soon after, we were at the beach, and I found a small, stone heart. Now I was hooked. Friends started sending me hearts. I have hearts made of stone, glass, metal, and paper.

Owls are another passion. I have so many owls. The owl thing started with a piece of jewelry Jim bought me when we were dating; in sterling, an owl ring made of turquoise, mother of pearl, and onyx. I forgot I was wearing it one day and went to my OR job with it on my finger. When I had to scrub for a case, I popped it in my pocket and down with the laundry it went, never to be seen again. Over the years, he’s added pieces of costume jewelry, including bracelets, earrings, and necklaces all with owls.

An antique chalk owl once belonging to my mother graces the library in my kitchen. My children are the sources of many of my owls, including a metal sculpture from Jeni, and a canvas bag from Sarah. A friend made me a little needle-felted owl. He’s so sweet, looking down from his perch.

In my stories, I get to collect personalities. I like lots of characters. I’m driven by their interaction, their histories, their weaknesses and strengths. A caveat is that I sometimes get them confused and will change their names inadvertently, having to quickly go back and fix after the fact. It’s a liability of reading my books. An example is in my mystery series, I changed an aunt’s name from Paula to Beth. Hindsight, she was really a Beth. But she’d been named Paula in three prior books, so Paula she remained. Paula is so real to me now after writing about her, but she’s such a Beth!

The first book in my new series, Bittersweets, had so many characters I started taking notes for each couple, and writing a book for each one. The first, Bittersweets – Terry and Alex is included in our new steamy romance boxed set, Love on Fire, six stories by six authors now available on Amazon for 99 Cents.

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Reading versus Listening

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Like most of us, I am busy. Sometimes so busy that I can’t read. My job is writing stories. Editing stories. Reading stories. It used to be that relaxing meant curling up with a good novel and a cup of tea, or wine, and delve into another world. Now, because of my constant eye on the screen, I just can’t relax by picking up a book. I am so grateful for Audible, and audio versions of books I’ve wanted to read.

My goal for 2017 was to read more, to connect more with what is out there. Audio books have allowed me to do that. My favorite stories are historical fiction…of the last 10 books I’ve listened to, 8 of them have been historical. I love Christopher Moore–the Serpent of Venice. Alyssa Maxwell and her Newport murder series, Julia Quinn, Margaret Atwood, David Morrell. Right now I’m listening to Amy Snow by Tracy Rees.  I love a little mystery, and listening allows me to turn off my inner editor. Although sometimes I will make a note to self regarding a sentence, and how it could be stronger in the narration. Usually I am too caught up in the story to notice, which is nice.

The bad part for me with audio is not being able to turn back to a page that might be confusing. You can’t just put it down to pick right back up again when people insist on talking to you, lol. You need headphones, which can drop into the sink when you aren’t paying attention. The terrific part is that I listen when I exercise, so sometimes I do an extra lap to find out what happens next.

Do you have a favorite way to get your story fix? I love the story. I love being carried away, and I will do whatever I must to satisfy that craving!!!!  I have a few free downloads to offer for my first contemporary romance, Ambrosia by the Sea. If you’d like one, or to try out the first book in the series, email me at traciella@aol.com

Traci

www.tracihall.com

 

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Planning a Family Reunion by @DonnaFaz #mgtab

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Planning a Family ReunionAre you thinking of planning a family reunion? The perfect weather of fall—sunny and mild—makes for a great time to get everyone together. Family Tree Magazine has a great article called 10 Steps to Family Reunion Success which offers helpful tips and advice for planning a family reunion. And I found this Pinterest page that has some suggestions, too.

Start by picking a date and location. Choosing a theme might be a good idea for some families. Gather a team to do the organizing. Don’t forget to come up with a budget that works for everyone. Come up with a menu that accommodates all diets (meat-eaters, vegetarians, diabetics, etc.). Be prepared with a backup plan (you know, just in case Uncle George forgets to bring the ice or cousin Sandy doesn’t show). Get the word out by mailing invitations, using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), and making phone calls. On the big day, offer something for everyone: appropriate music for the older generation, games, crafts and a place to play for the kids, and don’t forget to provide a place to sit, catch-up, and reminisce.

To some people, family is everything… and planning a family reunion is a wonderful way to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Speaking of family… I have bundled together three books from A Family Forever Series which is coming out on August 21st.

Planning a Family Reunion A Family Forever Box Set

The box set is available for pre-order at these find stores:

US Kindle        UK Kindle

Nook Book

iBooks Store

Kobo

Google

Other titles in the series:

An Accidental Family, Book 4

Nanny and the Professor, Book 5

 

 

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My New Addictions: Chocolate Toffee and Sexy Romance Novels

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Maybe I’ve taken this summer vacation thing too far, indulged too much, for too long, but it’s too late now.

I’m addicted.

Even thought I’m back to work, I rush through my tasks to get to the end of the work day and back to my latest indulgences, nicely paired together (the new bonbons and soap operas): chocolate toffee and sexy romance novels.

I haven’t found anything else to distract me from this dynamite duo of delectably dangerous desert. (I know what you’re thinking: this girl needs to get a life.)

This pair of perfection is the exact antidote to the routine, boring life, or the stressed, crazy life. Either way, it’s a welcome reprieve from a life filled to the brim with responsibilities and work. If you’re up for a staycation experience on any given Sunday afternoon or rainy Saturday or evening after dinner alone, I want to share the delight with you.

The Recipe: Chocolate Almond Toffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. Toasted chopped almonds
  • 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Let butter melt and then cook, stirring constantly with a spatula (so the butter and sugar don’t separate!), until mixture turns a dark amber, 12 to 15 minutes. (This can take closer to 20 minutes if you’re heat is not high enough. Increase the heat and keep stirring until the color turns. Don’t give up! If you’d like to use a candy thermometer for this step, attach it to the saucepan and cook until the temperature reaches 285º, or hard crack stage.) Toffee mixture should be dark in color and very thick. Stir in ½ cup of chopped almonds.
  2. Pour toffee mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately top all over with chocolate chips. Let sit 2 minutes so chocolate begins to melt, then spread chocolate all over with a spatula to create a layer on top of toffee.
  3. Sprinkle all over with remaining ½ cup almonds and pecans (use chopped crumbs too for nice texture!) and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour, then cut or break into pieces and serve.

AND

The Sexy Romance Novels:  Love on Fire

 

6 steamy romance novels by 6 bestselling authors…

Sometimes passion takes you and there’s nothing you can do to resist it. That hotfeeling overwhelms you until you can think of nothing else but him, want to do nothing else but make love.
Sometimes love sets you on fire until it consumes you.
Let these six novels of crazy hot love take you there, make you feel the heat of that passion, bring you that ecstatic joy.

Playing the Game – by USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Queen – International Digital Award Winning romance about a socialite playing the game of seduction to win against a superstar until winning feels more like losing her heart.
“Reading Queen is an absolutely scrumptious experience…with characters who come alive like Pop Rocks and carbonated beverages” –Romantic Times Book Review

Bittersweets – by bestselling author Suzanne Jenkins – A one-night stand for lawyers Terry and Alex segues into a long weekend of passion, leading to a lifetime of romance.
“…once I began reading I knew there was no turning back. Suzanne Jenkins has an incredible talent.”–Anonymous Reviewer

Red Rock Rises – by USA Today bestselling author Taylor Lee – A fiery former undercover agent, as tough as she is beautiful, no one messes with Red Rock until she meets the handsome Police Chief.
“Taylor Lee does it again! Red Rock Rises introduces another unforgettable heroine and a hero who is more than her match. From the first page to the last, the sparks fly between Jesse O’Donnell aka Red Rock and the sexy Police Chief.”–Kharma Queen

Bedroom Therapy – by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca York – Phone sex, fantasies and fetishes are all in a day’s work for sex advice columnist Dr. Amanda O’Neal until she meets sexy detective Zack Grant, and things get personal.
“Bedroom Therapy is a torrid private investigative romance with the heated emphasis on the equatorial hot relationship between the sleuth and the doctor. The story line is fun to follow” –Amazon Review

Tempted by Mr. Wrong – by USA Today bestselling author Jacquie Biggar – How can something so wrong, feel so right?
Jacquie Biggar had me reading well past my bedtime. The characters are so well written they could walk right off the page!” –Avonna

To Love A Hero – by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Mona Risk” – Amidst a clash of cultures, an American scientist finds more chemistry than she bargains for with a national hero from Belarus
Outstanding Read. Mona Risk’s To Love a Hero is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn’t be more different. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this.”–Simply Romance. Review

Available for Pre-Order Now – Release Date August 14th

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Life and Fiction by Mona Risk

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It all started ten years ago. In a different life, I was the director of the Analytical Division of an environmental company. I supervised a staff of chemists who perform analytical tests on drinking water and hazardous waste. My responsibilities also included working on various government contracts. A monotonous predictable life that suddenly changed when I won a Department of Defense contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus.

During my fifteen trips to Minsk, capital of Belarus, I was well received by everyone, and worked with colonels and generals, chemists and engineers, and even journalists. I was invited by two colonels to their houses, met their wives and children, and appreciated their warm hospitality.

TO LOVE A HERO is my contribution to the Authors’ Billboard box LOVE ON FIRE. Through my novel, a fictional story about an American chemist and a Belarusian officer, I lived again my fantastic trips to Belarus. My story highlights the affability and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing, toast with vodka, and make a woman feel like a goddess.

 Book Description

The hero, Major General Sergei Fedorin, has pledged to cleanup his country of the nuclear pollution that killed his wife and threatens his nation with cancer. American aid allows him to start his mission by refurbishing an old military laboratory. The patriotic Sergei is a true hero in his country, an alpha man who protects millions of citizens, a controlled public figure, watched and scrutinized by everyone, admired and revered, but not allowed to live a personal life. He accepts it all because of his dedication to Belarus. BUT

When the lovely American chemist stumbles on the escalator of the airport straight into his arms, Sergei has more on his mind than nuclear pollution.

Raised in boarding schools, Cecile learned to fend for herself at an early age. She buried her loneliness under long hours of study and work. Now she’s determined to excel in her first international contract. So many people are watching over her shoulders, but no one will detract her from her mission. BUT

In Belarus, a Russian country dominated by male chauvinism and intrigues, Cecile finds much more chemistry than she bargains for, and in the arms of General Sergei, she learns that chemicals are not the only things that generate heat.

I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting culture while reading TO LOVE A HERO, the passionate story of Cecil and Sergei.

Some of my personal experiences are related in my book. I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine (the smart woman) fell into the arms of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

Sometimes passion takes you and there’s nothing you can do to resist it. That hot feeling overwhelms you until you can think of nothing else but him, want to do nothing else but make love.
Sometimes love sets you on fire until it consumes you.
Let these six novels of crazy hot love take you there, make you feel the heat of that passion, bring you that ecstatic joy.

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What’s the Difference (Words)? Authors’ BillBoard

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What’s the difference between can and may? Does it matter? Words make a difference. As an author, I have to be careful with what words I choose. A mother teaches her children (or tries to) to say “May I have a cookie?” which is asking permission, rather than “Can I have a cookie?” meaning, “Am I capable of having a cookie?” Today people use the word “can” to ask permission, so I use it that way when I’m writing dialogue, but not in the rest of the story.

When the difference is between can and will, it is a question of being able to (can) as opposed to wanting to do it or not (will). A scripture says, “If any will not work, neither let him eat.” Notice the use of the word “will.” This refers to someone who is able to work, who could find a job, but won’t. He’s lazy. It is not referring to a person who cannot work because he is unable.

I think everyone has their set of words that gives them problems when they write. Mine is lie and lay. I always have to stop and look them up whenever I want to use them in a sentence. Simply put, lie means to recline, and must never have an object. Lay means to put or place something down, so has an object (the thing you put down). The problem arises when you need to use the past tense of lie, which is lay, so it feels like you are using the wrong word.

When I write my Trahern series, which involves a family moving west after the Civil War, I sometimes bring in a tiny bit of dialect. I use more when my characters are just out of the mountains, and less if they’ve been out for a while. A sprinkling of such words is all that is needed to give the impression.

The Handsomest Man in the Country is the first of the Trahern series and is free, so give it a try.

Link to Handsomest Man

The problem I notice most often in other people’s writing is it’s and its. It’s (with the apostrophe) means it is, whereas its means something belonging to it. It is the first day of the shop’s grand opening, would be written: It’s the first day of its opening. The error occurs because we usually show possession by an apostrophe. I have to go through my books, checking all the “its” to make certain I didn’t slip up. It’s so very easy to do.

What words give you fits?

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