Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Today is the beginning of the second week of invasion. By what, you ask? Kidlets.

At the craft shop where I work part time, we started a summer program for kids. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, kids from 6-16 can come in from 1pm-3pm and pick their choice of craft to make for $5. This is going on up until August 12.

We didn't have any takers the first day, but the other two days had a nice little group. We were also encouraged to come up with our own classes for the kids.

Now, I don't have kids, so I've never really done a lot of kids' crafts. But then I remembered that my grandma taught me to crochet when I was pretty young. Around 8. So that's my offering. I've got three kids' crochet classes scheduled for this summer. It probably would have been more, but I'm going to be in the States for 3 weeks.

I like to complete a project in my class so that people can take something away with them. In my adult crochet classes, that something is a dishcloth. But kids aren't interested in that kind of stuff, right? Luckily for me, one of my co-workers came up with a great project for the kids to make in class. It also tied in with what I had planned to teach them.

Normally, I teach the adults all the basic stitches, but kids don't usually have that attention span so I had only planned to teach them the chain stitch and the single crochet. This project is perfect. And cute. And fun. What is it, you ask? It's a butterfly magnet.

Cute, right? For those of you kids (or grandkids), what do you plan do with them this summer to keep them occupied? What did you do as kid?

Monday, June 28, 2010

More Soccer

Yes, more soccer. As you probably already know, our guys didn't win against Ghana this past Saturday, so we're knocked out. That leaves Germany for me to root for. And boy, did I root yesterday.

Germany played England and it was the first time I went over to the neighbors' to watch. They had their garage set up like a mini sports bar, with a projector broadcasting the game on their blank wall. Chairs and tables, beer and snacks. Of course, yesterday was a hot day here. We haven't had too many this year yet and the doors to the garage had to be kept shut or you couldn't see the game. Needless to say, I was a sweaty mess by the time the game was over.

I wished I had brought my camera though. When I mentioned in a previous post that Germans take their soccer seriously, I wasn't kidding. The first goal, our host had just gotten himself a new bottle of beer. Germany scores and several of the men start jumping up and down. You can see where I'm going with this, right? You got it. The beer started foaming over so he shook it some more and put his thumb over it to direct the spray.

Then the chanting and clapping started. After they settled back into their seats, they starting chanting the player's name who scored followed by a series of hand claps. And this happened after goal. They also sang a little song at point. It was all a lot of fun.

Saturday I was in Bamberg. We were just walking around the aldtstadt and checking out stores. Got some lace to put across my sideboard, got some dried fruit and fresh cherries. And then we found a bakery.

Bakeries are all over the place but this one in particular caught my eye. They had the cutest display. A soccer match complete with spectators made out of bread. Below are some pictures. I took them through the glass so sorry about the glare, but I thought it was the cutest thing and wanted to share with all of you.

Did you see any of the games this weekend? Who are you rooting for now that the U.S. is out of the running?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Realm of Possibility

I'm a big reader of ebooks. I have been since about 2005 when I started reading them on my computer before I graduated to the Ebookwise ereader. Now I use my iPod Touch.

During the last 5 years, I've gathered a list of favored epublishers. I know when they have their new releases and I check them out religiously. I've found a lot of great authors I probably wouldn't have had I stuck to just print books. Ebooks satisfy that instant gratification desire, especially now that I'm living in Germany. The PX and the library here is limited in choices and I don't speak/read German well enough to buy a book written in German. Ordering from the States is a minimum of a week. Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my virtues?

So I was checking out one of the epubs that I buy from on a regular basis. One of their new releases this week caught my eye. It was a new author. The blurb sounded interesting. So I clicked on the excerpt. I liked the writing, I was drawn into the story and the characters. I was interested to see what happened next. Then in the last bit of the excerpt, the heroine did something so outside the realm of possibility (for me, at least), that I was done. There would be no purchasing of said book.

This got me to thinking again (I know, it's dangerous) about what an author can get away with and still make it believable.

Back in February, I contemplated adding a scene to Blood Diamond and wondering if it was too graphic to include. Everyone encouraged me to include it, so I did. It ended up not being as graphic as I first thought it might, but it brought my story more depth and showed character motivation. Now I am asking again, how much is too much?

An excerpt is a small snip of the story, enough to whet your appetite but not enough to tell the whole story. Granted, this story was marked as to be an erotic romance and I know there is a bit more leeway in that sub-genre in regards to sex. I don't think I'm a prude. Heck, my first release was an erotic romance. But for me to enjoy it, it has to be at least semi-believable.

The heroine in this story (in this excerpt) did something that I, personally, would never, ever do and while I can't say that no one else would ever do it, I doubt there are many who would. It jerked me out of the story. I lost faith in this author and I'm so glad that incident was in the excerpt, because I would have been very disappointed to have bought the book and then read it. And I would have bought it, but for that incident.

I read to escape into another world. When I'm immersed in a good book, I'm invested in what happens to those characters. I feel what they feel and experience what they experience. Which is why, when I read a book, the characters actions should be in the realm of possibility. I'm not saying they have to make the same choices that would, but if they do something that I don't think anyone, whether I could prove it or not, would do, then they haven't sold it to me.

I'm also surprised the editor let it pass. Perhaps in the context of the rest of the story, it works. I don't know. I do know that I don't care to find out.

As an aside, I should mention that this was not urban fantasy/paranormal/fantasy/futuristic where boundaries of believable tend to be pushed. It was a contemporary.

What about you? If a character did something in a book that you thought no one in their right mind would ever do, could you keep reading to see if the author could sell it further in the story? Have you ever included a scene, or thought about including a scene, in your own writing and wondered how it would be received by readers?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Salome at Sunrise

I first discovered Inez Kelley on Samhain Publishing's newsletter/blog. She had a free story called To Cop a Kiss. Her first release hadn't come out yet, but I fell in love with her writing there. Since then she's written a whole series of stories based on those two characters I met in that story called Beauty and the Badge, plus several releases with more on the way.

Salome at Sunrise is her newest release. Check her out over at Carina Press.

SALOME AT SUNRISE by releases today from Carina Press!

It’s not nice to piss off Mother Nature…

Bryton Haruk sets out on a suicide mission to stop the bloodthirsty Skullmen from terrorizing the war-weary Land of Eldwyn. Consumed by guilt over the death of his wife, Bryton seeks revenge and reunion in the afterlife with his lost love. His purpose is determined, his bravery unmatched, until the queen casts a spell to save Bryton from himself.

Salome is that spell. A bird-shifter, she can harness the earth’s breeze and take the form of a beautiful, innocent woman. Her challenge is to harness Bryton’s pain and guide him to peace. She entrances and irritates him, tempting Bryton from his mission. Even as he gives in to the passion between them, Bryton insists on mounting a solo attack on the brigands’ compound, and Salome fears her love won’t be enough to save him…

Celebrate Summer Solstice.

Salome at Sunrise from Inez Kelley and Carina Press.

Seize the day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pie in Germany?

Germans don't really do pie. It's funny that I've lived here a year and a half now and I just now noticed.

It came about because one of my neighbors had tried out a new recipe for rhubarb cake. While we were visiting, she gave us a couple of pieces to take home and try. During the conversation, I mentioned that my grandma always made a strawberry rhubarb pie that was always good.

That's where we had some communication problems. They didn't know what pie was. I tried to explain, but fear that I didn't do a very good job. Later, I asked my neighbor, Armin, upstairs, who speaks English very well about pie. Seems he didn't know what it was either. So I turned to my boss. She's American, but she's lived half her childhood and her whole adult life here in Germany. I learned that they some pie-like pastry with apple or cherry but it wasn't really pie.

So I got the bright idea to make a pie. As Armin says, the best way to describe something is to show it. As writers, we hear show, not tell. It was on.

I emailed my grandma and asked for her recipe, which she gladly gave. Then Saturday after work, I made 2 pies. One for the neighbors who gave us the cake. There are a lot of people in their household and I wanted them all to be able to try it. I made a second because hubby has never had it and I wanted to take some upstairs.

My neighbors called it kuchen, which means cake. When I look it up, it also says kuchen. There really is no pie in Germany. I felt fortunate to be able to share something new with my neighbors as they share so many new things with us.

What about you? Are you a pie lover? What's your favorite? Ever had strawberry rhubarb pie?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Step Part 2

If you remember, at the beginning of this month I told you about the First Step Contest being run by Savvy Authors and my participation in it.

The first part included submitting the first line of my manuscript. I chose to use Out of the Shadows since that is what I've been working so hard on lately. I shared my sentence here and asked you to vote for me if you liked it or to vote for another if you didn't.

I'm pleased to announce that I advanced onto the next round. For those of you that voted for me, you have my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Part 2 of this contest consisted of sending in a 3-line pitch not to exceed 250 words. For those of you that write, you know how difficult that can be. Fortunately for me, I had some wonderful friends help me get my pitch ready. Thank you Stacey, Rachel, Denise and Calisa!

So here's the part where I beg, I mean ask, for your help again. I would love for you vote for my pitch, but again, if it's not your thing, please go to the site and vote for one that is. I know your vote will be appreciated. My pitch is about halfway down and reads like this:

After two failed kidnap attempts on fire witch, Belle Webster, she's assigned a bodyguard, wolf shifter, Gabe Mitchell, and he's having a hard time remembering why he shouldn't take a mate every time he gets a whiff of her delectable scent. Floored by her attraction to her bodyguard, and shocked to discover her role in the Shadow Prophecy, Belle concentrates on finding her abducted sister. She soon realizes that fighting off her attackers and rescuing her sister is just a warm-up to the standoff against Belial, the Chief of Devils.

The link to vote is First Step Contest. Again, thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Got Suspense?

I know I've mentioned my novella, Blood Diamond, here a few times. If you remember, I wrote it for a special submission call that The Wild Rose Press had called Jewels of the Night.

What you may not know is that those manuscripts in by March 31 and given a contract were entered into a drawing. The winner's story would launch the series this fall and they would get extra promo and other fun stuff. The drawing was last night during the Happy Hour Chat at Wild Rose.

This chat takes place at 9pm EST. You all know I live in Germany, which puts me about 6 hours ahead. Yes, I actually set my alarm and got out of bed to participate in the chat.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn't the winner. I want to shout out huge congratulations to Laverne Clark, though. She was last night's lucky winner and her story, Guardian of the Jewel will kick off this great series. It will debut in November and I'll have more info about that as it comes.

Now, for those of you who write. Are you interested in becoming a Jewel of the Night? Submissions for this series is still open. The stories have to be highly suspenseful and feature a blue diamond. Word count can be anywhere between 7500 and 65,000.

Currently there are 12 titles in the series. I would love to see yours added to the bunch. What do you say? Wanna give it a whirl?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home Stretch

Well, I'm in the home stretch. Regarding school, that is. I know I've mentioned I was heading back to school. Before this summer, I lacked 3 classes to fulfill the requirements for my degree.

I signed up for 2 this summer and as I posted a couple of weeks ago, I'd received my final grade for the philosophy class. My computer class ends July 2 so that's almost finished.

I took my midterm a week or so ago, a couple of days before the suggested due date. So I'm in the home stretch. 7 more lessons with their quizzes and the final. Actually, I almost have the next study guide filled out. Somehow, one page didn't print so I have to go back over those questions but then I'm ready for the quiz.

I work the part time job today and tomorrow. I close the shop both days and am usually left by myself from about 3:30 or 4 on. Usually, the shop is quiet. So I make good use of the time. If I have all my work in the shop caught up, I work on my study guides. For my goals this week, I aim to finish at least 2 lessons but I'm actually going for more. I'm hoping 3.

I'm hoping the last class I need is offered in the fall. If so, I can apply for graduation for Christmas. Then to continue on.

Between my school work and getting Out of the Shadows ready for edits, that's been my main focus lately. How about you? What are you working on? Are you in the home stretch?

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Soccer

In case you weren't aware, Germans love their fußball. Actually all Europeans do. Fußball, or soccer, is as popular here as football is in the States. By the way, the funny looking B sounds like 'ss' and the word literally means football. But you knew that. I'm also sure you're aware that the World Cup games have started.

I was in Schweinfurt this past weekend with hubby. He had to work so Peanut and I explored the altestadt on our own. We came back yesterday evening, arriving just in time for the game between Germany and Australia. Our neighbors that live behind us set up their garage on the nights that Germany plays.

Big screen TV, beer, snacks. All the men congregate there and watch the game. So, once we unload the car, hubby heads over. I was at home because 1) it was a man thing and 2) I had work to do. But I could tell when the game was over.

Cars honking their horns through town, people yelling in the neighborhood. I'm sure that if anyone had them, firecrackers would have been going off. Yes, Germany won. 4-0.

It was neat to see (hear) because Germans are generally stoic and don't really show much emotion.

As I understand it, right now the teams are playing for points to determine their standing or something. You can tell I'm not a sports fan. So, the next time Germany plays is Friday afternoon. Hopefully I'll hear cheering again. And if I know my neighbor upstairs who always "knows a guy", I won't be surprised to hear firecrackers the next time they win.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Liar Liar

One of my former coworkers mentioned a TV show that she liked and said was very interesting. It's in it's 2nd season now (I think), so you may have already heard of it. It's called Lie to Me.

It's about an agency of people, run by psychologist Dr. Lightman, and they are able to read the microexpressions that tell when people are lying. Essentially, they are human lie detectors.

I found this concept amazing and I love to check out new things so I googled the term microexpressions. Microexpressions are involuntary flashes of emotion that portray our true feelings, even if we try to convey a different emotion.

According to one website I found, this skill, reading microexpressions is not common. This person gave a link to a short test and I took it. Microexpression Test

I got 10 out of 10 right. Granted, I had to play a couple of them several times but still, I think it merits some further study. So, I'm going to look into some books and do more research. I would love to be able to read people as effectively as they do on the show, though I'm not sure that's possible since it is TV. I'm also hoping I don't have to stare at people the way they do. Rather disconcerting.

What about you? Watch the show? Heard of microexpressions? Can you tell how people really feel regardless of what they say? Did you take the test? I'd love to hear your score.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I was hoping to post pictures of the new furniture in the living room. Alas, the fact that I'm not fluent in German yet has created a bit of a problem. I thought for sure we'd asked for assembly but apparently it was lost in translation.

There's not much to actually assemble except for putting the decorative top and bottom on one cabinet and all the drawer pulls and such. We also need to move the sofa back a bit so maybe tomorrow.

I think I've mentioned before that my part time job is at the craft shop on post. I scheduled a tote bag class for September. I needed a few extra hours on my time sheet (I'm required to work 20 hours per week) so today I spent time making the sample tote bag to display in the shop. It turned out pretty good.

It's a new pattern and the first time I made this particular bag. Luckily I've had some experience because there at the end, the pattern kinda left me hanging. I made it work and made notes so I could recreate it when I'm teaching the class.

So, now time to turn my focus to writerly pursuits. Hope you all are having a great day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Good news

Yesterday was a gray, rainy day here in Bavaria. Typical weather for this time of year. I find I don't mind the rain here so much. It's more of a soft, constant thing, and as long as I have an umbrella or a rain coat, I'm fine with that. I could use some sunlight though. I love it when the sun shines while it's raining. I know, I'm weird.

I also worked all day at the part time yesterday. It was rather slow, so I pulled out the study guide and text book for my computer class about 2:30 (shh, don't tell my boss) and worked on that in between customers. I was able to take my chapter 4 quiz last night after I got home. I'm hoping to knock out chapter 5 today and chapter 6 and the mid-term this weekend. The class ends July 2 but I'm hoping to finish up early. Then I just need one more class before I can apply for graduation. Woohoo!

Speaking of classes, I got my final grade for the philosophy class, Introduction to World Religions, yesterday. I keep a close eye on my scores so I knew what my grade would be, but still, it was nice to see the 'A' listed as final grade.

I got another bit of good news yesterday. Remember a couple of months ago when I mentioned that we bought furniture for the living room? It will be delivered on Monday morning! I'm so happy about that. I can't wait to see everything in place. All we'll be missing in there now will be the pictures on the wall. I guess I need to get into the frame shop and get to work getting them framed. Of course, I'll post pictures.

Last but not least, the letter that the attorney was supposed to send to my landlord finally went out. We got our copy in the mail yesterday, so that means he got his yesterday as well. It basically says that he needs to show up at the attorney's office with all the documentation that she asked for by a certain date or we'll be taking him to court.

So, there's my news for the day. I'm off to order shoes for national conference before I settle down with OOTS and get busy. I love dressing up but I hate heels. Hopefully the ones I found will be wearable for an evening.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Step

We all the beginning of a manuscript is how we get our foot in the door. Sometimes it's just the first few pages. Sometimes less than that.

Over at Savvy Authors, they are having a contest. It's called the First Step Contest. There are three parts to it. The first step is the first line. There are over a hundred entries of first lines. Voting is for members and non-members alike. It started yesterday and goes through June 7, with the winners of that round announced June 8.

The top 30 from round one will submit a 3 line blurb or pitch, no longer than 250 words. The voting for that round will go from June 15 through June 28, with the winners of that round announced June 29.

The top 5 from round two will submit a 500 word sample. The voting for that round will go from July 5 through July 18, with the winner and 2 runners up announced on July 19.

The winner will receive a paid year's tuition in Beth Daniel's First Step to Complete Novel course and the two runners up will receive a paid annual membership to SavvyAuthors.com.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I bit the bullet and entered the first line of Out of the Shadows in said contest. I encourage to click here and support everyone's effort. Names are not attached to the entries but I'm going to cheat a little.

My entry is:

#42 – Why couldn't she go to a club looking to get laid like every other woman her age?

If you like my sentence, I would love to have your vote. But if you don't vote for me, please vote for one of these great sentences. It will be fun to see the progression of the contest, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I've mentioned my accountability group in the past. Today I'm going to talk more in depth about them. Why? Because we're looking to add a few people to our ranks.

A similar group had one opening in December. At the time, it was exactly what I needed to get my butt back in gear. I'd stopped writing. From August to December, I didn't write a word. So, I applied. Yes, there was an application to make sure they found the right fit.

Apparently there were several of us that the group thought would work well with them. Not sure how they made their ultimate decision, but I wasn't the one chosen. Then, one of the women that founded that group offered to spend 6 weeks helping those of us who didn't make it, form our own group if we wanted.

That's what we did. We've been working hard since January to form a group that is supportive yet firm in keeping us on track with our goals. There are 3 of us now and we're looking to add 3 more. Let me tell you a bit about how we work.

We started out making long term goals (LTGs). These are the goals we want to accomplish in the year. Based on these LTGs, we make weekly and daily goals. We post our goals to a private blog. We support and nudge each other on this blog. We also meet once a week for chat to discuss anything that we feel is important. We also got to know each other during this time and I feel as though I have two new friends.

Our goals aren't just about writing. We have writing life (WL) goals, which pertain to other parts of being a writer outside the actual writing. That may include getting a website set up, or taking a class, or reading a craft book. We also have real life (RL) goals. These are goals outside of writing all together that we want to accomplish. It's a plan to help provide balance in our life.

We commit to writing 6 days a week, a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Also, those same 6 days, we commit to some WL goals. Our real life goals are 5 days a week. It's a lot of work, a big commitment. I don't want to scare anyone, but it's important to know that this is a serious group. We're asking for a commitment to the end of the year.

Now that I've told you a bit about the group itself, let me tell you what it's done for me. In the last 5 months, I have edited my first release and got it ready. I wrote a novella, submitted it, received a contract on it, completed the edits and waiting for its release. I finished the first draft of a full-length novel that I was about 50% done. I'm almost halfway through the second pass on it and getting close to starting the editing process. In total, I've written over 75k since January. I've gotten one of my websites redesigned and one of my blogs up and running. I've researched and got a list of agents to query as soon as my novel is ready. I'm completing my goals of taking a class every month and reading a craft book every month. My RL are ongoing, but most weeks, I meet those too. Oh, and did I mention I've made two new, great friends.

I think you'll agree that I've accomplished a lot in 5 months. I owe the continued forward movement to my accountability group. There have been days that I just didn't want to do what I needed to do. The thought of not getting a smiley for that day or having to tell my group that I was lazy was great incentive to keep my nose to the grindstone.

So, if anything sounds like what you need and want right now, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at riley@riley-quinn.com.