Monday, February 28, 2011

who are you?

I'm going to be 42 years old in 15 days...(and if you're anything like my kids, you're already mumbling "Old Lady" and coughing the word "geezer" into your hand.) I'm okay with that.
  1. I look damn good for a 41 year & 337 day old woman.
  2. I know who I am and I'm totally okay with me.
I think I was probably in my 30s before I really started to get to know myself and to stop trying to please everyone. Friendship and love isn't about winning a competition. It's okay to have multiple friends and it's okay if one of your friends likes someone better than you. What isn't okay is if you spend a countless amount of energy trying to "win" them over. Nobody likes to be with someone who isn't being true to themselves.

And if you're true to yourself...and you realize that the people you want to be with don't seem to feel the same, then move on. It's not easy, but you should never compromise your core values for someone else. It's like Mark Darcy said to Bridget: "I like you just as you are."

That's where true friendship and love can be found. And I hope you guys can start working on that a lot younger than I did...however, it doesn't matter how old you's never too late to to be true to you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Win a copy of Falling Under

It's almost time!!! Falling Under releases on Tuesday March 1st--I've had one picture from a Books-a-Million in Virginia already. 
To celebrate my debut novel release, I'm giving away one copy. This is open internationally, but if you don't live in US or Canada your copy won't be signed. All you have to do to enter is comment below something about your favorite literary heroine. We'll do a random drawing on Sunday night.
Party on, Fictionistas.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Q&A with author Miriam Wenger-Landis

As you may or may not know, I'm going to be releasing my dancer mystery novel (see cover art in "Coming Soon" on sidebar) this spring. While browsing on Amazon to see other novels featuring dancers, I came across a fabulous new YA, "Girl in Motion."

Here's the blurb:
At the School of Ballet New York, the most prestigious ballet school in the country, aspiring ballerina Anna becomes friends with her talented roommate, Hilary, a French exchange student, Marie, a down-to-earth mid-westerner, Jen, and one of the cutest guys in school, Tyler. The competition is intense and Anna works hard to understand her famous teachers and navigate her ups and downs with her friends. Some of the dancers struggle with eating disorders, injuries, and depression. Everyone's goal is a contract with a professional ballet company, and as graduation nears, the pressure intensifies. Although Anna goes to all the ballet companies' annual auditions, she receives not a single offer. Falling for Tyler complicates things, but with the lead in the annual workshop performance, Anna gets one last chance to make her dreams come true.

When I was a tween, my favorite books were the Satin Slippers series by Elizabeth Bernard. I just devoured this overly melodramatic account of girls at the San Francisco Ballet Academy. I never finished the series as a young girl, but I actually sought out used copies as an adult.

Reading them as an adult, I can see they're very outdated (hello, references to dancers defecting from the Soviet Union!) and very soap-opera-y, but I still loved them.

So imagine my delight when I saw that a former ballerina from the Miami City Ballet, who had studied at the prestigious School of American Ballet in NYC, had written a novel about the ups and downs of life in a ballet boarding school. I snapped it up right away, and soon discovered that I couldn't put it down.

When I learned that Miriam had self-published, I decided I needed to help spread the word about this gem. So please welcome Miriam Wenger-Landis!

AB: Thanks for coming to visit! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

MWL: Well, I was a professional ballerina for 4 years with the Miami City Ballet and a year-round student at the School of American Ballet for 2. My family lives in Salt Lake City and that's where I grew up, and after I retired I went on to complete my degree at Stanford University. I left the company at 22 because I wanted to go to school and felt I'd achieved the things I wanted to in dance. After college, I moved back to New York to work as an assistant editor at a publishing house, and eventually I got a job working with books at Amazon and moved back west. I met my husband in Seattle and we got married about a year ago. I spend most of my free time reading, gardening, hanging with the dog, and fixing up our old house.

AB: I'm curious to hear about your dance career. How many years did you study before dancing for the Miami City Ballet?

MWL: It was about 15 years! I started dance classes when I was less than 3, and trained at local schools in Salt Lake City, including the Ballet West Conservatory and the University of Utah dance department. Between 13 and 18 I went away to bigger summer programs at the San Francisco Ballet School and Pennsylvania Ballet. When I was 16 I went to the School of American Ballet's summer school and they invited me to stay on for the year.
Edward Villella picked me for his company, Miami City Ballet, out of
the School of American Ballet's annual workshop two years later. I
moved to Miami right after I graduated high school. Over the course of
4 years I danced increasingly bigger roles, including the Liberty Bell
in "Stars and Stripes," the Flower Festival in Genzano pas de deux,
the Scotch girl in "Scotch Symphony," and the Ballerina Doll in "The
Steadfast Tin Soldier."

AB: You were a student at the School of American Ballet. Is this book inspired by events from your own life?

MWL: Somewhat. Obviously my experience was a big influence. I was more interested in hitting on the general challenges that everyone faced during that competitive experience, so I created different characters and situations to highlight the individual struggles, from eating disorders to injuries to personality conflicts.

AB: How did your high school experience differ from the norm by attending a ballet boarding school?

MWL: Oh it was very different. There were no sports teams or formal dances. The ratio of girls to boys was about 10 to 1. We all had so much in common and so much focus and passion for what we were doing, and yet we were all in competition with each other. Most of our schoolwork was done as independent study, and the high school we went to was made up of child movie stars, kids on Broadway, and up and coming young musicians. I was across the country from my family at 16 and living my own fast-paced life in New York.

AB: Why did you decide to write "Girl in Motion"?

MWL: I started the book my junior year of college (about ten years ago) when I started teaching ballet regularly and as a way of working through my whole ballet experience. I read so many ballet books growing up and there simply wasn't the kind of book I wanted to read--most of the literature is restricted to stories of the ballets and biographies of great dancers or choreographers. Nothing seemed to encapsulate my experience, and I wanted to write something for the students and aspiring dancers I was watching grow up into the system.

AB: Is there a character you identify with the most?

MWL: Anna is the main character, and the biggest thing about her I relate to is the challenge with her height. That was my challenge too, and as I saw my friends struggle to lose weight I was almost jealous of them. I always knew my height was completely beyond my control. I identify with Anna's friend Jen a lot too, because she has this sense that even when she accomplishes something huge it still isn't good enough. There's a general mentality of that in ballet; that no matter what you do it isn't good enough.

AB: What authors or books have influenced your writing?

MWL: The work I do now in the book industry means I read a ton of books, so there are things I admire about so many authors. For "Girl in Motion," probably the writer I was most influenced by was Curtis Sittenfeld, who wrote "Prep." That book is about a girl coming of age at a boarding school and she completely captured all the feelings, even the ugly ones, that encapsulated the experience.

AB: If you could go back in time and talk to your teenage self, what would you tell her?

MWL: I would say, life just gets better as you get older. The one sure
thing in life is change, and you can count on good things happening
eventually. It's cliche, but things work out--they just do.

AB: What are you working on now?

MWL: At the moment, I'm teaching a little bit of ballet and working at Amazon. We just bought a new fixer-upper house, so a lot of my energy has gone into that and just enjoying my husband and being married. Eventually I hope to write a sequel to "Girl in Motion" and some other things and hopefully I'll find time to do that in the years to come.

Thanks, Miriam for joing us here at Fictionistas!

You can find Miriam's book here:

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Kid’ll Read Kindle, Too—Wouldn’t You?


I was delighted to discover that my nephews—6 and 7 year olds—are both fascinated by, and comfortable with my Kindle.  My three brothers each have matched sets of kids: two girls, two boys, and another set of boys.  The older kids were easy with technology, using computers fairly early. This last set were computer literate almost as soon as they were literate.  Actually, the two developed hand-in-hand.  Both can use their mom’s laptop and desktop as easily as most adults I know, and far more smoothly than either of their grand-parents.  Both like to play with my Kindle, and the older of the two asks to read books on it often.  I downloaded a mess of classics, including The Five Little Peppers, which was a favorite book of their great-grandmother’s, their Nana’s and mine.  I really love that a fourth generation is exposed to one book, unifying us through the story.

teenkindleTeens may be a completely different deal.  I am getting ready to release a fantasy novel on Amazon—straight to Kindle like my short romance, My Boyfriend's Back.  I love the idea of young people being able to download it, even though it will be marketed to both teens and adults.  I’ll also make it available in print-on-demand… but so many physical-only readers are brick-and-mortar bookstore people, it may never find that audience.  But it’s a story I’ve long-loved and it’s a genre that isn’t being grabbed up by agents or publishers, so I’m giving it a home it might not otherwise ever have.

I remain hopeful.  My mother, who is a part of the senior set and really isn’t comfortable with technology, recently took a HUGE step.  She read my short release on my Kindle.  I showed her how to use it, pumped up the font so she could read without glasses, and walked away.  I’ll be honest, I worried she would be negative about the experience. To my delight, she loved it.  It made things easier for her—no bookmarks to lose, no glasses to sit on after returning from a bathroom break.  She now wants to read more, and would like a device of her own.  I’m pleased as punch.

So this current crop of teens may fall to the allure of a library in their hands.  My fellow-Nista Gwen Hayes pointed out how wonderful it would have been, when we were leaving for college, to take every favorite novel in our collection at home along with us.  Not to mention the professors and high school teachers nudging students to download books and lighten the book bag load.

On my personal shelf in my bedroom is a much-loved copy of The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. It’s emerald green hard cover is worn with the fingerprints and scuffs of three generations.  But I will always have it, cherish it, and touch it with reverence.  I must say, though, I love that my nephews can get lost in that story without damaging this physical incarnation—a family heirloom as dear to me as Nana’s china or my great-grandmother, Ma’s cameo.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Funnies

If you're a cat owner, you know how true this is:

Have a great weekend! (And I hope you have a sturdier box.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random funny pics

So I have some pics on my computer that I'm going to share because they make me laugh. So there!

A warning label on a leaf blower, haha

My boyfriend's dog, lying on my son

Uh, a butt...

Pac Man!

My boyfriend's dog, looking like a hell hound from the fuuuuuutuuuuuure...

Some dude at the corner of the street with a fierce 'stache, haha

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Boyfriend's Back...

Wait, my boyfriend never left, as far as I know...

BUT our very own Fictionista, Chrissy, has a .99 bargain available from Amazon!

"I bring you tidings of... DAMMIT!"

With those few words, Jack Lynch's world would change forever. The nerdy guy
from Hammond High has returned for his twentieth reunion. He's rich, successful,
and ready to re-claim the girl who got away: Rori McLeary.

There's just one small problem... Jack is also dead. But with the help of an
angel in training, his mom, and the rockin' body of his former arch-nemesis,
Jack is still going to get the girl.

He has three days to convince Rori to love him. He's got the body he never
had, the brains he always had, and Norman the geek angel on his side.

What could possibly go wrong?

I say spread the love on Valentine's Day and buy this e-book!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post: Stephanie Dray

The Fictionistas would like to welcome special Guest Star, author Stephanie Dray, to the blog today.
What Cleopatra Can Teach Us About Love
by Stephanie Dray
She was a ruler, a businesswoman, an author and religious icon. But Cleopatra VII of Egypt is primarily remembered for her dramatic love affairs with two of the most powerful men in the ancient world. She is said to have ensnared Julius Caesar in a May-December romance that scandalized Rome and may well have led to his assassination. Later, she set her sights on Mark Antony and during their tumultuous relationship, they quite nearly ruled the world.

In writing Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra’s daughter, I spent a great deal of time pondering what sorts of lessons on love Cleopatra may have imparted to her children. Given Cleopatra’s tragic end, I imagined that her daughter would be quite wary of love--that she would see love as a threat to her ambitions...a threat to her very life itself. But then, Selene was a royal hostage, held in a Roman court of intrigue, at the mercy of the very man who destroyed her family. 
By contrast, we have the luxury of taking an altogether more lighthearted look at her mother’s legacy! So, here are five things the legendary Queen of the Nile may have advised when it came to love:

Men Like Girls With Moxie. The most famous tale about Cleopatra is how she had herself smuggled into the palace in a carpet and rolled out at Julius Caesar’s feet. The specifics of this story have come into question. Was it really a carpet or bed linens or a laundry sack of some sort? No one seems to know. But does it really matter? The point is that a very young queen risked her life in a dangerous gambit. Even having survived the perilous journey to slip past enemy soldiers, she had to know that Julius Caesar could have her killed on the spot. After all, she’d chosen the wrong side in the recent civil war; Caesar had no reason to favor her. But she gambled that Caesar would admire her spunk. Her reward? He took her to bed--quite possibly that same night--and would later make her the most powerful woman in the world.

Treat Your Relationship As Something Sacred. Though she was the mother of Julius Caesar’s son, he couldn’t marry Cleopatra by law, both because she was a foreigner and because Romans were only allowed one wife--he was already married to Calpurnia. However, Caesar and Cleopatra intended to make their love known. To this end, Caesar took the remarkable step of commissioning a golden statue of Cleopatra and placing it in his family temple of Venus Genetrix. Here, Cleopatra was depicted both as a goddess and a member of the Julii. No stronger statement about the sacred nature of their bond could be made. After Caesar was assassinated, Cleopatra built a giant temple in the royal district of Alexandria and celebrated him as a god.

When it Comes to Love, Go Big or Go Home. When Mark Antony summoned Cleopatra to Tarsus, it was to chastise her for having failed to provide him with ships in his recent battles. Though she was the Queen of Egypt, he was a Roman Triumvir. He demanded that she come to him and explain herself. Her response? A bit of over-the-top stagecraft. A known lover of wine, spectacle and debauchery, Antony was riveted by the sight of Cleopatra’s golden barge as it sailed into the harbor. Cleopatra presented herself as a goddess come to meet a god and all her attendants were costumed as mythological figures. Perfume and rose-petals were the order of the day and when she entertained Antony aboard her ship, lavishly gifting his men with silver plate and other priceless gifts, he was smitten. The lesson? Don’t settle for a subtle seduction. Big romantic gestures create a lasting memories!

Encourage The Ambitions of Those You Love. Julius Caesar certainly didn’t need Cleopatra to prod him to world domination, but he certainly seemed to welcome her as a cheerleader and financier. That she shared in his visions of a future of empire building probably made her a more compatible lover in every way. Antony, on the other hand, seems to have been ambivalent about his own ambitions. Though Cleopatra is often blamed for his downfall, it’s unclear that Mark Antony wouldn’t have simply faded into obscurity without her. When he lost direction, Cleopatra was always there to stroke his ego and help him find his way. Consider the story of the infamous fishing trip during which Cleopatra played a prank on Antony. When he was frustrated at catching nothing, Cleopatra had her divers attach salted fish to his hook. When Antony pulled up his line and found the dead fish, laughter ensued and she told him, “Leave behind your fishing rod, General; your game is cities, provinces and kingdoms.” The lesson for us? Have a great sense of humor. Also, be your beloved’s greatest fan and encourage him or her to excel at what they do best.

Dance With The One That Brung Ya. Though Cleopatra has a reputation as a great seductress and a manipulative schemer, she seems to have been remarkably loyal. She was first loyal to Pompey. Then Caesar. Then Antony. When her war with Rome was lost, Cleopatra was offered the opportunity to ingratiate herself with her conqueror, perhaps sparing her life and her throne, in exchange for Antony’s head. As Antony had taken refuge in Egypt, he was entirely at her mercy. But she could not kill her lover. In the end they both committed suicide and were buried together to rest eternally side by side.

Stephanie Dray is the author of a projected trilogy of historical fiction novels set in the Augustan Age, starting with Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

She is currently sponsoring the Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women, the deadline for which is March 1, 2011, but join her newsletter now for updates and a chance to win a free copy of Lily of the Nile and additional prizes

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Editing During a Crisis...and Promoting from a Hotel Room

Unless you've been living in a cave the past couple of weeks, I'm sure you've been following the crisis in Egypt.

One of my writer friends, Jenyfer Matthews, has been living it. Jenyfer and her family live in Cairo, and fortunately were able to get out of the country during the protests. Like millions of others, she watched the rioting on TV, but it was personal for her, since that was her city in chaos.

I couldn't imagine what that must be like. I would be terrified. But Jenyfer had a deadline she had to stick to. She'd promised herself she would get backlist up on Kindle and Smashwords by Valentine's Day, and she was going to stick to it, even if it meant formatting and editing from her hotel room in Istanbul.

So I thought I'd help her out, and spread the word to our Fictionistas friends. Each of these titles was previously published by Cerridwen Press, but when she got the rights back she decided to self-publish them.

Jenyfer is a great writer, and I ADORED "One Crazy Summer." Author Gemma Halliday called it "contemporary romance at its best" and said that "fans of Jennifer Crusie will love Jenyfer Matthews' fresh, fun voice."

I can't wait to read the rest of her stories!

Here are the blurbs. You can pop over to her website to find links to the Smashwords and Kindle sites to buy.

Happy reading!


Summer Donahue is not Ben Martin’s type of woman. Ben is conservative, thoughtful and the model of self-control. Summer is whimsical, spontaneous and just a bit flaky. So why, when she breezed into his office like a tropical storm, was he so instantly and inexplicably attracted to her?

Summer consulted Ben to have her business’s taxes done. But when it comes to light that Summer’s ex-husband and ex-accountant Malcolm has embezzled most of her liquid assets and put her on the brink of bankruptcy, Ben throws aside all of his iron-clad rules about getting personally involved with his clients. Summer and Ben go to Mexico to find her ex and save her business. But in the process Ben loses more to Summer than his personal credo — he loses his heart as well.


All Julia Sullivan wanted was a fresh start in a new place. But cutting ties with the past and starting over can be a difficult thing to do.

After leaving her husband and quitting her job, Julia was emotionally spent. She needed a quiet place to recharge and to think about what she wanted from life. She thought she had found just that when she inherited her aunt’s oceanfront Victorian house in Haven, New Jersey. It wasn’t going to be that simple, however. In addition to her new house being a complete shambles, her charming soon-to-be ex-husband Patrick, whom she discovers she still loves, arrives with the intention of winning her back. To complicate matters further, it seems as if her aunt’s death wasn’t an accident after all. And there’s just something about her new house that seems to interest all sorts of people.


Maggie Dean and Sam Callahan grew up in the same town, knew each other in school, admired each other from afar, but never dated. She was just a little too straight and narrow for this bad boy. Now they’re all grown up and back in their hometown – she to deal with a family crisis, he to prove that he’s changed his ways.

After enduring her parents’ loveless marriage and coming home to help her sister pick up the pieces of her broken one, Maggie isn’t interested in relationships. Sam Callahan is not only still gorgeous, but he’s still available. Neither Maggie nor Sam can deny their attraction but they’re still at odds. Maggie’s down on family life — can Sam be the one to convince her to settle down?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Be My Tootsie Wootsie or I’ll Widdle on Your Footsie


I have never understood the hostility toward Valentine’s Day—which is coming up soon—from many friends and acquaintances.  Whuddup with the hate, yo?

Maybe this is because it was always a fun, family holiday when I was a kid, and this carried through to my adulthood.  My father always gave us chocolate—both myself and my brothers.  So I learned early to associate the day with giving an appreciative little something to ANYONE I love. 

But I have to admit, this year I may not have Ahmed.  He is hoping to get back from business conducted afar, but may not make it.  His trip got interrupted, re-routed, and generally spoiled schedule-wise.  So I kind of feel the grumpiness… for the first time I’m not loving the day of love. 

Hopefully I’ll have my man unit back.  And hopefully if I don’t, I’ll find something to celebrate anyway.  What are your plans?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Count Your Blessings

There's a lot of crap going on in the world today. Murders, unrest, war, protesting, flood, famine, economic hardship, Charlie Sheen.

I think it would be nice to take a moment to talk about a few things we're thankful for.

I'll start:

My fictionistas - they're a great group of women who I can discuss things with, have a laugh, share a problem, and they always have my back.

My family - I couldn't have asked for a more loving, supportive family.

My health - I see so many people around me struggling with health issues and my heart goes out to them. I am blessed to be healthy.

My cats - yes, I consider them a blessing. They make me laugh, keep me company, and make sure I never think the bed is exclusively mine.

How about you? What are your blessings?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Disgustingly adorable Darth Vader

Okay, so I just saw this commercial and had to giggle. Well played, Volkswagen--I love seeing dads who are good to their kids.