Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coast Guard Members Serving Overseas Could Use Some Holiday Cheer

Hello everyone!

Each year I've taken on a special project and sent cards to active duty military serving away from home during the holidays. More often than not, you can find the addresses for every branch of service except one...the Coast Guard. When you ask around, quite a few people don't realize that the Coast Guard not only protects us here at home, they also are deployed overseas.

After some research, and the help of  Lt. Stephanie Young of Coast Guard Public Affairs, I now have an address to send cards. The Coast Guard Foundation is sending packages of cards and letters to service members serving overseas. If you would like to include cards of your own with their package, please send them to the address provided through the following link by December 7th.


Please help me make this holiday extra special for these wonderful men and women who will be away from home for the holidays. Send your cards to the Coast Guard Foundation ASAP.

Brightest Blessings to you all!
~Tammy

http://www.coastguardfoundation.org/connect/blog/236-holiday-cards-for-coasties-serving-overseas

#WWoW Pen Names Revisited...The Ugly Side


The very first post I did for our Writer's Words of Wisdom group was about using a pen name or not. In that article, I pretty much said the decision to use a pen name is a personal one and is made for a variety of reasons. Writing in different genres/subgenres was the biggest reason for me, but for others it was to keep their private life separate from their author life. Unfortunately, for a few authors, having a pen name hasn't given them the protection they desired.

This week, one of my author friends had her job security threatened by her employer. Apparently the employer isn't too keen on my friend's choice to write erotic romance.  As a writer of erotica and erotic romance myself, I know first hand the prejudice we face so it's no surprise my friend decided to go with another name to do her writing.  The shocker to all of us was that it wasn't enough to protect her from possibly losing her job.

Thankfully, I have an employer who is supportive of my writing as long as I keep it separate and not promote on work time or post my covers on the wall over my desk. Do a few of my long term client's know about my books? Yes they do and they are happy for me too. Unfortunately for my friend, she doesn't have those people in her corner. 

How can she or any other author protect themselves from this happening to them?  That's a tough one. Writer's these days have to not only crank out the books, they have to promote themselves and their work. This entails using social media like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. It also means getting your own blog and website. I've talked about this before, but here's another twist. You have to do all of this using your pen name and DON'T promote any kind of link between it and your real name.

Yes, that's the exactly the opposite of what I'm doing right now, but I'm not surrounded by people in my "evil day job" who will complain to my bosses about what I do in my private life.  Other's are not so lucky in their work life or their family lives.

If you write subject matter that can be labeled offensive by your employer, fellow employees, church groups, school, family members, nosy neighbors, the PTA...well...keep your alter egos completely separate. Don't talk about what you write in front of these people. It's not worth the headache, getting kicked out of the social groups, or even losing your job.

There are a hell of a lot more people out there to introduce your alter ego to. So go ahead and create the social media accounts and blogs to promote and share your work. You will build a following and maybe even those folks who publicly ridicule you, will in fact be your biggest fans. That's where you get the last laugh!

Make sure you check out the other authors participating this week





A Smart & Savvy Group of Authors who write a weekly feature for their blog -Writer's Words of Wisdom- each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.








Monday, November 19, 2012

Turning Holiday Blues into Lasting Memories #NowandForever


Many people go through the blues this time of year due to the weather or the fear of being alone.  For many, the holidays are extremely sad and lonely time even when surrounded by friends and family.  For the last few decades I have suffered from severe depression from the beginning of November until February.  My friends and family have been there for me each time, but the depression still overwhelms me.  It’s not always about making sure you are not alone in a room, but about finding some way to not be lonely in your heart.

Watching my younger brothers and sisters get married first, become parents and basically have entire lives away from our family, made me feel like an outcast.  It wasn't easy hiding those feelings.  I didn't want to bring down anyone else.  Who wants to be known as the fifth wheel or the odd person at the table?  My family was always really supportive of me and I remember one Christmas when my Great Aunt Mary took me aside and said it would be okay if I brought “a friend” over for the family holiday parties.  I was always alone at these functions so my aunt assumed I was gay and not “out” yet.  Imagine her surprise when I said, “Thanks, Aunt Mary.  I’m not gay, just fat.”

Yep, I was that overweight, extremely shy, smart girl who buried herself in books and classes until I graduated with honors from veterinary school.  It was much easier to hide behind those books and my weight than to admit to someone I was interested, only to have them “let me down easy.”  I was good enough to be their friend, but never a lover or a wife.  My heart really took a dive when I fell for a family friend.  I tried to work up enough nerve to tell him one summer after I lost a hell of a lot of weight.  He was always over our house for parties or just hanging around.  After seeing my transformation, he told me he was proud of me for setting my mind to it.  He already thought I was beautiful, but not my inner light shined for everyone to see.  He was a smooth talker that one!  I was head over heels in love with him and still too shy to confess.


It was our annual July 4th pool party/barbecue.  Our house and yard was filled with family and friends all day.  I was in major flirt mode and it seemed to be working, but I was kidding myself.  The object of my affection was interested in my cousin, and I was soon forgotten.  I found out later that he knew about my crush, but adored me more as a sister.  That was a bitter pill to swallow for a bit, but his friendship came to mean a lot more to me over the next few years after that party,  More importantly, I came  to love him as a big brother too.

His name was Paul and I can still hear his bawdy laugh and see his devilish smile.  He was there when my Dad’s Marine reserve unit was activated for Desert Storm.  I was in veterinary school at that time and unable to get away, but Paul was there for my family seeing Dad off at the airport, promising to watch over all of us until Dad came home.
           
Paul was there when Dad took me back and forth to Michigan State my first year in veterinary school.  Both men wore their University of Michigan sweatshirts each time driving back to “enemy” territory, aka the Michigan State campus.  Sitting between the two of them for a couple of hours trying not to be embarrassed was a chore, but one I would gladly have back again.

In the wee hours of Thanksgiving 1992, a drunk driver speeding well over 100 mph took Paul away from us. I still cry thinking of that phone call from my Mom telling me he was gone.  At this point I was in my clinical rotations of my senior year in vet school and could not get home for the funeral.  I didn't get through the grief over losing him for a hell of a long time, and over the years the melancholy during the holidays was all the more raw without him.

I didn't think that pain could get any worse until we lost Dad on Thanksgiving Day 2005.  John McInerney was my step-dad in name, but Dad to me.  He was there for all of the growing pains, heartaches and joys.  He was there when I graduated from vet school and moved away to Detroit to work as an emergency vet.  He was there when I thought I had found the man I was going to marry and decided to give up everything in Michigan to move to the unknown…California.

He was there when that all fell apart and was ready to come out to help me move back home if I needed him.  Dad was there when I decided to make it a go all alone in California for just a little longer, and he didn't make me feel like I was a failure.  During that time, I met another man who I did marry.  Dad was honored to give up his right to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day in order to be the one to perform our ceremony.   He would joke to his coworkers that he was going to marry his daughter.  That got a few tongues wagging until he told them to get their minds out of the gutter!  He was performing the ceremony since the state of California allowed anyone to be an “officiant for the day” for a small fee of course!

Dad was the rock of our family, retired Marine Corps sergeant, and computer geek.  He hid his pain for a bit before he had to admit that the Non-Hodgkin s  Lymphoma was kicking his ass. Eighteen rounds of chemo and the cancer kept growing.  The doctors promised to get him to Thanksgiving and he held them to it.  Only ten months passed from the time he was diagnosed until he left us, and it’s still a bit raw.

I lost myself in all of this, buried myself in my work and refused to see what was going on around me.  My marriage was over before it even started but I didn't want to end it at first.  Dad married us and it seemed like it was disrespecting him to end it even though I was miserable and dying inside.  I had to remember what he always told us growing up.  “Do what you need to do to be happy.  Don’t do what you think other want you to do. That is not your path.  Follow your heart.  It will never steer you wrong.”

So I did.

Now I have found quite by accident, the one my heart has been searching for all of my life, and every lifetime.  He is my Muse, my life partner and the part of my heart and soul that was missing.  Now the holidays are a time of joy. I've rediscovered my Wiccan faith and the happiness fills my life once again.  The holidays are no longer a time where I am depressed and melancholy, but a time to remember those I've loved and lost and be thankful for the time we did have together and the lessons I've learned from them.  It was Paul who showed me that true friendship never dies.  They are always with you, encouraging you along the way.  It was my Dad who encouraged me to follow all of my dreams wherever they may lead.  Both men would've had the biggest kick out of the fact that I’m a published author of erotic romance.  They would have been my biggest fans.  Well, I know for a fact they are “up there” smoking a couple of Cuban cigars, sipping scotch, and smiling down on me.

Just like me, the main characters of the first two books of my Now and Forever series lost loved ones far too soon. They had to go through a lot of hell in order to believe they are worthy of love and they can be happy again. Those who've passed never leave us. They live on in our hearts and in everything we do. Even if we don't realize it, they made impressions on us that help shape how we live our own lives and ultimately lead us to our happily ever after. 

Chris Sharp /FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This holiday season, take the time to remember those who have made lasting impressions on your lives whether they have left this world or are still with you.  Light a candle or two for them at sunrise and allow it to burn until sunset.  When you see that light burning bright, smile.  Your loved ones are there with you now and forever.

My Dad's favorite song was "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. We played it at his wake as he requested. To this day, when I hear this song I smile through the tears. I miss him so much.

Semper fi, Dad! (and yeah, I can hear him reply...Ooorah!)

To find out more about my Now and Forever series, please click on the button below to take you to my Siren Bookstrand page.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

#WWoW Don't Forgot "Me" Time!

Tomorrow is the release day for the second book in my Now and Forever series and while I am still doing the happy dance over it, I'm also visiting multiple stops for the blog tour, thinking of what to write about for this post, scheduling guests on my other blogs for this month and the next, getting ready to travel 14 hours north to visit my husband's family for Thanksgiving, working 40+ hours  at my evil day job as a veterinarian and finding precious time to write as myself and as my two other pen names.  All the while I keep thinking I'm forgetting something.

And I am.  Me. 

Through all of this I have forgotten to schedule the most important block of time..."me" time. Without it I'm liable to totally flip out and/or burn out and that will get me absolutely nowhere fast. Last week one of my fellow WWoW participants blogged about not over committing yourself. I'll take it one step further and say don't stretch yourself so thin that you lose yourself in the process.

How did things get so crazy busy so fast? Hell if I know. I didn't intend for all of this to happen at one time, but it is and honestly I'm having a blast with most of it. I do know me. If this continues at this pace, I will burn out and end up pushing the things I love the most aside. I've done it before. It took me two years to write For the Love of Quinn because I was burning the candle at both ends. I don't want to go that long between books again and there really isn't any reason for that to happen...unless I forget to take care of the most important element in the whole equation. Me.

Christmas 2011 (first with my then fiance and now hubby)
I'm more than just the author/poet, veterinarian, newlywed, military wife, smart-assed broad who visits with you all here each week. I love to read and listen to music. Cooking and baking are two of the biggest joys in my life and I love to share the fruits of those labors with others. But what really helps me find myself and become centered for another day are my crafts, specifically knitting and crochet. 

This time of year is a big one for me. I make all sorts of things with my stash of yarns. Not only do I get to make something for another person, I meditate with each and every stitch. My prayer shawls are filled with good vibes and prayers specific for each individual I make it for. The Christmas stockings I've made over the years are made with the happy thoughts of holidays gone by and the promise of more to come. With each motion of the knitting needles or the crochet hook, I move deeper into a trance that allows me to let my mind relax and let go of the chaos of the day.

Last year I made crochet bunnies that were a big hit. I used a pattern from online and tweaked it a bit to create a floppy bunny with a bit of a sleepy or dopey expression. This Winter Solstice and Christmas holidays are seeing an increase in the requests for my knit caps with ear flaps and of course the Christmas stockings.  At first I didn't think I would be able to get the requests done, but by taking that time to relax and enjoy the PROCESS instead of worrying about the deadlines I set for myself, I'm actually ahead of schedule. 

So the next time you start filling in your calender, make sure the very first thing you block off on each day is your "me" time. Don't skimp out on it either. Even if it's only fifteen minutes each day, you need this down time to help rejuvenate and recharge your batteries. Take a page out of the schedule of a cat. Each and every day they're plotting to take over the world and yet they find the time to "chill."  Make sure you do to!

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November 15th is Release Day!
The Island (Now and Forever 2) is coming out tomorrow from Siren Bookstrand. You can still get your pre-order copy today and at a 10% discount off the list price through November 22nd. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

EEEK! I've Been Tagged for the #NextBigThing

Well what do you know? I've been tagged to participate in the Next Big Thing blog hop. Thank you, Paloma Beck for the tag! If you don't mind, I'm going to "borrow" the graphic that Paloma used on her post about this hop, so it helps to connect us a bit. ;) Now for the rules of the hop:

1. Give credit to the one(s) who tagged you...Thank you, Paloma! 
2. Answer the following eight questions about your latest work in progress.
3. Tag five other authors and let them know you've tagged them.

Okay, so here we go! Since I have multiple WIPs, I think I'll concentrate on the third book in my Now and Forever series, The Surrender of Julia. It basically takes place at the same time at my new release The Island, but follows another set of characters only briefly mentioned in book two.

What is the title of your book?
The Surrender of Julia (Now and Forever 3)

Where did the idea come from for the book?
From my publisher. When I first submitted The Island for consideration, Siren felt there was too much story and suggested a revision, basically making it into two books. I was thrilled with that since I really wanted to delve into bad girl Julia's story more.  Julia Santos was just mentioned a few times in the first book of the series as part of the hero's past. Several readers wanted to know more about her, and so did I.

What genre does you book fall under?
It's an erotic contemporary romance with fantasy elements. It also is at it's heart F/F romance with some menage moments and I get to explore more of the BDSM world with Julia and her Mistress. Spanking, bondage, toys, nipple clamps, etc, etc. 


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie? 
Julia in my mind is played by Selma Hayek. Jacob Hartley is portrayed by Christian Kane and Quinn Hartley has always been Alyssa Milano. As for Julia's Mistress Carmen Hall...not sure. She sort of changes in my mind with each scene I write for her. Julia's nemesis Mario Carlos is also a jumble at this point. I'll have to get back to you with those answers when I know better myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
It's still a work in progress. Basically I've been working on it off and on for the last few months. I find that I can't stick to one WIP at a time. My mind goes to mush and I have to switch gears to keep things going. Sometimes I just have to put it all away and work on other things like promotion.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I wouldn't know where to start. This story is all my own, but I take a bit here and there from everything I encounter. I may like the way an author portrays a sex scene or a heart-wrenching betrayal scene and throw my characters in that similar situation. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what the readers think on this one.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This entire series was inspired by events going on in my own life. I worked through a lot of pain, depression, heartbreak and betrayal in the writing of these books and in the end found myself along the way. I tried to make sure my characters did the same. Julia started out looking like one evil bitch but once I peeled back the layers, I found a woman lost and looking for her soul mate. Everyone deserves that chance, so I gave it to her too.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? How about a teaser?
This is my first venture into F/F erotic romances. Julia basically loves sex with both men and women, but deep down she's searching for the one person who can make her truly happy. She appears to be the aggressor in many of her encounters but in actuality, she longs to be DOMINATED.  Her's a snippet of one scene where she is getting ready for her arrival of Carmen, her Mistress.


ADULT EXCERPT (Very explicit!)


She stepped out of the tub and reached for one of the large fluffy towels to dry off her now relaxed body. Her hair was piled on top of her head clamped in one of the banana clips she found in the vanity drawer. It was hand crafted using two pieces of jade and made Julia smile. It was the very first gift she had given to Carmen after their trip to Hawaii almost 13 years ago now. The color looked beautiful in her blonde hair and actually made several appearances in Julia’s paintings. She always respected Carmen’s wishes to not put her into any of her artwork, but seeing the jade hair clip always made both of them smile and reminisce. 

Looking back at her reflection in the mirror she saw the shy gray-eyed little girl who first came to LA hoping to make it big and prove everyone in her home town in Missouri wrong. She wasn’t a freak or trailer trash like her parents. She was somebody and it was time to reclaim her true self. Julia left the bathroom and walked naked toward the large walk-in closet. She went directly to the chest of drawers on the far corner and opened the top drawer. Inside she found the boxes of bell clamps Mistress had directed her to wear. After choosing one of the boxes, she then turned to peruse the rest of the closet. She didn’t have far to look for the boots. A shelf of several pairs was to her left. One pair in particular, spoke to her. Without hesitation, she chose the patent leathers with the five inch heels that laced from the top to toe. Of course there was a zipper on the inside of the boot to make it easier to get them on and off, but Julia never felt sexier than when she slowly laced herself up in those boots.

The clamps were coated with latex to help them grip to her flesh comfortably and yet hold on tight enough to not slip off during play sessions. The weight of the bells caused the clamps to tug on her nipples each time her breasts moved. There was nothing like that sensation for Julia and she felt the immediate rush of warmth between her thighs with each jiggle and jingle of her tits. To attach the last two clamps, she had to sit on the bed and spread her legs wide. Grasping first her right and then her left outer pussy fold between her thumb and forefinger, she fit the clamps into place.  There was a separate ring on each of the clamps where Mistress could attach a fine gold chain leash, tugging on it to keep Julia’s attention focused on the tasks at hand, and reminding her not to cum until given permission.

(all rights reserved. ©Tammy Dennings Maggy 2012)

Thank you for stopping in and allowing me to share one of my works in progress. Now for the authors I've decided to tag. It may take them at bit to get their posts up, so please be patient and check in on them often!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

#WWoW Promotional Swag

Here I am at the start of my virtual book tour to promote The Island (Now and Forever 2) and I've been coming up with some ideas on what to hand out to folks to get their interest in me and my novels. As a veterinarian, I've attended many conferences over the years and was always inundated with "stuff" from vendors, exhibitors and of course my conference notes for the lectures. Back in the day when you didn't have to worry so much about how many checked pieces of luggage you were allowed to have, I could easily come home with an entire suitcase full of the freebies I picked up. Many of the items I eventually tossed into the recycle bins. 

Now that I have to watch my promotional budget like a hawk, I didn't want to create items that would immediately end up in the ole' circular file. I could pass out business cards and flyers until I'm blue in the face, but if they are tossed aside without a glance, what good are they?  Talking to my author friends who've gone down this road before me, I've found out a few good tips.

Ink pens are always a hot item. I know this one from my veterinary conference days. You have a "clicker" pen, and you have folks stopping by to pick one up. Magnets and key chains are hot items as well as lip balms and mouse pads. Some people found little mints or other candies and put them in special boxes with their websites on them. Food is a good item, but not so much if you have to ship it somewhere. Who wants to open up a box with melted chocolate smeared over your contact information?

There are many places available to order your promotional items. The most popular appears to be Vistaprint. You can have all sorts of items printed up with pre-made designs, or using your own logos and photos. I created some key chains, pens, mouse pads, book bag/totes and  coffee mugs. All of these are kept in my portfolio. Those I ordered as well as those I wish to order in the future are kept there for me to do with as I see fit. The prices are pretty reasonable and you can find specials at times. One of my author friends found a fabulous Groupon offer for Vistaprint and was able to many items for a fraction of the cost she thought she was going to have to pay.

Here is the basic logo I designed using my own picture and some of their pre-made graphics




This wrapped around the pen nicely and on the other items. Take a look...



Something I won from another author's contest during a blog hop were trading cards. These were fantastic! They had the covers of all the books in her series with some fun facts on the back of some, and blurbs on others. In my search for where to get these, I came across Romance Trading Cards website. Here authors of multiple genres have created and uploaded cards to share and collect. They have a tutorial on how to create your own cards. 



In the videos, the instructor shows you step by step how to create the cards using the free program GIMP. It looked a bit daunting at first, but using the tutorial, I was able to get through it all in no time flat.  I've created cards for two of my books using the templates provided by RTC. These templates were in fact created from the downloadable templates provided by GotPrint.com.




One more item I used last year were printed post cards. I made those myself using my portable Canon Printer. I was able to print off my covers on 4 X 6 postcards. I handed them out to people before the first book's release, signing the back of them. People loved them and are asking me to do the same for this book. 

Might as well give them what they want! LOL

Take a look at what some of these sites have to offer. Plan a portion of your promotional budget for these items and above all, have fun with it!


WWoW is a smart & savvy group of authors who write a weekly feature for their blog -Writer's Words of Wisdom- each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

Check out this week's other participating authors