The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End of 2012 and a New Beginning: 2013

2012 was a very full and interesting year for me.

I connected with new people who will forever be a part of my life. I re-connected with some who I'd been out of touch with and ended ties with others. The one constant factor here is that everyone I've encountered in my life this year has left an indelible mark on me ... good, bad or indifferent -- that mark is there and will always be.

I had major surgery -- knee replacement -- that also left a mark on me -- not to mention a prosthetic :)

I realized that my baby boy, Dayne, is on his way to becoming a young man -- I mean, really? Where did the time go?? He's looking at Junior High Schools!! That's left a mark on me. Aging sucks man!

I released my second novel "Divergent Lives" and received four five-star reviews within the first two weeks of its release! This has left a huge mark on me. I am not only extremely grateful, but extremely humbled -- and desirous to get back to writing my urban fantasy series in order to keep my readers not only hooked, but also, hopefully, yearning for more.

As I sit here reviewing the past year, I feel like crying; crying from joy; relief and a little bit of frustration.

I am relieved because my surgery was successful and the pain I had been in over the last few years has lessened. I still need to go back and get my other knee done, but for now, I'm hoping to soon remember what it was like to climb the stairs without pain.

I am joyous because I was able to finish Divergent Lives in a flash after I was taken off medication. I am joyous because I met someone who I would eventually pass it on to -- someone who shared my vision; someone who would enjoy the process of editing it because she is just like me. Admit it, Andi -- we're cut from the same cloth :)

I am frustrated because I wish I had the means to dedicate myself to all things involved with writing and marketing/promoting my works full time. I am frustrated because as much as I would like to engage my readers on a more regular, extended basis, I can not do that. My day job, though I am grateful for that as well, demands attention during normal business hours --- and -- I have a mortgage....

I hold on to the positive experiences I've had this year and I recognize that I am truly blessed. So many people are not afforded the opportunities I have been lucky to have.

It is customary to make resolutions this time of year in the hopes that by keeping them, the person making them can be a better model of themselves a year later. Oftentimes, those resolutions aren't kept. I say, make resolutions every day. It's difficult to list all the things you want for a new year and attain all those things within a 12 month period. Why not pick one thing; one big thing and strive for achieving that in the coming year.

Placing all your focus and efforts on just one thing can open doors you never dreamed were open to you.

This year I will re-focus on putting, having and keeping faith in myself. I will remain steadfast in my determination to attain my dream even if it takes longer than 12 months.

Think about that.

To you, my readers, fans, friends, colleagues: May the year 2013 bring you much love, excellent health, joyous days and strength within yourselves to manifest the success you are worthy of!

Until then....

Happy New Year!

~~ML

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post: A Lesson in Submission by Katie Salidas


Ms. Katie Salidas

For me, writing is a powerful thing. I am the creator of a world and people that until that point had never existed. I rule over this world with a mighty pen and control the fate of the creations within the pages. But, along with great power comes great responsibility. It’s not enough to play god. I have to develop a story that is not only worthy of being read, but also able to be read (published). That often feels like a daunting task. Roadblocks of writer’s block and time constraints often have me feeling frantic that a story will never see itself to completion.

Even with the stress involved, the power of being “the creator” is nice little perk. I often find myself falling in love with the world I’ve created and using it as my escape from the everyday stresses in real life.

That escape element makes writing an intensely personal endeavor. The world I create is my world. It belongs to no one else. I spend a lot of time and energy in developing that vision as I work my world into a readable and enjoyable story. In that world, I grow my characters from seeds of inspiration, and watch them develop into actual entities. Their thoughts and feelings, their lives, their interactions -- they all become real within the confines of that world.

Because of this intensely personal nature, Writing is not a craft that often lends itself to collaboration. Collaboration means giving up control, it means letting someone into my world and trusting that they will not abuse their power while in it.

In that respect, choosing to work with a partner is a lesson in Submission.

It’s not always an easy lesson. This world I’ve created is personal. It’s an extension of myself. Letting someone in is a deeply intimate act.  Once inside, they will have the ability to manage and manipulate my characters. They can do so much damage.

Just as the Dom/Sub relationship relies on trust and faith, so too does the co-authoring partnership. You have to trust that the partner you are working with has a vision and goals that match your own. That both of you, no matter how you might differ on opinions, are working toward the best story possible.
It’s never easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

I’ve never been one to relinquish control of anything. I’m more than OCD in my writing. I don’t like having to listen to others opinions. I don’t like people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with my characters.

Much like our character, Natasha, I like to control it all. And much like Natasha, I find myself feeling heartburn and stressed out over stories that I can’t seem to see to fruition.

But, as I have learned, there are some benefits to letting go of some control.

Writer’s block, being one of the biggest road blocks becomes much smaller an obstacle when there are two writers battling against it. When stalled on a story and I simply cannot find the solution, I’ve learned that if I let go of that control, that need to make this story 100% mine, and to trust in my writing partner, the answers become clear. Sometimes he might have the answer and next step in the vision, and sometimes, just through chatting about the story, the solution presents itself.

Does it always work smoothly, no, but having a partner I can trust, and letting go and trusting him has proven itself to be very beneficial. And at this point, we’ve put out three and we’re working on number four with many more stories to come.



Submission Therapy releases today!!



Billionaire CEO of Blakely Incorporated, Natasha runs her empire with an eagle eye for every detail. She’s an obsessive, compulsive, micromanaging hard-ass, consumed by the need to control every aspect of her life and her business.

But underneath that seemingly strong fa├žade, Natasha is a swirling mess of anger, anxiety and sexual addiction. Only her therapist, Dr. Benson, knows how close she is to burning out...or exploding. He insists on a radical form of treatment – Submission Therapy – knowing that it’s her only hope.

Skeptical but intrigued, Natasha agrees to attend the first session. What she finds there is an erotically-charged environment that will forgive none of her habitual bad behavior. And a steely-eyed man who seems to read her every desire - even the ones she won’t admit to herself.

Will Natasha learn what it means to submit? Or will she allow her brittle pride to rob her of what she truly needs?

***
Hello Readers! Sinner here!

Did Katie's post whet your appetite?  If so, here are some buy links for this wonderful story!


And here are the many ways in which you can reach Katie!


Until next time my friends, this is Sinner...signing off....



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spotlight on Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas


Today we shine the spotlight on Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas, co-authors of Submission Therapy which releases tomorrow!!

Ms. Katie Salidas

It is a well known fact that I love Katie and that I read every word she writes, so it's not unusual that I would also read this new release Submission Therapy.


Submission Therapy is the story about Natasha, CEO of Blakely Incorporated, hard assed, compulsive control freak who is a hot mess underneath it all. Her therapist, Derek Benson, insists she participate in a non-traditional form of treatment after little success with conventional therapy. She is to give up all control and submit to the desires of "Master Sweet."

The story is a quick but attention grabbing read that serves as a great introduction into the world of Dominance/Submission and pain turning into pleasure. You get a good sense early on as to who Natasha vs her therapist, Dr. Benson shown by her impatience and irreverence toward him,.

When Master Sweet's identity was revealed I was surprised, but it made sense perfect sense and I look forward to more from this dynamic duo! 

To whet your appetites, here is an excerpt from Submission Therapy:


Submission Therapy
EXCERPT:
© November 2012 by Willsin Rowe and Katie Salidas

“If your spirit is the equal of your body...” He ran his fingers across my shoulders and down the gully of my spine. “...then it will be a rare pleasure breaking you in.”
Despite my initial apprehension, his words and his touch sent a thrill through me.
He moved from behind me and my back suddenly felt cold. I watched his muscular form as he prowled to the chair, and admired his grace as he mounted it.
“Bind her. Bring her to me.”
Chloe appeared beside me with a length of smooth rope in her hands. My instincts cried out to run, to fight, but I bit down on them. I could see where this was heading and…and I wasn’t sure I hated it.
With practiced efficiency, Chloe had my wrists secured in under a minute. She led me over to Master Sweet and handed him the loose end of rope.
“Slave, lay across my lap.”
I couldn’t help it. I hesitated. This was so new to me. He curled the rope around his wrist and pulled steadily, with a strength I couldn’t resist. With Chloe’s help he had me prone across his lap, my bare ass angled out and vulnerable. My heartbeat sped with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Even though there was something so degrading about being put over someone’s lap, there was a part of me that found it...invigorating. I wasn’t about to let him know I felt that way, though. I held my tongue and watched blankly as Chloe worked, binding me in place.
She took the rope and fed it through the eyelet at the base of the chair, leading it underneath and through a matching eyelet on the other side. She walked around and crouched behind me. From my angle I could only see her hands taking the rope, but I could sense her body heat on the backs of my thighs, feel her breath tickling across my ass…and everywhere else. I wondered if she was there to do more than just tie knots.
The rope’s firm grip around my right knee took me out of that reverie. I watched as Chloe fed the rope back through the loop and then around my left knee. I understood the chair’s construction much better now. Looped around it, with Master Sweet’s strong legs as a cushion, I had nowhere to go. Intriguingly, there was still enough slack in the rope that I could spread my knees apart.
“Look in the mirror.”
I raised my head and stared. I barely recognized myself. In the low light, my black hair almost blended with the room. I could see enough to know it was a mess, though.
He slipped his hand onto my ass and rested it there, soft, unmoving. The deceptively light touch sent chills rippling across my body.
“You’ve earned a spanking for your disobedience. You will watch as your punishment is delivered, and you will count the strokes.”
My breath hitched in my chest. Spanking. I hadn’t had one of those since I was a little girl. So demeaning, and yet the thought of it sent heat rushing between my thighs. There was a part of me that longed for it. In a world where I constantly had to think at least six to twelve months ahead, a consequence that was both immediate and tangible somehow felt like a luxury.
He raised his hand, cocked it like a gun. I followed the movement instinctively, admiring the pure power of it, knowing full well that its force was about to come crashing down on me.
“No. Look into your own eyes.”
I did as instructed. My mouth hung open as I tried to catch my breath, which had begun racing. I clenched my muscles and squeezed my thighs together, waiting for what came next.
The blow, when it landed, cracked like a pistol shot. For the slightest instant all I felt was the jolt through my body. My vision blurred with the impact. Then the sting bloomed on my ass and began to tingle. I watched my own mouth stretch, listened as my breath hissed in. I would not cry out.
“Count it!” he demanded.
And here are bios for our authors:

Katie Salidas

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities, beyond those of mortal women, She can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons.  She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, She still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write.

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment.

Contact info for Katie:



Willsin Rowe

Willsin Rowe falls in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty.  When confronted by any combination of those elements he is a lost cause.  He has done many things over and over, done even more things only once, and half-done more things than he cares to admit.  He loves to sing and doesn't let his voice get in the way. He is intelligent but not sensible.  He is passionate but fearful. He is not scruffy enough or stylish enough to be cool.

Willsin is also the author of HungerThe Three Day Hump and Lightning.

Join us tomorrow for a special guest post by Katie Salidas!

~~ML




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Let's Never Forget 9/11/01

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on US soil by cowards who used three planes to kill thousands of innocent people. Every year I write about how clear and beautiful a day it was that day; just as it is today. Every year, I write about how it is a day I will never forget and how I can remember every detail of that day.

I remember the fear I felt that we were being attacked. I remember the desperation I felt not being able to get to where my pregnant daughter was fast enough. I remember the relief I felt when I finally found her in an irish pub a few blocks from her office with her co-workers who had gathered there after their building was evacuated. It was only because I had spotted one of her colleagues that I even went into the pub. I knew he had to know where she was as I approached him, I looked over his shoulder and there she was. She was sitting on a stool with shock on her face and tears in her eyes as she watched the remaining tower crumble on a television screen.

I lost friends that day, one who's mother I worked closely with.

Today, I listened to the roll call as I do every year and as I do every year when that friend, Laura Gilly's name was called, I turned it off. I often think of her but today, I have been thinking of her all day long. I remembered how much fun we had during my first trip to Las Vegas with her mother.

This year, there were no politicians giving speeches. It truly was about those we lost on this date eleven years ago and the heroes that came after. It was a day for remembering and sharing stories of the people we lost, the valiant manner in which first responders worked to pull as many remains as they could from the ashes and who then later helped clear up the debris.

Let's not forget what happened that day; not just the horror but also how we all embraced one another during a time of need with love and compassion.

~~ML

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pink Diamond Interview for August

Sinner has posted her Pink Diamond Interview for August!

Of all the people she could have interviewed, she chose yours truly! That crazy girl!!

Check it out here!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cada Cabeza Es Un Mundo (Everyone Lives in Their Own World)

I am so excited to share that my cover for Divergent Lives has been completed!! To celebrate, I've created a new blog by the same name. Visit here often and post comments!



Andi Reis and Renee Groskreutz of Ralph's Design and Deli are the geniuses behind this beautiful piece of artwork. Andi in particular, has been my sounding board. After a few email exchanges,  and I believe just one phone conversation, she was instantly able to translate my vision for this book's cover into what you see before you. Two minor tweaks was all it took to get to this! What do you say about that!

Everyone knows that my Dad was my hero. I am well aware that when a loved one dies, the people closest to that person; the ones who admired that person, tend to sanctify the deceased. So what? To me he was a saint; a saint who sinned, but one who also made amends the best way he knew how.

This is the way I see it and I call it the way I see it.

All in my family knew I was of the sensitive sort. My father was the first to tease me about that, but he never made me feel "less than" because of my sensitivity. The other thing my father recognized in me was that I inherently understood metaphors. He would often use idioms in conversation but when he used them in conversations with me, they were very often sprinkled with these very insightful and colorful metaphors.

My favorite was: "Cada cabeza es un mundo" which loosely translated means "Everyone lives in their own world." This was something that always resonated with me. As one with a very vivid imagination, even as a child, I lived in my own world; sometimes even in various worlds -- all of my own creation -- and sometimes at the same time. Kinda schizophrenic, I know. But, now I get to share them with all of you, warts and all!

As I continue on this path, there are a multitude of characters in future projects that you will be meeting. Most of these characters come from different aspects I've taken from personalities of people I have met in my life. Therefore, some are heroic, some not so much; some are smart, some not so much and some are sane, some -- needless to say -- not so much! However, they are all very interesting to me. I hope you agree.

Hang in there folks! This is going to be fun!!

~~ML

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Writing Means to Me

Friday morning, June 29th, I awoke to Sinner's virtual poke in my ribs:

"Woman!! Wake up! It's Pink Diamond Interview day! You don't plan on sleeping the whole day away, do you? Plus, you have to go to work today! C'mon!!!"

I was extremely tired. It had been an unusually stressful week. I tried, in earnest, to remain positive amid obstacles in the face of a life changing event. But I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and dragged myself to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. I wished I could have my caffeine intravenously.

When I finally sat at my computer to post Sinner's Pink Diamond Interview of Joseph V. Sultana (http://goo.gl/EhE93), I realized how much I loved writing as an Indie Author in particular and writing overall. I love all that this new career path encompasses. It's pretty awesome!

You see, I began working as a Candy Striper when I was 14 years old. Granted, until I was about 20 years old, all of my work experience consisted of part-time jobs in various fields. However, except for one year after my daughter was born, I have been lucky enough to work consistently, full time, as a secretary - for the better part of 35 years - in industries that run the gamut from advertising to hospitality and ending in the legal field. But I don't see those years as time spent building a "career."

I had kids and bills to pay, so I followed the money; or as today's youth would say: "I chased the cheddar." Quite frankly, I never really, truly enjoyed what I did. I mean, some of the people I've worked for have been really nice and my current boss stands above them all; but, some have not been so nice.

At this point in my life, I am just plain tired. I had been living my life by rote; just making sure to meet my responsibilities. I thought I would rest when I retired. Now, being so close to "retirement," I don't want to waste any time resting! I'll rest when I die!

Recently, I became a client of Ralph's Design and Deli. While discussing services with Andi Reis in an email exchange, I stated that I only really just wanted to write. I admitted that I hadn't really spent a lot of time thinking about marketing and promoting and all that stuff! Yes, that is true, but as a "Type A" personality, I need to know what's going on. I need to be able to express what I want and get it done. And that is exactly what I get from Andi so that I CAN write. Absolutely LOVE that girl!!

So, what does writing mean to me?

First, I'll tell you what it is not. Writing is NOT work for me.

It is a way for me to escape from daily stressors. Writing calms my nerves; it quiets the voices in my head and though this may sound crazy, it regulates my ADD. When I'm thinking about a current WIP or potential projects, though the thoughts are darting about in my head like shooting stars, there is no turmoil.

I'm at peace. I don't think I've ever been happier in my life than I have been since I began writing.

~~ML

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day - 6/17/12

I woke up this morning to a text from my daughter wishing me a Happy Father's Day. I, in effect, left her father before she was born, though the legalities would suggest otherwise as my divorce was not official for some months afterward.

Looking back on her childhood, I can honestly say that I wish I had done a better job at raising her. I wish I had been able to provide for her the kind of home life that I was lucky to have. I'm not saying our lives were unstable during those years -- we had a roof over our heads, clothing on our backs and food in our tummy but I sincerely believe that she missed out and I take full responsibility for that.

Those years were hard, but we had a lot of laughs and we did a lot of crying. We also grew up together. Like every parent and child, we have faced some challenges and continue to do so, but I am very proud of the woman she has become. Plus, she gifted me with my little man!

I often mention my Dad. The pain of his loss still lingers. Someone once put it very simply to me. He said:

"This kind of pain is like arthritis. Sometimes you have good days; and sometimes you have bad days. You've just got to keep going. He wouldn't have it any other way."

He was right.

I think of my Dad every single day. It is now 2,467 days since he's been gone.

He was my daughter's de facto father. I know she too feels his loss. He used to spoil her. The memory that is most vivid in my mind right now is the one of the day he spent shopping with her. One Easter holiday, he took her shopping for an outfit.

He had previously volunteered to drive her around to do that. She must have been about 10 or 11 years old; maybe a little younger. She already had an image in her mind for the outfit she wanted to wear. But, she still had to stop at every single store along their route to see what the pickin's were; only to end up at the first store they had visited. After all of that, my Dad stood beside her as she paid for the first outfit she had laid eyes on in the first store they had stopped in.

My daughter and I often recall that story. We always crack up laughing and I always end up with tears in the corners of my eyes.

Yea. He was Superman alright! I would have been pissed off if she had done that to me and he just supported her in her quest for the perfect outfit. Not a single complaint came out of his mouth to her.

When he later recounted his shopping jaunt to me, his frustration escalated as he told the story. In the end, he just laughed it off, saying:

"Typical woman!"

Since my father's death, I've often thought about how he would feel about my newfound passion for writing. I can only hope he would be proud. While I sit here and type out this post, my heart beats a little faster. I struggle with the sting building up in my nose and the tears that burn in the corner of my eyes now threatening to break through the dam.

All I want is to smell his essence, I want to put on some bright red lipstick. I want to kiss his bald spot. I desperately want to hear his voice again, even if it's just to hear him tell me to "stop doing that shit!" ... those are the words he would use. And, I want to watch him as he shakes his head to and fro in either utter annoyance or total disbelief that I would be so silly.

Finally, I want to make him laugh out loud and I want to give him a bear hug.

Ay Papi! I miss you so much! I don't think I'll ever stop hurting.


To all my friends who are fathers, both men and women, Happy Father's Day!

Enjoy today as it is in your honor. But don't forget the indelible memories you have etched -- and will continue to etch -- in the hearts of those who call you "Father."

~~ML


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Andrew Harding Is Our Pink Diamond Interview for May

Hello friends!

Sinner has conducted her Pink Diamond Interview for May. This is an in-depth interview you won't want to miss.  This month, she spends some time with our mutual friend, Mr. Andrew Harding.  Andrew is the author of The Hybrid Series, as well as The Spirit Trilogy. 

Both equally fascinating paranormal stories.

Click here and you'll know what I mean: Andrew Harding - Pink Diamond Interview

Enjoy!

~~ML

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Superman!

My favorite picture of my Dad c. 1948

Today is what would have been your 84th birthday. I can't quite put into words what I'm feeling.

The word "bittersweet" comes to mind as memories flash before my closed eyes. Memories like: 

How awed I was the day you told me you were Superman; how you and I did our homework assignments together -- you with your English lessons, me with my elementary school lessons.

I remember you teaching me how to dance merengue, guaracha, guaguanco and even a bolero. I remember how you kept emphasizing that I needed to let the man lead me in a dance and to stop trying to lead. I have always loved music and you saw that in me as a very young child. Oh, but I LOVED dancing with you! Whenever I hear Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father," I lose all semblance of control and I break down and I do the ugly cry. You know the one -- that's the one where every orifice in my face leaks! 

I should be stronger...  

Bittersweet. Yes, the word aptly describes what I am feeling today.

I vividly remember July 29, 1969, the day man first landed on the moon. I was an innocent 12 year old Daddy's girl. You had a cold. The sun was shining brightly through the living room window and you were sitting at the end of the couch watching history unfold on television. I got up into your lap and laid my head on your chest. I can still smell the Vicks VapoRub Mami had rubbed there. You scolded me saying I should get off; that I would get sick. I wrapped my arms around your neck, breathed in deeply and said I didn't care if I got sick. Then, I set about trying to breathe in tandem with you; get my heart to beat in rhythm with yours as we watched the astronauts stick the American Flag into the surface of the moon.

I remember the summer before I started my second year at Junior High School. I was no longer going to be bussed to school. I had to learn how to travel via public transportation, so you rode the bus with me back and forth that summer making sure that I not only learned the direct route, but that I also learned alternate routes in case there was a problem and had to find another way home. Needless to say, that was before cellphones :)

I remember the first time I got drunk. You were really angry, but you let me sleep it off. As soon as I was up, you sat me down at the kitchen table, set a bottle of Bacardi between us and said: 

"You think you're a man? We will sit here together and drink this bottle. I will show you how it's done." 

And we did just that.  To this day, I can't stand the smell of Bacardi or any rum for that matter!

I remember my first love and how pissed you were at me for how that whole thing went down.

I remember high school graduation. How you beamed when my name was called!

I remember my wedding day and how, as we walked down the aisle I whispered,

"I don't really want to do this."

You said I didn't have to but I couldn't bear the embarrassment I knew you would feel -- or at least thought you would feel -- if I didn't go through with it. Needless to say, the only good thing that came out of that marriage was my daughter, Mari.

I remember you polishing my toe nails because I couldn't bend over to reach them as I was so swollen with pregnancy. You did it lovingly because I asked you to, promising to buy me a car if I had a boy.

I will never forget your face when you first laid eyes on a newborn, chinky-eyed Mari. You immediately began calling her your "Little Ms. Piggy." I didn't get the car, but you gave Mari the down payment for her first car. By the time she was ready to buy a car, she had given birth to a boy. So, in essence, you did, indeed buy one of your female descendants a car after she had birthed a son -- even though she paid you back  :) 

And the list of memories goes on. As I got older, we bonded on a different level. You were always the one I went to when I had man troubles. I would start those conversations with: "Papi, as a man, can you please explain to me why.....?"

You would smile and you'd say, 

"You have time?"

That line still brings a smile to my face to this day.

As I write this, I realize how lucky I was to have had you in my life for as long as I did. I have 48 years of wonderful memories. I miss you so much. I miss our chats, our debates; how you always challenged me to learn something new -- everyday.

You were not only a father to me and my brothers and sister, but you were a father to my daughter. She misses you probably as much, if not more, than I do. Dayne, your great-grandson, still talks about you. He calls me "crybaby" when he and I talk about you and I tear up. I can't help it. 

In a weird way, I want him to know that I am not Superwoman. I want him to know that I am human and that I have vulnerabilities and faults so that it doesn't hurt so much for him when I'm gone. But I also think that if he has just half the love for me as I do for you, then, I don't know...

I already feel badly for him and Mari. You have no idea the impact you had on so many lives.

I love you Papi. I still want to pick up the phone to call you and ask:

"Papi, as a man, can you tell me why.....?"

Papi in his later years

Happy Birthday Superman ;'(

~~ML

Monday, April 30, 2012

Katie Salidas -- Guest Blogger

Hello!  Today's guest blogger is Katie Salidas.

According to Katie, "Vampires can often be more human than you think."

Before you go to her post, our giveaway celebration is still ongoing. Read Katie's post then answer the following question in the comments section:

What does Katie consider as the biggest payoff regarding writing about vampires?

After you've answered the question in the comments section, send an email to me at lahongrais@gmail.com letting me know that you've left a comment. The first five people to do that and answer the question correctly, will win a copy of "Sinner's Ride" in the format of their choice.

So, don't waste any more time. To read Katie's post, go here ---> Katie Salidas - Guest Post
Happy reading!!

~~ Sinner

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's My Anniversary and Katie Salidas is my Pink Diamond Interview!!

I remember it as if it were yesterday! It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon one year ago today. The breeze was blowing and the sun was shining high in the sky. I was downtown with a friend and there was street fair taking place along Third Avenue. We walked a bit then over to Lexington Avenue toward the train station and we got on. She got off at her stop; I continued on.

Two stations from mine, my blackberry buzzed.  I checked to see who it was and found an email from Xlibris advising me that "Sinner's Ride" had just released. I wished I wasn't on the train; I wanted to scream and holler and dance around on my bad knees in excitement. But you know, I was on a train in NYC where nutty people are all around.  I thought it best to keep my cool :)

It has been an absolutely wonderful year for me and I want to thank all who read my blog posts; those who exchanged witty comments with me on Twitter and Facebook and those who put up with me when I thought I wasn't good enough. Your love and support is what keeps me going. It is for you that I strive to continually improve on my craft and provide you with stories that will keep you coming back for more!!

To show my appreciation, particularly to the woman who started it all for me, I am honored to have Katie Salidas as my Pink Diamond Interview this month in celebration of  "Sinner's Ride" and the new lease on life she has given me!

Click here for the interview:  Katie Salidas Pink Diamond Interview

~~ML

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Writing, like almost everything in life is very much like eating an elephant. Everybody has problems. Everybody tackles those problems differently. Most people will take a problem apart and deal with each of its aspects individually until that problem is either solved or a happy medium is reached.

Writing is just like that. You have this elephant: your story and you go through the process of telling it in an engaging manner. Your goal is to get your reader to eat it -- one bite at a time; one word at a time. For me, that elephant is the story I'm telling in its entirety.

So, I start with an idea. I build that story on that one little, tiny idea. How? One bite at a time. But, you first have to thaw and marinate your elephant.

Thawing: For me, my stories play out like a movie in my head. I see the beginnning, the middle and/or the climax, then I see the end. Sometimes I see the end first and then I work my way backward. Sometimes I don't know how it will end, but I do have a general idea about where I want the story to go. Sometimes even that will change, but ultimately, I know I will finish my story. In other words, I will eat the elephant.

Seasoning and Marinating: First I write what I think is the whole story. This, in reality is really just an outline. Then I put that outline aside for a bit and muse about it. Sometimes I write notes down, sometimes I record voice notes, but mostly I do this all in my head -- where the story was born. This is when I name all my lead characters. I research names and their meanings and I try to choose names that will best suit my characters and their personalities. Sometimes I choose names just because I like they way they sound when I say them out loud.

I imagine scenarios and settings. I imagine what these people might wear, what they might look like, what their psychological make up is, what their backgrounds might be and how they may relate to others. Based on all of that, I work out how they might react under certain conditions. When I think the story has been properly seasoned and has marinated for a bit, I'm ready to cook and it goes into the oven. The heated pressure is on.

Cooking: I start out slow with lots of turns and lots of basting. The juices take a while to get going but once they get to bubbling, it's like a volcano beginning to rumble. It begins with a slow tremor deep inside waiting to burst like the juices of a sweet and tangy marinade just starting to reach it's boiling point. Slowly, it seeps through the the crevices of the meat of the elephant. I poke at the sections that are done and give it a little more heat. Twisting and turning it -- making sure that when poked, the juices flow evenly. Sometimes when I stab the meat, a shocker of juice spurts forward right in my eye, surprising me. I chuckle, blink and keep going. Damn it! Didn't see that coming! This happens quite a bit! I continue cooking at a steady pace and keep turning sometimes encountering sections that are a little raw. So, I turn up the heat a little bit then walk away and let it simmer.

Getting Ready for the Final Turn: It's almost done now so I go back and review, edit, revise then print the whole thing out. It'll take me a few days, but I run through the story out loud, beginning to end. Sometimes I record myself reading it and listen to it on the train so I can see how it flows; how it might read to someone other than me. I can't believe I wrote this! Really? Wow! As I listen, I'm taking notes. Once I'm done with this process, I go back and tweak it a little more -- or in cooking parlance - I poke the elephant a little bit and make sure it's not under or overcooked. This is the point at which I will share with my critiquing buddies. I trust they will be honest in critiquing my work. And once additional edits/revisions/more edits are done, I'll send it off to the proofreader/editor followed by more edits/revisions.

I'm not there yet, I'm still cooking. The point is this: I see a lot of tweets, and other postings about how many words are accomplished on any given day or are contained in a story. I was caught up in that at one point as well. What I realized is that it's not the number of words but the content of your story. If you have a story to tell and it is well told, the words are there. It's not something you need to keep track of. It takes A LOT of words to tell a good story and you shouldn't be worried about the numbers. Tell your story the only way you know how.

And that is by eating the elephant one bite at a time. I promise, you will find it very satisfying.

~ML

Friday, March 30, 2012

Robbi Sommers Bryant's Pink Diamond Interview and Guest Blog

Good morning people! Sinner here!

I hope you enjoyed my interview yesterday with Robbi.

Click here if you missed it ---> Robbi Sommers Bryant Pink Diamond Interview

Today Robbi was gracious enough to return and write a guest post on the criminal mind.

Click here for her fascinating post ---> Robbi Sommers Bryant on The Criminal Mind

Enjoy!

~~Sinner

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You Write What You (Think) You Know

Or ...

Writing is not what non-writers think it is :)

Some fiction writers will often take a relatively small incident from their lives and weave a whole story behind it. I know I do that. Thus, the thinking: you write what you know. But even that isn't always the case. You know the event you're weaving the story around very well because it happened to you; you lived it. However, that event can be too small to build a 300 page story upon, so your imagination kicks in.

This is where the "you think you know what you're writing about" comes in. This is where you find out that there is lots of research to be done. It is entirely possible to spend hours on the internet reading other people's research. You could conceivably write a story based solely on that kind of research, but I think writing a story that way gives the story a somewhat sterile feel. So what do you do then?

You talk to people; experts. In my case -- because I've been blessed with having lived a full life and having met people in all, and I mean all walks of life -- it means I harass those friends for detailed information. I don't know how they put up with me! Sometimes I can't put up with myself!

You might also physically visit sites that give you a feel for the places that will serve as background for your story; places you believe will give your story the right feel.

All of the above takes time. I am often asked "When's the next book coming out?" Divergent Lives is slated for release December 12, 2012. I am 160 pages in and the deeper I get into this story, the more questions I have for my expert friends. So, for this story, I'm working hard to meet a deadline I set for myself and trying not to overstay my welcome in my friends' brains; trying really hard not to get on their nerves!

Because I always try to come from a place of gratitude, I believe this is a good time to publicly thank those friends, particularly: J. Salgado-Reyes (who also doubles as my publisher), D. D'Avanzo, P. Bazin and B. Benjamin. These fine gents have been extremely patient with me having spent countless hours on the phone with me and exchanging emails in which they answered question after question about the minute-est detail I can come up with. Sometimes they did this at ungodly hours! Thank you!!

The people named above, along with many others, keep me excited on a daily basis! They keep me inspired! Buoyed! Even though this story was borne from a very small - tiny - incident in my life, the idea is engorged by my imagination. I live each and every one of my characters' emotions and I adopt their way of thinking as I write the story. It's hard to live out a character's life in a year's time when you haven't even lived out your own life. It's hard to capture in writing how a character might or might not react to a situation -- with or without justification for that action. But I will never stop doing this.

The plus is, that unlike your own life, you know the ending to the story you are writing.

~~ML



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

Have you ever thought about where you came from; what your ancestors' lives were like? Who they were as people?  Have you ever wondered what was hidden in your ancestral lineage?

I've talked a lot of my father and I have a pretty good idea of his immediate personal history as he had told me stories of what it was like for him to grow up in Puerto Rico in the '20's and early '30's. I knew that my paternal grandparents had quite a bit of land, which is still in the family and is currently inhabited by my cousin and his family. But I don't really know much about my grandparents, his parents, except that they were together for over 70 years, raised a family and that my grandmother never worked outside of the home. I knew they were devout Pentecostals, went to services pretty regularly and I knew they were strict.

A few years ago, I started to ask older members of my family questions about them, and there was one story that totally shattered my image of them as this elderly, saintly couple. There were no crimes committed, but based on the ideals that surrounded them, I thought this particular story was kinda out there and was considered shocking in that time period. I realized that they were just people just like everybody else who sometimes did things without thinking them through.

My mother is about to be 91 years old. Two years ago she had a stroke that has left her bedridden and dependent upon others to help her in her everyday living. My mother had a tough time growing up and she never talked about her childhood. I would only hear snippets of her life: She lived for a time with her maternal grandmother, and depending on who you talked to, her mother died either when she was 2 or when she was 12. I remember a conversation when I was much younger where I asked my mother why she never talked about her mother and she said it was too hard to talk about because she had died when my mother was very young. I asked what her name was. She responded "R. Lahongrais".  The surname sounded like a song to my young ears. I swore that when I grew up, I would take that name as my own. So I asked her to spell it for me, and she spelled it the way I spell it today. She said it was a French name -- from Haiti via France and that we were part Haitian.

When my father was sick in 2005, I began to again wonder where I came from. Here was this couple, my parents, who despite all of their struggles, were still together after 58 years -- though not without incident. I recalled conversations with my dad about his upbringing and childhood and it struck me that I knew very little about my mother's background except that her grandmother's last name was Longrais.

Yes, I just discovered last night that it was spelled differently in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  I took that name as my professional name because my intention was to try and find members of my mother's family and help reunite them.  No wonder no one's come forward! I think I misspelled it!

So, I went on ancestry.com and so far I have been able to track back my mother's family, on her mother's side to 1870 via the 1910 census and in 1910, the name is spelled the way I spell it today. Now, I'm REALLY curious! Questions are now germinating in my brain: I did a google search of my name's origin. I find conflicting information. There are some in Spain with the name, and some in France; but none in Haiti. Am I descendent of African or Haitian slaves that maybe took their name from their owner upon being freed? I always knew that I was probably a descendent of slaves. Now, I'm on my way to confirming that notion and it brings up even more questions! How far back can I go? And what of my mother's father? So far, I have hit a wall regarding him.

Let's see where this all leads me!  I'm putting together the puzzle of my life, my very existence and I can not wait to find out more!!

~~ML

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Andy Christofferson - Guest Blogger

Hello my friends!  Sinner here!

Did you enjoy yesterday's interview with Andy?  Hope so! I enjoyed interviewing him!  Today we welcome Andy back as our guest blogger with tips on time management for all you lovely writers!

Click here --->  Andy Christofferson on Time Management

Enjoy!!

~~Sinner

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Welcome Andy Christofferson!!

Hello my friends! Sinner here! Are you ready for another great interview? This guy is awesome!! And funny too! And cute...um. um...I'm not supposed to say that! Gotta keep it professional; but then again, everybody knows I'm crazy, right?

Right???

Right,. Ok. Let's do this people!! Click here to read all about it ----> Andy Christofferson

Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome Carmen DeSousa!

Hello everybody!  Sinner here for just a quick moment -- long enough to ask you to join me in welcoming our very special guest blogger today -- Carmen DeSousa!!

Click on the link below for this very special post.

Enjoy!!

Yes, I am a Christian, and Yes, I write Romantic-Suspense -- By Carmen DeSousa


~~Sinner

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pink Diamond Interview

Hello everybody!! The time has come for the first in our series of Pink Diamond interviews!!

Help us welcome Carmen DeSousa, author of She Belongs to me!!

Click here ----> Carmen DeSousa

--Sinner




Friday, January 27, 2012

Sinner's Ride (II) and Pink Diamond Interviews

Happy Friday my friends!

I wanted to just touch base with you all and give you some background information relating to Sinner's latest posting.

I've been doing alot of thinking about her. She's coming back and originally, the idea was to re-introduce her and her story at the end of the year. When we (Jorge Salgado-Reyes of Indie Authors Press) and I began to discuss this, I thought I would re-release the original with an alternate ending. However, the more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me that I needed to write a follow-up story, or Sinner's Ride II. This story would pick up where the original left off. At this point, I haven't decided whether this story will be a full novel or whether it will be a continuing series but I do believe that as it stands right now, Sinner's Ride could use a follow up. That is why I thought I'd let her conduct these Pink Diamond Interviews. I want to see what she's capable of and I want you, my followers to get to know her. (She's loving this, I'm sure!)

With regard to the interviews: I'd been wanting to do a series of interviews with my favorite people for a while now and have given this aspect of my new existence a lot of thought. Now that I've come up with an idea as to what I want to accomplish, I'm ready to share. My goal is to somehow express my gratitude to all the multi-talented artists I've met on Twitter and Facebook and I think the best way to do that is by sharing their work with you and possibly introduce you to something new.

I will be posting interviews on the 29th of each month followed by a guest post written by my interviewee the next day. I chose the 29th because Sinner's Ride was released April 29th and I'm calling them Pink Diamond Interviews because ... well, you know why :)  So, right now, these interviews will take place on a monthly basis because I am in the midst of writing my next story. Any interviews conducted when I'm not writing will appear more frequently.

The first will appear this coming Sunday and my guest is someone who has been a huge supporter, friend and kindred spirit. I hope you enjoy getting to know her and reading her blog post as much as I enjoyed working with her!

Disclaimer:  I am new at this and the process will be tweaked as we go along, so please, bear with me.

~~ ML

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Exciting News!!

Good evening my friends!! Sinner here!!

Hope everyone had a nice holiday season. I'm not a big Christmas person, but, you know, to each his own. I'm not going to hate! Just because I don't have anything to celebrate doesn't mean I have to be mad at those who do!

Moving on.....

It's a beautiful night here in the Bronx; a balmy (for January!) 50 degrees. It's a little humid and my hair is all frizzy, but it's ok because NOTHING can get me down tonight!! Do you want to know why? Huh? Well, get this! C'mon, get a little closer so I could whisper in your ear. I have great news to share!

Starting this Sunday, January 29th -- which, by the way, is the nine month anniversary, to the day, of my coming out -- I have been given a huge responsibility. Yep, that's right! Moi! I will be conducting the much anticipated monthly interview extravaganzas which I am officially dubbing "The Pink Diamond Interviews"! This event will take place every month on the 29th and will go for two days. Each author interviewed will also guest blog the next day. Isn't that awesome!?!?

I think it's interesting; not coincidental, because I don't believe in coincidence -- that nine months to the day after I come out, the same exact amount of time it takes for a baby to be born, that I would be "giving birth" to this new facet on this blog; this new aspect of Minnie's life? It's a sure sign I'm better, right? Otherwise, I wouldn't be trusted with this task, right? I can't mess this up; my life is such a mess already! I won't mess this up! I promise!

Jeez! Anyway, for the inaugural "Pink Diamond Interview" we have a very special author. Someone whose work Minnie enjoys and someone who makes her laugh with each email exchange they have. It's hysterical. I'm the fly on the wall who sees it all and I could tell you stories!!

This person -- well -- I'm not going to say who it is. I want it to be a surprise! He! He! He! But, I'm sure you will enjoy the interview as well as their blog post. So my friends, read it, enjoy it and leave comments!!! Do that with all the interviews!!

Good night people!!

Hasta pronto!!

~~Sinner