Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Melissa's heroine Izzy has a bit of a predicament. She's a blue-collar worker who's about to become a princess. For our blog today, Izzy is seeking guidance from a local paper's etiquette columnist.
Suddenly a Princess...
“The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S's: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy and Serenity.”—Emily Post
I'm a mechanic who is about to become royalty. Any guidance you can give me would be appreciated. Sincerely, a long-and-still-somewhat-lost Princess
Do you know how many women would love to be in your position? Do not fret, somewhat lost princess. Even Kate Middleton is taking princess lessons to prepare for her new role in the British monarchy.
The first thing to consider is your appearance. Wherever you go, royal watchers, royal haters and royals themselves will have their eyes locked on you. You must look and dress the part. Most princesses are on a first name basis with the top clothing designers by the time they go off to grammar school. In case you're wondering, this list of designers does not include Carhartt.
Mechanics wear grease covered coveralls and steel-toed shoes. While this is perfectly acceptable attire when working on cars at a garage, it would considered poor form to wear such clothing to an event where you represent the royal family. Certain social events, such as weddings and horse races, require hats. Often ones with feathers. Get used to it. Sometimes simplicity is best, but other times require feathers.
Princesses do not have problems with personal hygiene. Since you are a mechanic, you must be sure to keep your hands cleans. That means spotless and free from motor oil. Invest in an excellent hand cream. Princesses do not have chipped and broken nails. Regular manicures are a must. A dark polish can help hide stains beneath your fingernails.
When dining, the rules are the same whether you are eating at a state dinner with three hundred attendees or in your kitchen with three. Napkin in your lap. Wait for host/hostess to take the first bite. Eat with your mouth closed. Say please or thank you. Use your silverware from the outside in. Don't slurp your drink or soup. But I'll let you in on a little secret. As long as you are sensitive to the feelings of others around you, what fork you use when won't really matter.
Each country has its own rules of protocol. Learn them. Know them inside and out. Find the person who has been in the palace the longest, either royal or staff, and have them help you. Knowing the history and traditions of the monarchy are important. It will also give you time to prepare yourself in case you must name your first born after a royal ancestor with an odd name.
Be on good terms with the Queen, even if she makes the Disney stepmothers seem like Glenda the Good Witch. Do whatever it takes to get her on your side. The last thing you need is for your mother-in-law to be screaming, "Off with her head."
People will look up to you as a role model. Young girls and women will emulate you. Act accordingly. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Be sympathetic and sincere with everyone you meet. Don't forget you weren't always royalty.
Finally, don't allow yourself to be swallowed whole by the princess you become. Hold on to your dreams and what brings you joy, even if that is occasionally grease-covered hands. Remember to laugh, not just smile on cue. Jump in a mud puddle or run barefoot through the grass when you're alone. And sometimes when you're not.
Good luck, Princess. I hope a happily ever after is in your future!Blurb
It's not every day that a tall, dark, handsome prince strides into your workshop and announces he's your husband! Mechanic Izzy nearly drops her wrench. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she'd become a princess!
Independent Izzy struggles with exchanging her oil-stained overalls for silken gowns, let alone becoming responsible for an entire country! Yet her attraction to Prince Niko tempts her further into the fairy tale. And then two small surprises change all the rules of the game....
Nikola Tomislav Kresimir, Crown Prince of Vernonia, strode past his father's assistant and the two palace guards standing watch. As soon as he entered the king's office, Niko heard the door close behind him.
Niko didn't have time for another impromptu assignment. His in-box was overflowing. The upcoming trade conference was turning into a logistical nightmare. Princess Julianna of Aliestle was patiently waiting to have lunch with him.
He was used to juggling competing demands, thrived on them actually, but the collar of his dress shirt seemed to have shrunk two inches since he'd left his own office three minutes ago. He tugged on his tie.
Not that it lessened his frustration level.
A summons from the king trumped everything else and often messed up Niko's schedule for the rest of the day, sometimes week. Not to mention the havoc royal protocol played with his priority of turning their provincial country into a modern nation. But he followed his father's orders out of respect and for the good of the country.
King Dmitar sat behind his large mahogany desk staring at a manila file folder in his hands. His once dark hair was now as white as the snowcapped peaks of the Balkans and Carpathians. His face, like Niko's own, was as rugged as those same mountain ranges. His wire-rimmed reading glasses rested low on his nose, making him look more like a professor than a soldier or a king who had spent the majority of his rule trying to unite his country against all odds.
Niko stood ten feet away, waiting.
A breeze blew through an open window, carrying the sweet fragrance of flowers from the royal gardens. A vast improvement over the acrid smell of gunpowder and sickening scent of blood that used to taint the air around here.
Five years had passed since the ratification of the peace treaty. Tensions between the two warring factions erupted occasionally, but peace prevailed. Niko intended to ensure it always would. A totally united Vernonia, however, seemed like a far off dream. A fairy tale, really.
Not wanting to waste more time, he cleared his throat. His father looked up. Dark circles ringed his eyes. "You sent for me, sir," Niko said.
The lines on his father's face seemed deeper, more pronounced, than they used to be. The conflict had aged him; so had grief. But still the corners of his mouth curved upward into a rare smile. "I have good news, my son."
The best news would be that Vernonia had been accepted into the European Union, but Niko knew they still had too many improvement projects to complete first. He stepped closer to the desk. "I've spent the morning wading through the demands of the trade delegations. Good news will be a welcome relief, Father."
"Your bride box has been located."
Not located. Found.
The unexpected news sunk in. Niko respected the past, but the fact something as important as his marriage was dependent on such on antiquated custom as presenting his wife a family heirloom on their wedding day irritated him. Traditions could only take his country so far. "You are certain it is mine?"
"As certain as we can be until we have the box in hand."
His bride box hadn't been seen in over twenty years. Not since the collapse of the Soviet Union brought turmoil to many Balkan countries. Vernonia had avoided the ethnic strife that ravaged many of its neighbors, but terrorist acts had led to a deadly civil war that tore the country apart and nearly destroyed its economy. "Where is the box?"
"The United States." His father adjusted his glasses and studied the folder. "Charlotte, North Carolina, to be exact."
"A long way from home."
The location wasn't really important. Niko would have the box back. Tradition—and his father—would be satisfied. Nothing would stand in the way of Niko's marriage to Julianna. He could finally fulfill his duty as his parents and people wished him to do. The marriage would give him the means and opportunity to do what he wanted—needed—to do with Vernonia.
Plans formed in his mind, but he couldn't get too far ahead of himself. Nothing could happen until he had possession of the box. "How was it discovered?"
"The internet." His father shuffled through papers in the file. "Someone posted on an antiques forum looking for the key. After a few exchanges verifying the seriousness of our interest, we were sent a picture that confirmed our suspicions. The box is yours."
"Incredible." Niko considered the number of private investigators and treasure hunters hired to find the heirloom. He laughed at the irony. "Technology to the rescue of an Old World custom."
"Technology may be useful at times, but our people desire tradition. You must remember that when you wear the crown."
"Everything I've ever done has been for Vernonia." Niko's family had ruled for eight centuries. The country was in their blood and hearts. Duty always came first. "But we must modernize if we are to succeed in the twenty-first century."
"Yet you have agreed to an arranged marriage."
He shrugged, but the last thing he felt was indifference. His marriage would act as a bridge between the past and the future. He might not be the United Kingdom's Prince William, but Niko had the attention of royal watchers. The publicity surrounding a royal wedding would be good for his country's nascent tourist industry. He would use whatever he could to Vernonia's advantage. "I may not be a stickler for tradition, Father, but I will always do what is best for the country."
"As will I." His father placed the folder on his desk. "You have the key."
"Of course, sir." Niko always had the key. He had been wearing the damn thing ever since the decree that he could never take it off twenty odd years ago. The only thing that had changed since then was the size of the chain. He pulled the thick silver one from beneath his shirt. A key that looked more like a cross and heart welded together dangled from his fingers. "Can I finally stop wearing the necklace now?"
"No." The word resonated through the spacious office until the tapestries on the wall swallowed the sound. "You will need the key when you go to North Carolina tomorrow."
"Send Jovan. I can't travel to the United States right now. I'm needed here," Niko countered. "My schedule is full. Princess Julianna is here."
"The box is yours," his father said. "You will be the one to bring it home. The travel arrangements have already been made. Your aide will be provided with an itinerary and the necessary information."
Niko bit his tongue. Further resistance would be futile. The king's word was final even if it made little sense under the current circumstances. "Fine, but you do realize I have never seen the box."
"You have seen it. You were a child, so you don't remember."
What Niko remembered from his childhood and early adulthood was war, the one thing he wanted and hoped to forget. Keeping peace and modernizing Vernonia were his main goals now. Though the parliament wanted him to provide an heir. Might as well get on with that, now that nothing stood in his way of marrying. Speaking of which…
"Do you wish for me to propose to Julianna before I leave for America or upon my return, Father?"
The king's face reddened. "There shall be no official proposal."
"What?" Niko remembered the open window and the people on the other side of the office door. He lowered his voice. "We've spent months negotiating with the Council of Elders in Aliestle. Even the Separatists are in favor of the marriage since King Alaric supported them during the conflict. The only obstacle to marriage has been the bride box. A delay will send the wrong—"
Frustration mounted. Niko had searched for a suitable bride for almost a year. He didn't want to have to start over. "You agreed Julianna is an excellent choice for a wife and the future queen of Vernonia. That is why finding the bride box has been a priority."
"Julianna is more than suitable to be queen, but…" His father removed his glasses and rubbed his tired-looking eyes. "Are you in love with her?"
Love? Niko was surprised his traditional father had broached the subject. His parents' marriage hadn't been a love match. Niko had never expected one for himself after his older brother, Stefan, had been killed during the conflict.
"We get along well. She's beautiful and intelligent. I will be content with her as my wife," Niko stated honestly. He'd always known as crown prince he would marry for Vernonia's good, not his own. "The publicity surrounding a royal wedding will increase our visibility to the tourist industry. Most importantly, an alliance with Aliestle will give Vernonia the capital it requires to complete rebuilding. That will help our efforts to join the European Union."
"You've looked at all angles."
Niko bowed his head. "As you taught me, Father."
"And Julianna. Are her feelings engaged?"
"She.cares for me," Niko answered carefully. "As I do for her. She understands what is expected."
"But is she in love with you?"
Uncomfortable, Niko shifted his weight between his feet. "You've never spoken about love before. Only duty and what a state marriage would entail."
"You are old enough to know whether a woman has feelings for you or not. Answer my question."
Niko considered his outing with Julianna yesterday afternoon. They'd left their security detail on the shore and sailed on the lake. He'd kissed her for the first time. The kiss had been…pleasant, but Julianna seemed more interested in sailing than kissing him again. "I do not believe she is in love with me. In fact, I'm certain she isn't."
"I do not understand what is going on, sir. If something has changed with Vernonia's relationship to Aliestle—"
"Nothing has changed there." His father's drawn out sigh would have made the parliament members' knees tremble beneath their heavy robes. "But a slight…complication in regards to you marrying Julianna has arisen."
Niko's muscles tensed. "What kind of complication?"
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Winnie the Pooh quote
Blogs of note:
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I'm blogging today at Night Writers.
If you're stopping by...I'm blogging on rescuing cats in trees so if you followed the adventures of Dennis the Menace you will have seen some of it before.
Enjoy your Sunday and don't forget the blogs at:
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The lovely and talented Anny Cook bequeathed me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Ms. Anny:)
To receive the award I must link back to the giver, Ms. Anny Cook.
And then tell seven things about myself.
I'm supposed to tell you seven secrets about myself, but if I told you they wouldn't be secrets any longer, but I will share seven pieces of info. about myself.
1. I would love to go to Seattle.
2. I was a huge fan of Remington Steele.
3. I'm a vegetarian but don't care for tomatoes, okra or mushrooms.
4. I met Anny Cook, Cindy Spencer Pape and Regina Carlysle at Romanticon this year.
5. I take Kickboxing lessons.
6. My birthday cake was a triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing topped with coconut.
7. I'm a Capricorn.
And lastly I get to nominate other bloggers for the honor.
an honorary to Amarinda Jones. Why honorary? Because Amarinda hates this sort of thing and since its honorary, Amarinda you don't have to do anything.
We all know there’s crazy and there’s holy crap crazy. While we may all have our holy crap crazy moments, hopefully, most of us average out to moderately crazy. I like the phrase crazy is an art form because to me it’s about embracing individuality even if it’s outside the norm and others might think it’s nuts. Like everything else in life, you need to excel at your individuality. You need to feel confident. Look at women like Madonna and Cher. They’ve led colorful lives because they didn’t conform to “normal” by others’ definition. They embrace who they truly are, their “normal.” It has pissed people off or made others question their values or morality, but who cares? Cher and Madonna have the right to be how they want without others judging them. And so do we.
Chiczofrenia – crazy is an art form – released January 2011.
Chiczofrenic is the term for the woman who is purposeful and intentional in how crazy her life may be. The goal with this book is to recognize many women drive themselves crazy, intentionally, by trying to be all they can. I firmly believe we can have it all. A great relationship, being a great mom, keeping a good house (if that’s important to you), being a career woman, following your dreams, working out, eating right, and many more. Women seem to have the knack for how to manage it all and not go crazy. Women seem to always take on more and more…and are successful at it.
Women have tried forever to pretend they fit in the norm even when the norm wasn’t what they wanted. I want women to embrace that more - without caring what anyone thinks. Learn to laugh at your own craziness and be cool at the same time. Be the strong individual you want to be while looking like a million bucks.
Being a woman is difficult and is a constant evolution and journey of self discovery. It’s not always an easy journey and through the process you realize everyone has her own issues. Her own brand of crazy, which is my own kind of normal. Crazy but embracing it.
Book: $14.95 Available on www.lainaturner.com
E-Book: $9.95 Available on Kindle and Smashwords
Commenters are eligible to win the virtual book tour: Laina will be giving away three $40 Visa gift cards during her tour: one to a randomly drawn commenter in each of the following periods: January 31-February 25; February 28-March 25; March 28-April 22.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Night Writers will be hosting a contest February 14th. The winner will receive 7 downloads, a paper copy of DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC, a notebook and your name in one of Kerri Nelson's upcoming manuscripts.
Other fun blogs:
Cindy Spencer Pape
Thursday, February 3, 2011
With us today is TONI SWEENEY. Toni, tell us about your current project.
Glad to, Sandra. You know we writers love to brag about our books! My latest novel is Wizard’s Wife, a fantasy. It starts off harmlessly enough, as a simple romance centering around the problems newlyweds David and Megan McMuir face when an unexpected pregnancy occurs, and quickly changes into an other-world fantasy as David reveals to his new wife some very startling facts about himself because of that pregnancy…about what he is and why he’s been sent to Earth. He’s a faery, it turns out, a faery wizard, complete with gossamer wings and antenna, spilling woofle-dust all over the carpet, and he’s been sent from his home in another dimension to protect the earth from an invasion by an evil fae wizard.
What will I as a reader like best about your hero?
David’s handsome, of course; being a fae, he’s naturally good-looking. And he loves his wife, so much in fact, that he goes against his father’s wishes to marry her. It’s because he realizes the problems a fae-mortal marriage holds that he suggests they practice birth control but when he discovers such precautions don’t work when one of the partners is a supernatural, he accepts the situation readily enough. Though at first, he’s stunned, he rallies, and his attitude becomes: “Hey, so we’re having a halfling. No prob. We’ll love him anyway.” Sometimes, however, David is just a little too optimistic.
He keeps a lot of secrets from Megan, but it’s only because he believes if she found out, it would hurt her, so, he just stays silent. There’s always the possibility those secrets may one day rear their ugly heads and bite but David’s confident if and when such a thing happens, he’ll be able to handle it. That doesn’t mean his sins of omission don’t weight heavily upon him, however.
When it gets to the bottom line, however, David’s a very brave man who’ll do whatever it takes to protect his beloved wife and unborn child.
How will women identify with your heroine?
Megan’s a mortal, and while she’s a bit of a romantic—why else would she have fallen in love with David at first sight?—she doesn’t allow herself to get swept away by his silver-tongued blarney and hop right into bed with him. Theirs is a pretty chaste courtship, in fact, mostly because of the way David acts when he’s around her but once they’re married—watch out! The lad makes up for lost time. When he confesses he’s a fae, she doesn’t believe it, preferring to think her husband’s delusional rather than that he’s a faery wizard. It takes some fancy magic on his part before she actually accepts the fact, and even then, she makes him promise he won’t use any more glamour on her. She wants to see everything as it actually is.
When David returns to his own dimension to prepare for the coming invasion, Megan follows. Not because she’s curious about the realm of Ais Linn,--she’s scared to death, in fact—but because she thinks she should be with her husband, and will be safer there than in her own world. After all, when an enemy sends a bain sidhe galloping through the halls of your home, why not go to the place where such a thing is a common occurrence and people know how to deal with it?
Megan’s resourceful and determined, and quick with a smart comeback. If David’s a warrior, she’s just as brave in her own mortal way.
What is your favorite genre to write in?
Any of the speculative genres: Sci-fi, fantasy, horror, because there’s so much leeway to write it your own way. Of course, if you’re writing about vampires or werewolves or faeries, there are some basic rules you have to follow but you have the freedom to tweak those rules a lot and make a new highway, and who’s to say it can’t be so? In sci-fi, that’s even more so. You can create entire galaxies, planets, and species, and boldly go where no writer has gone before.
.Do you think a writer needs an agent?
Some people say yes, some no; I think, if you’re wanting to run with the Big Boys, an agent is a necessity and that’s a pity. It’s my opinion the big publishing houses are denying them some very good talent by adhering to that iron-clad rule. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve been turned down by 24 agents thus far. The next Margaret Mitchell or Stephen King is probably standing there on the other side of the transom right now, begging to be let in but their “no unagented material” law keeps them from answering the door. Too bad. Their loss, some small publisher’s gain.
What are your thoughts on e – pubs?
I may sound like a dog in the manger since I have several books available as e-books only, but I feel the publishers which have only e-books are doing themselves and their reading audience a great disservice. Out of 12 people I know, 3 don’t have computers, and only 1 has an e-reader, and that one is myself. A good many people, especially older readers, don’t have access to e-publications but they do read and will buy printed novels readily. Any publisher which does away with its printed books because “e-books are the way of the future” is going to lose a great many customers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m certain that one day, printed matter will be a novelty and e-readers will replace them (and I’ve noted that fact in several of my sci-fi stories), but I don’t believe it’s going to be anytime soon. At least not until e-readers are much cheaper and there’s a lot less “mystery” attached to obtaining downloads. They’re certainly going to make books a lot cheaper and that will, coincidentally, make them more available in the long run. I began writing novels because I couldn’t afford to buy them. If e-reads had been available back then, I might not ever have written that first book. Scary thought!
.What books of yours are currently for sale and where can a reader buy them?
How much space do we have? LOL Here’s the 411 on my writing credits:
The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic series (3 books so far)
The Adventures of Sinbad series (3 books so far)
Walk the Shadow Trail
Vengeance from Eden
Murder in Old Blood
The Rose and the Dragon
Dragon in Chains
“Love Vampire Style”
“Demon in Blue Jeans”
Wizard’s Wife was released January 15, 2011, by Class Act Books and is available in both print and e-version. For a glimpse into Chapter One, click here http://www.classactbooks.com/The-Wizards-Wife-Trade-by-Toni-V-Sweeney_p_269.html
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I'll be doing a four-part interview series at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem. Hope to see you there.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Moon Watchers contest.
Blogs to visit: