Taking the kids to a Spurs basketball game

The kids bounced with excitement as we walked toward the arena. Lexie talked of eating popcorn and cotton candy while Jase spoke of other basketball games he has attended.

IMG_4062Jase has been to quite a few Spurs basketball games – one he earned for having perfect attendance at school, one when we went with my brother last season and then numerous games when we had season tickets. My husband and I had bought the season tickets as date nights for us but a few times when my husband’s work interfered, Jase, my Dad or numerous friends went with me on different occasions.

IMG_4051This is Lexie’s second time to a game. The first one she earned for perfect attendance but wasn’t feeling well so I am not sure she enjoyed it that much. She isn’t much of a basketball watcher. She will look at the TV to see if the Spurs are winning but rarely watches the game for more than a few seconds.

IMG_4057

The Coyote

She spent the first few minutes of this game asking my husband questions about what was happening. After that she was more content to eat popcorn and cotton candy and play with the few Shopkins she brought with her than watch the game. She does love watching the Spurs mascot, the Coyote, as he does his antics during time outs.

I think it was just about half time when Lexie asked to borrow my husband’s phone to play a game. Jase was the same way when he first started going. He would make it about half the game and then get bored. Now at age 10, he can last the whole game and in fact, didn’t want to leave last night until the game was over even though the Spurs were up by 25 or 30 at the time. (They won by 29.)

Both kids were tired when we left the game. Most Spurs basketball home games begin at 7:30 p.m. and get over close to 10. But we chose to take the kids to this one because it was an earlier game (6 p.m.) and of course because it is against our inter-state rivals the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are not off to as good of a season as the Spurs. The Mavs have a 23-19 record while the Spurs at 36-6 are the currently the second-best team in the NBA.

IMG_4059Going to a Spurs game with the kids is a little different than just my husband and I going. We spend more time answering questions or looking at other things that are not the game. But with its hefty price tag (tickets, parking and food), we won’t be taking them to more than one game a season. I like that they asked to go this year and love Jase’s interest in the game. Yes, if we have any say in this, we are on our way to raising two more Spurs Basketball fans.

Today’s Featured Author – Jennifer Tubbiolo

Please welcome author Jennifer Tubbiolo to my blog. Her book, Protector, the third book in “The Narthex Academy Series,” was released in September 2015.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Orange County, California, but now I call Mount Pleasant, South Carolina home. We’ve been here since 2003. Two of my three kids were born here, so it’s definitely home now.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have been writing all my life and just putting it in files “for later”, but it wasn’t until I had a story idea I couldn’t get out of my head that I actually decided to talk to someone about it. I told a good friend of mine that I felt this story was different than all the story/book outlines “we all have” stored in files, never to be used. She looked at me (laughing), and said “Normal people don’t just have story outlines in files in there house. You are a writer!” Until that I had never considered actually pursuing writing seriously.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received?

The best writing advice I’ve ever received is to write, write, write! That will make you a better writer, and will help you, in the long run, sell more books. The worst advice I’ve ever received was probably to try to become traditionally published. Not that I don’t think traditional publishing is wrong for everyone, because it definitely isn’t. Just like self/indie publishing isn’t right for everyone.  But for me, it wasn’t the right route.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Since my protagonist is a 16-year-old boy, I don’t think I have much in common with him on the surface. But a lot of his insecurities and his inability to believe the good things people say about him may have some basis in my own experience,

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I have always been fascinated by the little known and little talked about Biblical supernatural stories. Kids grow up on the stories of Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and Daniel and the Lion’s Den, but as they get older, that gets boring. I love digging out stories of powerful evil sorcerers, epic battles of angels vs. demons, and paranormal gifts. Then I use them to create action/adventure stories for Asher, my protagonist, and his friends.

Please tell us about your current release.

My most current release is Protector, the third book in “The Narthex Academy Series.”

“The Narthex Academy Series” is set in South Carolina, in a town called Awendaw, just outside Charleston. Asher is a 16 year old who attends Narthex Academy, as 300 year old school with secrets. His father is a general in the Army Corps of Engineers, his step-mother is a think-tank operative turned florist, and his little brother is obsession with Spiderman. But because of an evil headmaster, Asher finds himself drawn into a battle of good vs. evil. He is surrounded by his friends, Maclaine, (who is his love interest if he can ever get himself to pursue it) and also a very powerful prophet, his friend, Jackson, who makes up for his lack of knowledge or common sense with loyalty and comic relief, and other characters that make up the “Seer Team.” In the beginning of the series, Asher is constantly trying to disengage himself from the battle, but now, in Protector, a close friend of his has been taken by the army of the Dark Prince and he has jumped in with both feet. Protector takes the reader from the charm of Charleston to the desert of Cairo, Egypt.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The next book in the series Warrior will be out in March and will follow Asher, the Warriors of the Third Heaven and the last remaining members of the Seer Team as the try to free their friends from the heavily guarded fortress of the Dark Prince. We will see the return of one of Asher’s most terrifying antagonists and this *may* be the book Asher builds up the courage to tell Maclaine how he feels about her. Then again… maybe not.

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

Yes! My all-time favorite book is actually a memoir. It’s A Trip to the Beach by Melinda Blanchard about her and her husband’s experience moving to Anguilla and beginning a restaurant there.

Book Blurb

ProtectorCover_Final for webIt has been written that at the end of the age dreams and visions will be poured out on the young and that the demonic forces of the Dark Prince will come against them in ways we have never seen before. It has already begun.

Sixteen-year-old Asher Haynes barely survived The Battle for the Gates. Now he and his friends are being called up by the Seer Team to join a new battle of good versus evil. This battle will take him far from his home in Charleston to the land of sorcery, secret societies, and the burning sand of the Sinai desert.

Three thousand years ago, with a very powerful weapon called the “Matteh” in his hand, a warrior named Moshe defeated the dark magic of Egypt’s sorcerers. Moshe horribly cursed their land, and freed their slaves. The Order of Heka, an ancient brotherhood led by descendants of the defeated sorcerers has been searching for the Matteh ever since.

If the Matteh comes under the control of The Order of Heka, the Dark Prince’s army will possess its power. Asher and his friends must risk everything to find it and protect it. This time, Seer Team agents are missing, the stakes are higher, and the desert is unforgiving.

About the Author

Tubbiolo-112Jennifer Tubbiolo is an Amazon.com bestselling author in Young Adult fiction. The books in her series, The Narthex Academy Series, are supernatural action adventure stories. They center on 16-year-old Asher Haynes, his friends Maclaine and Jackson, and their fight against the demonic army of the Dark Prince alongside the angel warriors of Elohim.

Jennifer majored in English at San Diego State University and wrote a thesis her senior year on children’s literature. Early on in her career, she was a children’s book buyer and worked in traditional publishing. She now writes full time. In addition to fiction, she is a contributor to print and online publications, and is a contributing writer of ReINVENT Magazine. Jennifer also wrote the script for a recent South Carolina Aquarium commercial.

She is the co-owner of Relevant Pages Press, an author-focused hybrid publisher in Charleston, South Carolina. RPP guides authors through writing, publishing, and marketing their books in this new frontier in the publishing industry.

Jennifer and her husband, Mickey, live in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, with their three children, and three dogs. They are avid New York Yankees fans and love to cook together.

You can buy Protector (and the rest of the series) on Amazon.

The need for a well-developed character

The difference between a well-developed character and one that is just two-dimensional or something everyone has already read about can be the difference between having a book readers enjoy and talk about and one that is put aside unfinished.

I have written several other posts on the importance of well-developed characters (Developing characters recap). This is an important aspect of writing or should I say writing well. Whether you are a planner who loves to spend time plotting and planning, or you like to dive right into your writing with nothing but a story idea, the one area you should take the time and consideration is on your characters.

What makes Jack the super spy the hard, grizzled man he is in your espionage thriller? What was his upbringing? What were his parents like? What training does he have?

Susie homemaker is an introvert who likes order and structure in your mystery series but what made her snoop into the lives of others? Where did she get her attention for detail? Why does she keep going into dangerous situations rather than calling for help?

All of these questions are things that you, the author, should know about your protagonist (as well as for your antagonist and any other major characters.)

The easiest way to know all these things is to fill out a character profile questionnaire. You can easily do a web search for one or check out the one here or here. (I always have problems with the ones I find online. Many of the information requested deals with someone from Earth present day. As a fantasy writer, college, car choices and whatnot do not apply.)

If these questionnaires don’t work for you, then as long as you know the information about your character’s back story and who they truly are, you will be fine. Just make sure that you balance between giving your character positive and negative attributes. You don’t want to go too far in either direction. Your hero needs flaws just as your villain needs a redeeming trait or characteristic (or two).

Over the next two weeks, I want to look a little more into positive and negative traits. I will write about how positive (or negative) traits may have formed as well as discuss how negative traits cause friction among characters. See you next week.

Learning to have patience with my ADHD child

No one ever said parenting was easy. It helps to have a fair amount of patience with kids. But patience is not my strong suit.

Luckily for me, our first born, Jase, was a good baby and toddler. He was eager to help out, thrived on praise and generally a good boy. He lulled us into believing this is what our next child would be like.

Now while Jase is our rule follower, I like to call Lexie our rule tester. If you give her a rule, she will see how far she can go.
Originally, I attributed it to just her personality. While Jase was quiet and reserved, she was loud and crazy. Then in April of last year, Lexie was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People with ADHD can have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active. Their brains simply work in a different way.

To manage Lexie’s ADHD, we put her on some medication. It still amazes me to see the difference in her behavior on and off the medicine.  And while that calms her down and allows her to focus while at school, the medication has worn off by the time she comes home.

Lexie’s diagnosis of ADHD makes perfect sense now. It also explains a lot of her behaviors that try my patience. Often I would have to remind her dozens of times to finish a task such as cleaning her room or continually prompt her to stay focused on the book she was reading aloud. Now I understand that she wasn’t doing these things to annoy me. She simply can’t control herself.

Now I don’t want to excuse every behavior she has by blaming it on ADHD, but as I read up on it, I realize that many of the things that other parents, grandparents and well-meaning friends may think can be conquered with the proper parenting or discipline, just can’t. Her brain simply works in a different way than Jase’s or mine.

I am not saying that she can’t learn what is acceptable. Of course, she can. But her internal regulation is more prone to impulsive behavior.  Her mind goes a hundred different ways at one time. This made sitting in school nearly impossible. But with medication she can focus on her learning.

patienceLately, I have been losing my patience with her. Maybe it is because she was on winter break and home for two weeks. But suddenly, I feel like I am always annoyed with her, and I am sure it shows.

I need to learn to breathe deeply when she interrupts. I should be gently reminding her not to do that rather than being exasperated that she has done it again and snapping at her or using that tone which clearly shows my annoyance with her.

I need to learn to let go of my frustrations with her. I need to base my expectation on her attention deficit-influenced behavior. I should expect that I will need to remind her often to do something. And that likely she will stray from her task if not reminded.

Just the other day, my husband asked her to pick up her toys in the hall. She made two trips to her room with toys before she got distracted by some other toy in her room. Time for a deep breath and a reminder to finish the job. But often we end up raising our voice and wondering why she didn’t do as we asked.

One tip I have seen often – whether your kid has ADHD or not – is to pick your battles carefully. Children with ADHD often have messy rooms. While I am not going to allow her room to become overrun with toys and laundry, I am not going to waste my time trying to get her to have everything in its place. I have decided it is enough that you can walk to her bed without stepping on a Lego or some other small item. I would rather concentrate on her academics rather than stress over her leaving her shoes in the middle of the floor (again).

I am hoping that realizing Lexie IS different and cannot control these behaviors will allow me to regain some of my patience with her. Re-framing my thinking to what she can and cannot do should lessen my frustration. So from now on, I will take time to breathe, relax and collect my thoughts before responding to Lexie’s behavior.

Today’s Featured Author – Gabriel Constans

Today I welcome author Gabriel Constans to my blog. Please enjoy an excerpt from his erotic European romance, Loving Annalise.

Excerpt

Drei

The morning sun opened our lust-covered eyes.  Tomas pulled me near in my half-asleep state.  The next thing I knew, we were engaged where we’d left off the night before.

“Damn,” I exclaimed.  “What a wonderful way to start the day!”

As I lingered in our pleasure, he threw on a robe and went into the kitchen to make breakfast.  I stared at the outline of his behind, appreciating his graceful stride as he disappeared from view.

We’d spent months planning this honeymoon.  The kids were with Mutti and Vater in Chicago for two weeks, and we’d rented the cabin in the beautiful Rockies three months in advance.  It stood above a shimmering clear lake, about an hour and a half outside Boulder.  The closest residence was a quarter-mile away, and we were well-stocked with every necessity.  The most essential item we’d packed with care was our freedom—the freedom to explore our love without guilt or remorse.  Our self-imposed exile was over.

The scents of fresh coffee, toast, and bacon, mixed with the sounds of pans, silverware, and clinking glass, drifted into the bedroom.  I pictured Tomas, with a smile of contentment, squeezing fresh orange juice and setting a tray.  His gentle humming, a rendition of an old English love song, mingled with the sounds and smells of the breakfast.

The sun’s rays shot through the window and reflected off my wedding ring.  It had been Omi’s when she’d been married and her mother’s—my great-grandmother’s—before that.  It was a small, simple diamond set in a silver band.  The light reflected a thousand colors of the rainbow.  I looked closer and was amazed by its brilliance.

Jens had been like that ring.  He’d overwhelmed me with his worldliness and intelligence.  But like a fake diamond, he soon lost his luster, and our love faded to a dull gray.

***

The bike vibrated between my legs as my arms encircled Jens’ waist.  I was scared, but also excited.  The wind blew through my hair as we wound through country roads and back to the city, ending up at a party with Jens’ buddies.  I was in the bathroom for half an hour combing out my snarled hair.  When I emerged, they were drinking, smoking and talking about the World Cup and politics.

“Germany doesn’t have a chance against Brazil.  Their forwards are too fast, and Germany’s defense can’t keep up,” said Jens’ friend Paul.

Jens shot back, “Speed isn’t everything, my friend.  Germany has strength.  They’ll wear them down.  You wait and see.”

“Yeah, look where strength got them: almost annihilated!” replied Paul.

“Why do you always bring in politics?” questioned Jens.  “World War II has nothing to do with soccer, you idiot.  And even if it did, you’d be wrong there, too.  Germany has rebuilt itself from the ground up and is one of the strongest economic powers in the world.  And mark my word, some day the Wall’s going to fall, and they’ll be unstoppable.”

“You must be drunk,” snorted Paul.  “The Wall’s never coming down.  You and I will be dead before that ever happens.  You think Khrushev is going to allow it?  No way!  Never!  The U.S. doesn’t really want it to fall either.  They’re scared to death of a united Germany.  Who can blame them?  It wasn’t that long ago that we were under their thumbs as well.”

“Paul, you have not only lost your mind, but your reasoning ability as well,” Jens grinned.  “Who did you say was drunk?”

They laughed and raised their glasses.  “Mark my words, NATO would love to see The Wall crumble, and by tomorrow night, you’ll see the new world champions of soccer celebrating in Berlin.”

The night went on.  Everyone grew louder and more adamant about his position.  I didn’t dare say a word.  I was too afraid to open my mouth, and I didn’t have a clue about half of what they were discussing.  I was happy to just be there and sit by “my man.”

Around one or two in the morning, we swerved back and forth to the hospital.  Jens dropped me off by the maintenance entrance.  I took off my shoes and snuck in like a burglar.  Kristan was wide awake and insisted I tell her “everything.”

“There’s not much to tell,” I said.  “We just drove around for awhile and went to see a friend of his.”

Annoyed with my reluctance, Kristan exclaimed, “Not much to tell!  Didn’t you even kiss him?”

“No, why would I?” I asked naively.  “We just met.”

She rolled her eyes.  “You’re impossible.”

I told her I was tired and went to bed.  I could tell she was annoyed with my answer and knew I’d kept a lot to myself.  I pulled the cover up to my neck, felt my legs still vibrating from the bike, and thought about Jens.  He must be the most wonderful creature on earth!  He’s so smart and handsome!  I’d die for him here and now.

Jens and I continued to escape the watchful eyes of my benefactors at least four to five times a month.  We went to movies, concerts and parties and took long walks.  Jens did most of the talking and usually decided where we’d go, but I was happier than I’d ever been.  Part of me enjoyed being told what to do and being taken care of.  As the oldest at home, I’d always been the responsible one.  Now I was the youngest.  Jens was seven years my senior.  I didn’t need to make any decisions—he was my mentor.  His presence in my life opened new vistas and possibilities.

Three months later, the inevitable question arose.  When he asks me to sleep with him, will I?  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I was sure he was the love of my life, and I had no reason to hold back.  He’d suggested I start taking the pill a month earlier, when I’d turned eighteen.  He’d obviously decided already.  And since I’d taken him up on his suggestion, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

“When” happened on a cold, windy, Friday night, after we’d gone to see the movie Easy Rider starring Peter Fonda.  Jens loved biker movies. I didn’t understand all the drug references or American slang, but the need to let loose and be carefree spoke to all cultures and languages.

After the movie, we went to Paul’s home and discovered that no one was there.  I learned later that they had it all planned.

Jens was very sweet and restrained himself from attacking me the instant we walked in the door.  I could see in his eyes that he was holding himself in check, waiting for me to “give in” and “let go.”

He kissed me hard, took off my sweater and shirt, but had trouble getting my pants down.  I stopped him and did it myself.  He took off his clothes.  I’d never seen a grown man naked, let alone one this excited.  I stifled a giggle, and we continued our play into the bedroom.

Kristan was right: it was awkward.  All the sensations were new.  It felt strange to have another person inside of me.  But this wasn’t just anyone—it was Jens!  I wanted to show him I was a real woman.  I’d never felt so close to another human being.

That night I went home and didn’t whisper a word to Kristan; it was too personal.  I associated sex with love and was sure we were moving down the yellow brick road to eternal wedded bliss, with adorable children following in rapid succession.  My head hit the pillow with a contented sigh.

Two days later, Jens took me to a ritzy downtown eatery known as Pole-Nord.  I entered with a waltz in my step and a glow in my heart.  I’d borrowed a silver, shimmering, low-cut dress from Kristan and spent hours on my hair and makeup.  My expectations and exuberance filled the room to capacity.  I felt like Jacqueline Onassis; I could have dazzled kings and queens with my brilliance.

As we sat waiting to order, Jens asked how I was doing.

“Great.  How do you think?” I winked.

“You look gorgeous,” he said, but without any spark.

“Thought you’d never notice.”  I smiled coyly.

After a few more moments of my intoxicated admiration and fawning, he began to unravel.

“I’ve got to tell you something,” he hinted.

“Yes…,” I stated with intimate glee.

“I’m not sure how,” he hesitated.

Here it comes, I thought.  It must be hard to propose.  I couldn’t wait much longer or I’d burst.

He moved his napkin on and off his lap several times, took a deep breath, and continued.  “Well, there’s no easy way to do this.”

“What is it, Jens?” I asked with a shy grin, knowing all the while.

“It’s tearing me up.”  He lowered his gaze and his voice.

A flicker of doubt crossed my mind.  “What’s tearing you up?”

How could asking me to marry him be tearing him up?

“She doesn’t mean a thing,” he blurted.

I physically recoiled like a gun.

“What?” I mumbled.  “She?”

“I was only eighteen,” he whispered.  “Her father made us.”

“Made you what?” I asked, hoping against hope.

He looked up.  “Get married, you idiot.  What do you think I’m trying to tell you?”

Ashamed at my own ignorance, I continued to react like a schoolgirl who’d been attacked by the class bully.  “Get married,” I stuttered.  “You . . . you were married?”

Impatient and red-faced, he glared, “Not was married.  I AM married.  Why are you making this so difficult?!”

“Difficult?!” I exclaimed.

I couldn’t believe my ears were being defiled with such obscene hypocrisy.  My outrage embedded itself in his floundering gills.  “You’re married!  You’re telling me you’re already married?!”  He nodded.  “You were married when we first went out . . . when you took me to see your friends . . . when you made love to me?!”   He looked away and nodded again.   “And I’m being difficult?!” I shouted.

I’m not sure why I didn’t stand up, kick him in the balls, and leave right then and there.  I was paralyzed with shock; I simply froze and watched the crap pour from his lips.

“Yeah, I’m married,” he confessed, “but she doesn’t mean a thing.  I’ve never loved her, and she knows it.  It’s no big secret.”

They have no secrets, I thought.  How nice.

“We’d have never have married if her father hadn’t threatened me,” he reiterated.  “Hell, we’d only known each other for four months.”

“What’s her name?” a voice asked, as if it hadn’t come from my own throat.

“Julia,” he said with a hint of appropriate distaste.

“Julia,” I repeated.  It felt sharp on my tongue.

“Yes, Julia,” he echoed.   “I’ve told her again and again that we’re through, but she doesn’t get it.  She and Franz will do fine on their own.  He’ll be much happier without us fighting all the time.”

Reluctantly, I asked, “Who’s Franz?”

“Our son,” he stated, as if everyone on earth knew.

My skin began to crawl.  I felt the blood drain from my face.  “Your son?” the mystery voice continued.  “You have a son?” I asked, as the aftershocks continued to rock my world.   “How old?”

“He’ll be seven this March,” he said with a hint of pride.

My voice left me, and I sat in stony silence.

He whined on and on.  “They mean nothing to me.  Do you hear me?  You’re the only one who matters.  You’ve got to believe me!  Don’t ever think of leaving.  I couldn’t live without you!”

Grabbing my hands tightly, he continued, “You’ve got to understand!”

“A son.  You have a son?”  I thought my head would shatter.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”  My insides were screaming.  My mind refused to believe the obvious, and I whispered with one last hope, “You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“I wish I was,” he said.   “I didn’t want to hurt you.   Can you ever forgive me?”

“No,” I said resolutely.  “Never!”

“It didn’t seem like the right time,” he blundered.  “I tried, but whenever you’d look at me with those beautiful blue eyes, I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t stand to make you cry.”

“And now’s a good time?” I replied rigidly.  “After all we’ve been through?!”

“I understand,” he said gloomily.  “I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry.”

Understand? I silently intoned, continuing to stare with a porcelain face at the blue velvet wall across the room.   He doesn’t understand squat!

“Don’t shut me out!” he implored, squeezing my hands tighter.  “Annalise.  Annalise!”  He shook my shoulders, and I returned to the pain of the moment.  “Say something.  Don’t just sit there; it’s driving me mad.”

“What do you want from me?” I asked flatly.

“Your love,” he lamented.  “Don’t let a past mistake cut us down.”

All my insecurities rushed to the surface, as my need for affection and direction overpowered any reason left in my hollow shell of a body.

An unknown force removed the adrenaline from my muscles and mind; I calmly looked Jens in the eye and said, mysteriously, “I could never leave you.”  I smiled unconsciously.   “We’ll work it out.”

I heard a sigh of relief exhale from his lungs like a gust of wind, as he suffocated me with kisses, hugs and reassurance.  “I knew you’d understand.  You’re one in a million, I tell ya . . . one in a million.”

I retained a semblance of misplaced dignity and insisted he divorce immediately.  “If not, we’re history!” I exclaimed, thinking I was being assertive and strong.

I had a rabid case of snow blindness, and I kept crawling up Mt. Illusion, ignoring all signs of the impending avalanche.

The rest of the evening was a drunken blur.  I doused the bonfire of my betrayed trust with an ocean of booze, demanding “one more” until I had to be carried home.  Throwing up on the floor of his precious BMW was the only inkling of justice I could manage.

True to his word, Jens divorced Julia within the month and maintained contact with his son by buying him expensive gifts, which he delivered with his usual warmth and personal touch . . . by way of the Postal Service.

***

Then I jumped off the mountain’s ledge into the fiery pit: I irrationally moved in with Jens and his seventy-four-year-old grandmother, Rochelle.  We inhabited the top floor, she the lowlands.

Rochelle was a little senile and talked as if we’d been married for years.  With her failing eyesight and wandering mind, she often called me Netti, as if I were her niece.  Honesty isn’t as meritorious as it’s always cracked up to be.  There are times when fudging the truth a little—or outright lying—is the most compassionate course.   If I’d attempted to tell Rochelle the truth about her grandson and me “living in sin,” I would have drained her pious Catholic heart of all her saintly blood.  She would have turned over in her grave—before she’d even died.

I never met Jens’ wife or son.  Apparently, Julia had more wits than I’d expected and skillfully kept her distance.

The only persistent threat to our fragile happiness, other than the relationship itself, was my family.  The thought of them discovering my living arrangement loomed over me like Godzilla about to attack Tokyo.  They had to know sooner or later.  And if the news didn’t come from me first, they’d hit the roof . . . and the floor . . . the walls . . . and then me.  So Jens and I arranged a little visit.  I told my family I was bringing my boyfriend, period.

The little visit went from disaster to disastrous.

Book Blurb

Loving AnnaliseAfter years of poverty, heartbreak, loss and betrayal, Tomas enters Annalise’s world and shatters the iron casing she’s erected around her heart. Tomas is kind, intelligent, romantic and handsome, but he’s also her husband’s brother!

Once Tomas and Annalise meet, they are forever intertwined and repeatedly ripped apart by fate, self-doubt and blackmail. Her husband, Jens, is a brilliant, jealous and manipulative scoundrel who keeps her psychologically under lock and key, until her passion for Tomas sets her free.

About the Author

Gabriel Constans is a novelist, journalist and screenwriter. Gabriel’s latest works of fiction include Loving Annalise, Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba, The Last Conception, Buddha’s Wife, and Saint Catherine’s Baby.

You can find out more about Gabriel on his website or blog. You can also follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Loving Annalise at Fast Pencil and Amazon.

My top 5 writing and my top 5 publishing posts from 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

As 2016 begins, I wanted to take a moment to list some of the better blog topics from 2015…Since I do both writing and publishing topics, I picked five of each to showcase – listed in no particular order. If you want to check out these blogs, simply click the “more” link next to that topic.

Top 5 Writing-related blogs

names1.) 4 tips to naming your characters – Selecting just the right name for your characters is a challenge for many. It is like naming a child times ten or twenty or even more. Because it isn’t just your protagonist, their sidekicks and the antagonist that needs monikers. It is all the people that populate your make-believe world. (To read more…)

2.) Novel writing: Dealing with a large cast of characters – For whatever reason, the list of characters in your book keeps expanding. It is getting so bad that you need a spreadsheet just to keep track of them. If you are struggling, think of what your poor reader might be going through. (To read more…)

3.) Choosing the setting for your novel – When many new authors begin writing, they focus on plot and character. While these are important, it is vital to consider the setting of your novel. (To read more…)

4.) Giving characters strong, real motivation – A good story is all about the believability. Readers can believe in dragons and magic or falling in love if the world and the characters an author builds feel real. I have often stressed making your characters realistic by giving them flaws. But this also means that their actions and motivations need to be realistic. (To read more…)

5.) Are Subplots Necessary? – A subplot is a mini-story woven into your main story. It could involve your main character having two things going on at the same time (such as finding love while solving a mystery) or it can involve secondary characters having their own issues. (To read more…)

Top 5 Publishing-related blogs 

1.) Investing in a professional-looking, eye-catching book cover – Two weeks ago I revisited one of my first posts about writing (Freezing time) or probably more aptly about finding the time to be a writer. Well, today,  I want to revisit one of my first posts on publishing – the all-important book cover. (To read more…)

CIMG05242.) Revisiting the all-important book blurb – The book blurb is one of the most important promotional tools you will write for your novel. This short piece of prose can entice someone to buy your novel – or pass it up. Because it is so important, you should spend a lot of time perfecting your novel’s blurb. (To read more…)

3.) Pre-Orders: Are they worth it? – When I published my first three novels, setting up a pre-order was not available to self-published authors. Since then, both Amazon and Smashwords have begun offering pre-orders. (To read more…)

4.) Do you need to copyright your self-published novel? – This is often a question that new self-published authors ask. And the quick answer is no. As soon the words leave your mind and you put them on paper (or type them into your computer file), it is already protected under U.S. copyright law. (To read more…)

5.) KDP Select free book promo results – I posted about trying out Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select back in January before I released my fourth full-length fantasy novel The Heir to Alexandria. It would be my second time trying the Kindle program. (I first tried it with my short story The Search.) (To read more…)

And here is to another great year of blogging about being a self-published author. If any of you have suggestions for topics, please leave them in the comments….after doing this for four years, I can certainly use the suggestions.