Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Promotion: Fun with banners

It's been going around that social media posts with pictures are twice or more times as likely to get read and re-posted than those that are just text.  (Are we becoming and online picturebook people?)  I've been seeing this work effectively with Cheryl Tardif and her book, Submerged, and Beth Barany recommends a book tour banner, so I thought I'd give it a try for Greater Treasures.

I made this in Photoshop Elements 11, using the title graphics and the background my cover artist was kind enough to give me.  Thanks Sarah ( I was so tickled with it, I decided I'd make some others to hold reviews, one-liners, etc.  Here's an example:

Once I finished that, I thought, I should do this for some other books, too.  So I started on Live and Let Fly, which is also a DragonEye novel.  This background is actually a marble scheme I pulled from  I used filters to change the colors.  (It's the Enhance menu in PSE11.)  I'm still playing with the color scheme:

The nice thing is, I can make a template banner and easily change the captionsI think they'll spruce up my facebook page, and I can use them on my websites and for other people's blogs.  Maybe if I get ambitious, I'll make some with just Vern and use it for some of his stock sayings. 

What do you think?  Is this something that gets your attention?  Would you want to do it for your books?  How would you use them?  Let's share some ideas.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Psychological Benefits of Circuit Training

It's been a frustrating couple of days on several levels.  Monday started with a double-barrel shotgun of irritations, and no sign of getting better...and it was only eight in the morning.  I was so late to my circuit training class, I almost decided just to skip for the day and go back to bed.  However, I made myself go to the later class instead, even though I was feeling the time pressure.  Why?  I'm finding that working out helps me feel better about myself.

There are a couple of things at work here.  Sure, as you get healthier, it can affect your mood; and sure, seeing my body shape up is good for my self-image.  However, today, it was something more basic.

If I worked out for the hour, I would have accomplished something.

That's been the kicker for me these past few days.  Sometimes, it seems that no matter how hard I work, how careful I am, how well I follow the Recipe for Success, something or someone beyond my control steps in to declare me inadequate or show me that I'm not going to succeed, anyway.  Or I'll do everything right, and still not succeed for who-knows-why.  When I'm working out, however, the goals are clear--jump on the box as many times as you can in 60 seconds.  Run at your fastest pace for a minute.  Did it without passing out or throwing up?  Increase the speed!  Lift as much weight as you can for as many reps as you can.

I have an personal trainer/instructor who can show me if I'm doing something wrong, but really, it's pretty cut and dried:  Grab the weights, stand like this, lift, lower, repeat.  I'm not in competition with anyone but myself, so if I improve or even just persevere through the hour, I succeeded.  No one judges my performance, misinterprets what I'm doing, or scolds me publicly.

Even on the weeks when I gain in weight or inches, I can point to why--the donut, the burrito.  There's no mystery why I failed, and if I failed (as in meeting the weekly goal), it was not from some outside influence, mysterious or not.

So despite the sweat and the achy muscles and how I shiver when I cool down, there's something comforting about circuit training.  I'm glad I went on Monday.  I still spent much of the day in a crappy mood feeling like nothing was going my way, but at least that hour of exercise was a success.

Monday, March 25, 2013

When not to blog..and the Star Trek trailer

I've had this blog open all weekend, and now, it's 9:30 pm on Sunday, and I've still not written it.  It's not because I don't have anything to say.  It's just that I don't want to blog about any of it.

Blogs are public, and as an introvert, I am wary of my public face.  To me, blogs are not the place to divulge certain things because...

...they are petty.  I might unload these on a friend, or maybe in a small chat with other writers I trust.  However, I don't want to air them to the world at large.  In addition to the fact that they make me look petty--and I can be, but I don't need to advertise that!--they can be hurtful to others.  I HATE HATE HATE hurting people, especially inadvertently.  I seem to do that enough, anyway.

...they are private.  Some folks love sharing their inner selves. I only do that with close friends.  Also, I'm wary of divulging too much of myself.

...they are hurtful.  We all think spiteful thoughts sometimes.  Not all are petty, either, but that doesn't mean I need to share.

...others have already said it better than I.  If I know someone has, there just seems no point in beating a dead horse.

Anyway, some weeks that means I have a head full of thoughts, and nothing to blog.  Here's the latest Star Trek trailer instead.  I'm geeking out a bit that the actor who plays Sherlock Holmes is the villain.  Love his voice!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Circuit Torture, Week 10, RUN!

Today's post really isn't funny, so if it helps, imagine me on the treadmill while you read this.  Honestly, I run like Velma on Scooby Do.

I hate running.  I really do.  I hate the pounding of my feet; I hate being out of breath, and I hate the monotony of it.  I would rather do 10 minutes of sit-ups than a 10-minute run.  My knees hate it, too.  So it's probably no surprise that once I left the Air Force and it's mandatory mile-and-a-half run, I never jogged or sped off unless it was after a wayward Fabian child. 

Guess what's an integral part of circuit torture?  At least it's only one to three minutes on the treadmill.  Not a lot of time to get seriously discouraged by the panting and the monotony.  However, over the past 20 years, everything associated with running has deteriorated, including my knees.  I discovered to my dismay (but not surprise) that I could barely manage 30 seconds at a 4.5 level on the treadmill my first week.  (That's about a 15-minute mile rate.  To compare, in the Air Force, I ran the mile and a half in 13:45.  And that's not a great score.)

Still, I kept doing as best I can, and my personal torturer, Ryion, kept pushing me and kept things varied--sprints one day, slow jog on a high incline the next, straight run after that.  One minute today, three tomorrow, two the next day...  I got shin splints (remember those from my military career, too), so I went to the elliptical for a couple of weeks, again pushing myself, trying the treadmill a day before going back tot he elliptical.  Basically just not stopping.

Today, I ran at an 8:13 mile pace for two minutes after having worked out for an entire hour, including running at slower paces.

I feel pretty good about that, and I've discovered when it's only for a minute or two at a time, I kind of like running.

The moral of the story, of course, is that you shouldn't let a discouraging beginning deter you.  With slow and steady progress, you can make great strides.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Great Weight Write-Off: This week's winner, Grace Bridges!

This weeks' winner is Grace Bridges.  Grace had a huge setback shortly after tarting the first challenge with us, when she wrecked her leg doing aerobics (or was it zumba?  Either way, it was painful!)  For many weeks while we were sweating physical training, she was sweating physical therapy.  Once her doctor declared her fit to start working out, provided she take it slowly, she started swimming and doing whatever she could.  She's not only recovered full use of her leg, but has lost over two pounds.  Congrats, Grace!

Grace has asked us to tour Avenir Eclectia, a short story collection.  Now, I have a couple of flash pieces in here, but let me tell you, when I read the book. I was blown away.  Grace accomplished the highly improbable.

Imagine setting up a world (or in this case, a solar system)--just the bare bones, a few rules, a little landscaping, some basic history, and a couple of beasts.  Then, you invite ANYONE to write in it.  Flash stories.  Snippets.  Scenes hither and yon.  Maybe relating to each other; maybe not.  Meanwhile, other than checking for obvious contradictions, you just sit back and watch the world evolve.

And then, when things are looking pretty good, you select some of the stories--by dozens of authors involving a multitude of characters, locations, and events--and string them into a coherent novelesque story collection.

Ladies and gentlemen, Avenir Eclectia:

Avenir Eclectia: The colony the universe forgot. This novel-length anthology contains 138 microfiction stories by 18 authors, tales of space and planetside and the people who live there - each tale weaving into the others to create an overall tapestry image of the colony. Space station bureaucrats and rag-tag orphans, moon mining, underwater cities, telepathic sea creatures, giant bugs and extreme seasons are just the beginning. Get the paperback (254 pages) at for just $5.98 or the ebook for $2.99. Edited by Grace Bridges and Travis Perry, and published by Splashdown Books. New microfiction stories also appear twice weekly for free at


Monday, March 18, 2013

Dragons Don't understand Come-Ons

This is an article I wrote for a blog when Live and Let Fly came out in e-book in 2011.  I love this book, I really do.  Vern is witty and fun, the plot is a roller-coaster of close scrapes and touching scenes, and the characters gave me their best.  Sadly, it has not sold well, and won't be going into print.  I've gotten back the print rights and may self-pub it, because I like having hard copies of my books.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the fun, and if you enjoy this and like e-books, please check it out at or

My latest book, Live and Let Fly, is a super-spy spoof starring my dragon detective, Vern.  I’ve written a lot of Vern’s cases over the years, but this time, Vern’s going to have to travel to places in the Mundane world working as an undercover agent.

There’s a problem being an undercover agent in our world, however.  Dragons just don’t blend in with the population.  So I had to turn Vern human.

Vern has been human once before, thanks to a demon’s curse, but it was a harrowing and confusing experience that he’d mostly forgotten.  (You can only imagine what it takes to make a dragon forget an experience.)  This time, however, holy magic transforms him for a good cause.  Nonetheless, it’s kind of a harrowing experience for him, especially when he discovers that he looks the same as when he was cursed—a rather gorgeous man with dark, Irish looks.  He panics and whines until an exasperated Sister Grace suggests they stuff him full of sweets until he gets fat and develops acne.

     “Will that work?”
     “No, you silly dragon, and that’s the point!  You have this form because if you were human, that’s the form God would have given you.  It’s a trustworthy face.  Just be careful around the ladies.”

So, not only does he have to deal with uncomfortable shoes, intercontinental plane flights in coach, and the moniker “Drake Muldoon,” he’s got to watch out for women.  Only problem is, he’s a dragon—androgynous and sexless.  What’s he know?

Poolside at the luxurious island resort, Vern manages to fend off one interested lady by telling her he’s “devoted” to someone.  Later, he and his partner, Charlie, have to meet their contact at a big hotel party.  They pass by a couple necking behind a potted plant, but it doesn’t phase him.  As a dragon, he’s seen plenty of humans mating.  He can handle the dancing part, too.  Dragons love to dance, although their dancing is aerial, aggressive, and thoroughly enjoyable, but also completely without sexual overtones.  Thus, when he and one of the beautiful women he’d been dancing with head off the floor and to the bar for a drink, he’s thinking they’re going to cool off.

Not quite what she had in mind.

"Better," I sighed. She started to order us some margaritas, but I stopped her and ordered an iced coffee. "If I have anything alcoholic now, I'll be asleep before I hit my bed," I told her.
"Can't have that," she murmured. "So, do you have plans for Festival? I hear it's a fascinating ceremony." She dragged the word "fascinating" out in a way I probably should have recognized but didn't. Hey, I was tired.
I shrugged. "My friend Nigel's not much for parties. We'll probably just hang around the hotel."
"Doing what? The power's going to be off, you know. For the whole weekend, we're going to live like the primitives."
"Kirsti should like that," I murmured. Yeah, I was tired, and my legs felt like lead. If I'd been a dragon, I would have flexed my claws to work out some of the kinks; instead, I pointed and flexed my toes just to keep them from stiffening up.
The bartender gave us our drinks, and we clicked glasses. The cold coffee felt wonderful going down my throat. I took three big swallows before I realized I was being careless. After all, what's the cliché in these cases? I rolled my next sip around my tongue, testing for any trace of drugs. Aliciya watched me, a shy smile on her lips, fingers twisting her hair. I grinned back.
She leaned forward and started rubbing my knee. That felt good.
I purred. Dragon brain, dragon reaction. I shut my eyes and relaxed.
"Hey, you, don’t fall asleep here. I've got to ask you something."
Oops. I sat up and leaned on my elbows. I looked straight into her eyes so she'd know I was paying attention. "What's that?"
"Well, Kirsti's sweet, so she just sort of takes things at face value, but I want to know. You're not married?"
Huh? "No."
"Engaged?" She leaned a little closer.
I shook my head.
"So, just how...devoted...are you?" She licked her lips.
That's when I realized, she wanted to drag me behind the potted plant!
Oh, oh.
Dragon brain plus human body equals vocal cord short circuit. All that came out of my mouth as she leaned closer was, "uhhhh..."

Vern gets out of it, though not quite in the way he expected.  I hope you’ll read about it and all his other close calls as a human and a dragon in Live and Let Fly.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weight Loss Update 2: How Real People Lose Weight

Can you believe it?  It's been eight weeks since I started my exercise program (circuit training, affectionately known here as circuit torture), and changed some dietary habits to lose some of this blubber I've been carrying around for a decade.

Here's my story:  Back in 2002, I weighed 120-125 pounds and was in good shape.  I didn't do any special exercise or dieting, either.  But something happened in that year that caused me to gain 30 pounds without any appreciable changes in diet or habit.  My doctor says I was just getting old (I was 35).  Maybe it was the SlimFasts I was drinking instead of meals that summer because it was too hot to eat.  Whatever, it came on and would not come off.  I did try dieting at that time, but with no luck.  I had every medical test under the sun--finally sparking the "You're just old" comment.  I went to a naturopath.  Nothing worked.  I gave up and settled in with my new size, and gained another 20+ pounds over the decade.

This is me on Jan 25, 2013
This year, I decided I'm tired of being the shape and consistency of a pudding bag.  Even more, I'm tired of getting out of breath going up a flight of stairs or when I lay down at night, which actually scares me some.  I don't care overmuch about the weight, per se, but I hate not fitting anything properly, and not finding anything that doesn't make me feel dumpy when I catch my reflection.  So, if I'm going to be 169, I'll be a fit 169.

I'm not dieting.  It does not work for me, and I don't have that kind of discipline.  Instead, I've cut sodas, desserts, and fast food drastically, and started exercising 5-6 days a week.  I also drink a gallon of water a day.  Two weeks of this past eight, Rob was home on mid-tour leave with the goal of hitting every restaurant and fast food place he's missed for eight months.  Even with looking at the low-cal options, I was taking in way more calories, sodas, and sweets than I had even before I started this regime.  However, if I can't have a little backsliding, then this is not the lifestyle for me.  The only thing I'm staying faithful on is the exercise program.

In the end, I'm pretty happy with the results of the past eight weeks.  I lost body fat, nine pounds, and a couple of inches in the waist.  Some places where I increased inches, I'm seeing muscle instead of wobbly fat, so I don't mind.  Nine pounds is about a pound a week, which is what they say is healthy weight loss for a long run.

15-Jan 8-Mar

weight 169 160
9 lb dec
body fat 38.5 36.6
1.9 dec
chest 38.7 36.8
1.9 dec
bust 41.1 38.2
2.9 dec
waist 39 36.9
2.1 dec
hips 42.8 40.5
2.3 dec
abs 42 39.5
2.5 dec
thigh 22 22.8
.8 inc
calf 15 15.3
.3 inc
bicep 11.6 12
.4 inc
forearm 10 9.8
.2 dec
neck 15 14.2
.8 dec

Here's my photos from yesterday. 

You can actually see some definition in my arms.  Funny thing is, since I started exercising, I don't have nearly as much trouble with carpal tunnel, either.

Please note that I am not posing or sucking in my gut or doing any of those photo tricks to make myself look better.  I'm also using the same shirt.  The idea is to see my progress in an everyday manner.

I post these because I think that the media--from advertising to talk shows--puts a lot of emphasis on quick and extreme results.  So tell me:  does this inspire (or reassure) any of you in your own weight loss efforts?  What are you doing to have a healthier you this year?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fairy May--The Tooth Fairy Goes to School

Today, I'm hosting the talented and lovely Jo Linsdell as she tours her children's book, Fairy May.
Fairy May dreams of one day becoming a tooth fairy but she struggles at school and always seems to get things wrong. With hard work and determination she prepares for her test. Will she realize her dream and become a tooth fairy?

5 Stars:  "Fairy May is a story that will encourage little kids to not only to keep their teeth clean but also to try their best and work hard in school! A rhyming story filled with cute pictures, it would make a perfect addition to your child's book collection. I read it to my 1 1/2 yr old and he laughs and points to every picture!"

5 Stars:  "Fairy May is a story that will draw in younger children with it's colorful, playful illustrations and clever writing. Younger children will favor it as a bedtime read, while older children learning to read can choose it to practice their craft. Well produced with high quality!"
- By J. campbell

Purchasing links:

Video trailer:

Jo Linsdell is a best-selling author and illustrator, award winning blogger and freelance writer. I've known her for years, and it's been inspiring to see how far she's come, and all her wonderful successes.  They are well deserved--she has a terrific heart, and it shows in her writing.  In fact, this book came about because when her neice saw her lastst book, Out and About at the Zoo, she asked her to write one just for her--and to have fairies in it! Originally from the UK, she now lives in Rome, Italy with her husband and their two young sons.  If you like reading about adorable kids, btw, friend her.  Friend her also if you are interested in some great writing and marketing opportunities.