Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tax Break for Pet Owners

This morning I read a piece in the Michigan Oakland Press Parade Magazine that Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R.Mich) is proposing a bill that will use the federal tax code to help pet owners. The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (stands for HAPPY) Act HR 3501 introduced in July 2009, would allow pet owners to deduct the cost, up to $3500.00 per year for pet food, vet care, and other pet-related expenses from their income tax. Rep McCotter says the bill was created to assist pet owners with tax relief while also strengthening the "human-animal bond."

Animal rights activists are for the bill, as this gives some 60% of American who own pets the chance to keep them in their home and not have to relinquish them to shelters and other places when the going gets tough. A director for the Tax Foundation opposed the bill saying this should not be put out there to make people happy. It's only being put out there for congressmen to gain popularity among the voters.

I know that there are tons of animals out there at shelters, on the roadside, in people's homes that need assistance. And as I have often told my daughter, "You can't save everyone of them." Our local shelter has put out reports saying people often leave animals on leashes tied to the door knob of the building over night. They find these animals when they come in the morning. People do this to avoid having to be accountable for their actions and to avoid having to offer any type of monetary donation for the care of their animal.

To me, this is a good bill. It does help people in need, as long as the people in need are using it correctly. Pet food is expensive, veterinary care is even more expensive and it is heartbreaking, gut-wrenching when you have to give up an animal. I have a friend who takes in strays the way we change our underwear (I know, weird way of putting it but she does.) She works tirelessly caring for her own animals and never hesitates when a friend in need asks for her assistance. And one of those foster babies I'm hoping to take home myself sometime next year. (Long story there)
I have a senior dog with many health issues as well as a cat who can only eat one kind of cat food without getting sick. These two are my four legged children, now that my human children are grown and on their own. They have given me hours of love, attention and affection and I will do everything in my power to do the same for them so they live out a happy, healthy life.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Interview with Debut Historical Author Cheryl Ann Smith

Today I’m chatting with new historical author Cheryl Ann Smith. Cheryl sold her first (and second) historical this summer to Berkley. Please welcome Cheryl…

First off, tell us a little about yourself? Family, hobbies, likes, dislikes?

I am married with three kids who, though they squabble a lot, are awesome. My hobbies are riding snowmobiles, swimming, and watching crime shows. Any crime shows. I’m fascinated by how crimes are solved. I love Mexican food, and nature, and laughing with my family over silly stuff. I dislike rude people and when drivers drive five or more miles under the speed limit during perfect weather. Unless they’re elderly, then they get a pass!

Do you have an agent? If so, how did you acquire them?

I do have an agent. In March, I received a request for a full manuscript from an editor, then a week later, got a very nice rejection from an agent for another project. She asked to see future works so I sent her a partial of the editor requested book. 7 hours later she signed me, and about 4 months after that, I sold to Berkley.

What's your writing day like? Do you follow a set schedule?

I get up at about 4:30 am and work for 3-4 hours Mon-Fri. Or until my brain freezes up and my eyeballs pop out of their sockets!

Any secret vices readers would love to know about?

I can eat an entire tub of Dean’s French Onion Dip in one sitting so I don’t buy it anymore!

What do you read in your spare time? Favorite authors? Favorite book?

Not only do I love crime shows but crime novels also. I adore historical romance, and contemporary novels that make me laugh out loud. Some favorites are Janet Evanovich, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and the late Kathleen Woodiwiss.

What genre would you love to write in, but haven't attempted?

I sold in historical romance but also write quirky contemporary-light mysteries. I’d like to dust off and sell them some day. Otherwise, I’m happy with the genre I’m in.

Tell us about your current and upcoming releases.

My first contracted book will come out in early 2011. I just finished the second. We hope they will be released in consecutive months.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I see myself writing 2 historical books a year with maybe a contemporary single title thrown in. I’d love to travel to England every couple years, for research purposes of course, and to make a decent living doing what I love. Okay, it would also be cool to have fans show up at my book signings that aren’t related to me or I had to pay!

What's your favorite movie? Music? Drink? Food?

Gosh. I have lots of movies I enjoy. Dirty Dancing, Emma (with G. Paltrow), The Phantom of the Opera (with Gerard Butler). Really, anything romantic that engages my emotions. I drink water almost exclusively and some milk. Not too exciting, I know! I really like all food. That’s why I have to exercise like a crazy person!

Tough question, what's your favorite book you've ever read?

I’d have to say it’s a tie between two. The Flame and the Flower and Shanna, both by Kathleen Woodiwiss. She got me started on a lifelong love of historical romance.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take along one thing, what would it be? Choices are chocolate, a hunky guy, or a book?

Can I choose a hunky guy, covered in chocolate, holding a great book?

Where can readers contact you? Do you have a website? Blog? Email they can use?

My website is and my blog and e-mail are built into the site.

Cheryl Ann Smith
Adventurous Tales. Passionate Romance.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Interview with Starr Ambrose

Hey everyone, today I am chatting with author and very dear friend Starr Ambrose. If you haven’t picked up a book by Starr, now’s the time! She is awesome.

Hey Starr, thanks for being here and thanks for the opportunity to interview you. Let’s start off with an easy question. Tell us a little about yourself? Family, hobbies, likes, dislikes?
I'm married with two grown daughters. I live in the country with a couple horses, some chickens, two dogs, and 10 cats. That pretty much tells you what I like - animals! Between them and my writing, I'm always busy. Dislike - people who drop off their animals in the country, hoping they'll find a good home. I can't tell you how many don't make it that far.

So many authors out there today have an agent. Do you have an agent? If so, how did you acquire them?
My agent, whom I adore, is Kevan Lyon of the Marsallyon Lit. Agency. She's smart, savvy, and always available. I acquired her in a backwards fashion - I sold my novel to Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books through a contest, and then went in search of an agent. Several were interested, but Kevan impressed me the most with her concentration on building my career rather than selling one or two books.

What's your writing day like? Do you follow a set schedule?
I try to write every day, and that's as much of a schedule as I'll agree to. If I want to go to lunch with friends, I write at night. Time of day doesn't matter, as long as it's not too early. I have no idea how some writers can get up at 4 AM and whip off ten pages; my muse sleeps in. (My muse is actually a rebellious little bitch with many bad habits; it's a love-hate relationship.)

Now, how about a tougher question. Any secret vices readers would love to know about?
But then they wouldn't be secret, would they? Oh, okay, I'll give you one - I probably spend more time reading than I do writing. If you don't think that's a problem, then you haven't had to deal with editorial deadlines. It's a wicked, wicked indulgence, and I don't intend to give it up.

What do you read in your spare time? Favorite authors? Favorite book?
Mostly romantic suspense authors and several contemporary. A few favorites: Tami Hoag, Laura Griffin, Suzanne Brockman, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts. I also read a lot of straight mysteries, plus some non-fiction that mostly deals with politics or natural science.

What genre would you love to write in, but haven't attempted?
Science fiction - but I'm not very good at it, so I'll stick to reading it.

Please tell us about your current and upcoming releases.
Love to! On Nov. 24th my second romantic suspense for Pocket hits the shelves - OUR LITTLE SECRET. It's an action-packed romp through Washington, D.C. Proper, responsible Lauren Sutherland and laid-back Drew Creighton are polar opposites who agree on only one thing - her sister's marriage to his father, a powerful senator, was a huge mistake. They'd love to talk them into an annulment, but the newlyweds have disappeared, and even the Secret Service can't find them. Lauren and Drew uncover explicit photos and an elaborate blackmail scheme while evading kidnappers and government agents. And of course their personality clash turns out to be fueled by an attraction that grows stronger each day. This gets sexy, people!
Currently, I'm doing edits on my third book, THIEVES LIKE US, which will come out in the fall of 2010. I absolutely love this book! It's a continuation of two secondary characters from LIE TO ME and re-visits most of the same people and places. It involves stolen jewels and the Russian mafia, mixed with a charming ex-jewel thief and a woman who's understandably leery of romance after her first husband turned out to be a psychopathic criminal. Jewelry, thieves, murder, and a sexy hero - what's not to love?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
A. Writing novels
B. Writing novels while my husband enjoys his retirement

What's your favorite movie? Music? Drink? Food?
Evil questions! I wouldn't even be satisfied naming ten favorite movies or music. Drink - iced tea. Food - depends on the day. Fresh bread and pasta dishes are always way up there.

Tough question again, what's your favorite book that you've ever read?
Shame on you, Patti - this is the most evil question of all! So I'll play it safe and say, LIE TO ME by that clever new author, Starr Ambrose.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take along one thing, what would it be? Choices are chocolate, a hunky guy, or a book?
The chocolate - I can write my own book with a hunky guy in it. (Good answer Starr)

Where can readers contact you? Do you have a website? Blog? Email they can use?
I absolutely love hearing from readers! Contact me through my web site, , or at Thanks for reading!
I want to say a very big thank you to Starr for answering my questions and I hope you all will check out Our Little Secret as well as Lie To Me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let's Talk about Writing Books

Hello again and Happy Sunday after Halloween. Hope you all had a blast last night with the trick or treaters. I know I did, though this year we only had 22 kids come to the door. Which means, more candy left over for me! Watch out Snickers, here I come!

Today's topic is one that's near and dear to my heart. I would like to talk about writing books. You know, all those lovely soft pastel colored novels that offer to teach you how to write a romance. Come on, you know you've looked at them in the bookstore. Maybe even bought one and took it home and probably learned something from it. I know i have.

My personal home library contains quite a few books on writing, research and also books for purely reading enjoyment. So let's see if you and I share any of the same books, shall we? How about The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting your Romance Published. I really like that book as it gives you a great basis for how to get started, and it's written by Julie Beard. Or what about Novelist's Book Camp: 101 Ways To Take Your Book From Boring to Bestseller by Todd Stone. Another one is On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels. This one I really have enjoyed reading. How about Writing the Romance Novel for Dummies by Harlequin/Silhouette editor Leslie Wainger, or First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner. Karen has some awesome tips in her books on how to do just that. My current favorite is Break Into Fiction, by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love.

I did find two more at my local library last week that I decided to bring home and check out, They are Writing the Great American Romance Novel by Catherine Lanigan and The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel by Faye Hughes.

I believe you are never too smart to stop learning. There is always something new and exciting to be had from each book you read, whether you pick up a thousand new ideas and tips or you only pick up one. Even one tip can be the difference between increasing your page count from 4 pages a day to 7 pages a day. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that, now is there.

Well I'm off to read and write some more for today. Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend and welcome to November!!!