Monday, August 27, 2012

A Sticky Situation

I've had the most...interesting week into weekend. Basically there was an incident at my house. Someone--who shall not be named--spilled juice and a lot of it got on my laptop. It spilled on all over the keyboard and some of it on the screen. This is my work laptop, mind you. I do have a Mac I use for writing, but that won't get me through the day to answer emails and such.

Immediately, I sprung into action. After grumbling (unladylike words) and looking in shock, I turned off the laptop. Then I unplugged it and took out the battery. Last, but not least, I turned that sucker upside down.

Then I did my research to keep myself busy. LOL I heard things about drying out electronics with a bag of rice. (I'd need a huge bag. A Costco sized one.) I also heard about air drying it for forty eight hours. Just the thought of not using my laptop for 48 hours gave me the shivers.

I turned the laptop upside over the vent to let it dry over night. Instead of 48 hours, I decided on eight. Not a smart idea. The next morning I turned on the laptop and I couldn't even log in with my password. I learned later, after plugging in a USB keyboard, that all my "a"s were typed as "/+     a". A bunch of letters around "a" were messed up too. The shift key was a disaster and the direction keys made the volume go up and down. You know, instead of making pages go up and down. ;)

Another delightful addition: the keys were weird and sticky. It was so cumbersome to use the USB keyboard and then switch to the laptop mouse. It took me a lot longer to get things done. I immediately ordered a new keyboard. Since I've taken apart laptops before, I knew what to do, but I just dreaded the thought of pulled the laptop apart. There are some laptops where you have to practically unscrew the whole thing just to reach the laptop. But low and behold, I discovered that my model is easy peasy to switch out! Woo hoo! Why weren't all models made this way?



I thought the laptop was toast over the weekend, but I got great news on Sunday when I booted the computer up. The keyboard actually worked again. It just needed to dry out! Even with sticky, red fruit punch.

So my tips if this happens to you:

1. Turn off the laptop and unplug it.
2. Remove the battery.
3. Turn the laptop over so all the fluid drains away.
4. I set my laptop over a vent overnight. When they say it needs a few days to dry...they aren't kidding. It really does need time to dry out. :( Usually fluids other than water are the kiss of death, but I can tell you that you can survive if juice is involved.

Now that this adventure is over, I have no plans to let any drinks near my machine! Did anyone have a better weekend than me? I hope so!

By the way, over at Magic and Mayhem Writers, I'm giving away a signed copy of Angie Fox's upcoming release: IMMORTALLY YOURS. Just leave a comment there to enter!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Darkness Reborn cover reveal!

Kane's story, Darkness Reborn (Order of the Blade #5),  has both a cover and a release date!!!!



Talismans carved into his body. A lethal darkness amassing inside him. A woman who calls to his spirit on levels so intimate and so passionate that his deadened soul screams in agony. Calydon warrior Kane Santiago is out of time to find out who he was before he was tossed in a gutter to die five hundred years ago. He has a past he can't remember, and a deadly legacy closing in on him. His only chance is Sarah Burns, a sensual, courageous woman fighting to save herself and her family from an ancient, brutal evil. Sarah is on the verge of losing everything, but she can't afford to trust Kane, who might be the key to her final destruction…or her only chance of survival. Bound together by a connection so deep that it has the power to bring the past and all its nightmares back to life, Kane and Sarah must tap into the hearts they closed down so long ago or lose everything, including their souls.


Darkness Reborn will be released Friday, September 7, 2012! Less than two weeks away!!!!!!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Intimate Enemies winner

Happy Tuesday! The winner of Joan Swan's Intimate Enemies is Rebe! Just email me your snail mail addy and I'll get that to Joan!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Forever in Darkness winners

After finally coming out of my writing cave after finishing Darkness Reborn, I suddenly realized that I never announced the winners for the Forever in Darkness giveaway! To make up for this oversight, I'm adding a couple extra prizes to the pot, so here are the winners:

Holly
Jean Bowden
Barbara E
Heather
sheryl

Please email me from my website with the name of the ebook you would like to win: any Order of the Blade book, and of the Alaska Heat books, or Dawn at Birch Crossing and whether you would like it for Nook or Kindle. A select few of the other titles are available in print, so if you would like one of those, let me know and I'll see if I have it.

Thanks again and I apologize for the delay!

Stephanie


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Counting Down the Days


Look what showed up at my front doorstep the other day--a very early copy of Supernatural Born Killers, book #9 in the Pepper Martin mystery series.  The book hits store shelves on September 4, and I don't usually see copies until closer to the pub date, so this was a surprise.

For those of you who've asked...yes, that is a wedding dress Pepper's wearing on the cover!  I'm not going to give anything away, but I will tell you to remember that in Pepper's world, that could mean nothing--or something very significant!

As for the rest of the story . . .

Pepper's got a new ghost on her hands, her ex-boyfriend Quinn's former partner.  Jack Haggarty isn't going away until Pepper figures out the real reason behind his murder.  And while Quinn has recently had his own brush with the afterlife, he still isn't ready to accept Pepper's abilities. 

As usual, lots of woo-woo and lots of fun in Pepper's world!

And while I'm counting down the days until Supernatural Born Killers is published, I'm also counting down to an even more important event--my daughter is getting married on September 2.  As you can imagine, life around here is swirling into wedding chaos.  You may not hear from me for a couple weeks! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Something Wicked welcomes Joan Swan - with giveaway!


A big welcome to Joan Swan, author of romantic suspense. Her newest, Intimate Enemies, is out now.

Thanks so much, Angie, for having me here at Something Wicked today! 

I’m going to explore something on the wicked side today – the art of being bad – or working undercover.
In my newest romantic suspense, Intimate Enemies, my hero, Rio Santana, is an undercover agent for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of Homeland Security. He’s working a major case in Baja, Mexico, posing as a human smuggler. His boss, also his target, makes a lucrative living by trafficking his own countrywomen over the border into the US where they hope to find work and better their lives. Instead, they are sold to predators who enslave them—in factories, in domestic servitude or, most often, in brothels.

But the mission changes scope when Rio’s boss decides to scale up the cargo from poor women to Hezbollah-trained terrorists.  And it twists completely out of his control when his boss’s stepdaughter, and a woman he’d met briefly and has fantasized about for months, returns to Baja with an agenda of her own; one that threatens Rio’s mission and both their lives.

To write a convincing undercover agent, I had to get deep into the psyche of someone who not only constantly lies, but whose very life depends on his ability to keep those lies straight.  I imagined how incredibly difficult and stressful that must be, to pretend to be someone else, day in and day out, always wondering if you’ve somehow given yourself away. 

Then, add to that, the risk not just to his own life, but to another’s. An innocent.  Someone that undercover becomes responsible for out of the sheer nature of his job, his duty as a cop—to protect and serve.  And just to make the already intense situation impossible, let’s make that innocent someone the undercover cares for deeply.  

This is the major dilemma Rio faces with his heroine, Cassie Christo, in Intimate Enemies. Of course, there is fiction and there is reality, and while I always try to stay as true to reality as possible, without actually having performed a job, there is only so “real” an author can get. 

I thought I’d share some fascinating facts I learned while studying the life of real undercover cops:
·         Uniformed cops and supervisory cops, i.e. brass, often view undercover cops with suspicion and because of the undercovers’ success, professionalism or accolades, are considered dangerous due to their criminal connections. 

·         The closer to the truth an undercover identity is, the safer the undercover agent will be. Simplicity is key.
·         Undercover agents must only make claims, offers, threats that they are willing to follow through on or risk jeopardizing their credibility and, thus, their life.

·         Undercovers are constantly at risk for ambush tests of identity and deep research into the impersonated persona often saves an undercovers’ life.

·         Good undercovers have a gift when it comes to speech – they know when to talk, how to steer people into giving them the information they need and they know, sometimes most importantly, when to shut up

Informants are crucial to the success of an operation and an undercovers’ ability to manage information is imperative to the undercovers’ life. Informants’ loyalties shift on a dime and undercovers must engage in behavior that constantly reminds the informant of the power structure.

The psychological effects of this type of work on long time undercovers’ are complicated and fascinating—and one of the reasons I adore writing undercover characters.  

Do you enjoy reading undercover characters? Who is the most wickedly good character you’ve read recently? Post your answer and you're entered to win a signed copy of Intimate Enemies!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Big Plans to Do Nothing

Okay, the post title is just a wish! When the Madison household clears out this week for school, I'd originally planned to zone out and stare at the wall. (Can't do that though.) My youngest is heading off to kindergarten so I told myself I'd do all the elaborate things I've always wanted to do but couldn't for the past ten years.

TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO

1. Take a nap longer than 3 hours. (Replace underlined word with "going shopping", going to the dentist, eating pie, eating cake etc.)
2. Make plans for lunch....that include alcoholic refreshments if desired.
3. Dance through the house like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. For as long as I want.
4. Go through the drive thru at Dairy Queen in the morning...and then again in the afternoon. All by myself.
5. Do a 5 hour marathon of the movie Thor. Pause repeatedly on that particular shirtless scene. Pause. Rewind. Pause. Rewind. Long Pause.

So, now that I'll have the day to myself, other than writing, what fun things should I do? I'd love to go shopping and just browse. You know, check out stuff that is too expensive to buy, but hey, I look snazzy enough to buy it. If home is too distracting to work, I can spend the day at the library or the local Bread Company (and eat).

Now on to the fun part! Two weeks ago I announced a contest for some books I snagged from RWA. I went to Random.org and the lucky winner of the RWA book stash is #1 Jordan! Jordan if you could shoot me a message with your address I'll mail the goods! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Semper Fi!


A couple weeks ago, I visited Lily Dale, New York, the largest Spiritualist community in the country.

Now let’s face it, there are plenty of people who would scoff at the very idea. A whole town where people talk to the dead? Yes, indeed, and an interesting place it is.

One of the things I like doing in Lily Dale (besides walking the labyrinth, eating at a couple wonderful little cafes and soaking in the quiet) is attending message services. At these services, mediums stand up in front of the crowd and offer messages from Beyond.

This year, I was picked to receive a message. It came from a medium I’ve never encountered in my other trips to Lily Dale, and she said it was a message from my dad. For one thing she told me he envied men these days because they are more able to talk about their emotions than men of his generation.

Then she said he was showing her a wooden box. There was something in it, she said . . . from his days in the Army? I corrected her; Dad was a Marines in WWII. In fact, he was a recipient of the Silver Star for his service in the battle of Tarawa.

She nodded. Yes, the Marines! There’s something in the box from his days in the Marine Corps and he wants you to have it, she said.
Interesting, yes? I thought so, and when I got back home, I told the story to my mother. She was confused. A wooden box? She had no idea what the medium was talking about.

Yesterday, I had a chance to visit Mom to look for something else. While we were rummaging through her bedroom, I found a wooden box. I reminded her of the Lily Dale story and she said she hadn’t looked in the box for years.

Of course, I did. And what did I find? Dad’s Marine Corps pin!

Need another chill to crawl up your back? The day I found it, August 7, is the anniversary of the WWII battle of Guadalcanal, the first battle my dad fought in.

Thanks for the present, Dad! You can be sure I’ll treasure it. Semper fi!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Something Wicked welcomes Joanna Campbell Slan


Note: Our guest Joanna Campbell Slan is celebrating the upcoming release of her new book, Death of a Schoolgirl (Berkley Trade/Aug.7). Critics have said, “Anyone who has ever read and loved Jane Eyre will be captivated by Death of a Schoolgirl.”

I have always had a taste for what Shirley Damsgaard calls “woo-woo.”

I grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, where the ghost of a local heroine was said to haunt the banks of the Wabash River. I loved hearing stories of that spectral maiden.

One of my grandmothers lived in South Carolina, in an old house with a portrait on the wall that scared the pee-wadding out of my sisters and me. (Spell-check is not impressed by “pee-wadding,” but if you’re from the south, you know it’s a real word. Sort of like “yawl.”) Today I own that portrait, and I find the old sea captain in it rather charming. Very “Ghost and Mrs. Muir”-ish.

In my teen years, we played with Ouija boards at slumber parties. No one got any sleep those nights. We managed to terrify ourselves and wake up the host parents. Is it any wonder that one by one all those Ouija boards disappeared? How spooky is that?

In college, I learned to read Tarot cards, a talent that Casey Daniels and I share. By the way, if Casey offers to read yours, let her. She’s very, very good at it.

As a mom, I made up stories about fairies, ghosts, and vampires to tell my son. But it’s true that I never considered being attacked in the bathroom by a demon like my friend Angie Fox did. I do wonder, however, if she got the idea from the ladies’ restrooms at Marshall Fields in downtown Chicago? When you flushed the toilet, it sounded like you were going to get sucked right out of the building.

My all-time favorite book Jane Eyre has a heavy paranormal twist. Who can forget the scene where little Jane is visited by her dead uncle? Or the fact that she meets the love of her life on a lonely lane? At first she takes him for an uneasy spirit when he appears out of nowhere on his prancing black horse. Yet he loves her from the start, perhaps because he is gifted with the power to foresee their future together. He famously proclaims, “I knew you’d do me good in some way…I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you.” And of course, when all seems lost, Edward calls to Jane from across the miles. She comes back to him, and they are married.

 So as you can see, the “woo-woo” in my new book isn’t a radical departure for me at all. It’s just an interest I’ve always had. In Death of a Schoolgirl, my love of the paranormal is on full display. In this, the start of a new series, readers will discover a lot of history, a strong mystery, a bit of woo-woo, and a touch of romance.

Sound like a book you’d enjoy reading? I hope so!

Friday, August 3, 2012

When Love Finds a Way

Wednesday was a very exciting day in the Rowe household. After years of waiting for it to be the right time, it finally was, and my daughter and I welcomed a new boy into the household. Meet Muskie, our rescue dog from Schultz's Guest House, an amazing rescue dog organization in Dedham, Ma.

Muskie was found as a stray in South Carolina during late winter and was put in a shelter there. He was sent to a shelter in North Carolina after a while, where they neutered him and gave him shots etc. At that point, he was 59 lbs and it was March 12. Since then, he's been bounced around in shelters, until he finally arrived at a shelter in Salem Ma on July 5, through the efforts of volunteers who bring dogs from the South, where there are far too many abandoned dogs, to the North, where there are more homes waiting for them. He was down to 45 lbs, and was covered in ticks and had an ear infection and was suffering from "shelter shock," which, in his case, meant that he had withdrawn into himself and gone into huddled silence, trying to hide from the din and the chaos.


They cleaned him up, and then a week ago Tuesday, angels in the form of volunteers from Schultz's Guest House descended upon the shelter he was in and took him to their amazing rescue facility in Dedham, where they keep the dogs in beautiful fields and kennels with copious amounts of love and walks until they get adopted, no matter how long it takes. They keep only 10 dogs at a time, so every dog gets the love and care it deserves.

On Thursday, my daughter and I met Muskie and fell instantly in love with this incredibly sweet, trusting and affectionate dog who somehow, despite all he'd been through, was overflowing with love and wanted nothing more than to sit in our laps and snuggle.



We took him home for a test overnight on Saturday, and he got to go to Grandma's house for a family birthday party, where he was welcomed into the extended family.


We knew this boy was the one who was meant to be in our hearts, so on Sunday, before we'd even signed the papers, we went to Petco and bought him everything he needed for his forever home. This dog was never going back to any shelter again! He was so full of love and affection, and was so happy to finally have a home to snuggle in, and people to love.


On Wednesday, we took him back to Schultz for the official signing of the papers, and now, this lovely, amazing boy has a forever home.

It is such a joy to see Muskie already coming out of his shell and getting all wiggly and excited the way a one year old lab-mix should be doing. He's eating well again, he's sleeping on beds, and he's riding in cars, and, most importantly, he sprints to greet us when we get home, because he knows that he finally has his family. 

Schutlz's Guest House is an amazing organization. If you're interested in adopting, check them out on Facebook, or if you just want to donate, visit their charity, Pee Happy, and purchase some tee shirts or hats, the proceeds of which go to support this amazing rescue dog organization.

And in case you were wondering where the name Muskie came from, it's short for Musketeer, from my daughter's favorite movie, Barbie & the Three Muskeeters, in which Barbie and her friends want to be Musketeers, but they are told they can't because they are girls. Barbie and her friends train in private and become awesomely talented, but still aren't allowed to join. When they uncover a plot to kill the prince, they are ignored by the Muskeeters, so Barbie and her friends save the prince anyway...and their reward is that they are finally recognized for their talents and get to become official Muskeeters. After watching the movie, my daughter announced that it was a movie about believing in yourself and following your dreams, no matter what people say and even if people try to stop you.

I can't think of a more fitting tribute to a dog who survived the streets and tick-infested shelters for six months so he could find his way into his forever home.

We love you, Muskie! Welcome home!



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Just Old Papers? Really?



Yesterday, I did my once-a-month volunteering at the County Archives. Pretty impressive place, huh? The building was originally a house and it (along with the equally impressive house next door and the warehouse type structure built in the back) now houses all the historic records for the county.


What sort of records? You name it, it’s there. Marriage records, birth records, death records. Deeds, wills, court transcripts, engineering studies, etc., etc., etc. More than 100 years of records. Some of them are in gigantic books and written in old-fashioned looping script. Others are typed on yellowing index cards. There are maps, and microfilm. There are voter registration cards and naturalization records and watershed studies.

As a volunteer, I help out with the research requests that come in. Much of it is from people who are looking into family history. Yesterday, for instance, I helped locate the records from a 1900 divorce case. Maud wanted out because of what she said was “extreme cruelty,” but after further research in a few more dusty volumes, I found out that her claim was denied because, according to the record, Maud lied about the cruelty. Oh, the divorce was granted, but poor Maud got burned–no alimony.

And that’s when it struck me.

It’s not just these old, dusty, crumbling papers that attract me to the Archives, it’s the stories. And every piece of paper in the place contains a story.

In a couple free minutes yesterday, I found my grandparents’ voter registration cards, and thought about their stories, how they came to this country and what they endured to establish lives here. I thought about how proud they must have been to finally become citizens and vote.

As I copied the pages of that volume of court appearances, I thought about Maud, too. I wonder what happened to her after she divorced Charles. Back in 1900, it couldn’t have been easy to start over, especially with no money coming in from the ex to help. My imagination ran wild: was Maud lying? Was she some kind of crazy woman who was looking to make trouble for Charles? Or had Charles paid off some official to assure that he wouldn’t have to pay alimony? Interesting thoughts, and something tells me the truth is probably even far more fascinating.

That’s the thing with the Archives. I leave there exhausted from walking up and down (and up and down and up and down) the big, old staircase dozens of times. But my brain is always energized and ideas start to swirl.

Blame it on the stories.