Summertime Memories: QTA’s Blog Hop & Giveaway!

qta_is_it_summer_yet_blog_hopThe forsythia is blooming, and so are the daffodils, redbud, and hyacinth. The pear trees have blown most of their blossoms in a flurry of snow-like showers. Cyclists and joggers have magically appeared once more, and my mare has shed out her winter coat.

Is it summer yet? That’s what QTA is asking right now, as part of their “Is It Summer Yet?” blog hop! Participants are invited to share their favorite summer memories and link back to the blog hop, so that readers can jump to the next participant and get in on their chance to win some cool summer prizes, including an iPod Shuffle! Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter on QTA’s page and enter the Grand Prize Giveaway! Comments left here on this post will enter the reader in a giveaway for my combination of two short stories: Summer Fling. So be sure to leave your email address in your comment if you’d like to be considered for my giveaway here today!

You know, I can’t think of one particular summer memory that stands out–rather it was summers in general that were special to me when I was growing up. Every summer, from the time I was about six until I was nine or ten, my parents sent us children to stay with our grandparents for a good bit of the summer. My grandfather was the pastor of a large church which held a vacation Bible school each summer. Now, I know what you’re thinking–I can hear you going, “Huh?” right now. But this vacation Bible school was like no other I’ve ever heard of since. Every morning for three weeks, a school bus would collect us from the church parking lot and we’d drive for what seemed like hours until we reached what was only known as “The Farm.” For the next hour, we’d dutifully attend Bible study as taught by my grandfather, and then we’d be released like a herd of wild horses down to the lake owned by the church. We swam like fishes all morning–in and out of the lake, on the docks, down on the sandy beach, and back in the water again.

happy womanAt noon, we’d tramp up the hill to the large open-air pavilion, where the women of the church had been preparing food for us all morning. We’d fall on it like hungry wolves! For the next hour, we were forbidden to go back into the water, presumably to let our lunches digest. We’d play tetherball if the weather was nice, but most of us couldn’t wait to get back into the lake. From 1 pm until 4 pm we’d swim again, then load back up in the bus to head home for the evening, sunburnt and exhausted, and thoroughly satisfied with our day.

I learned how to swim at the Bible school. I also learned how to play chess, and the card games Rook, Hearts, Go Fish, and Jack-Change-It (which is a lot like Uno). When it rained, we did crafts instead of swimming, making Plaster of Paris representations of The Last Supper, or boiling marbles until they cracked so we could glue them on burlap with fake leaves and call them grapes. I don’t remember any bigotry, or hatred, or politics. A simple Bible lesson in the morning and then hours of the most fun I’ve ever had. It was the best part of the year, and the best part of growing up. My grandparents accepted us for who we were, warts and all. I don’t ever recall a harsh word or anyone even losing their temper with us. I grew up in that church. When I went off to college and tried to find another church to call home, I was struck by how…inadequate…I found most of them to be. I finally found what I thought to be a good one, with a minister that reminded me of my grandfather, who didn’t preach politics or hatred but spoke plainly of how best to walk with Christ each week. Then his wife asked for a divorce–and his church fired him. Fired him because a divorced man was unacceptable to them as a minister. I was shocked and saddened, and began searching for another church to call home. I never found one.

For most of my adult life, I’ve searched for the kind of loving acceptance I found in my grandfather’s church. Perhaps it was naive of me. But the church I grew up in changed when my grandfather retired, and religion seems to have changed as well in the years since my childhood. And while I still have strong religious beliefs, I no longer believe in the Church as an institution, which saddens me. Because most of what I hold dear is an abomination to this new Angry Church, and I can’t hold with the intolerance and enforced ignorance I see coming out of the Church today.

But those summers were sweet. Oh, so sweet.

Be sure to leave your email address in the comments below if you’d like to be entered in the giveway for an e-copy of Summer Fling! Also, go back to the main list on QTA to enter the Rafflecopter and hop on to the next blog!

 

 

Writer’s Block:The Elephant in the Room by Sarah Madison

handwriting_flickrIt’s day…five? of The Boys of Summer Book Tour and I’m at TCC Books and More today, with a blog post about writer’s block as well as a very nice four star review from MM Good Book Reviews!

If you’re here for the final day of the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop (and the cookie recipe I can no longer eat) then you want to go to this link here. It will tell you all about the hop and the great prizes up for grabs!

A little about writer’s block before I dash off to work today: it happens to almost every dedicated writer at some point in their writing careers. And I can tell you from personal experience, when your wells of physical and emotional energy are tapped dry, it is very hard to be creative. Ditto, when you are breathing hard on little embers of baby stories, trying to force them into flames to keep you warm because you need this story to do well.

But take heart–there are ways of battling that elephant and getting him out of your house without having to knock down walls! Enjoy!

 

Sinfully Sexy Reviews gives The Boys of Summer a 4 Star Review!

spitfire bottom viewIt’s day four of The Boys of Summer Book Tour and Sinfully Sexy Reviews has given it a wonderful 4 Star review! Check out the review and my interview here! Comments left will enter you to win a chance at a $50 Amazon gift card–which would come in handy about now, yes? πŸ™‚

PB_moonstarsandpaper_blogspotIf you’re here for the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop (and the cookie recipe I can no longer eat) then you want to go to this link here. It will tell you all about the hop and the great prizes up for grabs!

I’m off now to make the rounds on the blog posts and interviews I’ve done so far–lots of comments to answer! Thanks, guys, for playing along! And thank you, too, for all the new follows and friending requests I’ve received in the last 24 hours–you know how to make a girl feel popular! πŸ˜€

Where in the World is Sarah Madison Today?

Spitfire in the airIt’s Day 3 of The Boys of Summer Book Tour and at the moment, I am sitting at my kitchen table typing madly at the keyboard, trying not to split infinitives as I go. The laptop is behaving sluggishly, as though I’d left it in the car overnight (I didn’t, I swear!) and I have one eye on the clock, conscious that I’m going to be late for work if I can’t get this post up and running. I’m on Day 2 of an Elimination Diet (at Christmas! I KNOW. What was I thinking? Oh, right. That I can’t live with this level of pain and discomfort anymore) and hence, a bit on the cranky side.

If you’re here for the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop (and the cookie recipe I can no longer eat) then you want to go to this link here. It will tell you all about the hop and the great prizes up for grabs!

If you’re here for The Boys of Summer–yay! I thought it would be a quick matter of dashing in and posting a link, but egads! I’m everywhere today! Today, Wednesday 11th December, I’m at – Kathryn Lively from ARe Cafe (guest post), Annette Gisby from Zipper Rippers (interview) & Jessica Bell from The Alliterative Allomorph (guest post) with a post on Recognizing and Surviving the Valley of Despair.

And at work! πŸ˜‰ So let me leave you with this. Some people have asked if I had any inspiration for Rick and David for The Boys of Summer. When I was searching for pictures of Spitfires and other WW2 images, I came across these two. As soon as I saw them, I knew I had my Rick and David! What do you think? πŸ™‚

Rick SuttonDavid McIntyre

 

 

The Boys of Summer Nominated Best Historical In Goodreads Reader’s Choice Awards!

spitfire clear blue skiesToday is day two of The Boys of Summer Book Tour, and I have some exciting news to share!

First, I’m over at The Purple Rose Tea House with Charlie Cochet, answering some questions and sharing the pros and cons of being a writer. Do come by, leave a comment, and enter the raffle to win your shot at a $50 gift card from Amazon!

Next, if you are here as part of the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop, the link (and the cookie recipe) you’re looking for is here!

Last, but not least, I just got my nominee badge from the 2013 Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards–The Boys of Summer has been nominated in the Best Historical category! Guys, I’m thrilled and delighted! Thank you! If you aren’t a member of the M/M Romance Group, you should be–over 12 K members and growing every day. Do go check out the list of nominees in all categories. I believe voting begins today. πŸ™‚

It is! Here is the poll to vote for your favorites!

Best_Historical.N (1)

Meanwhile, I have a dog to walk, horses to check on in this winter weather, and a WIP that is calling my name!

The Boys of Summer Book Tour Begins!

Small_Banner_Boys_of_SummerWhee! I’m so pleased to announce the official book tour for The Boys of Summer! Partnering with Virtual Writers, I can promise you an exciting, entertaining, and professional tour! Here is the press release that gives all the details!

If you’re here for the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop, please go here for that post! There are some great prizes, as well as some wonderful Christmas recipes to check out!

First, let me tell you a bit about The Boys of Summer. This story is a strange hybrid of the present day and events that took place during the Battle of Britain in WW2. As this tour progresses, you’ll find out just why I did that, and what inspired me to write this story in this manner. I will also be sharing my thoughts on writing M/M romances, and writing in general, as well as answering all kinds of questions about The Boys of Summer and other projects I’m working on. I have a book trailer, and will be doing a Live Twitter Chat on Sunday Dec 15th at 1 p.m. EST. So from Dec 9th to Dec 22nd there will be something interesting to check out each day! We’re hosting a giveaway as well–a $50 gift card to Amazon! So be sure to check out the official schedule and the Rafflecopter so you can determine how to increase your odds of winning. πŸ™‚

FinalistSMThough The Boys of Summer did not win an award in the recently announced 2013 Rainbow Awards, it was a finalist–something that brings me a great deal of pride, given the degree and depth of the competition this year! And the cover, created by the incomparable Reese Dante, won sixth place in the Cover Design Awards. Well, I mean, just look at this cover! I love all my cover art, but this one is a personal favorite of mine. The Boys of Summer400x600

 

So on to the book tour details! Here is the entire schedule:

Monday 9th December – Virtual Writers, Inc. (interview)

Tuesday 10th December – Charlie Cochet (interview)

Wednesday 11th December – Kathryn Lively from ARe Cafe (guest post), Annette Gisby from Zipper Rippers (interview) & Jessica Bell from The Alliterative Allomorph (guest post)

Thursday 12th December –Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews (review and interview)

Friday 13th December – Tammy Middleton from Tams Book Blog (also posted on MM Good Book Reviews) (review & guest post)

Saturday 14th December – Kirsty Vizard (review)

Sunday 15th December – Β Sid Love (guest post) & Twitter Interview with Sarah Madison (1pm EST)

Monday 16th December – Kathy from Book Reviews and More (guest post)

Tuesday 17th December – Joyfully Jay (guest post)

Wednesday 18th December – Sophie Sansregret from Evolved Books (review and guest post)

Thursday 19th December  – Eden Winters from Magnolias and Men (promo) & Gay List Book Reviews (interview)

Friday 20th December – Β Iris Pross from Cocktails and Books (review), Mrs Condit from Mrs Condit Reads Books (promo)Β  &Β  Jesse Kimmel-Freeman (promo)

Saturday 21st December –  Beckey White from In the Pages of a Good Book (guest post)

Sunday 22nd December – Sarah Madison

Whew! I hope I didn’t leave anything out! Oh, wait, there’s a group on Facebook and another on Goodreads if you want to join in the fun there too! Goodness, I hope that’s everything! I also hope to see you on the tour–I very much want to answer your questions and hear what you have to say!

a Rafflecopter giveaway link in here too!

 

What Christmas Means to Me: QTA’s Christmas Blog Hop

qta_christmas_blog_hop-180x179Welcome to my installment of Queer Town Abbey’s Christmas Blog Hop! Have you checked out the master list of participants and all the fabulous prizes being offered? Not to mention all the cookie recipes! Be sure to read all the way through the post to find out what you can do to increase your chances of winning a terrific prize! Once you’ve done that, click on the link to enter take you back to the main list (and the Rafflecopter). Answering the question from this post that will increase your chance of winning! Now, on to the post!

Christmas has always been a bit of an odd thing in my family–a strange hybrid of Scrooge’s Christmas Past and Present. I used to wonder how Scrooge could be so tight-fisted and hard-hearted when he’d experienced the kinds of Christmases his old master Fezziwig enjoyed–but never noticed that’s what my family was like. I grew up in a family of service-oriented people. My father almost always took the Christmas Eve shift at the ER, and we were not allowed to open presents (the most important part of the day to a child) until he returned home late Christmas morning. After we ate breakfast and opened gifts, we’d pile into the car and drive for hours to my grandparents’ house.

christmas tree_stevep2008Now THEY knew how to do Christmas! People of strong religious beliefs, they had no problem with mixing Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and the celebration of the birth of Christ. The tables groaned with food–all the best that a Church Lady can make. The stack of presents spilled out from under the tree and into the middle of the room. Family came in from all over the country just to share that one day with my grandparents, in a room full of laughter and light. It was magical in every since of the word. Even if there had been no presents at all, we still would have gathered, goofy smiles on our faces, like the Whos down in Whoville the morning after the Grinch stole Christmas.

When my grandparents died, some of the magic went out of Christmas. I entered a service-oriented profession myself, and as a single woman without children, I almost always had to work the holidays. I don’t mind telling you, I resented this attitude that I somehow did not deserve a holiday because I only had a furfamily.

It got harder to get home. There was less reason to go home, as well. Family gatherings were stiff, cold sessions in which everyone kept one eye on the clock, counting the minutes until they could reasonably plead the need to start the drive home because everyone had to be at work the next day. Christmas wasn’t about food or gift-giving, my mother would say. Somehow her God was a lot less happy than the God I grew up knowing.

chocolate chip_wikipedia.orgFor years, I tried to honor Christmas in my own way. I’d decorate, and bake cookies to give to friends (even though the rest of the year, I am no Martha Stewart!). I’d watch my favorite holiday movies. I’d save all year and buy myself a really nice gift–a new saddle, or that laptop I desperately needed to replace. But over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve gradually stopped doing that as well. The movies are available on DVD or Netflix or cable 24/7. There is nothing special about sitting down to watch Rudolph now. I can’t be bothered decorating when I am rarely home and I’ll just have to take it all down myself anyway. I’ve developed a wheat-intolerance–holiday baking is just not the same. And money has been tight enough lately that big extravagant gifts to myself once a year are a thing of the past.

Imagine my surprise when I realized I’d turned into Scrooge. Yep. Slowly over the years, the joy of preparing for Christmas has turned into ‘one more thing on the to-do list.’ Even though I am no longer a family of one, I have only been giving Christmas a half-hearted effort for years now. The answer is obvious, of course. Like any relationship, you get out of Christmas what you put into it. For years I’ve worked myself to the point of exhaustion–it’s hard to make merry when you’d rather spend the day asleep in your bed.

So this year, it’s going to be different. I’ve pulled out my favorite movies. I’m looking into gluten-free baking options. I’m going to do Christmas–maybe not like my Granny used to do, but with the joy and love of the season. I hope you will, too.

Muppet Christmas CarolRemember when I said my favorite Christmas story was “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens? Well, I have to confess right here, my favorite version of that story is the Muppets version. Remember that. “Muppets”. It will be important when you go check out the Rafflecopter on QTA’s master list!

And in other news, I’ll be starting my book tour for The Boys of Summer with Virtual Writers on Monday Dec 9-22! There will be interviews, a live Twitter chat, blog posts, and lots of chances for you to enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card–that would be handy right about now, wouldn’t it? πŸ™‚ Be sure to come back to the website for all the details, or check out the book tour schedule here.

Oh my! I almost forgot the cookie recipe! This is a favorite, especially if you like to cut out cookies in your favorite holiday shapes, but it IS a little tricky. I got the recipe many years ago from a friend who ‘added flour until it felt right.’ Those recipes can be challenging to translate, so your mission, should you choose to accept, is to try this recipe this year and let me know how it turns out!

sugar cookies wikipedia commonSarah Madison’s Sour Cream Cookies:

I cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

Flour sufficient to roll dough (4.5 to 5 cups all-purpose flour)

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 of the cup of sour cream. Mix the baking soda and cream of tartar into the remaining half of the sour cream and all to the total mixture. Put in enough flour sufficient to allow handling (usually about 4.5 to 5 cups). Roll and cut out. Decorate with colored sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown (about 9-11 minutes). Very nice with grated lemon rind added!

This blog hop will overlap my book tour a bit, but never fear, I’ll keep you posted on both events!

 

 

 

 

Awards Announcements, Christmas Hops, and Book Tours, oh my!

FinalistSMSo many things coming up starting this weekend! On Sunday, Dec 8th, Elisa Reviews will be announcing the winners of the 2013 Rainbow Awards! The Boys of Summer is a finalist in the awards, and its cover, created by the peerless Reese Dante, is up for a cover award as well! I am excited and nervous all at the same time… Excited because I think the cover stands a darn good chance of winning–Reese Dante is simply that good. Nervous because as much as I would like for The Boys of Summer to win in its category, I think it is unlikely that it will–I’ve seen the competition! Elisa reports that the voting has been very, very tight, however, with some major surprises. So maybe my little 100-1 longshot has a chance? We’ll see. This really is a case of my simply being honored to have made it to the finals. I have to keep reminding myself that as I keep my fingers crossed that it might actually win an award. The story is just so very special to me that I can’t help but hope that it wins in its division. πŸ™‚

qta_christmas_blog_hop-180x179Also on Dec 8th, I’ll be participating in Queer Town Abbey’s Christmas Blog Hop! Everyone will be sharing what Christmas means to them (as well as their favorite Christmas cookie recipe–mine will be sour cream cookies–YUM). Check out the list of all the fabulous participants and awesome prizes here. You have to see it to believe all the great giveaways that will be taking place! Be sure to come back on Dec 8th to read my post and get my recipe! I guarantee you, it will be worth it!

Small_Banner_Boys_of_SummerThen, starting on Dec 9th and running through Dec 22nd, I’ve got a book tour with Virtual Writers for The Boys of Summer! Oh man, have we been working at this! I’ve written over eight blog posts, and have been interviewed at least five times! I have my very own book trailer, we’re going to do a live Twitter Chat on Sunday Dec 15th at 1 pm EST, and we’re hosting a giveaway of our own as well–grand prize is a $50 Amazon gift card! That could come in handy right now at Christmas, couldn’t it? πŸ™‚ The official page for the book tour is here.

The most important part about all of that is that I NEED YOU to be there too! Come join the fun! I’m going to be posting as part of an international book tour, and though I know I can talk to a wall if necessary (I proved that in the first grade, much to the barely-controlled amusement of my teacher), I would much rather talk with YOU. Chatty Cathy, that’s me! Not to mention, comments left on posts will increase the number of entries you get in the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Do say you’ll stop by and leave a comment on the posts as they go live. I’m really looking forward to this! πŸ™‚

 

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Paranormal Blog Hops, Book Reviews, and more!

JaceI am so behind on *everything* right now. I was just starting Kindle Alexander’s Double Full (released yesterday, Oct 8th!) when I left my Nook at work. Imagine my disappointment! I’d started the story at lunch and was looking forward to curling up with it last night. Fortunately, when I got to work this morning, my carry-all bag (my home away from home since I travel so much) was sitting exactly where I left it, so I have something to look forward to this evening when I get off work–yay! Stay tuned next week for the review–it’s already at #1 on Amazon!

I am several posts behind on Merissa McCain’s paranormal blog hop as well–sorry guys! Work has been swamping me lately. I have all kinds of paperwork I need to get caught up on, lots of ‘end of year’ stuff I need to have in order before Christmas–and if I put it off much longer, the next quarter will be a nightmare! I am in the process of getting new health care insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act–it looks like my monthly health insurance premiums may drop by half–which will make a HUGE difference for me as I can use that money to pay down other debts. Yay! But these things take time and full attention and I usually can’t work on them until I get home in the evenings, so everything else is taking a back seat at the moment. Fortunately things are easing off a bit at work now, so I can concentrate on things other than just making it through the day!

Red trees_resizedBecause October is my favorite month out of the entire year! I love the crisp cool mornings–it’s like taking a bite out of a Red Delicious and feeling the juice run down your chin. I love coming outside in the evening to the scent of wood smoke in the air and the dry crunchy sound of dead leaves underfoot. I love the brilliant colors and the stunning sunsets, the way the dog gets frisky and the velvety feel of the mare’s winter coat under my hand. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread and pumpkin everything! Halloween candy and planning for costume parties. And of course, things that go bump in the night. πŸ™‚

So with that in mind, here are the latest links to authors in the Merissa McCain hop: J.J DiBendetto, Suzanne Rock, Meredith Bond, Guy Ogan, and Merissa McCain’s Hero for Hire.Oh dear, I’m farther behind on these updates than I thought! Help me out by going to check out the author posts and entering into the fun! My post will go up Oct 30th (guess I’d better hurry up and write it, eh?) just in time for Halloween! This year Halloween falls on a Thursday, so I’ve been thinking about what I will wear to work. It has to be practical and let me move freely, so I’m thinking a Starfleet officer this year–what do you think? πŸ™‚

StarTrekoldpix

The week in review–as George Takei would say, “Oh myyyyy!”

So much to share this week!

FinalistSMThe most exciting news is that The Boys of Summer is a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got the official word. I don’t anticipate it going any further than this; I am up against some stiff competition (no pun intended!) and I am aware of the flaws in the story. But this is one of those situations in which it is truly an honor to be on the list with such prominent titles within the genre!

Also, I am very pleased with this interview with independent filmmaker Rolla Selbak on Queer Town Abbey. This is the second interview I’ve written for QTA–they’d asked me to be a staff member but I had to regretfully decline due to my other commitments Still, I thought this one went very well, so go check it out! Rolla Selbak is a fascinating person doing interesting work, and her projects are enlightening as well as entertaining!

jackolanternLast, but not least, October is Paranormal Month! At least, by most people’s reckoning! Author Merissa McCain is hosting fellow paranormal authors every day this month to talk about their paranormal romances, as well as the genre in general. There are new posts every day on her website–I’ve posted the first three links on mine. There will be more to follow: my post won’t appear until the end of the month, but I’m going to be talking about what’s in store for the boys from Crying for the Moon. πŸ™‚

Right now, I’m climbing back into the saddle after a much-needed mini-vacation, but I have to tell you, the harness chafes more when you’ve had it off for a few days. I’m looking at the things I’ve promised to do and starting to hyperventilate a bit. Next up, I’ve got to read and review the latest story from best-selling author Kindle Alexander, Double Full, as part of her blog tour (release date Oct 8th). There will be exciting prizes as the tour progresses, so be sure to stay tuned! I have my own blog tour scheduled in December–complete with a book trailer (I’m so excited about this!) and my own fantabulous giveaways–so keep an eye out here for more updates as they arrive.

The newest post in the Paranormal Month hosting is from Lara Nance. Come check it out!