Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guideposts Series - Secrets of the Blue Hill Library

I'm blessed to be part of a new series from Guideposts, with all the authors writing as Emily Thomas. The first couple of books are already available, and the others will follow about four weeks apart. My book is the fourth in the series, and the title is Theft and Thanksgiving. If you are interested in purchasing any or all of these books, please go to the Guideposts site: Secrets of the Blue Hill Library.





Monday, August 26, 2013

Questions Lead to Research Which Leads to More Questions

As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I spend quite a bit of my time researching various things. I generally start out with a question about something, so I look that up and discover way more than I was looking for.

This often spawns more questions that have me researching even deeper, until I glance at the clock and see that I've spent way more time looking stuff up than I originally planned. Even though that puts me behind on my daily work, I'm still fine with it because I know just enough about a lot of things to give me something to talk about when I'm with friends. I also get more ideas for future books.

Here are some examples:

  • Garment District - I was looking up information about the garment district in New York City and discovered that there are almost 100,000 fashion related jobs in that small area. This led me to look up what some of the jobs were and how they came to be during a time when so much manufacturing is being done offshore. 
  • Promotional Products - When I wanted to know some relevant facts about promotional products, I learned that the average promotional item is kept for approximately 7 months. This is a good reason to include all your contact information to make sure customers can find you months after you give them the item.
  • Prison Ministries - I wanted to know how prison ministries work in larger cities. In the state of New York, more prisons are not served by prison ministries than are. That's unfortunate because prison ministry can help inmates turn their lives around, become more productive after they leave jail, and give them hope for the future.
  • Retirement Centers - In the third book of my Uptown Belles series, the heroine moves to New York to help her great aunt. When she realizes her aunt needs more than she can offer, she goes on a hunt for a nice retirement center that offers the comforts of home. Manhattan has quite a few apartments that cater to retirees, but they come with a steep price tag. Most of them offer some nice amenities, such as dining, fitness programs, chapels, hair salons, coordinated excursions, and social opportunities.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What's in Your Bag?

Have you ever watched a woman rummaging through her handbag and wondered what's in there that makes it so difficult to find whatever she's looking for? I have, and not only that, I've been that woman. After years of the frustration of a messy handbag, I finally broke down and developed a system of organization. Most of the time I can find whatever I'm looking for without too much trouble.
My personal tote and current contents

Here's my system:
  1. I have several totes that are big enough to carry everything I'm likely to need during a typical day. I fill this bag with essential items including my smaller bag that I pull out for a quick grocery shopping trip or walk through the mall.
  2. I have a small bag from Baggallini that can be used as a cross-body shoulder bag or wallet. It's big enough for cash, credit cards, my phone, and my reading glasses.
  3. I put my lipstick, powder, nail file, and other essential primping tools in a makeup bag.
  4. Other things I add include a brush or comb, a scarf that can be used as a shawl, and my iPad or Kindle Fire.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Wearing a Lot of Different Hats

As a wife, mother of grown daughters, "Nana" to two precious little girls, friend, author, and Etiquette Guide at About.com, I wear quite a few hats. It isn't always easy to change from one to another, but because I don't want to give anything up, I do it.
Photo courtesy of Geert/Morguefile.com

Most people with full lives have to learn how to seamlessly change from one "hat" to another in any given day. Sometimes we even need to wear more than one hat at a time.

Here are some tips on staying sane while enjoying a full life:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Characters

I'm often asked how I come up with the characters in my books and if I pattern them after people I actually know. All of my story characters are made up, but I'm sure folks from my past have influenced how I create them.

The first thing I do is decide what type of story I want to write. If it's romance, I need a hero, a heroine, and conflict that can sustain the length of story the publisher wants. I also like to have at least one or two strong secondary characters who serve as sounding boards for the main characters. I may even make them annoying so readers can see the personalities of the hero and heroine during adversity.

Most of the time I do a brief character interview to learn what motivates them and what types of conflict they've had in the past. Then I pit one person's conflict against the other, and that's how I come up with my story's main conflict. Depending on the length of the book, you're likely to see smaller obstacles that they characters have to deal with along the way.

For women's fiction, I like to show a community of people who have a vested interest in each other. One person takes the lead, but the other characters are extremely important. I want readers to go on the journeys of everyone in the story, so I try to reward them with some level of closure before it's over. In the Class Reunion series, the closure isn't as tightly zipped in the first two stories (Pretty Is as Pretty Does and Bless Her Heart) as it is in the final one (Tickled Pink).

I hope everyone who reads this series can find someone to relate to in the stories. If you've read the books in the Class Reunion series, I would love to know how you would have handled the problems if you'd been in any of the characters' shoes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Versatility of a Black Pencil Skirt

For the past couple of years, I've been on the lookout for a black pencil skirt that actually fits. I have one of those hard-to-fit bodies, and I found that the skirts that fit my hips were too big at the waist, and if it fit my waist, I couldn't sit down. I'm also only 5' 1", but most petite skirts are too short for my taste. I've left many stores frustrated.

As of today, the search is finally over. I found one at Macy's, and to top it off, it was on sale! I love a good bargain.

One of the reasons I wanted this skirt so badly was to make a bunch of outfits out of just a few pieces. Here are some looks you can get with a black pencil skirt:

  • Classic - Add a white top and a black and white houndstooth jacket, a pair of black pumps, and some pearls.
  • Fun and Vivid - Wear the skirt with a jewel-tone top and a multicolor print jacket. Complete the look with a pair of pumps or flats, and you'll stand out in a crowd.
  • Youthful - Cover your legs in black tights and top the skirt with a turtleneck in your favorite color. Add chunky jewelry for a look that is worthy of any fashion model.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Good Manners Matter in Everything You Do

As the Etiquette Guide at About.com, I often think about manners and how they apply to everything in life. Apparently, other people are concerned about knowing proper behavior enough to search for answers, and they wind up at my About.com site.

Here are some of the articles that people have clicked on recently:

Monday, August 5, 2013

From Avalon Books to Amazon's Montlake Romance

Some of my early books published by Avalon are now available on Kindle, thanks to the fact that Amazon bought them and added them to their Montlake Romance imprint. If you would like to read some squeaky clean romances that are appropriate for all ages, please take a look at these by clicking on the titles:

Lessons in Love

When famous New York City photographer Nathan Holloway comes to Hartsville, every female head turns at the thought of being a supermodel. But Nathan is only in town to take their pictures for the elementary school yearbook as a favor for his friend, Principal Ed Phillips.

Soon, he takes a close-up that sets his heart racing--that of schoolteacher Stephanie Mansfield. For as long as she can remember, she was the sweet but brainy girl in town, the one guys asked for help with homework, not for a date. But to Nathan she is a beautiful woman who teaches him to enjoy the simple pleasures of Hartsville with her down-home ways and love of the outdoors.

But with her promise to her grandmother to never leave town and his work calling him back to New York their future remains cloudy. Their growing love for each other gets harder to hide but are they ready for this kind of commitment and the compromises that will entail?



A New Image

With her new attitude, Amy Mitchell sets out on an adventure to discover what she wants to do with her life. She meets Zachary Harper while working a temporary job at a car show. The attraction between them is evident from the very beginning, despite how hard they try to squelch it. Their biggest obstacle is that they come from two different worlds: Zachary is from a long line of auto mechanics; and Amy comes from Nashville blueblood.

Is it possible that these total opposites can find some common ground? Or will the differences in their upbringing keep them apart? 


 A New Understanding

Patty O'Neill isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill auto mechanic. She's a beautiful, feminine, athletic woman who is highly skilled and specializes in repairing the engines of vintage automobiles. When Dr. Max Dillard comes to Clearview to run in the annual marathon race, he's the one who catches Patty in a fall that's the result of her lack of physical conditioning for the event. Business has been so good that she hasn't had time to train for the race.

Patty fights very hard to keep her distance from the first man she's ever thought she could fall in love with. If he didn't live so far away, it might be different, but she knows that the distance would provide more barriers than any relationship can survive. Can she resist the doctor's subtle charms?



A New Beginning


When Bethany Moore returns to her childhood home she is heartbroken to find that the old oak tree behind the house is gone. Reverend David Hadaway, the new owner of the house, makes no apologies for cutting down the tree because it was threatening the foundation.
Along with the loss of the house, the tree, and her grandmother's failing health, Bethany's world has been shaken to its core. But with David's patience and steadfast commitment to always doing the right thing, she realizes what's really important in life.

It finally takes being forced to make a major, life-altering decision before she can act on her heart's desires and accept true love.


Aloha Reunion

College senior Leilani is blind-sided by the emotional impact of Jeff Sorenson's arrival in Hawaii. Her physical attraction to him is evident from the moment he steps off the plane with his sister Betty, who has returned for a reunion of old school roommates.

Jeff has a history of being a ladies' man, so Leilani tries to guard her heart. But Jeff joins the group in a mudsliding adventure, and then he manages to get Leilani alone in the waves at Waikiki, where they're nearly an even match at bodysurfing. No matter how much she fights her feelings, she's unable to resist his charms, and when he sweeps her off her feet, she knows she can't stop herself from falling completely and totally in love with Jeff. 

There's only one problem: Jeff lives in Arizona and Leilani's future is in Hawaii.



Forever Aloha

Betty Sorenson, sister-in-law of Leilani from Aloha Reunion, returns to Hawaii by means of a job transfer. Betty's new boss Mark Diaz is a man who never seems satisfied with anything she does on the job. Since she can't seem to change him, she decides to do a good job and make the most of what she has, even if her boss is a sourpuss.

Mark's goal has never been to climb the corporate ladder, but he feels that he needs to meet his father's expectations. His position in the bank in Hawaii is a compromise - to satisfy his father's ambition for him and to put him close to the waves. He loves surfing, and he does it every chance he gets.

As these two are thrown together, both in and out of the office, she's intrigued by how different he is away from the bank, and she finds herself falling in love with him. He's attracted to everything about her. It is possible for these two to meet the challenges of their differences and find true love?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School Manners

Most schools with traditional schedules start sometime in late August or early September. Before sending your children back to the classroom, give them a few pointers in etiquette. Good manners can make the difference between success and failure  in all aspects of life, so start 'em young.

Here are some helpful tips: