Squealy Fan Girl Reveal JAMI GRAY #MFRWAuthor

Cue the audience cheers!

Jami Gray started with Black Opal Books shortly after I did. Due to her amazing talent and super work ethic, she now has a series with them, and a series with Muse It Up. Both series feature flawed characters, including strong women who might not NEED a man but they don’t mind having one around. And the MEN…grab your fans and an iced drink!

I conjami-grayvinced Jami to take a break from her day job, here writing, her home life, and come visit my enchanted high plains share her latest release (TODAY)

 

Huge thank you to Mona for letting me drop in with my latest release, MARKED BY OBSESSION.

So why this book?

Such a simple question with a convoluted answer. As writers, we tend to be drawn to genres for specific personal reasons. I love the unexplained, be it magic or psychic abilities, or whatever unusual ability you can think of, I’m there.  I can trace the roots of the fascination back to my childhood. My biological mom (and we’ll get to the part behind that distinction soon) read me bedtime stories, tales of magic and heroism and fantastical creatures, good and bad, all intertwined as they fought their way through a quest. When I was five, my biological parents got a divorce. It was loud and it was messy and it left a mark. I went from a kid with parents to just my mom and I, who eventually moved in with my now single and separated grandmother. Then I lost my mom when I was six and found myself shipped off to my biological father and his new wife. (Yeah, I know shades of Snow White and all that.)  Then I went from only child to oldest and all of these rather abrupt changes left me floundering so I turned to books to find my footing.  The stories that grounded me the most were the ones of magic and undiscovered planets, journeys where the lead faced each challenge and came out (a bit bruised and sporting alien acid-spit in some cases) triumphant, still in charge of their own destiny.

My real life changes didn’t end there, because when I was twelve I ended up with my soon-to-be adopted family, and become one of many (think horde size). An introvert by nature and bookworm by calling, all that socializing was difficult to process, and I dove deeper into my fictional worlds. So deep, I found myself writing my own worlds, my own heroines, my own quests, and so it began.

As I grew up, so did my stories, and yes, writing is a form of therapy, because as I began to recognize my inability to stomach the “victim” type mentality, not only did I become stronger, so did my characters, until it was obvious there were no such things as princesses in distress, more like Xenas on Harleys ready to take down every freakin’ flying monkey that dared to approach. This seeped drenched my writing and is really obvious in my first Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles. The women in those books would make anyone turn tail and run.

But as in everything, time winds on and people change. So do writers. When it came to the PSY-IV Teams (pronounced cipher because secret psychic operatives=cool ass spies) my leads were no less strong, but instead of being so hard-assed nothing could penetrate their emotional body armor, there were spaces where softer, but just as life-altering, emotions could exist. Things like bravery in the face of fear, faith illuminating the darkness, and compassion being stronger than any weapon. Emotionally, my characters matured into the multi-dimensional people they were always meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, they can kick ass with the best of them without flinching, but now they’ll also go hang with you at a bar, crack a joke, or if you’re lucky, sweep you off your feet.

I’ve always been fascinated by the arena of psychic abilities, plus I may have a teeny-tiny bit of a conspiracy theorist residing in a small dark corner. I read a great deal outside of fiction, and one particular book, THE SEARCH FOR THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by John D. Marks, which follows the history of behavioral science and the CIA, helped sparked the idea. After finishing that book, I moved on to THE PSYCHOPATH NEXT DOOR and a few others (which now that I’m reading this I’ll refrain from listing since…um, yeah, my research library of non-fiction titles would be scary to an outsider). Since I found I couldn’t give up my “magical” aspects on writing, I decided to combine my love of the unusual with my second love, Romantic Suspense. Voilà! PSY-IV Teams was born.

I’m a character driven writer, so my characters tend to mold the plot, and when I sat down to begin MARKED BY OBSESSION, I gave myself two challenges: an everyday heroine withMarked by Obsession: PSY-IV Teams by [Gray, Jami] no psychic abilities who could be strong without being a warrior, and she couldn’t cuss. Want to know which one was harder to channel? Coming up with curses that aren’t cuss words is much more difficult than you think.

Wolf is my hardened solider, solid and sure of himself and his place, and just happens to be a telepath. He deserved someone who could keep him grounded, someone who couldn’t be manipulated. Enter Meli, who is quite happy curling up with a book and avoiding arguments, or anything she doesn’t want to deal with. Wolf fascinates her, but she’s lost her only family, her brother, and his death leaves her floundering while her normally staid world tilts on it axis. It also means she’s hesitant to reach out for the one man who tempts her dream big. It doesn’t help that she’s managed to become the focus of deranged stalker, who wants not just Meli, but revenge, and is willing to go through Wolf to get it.

Want to find out what happens? *nudge, nudge* Go ahead and pick it up, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Amazon

Muse It Up

Barnes and Noble

and of course JAMI GRAY

 

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I Can’t Write 50,000 Words #MFRWAuthor

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Good Morning!

I just know I can’t. Which is probably silly since I have four books out, plus two written and

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Boo says come on, it’s a pretty day

stashed, and two more near completion. But the idea of sitting down to another 50,000 or more words just turns me into a gibbering idiot. Not such a drastic change, but still.

I also can not walk 10,000 steps a day. Especially on the non Agility days. Come on, that’s five freaking miles of around the house, around the yard, around the grocery story. My  feet will fall off for sure, not to mention the dizziness from going around and around.

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just follow the steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And around. But…

I’ve somehow added word after word to a novella that intruded when I had planned to edit the next Stormhaven. I think I’ve mentioned this novella. It’s about two mature Atrahasis agents, including a woman who is strong and independent and deeply in love. I’m calling it Memories of the Future. It won’t hit 50,000 words but 20,000 are a distinct possibility, when I use that fifteen minute timer that has worked for me in the past. As the prolific and highly talented Greta van der Rol reminded me, 500 words per day gives me 5,000 words in ten days. Suddenly 15,000 is not such an impossible dream.

Still, those 10,000 steps EVERY DAY? Yikes. Especially during the snowy days like we’re having now. Can not do it. But I can do the 250 per hour Fitbit challenge and why not add enough more to take me to the next obvious level (500 or 1,000)? I found out setting the microwave to defrost for ten minutes brings me close to 1,000 steps without having to think much about it. If I’m indoors I can read while I step and outdoors it’s just so darned crisp and pretty.  The yard is 200+ steps around, and the driveway is about that to the gate and back. Once I’m already out, it’s not so difficult to do one more round, is it.

Winning the game.

Step by step.

By step.

 

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About Those Recipes…Low Carb Comfort Food #MFRWAuthor

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South Mountain 1/1/2017

I made up some loaded cauliflower to take over for NYE with friends. Since I did not want to be driving on Amateur Drunk Driver night, it was more New Year’s Evening but any time spent with friends is a good time. When asked for a recipe, I realized I had strayed far from what I originally found, which was similar to this one: http://www.lowcarbmaven.com/loaded-cauliflower-low-carb-keto/

Generally I make mine with frozen cauliflower florets since they’re always available and the same basic price. I steam the cauli, either on the stove or in the microwave., then add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, a splash of heavy cream, some grated cheese, and crumbled bacon. I cook that for a while until the everything has melted together, then stir to distribute and add more cheese. This I put back in the oven until the top cheese is melted and a bit brown. On occasion I’ll add sliced mushrooms or green chiles. The chives make a nice finish if I remember them!

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Yummy cheesy

This time, at my friend’s suggestion, I used Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream and heavy cream, without noticing much difference. Since yogurt is higher in carbs it’s not a substitution I’d automatically make but it ended up pretty darned good. The end result was a bit crispier than I usually make it, but still delicious. It keeps well in the fridge or freezer if you can avoid eating the whole bowlful at once.

That would be two bags of cauliflower, 12 ounces each; about 1/3 of a standard block of cream cheese; half a cup or so of the Chobani Greek yogurt; maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon; “some” butter; a scant cup of grated cheese blend (this was a Mexican cheese). The fun is how much you can change the ingredients, using a very sharp cheddar or something a bit more out of the ordinary. I went light on the cheese in case my friends weren’t as cheese crazy as I am but they assured me with cheese the more the merrier!

For the shortbread, this started out as a low carb Pecan Sandies recipe, with 1 cup butter; 1 cup artificial powdered sweetener; 2 cups almond meal; 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 cup pecan pieces. Cream butter, add sweetener, then add the other ingredients one at a time. Form into a roll, chill, slice off 1/2 inch for cookies (350F for 8-12 minutes) The cookies were always a bit too delicate for me, way too sweet but still very buttery yummy but a pain to deal with and they burned so easily. The fact that I might wander off during cooking had nothing to do with the burning.

I opted for a pan cookie, increased the almond flour and pecans, reduced the sweetener to a scant 1/2 cup. This time I used organic Stevia, with Erythritol.

Three cups of finely ground almond meal; scant half cup sweetener; one cup butter; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream; pecans. Since I used salted butter I didn’t add salt.

I melted the butter about half way, used a hand mixer to cream then added everything else. I kept the mixer going when I added the pecan pieces since it helped to break them up even more. The first time I tried this recipe change I added a handful of sugar free chocolate chips…it’s better without. Better without chocolate? Yup, surprised me too

012I used an 8 x 8 square pan. I’ll be looking for a small jelly roll pan so I can spread even thinner. You can chill before cooking if you want but in the pan I didn’t need to. Bake at about 325F until done. Since I use a countertop convection oven my times won’t help you much. I like it extra crispy so I’m likely to risk almost too long. I’m hoping a larger more shallow pan will help. I chill to help it set and also to get it out of my sight! As you can see I did a bit of taste testing before I managed to get this one into the refrigerator

And here’s a picture from late last December. What a difference a year makes!

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Resolving Not to Resolve #MFRWAuthor

My personal take on this whole holiday season is…really? What should be a time of joy and

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no reason, just pretty bushes

sharing becomes a high stress marathon of parties and gift giving and non stop bonhomie. Merry Christmas, we push at each other, perhaps Happy Holidays. Once in a while Greetings of the Season…whatever works for each one of us. Then before the tree is taken down we gather again to welcome the changing of the year, which means several months worth of correcting the date on our checks (for anyone who still writes checks???)

Along with that welcome comes the dreaded NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS whereby we solemnly swear to eat less exercise more work harder or whatever variation of this-is-what-I-should-do we might come up with. I think most of us cross our fingers behind our backs because deep down inside we knew by February 1 those resolutions will be long ago and far away.

Yeah, I used to make all sorts of resolutions, and rarely follow up on them. Thereby setting myself up for major failure. Gloom, despair, and so on. Then I realized, the same as

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again, just because it’s pretty

sharing glad tidings of comfort and joy year ’round, and not just dragging out our smiles for Christmas, if we want to make some sort of resolution we should make it NOW. This moment. Whether we want to eat better, sleep more, stop finishing that coconut cream pie (and claim we must have been sleep walking) there is no time better than now. Today. Not next week, next month, next year. Now.

And make it something attainable. I set aside the idea of 5,000 words written in a day, or maybe two hours at the computer actually writing, not researching (like I have any books planned around deep sea explorations, although…) or playing games to ‘limber up my mind.’ Nor will I promise to train for a marathon. Yeah, right. But I can easily write, say, fifteen minutes a day. And I can, with the urging of my FitBit, get up and walk 250 steps every hour. Plus set up challenges for myself to add a few more steps and make it to the next major distance.

The important thing was doing it NOW. The goal is to walk those steps every hour, often followed by fifteen minutes of writing. This is how I planned to finish the next Stormhaven. After, that is, I finish this novella that snuck in when I wasn’t paying Front Cover - My Killer My Love-first tryattention…maybe I was walking an extra five loops in the living room? It’s in the world of the Atrahasis, same as  My Killer My Love featuring two mature protagonists finding each other after decades apart.

I’m bringing in the new year with friends, taking along some low carb comfort food such as loaded cauliflower and this pecan shortbread recipe I’ve been playing with. If it passes the taste test I’ll be sharing.

Looks like I’ll be sharing some recipes tomorrow. Best of everything to everybody, now and in our futures.

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It’s All About the Light #MFRWAuthor

You know about lighting a candle instead of cursing the dark, right? Let the sunshine in…let the sun shine in. Oh yeah, Let the Sunshine In. What the heck happened to our age of Aquarius? I suppose…yes, I was or I am a child of the sixties. Conflicted by everything we had thrown at us, learning to question, always question.

Huh, this was supposed to be a quick light blog about…light. Sorry for the digression, that happens when one of the olders starts sharing.

Light, as in the effect of light on anything. Sunrise, sunset, any time there’s enough light to see. Living as I do without much to block the light, the pictures can be awe inspiring.

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Morning light on South Mountain

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Sunset in the van window

 

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Sunset through the clouds, and then a last blaze of glory

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Sharing some light and beauty against dark days.

 

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Challenge…Accepted! #MFRWAuthor #AMWriting

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Yup, winter’s coming. Have to really push myself to keep moving

I’ve mentioned my Fitbit before, that cute little step tracker I bought myself a while back. Works pretty well as long as I remember to attach it to myself when I move around. Which was about 95% of the time.

Oops

I was happy enough with this small piece of technology, until a friend told me I really really needed to upgrade. Mind you, I still have the truck we bought (new) in 1994, and the 1996 motor home we bought (used) in 2005. They still work. Why replace them. Right?

Right. Except…this one has some pretty cool features. Like tracking how we sleep. And reminding us to get up out of our chair every hour. Tells us how many steps we take and what kind of activities we indulge in. I know these things because my friend decided I NEEDED this health prompter. Sure enough, it showed up in my box a few days later.

It took me a few days to set it up, and load the program on my phone. Hey, writer here, not a techie sort. But there is enough of a geek gene in me to appreciate programming, no matter where I find it. Like the screens on my cell phone. Seriously, how cool is it, that I can swipe my finger across the phone and access an entirely new set of programs. Standard to most of us since we’ve been around touch screens for a while now. Even so, it’s pretty much awesome, I’m thinking.

Speaking of awesome, my new FitBit…Charge 2 …gives me a bit of a buzz once an hour to GET UP AND MOVE AROUND. Wow, kinda bossy there, don’t we think? And yeah, I respond, as usual, to the challenge…heck, it’s 250 steps. Anyone can do 250 steps, right? Or so I tell myself as I stride around the room. It’s ten times around my main room, you see. And it’s a lot more steps than before. Leading to feeling just a bit MORE. More alert, more in tune.

More…well, more motivated. And since I went to the LERA Christmas party, surrounding myself with a plethora of successful, talented writers (multi published and on so many top selling lists!) I found myself opening up that WIP one more time today, to push out MORE words. Five hundred to be exact. Yeah, I realize 500 words isn’t a bunch but it’s 500 more than I had this morning. Same as 250 steps might not be a lot but 250 steps every hour does get the blood moving!

So, whaddya think? Join me in a simple challenge? More steps, more words. One hundred steps and twenty five words might not be much but it is…(sorry)…a step in the right direction!

front cover finalA Question of Faith is also another step, another installment in the Stormhaven Romance series. Rosalind was fun to write even though she (doggone her) doesn’t have to worry about pushing herself hard to exercise. But she has a smart mouth and a big heart. She’s exactly what Ty needs.

 

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This Month…More Highs #MFRWAuthor

And maybe I’ll wait a little longer for the lows. Some of them are shared: the violence around the world, people fleeing for their lives or standing up to superior forces to protect their futures; the memory of a horrific war; the realization we just don’t seem to learn from those horrific wars.

Some of them are personal: that litter didn’t happen, and I had to say goodby to a dog that was born into my hands thirteen plus years ago. It was for his benefit, and I was there at the end, with him. But it doesn’t get any easier.

007I left my freaking geraniums out one night too many, and it looks like I’ll need to replace them. Doggonit, I’d kept them going for more than ten years. Oh, well.

But

 

I just-faceswas ringside, in Pueblo, the day my dear friend attained a championship with her dear friend. Silly  me I didn’t grab a photo then but the next day I watched her show, and managed a few with my phone. Yeah, I had that expensive camera with me…in the motor home. Fat lot of good it did, right? But our phones fill in the need, sometimes. So I was able to capture this lovely  moment. Lark, multi talented, multi titled, and now an AKC champion. The photo wasn’t taken up close enough for detail but the love and trust is there. And it is beautiful

Her win prompted the margarita tradition we started this year and hope to continue many years to come. Our dogs bring us joy and sorrow and wonderful friendships.

And isn’t that enough to encourage us to celebrate life?

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Such a Month…The Highs #MFRWAuthor

November is jammed full of ‘feels,’ with Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, family gatherings (or not) For writers we add the intensity of NaNoWriMo. And for dog people in the Southwest, November means Pueblo, Colorado.

Pueblo’s a smallish place, rising up from economic difficulties. Here’s a great overview. What matters most to me is the Colorado State Fairgrounds. I know, it’s a bit bizarre to have such an event in a smaller town! But the Fairgrounds themselves are great for a single woman traveling alone to show her dogs.

You can’t beat the drive!

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That’s the doggy mobile, waiting at a rest area in Colorado

I was meeting up with a friend I mostly know on line or over the phone (I won’t share her picture, but it was a GOOD one since her Whippet became a champion. That was a plus. And she was there ringside…heck in the ring helping, when Biddy achieved her last two biddy-fdneeded points for her own championship. A long journey with a cautious little girl who took a while to learn to enjoy herself after her person died. Here she is with her brother, outside the main building. Isn’t that landscaping gorgeous? My friend took this picture, and suggested the site since Biddy (that’s her in front) does not like the fuss of formal photos.

Another BIG huge about this show site is the snack bar. Seriously, the place we generally visit when we have no other choices. I found out several visits ago, this snack bar is a cut above the standard dog show fare partially because (blushes here) they offer wine. Beer too, this is a sports venue! But I don’t drink beer much. I’ve always been able to get a decent glass of red wine here. 012Except, not this year. And we had SO MUCH to celebrate. Soooo, margaritas? My friend agreed.

It was doubly fun since we celebrated two days in a row. WOOT. We each took home one of these great new title ribbons.

Yeah, dog people can be pretty easy to please sometimes. These highs can sometimes offset our lows of day to day life. But I’ll share that tomorrow. For today, let’s just…enjoy.

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Biddy, happy to be back in the motor home.

 

 

 

 

 

NaNo? Oh no, we’ll talk about that tomorrow, also.

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday, however you enjoy it.

 

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Messing Around in Time #MFRWAuthor #BrendaNovak

This has been a favorite of mine for so long.

 

Never seems to be enough time but we still end up wasting time on things that maybe don’t really matter. Don’t worry, I get a bit off center with any of the time changes. My body usually tells me within a brief margin of error what time it really is, especially when I’m at home. Messing with my input throws me off. So, yeah I get a little cranky. Or crankier?

Let’s talk about someone who is making the absolute best use of her timall-i-want-download-now-300x250e. For years Brenda Novak has held an auction to raise funds for Diabetes research. This year she’s changing things up with a great book/cookbook offer you don’t want to miss. This specific offer ends SOON so click now or forever…you know!

20% offer!

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Where DO We Get These Ideas? #MFRWAuthor

Wandering down a path I’ve meandered along before. All writers are asked where we get our ideas and most of us have to shrug. Our greatest problem is how to choose what we’ll write about next.

Because…story ideas? How can we find the time to write about all of them? Especially when songs like this sneak up through our memories to grab our attention?

I chose Natalie Cole’s version mainly for the lead in. Most of the others start right off with “I wish you bluebirds” How much more poignant to hear “this is where our story ends, never lovers ever friends”

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Goodbye, no use leading with our chins, this is where our story ends,
Never lovers ever friends.
Goodbye, let our hearts call it a day, but before you walk away,
I sincerely want to say.

I wish you bluebirds in the spring, to give your heart a song to sing,
And then a kiss, but more than this, I wish you love.
And if you like lemonade to cool you in some lazy glade,
I wish you health, and more than wealth, I wish you love.
My breaking heart and I agree that you and I could never be,
So with my best, my very best, I set you free.
I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm,
Most of all, when snowflakes fall, I wish you love.

***

Who hasn’t been ‘friended’ by the person we thought would be the love of our lives? Or maybe heard from that person that they feel a calling to live in an ashram and find their inner selves.

Mmm Hmmm. Yeah.

Well it did all work out well in the end, once the drama dust blew away.

Winter’s coming, the bright shiny days are slipping away and I’m getting a lot done while ignoring my NaNo commitments. Tomorrow. Really. I think you’ll love this story I’m working on!

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Yep, Winter’s on the way

 

 

 

 

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