Thursday, February 19, 2015

The end of the Rockford Files, 35 years later

I hated the idea of my Netflix account until I realized that I could watch every episode of The Rockford Files and Hawaii Five-O with it. The Rockford Files was only six seasons long, so I finished that while I'm still working toward the end of Hawaii Five-O (many thoughts to come on that).

Jim Rockford as played by James Garner was a world-weary, very cautious (you're forgiven for thinking that might mean "cowardly" on occasion) and mostly too-decent-for-his-own-good private detective. But give Rockford a break: he spent five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit until he received a pardon from the governor. Not that it mattered: once a con, always a con, according to many of the people he ran into. All he wanted to do was stay out of trouble and get his $200 a day, plus expenses for honest work. He had some clear boundaries: no domestic cases, and nothing that smelled of organized crime (smart guy). Of course, most episodes found him working a case that he had been dragged into for someone who had as little as he did, which meant that he was frequently short on cash even though he lived in a trailer.

The saying "with friends like that, who needs enemies" could have been something the writers had posted on their walls. Detective Dennis Becker (Joe Santos) begrudged him a phone call and if Rockford reported being shot at he wanted him to produce a witness before he'd file a report. He was also really quick to try and book him on something, and frequently let the even less friendly Lieutenant Doug Chapman (James Luisi) listen in on their conversations for something incriminating.

James Garner as the wry (and did I mention very good looking?) Jim Rockford
While Becker became more supportive after he was promoted to Lieutenant, Rockford's friend Evelyn "Angel" Martin (Stuart Margolin), an ever-hustling con artist, would sell Jim and anyone else out for a nickel. He had no such concept of honor among thieves, and Rockford frequently found himself with a gun in his face on Angel's account.

All of that drama was made up for by Rockford's father, Joseph "Rocky" Rockford (Noah Beery Jr.). He was very simple and could be known to nag Jim (they frequently butted heads about painting and fishing schedules), but he always had his son's back. If only Jim could be convinced to settle down with a nice girl...

In that regard, Rockford was as no-nonsense as he was in the rest of his life. He was highly unlikely to fall into the trap of rescuing the damsel-in-distress (although Kathryn Harrold as a blind stalking victim was irresistible), but he wasn't immune to the femme fatale (Susan Strasberg came thisclose to getting him good). For the most part, though, he was pretty no-nonsense when it came to romance; for the first four seasons, he was on-again, off-again with his attorney Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett). Her departure, coincidentally, signaled the demise of the quality of the show.

The Rockford Files had a much more comedic flair than other detective shows. Rockford certainly wasn't the first detective to throw around clever quips, but because he worked outside of the system he was as likely to roll his eyes and sigh about it as he did so. A lot of the storylines weren't necessarily funny- call me old-fashioned, but murder isn't funny- but Garner's grumbly, sarcastic delivery of his lines would mostly get a laugh. And while Rockford might not have been a felon, he was as much a clever con man as he was a detective. While he may have been more than happy to suss out information at the library (and away from anyone who might have a gun), when he needed to be suave Jim Taggart or Oklahoma oilman Jimmy Joe Meeker in order to triangulate a bad guy, he could do it in a snap. (And someone who has a portable business card printer isn't that reluctant to get in trouble, is he?)

That's a lot of what I liked, but it wasn't perfect. First of all, in most of the episodes there was a car chase; it was as predictable as William Shatner ending up on the roof of a car in T.J. Hooker. While I would still say that the writing was better than much of what's on television now, after a while whenever that came up I'd think, "Huh, that's what they used for filler back then." The rumor is that the damage to the car was one of the things that drove up the cost of the show, which led to some friction between Garner and the network, but I'm not close to anyone involved so I don't really know.

The other star of The Rockford Files
Worse than the car was the fact that the mysteries weren't always that well-conceived. Figuring out who the bad guy was and why they'd done it was usually easy enough, and when it wasn't it was frequently a throw away. The real point of the episode, many times, was to watch Rockford clever himself out of trouble and into catching the bad guy. For four seasons that was fine, but by season five the magic was gone. To the casual viewer (like me), it looked as if Garner wanted less screen time. Understandable, but then it wasn't really clear what the show was about.

Still in all, it was a very good show, just maybe not great. It could be argued that Rockford was a Seventies version of the Forties noir detective, but I don't think he was as bitter or nihilistic. Beneath all of the sarcastic jabs, he was just a guy who wanted to get paid for the work he did, and if he could help the little guy along the way, so much the better. All in all, decent and real, and popular culture is not hurt by such characters.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Interview with Isabella Louise Anderson, author of The Right Design

Although Isabella Louise Anderson's first book The Right Design came out last year, she's been plugged into the Chick Lit community for a while as the founder of the Chick Lit Goddesses. I recently asked her to chat about her work, chick lit in general and her predictions about publishing in the coming year. 

Have you always lived in Texas? Yes, I’m a proud Texan…without the accent.

Why did you decide to split the setting between Texas and Palm Beach? There was no doubt that I wanted to Texas to be part of it, but then added Palm Beach, Florida, because my family has a vacation home there. Having been going there since I was a child, I have a lot of Palm Beach memories.

The Right Design and your upcoming Cards From Khloe's Flower Shop both have a design element to them, yes? Have you worked in the design world? Geez, I wish I could say that I have worked in the design industry, but I haven’t. I knew very little about interior design, but since my parents had recently renovated their house, I learned a lot, which created the job for Carrie in “The Right Design.” As for my upcoming book (due out later this year), I love receiving bouquets of roses, and one day, right before NaNoWriMo started, I got an idea about a woman who owned a flower shop, which was my motivation for “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop.”

Do Carrie and Khloe's stories intersect at all? No. Carrie and Khloe’s stories do not intersect, and are quite different.

Calling yourself a Chick Lit author (and reader!) can earn you some eye-rolls. Why do you think that genre is so controversial? Personally, I think it’s silly that it’s even a topic about the genre being controversial. With so many other genres out there, who’s to say that Chick Lit isn’t one, too? To me, just because it might be perceived that our book covers are pink (mine won’t be because I hate the color pink), it and its characters are most of the time predictable, and the books have a happily ever after, is the same as a black cover with blood and a knife on it, in the Mystery section of the bookstore…it’s just a different genre. As for beloved readers of the Chick Lit genre, I love how they stand up for the books they love!

You know and speak to a lot of other Chick Lit/Romance writers. What do people want to write about? Great question! Whether authors write for themselves, their fans, or their characters, the main thing we want to write is a book that will make our readers feel engaged in the story. We want just not only our characters to feel pain or happiness, but our readers, too.

Isabella Louise Anderson
Which books have caused you the most "pain" and "happiness"? Typically, I’m one who likes books, so no book has really caused me “pain.” Though, when a book isn’t written or edited well enough that I can enjoy the story, to me, that’s very painful. Books that cause me “happiness” are the ones that leave me with a happily ever after ending for the characters.

What do you think readers of Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy want to read about? Most of the time Chick Lit books are predictable, but that’s why readers read them—they want to enjoy the fuzzy warm feeling when the book ends, along with the happily ever after.

Which books have left you with the most "warm and fuzzy"? I would definitely say “Blogger Girl” by Meredith Schorr! If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.

You're an indie writer. What made you decide to go that route instead of the traditional one? While I thought long and hard about self-publishing, my dream to be an author with a publishing house. After “The Right Design” was rejected, there was no doubt in my mind that I still wanted to be an author (no, my dreams weren’t tarnished, just redirected). I had a lot to learn, and that I did! “The Right Design” had a long way to go before it was published, so I hired editors, a cover designer, etc., and didn’t stop until I pressed the publish button. Self-publishing is the best decision I’ve ever made!

At the end of 2014 everyone started talking about how the industry was suddenly hardening and it was going to be much tougher for self-published writers than it had been. If you were going to make some predictions about publishing for the next few years, what would they be, particularly for Chick Lit? To be honest, I’m happy about this. Self-publishing isn’t as easy as it sounds, and I wish some people took it more seriously—like they might if they were published traditionally. As far as the Chick Lit genre, it’s never going to go away. People love the genre because they know that they’re going to get out of it, which is most of the time a happily ever after.

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn't blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing. Isabella Louise Anderson created Chick Lit Goddess to share the love of the following genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance, and Romantic Comedies! She loves featuring authors and their books. She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading. Isabella's short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig's Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.

Contact links


Chick Lit Goddess Links



Do business and pleasure mix?

In the author's debut novel comes a story about picking up the pieces, letting go of the past, and finding love along the way--even if morals are tested!

Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.

Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job--Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be caddish.

But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him--something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

That Old Black Magic (The Lizzie Hart Mysteries) by Caroline Fardig (Interview, Giveaway)

That Old Black Magic…will it put Lizzie under its spell?

Lizzie Hart hoped her first day back at work after nearly being killed would be uneventful.  No such luck.  Before she can finish her morning coffee, Lizzie and her co-workers find a dead body on the rooftop of their office.  Media vultures that they are, the Liberty Chronicle employees are psyched to have first-hand news to report.  Lizzie, however, is devastated when she realizes that the victim is her ex-boyfriend’s brother.

When evidence begins piling up against one of Lizzie’s friends, she reluctantly dons her detective hat once again, determined to find the real killer.  She’s not thrilled about chasing another psychopath around, but she’ll do anything for a friend.  Lizzie’s love life is rapidly becoming a hot mess, too.  Her latest attempt at sleuthing isn’t leaving much time for her budding romance with town hunk Blake Morgan.  Add that to the fact she’s hiding a secret so big it could rock the very core of their relationship, it’s no wonder that Lizzie’s in a tizzy. 

Poor Lizzie ends up juggling a murder investigation, a wacky Wiccan coven, and two men vying for her attention—all while nursing injuries left over from the last time she decided to play Nancy Drew.  It’s a good thing she always has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Caroline Fardig is one of my favorite authors, and believe me when I tell you that I hounded her for months to be able to read her latest release. (Spoiler alert: it's just as funny and clever as her first.) I loved it so much I subjected myself to her trademark snark to discuss it. Read the interview, read my review, and then read the book!

Is it fair to say that the intrepid Miss Hart is a little bit neurotic, maybe even controlling?

What? Neurotic? Controlling? Just because she has frequent outbursts, is always right, and feels the need to save people from themselves? I can’t believe you’d say such a thing.

I'm not going to give too much away, but Blake, the hottie Lizzie drooled over in It's Just A Little Crush, is wrapped around her finger in That Old Black Magic. Lizzie puts him through his paces in both books. Is Blake the kind of guy who likes them hard to get?

Before Lizzie, Blake didn’t have to try at all to get women to fall for him. Lizzie is a challenge, and he needs a bit of challenge in his life, since his job is total cake. Frankly, I think Blake was getting bored with the easy catch. Also, don’t forget they started out as friends, so Lizzie has one thing none of those other women had—Blake’s respect.

You went pretty hard on the occult angle! What made that something you wanted to explore, other than maybe your creepy obsession with Halloween?

Yes, I have a creepy obsession with Halloween. Guilty as charged. Honestly, I got the idea for this book when all of the vampire/fantasy novels were so ridiculously popular. I was so sick of sparkly, sexy bloodsuckers that I went the totally opposite route—how is the occult viewed in real life, small town America? It’s not accepted. The people involved are not considered sex symbols—they’re often shunned. I began playing up the funny angle of that, but as I got into researching and writing, my opinion changed. It’s not cool to make fun of someone because his or her beliefs aren’t accepted by society. I hope people will notice some real emotional transformations in certain characters as they learn that as well. Whew. That was rather deep for me, wasn’t it?

Yes, that was kind of deep and really wonderful, and at the risk of giving a spoiler, Lizzie has a great attitude about that too. When you first started writing and saw what was popular (vampires/zombies/bondage/YA/dystopian), did you ever think that you should try and tailor what you were writing to what was "hot"?

Not really. I try for my books to be as true-to-life as possible (at least in the sense that a series about a small-town copy editor getting tangled up in murder after murder isn’t too unbelievable), so none of those elements would have fit the genre. Sure, I’d love to write a smash hit, but I don’t know how to compete with sparkly vampires and billionaires with hairbrushes. 

Have you ever dabbled in the occult? (Anything from a Ouija board to joining a coven!)

I’m going to have to stop at Ouija Board. I had one as a kid, but it was just another game to me. I’m tolerant of other people’s beliefs, but I don’t personally believe in magic and ghosts and things of that sort. Different strokes.

We know Lizzie's hilarious, but I rolled over laughing when I got to the part about, ahem, crazy girls. Any real-life stories you'd like to share about that?

When I originally read this question, I was going to say “no”, because I’m pretty chill, as women go. I’m not one of those drama queens, and I generally don’t make it a habit of hanging out with them (except for my darling daughter). However, once I really started to think about it, my husband certainly dated a couple of crazy girls before he met me, and my poor little son is getting a taste of it with “dating” in middle school. My husband prefers the term “psycho hose beast”. I know several women that would fit the category, and their significant others can’t seem to get enough of them. So yeah, it’s a thing.

Let's say, roughly, Crush was about infidelity and Magic is about the occult; what is Book Three going to be about and when is it going to drop?

Wow. I have enough trouble paring down my books into a book jacket description, let alone ONE WORD! I’m going to go with phrases. Let’s say Bad Medicine a combo of “back in the saddle” and “fatal attraction”. And it’s going to drop this summer!

FATAL ATTRACTION?! More fatal than the villain in It's Just A Little Crush? Or is someone we already can't stand going to show her true psycho colors? 

Well, not that anything can be “more fatal”—it’s either fatal or it isn’t. ;) [As I was saying about the snark!] Rest assured, there’s plenty of killing and crazy going on in Bad Medicine. And I know you want more Bethany, so I’m giving it to you. You’ll see a new side of her in Bad Medicine.


Psycho coworkers going even more psycho and yet more murder? I'm sure it'll be hilarious and I can't wait!



IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH:  Kindle     Nook
THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC:  Kindle     Nook
  
In honor of the release of THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH will be on sale for $0.99 the first week of February!

About the Author:
CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline is currently hard at work churning out more novels in the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media:
Twitter  


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Updates and observations

Randomly, and if I don't produce links...well, I have my reasons.

+ I am well into Book Nine. (Am I being psychotically paranoid about releasing titles? Maybe.) It's a mystery, I can tell you that much.

+ I know what Book Ten will be about. A short story, and think Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography (kind of). And it just might be released before Book Nine, which would really make this Book Nine, and Book Nine Book Ten. (This is why someone came up with the brilliant idea of titles.)

No titles, but here's a little clue
+ Remember when Amazon Publishing and its imprints were all the rage, circa 2012? Authors wanted to sign with them and observers condemned the potential possibility for collusion (including me)? Um, don't. I'm underwhelmed (and that's a huge understatement) with the quality of their marketing and editorial services. If anyone thought they were going to revolutionize publishing...let's not worry about that anymore.

+ And remember when people were recently bitching about Amazon Vine? Not sure yet what it means, but the pickings are much slimmer than they used to be.

+ As I'm cleaning up my social media experience, I get the sense that others are doing so as well. Not leaving but contracting.

+ Speaking of which, I'm now on Tumblr. Right now it's a lot of food porn, but there will be more Boston and more...whatever else I want :-) If you're on Tumblr look me up.

Back to the books!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cover Reveal for Wish For Me and Drive Of Me (The Djinn Order) by @dianthajones

As I indicated, I'm not going to be doing a lot of blog tours anymore- but of course I'm going to make an exception for the writers I know and love. A. Star, the alter ego of one of my faves, Diantha Jones, is coming out with a new series and I can't wait to read it. (You know I'll be reviewing it as soon as I do.)

Genies and steampunk? Oh, this is going to be good!




Series: The Djinn Order, Act One
Publication Date: March 2015
Genre: New Adult Steampunk Fantasy

Three wishes. Two lovers. One destiny.

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window. As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth...a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.





Designed by: Deranged Doctor Design
Series: The Djinn Order, Act Two
Publication Date: TBD
Genre: New Adult Steampunk Fantasy

The Dream Of Me synopsis will be released after Wish For Me is published.




A. Star is a fan of dirty passion. She likes to read it, and she damn sure likes to write it. Her first adult romance/fantasy novella is called Invasion, an alien romance about sacrificeLover, Divine is the first release from the Mythos: Gods and Lovers series. Future releases under A. Star include three more books in the Mythos: Gods & Lovers series, The Djinn Order novella series, and more.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The New Year's Post


Because we all want to reflect, wrap up and move on.

What I published

I published three books this year. Yeah. And that furthered my resolve that I needed to keep up the ambitious pace I set for myself.

What I wrote

...so I wrote three more books this year. We're still in the universe of The New Pioneers, but I've added a bunch of new characters. All of them are introduced by people you've already met and one of them has been teased. I am excited about the direction the series is taking on and I can't wait to release Book 6. It's a short story that will use a character everyone wanted more of to segue into a subject everyone said I should write more about. (Need a hint? Check my Twitter feed on the right!)

What I read

I read...a lot!




















What can you recommend?

What I watched

I finally gave into my Netflix account when I realized that old Hawaii Five-O and The Rockford Files were on. God, I love Seventies hair. Why do I need to watch so many mysteries? Hmm...

What I'm thinking

In 2007 I wrote four novels. In reality, I wrote four novels in about four months. (Not coincidentally, this was before I joined social media, although I did keep a blog.) I enjoy social media, but I, like many other writers, stressed about which platforms to be on and how to conduct myself while there. So it was a little bit of a relief that Facebook changed its policies to make promotion more difficult. After some research and consideration, I decided to focus my professional efforts...here. (I already posted about some of the changes I’m making to this blog.)

If you’ve been paying attention to publishing news, “suddenly” indies are making less money than we were before. Mark Coker lays out the entirely reasonable proposition that there is now a glut of indie books that exceeds the demands. Having lived through the Dot Com, Real Estate (and even the Mind Body) bubbles, I would say Coker is correct. I would also say that his advice to stay the course and keep writing (and improving) is the only thing we indie writers can do. It’s good to be aware of what opportunities and limitations we have (Kindle Unlimited looks like a good place for shorter works, but overall readers seem to like longer works), but there’s no point in getting worked up over what we can’t control.

What I'm planning

  • My wheels are spinning around the plot for Book 9, and I’ve already started making notes and writing snippets here and there.
  • I’m hoping that I can place more ads on certain sites, but I will definitely be offering more giveaways, particularly on Goodreads. (As always, review copies are free at all times.)
  • I’ll be reading and reviewing three books a month…(yikes!)


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Joining the 21st century

Finally got a tablet, and to no one's surprise but my own I'm reading more.

By nature, I tend to be thrifty, and the fact that I'm a writer when I'm not a stay-at-home homeschooling parent only exacerbates that. I am also a Late Adopter when it comes to technology; I prefer to let other people pay the premium for being the first in line to acquire something and then work out the kinks for me.

Several years ago I had a Blackberry when everyone else was oohing and ahhing over their new iPhones. I was ecstatic about how much I could get done with the tiny keyboard, and I knew that the virtual keyboard wasn't going to cut it. (Stints on my husband's Android smartphone confirmed this.) My primary needs for any kind of device are to read and write. If I can't do those things, there was no reason to invest a lot of money in a smartphone or tablet.

I was willing to muddle along with my laptop until a few months ago when my children's wear and tear damaged the screen hinge to the point that it wasn't comfortable to use. While I could use our computer to a point, my husband needs it more than I do. (Since he's the bread winner of the family, I have no problem saying that.) As my usage of that machine would cut into his productivity, I felt justified finally getting a tablet.

Last week, after weeks of research, I walked into Best Buy and picked up this ASUS model. (I can't link you to the Best Buy page because apparently they're not listing it on their website anymore.) That night I went home and ordered this keyboard case. I will admit that this is not the prettiest case on the market, but it gets the job I need done.


We're in the middle of "the holidays" so I haven't had a chance to write anything extensive on it yet, but I have written five reviews on it. I've also transferred most of my Works in Progress on to it so I can make edits and additions.

More importantly, I've used it to read a lot more than I was able to before. When other authors were sending me their ebooks, it wasn't a portable experience for me unless I printed out a .pdf copy. (I do not recommend this.) Suddenly e-reading is much more enjoyable, and I look forward to reading and reviewing a lot more.

(I'll also add that it makes homeschooling a lot easier: there are a bunch of library books my sons have been able to read on the Kindle, and the Netflix app makes it very easy to watch documentaries.)

So with that new development in mind, what do I have next up on my reading list? The Moon Spinners by Mary Stewart, which I got from...my library. Why? Because it's not available in e-format yet.


Ah, technology!