Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Read a book, save a life? I hope so!

A meme I made, featuring my friend's rescue dog as Costello!
As seems to always be the case, I’ve been slammed with all kinds of personal stuff right around release day for my new book, ON THE SCENT, but I don’t want to let the opportunity slip by without relaying my plans for the proceeds for this book. I know I've had those plans outlined on my website for weeks, but it doesn't hurt to reinforce them, now does it?

Since the first book – ON THE SCENT – releases Thursday (mark your calendars people), I'd love to introduce you to two of the characters who pushed and wiggled their way into the forefront of my series. I'm talking about two furballs who kept sneaking onto the page when my attention should have been on the romance between my hero and heroine.

That's right. My romance is full of fluff. Fluff in the form of a snarky cat named Abbott and a goofy dog named Costello.

Perhaps my book's blurb will help explain things a little more:
Hannah Dawson has a big problem: she's just become the unexpected owner of a snarky cat, a lovable but not-so-bright dog… and their $10 million fortune!

Which would be awesome if it hadn't made her the target of every wacko in the metro Atlanta area. Now Hannah and her famous pets need protecting. And there's only one man who can help them…

Enter Zachary Collins: ex-TV star of 'The Psychic Detective' and street-wise private investigator - all 6 foot blue-eyed gorgeousness!

Only Zach's got secrets of his own… not least that he finds Hannah, his client, irresistibly hot. The more time he spends keeping her out of harm's way, the more he's tempted to give in to the attraction and break all his own rules.
Needless to say, I'm a huge animal lover. I loved Abbott and Costello's characters so much while writing them that I wanted a way for the reader to hear their thoughts. Enter my story's hero, a hunky psychic who doesn't realize he's psychic until he meets these two mischievous critters. Oh, there's plenty of romance between the humans in my book, but Abbott and Costello steal quite a few scenes. So I'll tell you straight up: if you don't like animals, this book probably isn't for you. If you love animals as much as I do (or just a little?), I hope you'll give it a try, especially because I'm hoping Abbott and Costello will help me save the lives of other lovable pets.

I’d decided long before I ever found a publisher for this book that I would donate my author proceeds to an animal rescue organization. I considered the Humane Society of the United States, ASCPA, Best Friends and local groups in my area. Honestly, I want to help as many animals as possible, but I think it’s best to start on my own turf where I've seen firsthand how strong the need is.

I’ll be donating half of my author royalties to my local animal shelter, Greenville County Animal Care. I've sponsored many animals on this shelter's urgent list in the past, but I'd love to sponsor a lot more with your help. Hopefully, you'll buy and enjoy the book, too, and keep reading the series. Abbott and Costello appear in all three books, by the way.

I’d already selected my charity organization prior to the news of the past month, but that news has verified that I made the right decision. What news? Two puppy mills on separate occasions were shut down in our area, and the animals were rescued by Greenville County Animal Care Services. Last week alone, in fact, GCACS took in 626 animals — that’s 1 animal every 4 minutes that its doors are open.

My cat, Dusti, who was rescued from a shelter. 
That is completely unacceptable, and I feel both angry and sad that people can be so irresponsible!

Many of these animals will end up on the urgent list, but the great thing about GCACS and what won my dedication, is that it has a rescue coordinator on staff. This person reaches out to hundreds of rescue groups in the region to help save at-risk animals before they are euthanized. Not every animal is saved because rescue groups can’t afford all of the discounted pull fees or don’t have space, but many do go to a safe home. Quite frankly, if only one life is saved, that's cause for celebration.

By sponsoring animals on this list, we’ll be helping numerous rescue groups afford the fees to accept these animals into their care, and out of harm’s way.We'll be saving a life, or two, or lots. I hope lots.

Granted, GCACS isn't a perfect organization, but I believe wholeheartedly that they try to make a difference. Based on my personal observations, they have a tough, thankless job but work hard because the staff and volunteers truly care.

I'm already anticipating questions about why I'm doing this. Why am I donating royalties? Don't I need the money? Yes, absolutely, I do. But I have a roof over my head. I can afford to eat and buy my kitty food. I don't take those things for granted. So what's my ulterior motive? It's quite simple. When I think that I might have never known my little furball, Dusti, I get very upset. She might not realize how lucky she was to have been put up for adoption, but I do. I do this in her honor, for the countless hours of joy she's brought me since we rescued each other. I do this in honor of my best friend's two rescue dogs, Sunny and Valentino, and for the joy they've brought my friend. I do this in honor of all the animals who have been adopted into loving homes, for the joy they've spread in those homes. Quite frankly, the odds were stacked against them all.

And, even if I don't raise thousands or even hundreds of dollars for this cause, hopefully I'll manage to raise a little awareness about the serious problem of homeless and abused or neglected animals in our society.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thank you, Henry Cavill. I love you. Sincerely, Angela

It’s almost release week for ON THE SCENT, and I thought, why not pay tribute to the man who helped me write the thing. Henry Cavill. Seriously. He did! Here’s how:

I’m a big newsreader. I should mention that upfront.

I’d just finished a book I wasn’t sure about — it’s still unpublished — and I was feeling the pressure to publish something soon, or else all of the kind people who’d read CRY WOLF and loved it would lose interest in reading anything else from me (if they hadn’t already). I was brainstorming ideas for a new book when I read a headline.

“Italian Cat Inherits £10m From Owner.”

I read the article, and immediately, my mind was ping-ponging ideas all over the place. I started writing ON THE SCENT that weekend, featuring a sexy private investigator protecting a pretty nurse and her inherited pets from harm.

It was only a few weeks later that the sexy private investigator began to develop certain characteristics that resemble a certain sexy British actor. I was again surfing news headlines, back in January 2011, and I read, “Henry Cavill cast as new Superman.”

Shut up!

I LOVE Henry Cavill….but what about Brandon Routh. I LOVE Brandon Routh, too. Oh, no. So conflicted.

Those were my thoughts. I won’t even mention how big of a Superman fan I was or how excited/conflicted I was about this news. I was really upset on Brandon Routh's behalf that he'd been passed over for the role he'd played in Superman Returns. I should also note that until that point, I only loved Henry Cavill because — and I’m almost ashamed to admit this — he’d caught my attention a couple of years before, being that I am a Twihard. There was an interview with him
From Entertainment Weekly
, discussing how he felt about Stephenie Meyer claiming him as her “dream choice” to play Edward Cullen. I watched the clip and…my goodness, he was gorgeous! And British! Instant love.

I did eventually watch “The Tudors” just to see something Henry was in. Wasn’t a huge fan of the show, but I loved Charles. Basically, after a point, I fastforwarded until I got to any scene with Charles in it. I more enjoyed Henry’s horror film offerings, “Blood Creek” and “Hellraiser: Hellworld,” but I am weird like that.

Anyway, back to the point of this post.

After it was announced Henry was playing Clark/Superman, I became slightly obsessed with him. I got my Entertainment Weekly in the mail with him on the cover, and I pinned some scans of those pictures to my cubicle at work and to my home computer's desktop.

I started to describe the hero of my book, Zachary Collins, like this:
“The torn and tattered old article had been a brief story previewing an upcoming season of The Psychic Detective. A publicity shot of Zachary Collins with his thick, dark hair, square-jawed masculinity, and eyes so blue they’d reminded her of the Georgia sky on a sunny day had taken up most of the page. His charisma in print had packed such a wallop, it was easy to understand why the man had been cast in his own TV show. Who the heck cared if he was psychic or a detective? The man was gorgeous.”

The more I wrote, the more Henry embodied Zach in my head. Zach’s not British, but he is gorgeous, tall, strong and a bit of a tortured hero.

Of course, I don’t know Henry Cavill, so I based Zach on his looks alone. My book was finished and sold to Harper Impulse before I saw “Man of Steel” but I’m pretty sure Henry would be perfectly cast as Zach if anyone, you know, wanted to turn ON THE SCENT into a movie or anything (eh hmmm, hint, hint, Hollywood).

Oh, and to prove I was a big Henry Cavill fan before I ever saw “Man of Steel,” I, uh, actually wrote the man a fan letter. I wished him good luck in the role and even mentioned that he had inspired the hero in my book.

So imagine my delight when I came home from work on July 12 and found a large envelope, postmarked from Jersey in the UK, sitting in my mailbox. I opened it and immediately did a Snoopy dance in my head and I might have even squealed in delight aloud. It was an autographed photo of him, dedicated to me.

Further proof that Henry Cavill is hero-worthy material, don’t you think?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tasty Summer Reads Hop: Guest post from Ana Barrons!

I invited author Ana Barrons to participate in the Tasty Summer Reads Hop, not realizing that Ana doesn't yet have a blog! So I invited her to share what would be her post on the blog hop here on my lil blog. Now I'm craving Italian food. D'oh! Thanks, Ana!

Betrayed by Trust, by Ana Barrons, was released on July 8! 
Catherine Morrissey is devastated when her sister’s body is found on a tiny wooded island on the Potomac. For months, Catherine had hoped that Blair’s disappearance would end with the bright, young Capitol Hill aide found safe and alive. Determined to put pressure on the police to catch the killer, Catherine flies to Washington, D.C.

Joseph Rossi, an investigative reporter for the Washington Herald, broke the story of Blair’s murder—and ruined his chances with Catherine in the process. They’d developed a warm, long-distance connection after Catherine’s sister went missing, but the temptation of the scoop—which revealed some Morrissey family secrets—was too great to resist.

Now together in D.C., Catherine and Joe are thrown into a world of lies, scandal and deadly political intrigue. They must work as a team and learn to trust one another—and their rekindled feelings—if they have any hope of living to see the truth uncovered.

Here's how Ana answered the five questions:

1) When writing, are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty?

Oh, yes, I have to snack, but I try to snack on healthy stuff. And I like to mix the sweet and salty—peanuts and raisins, or sliced apples with cheddar cheese or peanut butter. Yum! Or a bowl of cherries, grapes, whatever's handy. If I'm writing late in the evening I like to snack on Prosecco…and dark chocolate.

2) Are you an outliner or someone who flies by the seat of their pants? Are they real pants or jammies?

I don't really outline. I just write down story and character ideas and a general flow and then see where it leads me. When I'm writing I don't put on real clothes, so when I fly by the seat of my pants they're usually sweats or jammies.

3) When cooking or baking, do you follow the recipe exactly or wing it?

I cook kind of like I write—I have the general idea and then throw in ingredients without doing much actual measuring. Especially if one of the ingredients is garlic. Well, or curry powder. The more the merrier, I always say. (Gosh, I'm learning so much about myself!)

4) What is next for you after this book?

I'm working on a romantic suspense trilogy about two brothers and a sister, all of whom get the s*** kicked out of them in ways that make trusting a partner a real challenge.

5) Last Question...on a level of one being slightly naughty to ten being whoo whoo steamy, where does your book land?

Oh, it's much closer to a ten than a one, but it's not an erotica, so maybe a seven? It's definitely hot!

Here's my Italian mother's secret "recipe" (refer to Question 3) for spaghetti sauce, which Joe makes for Catherine in my book. ;)

Spaghetti Sauce:

Olive oil, lots
Garlic, lots
Large cans of Italian peeled tomatoes (at least two or three); use fresh if you prefer
Little cans of Italian tomato paste
Italian pork sausage, mixed hot and sweet (or whatever you like)
Fresh or dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper
Red wine
Grated Romano cheese

This sauce needs to simmer for a few hours to bring out the flavor, so write on your laptop in between preparation and stirring. I usual dedicate the whole afternoon to sauce-making.
  • In a big pot, put in some olive oil (at least a cup, maybe more if it's a huge pot). 
  • Peel a lot of garlic (maybe a dozen cloves) and put them in the oil, then simmer, making sure the garlic gets soft but not burned. This can take a while. 
  • While that's happening, use some oil to brown the sausages really well (I usually cut them in half to make it faster). Too much oil and you're deep frying them, so be careful. 
  • When the sausages are nicely browned, add them and the oil you cooked them in to the pot. It's all about the oil. 
  • Get out a blender and pour in the canned tomatoes until they're nice and smooth, then throw them in the oil. 
  • Put in a can of tomato paste for each two cans of tomatoes 
  • Add wine, and plenty of it (I use at least half a bottle per batch) 
  • Add the seasonings, and keep tasting the sauce to see whether you need more. 
  • Don't boil the sauce because it will burn, but to get it going put at about medium-high heat. When you see little bubbles forming, lower the heat and keep on low. 
  • About an hour in, add at least a cup of grated cheese. Trust me on this one. 
  • You should stir the sauce very frequently, at least every 10-15 minutes, to make sure nothing's burning. And taste it, adding more herbs or wine or cheese or paste as necessary. 
  • If oil rises to the top, that's a good sign, just stir it in.
Turn it off when the sauce is nice and thick and smooth and delicious. Have a meal and save the rest!


Read my post for the blog hop here, and be sure to check out Ana's website or follow her on social media!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Come hop with me: The Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

Hi everyone! My friend, the fabulous author Sandra Jones, kindly invited me to participate in the Tasty Summer Reads Hop with a bunch of great authors celebrating new releases this summer. If you're looking for a great summer read, simply hop from blog to blog checking out the various authors' books. Please, when you're done reading my post, check out the authors I invited to participate below!

Now, about my fun summer read, ON THE SCENT, available July 25 from Harper Impulse ...

Hannah Dawson has a big problem: she’s just become the unexpected owner of a snarky cat, a loveable but not-so-bright dog… and their $10 million fortune!

Which would be awesome if it hadn’t made her the target of every wacko in the metro Atlanta area. Now Hannah and her famous pets need protecting. And there’s only one man who can help them…

Enter Zachary Collins: ex-TV star of ‘The Psychic Detective’ and street-wise private investigator – all 6 foot blue-eyed gorgeousness!

Only Zach’s got secrets of his own… not least that he finds Hannah, his client, irresistibly hot. The more time he spends keeping her out of harm’s way, the more he’s tempted to give in to the attraction and break all his own rules.

Now, to answer the blog hop questions about myself...

1) When writing are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty?
Yes, I am terrible about snacking without even realizing I'm doing it. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but potato chips are my personal form of Kryptonite. I can't resist them!

2) Are you an outliner or someone who flies by the seat of her pants? Are they real pants or jammies?
Not much of a plotter or outliner, I'm afraid.  I am totally a pantser - and my pants are usually either blue jeans or my comfy Superman jammy pants when I'm writing. :)
3) When cooking or baking, do you follow the recipe exactly or wing it?

In all honesty, I rarely cook or bake, but I'm great at following the directions on boxes! And when I do cook or bake, I follow the instructions...mostly.

4) What is next for you after this book?

I'm finishing the second book in this series and starting on the third. I really love these characters and have had such a fun time intertwining their stories! Fingers are crossed readers will enjoy each book just as much as I have.

5) Last Question...on a level of one being slightly naughty to ten being whoo whoo steamy, where does your book land?
My book probably lands somewhere in the middle, but closer to the slightly naughty side of the scale. Um, maybe a four?

Now, my recipe!

Pea-Nutty Snacks for Dogs
What you'll need:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of oatmeal
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of chicken broth

Mix the flour with the oatmeal and cinnamon and set it aside in a bowl. Next, mix the peanut butter, water and chicken broth, and microwave the mixture for 15 to 30 seconds until it forms a smooth liquid. Add the liquid mix to the flour mix and stir until dough forms.

Shape the dough into small balls or flat cookie-shapes, then place them on a cookie sheet that's been lightly coated with a non-stick spray. Bake at 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius) for 15 minutes and allow the treats to cool in the oven.

Thanks for stopping by! Now, continue the blog hop by checking out these awesome authors on the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

Sandra Jones  |  Charlotte Phillips  |  Rae Rivers   |  Ruth A. Casie

Monday, July 1, 2013

Announcement day: My series is being published!

I've been sitting on this news for a while at my new publisher's request, and whew, is it a relief to finally be able to tell people!

It’s now official! Harper Impulse has very kindly contracted me for three books in my psychic detectives series, and the first book — ON THE SCENT — will be released July 25!!! Yes, that’s only 24 days away! Can you believe it?

If you’ve been following my blog, you might know the difficulties I had in finding a publisher for this book (and planned books in the series). You might be thinking to yourself, Angie, have you finally snapped? No! An amazing thing happened at the beginning of June. And I promise it didn't happen in my imagination!

First things first: I received an offer from a publisher who wasn’t Harper Impulse! Seriously. I had to pinch myself to believe someone had finally shown an interest in the story. I was very down on it at that point. You know, having one of those “Why bother?” moments toward my writing. I had submitted this book to a few publishers, and since I am far too cautious (and weird) to ever jump at a first offer, I sent a nudge email to the other publishers who were still considering ON THE SCENT. I didn’t hear anything at all back that first week, so I assumed the worst, did my research about the publisher who’d offered me a two-book deal, and was thisclose to making the decision to sign with them. Then I logged onto my personal email on a Monday morning and saw two emails regarding my Harper Impulse submission.

I expected to see another form rejection and had to do a what-the-what? double-take when I didn't. That first email was encouraging. It said simply that my manuscript was still being reviewed, and they asked if they could have a decision to me by the end of the week? Well, heck yes! Then I clicked on the second email, sent a short while after the first.

It was from Harper Impulse editor Charlotte Ledger offering me a three-book contract!

I nearly spat out my drink, y’all. Seriously. I DID have to ask someone to pinch me, because I was certain I was either dreaming or having a full psychotic episode at that point. Thankfully, neither was the case. Since I was at work in the Eastern U.S. and Charlotte was based in London, we forgoed “the call” for a series of emails instead. Since I’m a bit of an anglophile nowadays thanks to my obsessions with Doctor Who and Henry Cavill, I was a bit disappointed I wouldn't get to hear her talk, but that’s okay. I kept thinking, “Wow, my future publishing team could be based in Britain!” As in, maybe someday I will have a somewhat legitimate reason to visit London and stalk Henry Cavill and the cast of Doctor Who. Fist pump.

To make a long story short, I weighed the pros and cons of each publisher carefully before deciding to go with Harper Impulse. I kid you not, then the other publisher counter offered. Awesome, right? Er, yes, and kind of not. Basically I’m a big ole wuss, so having to consider this new offer was torture for me. I wanted to tell them both yes, but that’s stupid, I know.

That other publisher was Boroughs Publishing, by the way, and I have nothing but good things to say about my dealings with them. I was a bit sad at finally telling them I was passing, because Jill Limber had shown such enthusiasm for my writing. 

In the end, I went with my gut instinct and accepted the contract with Harper Impulse, and so far, I’m happy with the way things have turned out. Charlotte and I have bonded over a shared love for all things Henry Cavill (he was the physical inspiration for the hero in ON THE SCENT, by the way), and she seems to adore animals as much as I do, I think. She and I…well, we’re getting along like jelly on toast! At least, she hasn't blocked my emails yet. I consider that the start of a promising relationship.

I’ve finished book two of my series and am starting on book three while I also edit book two. Essentially, I’m back to being focused on my writing again, drinking too much caffeine, getting very little sleep, and praying I produce readable material. I’m certain I also look like a Fraggle right now, but heh. I’m a writer. It happens.

So yeah, that's my news. Woot!


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