Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

My parents are visiting. I’m happy they are here. I haven’t seen them for a couple of months. And, I’m particularly grateful that my dad was capable of making the trip. He’s battling prostate cancer, finishing his radiation treatments last week.
He feels good, looks good, and hasn’t had any side-effects to date. Again, I’m grateful.

A cancer diagnosis often turns the world topsy-turvy. My dad faced the tilt-a-whirl news with the same quiet, steadiness that I’ve always known him to have. He read the literature the oncologist passed to him, listened to the recommendations, proceeded with the treatment, commenting that he hoped the daily doses of radiation would be administered in the mornings so that he could be about his gardening in the afternoons.

Henry David Thoreau wrote that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. I believe my dad leads a life of quiet inspiration. Without lectures, he has shown us love, dedication, and faith. An abiding faith that allows him to take what comes and push forward, steady, unwavering, and unflustered.

He continues to work his garden, piddle in his workshop, and watch Braves baseball. And I am grateful.
Grateful for one more year, one more month, one more day with the quiet man who is my dad.

~Kristal Lee

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Friday, June 11, 2010


I’m a Type A personality masquerading as a Type B. Outwardly, I appear laid back, even-tempered, and mellow. And I am, outwardly. On the inside, I’m a rocket ship on steroids firing off to all four corners of the universe and every destination in between. Usually at the same time and faster than ludicrous speed.

And because of this, some times the little things derail my trajectory.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been dealing with yard issues. A grass jungle in competition with the Amazon. Central Florida, rainy season, and St. Augustine grass are the ingredients you need to build your own. Oh, and a yard man waylaid by a family emergency and his own bout with the summer flu.

Although I’m prone to exaggeration, growing up in a Southern family descended from Irish immigrants who believed story telling was a momentous event and the bolder, the more outrageous, the better, I’m not embellishing when I say that our grass is up to my knees and climbing.

Hear that pop? It’s the sound of my Type B persona cracking.

Home Owners Associations, neighbors, and snakes. Oh crap!

Each day that creeps by without the sounds of a mower fists my stomach tighter than a fishing net caught in a boat motor. I called other lawn services for assistance. If they remember to show up, their quotes are more than my hubby is willing to pay. I, on the other hand, would take a second mortgage on the house just to get the job done.

This week has been especially tough and my stress has rocketed past my intergalactic shuttle blowing my Type B cloak to smithereens. I begin wondering, where in CF could I buy a machete. Soon, I might have to whack out a path to rescue the dogs.

And then something wonderful causes a shift in perspective.

I let the dogs out to play, hoping they won’t get lost in the tangle and drown. While I fear having to traipse after them with nothing but flip flops to protect my feet, they have no qualms about diving in and parting the green sea.

Well, one of them doesn’t.

Brave little basset.

All I can see is the white tip of his tail above the lush blades bending to the slight breeze the same way that the leaves in the trees rustle. He leaps. He stalks. He hunts with the determination of Pooh tracking his honey pot.

For that little basset the mountainous green blob about to swallow the house is a land of adventure. A land of opportunity. A land no longer deemed just the place to do his doody.

Watching him play, and grin—yes, he has this weird dog grin, open mouth, flash of teeth, long, lolling tongue, helps de-escalate my stress and teaches me that when things aren’t perfect maybe it’s because I’m looking at the situation the wrong way. Like a kaleidoscope, when we don’t like what we see, we can shift perspectives for a new outlook. Sometimes that slight modification of attitude sets the universe back on its axle and we move forward once again.

It works.

As I began writing this post the endearing sounds of a weed-eater enchanted my ears. My heart beat a little faster than normal. I race the dogs to the French doors, throw back the sheer curtains, my hand flies to mouth, my fingers fan my lips.

There he is…my yardman…my hero for today. Fighting his way through the backyard wilderness to conquer the monstrous turf eating at my sanity.

Some might think, poor little basset. He’s lost his novel land of exploration.

Not to worry. He’s just as content to chase the lizards and geckos from the back porch. Or bark at the deer meandering behind the fence. He’s happy-go-lucky that way. Amazing that he has such resilience after being abused and abandoned and rescued from a kill shelter before finding his forever home with us.

Reminding me again, we can’t control the challenges we face but we can change the view. After all, life is all about perspectives.
~Kristal Lee

** Some may have wondered why we didn’t cut the grass ourselves. The short answer is that we don’t own a lawn mower. Those who know us understand why.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Author Interview with Michelle Young

I’m pleased to have romance author, Michelle Young, as a guest. She is the fabulous author of Dragonstone.

Book Blurb:
Lady Katerina is the independent, headstrong heir to the Latharian throne; the one to fulfill the prophecy and defeat Black Magic. When betrayal and a violent Awakening transform her own magical Dragonstone Black, she vanquishes it, rendering her virtually powerless. Now, after a three-year sojourn, she returns to claim her crown and discovers sinister forces are working against her. Though able to handle a weapon as well as any man, Katerina reluctantly agrees to a peronal guard. Amongst the candidates, one man emerges; the handsome but infuriating knight, Sir Logan Shepherd. Can she trust him with her secrets?

Logan harbors secrets of his own. He needs to break through Katerina’s defenses and earn her trust. Katerina, however, is proving to be maddening, as well as captivating. Can he fulfill his duty and keep his heart?

Unless the prophecy is fulfilled, Latharia will be destroyed.

To fulfill the prophecy, the truth must be revealed.

Revealing the truth could destroy everything.

Welcome, Michelle!

Tell us about yourself:

In my ‘other life’ I work as a speech pathologist. Writing started out as a hobby and blossomed into something I never expected-a second career. I still work part time as an SLP, for now. Who knows what the future holds? I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family. My husband is beyond supportive and has helped write some scenes (yes, he allows people to assume he helped with “those” scenes), but in truth, he was really helpful in writing the battle/sword fighting scenes. He also is great to bounce story ideas off of. My kids are great too-although they are too young to read Dragonstone. I have told them they cannot read it until they are eighteen.

When/how did the story and characters for Dragonstone come to you?

It sounds corny to say I was inspired, but it is true. Some of the basics for the story and some of the scenes were in my mind for a long time. One day, I was simply compelled to write it down. And then I just kept writing. One scene just flowed into another. Not that it was perfect the first time around. After I wrote the story out, my husband and a friend read it. They offered suggestions on expanding, adding, etc. In fact, from the first draft to final product, the story doubled in length.

How long was Dragonstone in production before publication was realized? And what were the steps that took you there?

It took me a total of six months to write Dragonstone. Soon after it was completed, I met Rhonda Penders; one of the owners of The Wild Rose Press. I pitched my story to her and she told me to submit. After a bit more work on the manuscript, I submitted to the Senior Editor of the Faery Rose division of The Wild Rose Press, sending a query letter and synopsis. A few months later, a partial (first three chapters) was requested. Another two month wait (or so), my editor, Sarah, wrote and asked for the full manuscript. Another wait (I don’t remember how long), she offered me a contract. After 5 months of editing with Sarah, it was ready for publication. This was in May of 2008. The e-book release date was Nov. 15, 2008 and it was released in print Feb. 15, 2009.

What about this story grips your heart?
It is a story about survival, overcoming the past and learning to trust and love again. The characters are likeable, yet human; each having their own faults. Ultimately, it is a “love conquers all” story. The strong, self-reliant heroine learns that she does not have to face impossible tasks alone.

For me, personally, I have been blessed by the fact that I married my best friend. We live in the belief that, together, we can handle anything. Although that is not what was on my mind when I wrote Dragonstone, as I look back on it, that message is definitely at the heart of the story.

Why have you chosen the paranormal romance genre for your writing endeavors?

I love dragons, magic, fantasy, mythical creatures and creating new worlds. I am a sucker for handsome knights, bad-boy heroes, strong heroines and happy endings. Paranormal romance allows me to write about all of my favorite things.
I also love writing in the medieval period, which is when Dragonstone is set. There is something very magical and romantic about that time period. But Dragonstone is more than a love story; it includes elements of a basic epic fantasy; mythical races (i.e.,elves, dragons), a quest, plot twists, good vs. evil, etc.

In one of the major battle scenes, the fight combines magic along with medieval warfare, which creates, I think, an incredible and exciting climax.

Do you belong to any writing or other professional organizations and how have they helped you along your career path?

I belong to the Romance Writers of America and as well as my local chapter (Central Florida Romance Writers). I can honestly say I would not have gotten published without the CFRW. I learned SO much about writing, publishing, etc. from the ladies in that group-I owe them a great debt.

What’s next for you?

The sequel to Dragonstone, entitled, “The Dragon’s Heart” has been contracted and will probably be released early 2011. It is the next generation, so to speak, with the heroine being the daughter of the couple in Dragonstone. It has some of the same characters as well as several new ones. Like Dragonstone, it is filled with unexpected plot twists and is far more than just a love story. The Dragon race is much more predominant in this story, with a few of the main characters being Dragons who can take human form.

“The Dragon’s Heart” took me longer to write (over a year),but I am very happy with the way the story turned out. It stays true to the medieval fantasy, with a splash of Greek Mythology thrown in.

Any inspiring words for aspiring authors?

Write the story that is in your head-or heart. Don’t stress about what will sell or what meets whose criteria. Write the story and the rest will follow. The important thing is to write if you enjoy writing. When it stops being fun, it is time for a break. If it is fun, then keep writing. If the words are not perfect the first time, that is really OK. To quote Nora Roberts: “You can’t fix a blank page.”

Thank you, Michelle, for visiting today. I’d like everyone to know that Michelle Young’s first novel, “DRAGONSTONE,” has received all 5-star reviews and won “Top Pick of the Year” (Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction). For more information or to read the reviews, visit her website Michelle or become a fan on Facebook!/pages/Author-Michelle-Young/119120791436799

“Dragonstone” is available from The Wild Rose Press in paperback or e-book formats. It is available at Borders bookstores in Central Florida. It can be ordered at most bookstores (Borders, Barnes & Noble, locally owed stores), through online bookstores (i.e. Amazon) or directly from the publisher:
Coming Soon from Michelle Young:

Stay tuned for more information on a release date!

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