Thursday, February 27, 2014


Hey everybody, I am doing the UNTHINKABLE. I am giving away PAPERBACKS!!!! Two to be exact. I would love for you to be one of the winners....I have just now submitted a request to lengthen the contest so that more people can get in on it... I hope you are one!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

An Unexpected Performance by Kim   Smith

An Unexpected Performance

by Kim Smith

Giveaway ends March 13, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Hello, MB4 fans and friends!

Today we are featuring a very cool mystery giveaway. R.P. Dahlke, owner of the All Mystery E-Newsletter, has authorized us to give away one eBook copy of her book, Hurricane Hole, a sequel to Dangerous Harbor.

All you have to do is comment below to be eligible, and leave us your email or a way to contact you for your prize when you win!

Without further ado, here is a bit about Hurricane Hole!

Marooned in Baja, Mexico, a Chechen arms dealer is waiting for the right diver to retrieve the deadly cargo lying at the bottom of the Sea of Cortez. But when Leila Hunter Standiford, on hiatus from her TV contract happens to admire a handsome captain aboard a beautiful vintage Alden, she doesn’t realize the boat will soon burn to the water line, or that a dead body will be found below, or that the captain has been targeted as the sacrificial diver, or that meeting the captain will forever change her life...

Hurricane Hole
Chapter One Excerpt

Weather Forecast for the Baja and the West Coast of the Mainland Mexico, Wednesday, October 30th.
“Yes, folks, it’s still hurricane season, the last day of the official Pacific Hurricane Season in fact, and a Hurricane Watch has been issued this morning by the Mexican Government for the Gold Coast area from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta. Tropical Storm Ursula has now been energized by warmer waters above the ITZ and she is expected to be generating sustained winds of 75-85 miles per hour within the next 12 hours. She is forecasted to build to a Category 3 or 4 hurricane within 36 hours. Six to 12 inches of rainfall are expected over portions of the central part of this region.
Ursula is turning out to be Hot, Wet and Wild for a late season storm. Major flooding and high storm surges are also expected in the Watch Areas and could become much worse if higher than normal tides develop due to the full moon combined with the high surges.
Of course, the next question on your mind is — will hurricane Ursula continue in the northwest direction, gather strength, and continue up into the Sea of Cortez like last year? I will have more on this tomorrow here on the Sonrisa Net on 3968 kHz LSB at 13:45 UTC. This is KE7DLH , Baja Bob clearing off until tomorrow.”
Read more here.

Not only is Rebecca an author, but she also runs a great newsletter that features deals on MYSTERIES and THRILLERS! See it here.
You also might want to sign up for the newsletter to get great deals. Click on the image below to go to the website to sign up.

RP Dalhke, Author Bio:

I sort of fell into the job of running a crop-dusting business when my dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I was never a crop-duster.

I write about a tall, blond and beautiful ex-model turned crop-duster who, to quote Lalla Bains, says: “I’ve been married so many times they oughta revoke my license.” I wanted to give readers a peek at the not-so-perfect-life of a beautiful blonde. Lalla Bains is no Danielle Steele character, she’s not afraid of chipping her manicure. Scratch that, the girl doesn’t have time for a manicure what with herding a bunch of recalcitrant pilots and juggling work orders just to keep her father’s flagging business alive.

Special Note:

Book Promotion at All Mystery is open for part of March. I will be closed mid-march as I'm going to Left Coast Crime, Monterey, California.

I'll also be at Tucson Festival of Books, Booth #116, March 15-16, 2014:
Left Coast Crime, Monterey, March 20-23:

I'll be on a panel, Thursday, Noon, promoting and I'll bring pdf printouts of "Jump Start Your Book Promotions" to hand out to attendees until I run out!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Part Two of My Candid Interview with Freelance Publicist Mayra Calvani


Dora Machado

I met Mayra Calvani last year when my publisher recommended her services to help promote my 2013 release, The Curse Giver. Until that moment, I hadn't really understood what a good book publicist was all about. Mayra's access to high-quality websites and blogs impressed me, as did her organizational skills and her ability to follow up and deliver on the specific services she offers. 

She knows what she's talking about.

If you are considering buying a book publicity package and you haven't read the first part of this interview, go back and take a look. You'll be happy you did. Today, Mayra gives us her take on the importance of marketing a novel, the role of social media and the future of book promotion.

Mayra Calvani

Welcome back, Mayra. In the highly competitive world of book publicity, how are you able to publish your reviews and promote your authors in so many quality, high-visibility, high-traffic sites?

I started writing for all these sites years ago. My aim then was to build a platform and promote my own books, as well as promote other authors' works. At some point, about three years ago, I told myself that I could maybe create an interview package for authors and make a little extra money in the process. So that's how it started.

Early this year, my cloud expanded to several great blogs created by Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion (, a terrific lady and company to work with. She invited me to be an author on her various blogs. The value of my packages greatly increased since then. I'm immensely grateful to Dorothy for this opportunity. I love working with her.

Is social media important? How do you use Facebook and Twitter to your authors' benefit? Are there other trends that have a positive impact on book promotion?

I share my clients' promo links on Twitter (I pre-schedule multiple tweets over a period of time) and on various Facebook and Goodreads book-related groups.

Social media can be effective, but it has to be done well. By this I mean that an author mustn't only self-promote; he must offer valuable content and spend some time each week really interacting with his followers. This, of course, is time consuming.

But again, nobody seems to have a magic formula. While some authors are having success increasing sales via social media, others who are also doing it right aren't selling books at all.

Street team is a new concept that uses social media to create a group of fans to spread the word about a book. I don't offer this service but some publicists are doing it. I'm not too informed about its effectiveness to give my opinion on it, but I'm curious about it and in fact plan to hire a publicist in the near future to create one for me.

You ask about other trends…  I'd like to mention that many fellow authors are having success with promotional sites such as and This is certainly worth checking into by authors. As I said before, though, success also depends on the book's cover, blurb, and genre. 

What happens when an author concentrates on writing but neglects book promotion?

Like I said earlier, according to Bowker's, approximately 3,000,000 books were published in 2011. I don't think I need to say anything else—except to remind authors that while book promotion is important, nothing is as important as producing that next book. Meaning, never let promotion get in the way of writing.

Do you think that your success as a book publicist is connected to your success as an author and/or your writer's skills?

Interesting question, and one that makes me think about how I got started as a freelance publicist. As it usually happens, one thing leads to another.

I reviewed for years before I co-wrote The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. I never thought or planned to write a book about reviewing. One thing evolved organically from the other.

The same thing happened with freelance publicity. I never intended or thought I would do publicity. Like I mentioned earlier, I interviewed authors and wrote for many online magazines for free for years before I thought, “Hey, I can create promo packages and charge for doing this.”

As an author, though, I'm sensitive to other authors' concerns when it comes to promotion—especially their pocketbook. I like to offer good value for the money.

Mayra Calvani's Favorite Tea Room in Brussels, where she lives

How do you balance writing and book promoting? What's the workday like for a book publicist?

I have developed a schedule that works for me. I try to do my writing and creative work in the mornings. That's when my mind is fresh and rested and when I'm at my best creative wise. My writing comes first. If I'm in the process of editing a book, I'll do it in the mornings as well. I wish I could be one of those authors who writes eight hours a day, but my brain doesn't work the same after midday. It gets tired. I just don't have the mental stamina.

Afternoons are for my own book-related stuff, my own book promotion, answering emails, etc. Evenings are usually for my freelance book publicity. 

I'm flexible with my afternoons and evenings, but I try to be non-negotiable with my mornings. Of course, life often gets in the way, but if I can avoid it, I seldom make appointments with doctors or friends in the mornings. I know from experience that a morning of no writing done means a day of no writing done.

Since I adopted this schedule two years ago, I've been more productive than ever—and less busy.

Putting on your writer's hat, tell us about your books. What kinds of books do you write, what's in your pipeline, and are you currently promoting a new release?

I write fiction and nonfiction for children and adults on both sides of the spectrum, from children's picture books to horror for adults.

I recently completed a YA fantasy that landed me an agent in late August. I'm currently working on another YA novel and awaiting the release of yet another one next spring. One of my children's picture books, A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear ( just came out and I'm busy promoting it.

Readers can find out more from my website at

I have a separate site for my children's books at 

Trick question: Do you think about book promotion when you are writing your books? Should authors be thinking about book promotion when we are crafting our novels?

I generally don't think about book promotion when writing my books. I try to focus on enjoying the writing process itself and feeling passionate about my subject, story, and characters. And, of course, on improving my craft and writing the best book I can possibly write.

Having said this, there's a part of me that sometimes worries about my audience and the effect my choices may have in later promoting the book.

For example, I'm currently working on a YA psychological thriller with Hispanic characters set in Puerto Rico in the 1970s.

Well, right there I think: This is suicide. I'm narrowing my audience big time! Why not set it in the present in the U.S. or England, thus greatly widening my audience?

But I can't do that. Why? Because I have to stay true to the story and characters, that's why. Of course, if in the future my agent or publisher suggests I change the time and setting, I would give it serious consideration. But for the moment, while writing it, I can't change it based on future book promotion. The story and characters would lose authenticity. They would feel fake. I would lose passion.

Looking forward, what does the future of book promotion look like?

More and more of it will be done online. We'll see more audio and video reviews and interviews.

Thank you so much for visiting with us!

Thanks for this opportunity, Dora. It was great chatting with you.


About Mayra Calvani:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she's not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.



About Dora Machado:

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

When she is not writing fantasy, Dora writes features and interviews for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers, and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Power Outages in Our Writing

by Kim Smith
Potholes are commonplace in the south in winter and spring. They occur due to inclement weather conditions, mostly rain. No matter what they are, they signal worrisome woes on any highway, byway, or road. Literary potholes are no different and when we are on the “Road to Writing a Novel” show up at the worst time, when you cannot swerve around them, and they can hamper your efforts to get somewhere with your writing.

But you can avoid them if you are wise and watchful. Here is a short list of things that will detour your journey:

1. Answering too many emails.

The novel or short story can face power outages if you have more than one email to answer over the course of an hour. Some of the emailers want to chat, some want answers to writing questions, and some want an interview. Taking the time to answer all of these emails and commit to the various requests will make your muse plop down and take a nap.

2. What time did you put down to write?

Your writing was scheduled to begin as soon as you got the kids off to school on Monday, but on Monday your son needed cleats for his ball gear. Then, your husband had a dinner guest coming unexpectedly for Tuesday night, and it was Wednesday before you revisited the calendar. So why hasn’t it gotten underway? Because by now you are mentally anguished and out of resources and cannot write. No wonder! You haven’t put any time aside for you.

3. Let's try this one!

Sometimes "new" ideas come to you and take your mind off the current WIP. It’s okay to do the stop and start thing if you KEEP GOING on the current WIP. Don’t let the idea monster gobble up the idea you are already working on. Put the new ideas on paper and file them for the week after you finished this first draft.

4. Another writer gets a contract and you are eating their dust!

Sometimes when a writer friend of ours hits the jackpot and gets a contract for an agent or publisher, it means the death of our time. We spend an enormous amount of energy either being jealous and not talking to them anymore, or acting like a burr in their sock and wanting to be as close to them as possible to learn as much as we can about the experience. Either way, it is a muse killer and soon our own writing is left behind.

5. Why don't we talk anymore?

When the writing pace decreases, the first place to look is a sagging middle. Most published authors will tell you, it is the middles that will kill writing efforts. My advice to fix a sagging middle or a basic beginning that is going nowhere is to kill someone. Killing off a character will definitely shake things up and get the ball rolling again.

What other things can you think of that will keep your writing on track? Many of you are planning on trying out the NanoWriMo method next fall. If you will keep these things in mind, you may find you are more successful than you have ever dreamed of being.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Effective Book Publicist

Part I of My Candid Interview with Freelance Publicist Mayra Calvani


Dora Machado

Are you thinking about employing a book publicist to promote your new release? Are you considering buying a book promotion package? Are you struggling to decide between multiple types of book promotion services?

If you are one of the thousands of authors trying to decide where to put your promotion dollars, you'll want to get into Mayra Calvani's head. She knows what it takes to market a novel. As an author, she understands the challenges. As a publicist, she's done the heavy lifting.

In the first part of her candid interview today, Mayra defines the qualities and capabilities of an effective book publicist, the hallmarks of a solid publicity package, and the easiest and hardest aspects of her job. She also tells us what an author can do to make her job easier and why reviews are important.

Mayra Calvani, pictured here with Ramses

Welcome, Mayra. It's a pleasure to have you with us today. I understand that you are a gifted novelist, but I also know from my own experience working with you, that you are a very talented and effective book publicist. Tell us your story: Which came first and how did you go from one to the other?

Thank you, Dora! It's a pleasure being a guest on MB4.

I don't know about “gifted novelist” or “talented book publicist”—but thank you very much for your kind words!

I've been a writer for most of my life, and I'm a full-time author. But, as you know, authors often need another stream of income and, until I get that six-figure advance, I'm enjoying doing a little freelance book publicity on the side.

I just want to make clear from the start that I'm not a publicist in the traditional sense of the word. I haven't set up a business nor a website to advertise my services. I only do this on a freelance basis and my clients are referred to me by word of mouth 90% of the time. I'm happy with only a couple of clients a month—or, at times, none at all. That's fine by me. I wouldn't want publicity to get in the way of my writing.

Putting on your book publicist hat, what kind of services does someone like you provide, and why should authors consider including services like yours in their marketing plan?

I offer several promotional packages to build visibility. I write for over 15 sites and blogs, and I make the posts there. The packages may be interview only, or profile only, or a combination of interviews, guest posts, profiles, reviews, and blog talk radio. I secure reviews and serve as an intermediary between authors and bloggers. I'm quite flexible and work one-on-one with authors and I'm open to a la carte services.

However, I don't do virtual book tours, per se. That is, I don't coordinate the posts according to dates. I simply make sure the posts are up within a specific frame of time (1 or 2 weeks or longer, depending on the author's preference), and I send the links to the author as they go live. Once the promo is over, I compile all the links and send them to the author in a Word document.

An author may have written a masterpiece, but if he doesn't put himself out there, no one will find out about it. There's just too much competition. I recently read in Bertram's Blog ( that, according to Bowker's, the company that issues ISBNs, approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011. This is a shocking, staggering number. How can readers learn about an author's book unless there's a big publisher with a big marketing campaign behind him? One way is by taking advantage of what the Internet has to offer: interviews, guest blogging, blog talk radio, reviews, virtual book tours, etc.

That is a staggering number of books published each year! With that, I've also noticed that there are a lot of outfits offering book publicity packages. It gets really confusing for authors, especially newbies, who may be trying to promote a first novel. In your opinion, what are the qualities that make a book publicist effective and what are the hallmarks of an excellent publicity package?

An effective publicist should have a solid pool of bloggers and reviewers to work with. She should also have access to high-traffic sites and popular blogs. She should also be clear about her services and not be misleading, thus creating false expectations. In my case, I make it clear to my clients that my services are limited to online sites and blogs. I don't do TV or national radio, nor do I coordinate author appearances in bookstores or libraries. I don't set up Skype interviews either.

Visibility doesn't always equate to sales, and this is something not many newbies understand. Other factors, such as an eye-catching cover, an intriguing blurb, and the book's genre, have a vital effect on book sales. Great writing doesn't always come into the picture. Based on my experience working with authors, good storytelling has a heavier impact on sales than good writing. But still, it's a mystery. Many books have all these qualities, yet they don't sell well. If I knew the secrets of making a bestseller, I would be rich.

A good publicity campaign should include variety in the form of press releases, online interviews, guest posts, profiles, reviews, street team, blog talk radio—and, of course, national radio and TV appearances, if possible. All these can be compiled and added to the author's media page on their website. Of course, publicists handling national radio and TV will be more costly. As well as those services that include booking in-person visits/signings at schools, bookstores, and libraries. 

Do you promote all kinds of books or do you specialize in a particular genre? Are there some books that are harder to promote than others? Is there any credence, for example, to the idea that nonfiction books are easier to promote than novels?

I don't work with erotica, war stories, graphic horror, or religious books. YA novels, romance, suspense, paranormal, fantasy and mystery are easier to promote. YA fiction is the easiest to promote, by far. I do some horror, but that's always a tough genre to market, even if it's soft and not too graphic. I also find espionage novels hard to promote. My pool of bloggers and reviewers are 99% women, and they usually stay away from this genre. From the feedback I've received, they seem to have trouble keeping up with all the different characters and POVs in an espionage novel.

Nonfiction isn't necessarily easier to promote. It depends on the subject and the pool of bloggers that the publicist works with. Not many bloggers or reviewers are going to be interested in promoting a book about income tax, for example, but many may be open to a book on organization and productivity.

Mayra's Favorite Tea Room in Brussels, where she lives.

What is the hardest aspect of your job as a book publicist?

One of the hardest aspects is trying to find bloggers and reviewers for genres that aren't too popular, such as horror, espionage, memoirs (unless they have female appeal like Eat, Pray, Love). It's disheartening to send out a review request to 100 bloggers and only receive two or three responses.
Dealing with bloggers and reviewers who are unresponsive or don't keep their word can also be quite frustrating.

What is the most satisfying part of the job?

Meeting new authors and finding out about their stories, interacting with them and helping them promote their books.

How does an author make your job easy?

Proofreading their guest posts and interviews before sending them to me for posting. Following instructions about the size of covers and author photos. Too many times they send files that are either too large or too small. Answering interview questions in an informative, thoughtful manner. Readers and online blogs and publications don't like cookie-cutter interview answers, and some sites like Blogcritics, for example, won't publish an interview if the answers are one-liners. I'm not sure why some authors do this, as they really make themselves look bad. They make the interviewer look bad as well.

Are reviews important to a book promo effort? If so, why?

They certainly are, especially nowadays when Amazon reviews seem to have such a heavy hand on how a book is perceived by the public. Yet, reviews aren't the only criteria and, again, great reviews don't always equate to sales.As it stands right now, the more reviews, the better. However, I'm not referring to 2-3 line endorsements obviously given gratuitously by the author's family members and friends. I don't think this carries any weight on smart readers. I'm talking about thoughtful reviews that don't sugarcoat the book.

But you also ask why…

My response is because people want to read what other people are reading. It's human nature.

Thanks Mayra. You've given us lots to think about. I look forward to continuing this very helpful discussion in part two of our interview, coming up next Wednesday.


About Mayra Calvani:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she's not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.


About Dora Machado:

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

When she is not writing fantasy, Dora writes features and interviews for Murder By Four, an award-winning blog for readers and writers, and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

copyright aaron paul lazar, 2014
Hi, folks! Happy Valentines Day!

I think I deserved this room, back in 2011. Now it’s been a few years, and my room has just been changed over to a “romantic” baby room for daughter number three, who’s coming home soon to raise her almost-born baby as a single mom. But here’s a fun story about how this came to be. Hope you enjoy it!


After a year of giving up my newly renovated antique house to my dear daughter, beloved-but-unemployed son-in-law, four grandkids, pregnant mother cat, one hormonally challenged male dog, and a still-chewing everything puppy…  (while being unemployed myself during much of that time..)

After looking the other way when antiques were scratched, lamp cords were chewed off, couch skirts were peed on, satin fabric was clawed apart, our new Oriental rug was destroyed…

After having to search for a single fork in a sink full of dishes almost every day (“We’ll do them in the morning, Dad!”), dealing with a sore back from bending over a thousand times a day to pick up casually tossed cheese stick wrappers and toys, and wondering if I’d ever get into the laundry room to do laundry for my wife and me…

After all that – I think I deserve this new room of mine.

 Okay, those of you who know me realize I’m exaggerating, because I adore my daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and animals. Since they moved out to their own lovely little Cape Cod just two miles down the road a month ago, I’ve been filled with conflicting with feelings of terrible despair-filled longings for their company... mixed with blessed relief. I call them constantly, with any little excuse. And I ache to see the kids every second of every day.

But there is a bright side to all this, and it’s the reclaiming of our home. It’s clean. Oh, is it clean. Organized. Tidy. Polished. Shiny. Dust-free.

This is the 200th anniversary of our 1811 house, and in the spirit of giving ourselves a little reward, I decided to redo the boys’ bedroom. We gave the kids all the furniture, anyway, so it made sense to change things around a bit.

I’ve never had a writing room. I’ve never had a home office. I never even had a corner of a room that could be mine, where I could write in quiet and focus on getting my characters into trouble, and finagle the plot so they could be saved again. I always had to clamp headphones over my ears to drown out the television, or get up at 4 AM to find some quiet time to write.

My usual typical writing spot is my comfy leather chair in our bedroom. It’s too close to the TV, though, and my wife enjoys have it on all the time. But I like to be with her, so I hang out in the bedroom in the evenings. But that means I'm always tuning out whatever sit-com blasts from the darn thing. 

Sometimes, for an hour or so in the freezing cold dark winter mornings, I sit in the living room downstairs while the fire takes hold in the woodstove. But I'm often distracted by the need to let the dogs in and out, clean the cat pan, put a load in the washer or dryer, make my lunch for work, take out something to defrost for dinner, load up the wood rack by the woodstove, etc. You get my drift, all the usual pre-work morning stuff. So unless I got up, again, at 4 or 5 AM, I don’t get much time to focus on writing.

Okay, so all this is leading up to me trying not to feel guilty for spending too much money on what I’m calling my “zen* room”. It’s a romantic writing, reading, thinking, quiet room. I thought of my wife when I designed it, and have also referred to it as her “sitting room”, because I made it kinda girly-pretty and put her Keurig coffee maker in there.

I know, I know. You’d expect a guy to want a MAN cave, right? Something with lots of leather, dark wood, heavy curtains, beer posters, big screen TV, sports trophies, and the like. Well, I have something sort of like that in our living room already, with my nice dark antiques and brown leather couch and club chair. Ahem. Minus the beer posters and sports trophies.

But this time I departed from that model. I guess I figured I wouldn’t feel so guilty for spending the money if I designed it with my wife in mind.

So in spite of the fact that it’s kind of a feminine room, I must state that I consider myself a regular guy in some aspects. I love to do handyman projects around the house, can’t wait to play with the snowblower and lawn tractor, adore chopping down acres of brush and clearing land, and have a list a mile long of outdoor brick-laying type projects I can’t wait to start.

But I’m also a guy who loves some not-so-typical things. I’m a great deal like my character, Gus LeGarde, who is frequently referred to as a Renaissance man. Gus and I love antiques. We love Chopin. We love to cook. We love French Impressionist art. We love nature. We love to hike. And, we love to cross-country ski.

So, that was my lame attempt to prove to you that I really am a semi-regular guy in spite of how pretty this room is. Ha.

What inspired this? My hairdresser.

Yeah, really. The lady who cuts my hair was running late last month. She offered to let me sit in her new little new-age-comfy room with the water fountain and a foot bath. It was so darned comfortable I almost fell asleep several times, and I realized that I wanted one, too!

So, let me show you what I did over the past month.

I asked my wife what color walls she wanted, and she chose a pale, pale orange sherbet color. On an impulse, I checked out a Ruby Gordon’s annual half off sale, and found a cream-colored leather loveseat and comfy chair/ottoman in the clearance section. This sort of set the tone for the rest of the room, which really is quite romantic. (And DANG, is it relaxing and comfortable...)

I ordered this trickling wall mounted water fountain. Still waiting for a pump to be sent that isn't LOUDER than the trickling water sound, but it's enroute, so they say. 

I found turquoise pillows and a throw at Pier One, a vase thingie that holds apple blossoms, or whatever fake things my wife my want to stick in them during the winter, and then I went nuts and ordered a glass lamp to match the turquoise color that had ended up being so prevalent in the room. 

I haunted my favorite antique stores to find a perfect – I mean made for this room – antique lamp with the exact same colors that we’d already chosen.

I ordered a cherry wall cabinet to store some of my Young Living Essential Oils, an Aria oil diffuser to set the scene, a foot bath and all the good smelling stuff that goes with it, and some gorgeous photos from a wonderful photographer friend. 

 Here are a few images that will eventually be hanging over the loveseat and chair, in large format.

See how they miraculously match the room colors? It’s like it was meant to be.

It’s almost all put together. I’m waiting for the ottoman, so I can put up my feet while I write. The essential oil diffuser arrived yesterday, and I set it up this morning. My wife wanted curtains, so I got those last weekend – sheer, romantic type curtains. (I won’t dwell on the fact that my cat, one of the seven kittens my daughter’s cat had last year, keeps climbing up them and messing them up.) I’m waiting for the prints to frame and hang. And then, I’ll be ready to write in style. Wonder if my characters will have any more romance in the next few books? I do feel some love scenes coming on...

Here are a few shots of my writing room - a work in process

The "Aria" my new Young Living oil diffuser that also has soothing natural sounds and beautiful colors within its clear glass globe. Highly recommended! (and you'll know why when you read Essentially Yours, my fifteenth book scheduled for release early in 2012.)

One corner of the room that's pretty much "done."

This is where my wife sits when she joins me and reads on her Kindle.

And here's where I sit, minus the wall art that's coming. Like I said, pretty darned comfy.

And so, as the project comes to a close, it's just in time for the next adventure of either Gus LeGarde, Sam Moore, or Marcella Hollister. Haven’t decided what’s next yet, but I’m itching to start something new.

And by the way - Happy Valentines Day! 

Guys: Do something extra special for your sweetheart today. Maybe buy her a copy of my new love story, The Seacrest. You'll brighten up her day, and you'll feel all mushy inside. Who knows? It might inspire you. Maybe you'll end up with a girl-cave all your own. 

Aaron Paul Lazar

*Zen – a teaching that contemplation of one's essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment.